Life in photos | summer 2014

The toddler group we go to celebrated the end of term with a ‘Bugs and Butterflies’ party, the ladies who run the group put a lot of creative effort in. As did Seren with her biscuit decorating.

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Seren had her first Sports Day! Very cute.

summer 2014 summer 2014

We’ve had a couple of lovely trips out. Not too many and nothing too ambitious as I’m very much still finding my feet with juggling two kids. Our first outing was to our old favourite Trent Park.

summer 2014

Then we had a whole day out at Paradise Wildlife Park, ending with ice cream of course.

summer 2014

And an afternoon at Lee Valley Park Farm last week.

summer 2014

All four of us went to Come Away With The Faeries festival at Capel Manor Gardens.
Seren enjoyed fish and chips at Alexander’s birthday party and the bouncy castle at Sophie and Jessica’s party.

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Imogen had her first sleepover at our friends’ house in Surrey. Seren and I went too. Imogen got lots of love from the older girls. Seren enjoyed dressing up and hitting the park as well.

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We’ve been to a couple of BBQs often staying too late, resulting in shared bath times,  borrowed PJs and happy memories! 

summer 2014 summer 2014

I’ve attempted to make pavlova three times. Two disasters and one partial success.

summer 2014

So I’m snubbing the meringues but Andy made an awesome Banofee Pie last weekend. 
We’ve caught the loom band bracelet craze! Not making them (yet) but we all have acquired at least one, even Imogen though I guess she probably won’t wear it for a while. 
I joined the Lucky Dip Club and excitedly received July’s Pet Parade box. Just look at that packaging!

summer 2014 summer 2014

I also joined a book club! I managed to read a whole book whilst newborn and toddler wrangling (thanks to the Kindle app on my iPhone) and sneak out for a couple of hours for wine and book discussion.

Life in photos | late spring 2014

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Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall 2014

Monski MouseA couple of Sundays ago we headed over to the South Bank with Charlotte and family for Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall at the London Wonderground pop up venue. We had such a great time last year and were excited about doing it all again! It was also Imogen’s first trip into the big smoke! She slept through most of it of course though here is her looking slightly bemused after the disco, wearing her Monski Mouse sticker.

Imogen Monksi Mouse

But first up was the huge excitement of waving at the train driver before the train journey itself. Do not underestimate how exciting public transport is to a 2 year old. I was slightly nervous about negotiating the train and tube network with the baby, pram and toddler even with Andy’s help. We survived! Not sure I’d be keen to do it on my own any time soon though. At Waterloo station we were ascending the tallest escalator you can imagine, Andy balancing the pram, me holding Seren’s hand (her first time stood on her own on an escalator) and baby Imogen in my other arm trying to get to my boob!

train ride train ride train ride

To fuel us through the disco, we visited the Real Food Market behind the Royal Festival Hall to grab some lunch. Between us we went for meze, pierogis, hog roasts, a duck confit burger, cakes, baklava and Turkish delight! We settled down in Jubilee Gardens behind the London Eye for a picnic.

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We finished with some unexpected cakes and macarons from the BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour (which looks pretty awesome by the way). A couple of ladies finished the tour with leftovers and clearly thought our girls needed an extra sugar hit as they offered them to us! Which we gladly accepted, you don’t turn down free cake do you? Not to mention the cute pink box which the girls fought over.

BB-Bakery-Bus-Tour

There is so much going on on the South Bank over the summer, from the pop up beach, beach bars within the Wonderground (including a bar on a revolving fairground carousel!), the secret garden on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall to the various performances as part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love. It would take days to see and do everything!

South Bank South Bank South Bank

Knowing our exploratory limits with toddlers and babies in tow, we headed straight over to the vintage Paradiso Spiegeltent to grab some Pimms and wait for Monski Mouse’s Baby Dance Disco Hall to start.

Monski Mouse Monski Mouse

The 45 minute disco comprises Monski Mouse’s unique setlist of hip jiggling classics such as Dean Martin’s Sway and Beyonce’s Put A Ring On It and children’s songs given a disco edge such as Nellie The Elephant and Sleeping Bunnies. Monski Mouse leads the dancing from her stripey DJ booth up on stage, so she’s its easy for the little ones to see her, along with her dancers on the floor, to follow the song’s actions.

monski mouse

Seren is very much into dancing at the moment. She will only wear skirts or dresses that will swish out when she twirls around and will sometimes insist on being called Seren Ballerina. Needless to say she was brave enough to hit the disco dance floor much sooner this year.

