Eli at 14 months

A bit late this time but month 14 for Eli was a long tiring month for me. Sleep was hard to come by but I still had a lovely sunny boy during the day.

So, what is Eli like at 14 months?

  • Weight: Not sure, he’ll probably only get weighed again at 15 months.
  • Clothing Size: 9-12 months and 12-18 months, some of the 9-12 trousers are a little short.
  • Teeth: 2 bottom central incisors, 2 top central incisors and 2 top lateral incisors – 6 altogether.
  • Mobility: walking all the time – definitely a toddler.
  • Communication: lots of ‘der’ (there) and his first word for something ‘di-a’ (digger), definitely able to get his point across even if he doesn’t really use many words.
  • Sleep: lots of lost evenings having to go and settle the boy but at least that tooth finally came through. Sleep was horrendous for a bit but does seem to (please!) be a bit better now on the whole.
  • Playing: ring stackers are still a firm favourite as are musical toys that he can dance along to.
  • Eating: happy to try most foods but will spit them out if not liked. He does seem to dislike pasta – not sure that will be sustainable in this house though!
  • Personality: still just a gorgeous, gentle soul – love him!
Not a great recap as it’s a couple of weeks late but it was a very tiring month…

 

All about Tilly at 5

Tilly is now 5! She had a lovely birthday dinner with us and her grandparents and is really happy with her new Hello Kitty bedroom. I had her answer the same questions I asked at the beginning of the year and here’s the result:

  1. What is your favourite colour? pink
  2. What is your favourite toy? Hello Kitty
  3. What is your favourite fruit? apple
  4. What is your favourite TV show? Fred the show (what she was watching at the time)
  5. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch? Ham sandwiches with mayonnaise
  6. What is your favourite outfit? A hello kitty top
  7. What is your favourite game? Crocodile snap (she played this with Nana only about 10 minutes before so I think it was the first thing that came into her head)
  8. What is your favourite snack? chocolate
  9. What is your favourite animal? zebra
  10. What is your favourite song? Big red combine harvester (they sang this at the Harvest Festival at school)
  11. What is your favourite book? All about princesses
  12. Who is your best friend? Molly
  13. What is your favourite cereal? Multigrain hoops
  14. What is your favourite thing to do outside? Put my wellies on and jump in puddles
  15. What is your favourite drink? milk
  16. What is your favourite holiday? Africa
  17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? piggy
  18. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast? Multigrain hoops
  19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? pasta
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor
  21. What is your favourite pet? dog

 

Eli at 13 months

This last month has been a busy time for Eli – lots of new skills emerging and lots of things to learn.

So, what is Eli like at 13 months?

  • Weight: 20lb 11oz (9.4kg) (in vest and nappy now he no longer needs to be stripped down to get weighed).
  • Clothing Size: 9-12 months
  • Teeth: 2 bottom central incisors, 2 top central incisors and top right lateral incisor.
  • Mobility: crawling very, very fast, able to stand without support for as long as he wants to, able to squat and stand up from a squat (doesn’t need anything to pull up on anymore), walking! – taking up to seven steps at a time and really trying to walk instead of crawl, won’t be long now until he’s a fully fledged toddler.
  • Communication: still screeches for attention but much less now, says ‘dis’ (meaning ‘I want to look at this’, ‘give me this’, ‘what is this?’), ‘der’ (meaning ‘take me there’ – usually pointing to outside) and ‘um, um’ (meaning ‘yum, yum’ which I always say to him whilst he’s eating, can clap and wave but generally prefers not too, still very occasionally signs milk, signs more with one hand, he recently went through a stage of shaking his head most gravely if I said no (now he just ignores me).
  • Sleep: still getting most of an evening to myself – he’s been really unsettled recently with a tooth that just. won’t. erupt. (I am tired!)
  • Playing: ring stackers are his favourite toys and he’ll spend ages taking the rings off and putting them back on, he likes to climb to the top of his toy garage like a mini King Kong, he loves pushing things around – walkers, the aforementioned toy garage, tables, chairs…
  • Eating: doesn’t eat much but generally not bothered by tastes (did spit out an olive which I’m in full agreement with as they are yuck), will mug me for anything I am eating, likes to throw his food on the floor for the cats to eat (he learnt this early on and finds it most entertaining), I’ve just started giving him a spoon or fork for every meal which he thinks is fantastic.
  • Personality: just a wonderful baby, happy to play by himself but likes to come and see me for the occasional cuddle, interested in everything, really enjoying having books read to him (especially those with textures to feel).
We’ve had a busy month, with the two big kids in school most of the time Eli and I have been spending lots of time with friends and at various groups. Eli particularly likes groups with older children he can play with – he enjoyed playing in cardboard boxes with an almost 2-year-old at our ones group yesterday. With all his recent advances I’m looking forward to the next month and even more new skills.

