Come Away With The Faeries

away with the faeries

There’s a local children’s festival that runs each summer called “Come Away With The Faeries” and we managed to go this year. Imogen’s first festival! We last went when Seren was just under a year old and when I heard that 2014’s venue was Capel Manor Gardens, I was extra keen to go again.

The festival has a creative, bohemian vibe offering a variety of child and adult friendly workshops including fairy crafts (wand, wing and crown making), a drumming circle, yoga and meditation sessions as well as live music.

away with the faeries away with the faeries away-with-the-faeries away-with-the-faeriesOf course, Seren was immediately attracted to the bouncy castles, so we started there.

away-with-the-faeries

Before heading off to have our picnic with some friends, including Charlotte from Baking Betsy and her gang. I had made fairy sticks (breadsticks with white chocolate and sprinkles) and fairy kebabs for the occasion!

away with the faeries away with the faeriesWe went to say hello to some of the Capel Manor animals before heading back to the main festival area.

away with the faeries away with the faeriesBy this point the festival was much busier with the inevitable queues for face painting and crafts. If we go next year I think we’ll do the craft activities first as supplies were running low by mid-afternoon. We did manage to make an ivy crown though!

away-with-the-faeries away with the faeriesThen we settled in the drumming circle, soaking up the atmosphere, feeding the babies, eating ice cream and doing some occasional drumming too.

away with the faeries away with the faeriesSeren and Betsy (and some of the grown-ups) enjoyed hoola hooping.

away with the faeries away with the faeriesAnd then settled down to a story.

away-with-the-faeriesAfter the story, our eldest imp was feeling rather sleepy so it was time for us to head home for a fairy nap.

 

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Sibling prep

pregnancy diaries 39 weeksAKA getting #1 ready for #2. Seren absolutely adores Imogen so I feel we did a pretty good job of getting her used to the idea of having a baby sister. Something we didn’t do so well is prepare her for not having complete parental focus. She’s struggled a little with that and plenty of temper tantrums but hey, she’s 2, she’s just dropped her nap, we’ve been potty training and its been pretty hot lately, so maybe the tantrums would’ve happened anyway. But she’s totally smitten with her little sister and, if the baby smiles are anything to go by, Imogen thinks her big sister is pretty cool too.

We told Seren about the baby early on, in the first trimester of pregnancy. She was excited straight away and would want to look down my top or hold up my skirt to try to see the baby. We decided not to take her to our baby scans, I thought she would be bored and / or concerned about me lying down in the scan room. And what if the scans gave us bad news? We saw a few big siblings-to-be leaving the scan room clutching a picture of their new baby brother or sister though so perhaps we were a bit over cautious there.

books lately // seren aged 2.5

By the time I started the third trimester, we had a couple of “new baby” books to read, What’s In Your Tummy Mummy? by Sam Lloyd, There’s a House Inside My Mummy by Giles Andreae and Vanessa Cabban,  Usborne’s The Complete Book of First Experiences (which also includes tales of trips to the dentist and doctor, starting school and moving house amongst others) and Peppa Pig’s Baby Alexander. We still read the story of the Bunn family’s new baby in the Usborne book regularly. Seren was also fascinated by the illustrations in my childbirth book Bump by Kate Evans, she would come and sit next to me when I was reading it and would pull it off the bookshelf to look through herself.

sibling-prep sibling prepShe “helped” us to decorate Imogen’s bedroom and to sort out baby clothes and toys for her. We talked a lot about what the baby would do (cry, need lots of feeding, not be able to play) and how she was going to be big Super Sister Seren. In the days before Imogen arrived, I helped Seren to wrap up a toy bunny for Imogen as a present, this was a really big deal for Seren and she still runs to find the bunny when Imogen is upset. We also gave Seren a present from Imogen, a lifelike baby doll with a baby vest, hat, nappy and baby shawl that my granma knitted.

sibling-prep sibling-prep

Seren went off for a sleepover with Nana and Grandad the night that Imogen arrived, though she was unaware of the events unfolding. When she arrived home the next afternoon, she came in noisily through the front door. “Shhhhh you’ll wake the baby” Andy said to her. “The baby in mummy’s tummy?” she replied. We told her that the baby was no longer in my tummy and led her through to the sitting room to meet her baby sister.

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Imogen at 3 months

Happy 3 months old Imogen Lily! You’ve been here a quarter of a year already. I can’t believe how quickly the months are flying by, the time certainly seems to be racing ahead quickly.

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And here are her photos at 2 weeks, 1 month and 2 months.

