The Ordinary Moments #9 – Growing Up

The Ordinary Moments #9 – Growing Up

growing up, dontcallmestepmummy,

My husband got a job this week, they interviewed him Friday and he starts tomorrow Monday.  We have been building to this for the last 3 years whilst he’s been at University studying Social Work, but all of a sudden, I feel as though he’s been ripped from me.  It’s not as though I wasn’t aware he was applying for jobs, he even wrote a guest post for me here,  it’s just I didn’t expect it to be so soon.  He was waiting for his DBS to come back from another job that he had been given, when he spotted this one that would work much better hour wise for our family (or so we thought) and was better for him long term in his career progression.  Again, though I thought there would be a transition time between us finding out he had a job and him starting.  There was not.

the ordinary moments, dontcallmestepmummy, growing up
James at our celebratory lunch after he was offered the job at the interview

We went for lunch to celebrate James getting the job, then the weekend happened.  We visited the illuminations in Blackpool with James’ Auntie & Uncle who were staying in the Lakes, from the South Coast.  I’ve been horribly unwell most of the week and would not have done this had it not been so rare for them to be able to be with us.  It was a lovely time, I was glad that we did it, even if I was dosed up on painkillers.  It also enabled us to make plans of how we’d like to do them next year, they had these illuminated ‘Cinderella’ carriages, we are all going to dress up like princesses and ride the lights that way.

blackpool illuminations, dontcallmestepmummy, the ordinary moments, cinderella carriage
look how cute, ‘gawdy’ but magical for children

Then it was Saturday, I was so unwell, I couldn’t take the girls to dance but we decided to let them practice Isis’ exam routines together, she has Grade One Modern, and Primary Tap coming up.  Shayla and Judah ran around the room joining in, it was quite cute.  My brother came in the afternoon with his girlfriend and their new puppy ‘Sulley’ a gorgeous black labrador.  He is so adorable, hard to capture on film though as he is so dark.

dontcallmestepmummy, new puppy, the ordinary moments, sulley
can just make his face out here thanks to the ‘instagram’ filter

Anyway, I guess my point is, the weekend just flew past and then most of today I spent what felt like grieving the loss of my husband Monday to Friday.  Not just as my helper with the babies, although, wow, that is a very, very, very important role and I will miss him tremendously being there with me, as now they will outnumber me… but, my friend.  We have spent so long fighting through the hard financial times of University living whilst getting married, having 2 babies (and 2 miscarriages), moving twice, grieving family members.  It has just been insane, and we felt like it was all leading up to this better life we were building of ‘financial security’ but now and only now, late on a Sunday afternoon before he starts work tomorrow morning have I realised what a blessing it has been to have my best friend with me most of the last 3 years.

dontcallmestepmummy, the ordinary moments, toddlers in restaurants
Judah at Daddy’s celebratory lunch

James has been there for me through all the craziness, he’s been up for every late night feed, even though I was breastfeeding, I had bad back troubles and he would lift the babies out of their cribs and bring them to me.  He has cleaned out my ‘sick bowls’ when I’ve woken in the night with horrendous hyperemesis, he has cooked for me at stupid o’clock in the morning when I was having cravings.  He has changed the majority of nappies when he was around, he has done the bedtime routines.  We’ve been able to hang out together and just potter around our little lives for the last 3 years mostly without interruption (aside from his work placements).  I have let him carry a lot of the responsibilities for the babies when he was home, not just because I had postnatal depression and anxiety but because deep down I knew, I knew this day was coming.

I wanted to be able to tell the children when they’re older and Daddy has to work a lot to keep them all in ballet shoes and whatever else hobbies take over our lives that Daddy was there.  Daddy did everything, there wasn’t anything that Daddy wasn’t willing to do for them.  These precious bonding years as Judah and Eden have been establishing their little characters (which I know still have some years to form), Daddy gave them everything that he could for as long as he could and now his love takes a different form in being away most of the week to provide for them.

Of course I will see him every evening, but they will usually be asleep when he leaves in the morning and asleep when he arrives home at night.  I know that this is normal for most families, but this hasn’t been for us.  I have resented this awareness that at 31 I still have some growing up to do, and that Monday to Friday I am in this parenting malarkey alone.  I find it daunting and scary, but I thank God that I have my faith and trust that Jesus will equip me with all that I need just to get through each and every day.  I used to think being a Stay at Home Mum was easy, I now know very different, and with four of them for most of the week, wow, I don’t know how others do it, and I am praying I don’t crumble now that it’s my turn.