 

How to feel like a performance parent

Walking home from school, along the busy bit of pavement where lots of parents are loading children into cars, Lex tells me he’s been reading Shakespeare’s plays. Oh I say, which ones in particular? Julius Caesar he tells me. That’s nice I say, what happens in the play? He gets stabbed mummy – in the head!

Now Lex is not quite seven so this little interaction made me feel like I was about to be the subject of a ‘OMG performance parent alert‘ thread on Mumsnet – ‘AIBU to think that going on about Shakespeare on the school run is a tad pretentious?’. In my defence he brought it up unprompted and I tried not to be too loud about it but this totally validates my Book People addiction – the book he had been reading is from a set of books by Marcia Williams. Not quite Shakespeare unabridged and in the original but clearly accessible to Lex so how very cool is that? I resisted the urge to explain this to the mother just behind us, she probably wasn’t listening and if she was it most likely would only have cemented my place as performance parent of the afternoon (even if there’s a trophy I’d rather not win that – unless of course the prize is chocolate, I could parent really loudly for chocolate).

All the books in the set brilliant introductions to various classic stories – Lex enjoyed the Greek Myths book during his Olympic theme during last term and has, erm, read a bit of the Canterbury Tales recently – but I particularly like the Shakespeare books. They’re each set as a comic strip with an contemporary explanation of what’s happening underneath each panel but the dialogue is all original and there’s a cartoon audience to give additional help to the kids in understanding the plot.

I love that my son enjoys reading as much as he does and he knows about Shakespeare and that he wrote a play called Julius Caesar. He’s not planning on reading the Tempest though. Apparently that looks too romantical and he’s not interested in that sort of thing.

Anatomy of a co-sleeper

There are many wonderful things about co-sleeping:

  • breastfeeding lying down (I am lazy)
  • sleeping whilst feeding (ditto)
  • not having to get out of bed to feed/settle the baby (and again)
  • cuddling a baby all night long (and Eli is my very last baby so I will really miss this when this stage is over

Whilst not having to get out of bed or really even wake up when the baby needs feeding in the night are my absolute favourite things about co-sleeping, finding out exactly how Eli has decided to orientate himself each night is entertaining too. Accordingly I have been taking photos (blurry as it’s hard to get enough light to take a photo without waking the baby!).

The spread eagle: now, considering that I feed Eli to sleep and generally leave him on his side, in a position that would mean I could lie next to him when I decide to go to bed, he is remarkably good at stealing my side of the bed. We do have a super king size bed (definitely a co-sleeping necessity for me!) but I like my pillow and don’t want to have to sleep in the awkward middle space…

Then there’s back-to-front: generally given away by moaning and rustling over the baby monitor, I’m guessing this is what happens when he goes looking for me when he stirs, rotates himself, gives up and goes to sleep.

Normally these positions only affect my ability to get into bed without disturbing Eli and if I don’t have to move him my own ability to get under the covers comfortably. When perpendicular comes into play, R gets to join in too.

I mean, so what if your parents believe that they should have most of the bed (especially after buying the biggest one they could after years of co-sleeping on a double), clearly the bed is for the baby. The cot on the side is, however, clearly not. That has surely been placed there simply to allow for clothes storage and for the rare occasion when you might otherwise fall out of the bed. If you do end up accidentally sleeping in it you should protest loudly until you are removed to the proper bed.

Stuck in the middle

In having three children R and I have found ourselves on unfamiliar ground. I am the eldest of two and R the youngest – middle children are a whole new experience and Tilly is ensuring that we experience every last little bit.

Eli’s first year has clearly been a little tricky for Tilly. Before he arrived she had been the baby of the family for almost 4 years and was quite happy in that position. Now she does love her little brother (sometimes a little too much) and has never really shown much resentment towards him. Occasionally when his existence prevents her from doing/having something she wants she gets a little grumpy with him but he is forgiven very quickly. Mummy and Daddy (but especially Mummy) bear the brunt of her annoyance.