Monski-Mouse-Baby-Disco-1 Monski-Mouse-Baby-Disco

Here she is roaring to Dinosaur Roar and rocking to Rock-A-Bye Your Bear.

Monski Mouse Monski Mouse

Betsy and Seren also had fun lying on the floor pretending to be worms and clambering over our booth making faces in the mirrors. How lovely to be so uninhibited! 

Monski Mouse Monski Mouse Monski Mouse Monski Mouse

I was pleased that it was cooler in the Spiegeltent this year and there was free water available too. The 45 minutes whizzed by and all too soon it was time for the conga and then the last dance. Monski Mouse personally says goodbye to all her guests which is a lovely touch. We said goodbye, collected our stickers and headed back out to the busy South Bank to start the trek home. We’re already looking forward to next year and watching Imogen and Betsy’s brother Arthur join in the disco fun too!

Monski Mouse has only 3 more shows left at the London Wonderground this summer! The disco is aimed at under 5’s and you can catch it either tomorrow (10th August), 27th August or the 7th September. All shows are at 3pm and tickets cost £9 per person (babies under 6 months old do not need tickets). You can get tickets here: www.londonwonderground.co.uk/whats-on/monski-mouses-baby-disco-dance-hall.

For more information on other events on the South Bank this summer visit: 
www.londonwonderground.co.uk
http://southbanklondon.com
http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk
www.realfoodfestival.co.uk

We were given complimentary tickets to Monski Mouse’s Baby Dance Disco Hall to review the experience. 

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The garden in July

After the almost daily excitement of new growth in April to June, things have very much settled down in July with a few things dying off too. The roses and geraniums have been deadheaded to encourage new flowers to come, including on the pink rosebush our neighbours gave us when Imogen was born.

july garden

The gorgeous deep pink hydrangea continues to be the star of the show as far as I’m concerned. Andy has started to talk about moving it in the autumn as it will fill a bare corner but I’m loath to do that and see it not do so well next year.

july gardenIn the borders, I’m loving the growth of this foliage and thinking of putting more ‘spiky’ plants in to fill some gaps next year.

july garden

The passiflora has been flowering! Really striking flowers that unfortunately do not last long at all.

july garden

We moved the aquilegia towards the back of the flowerbed, in front of the passiflora, in the spring and it hasn’t done as well this year. The jasmine climber in the other bed has been in flower and smells divine, I just wish it was about 5 times as big! It seems to be a slow grower.

july gardenIn contrast the new jasmine in the apple crate which we planted this year, is doing really well! It’s reached the light fitting height wise and we are wondering how long it will be before we can wind it horizontally along the top of the doors.

july garden The bedding plants in the boxes and tubs are doing well too. Which is more than can be said about the bedding plants in our super dry flower bed and don’t even mention the hanging baskets, we choose the wrong plants for those, better luck next year!

july garden july gardenThe tomatoes and squash continue to grow and are just starting to bear fruit.

july garden

We’ve now picked the peas and dug up the potatoes which was great fun for Seren.

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Seren’s also enjoyed playing in her new sand box which we’ve put at the top of the garden (where we are more tolerant to mess!). I bought this clear plastic box from IKEA with the intention of using it as under-cot storage but it’s too tall to fit. Balanced on a couple of small tables it makes a great sand box! Did you know you can get coloured sand from the Early Learning Centre?

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It’s been so hot we’ve mainly been using the garden in the evening when its cooler.

july garden

We don’t have any shade until 4pm which is no good for Imogen and I so we’ve finally got round to buying an umbrella for our table and are looking forward to eating out there more. Apologies if this signals the end of the hot, sunny weather…

july garden

The garden in June and May

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Imogen at 2 months

Imogen is now over 10 weeks old! Here’s the photos I took of her at 2 months and 1 day:

Imogen-at-2-months Imogen-at-2-months Imogen-at-2-months

Compared to her 2 week and 1 month photos:

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She’s definitely getting longer and filling out! She’s not newborn “scrunched up” like at all anymore. She’s had her 8 week vaccinations which she was very brave about (I guess they weren’t as painful as the blood tests or canula she has had) but was rather upset later in the day so had her first ever dose of Calpol. She can typically be unsettled during the day and difficult to put down (I am typing this one-handed with her sleeping over my shoulder) and I’ve mastered the Close sling to put her in when she wants to be cuddled but I really need to crack on with things. I bought the sling when Seren was born but we never had to use it so didn’t! Here she is in the sling and also her asleep in her pram with her hand sticking out from under a muslin, just like her big sister used to do.