James has said that I can get a cleaner, I may have to take him up on that one, but we’ll get some quotes because I don’t want to have one if it’s going to be a strain.  I know that it will ease the pressure though as I am still in counselling for my anxiety issues and when I start to feel overwhelmed by things I tend to crumble.  I am hoping that blogging will help me too though, I know reading a lot of other mums blogs out there, helps me to realise that I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed, and ill-equipped, but saying that, somehow we all get on and do it.

So, for now, I guess it is goodbye to a wonderful season that I fear I took for granted whilst I had it, and onto a new exciting (but scary) season of having to step up and grow up.  To be the Mum (mostly in character, it isn’t about how clean the house is to the children, it’s about ‘who’ I am) that I was created to be and that I can be if I take one step at a time and trust that somewhere inside me is all the equipment that I need to do this.
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When I was at one of my lowest points my Mum bought me a little card that carries this quote…

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The Ordinary Moments #8 – Birthday Parties

The Ordinary Moments #8 – Birthday Parties

fifth birthday, dontcallmestepmummy, birthday party
someone else wanted to have a turn blowing out candles

Yes, I know, sometimes I’m quite liberal with the term ‘ordinary moments’ but in our home we have 6 birthdays a year.  Four are children’s birthdays that require a party and although they are extraordinary for our little one, they seem to come and go way too quickly for my liking.  It’s the early hours of the morning following Shayla’s birthday party day and I’m already planning Eden’s first birthday in my head.  I will start formal planning and invites soon *yawn*.  These are such special moments but as a sufferer of anxiety attacks since having Eden, they do require, and take, a lot out of me.

cake making, dontcallmestepmummy, fifth birthday
at 7am I was busy icing cakes

Making and hanging bunting, putting out photographs of the birthday child, cupcakes, party food, balloons, banners, bouncy castle hire, pass the parcel, party bags, all these things that I’m sure by the time they’re all 18 I could run a party planning company doing.  I just love how much they enjoy their parties and it is usually their main birthday present.  We are fortunate to live in a country where even though we’re apparently ‘poor’ because we live around the social poverty line our children want for nothing.  They have enough clothes and toys coming out of their ears, so we never particularly buy anything major, but make sure they have great memories instead.  Nanny and Grandad tend to help towards the girls dance lessons when it’s their birthday’s or Judah gets some clothes as he’s ever growing, but we tend not to do toys.  They get these from people who attend, family and friends.  The occasional scooter/bike etc sort of purchase tends to be at Christmas but again we only really get them one thing (and stocking fillers) as they get so much from everybody else.

I always feel overwhelmed when they get lots of presents as we sponsor children through Compassion (one in Brazil and one in Uganda).  For about 1/6th of what we spent on Shayla’s birthday party our Ugandan child bought dresses for her, her mum, a goat, some chickens, grain, some shoes…. certainly put’s things into perspective.

bouncy castle, princess party, dontcallmestepmummy
Judah and Eden checking the bouncy castle before the party people arrived

We had so much food as I had bought and made lots, then my mum brought lots of cake, James’ parents purchased extra nibbles, my Nan turned up with more cupcakes.  We have plenty of leftovers for them to take to kids church this morning.

dontcallmestepmummy, birthday party food, party food
just some of the party food

They all had such a great time, lots of babies came (obviously with their parents) from church.  It was really nice to catch a glimpse into who may be at Eden’s future parties.  Most of the babies were also demonstrating to Eden (who hates it) how to work the jumperoo.  She just doesn’t weigh enough for it to touch the floor, and so she gets frustrated.