Tilly is a self-confessed daddy’s girl and Daddy is somewhat more indulgent towards her than I am so it’s not exactly unsurprising. Over the last year she has suffered from a lack of attention from both sides and in recent months it has very much started to show. The constant attention seeking over the summer holidays was hideous because it didn’t matter whether the attention was positive or negative – it just had to be attention! Sometimes I manage this really well (i.e. I don’t end up shouting and screaming like a demented banshee) but with lack of sleep (thanks Eli) my response was not always helpful to the situation (think more inflammatory and tantrum prolonging dammit).

Handily starting school has made a difference – she is either far too tired, or getting so much attention there, that she doesn’t have the energy/need to seek it at home. Thankfully, too, as Eli gets older it is becoming easier to give Tilly the one-to-one attention she craves and thrives on. So hopefully, we’re entering a calmer, less upsetting time for all of us. At least she’s the only girl – must be nice to be unique when you’re stuck in the middle.

Any advice for taming the middle child? I can’t imagine the tiredness of the first few weeks of school will continue on into perpetuity…

Toothy milestones

First gappy photo.

Considering Lex was well over 6 when he lost his first tooth, it was a bit of a surprise in the summer when Tilly told us she had a wobbly tooth. It stayed wobbly for a while until last Thursday when it fell out at school. Luckily the school are obviously well practised at this and it came home in an envelope all ready for the tooth fairy.

The kindly tooth fairy did indeed leave £1 for an excited little girl. She promptly asked to change it into ‘school money’ two 50p so that she could buy snacks from the snack trolley. Since they only sell fruit and veg I was quite happy to agree.

At the same time, Eli is suffering through the arrival of two new teeth. One, the top right lateral incisor is through (last week when Tilly lost her tooth) and the left is on its way. This does account for my lessened posting routine on this blog – teething is tiring!

Of baby groups and social bravery

Eli thrilled to have more egg shakers than he could ever hold at our favourite baby group.

I used to be really worried about attending new baby/toddler groups. It seemed too intimidating to walk into a room of people I didn’t know and try to join in (why yes I do have a little social anxiety, how could you tell?). Subsequently, when Lex was a baby we didn’t go to any baby groups. I eventually started taking him to swimming lessons when he was about 5 months old but as I returned to work (3 days a week) when he was 6 months old that was about all I managed to do with him. I feel sad now for not going to groups where I would have met some lovely people – my local LLL group for example – but I was just too worried about not knowing anyone. Of course it’s really hard to meet new friends if you don’t go anywhere to meet them!

When I was pregnant with Tilly I started looking for things that we would be able to do once I was on maternity leave. My lovely SIL took her son to a group that she thought was great, run by (my now friend) L. and so we started doing that – it was fantastic and we still go. I took Eli to L’s baby group today (and the photo of Eli with the treasure basket, that I use everywhere, was taken there when he was about 4/5 months old). In the first year of Tilly’s life we went to a lot of groups – library, toddler group, LLL, swimming and L’s groups. Almost everyday had an activity and it was great fun. When I returned to work I couldn’t attend many but it was fun whilst it lasted.

I know not everybody enjoys baby or toddler groups but I knew that I wanted to find things for Eli and I to do together – I never went to baby groups with the big kids and I really wanted to this time. Toddler groups weren’t really appropriate this time anyway, Tilly didn’t enjoy them anymore – she’s an October baby so, at 4, found most groups too babyish with not many kids her own age. Thankfully my Mum was able to look after her at times – taking her to the zoo or having her to play at her house – to allow Eli and I to find our own groups.

Baby massage at the children’s centre, which I managed to gather up the courage to book by phoning (yup, phone anxiety too dammit) lead to what was a lovely baby group. That group ended today – we were chucked out over a month ago because Eli was crawling (didn’t stop other crawling babies from being allowed…) but due to staffing blah blah they have stopped the group for now. I thought it would be nice to go to the last one (we were there for the first!) and asked yesterday at the Tuesday not-quite-a-group-but-a-chance-to-meet-up (though we have started calling it the see you next Tuesday group…). You’d think it was the most unreasonable request in the world – I received a reply, which I pretty much tuned out as the tone was horrible, about keeping the group rules intact and what if there are new little babies? Firstly, this is the last group do we really need to stick to the rules (especially when you’re breaking them for others)? Secondly, my friends still attended the group (Eli is the eldest) and over the last month there have been no new people at all. I’m rapidly going off my children’s centre (or at least the manager) the atmosphere, once lovely and welcoming, is now more annoyed and bored of us (the clients!) sadly.

