Chalk and cheese: in it together

Chalk and cheese

At the beginning of 2015, it seems only right to jot down how my two girls have developed over the past 6 months or so since my last update.  Every so often, I realise that one or both of them have entered another stage of their little lives and this has definitely been the case over the Christmas period.  Take 2 year old, for example, who suddenly experiences ‘angry, frustrated meltdowns’ at least twice a day involving potty throwing and ear piercing shrieks.  I often do this myself This demonstrates some quite advanced emotional development, I think.

Anyway, here’s a run down of my daughters’ developing uniqueness – and also some of the stuff they’ve been doing together as siblings.

2 year old
Quietly determined. My 2 year old is a very determined little character, just like her sister and yet in a much quieter way. Last night for example, I saw she had spilled some milk on her covers. In my desperation to get back to watching Broadchurch and not being bothered to change the sheets, I stuck a folded towel on the wet part. She didn’t like this. She tried to remove it but I put it back and she calmly accepted (my 4 year old would have screamed the house down in a very audible battle of wills). Couple of hours later, I retire to bed and have a peek in. And there it is – the towel, neatly and quietly discarded at the bottom of the bed.
Caring and empathetic. For one so young she surprises me with how caring she is towards others and how quickly she picks up on the way someone is feeling, both adults and children alike. If her older sister is upset – even if she’s been naughty and is upset because she’s on the naughty step – she’ll bring her a teddy and give her a cuddle. This is even the case if elder sister is in trouble for pulling her own hair. She’s initially upset that her hair has been pulled but then feels sorry for her sister that she’s in trouble. If I lose my rag – for example I trod on a toy this morning and hurt my foot and hurled said toy across the room in a rage (not my finest parenting moment) she says “are you alright, mummy?”.
Maybe she’ll be a nurse and nurse me through my old age. Here’s hoping.
When she blows, she blows. My word – if she loses it, which is usually rare but over the past couple of weeks has been about twice a day, she really loses it and it takes a good 5 minutes for her to calm down. See potty throwing incident, above. Don’t know where she got that from as I would never hurl a toy I’d just trodden on across the room.
Likes to carry certain toys around and holds onto them for dear life. This links to the point about determination. When she decides she’s holding onto her favourite teddy, by God she holds onto that thing for dear life. She’ll even tuck it into her sleeve whilst she’s eating.
Going through a fussy eating period. At the moment, it’s tricky to get our 2 year old to eat anything of nutritional value, save cheese or sausage. However, I’ve been here before and I know ALL the tricks of the trade. Hidden vegetables in pasts sauce it is then for the next few weeks until she gets over it.
Sleeps a lot – but wakes up and plays with toys at 4am. We’ve never had a problem with little one’s sleeping, save when she was a very tiny baby. She’s very ordered and regimented. She likes to put her PJs on (currently a Frozen nightie), have a drink of milk, read one story and then she even takes herself off to bed. For the past couple of weeks there’s a been a slight change as she’s woken in the night a couple of times and started randomly playing with her toys on her bed. She doesn’t seem to need us or ask for us though. So my plan is simply to leave her to it and put ear plugs in.
Role plays. Our eldest role plays constantly about anything and everything and using any device she can place her hands on. It’s lovely to watch 2 year old at her own pretend play. It will usually involve animals – she likes to pretend her doggy is eating his food, having a sleep or reading a book.
Listens to what I say. This is new to me! I’m used to have a strong willed 4 year old who will argues the toss – and I’m often left with the strange feeling that I haven’t actually won the argument even though on the face of it I have. The littlest one (so far) will listen to what I say – she does challenge as all 2 year olds do, but if I speak firmly, which I don’t often need to, she will back down. Although I’m now realising that in my earlier point I just wrote about the towel at the bottom of the bed. Hmmm.
4 year old
Lots of role play and dressing up.  I could give my 4 year old an old dust rag and she’d find a role play use for it. Our daughters do have a lot of toys – they’re very lucky to have family who buy them many things. She has baskets of ‘oddments’ in her room which consist of parts of teasets, barbie clothes and random bits and bobs and she will carefully craft pretend picnics and sleepovers with these. I attended one of her picnics one afternoon last week and it was most exhilarating.
Crafts and drawing. Since starting school her drawing and craft skills have developed enormously. Within a space of 4 months her drawing of a person has transformed from a stick with eyes, arms and legs to a person with a face and hair, wearing variously patterned clothes and with hands and feet (even shoes!). She loves crafting and will spend time thinking about what she wants to create before creating it (not a lot of time admittedly, but it makes a change from spraying paint, glue and glitter everywhere a la the Tazmanian Devil).
Talks a lot. This has been a feature of our eldest daughter’s life since she was 6 months old, when I took a video of her babbling and interspersing this with her first word “ta”. She still talks an awful lot. I’m really pleased as she’s so confident and certainly not afraid to say what she thinks. Confidence – particularly in public speaking – is a skill we want to encourage in our daughters as it’s so important when you think of job interviews, presentation skills and just the ability to convey your own abilities or opinions to others. She is starting a drama class soon and I’m hoping this will also help.
I should also say that sometimes my brain hurts at the end of a day spent with my daughter – but I wouldn’t change it. You can read more about my love of baths which helps me to cope with exuberant daughters.
Talking back: “Well I can do it anyway”. This has been creeping up on us for a year or more – the dreaded talking back. Although it’s also quite funny. For example: “You need to go to bed right now – no getting up – or I’ll tell your teacher in the morning.” ” Well I might tell her myself anyway and she won’t mind”. Honestly. I’m starting to say things that my parents used to say to me, like “Well I’m the boss!” or “I know best because I’ma grown up!”. Maybe it’s payback.
Thinking about the world and where things come from. I’ve previously written about the questions our eldest has asked as she gets more curious about the world she lives in. Recently, these have taken on a new depth – recent questions include “Why is the moon in the sky?”, “Are these all the people there are in the world?” and “Where was my sister before she was born?”
Appreciating her friends. I get the impression that 4 year old has recently been appreciating her friends, rather than just expecting them to be there as they always have. She’s always had an active life – from the outset we visited playgroups, the library and participated in fun activities such as baby sensory classes. She’s always had children of her own age around her, almost every day. Over the past month or so she’s been taking the odd moment to think about whether she’ll see them the next day or not, what they’ll do, who she’d like to see. Like her sister, she also shows more empathy of late, remembering when one of her friends has been upset and telling me about it.
Writing and recognising words. Alongside her creativity, her writing and recognition of words has developed so much since starting school. She loves practicing her letters, recognising words in books and can write her own name and few other words (such as ‘love’) perfectly.