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baby Alexandra, my name sake with little red hair, I call her my mini me, although really she’s her mummy’s mini me
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baby David has one at home, he knew exactly what to do

Shayla had opted for a princess theme (again), and this year she was Cinderella, Isis was Aurora, Judah was a pirate (Shayla’s choice) and Eden had a beautiful princess dress.  I always just wish they’ll choose a princess whose costume they already own, but no, of course it’s always a different one.  They have so many dress up outfits now, we are starting a dress-up corner in the playroom.

fairy wings, princess party, fifth birthday, dontcallmestepmummy
Isis won some fairy wings in ‘pass the parcel’
baby led weaning, princess party, baby princess
Eden munching a cheese roll
princess party, fifth birthday, Cinderella
Princess Shayla with one of her presents on her head (and a misaligned cape *winks*)
pirate, dontcallmestepmummy
my pirate prince

I had decorated with simple pictures of Shayla as a child and made my own bunting too, bespoke with Shayla’s name on it… I figured she could hang it above her bed after the party.

bespoke bunting, picture line, pegs
Shayla bunting under her pictures

I loved having the photo lines with Shayla pictures pegged to it all over the home.  One friend thought they were a permanent feature…. brain ticks over whether I could justify it… would need to be pictures of the whole family and secured with more than just cellotape though *winks*.  The same friend was captured wearing a tiara with my husband, so funny.

men in tiaras
James and Jonny : beautiful princesses

I really enjoyed doing the party at home.  We tend to hire a venue usually but it worked so well and was a very relaxed atmosphere, and if I felt like that, then that’s saying something.  I think this may be something we do more often, especially for the smaller parties.  So, birthday parties may not be your ordinary but for us there is one every couple of months.  Join in with Katie at ‘Mummy Daddy Me’  by clicking on the badge below.
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The Ordinary Moments #7 – Weddings

The Ordinary Moments #7 – Weddings

the ordinary moments, dontcallmestepmummy
‘I announce you husband and wife’

We attended a wedding on Friday of a lovely young couple from church.  I was honoured to do the brides and bridesmaids hair and they were kind enough to invite all six of us to the whole day.  This doesn’t happen often for us as there are so many of us, especially when they are not close family members but it was so lovely to be a part of their wedding day and to have all of the children there.  The children looked so cute all sat on this log, I braved the lawn in my heels to go and take a closer picture and I realised that they were reenacting the wedding… ‘I announce you husband and wife’ is what Isis was saying in the picture above.  I explained that it was very cute and unfortunately illegal for Judah and Shayla to get married but they all looked lovely.

It was so nice to be all together on such a special day.  Tiring to be constantly making sure that they’re all ok, not terrorising  someone, or doing anything inappropriate (destroying floral arrangements etc) but just so precious to have had them all with us.  The children sat on their own children’s table, which was the sweetest idea, and worked mostly (in theory), there were only really a couple of times that we needed to get a child out from under a table.

children at weddings, dontcallmestepmummy
very civilised

Of course we had Eden sat with us, aside from needing to chop up Judah’s food, the children were very grown up about sitting at their own table whilst food was being served.  They got up to a bit of mischief before dessert was served, but as soon as they’d seen desserts starting to be handed out at the top table they were all sat neatly back in their seats.  Funny how children know, they don’t miss a thing.

dontcallmestepmummy, children at weddings
just tall enough to see over the table

I was so exhausted after the early start to style the wedding party’s hair, but wanted to stay for the evening to see the children enjoy the disco, and they really did.  I enjoyed seeing them all dancing and laughing, playing with all their friends, James and I sat at a table trying to sort out the babies, Judah was passed out on me and Eden was asleep in her car seat.  Eden wasn’t feeling very well and had to have several nappy changes in a short time, I wasn’t dressed to feed her for comfort (she’d had plenty of other things to drink) so at about 9pm we figured we had enjoyed a wonderful day and needed to get them all home.

I know a wedding is an ‘extra-ordinary’ day for the couple but as we go through life they are a joyous but ordinary part of society.  I was pleased to be able to share this day with the children and wanted to remember it too.  Below are some pics from the day …

the butterfields

come on vogue
come on vogue

photo 2 (2) photo 3 photo 4
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The Ordinary Moments #6 – Back to the Routine

The Ordinary Moments #6 – Back to the Routine

dontcallmstepmummy,

Well, the house is messy, the kitchen is a state, James is unwell, I’ve got headaches (detoxing at the moment), dance runs, school runs, working from home, bank balance pretty much zero, we must be back to normal *chuckles.*  It is so crazy sometimes running around after 5 people (I’m including James as until he can drive and with all his recent interviews etc. I’m his chauffeur), I don’t feel like my life is my own.  I don’t say that in a negative way though, I absolutely love my family and would do anything for them, and at the moment the housework isn’t getting me down (yet), if it starts to get more on top of me we’ll see.  Once these detoxing headaches disappear I’m sure I’ll be back with a vengeance.