hand-and-sling

She does like to stretch out on her playmat at least once a day though and have a good leg kicking session. She’s started to push herself back with her legs and also rolls onto her side already. She seems pretty strong! The other evening she was in the middle of the playmat one minute and off on the floor the next having pushed herself back!

imogen 2 months

She also likes being outside in the evenings, snoozing and watching her daddy water the garden.

imogen 2 months

Thankfully she sleeps well overnight, from about 11pm to 5am ish when she wakes for a quick feed and is easily settled afterwards. We’re still mix feeding though her latch is much better now and we’re doing more breastfeeding than ever and having to express less milk.

She’s smiling more and gives us a huge grin first thing in the morning and has lots of smiles for her sister. The introduction of a camera seems to break the spell though so it’s tricky to take smiley photos so you’ll have to make do with this blurry one:

imogen 2 months

She’s pretty social and always has smiles for other people (sometimes more so than ones for mummy!). This morning she was grinning at her reflection in the mirror in M&S, I guess she liked the look of that smiley baby! She’s spent some time hanging out with her little baby friends, Arthur, Thomas, Camilla, Emily, Arlo and Phoebe and baby cousin Elena but doesn’t seem to register their existence just yet.

imogen 2 monthsShe’s still getting lots of visitors to meet her and she enjoys all of the cuddles!

imogen 2 months

She also got to spend a couple of hours on her own at nana and grandad’s whilst I treated myself to some me-time at the dentist (!). She was perfectly happy being there without mummy or daddy thankfully!

Imogen at 1 month!
Imogen’s Birth Story

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Back to swimming

Before the front door slamming incident I mentioned the other day, Seren had her first swimming lesson since Imogen arrived. She’s been having lessons with Born to Swim since she was 5 months old and as I needed to get in the pool with her for these lessons, we haven’t been able to go for a while and I know she’s missed it. We were lucky enough to arrange a couple of 1-1 lessons with her old swimming teacher though and Seren loved being back in the water!

She was initially a bit nervous. As we sat at the poolside waiting for the lesson, I asked her if she had noticed that I hadn’t changed into my swimming costume. I explained that I was going to stay on the poolside with baby Imogen and she would be lucky enough to go in the pool just with teacher Mandi, who she adores. I told her Imogen and I were looking forward to watching her swim. She climbed onto my knee, buried her head in my shoulder and said “take your dress off mummy, take your dress off”.

Mandi did a great job of making Seren feel comfortable and enticing her into the water by playing a game with her. They choose their favourite rubber ducks, lined them up and threw them in the pool. Of course, they then had to get into the pool to get them! Before long Seren was splashing away through the usual lesson routine.

It was great for me to see her from the poolside instead of being in with her and I took a couple of sneaky photos and a video.

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I think I’m going to book her on to council run group lessons at a different, where the parents don’t have to participate, when she turns 3 in September. I just hope we find a teacher as good as Mandi!

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Gone parenting

sistersHello there! I’m not getting much time to myself at the moment, as I’m sure you can appreciate, so it’s been hard to keep up to date with our tales.

I remember a friend saying “it’s not twice as hard, it’s twenty times as hard” after the arrival of her second child. I also read something recently that said when your second baby arrives you feel like you know what you are doing with the newborn but the toddler becomes more challenging in a “PUT YOUR BABY SISTER DOWN AND DO NOT FEED HER CHEERIOS” type way. Based on my short experience of being a mum to two, I completely agree with these comments! Our main challenges at the moment are the continued feeding difficulties with Imogen and potty training Seren. Neither of these things are going as well as I’d like and both are pretty logistically and emotionally draining.

On the whole though we are all getting used to being a family of four, in that Andy and I are getting used to being needed by two little people at exactly the same time and Seren is getting used to sharing us. She loves Imogen and being a big sister but has found not being top dog around here anymore tough. The best tantrum was when she slammed the front door behind me as I went back out to get Imogen out of the car. We’d just returned from swimming and I guess she was tired, hot and feeling a little sensitive as she is prone to at the moment, she wanted a cuddle which I said I would give her once I’d got Imogen inside. 99% of the time I put the door on the latch as I go back and forth to the car but of course this was the one time I hadn’t. Seren was locked inside and is too little to open the door herself. Fortunately my bag with my phone were still outside with Imogen and grandad was able to come round quickly with spare keys! Thankfully Seren was happily playing with her toys when we got in.