Imogen-2-weeks-+-1-month Imogen-at-2-monthsShe’s now had her 12 week vaccinations and wasn’t as grumpy about them as with the 8 week ones. She weighed 12 pounds and 3 ozs at her 13 week weigh in which is in the middle of the 25th and 50th centile. A little bit concerning as she was born on the 91st centile but she is putting on weight and has been tracking the same line for a few weeks now. She still fits into some newborn clothes though is wearing more 0-3 months size ones now too. Despite her smallness, she has plenty of energy as she has rolled over for the first time! A good 2 months earlier than her big sister did. Her she is post-roll.


She is also holding her head well and enjoying being able to sit propped up.

imogen-3-months

She’s just started to hold onto toys and puts them into her mouth too.


As well as toys, she is still trying to cram her hands into her mouth and I’ve been trying to get her to take a dummy which I’d prefer to thumb sucking. We think she’s been teething a little, Seren started teething at 3 months too although no actual tooth came through until she was nearly 1!

The shape of a routine is starting to form (I’ve never been rigid on routines); she wakes around 5am for a breastfeed then falls back to sleep until around 7.30am when she has another quick breastfeed.


I then change her nappy and get her dressed and she plays on her playmat or on the floor whilst Seren and I play with her, have breakfast and get ready for the day.

imogen-3-monthsShe falls asleep around 10am for an hour or so and has another breastfeed on waking. I’m struggling to spot an afternoon routine yet but she has her first formula feed in the afternoon then a breastfeed around 5pm. She gets ready for bed with her sister around 7pm and they often have a story together now. Imogen then comes back downstairs for another play, then a formula or expressed milk feed and she falls asleep around 9pm. She used to have a dream feed at about 10.30pm / 11pm  but doesn’t always take this now. She still sleeps in her Bednest next to me and has plenty of room left in it.

imogen 3 months

She’s been to her first party where she fed and slept throughout.

imogen 3 months

And had her first sleepover at our friends’ house.

imogen-3-months

We’ve been going to a lovely mums and babies meet up at Love13 in Bush Hill Park (home of the lampshade making class!) and are looking forward to more baby centred activities in September.

Imogen at 2 months
Imogen at 1 month
Imogen’s birth story

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Paradise Wildlife Park

At the beginning of July, a friend who has a little boy the same age as Seren, asked us if we fancied going to Paradise Wildlife Park for the day. What I really fancied doing was staying at home in my safe bubble but I knew Seren would love the trip and I had to be brave. It was my first all day outing since Imogen’s arrival and I was mainly worried about feeding. At that point, I was still expressing milk regularly throughout the day, Imogen – at 7 weeks – was just only just starting to breastfeed well. I had no idea whether she would breastfeed throughout the day or whether I would have to rush home to express milk. I hadn’t fed her in public yet either. I took a leap of faith and it was OK, she fed from me at the park and we had a lovely day.

Paradise Wildlife Park is a zoo based just up the road from us in Hertfordshire. As well as the obvious zoo type animals there are also a couple of good play areas and a little Thomas the Tank Engine “inspired” train ride too. We just wandered really with no agenda and started off with a visit to the primates.

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Before heading over to the rainforest area (which was hot!) then on to see the big cats which Seren enjoyed roaring at.

paradise wildlife park paradise-wildlife-park

Whilst I was up on the Tiger Treetop platform, Imogen stirred in her buggy down on the ground and my friend picked her up for a cuddle. Apparently, every time she cried, a leopard came over to the fence to see what the fuss was about and my friend thought the leopard must be maternal. I was reminded of the story in the Food of Love by Kate Evans which basically says that babies have evolved to cry when they are put down as babies that didn’t got eaten by tigers (back in the very olden days of evolution!). I thought the leopard must be hungry!

paradise wildlife parkBaby Imogen was hungry too and we found a picnic table to sit down at to feed her and ourselves. We stopped by the penguins and the meerkats on the way.

paradise wildlife park

After lunch we saw a falcon display in the Birds of Prey area, then the zebras, before finding a playground to let the kids run around in.

paradise wildlife park

They enjoyed the swings, climbing into the fire engine and jumping on the bouncy castle. Then it started to rain, Imogen needed feeding again, mummy needed coffee and kids needed ice-cream of course!

summer 2014

All of sudden it was time for us to go but we could have stayed longer and our friends stayed to go on the little train and and for more playing.

There is a lot more to see and do than we managed; more animals, various Zoo Keeper talks and soft play for rainy days as well as special events such as sleepovers and tiger feeding experiences. Entrance is on the pricey side, especially in high season, so buy tickets online for a slight discount, use Tesco Clubcard vouchers or wait for offers through Groupon or Littlebird.

Paradise Wildlife Park – www.pwpark.com

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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.

summer 2014 summer 2014

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.

summer 2014 summer 2014

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.

summer 2014 summer 2014 summer 2014

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.

real-food-market real-food-market real-food-market Jubilee-gardens Jubilee-gardens

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?

july garden july garden

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:

Imogen-2-weeks-+-1-month

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.

toddler-swimming toddler-swimming toddler-swimming

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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