This upcoming week is so manic, tomorrow we’re up early to take Shayla to her first day at school, I know many of you have school runs, but mine involves the motorway as the girls go to school near their Mum’s home so it makes it a little bit more stressful with all the traffic, and takes a lot longer than when I’ll start walking Judah and Eden to school around the corner.  James has various appointments in the day, Judah has his first baby ballet class, and then I am teaching in the evening followed by attending a fundraising women’s event at church, a car treasure hunt ‘Valley Vroom.’  It’s to raise money for ‘Vision Rescue‘ that helps radically change slum communities in India.

valley vroom

Tuesday is a normal day as far as I’m aware, aside from the fact that there is a meet the teacher day at the school for parents, and a parent association meeting at the school before that, then Isis has a coaching class for her tap exam.  I used to be involved with the PTA at the school before I got pregnant with Eden, but it just became impractical for me to attend as I was just so unwell.  Sometimes I struggle to know where to draw the line with attending everything, it’s hard when there’s four of them.  We have a meeting at church then in the evening for all those who call our church ‘home’.  These tend to be quarterly so not too frequent and really set the direction of where we are heading as a community trying to make a difference.

Wednesday is another meet the teacher day for Key Stage 2 so that will be for Isis, and then I am teaching again, she also has a coaching class for her modern exam that evening, still haven’t worked out how I’m going to juggle my lessons and taking her to that one yet, hmm… will have to see what I can rejig.  Then I have creative night at church, where all the creatives (muso’s, techies, artistic) people gather every other week to learn new songs and practice our skill set.  I love these evenings, I have taken a step back from singing on the platform at the moment just whilst life is hectic but still intend to attend Creative nights, we’ll see how we go.

Thursday I’m teaching, collecting the girls from school, running an after school singing club, then James and I are out for the evening whilst my amazing sister babysits. We’re attending a marriage course which the church are running for all married people who would like to do it, from newlyweds to 30+ years wed there will be a variety there.  I am looking forward to gleaning some wisdom (the course was oversubscribed so we are blessed to have a place).

Friday I am up early as I am doing the hair and make-up of various bridesmaids and a beautiful bride and then we are attending her lovely wedding, so excited.  They’ve invited us as a whole family which is so kind when there are so many of us, so I am very appreciative and looking forward to it as it will be at beautiful Salmesbury Hall.

Saturday after a late night at the wedding will be the early morning dance run again and then Sunday church.  Somewhere in the midst of all that I want to capture some amazing moments with my husband and my children.  I really love the shot above of them messing at the piano, I also have some funny videos of Judah singing away and bashing on the piano.  As he’s two though, they really are songs only a mother could love, although he shows real promise so I will spare you from feeling obliged to watch and restrain from posting them *winks*.

I just love having them all around me, I am grateful for blogging shifting my perspective and also laying down some of my passions (singing on the platform) to remember that at the moment I need to just focus on home, my relationship with my hubby and my relationship with our children.  I thought I would resent laying stuff down but it just made me enjoy what I’m doing with them all the more, as I’m less stressed and trying to juggle that little bit less.

Here are the children together reading, the house is a mess, I’m sorry, we also used a similar photo for our Silent Sunday post this week.

dontcallmestepmummy, children reading 034

I am just so grateful to be able to catch as many lovely moments with them in the madness of routine as I can.  I just love watching their interactions together and this week I have really treasured the cuddles with each of them.  Here’s a couple of snaps of Judah and I messing doing our selfies (I’d not long fed Eden so please excuse the item in the background, was unsure whether to mention or not, mental note, need to get photoshop soon).

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So, I guess this is our beautiful ordinary at the moment.  Looking forward, and a little apprehensive to how it will all change once James starts his new job but I tell you this much, it is always an adventure *winks*.
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The Ordinary Moments #5 – From Four to Two

The Ordinary Moments #5 – From Four to Two

dontcallmestepmummy The Ordinary Moments

Having the girls for 20 days straight in what started out as our 18 Days of Summer series was really lovely.  It completely pulled me out of a rut.  I had been struggling with many things, routine, eating habits, getting out and about, feeling down due to bad health and lacking motivation to do things as I don’t really live in the centre of a cultural melting pot.  Being with all our beautiful children together for a long time in a ‘holiday’ season meant that I needed to pull myself together.  This was about giving the children an epic Summer Holiday and not just slacking because we hadn’t been able to afford to go stay anywhere other than with family.  The pressure was on (in a good way) to find things to do each day. even if it was just something little like take a walk around the lake.