Hopefully things will settle down soon and the big challenges of today will be, almost, forgotten about before long.

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The garden in June

We’ve been lucky to spend quite a lot of June in the garden! Playing with the usual toys, drawing with pavement chalks, chasing bubbles, having real and pretend picnics and sliding into the paddling pool.

june garden june-garden-5There’s lots of colour at the moment, we planted out our bedding plants at the end of May and perennials such as the fuchsia and hydrangea are now flowering too. The early clematises and gorgeous aliums are now both over though along with most of the snapdragons.

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The hydrangea is now 4 or 5 times the size it was when we planted it 2 years ago!

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Perennial fuchsia and one last snapdragon.

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I have no idea what the plants below are called but I love the colours!

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The nigella is flowering too, I discovered last week during a conversation with my auntie about blue flowers that its also called ‘love in a mist’! You can see why.

june garden

We’ve planted lots of geraniums in pots to cheer up the dreary concrete at the back of the garden and filled the hanging basket too.

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I don’t think my peony plant is going to flower alas. The buds have gone hard and pretty dead looking. The plant is from my stepmum’s garden and didn’t flower last year after we uprooted it and moved it down south. I was hopeful for flowers this year but after reading more about the plant it may take another year to get settled.

june gardenMrS picked up these ‘Stars and Stripes’ petunias and I love them!

june garden

The vintage fruit crates that we planted with climbers and bedding plants are doing well. The jasmine in one of the crates is flowering and starting to smell wonderfully.

june garden june-gardenThe climbing rose we planted last year is now flowering too. I love the mixture of pinks, corals and brighter orange colours it has.

june gardenThe passiflora has spread a lot but no flowers as yet.

june garden

We’ve hung bird seed in coconut shells and Seren has enjoyed watching the magpies come into the garden to eat it.

june garden

Seren is also enjoying being chief strawberry and raspberry picker! Which means that as soon as something turns red she is allowed to pick them for an immediate snack. So I don’t really get to photo the ripe fruit but here are some green ones.

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We planted out the tomatoes and MrS has put a robust frame in place after last year’s crop got into a bit of a mess.

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The courgette plants have been planted out too though it would seem that they might be squash plants instead! I can’t tell yet.

june garden

In the vegetable patch, the potatoes are flowering and the peas are growing up the canes. I think the carrots we planted in between them have been totally overshadowed – oops!

june garden

Hopefully July will bring more sunny, carefree garden days.

P.S. The garden in May

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Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

can't take my eyes of you

Image via Pinterest

It would seem that Frankie Valli’s ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ is mine and Imogen’s song. I’ve been bursting out into the ‘I love you baby’ chorus when I pick her up to which she responds with a bewildered look. Like this:

bewildered

Seren’s song is ‘You Are My Sunshine’ (and to a lesser extent ‘Little Donkey’ but I try not to sing Christmas songs too much in the height of summer). Seren complained when when I song ‘her’ song to Imogen, telling me that, “no mummy, I’m the sunshine”.

MrS and I don’t actually have a song though we danced to Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ at our wedding. And I walked down the aisle to the pianist playing Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ chosen as my parents sang it to me when I was a baby!

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Hillyfields to Forty Hall Walk

Forty Hall has been getting a lot of love on these pages recently but it really is a great local place to pop to for a few hours or even as another child friendly stop on the north eastern stretch of the M25. It’s a 5 minute drive from junction 25 (as is Myddelton House Gardens and Capel Manor Gardens).

As well as wandering around the grounds there is a longer circular walk that can be done from Hillyfields and back again. Part of the walk is on the Enfield Greenways pathway which was laid last year making it super buggy friendly and the rest of it is certainly possible with a buggy you don’t mind getting a bit muddy. Hillyfields to Forty Hall is also part of Section 17 of the London Loop walk which goes from Cockfosters to Enfield Lock.

hillyfields to forty hall

Start by walking across Hillyfields from your chosen starting point in the direction of the Rose and Crown pub on Clay Hill (which claims to have been used by both Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin as hideouts). Or before you start the walk you could pop in to Karen’s Kitchen cafe within St Luke’s church at the south east corner of Hillyfields on Phipps Hatch Lane. Karen’s Kitchen is a little child friendly, cash-only cafe serving gorgeous homemade cakes (and more substantial lunch things) open from 10am Wednesday to Saturday.