To end this long! saga of baby groups, I went to a new group instead, for one year olds at another local children’s centre. I was brave and it paid off. This looks like it will be a lovely group for the next year and whilst I’m looking forward to our friends reaching their first birthdays and joining us I think we’ll also have fun on our own before they get there.

Tales from the toy library

Eli playing with a great toy library borrow.

We have a local toy library. It’s a great idea – for a small fee each year you can borrow up to 5 games and toys each month. There’s a good selection, lots of baby toys as well as games and puzzles for older children.

It’s especially good for borrowing the types of toys – rocking horses, walkers, baby swings – that are expensive but aren’t really used by kids for long enough to justify the expense if you’re watching the pennies. Plus you get to see if your child actually likes a particular toy that you perhaps were thinking of buying to save yourself a costly mistake when it turns out they hate it.

Today was our monthly visit (with some baby group friends). The volunteers were on good form as usual – I’m not sure about other toy libraries but ours is primarily staffed by well-meaning middle-class women of a certain age (and apparently at least one man but I’ve not met him). When you arrive someone eventually notices you are there and demands your name and marks you in the register. All records are paper based and index cards contain all the details of the items you have borrowed along with your contact details. If there are more than one or two people borrowing/returning items chaos begins to descend. At least one volunteer will begin to flap as index cards are sought and names are muddled. I have learnt to stand back and wait because eventually calm will return and once items are returned new items can be sought.

A non-competitive game…

I particularly like to borrow games for the big kids – there’s a handful of Orchard Toys games available and these have generally been good fun (at least the first few times, perhaps not the hundredth). The one month return rule benefits me here as I can return games before they become too annoying to play again and get something new. Today I spotted something that I had to bring home – Snail’s Pace Race bills itself as a ‘non-competitive game. My kids are somewhat competitive – I wanted to see if they would thwart the worthy aims of this game.

The basic idea is that you shake the dice and move the appropriately coloured snails forward depending on the colours you roll. You try to work out which will win and the participating children cannot win nor lose themselves. Lex thought this was fun. Tilly had a tantrum because the pink snail was not winning. I suppose at least they weren’t competing against each other, only Tilly competing against the other snails… Perhaps next time I’ll borrow ‘Pop to the Shops’ again as, despite being competitive, the only tantrums were thrown when I refused to play again (and again and again).

The toys I borrowed for Eli are more successful. He enjoys the ring stacker and a good-sized bead frame. Despite owing a lot of baby toys already, Eli’s interests are slightly different to his older siblings’ and this resource means a range of toys he will love at next to no cost to me – win, win.

So, another month and we’ll be back to the toy library, I wonder what we’ll find then?

Siblings with a bit of rivalry

Obligatory first day of school year photo – Year 2 and Reception.

My big kids like to compete with each other – if they’re not racing each other to the top of the stairs it’s a competition to see who can finish dinner first or hug Eli the most…

Generally we try to discourage the competition because it invariably ends in tears especially considering the amount of cheating that goes on. It doesn’t stop the kids being competitive though, particularly Lex who is driven to be first in everything even if it is a race to the bottom.

The competition is hotting up though in one arena – swimming – where Tilly is gaining quickly on her older brother. It’s always been important to me that my kids learn to swim well – I am half South African after all – and so both big kids have had lessons for a while. Since starting on the ‘proper’ stages (rather than the waterbaby/duckling levels) Lex has taken on average just over 2 terms to move to the next stage (he’s now on his second term of Stage 3). His lessons involve him trying to get to the bottom of the pool (not generally a regular requirement), mucking about with the other kids and trying to be the one who gets to sit on the pool ladder. Needless to say, listening to the teacher is low on his priorities and so, despite lots of early potential (and stern words from his mother), his progress is forwards but slow. Tilly is a bit different.

Tilly likes to please the teacher, listens, copies and observes. I had a bit of a quiet proud mummy moment when she was moved to Stage 1 before she had even started school. When she then passed that and was moved to Stage 2 she proved how hard she had worked over the previous term. Of course now we have an issue (for Lex) in that Tilly (age 4) is only 1 stage behind Lex (age 6).

Today was the first day of the new swimming term. I had forgotten Tilly’s goggles and so she spent most of her lesson trying to scrape the water off her face but was ever so proud that she’d managed to open her eyes under water. Lex swam like a demon. A couple of minor instances of silliness but on the whole a lot of determined swimming. He doesn’t want to end up in the same class as his sister and that is a distinct possibility if he doesn’t pull his finger out. Sometimes a bit of sibling rivalry helps you find your focus (I’m sure his teacher will be relieved).