As you may have seen from my ‘Saying Goodbye‘ post the girls were collected by their Mum on Wednesday and the house was left eerily quiet.  I am just trying to adjust to normality now that we are back home.  James is going to job interviews left, right and centre and is still doing his driving lessons which mean he’s out of the house a lot and I am back to running him around whilst we try and get some future financial stability sorted.  I started my monthly Thursday, (apologies for the information) at the moment this seems to be a huge deal, since having Eden I can only compare this monthly horror to when I have miscarried.  I nearly called an ambulance the first time as the pain was so terrible and I thought I was hemorrhaging.  This made me really angry *chuckles*, us women are funny, I have been having monthly’s since I was I don’t know 12 apart from when I was pregnant, and I can’t say I’ve often resented having them.  I always say to the girls when they ask questions (as they see me and their Mum in pain at times) that it is a good thing that means our bodies are able to have babies when we are ready and want to.  I just was so angry that I’d just got home and was ready to get back into the swing of sorting out our ‘normal’ routine and sort out all the housework/washing etc. as we’d been gone 3 weeks and here I am laid in bed in agony wanting to get on with all I can see around me.  It was too close to how I felt when I was pregnant and bed bound and it made me frustrated.  I poured myself a gin and slimline tonic and decided to get on with stuff despite the doubled over agony.

I won’t bore you with any more details about all this, as I guess it lends itself to another post, which I will write about ‘breastfeeding and bleeding’, the options the doctors have presented me with and whether I should stop feeding to just be able to (in theory) carry on through my monthly’s as normal without interrupting children’s routine and feeling like I need to be in bed as I am completely wiped out.

This post is about my little two.  The two that are always here, the two that don’t leave and come back each week.  How I need to be for them.  It is so easy to step up when the girls are around as they are older and I know that they need stimulation that is more than just the television or an iPad.  I am realising that it is not good enough, to by default, step it down a notch, when I ‘just have’ Judah and Eden.  Feels bizarre saying ‘just have’ – two babies is still plenty handful enough, in fact sometimes harder because I don’t have the girls input to entertain them, which they are great at doing.

I want to start a better routine for my little two.  James will soon be at work, and my WAHM life needs to find it’s balance again, with teaching, blogging, and getting myself into better shape so that there can be longevity in what we do.  I have been making sure that we find things to do as it will mainly be myself and the two babies in the week.  Even if the girls lived here full-time this would still be the scenario as Shayla will be starting school next week.

I want to create a routine that I can stick to, I am a creature of habit and booking things in like swimming lessons, volunteering my administration skills at church, messy play, craft time and even just cuddles need to be planned so that we don’t end up just doing nothing all day.  One thing I love about blogging, and especially blogging for the children is that it inspires me to want to do and be more for the children.  This is not about keeping up with the Jones’ as goodness knows I couldn’t if I tried, but seeing all the great craft ideas, and even just the planning I do that goes into posts, makes me more conscious of the planning we put into time with the children.

The girls routine is pretty full on at the weekends when they are here.  Dance, church, and we’re looking into swimming lessons once James is earning.  We aim to spend time together as a family too and keep that sacred when they don’t have something scheduled in.  I want to make sure the babies have a great schedule too whilst maintaining rest time, not just nap-time, for us to just ‘be’ as a family too.

I have enjoyed just pottering around trying to get the house straight whilst making sure the babies are happy too.  It is helpful now Eden likes crawling around and finding toys to play with.  I thought it would make my life harder and in a few months when she’s walking around I guess it may, but so long as I make sure the floor is clean of things she can put in her mouth and choke on, they’re good at  entertaining themselves whilst I potter around them.  Judah and I bought some play-doh the other day and I’m excited to do this with him, infact I may just break it out this afternoon and see what he wants to create.  At the moment he loves monsters, dragons and dinosaurs.  So funny, typical boy.

I am looking forward to our new ‘ordinary’ and ‘normal’ routine.  I love them so much, I have given up a lot in my personal life recently as the balance was not working and I realised the children and James come first.  This season will seem so short once the babies are both at school and I will be sad if I didn’t embrace it and do the best that I can in the ‘now’ that I have been blessed with.

