Friday, 30 January 2015

And Then She Was Three








Ebony turned three earlier this month, and I just wanted to share a few of my favourite photos from the occasion. I’m a big fan of charity shopping so, as usual, a lot of her presents were purchased from our local charity shops. People abandon so many things, and I hate thinking about how much crap ends up in landfill, so I would always choose a second hand gift if I could. Luckily, we have some pretty amazing charity shops nearby so I am usually able to find what I’m looking for.

We wanted to get Ebony a balance bike for her birthday, but after months of scouring eBay for the perfect second hand one, I’d come up empty handed. Luckily, the January sales are right before Ebony’s birthday so we were able to get her a lovely balance bike for a bargain price. She happily pushed herself around the house on it for most of the morning. We had planned a trip to the park but the weather was terrible, January birthdays are a bit rubbish in that respect.

She likes taking photos and is often asking to borrow my phone, so we used her Christmas money to get her a camera of her very own. I’d looked at the kids cameras available, and they seemed to be huge, pink and have tiny screens. On the advice of a clever Instagram friend, we got Ebony a shatterproof waterproof Nikon camera at a reasonable price. She is in desperate need of a case though as she hasn’t quite managed putting it down gently.

One of her favourite gifts was a gardening kit I found in my local charity shop for £2, it was brand new and she loves it. I have big plans for the garden this year so am hoping this will encourage her to get involved and enjoy spending time out there.

After a lunch at our local pub, we headed back to ours in time for all her grandparents to arrive. Ebony really enjoyed opening more presents, including an amazing teepee for her bedroom, and playing games with all of her grandparents. After a big family meal, and a vegan cupcake, it was time for bed.

The next day we had a small party for her at our house. She invited all of her friends, hid most of her toys (generous kid), and decided upon a playlist for the party (Frozen. More Frozen.). I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t exactly looking forward to a hoard of preschoolers taking over our house, but it actually wasn’t too bad. Ebony’s amazing vegan birthday cake was made by my wonderful friend from Becky’s Cake Boutique. I told her we were having a black and white theme (much to the horror of the owner of our local balloon shop) and she did the rest.

The was pass the parcel, a tiny Pom Bear dictator only letting people have one crisp at a time (sorry about that everyone), and a whole lot of vegan sweets. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine. It was lots of fun - the wine, but also the party. But I’m (not so) secretly glad all the big festivities are over for another year.



Wednesday, 28 January 2015

12 Reasons Why My Daughter Probably Isn't Bridesmaid Material



In a few short months, two of my best friends in the world are getting married. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I cannot wait. The very night he asked her to marry him, they asked me if Ebony might like to be a bridesmaid. What an honour! These two friends have played such an important part in my life, in my relationship, and now in my daughter’s life. They were the first people ever to be trusted as late night babysitters, and they have always been wonderful with Ebony. I was so excited when they invited her to be a bridesmaid.

As the day draws ever nearer, however, I am starting to feeling slightly terrified that my daughter may not live up to the idyllic flower girl stereotype you see in movies. My concerns are as follows:

  1. She likes to messily eat brightly coloured food. A lot.
There has not been an occasion in her entire history where she hasn’t ended up coated in neon orange crisp crumbs, chocolate, ice-cream and pasta sauce. The crumbs and smears end up everywhere. All over her face, neck, hair, dress, tights and hands. And everything she touches after that.

  1. She does not like to wash her face.
She is not one of those adorable messy kids who become angelic again in a few mere swishes of a baby wipe. Oh no. She will go to all manner of drama to avoid having her face washed. She will hide, run really fast (probably head first into the bride and her beautiful wedding dress), cry, barter and outright refuse. The only way to guarantee a clean face is to try and get her to wash it herself, which she will only do with (at least) 18 litres of water and a hell of a lot of hand soap.

  1. She is strong-minded.
This is feminist parenting code for “won’t ever do what I want”. Unless she happens to wake up on the morning with the random idea of walking calmly down an aisle, being quiet during a ceremony, and having her photo taken a lot, I am screwed.

  1. She is only in it for the flowers.
Her main motivation as bridesmaid is to have flowers. This would be fine if the flowers came at the end of the day, and acted as a sort of bribe for getting her to fulfil all of her contractual bridesmaid duties, but they don’t. She will get those flowers before she’s even put a toe on the aisle. And then there’s no telling what she’ll do.