hillyfields

Hillyfields is an open grassy area with woodland and a bandstand that little ones will enjoy exploring. It’s hilly (you may have guessed that) so care needed with scooters and bikes. You can play Pooh sticks on the little bridge over Turkey Brook too! Exit Hillyfields at the north east corner and cross over Clay Hill. Enter Whitewebbs Park on the footpath down by the right hand side of the Rose and Crown pub.

hillyfields to forty hall hillyfields to forty hall hillyfields to forty hall hillyfields to forty hall hillyfields to forty hallThe footpath takes you all the way to Maidens Bridge, a Grade II listed bridge that runs over Turkey Brook (which used to be known as Maidens Brook). To get to Forty Hall you need to leave the pathway, not long before you get to Maidens Bridge, turning right following a worn path across the grass.

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You should then get to the ‘avenue of trees’ which runs from Forty Hall down to the Turkey Brook valley.

hillyfields to forty hall

At Forty Hall you can sit down for a rest, walk round the lake, tour the house and visit the cafe. It’s worth noting that as I write (June 2014) there is quite a bit of building work going on in the grounds around the lake.

forty hall hillyfields to forty hall hillyfields to forty hallTo complete the walk back to Hillyfields you need to find the pathway behind the Walled Garden. This path takes you down in between Forty Hall and Forty Hall Farm back to the Whitewebbs Park woodland. If there has been lots of rain or snow, this bit can be quite muddy! And last time I visited there were quite a few stinging nettles so watch out for those. We can usually see the farm’s pigs from the path but sometimes they are nearer than other times!

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As you walk through the woodland there are signs leading you back to Hillyfields.

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Before long you rejoin the path back to the Rose and Crown and you can head back to where you started from.

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Imogen at 1 month!

Imogen-1-monthImogen-1-monthphotos-late-spring4Top 3 photos at 1 month old, bottom 2 photos at 2 weeks old

Imogen is a whole month old already! The month has flown by, though at the same time it feels like she has always been here. I’m not too sorry to say goodbye to the fragile, anxious very-newborn days and move on to slightly more settled times.

After having such a positive, straightforward birth, we had a few issues in the first week which saw us back in hospital for 3 nights on children’s ward. The primary issue was that Imogen wasn’t feeding enough – a combination of not enough appetite, bad wind and not latching on well when breastfeeding saw her lose ‘too much’ of her birth weight in the first few days. Most babies lose some weight initially as they adjust from being fed constantly by the umbilical cord to needing to be more proactive about getting milk. She picked up a slight infection too. She had to have a feeding tube, IV fluids and IV antibiotics as well as being hooked up to a heart and oxygen monitor. The doctors carried out a variety of tests to rule out anything more serious which all came back negative thankfully. Not an experience I wish to repeat in a hurry and I was so pleased to get home to my big girl and be able to cuddle Imogen properly again without the various wires and tubes attached to her.

She is absolutely fine now, eating well and putting on weight, you can see that in the photos above taken 2 weeks apart. We still haven’t got the hang of breastfeeding so I’m expressing milk for her and she has some formula milk too. We are still trying with breastfeeding and have more success some days than others, especially when I relax about it.

Imogen at 1 month Imogen-1-month

After being super sleepy at the beginning, she is having longer periods of being awake and alert and she is just starting to follow moving objects with her eyes. She stares at the toys hanging on her chair and playmat and kicks the playmat’s bars too. I think she has made a few tentative attempts to reach out for an object with her hands though that could be a coincidence! She still has the tight newborn grasp.

photos-late-spring photos-late-springHer skin is filling out and becoming less wrinkly and is less dry and flaky too. She isn’t showing any signs of eczema or cradle cap like her sister had yet and she hasn’t started to lose her velvety hair (or fur from her ears! yet either. She has had plenty of ‘wind smiles’ but we don’t think there’s been any real ones yet! She still gets wind after feeding and is quite a sicky baby too.

photos-late-springOverall she’s pretty chilled out and settles easily, waking up once in the night to feed. Whilst half asleep she makes little grunting noises and does karate kicks. She very much likes a cuddle and can complain loudly if expected to nap on an inanimate object. So, I’m typing this one handed, laptop balanced on feeding cushion with a sleeping month old baby snuggled into my left arm, I can’t complain too much about that!

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