Excited for many more ‘ordinary moments’ in the future….
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dontcallmestepmummy The Ordinary Moments
I have realised I don’t have enough photos of just the two of them together, again as this becomes our ‘ordinary’ I’m sure that will soon change

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The Ordinary Moments #4 – Mealtimes

The Ordinary Moments #4 – Mealtimes

family mealtimes

 There is one time of day as a Mum that is both beautiful and stressful, joyful and excruciating, peaceful and frustrating, ordered and messy, yep, you’ve guessed it – mealtimes.  I love when we all get to sit around the table together and just enjoy a meal.  Unfortunately, with two very young children that isn’t always the case.  To be fair, Eden absolutely LOVES food.  There is pretty much nothing she won’t eat, except fish without some cheese mashed in, she is a great eater.  Infact, maybe a little bit too good, sometimes I find myself stopping her having some more as she’s going for her 3rd bowl of pasta and her tiny little tummy looks like it’s going to pop.

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Someone enjoyed their mash potato #pregnantbaby

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Sometimes I have to be cruel and stop her joining in with the munching as there comes a point where it is mean to let her keep eating.  I guess like a parent that can’t doesn’t say no to letting their children just keep eating chocolate, I have to stop Eden eventually even though she’s tiny.  I worry about her having problems with her bowel movements or getting an upset tummy if she eats too much.  She eats more than Shayla easily EVERY meal, so I’m sure with such a teeny tiny little body it can’t be sustainable to let her just keep eating without causing problems later on.  (Eden is being tested by the paediatrics by the way, incase you were worrying that I’m neglecting this).
table full
table full

It’s lovely when we all get to eat together when at family events like the picture above for my brother Jacob’s birthday last week.  We often aim to eat together at home, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  There’ll be times when Eden has gone for a nap, times when Judah has gone for a nap, sometimes we’re somewhere where we don’t all fit around the table (can be a problem when you’re a family of 6), sometimes we have to prepare something separate for Eden, although if we’re at home we cook things that she can eat with us.  All these different scenarios make it even more special when we all get to sit together.

One of my favourite purchases when we were expecting Eden was the mamas & papas ‘pippop’ travel booster seat.  This lived at my parents for a long time for Judah to eat with us, as it would’ve been a nightmare to keep taking the highchair out with us, not to mention it wouldn’t really fit in the car.  Judah got to a place where he doesn’t need to be strapped in, and can sit on a normal chair with us now and eat, this happened at an appropriate time when Eden needed to be able to start using it, so that was a great coincide.  We have brought this travel booster down South with us and it has enabled Eden to still join in with us too.

pippop travel booster

With the girls, the main thing to watch at mealtime is portion control.  Depending on how they feel about a meal they can scoff their food and want seconds (definitely the more rare end of the scale, and happens more after a very active day), or they drag it out and make it last so slowly.  This can be the same meal as well ie. spaghetti bolognese they shovelled in 2 weeks ago, they drag out for well over an hour the latter occasion.  We always insist they finish their food (within reason, more recently we just make sure they’ve made an effort to eat it all, as they’ve got better at knowing to give it a good go) so we have to make sure we portion it out appropriately.  I remember a phase a couple of years ago where we were trying to establish discipline for mealtime and they always had to clear their plate to move from the table.  This didn’t work the day that James gave Shayla the hugest bowl of Cheerios, I had to then explain to a 2 year old that of course she didn’t need to eat it all but that was just because Daddy had been silly and given her too much to eat.  There was a similar incident in Croydon a couple of Christmas’ ago when I didn’t think properly whilst putting the buffet breakfast on Shayla’s plate for her as she pointed at what she wanted.  People were actually pointing, and talking about how much was on the tiny 3 year olds plate at other tables. *oops*  Obviously, I didn’t make her eat all of that either.  Anyway, as a result of our mealtime rules there are sometimes moments where I can snap pictures like this …

Isis

Isis is giving me the ‘I don’t really want to eat anymore’ look.  To be fair, she kept going for a good while longer before I could see that she was actually full and relieved her from trying.  They still always manage to find space for dessert though, of course.