Things they enjoy doing together
I’ve previously written about how I know that my daughters love each other as siblings. At the moment, they play together an awful lot and I’ve noticed their own pattern of play emerging, which consists of:
Picnics. As noted above, my 4 year old can make a picnic out of anything. 2 year old now joins in and I will often enter my lounge to find it’s been turned into a picnic area.
Sleepovers. They like to find their blankets and bean bags and have a pretend sleepover. 2 year old is in charge of shouting “COCK-A-DOODLE-DO!” when it’s time to get up again.
Hiding from monsters. I think this idea has come about due to watching films (mainly Frozen – you know the snow monster who says “don’t come baaaaack!!!”. I’m always hearing them running for their lives from various monsters.

Writing this has helped me to understand how quickly our two daughters are developing and it’s good to have a record of where they’re at right now. I look forward to doing the same next year!

Siblings: 10 ways I know my girls love each other

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It’s nearly 19 months since my littlest one was born – literally in a flash. It took all of 17 minutes for her to enter the world. She’s certainly full of life, as demonstrated by a party I recently attended where I spoke to literally no-one, due to the fact I was running after her constantly as she climbed stairs, got on the stage with her sister to start singing, talked to dogs, pulled their tails and generally tried to escape.

Her older sister is now 3 1/2 and also growing up fast, full of potential and ready to learn new things every day. It’s great to see the sibling relationship develop.

When littlest one was first born, my eldest was a bit bemused and used to give her the odd tap on the head, perhaps wondering if this thing was real and actually here to stay.

What I want for them more than anything is a good relationship which means they can support each other through their lives – life can be tough after all and what better friend to share the good and bad but a sister?

Of course they’ve reached a stage where bickering (nay wrestling) and general falling out is occurring. But I reassure myself by observing the following 10 ways that demonstrate to me they love each other:

1. They ‘fetch’ things for each other. This is impossibly cute. Just this morning, as I was struggling to get them out of the door to the childminder, the older one brought my 1 1/2 year old her pink cat “to cuddle in the car”. Similarly, 1 1/2 year old will fetch her older sister her favourite toy cat and pass me her eczema creams when she’s getting dressed in the morning.
2 – They care when the other one is upset. If my 3 1/2 year old is crying, I’ve noticed that the little one will give me a puzzled, concerned look, point at her and say her name. Similarly, 3 1/2 year old always wants to know what’s wrong with the little one if she’s upset and will think of things she might need to feel better.
3 – They engage in pretend play together. This has only just started to happen over the past month or so. Playing ‘tea parties’ is a current favourite, or ‘cottages’ using their playhouse in the garden.
4 – They spoon feed each other. At mealtimes, feeding each other is an endless source of amusement. It does make mealtimes stupidly long and I’m usually itching to tell them to hurry up, but I don’t as it’s so nice to watch.
5 – They share chocolate. Yes – if one is given a piece of chocolate, she will actually give a piece to the other. Not all of the time, obviously, but on occasion.
6 – They notice when the other one isn’t there. I’ve recently clocked that they both feel just that bit lost without the other. Just this morning I was getting the littlest one ready for the childminder and 3 1/2 year old was still asleep. She looked all concerned and asked for her, and then her face lit up when she saw her (and promptly smacked her on the face, shouting her name loudly to wake her up).
7 – They call for each other at night time. They have rooms adjacent to each other and after bedtime I can often hear littlest one calling for her big sister and giggling. I can see this is a sign of things to come – bunk beds have already been requested!
8 – The older one teaches the younger one words. I love watching this – every so often 3 1/2 year old will sit down with her little sister and commence language prep, for example “say pink!”, “now say cheese!”.
9 – They’ve started to gang up on me. Quite alarming for this to happen so soon – the other day they demanded the television on when I already said no, and started a united front which involved them both shouting at me whilst forming a barrier to me entering my own lounge. I resisted, and yet I wonder for how long I can keep it up.
10 – They cuddle. A lovely point to end on – they do cuddle each other at various points throughout the day.

At the end of the day, after the little one has had her story, they have their own ritual which involves a kiss and saying night night to each other. I like having that special moment for them and I hope they remember it in years to come.

Let’s just hope this ganging up malarkey doesn’t last or they’ll be turfing me out soon!

Forget-me-not-Friday #37

Forget-me-not-Friday

Everyone talks about sibling rivalry. But what about sibling love? This little exchange this week was sincere, cute and fuels my hope that they’ll be best mates!

Three year old has been thinking about the fact that mummy and daddy are getting married this year. She’s sat in the car seat next to her one year old sister. She grabs her hand and says…

“One day, me and you are going to get married and we’ll be together forever and ever!!”

Sweet…

Birds of Prey on a Sunny Tuesday

Yesterday, we took a trip out to the Gauntlet Birds of Prey Eagle and Vulture Park.

We had such a great time – it was a beautiful day, the place is clean and inviting, with great picnic areas, a fun ‘collecting bird stamps’ game for the children to play, and most importantly, many magnificent birds who are happy and well-kept in their environment (there’s also a cheeky magpie the staff have affectionately named ‘Monty’, who sneakily hovers around to pick up any cheeky mouse tendrils he may find).

We did visit on a quiet day (a Tuesday) and were lucky enough to get lots of attention from the staff. We saw a flying display of different types of vultures, hawks and kites, with the opportunity to touch and stroke these amazing birds.

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Now, amongst the many hawks, vultures, caracaras and eagles to name a few, there were many different types of owl. Those who know me personally will know I’m quite a bit fond of owls (there is much owl paraphernalia in my house – bought an owl bag from the shop, to add to it), so I loved seeing the Eagle Owl, Barn Owl and cute Little Owl to name a few.

What I loved most, however, was the ‘Vulture Restaurant’. A very knowledgeable and friendly member of staff gave us a great talk whilst feeding the vultures a massive pork shoulder. The talk enlightened me about these misunderstood birds.

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So, as you can see from the photo above, vultures are prone to squabbling over their food and this was quite comical to see (two-going-on-three year old loved it. Picture two vultures madly hopping about and squawking over a nice juicy pork shoulder joint which they were both most certainly going to have some of anyway. Ring any bells anyone? More on this later). Apparently this is due to competition over food and mating opportunities in the wild. They even squabble with their own offspring.

They’re also, contrary to popular belief, some of the cleanest animals on the planet. They meticulously prune and wash themselves after every meal. Their bodies are so clever they can break down nasty bugs such as botulism quite easily (which is why they’re capable of eating rotten meat). This is also why they’re so important in the food chain – they get rid of the bad stuff for us.

I can’t end this post without an analogy, surely? The squabbling I watched suddenly projected me into the future, with a vivid image of my children fighting over a random piece of food/our attention/a toy/just anything! There are flashes of this now, with two-going-on-three year old wanting littlest one’s porridge which is exactly the same as hers. Or wanting a cuddle just as I’m cuddling littlest one. I suppose this isn’t entirely different to the vultures wanting their share of the spoils.

Sadly, nice member of staff informed us that vultures are in decline in certain parts of the world, due to the drug Diclofenac (remember that after pregnancy, fellow Mums?). This is given to cattle, and when the vultures feed off the carcasses it poisons them. Very sad.

I like vultures. My children now like them, too!

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