I guess mealtimes will always be shifting form for us for a few more years as we battle with toddlers staying in their chairs, and work around naps, but I look forward to being able to always have that family meal together in the evenings.  The children are fantastic at saying ‘grace’ before we eat now.  Even Judah prayed yesterday when he had his food infront of him and the rest was still being served out, ‘thank You Jesus for food, Amen’ and then he started munching.  So cute, and funny, guess he didn’t want to wait to eat any longer *laughs*.

I love picnics (outside or on the rug when it’s raining), breakfasts, dinners, anytime where we can all be together and I can watch their happy little faces enjoying something James or I prepared for them.  Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see them enjoy their meal, especially on those days where they’ve not really eaten properly due to illness or being distracted.  They are very active children so I’m always glad to know they’ve got some sustinence to keep them going.

I look forward to all the family times, celebrations, hard times that we will be able to share together and relax together whilst knowing we can always come around the dinner table and be together.
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The Ordinary Moments #3 – Watching Week

The Ordinary Moments #3 – Watching Week

I’ve been doing a mini blog series with the children as we are in the middle of 18 days holiday with the girls.  18 whole days with my big blended family, and I am loving it.  If you want to follow our series it’s called ’18 Days of Summer’ the most recent post is here.  As we’ve been documenting EVERYTHING that has been happening in the week, my Ordinary Moments post this week is a throwback to the girls final week at dance before breaking up for the Summer.

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The girls absolutely love their dancing lessons, and it’s a good job really because when I was on maternity and James was studying it seemed to cost the earth.  They both do ballet, tap and modern, and they are really good at it.  Going to watch them in their recent production was one of our proudest moments as parents.  Obviously, we may be a bit biased but we felt that they stood out in their respective dance numbers as they usually had the most pointed toes and biggest smiles.  Also, they both have spindly legs but it was more the toes and smiles thing *winks.*

At the end of every term they have a week ‘watching week’ where parents can sit in on the classes and see where the children are up to.  This was the first one since Christmas due to the show and it was lovely to see how far the girls had come.

watching week 2

It’s amazing to think that Shayla has been there nearly 3 years and she is still only 4.  She’ll be 5 in September, we didn’t send her to dance lessons before she could walk (pushy mother alert).  I love seeing how confident it has made the girls and has been one of our greatest investments into them, not just financial but the time commitments.  When they were rehearsing for the show they would be at the Dance Academy for 6 hours EVERY Saturday, when this is the only real day we got to spend with them, this season was hard.  We missed them, but knew that it only comes round once every 3 years and it would be an amazing opportunity for them to perform to show standard on a big stage.  They loved it!!!

We’re going into a season of exams now as again, due to the show, exams were put on hold.  Both girls have progressed so well, and the Dance Academy principle has told Isis that she is ready to do an exam in each genre in this autumn term coming up.  Exams are another huge time commitment, they have to attend coaching classes in addition to their Saturday regular classes for each exam they’re taking.  We as parents have to attend too, take notes and make sure we practice with them at home (they get a CD with the exam music on to take home).  It’s an interesting time for finances too, as each exam can be between £60-£70 each, with the coaching classes, CD’s, and the exam cost, not to mention any new uniforms they may need as they need to be pristine for the exam itself.

watching week 3

 This watching week the girls weren’t in their uniforms as I had arrived back from a conference in London at 3am that morning, and had met the girls and ‘other mummy’ at the Dance Academy, so they just came in some comfy clothes.  For the purpose of my photos though, I quite like it, as it’s easy to spot who’s ours.
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It’s lovely for the girls to have another strong constant in their lives too, I know that as they grow up these girls (and boys) will be their friends.  The bonds that they’ll make in rehearsals for shows and through moving up grades and doing exams together will be strong.  As a former teacher at this particular academy too, I taught music theatre and popular music, I am strong advocate for exams, they are good practice for them as people and the things life throws at them as they grow older.  Also, the big plus, in my opinion and the only reason I would encourage vocal pupils to take them, was due to UCAS points.  Once they get to a certain standard, their exams start counting towards getting them on to the courses they may wish to take at university.  Ok, a long way ahead at the moment, but, especially if a child is more creative than academically gifted, this can be a huge plus.
watching week 5
On a Saturday it doesn’t get any more ordinary for us (well, in term time) to be found at the Dance Academy or Costa Coffee in the shopping centre adjacent whilst waiting for them to finish their classes.  Judah will be starting Beginners Ballet in September.  He absolutely loves dancing and jumping around, I don’t see this as something we will encourage long term unless he loves it and wants to continue, but it definitely teaches discipline, having to sit when instructed, they learn co-ordination, timing and rhythms and so an increased understanding of musicality.  I am sure that he will love it, but we’ll see how it goes.
watching week 6
Do you think I’m biased?  Do you think our girls stand out for their poise, or just their outfits?
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The Ordinary Moments #2 – Bath Time

The Ordinary Moments #2 – Bath Time

Our little monkey prince absolutely loves bath time, he always has. I’ve been going back through my pregnancy journal and baby journal for ‘The Baby Diaries‘ and saw that he even loved his first bath which was in the hospital once he’s finally had all his canula’s and tubes taken out. Most babies aren’t so keen for their first bath, or subsequent baths but he ALWAYS loved them.

bathing in the sink at Butlins 2 and a half weeks old
bathing in the sink at Butlins 2 and a half weeks old

In our old home we didn’t have a bath, so I would shower Judah with me, even from being tiny. Due to my bad pregnancies, torn tummy muscles, bad back etc. I would struggle with filling and lifting the baby bath and then bending over to bath Judah so he would often join me in the shower where I would hold him close to me, clean him up and pass him to Daddy who’d be waiting with a towel so I could then wash my hair & body.

When we would go to my Mum’s house (Nana’s) he loved her big corner bath. We have many photos over the last 2 years of him enjoying a bath at Nana’s.

in Nana's big bath
in Nana’s big bath

In our new home we of course have a bath (after going through 2 pregnancies without one, I made sure it was a non-negotiable when we moved). I NEVER get to have a bath without Judah jumping in, James says I should lock the door then he won’t be able to get in, but he loves them so much, I usually just let him in. I think maybe this is because I know very soon it won’t be appropriate for him to be in the bath with me as he’s getting older. One of his favourite things to do is play ‘row row row your boat’ whilst in the bath. Also, to fill up his rubber ducks and use them as a water pistol, spraying me with water. This makes him laugh hysterically, and I managed to capture some photos this week.

shooting Daddy with his rubber ducky
shooting Daddy with his rubber ducky

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Daddy had the shower screen for protection
Daddy had the shower screen for protection

The pure joy on his face brings me so much happiness and I will miss these ordinary moments in the not too distant future. Savouring them whilst I can.

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The Ordinary Moments #1 – Sundays

The Ordinary Moments #1 – Sundays

Anyone who speaks to me for longer than 2 mins will usually discover as a family we go to church.  Not just go to church we are actively involved in our church community.  I have no intention of bible bashing anyone with my faith on my blog, but it is very much part of who I am, what drives me, keeps me going, and the community has been there for me at times when I needed it over the years.  We often say to the other people in our church community phrases like ‘love doing life with you’.  It’s a bit of a corny phrase everyone at our church has cordoned BUT it is true, we ‘do life’ with these people week in, week out.  They’re who I call when I want to celebrate something, who I ring when I need some help, these are my peers and this is how it should be ‘by this all men will know you are my disciples….by your love for one another’ ~ the man Himself : Jesus’ words.

Religion is a scary thing in this day and age, it is so scary to see what is going on in Iraq in the name of religion.  It is horrendous, and it’s not anything that hasn’t been done to one degree or another (not playing down the heinous nature of what is going on out there at the moment) by people in the name of Christianity in centuries past.  I think in all of this people miss the point.  It should be all about love, the greatest commandment ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, if we all just treated everyone else how we would want to be treated the world would be a very different place.

I guess my point is I don’t want to talk about or argue religion, but it doesn’t get more ordinary for us than being at church on a Sunday.  We are purposeful about attending, even when feeling we can’t be bothered, (yes that still creeps in even though we love it) especially with the girls as it is a stable environment that is consistent in their lives despite their two homes.

Even as I’m writing this I can hear them in the living room dancing and singing all the songs they do at Kids church, they have their own little service.

There are a LOT of people on holiday at the moment so we’re running skeleton teams.  Yes, that’s my husband with the Viking hat on as it was raining (his brother bought him this for his birthday last year, much to my dismay as I knew he would wear it).

Here are some pics of our stereotypical Sunday mornings at church.
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James dropping Judah into kids church
Isis and Shayla sat with the other children for the talk
Eden playing in the baby area – great for breastfeeding (big comfy sofas)
Eden made a friend as another mum came to join me