  1. She smears things on me.
Most days, the bottom half of me is covered in food, bodily fluids, stickers and felt tip. And that’s fine, because I’m her mother, it’s not the biggest day of my life, and I am not wearing a wedding dress.

  1. She does not like to accesorise.
Scrap that, she loves to accesorise. In theory. She will demand all manner of hair clips, necklaces and bags, but she will never wear them. Well she will, but only for a maximum of two minutes at a time. After that period she will announce they hurt and take them off. This annoys me, and I only ever spend a few pounds, I wouldn’t like to imagine how I might feel if I was paying bridesmaid accessory prices.

  1. She threw up at the last wedding we attended.
On the table. As they brought out dessert. I don’t think I will ever recover from the horror of that moment. But, you know, at least it wasn’t all over the register at the wedding, or all over the actual wedding cake, or down the aisle…

  1. She does not like having her photo taken.
This is pretty much reason for her to be sacked on its own. Flower girls are supposed to stare into the camera with their beautiful big eyes, hold their flowers and pull the most adorable smile ever. My daughter won’t do that. She will make like a celebrity and hold her hand in front of her face while shouting “NO PHOTOS!”

  1. Her hair.
Look, I didn’t want this to get personal, but I feel I have to mention this one. I’ve looked on Pinterest, I know what flower girls are meant to look like. They have long, blonde ringlets tumbling down their backs. They have heads of hairs that can hold flowers crowns and glittery clips. My daughter doesn’t have this. She has short hair. Or, if we’re being honest, a bit of a mullet.
  1. She will talk through the ceremony.
Believe me, I know this from experience. She will talk, and this time, thanks to her bridesmaid status, we won’t be able to hide at the back ready to sneak out at a shout’s notice. We’ll be upfront, near the action. She will start talking, and the absolute best we can hope for is that she doesn’t swear.

  1. She doesn’t understand the role.
A key part of any job is understanding exactly what the job is. I have been reading her books about bridesmaids for months, trying to let the message subtly sink in. And yet, here we are with just a couple of months to go, and she thinks that one of a bridesmaid’s main duties is “to eat all the flanks.” What are flanks, I hear you wonder. They are “sort of like dresses that monsters wear.” Apparently.

  1. She comes from a long line of terrible child bridesmaids.
I was a bridesmaid, aged three, and I showed my special Minnie Mouse knickers to everybody. Everybody.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Living Arrows 4/52

"I don't want to eat cake with you, I want to eat cake with George."


I am feeling under the weather at the moment. I feel like I've been coming down with something for the past week, and it finally hit full force on Sunday. Ebony was meant to be at a birthday party this afternoon but we had to skip it, and instead have a party for two at home.

Dress code: pyjamas
Party food: cake
Party music: absolutely not
Entertainment: Thank god for Netflix
Living Arrows

Monday, 19 January 2015

Living Arrows 3/52

3/52
We woke up to the sound of snowflakes this morning (in case you're wondering what that sounds like, it's sort of like, "Muuuuummy, get up, it's snoooowing, loooook!!). Once we had finally managed to drag ourselves out of bed and into warm clothes, we drove off in search of snow. It doesn't seem to ever stick where we live. We played on the sledge, threw snowballs and discovered a few snowmen before heading back home for a nice warm cup of tea. 

It may seem like I am a brave photographer staring a snowball fight in the house, but Ebony has a truly terrible aim. I'd be more worried about snow getting on my camera if I was stood behind her.
Living Arrows

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Giveaway: A Funky Giraffe Bib Set


The lovely folks over at Funky Giraffe have very kindly offered one of you lucky readers a set of their exquisitely stylish bibs. I seem to remember the dribbling stage lasting for most of Ebony's first year. We only had a couple of bibs, so Ebony had a lot of outfit changes as a baby.

Funky Giraffe bibs are good quality and come in a variety of beautiful designs. The ones pictured above are some of my favourites, but there are loads more to choose from.

The winner will be able to choose one of the sets of 10 bibs available here, there are six different sets to choose from so you should be able to find one to suit your brood.

Funky Giraffe have a sale on at the moment, so it's definitely worth checking out the Funky Giraffe website. You can get bibs for as little as £1.50 each in the sale. If you're based outside of the UK, Funky Giraffe have just launched sites in a number of European countries so you won't need to miss out on making a purchase. You can check out the Spanish site here.

This competition is open to UK entrants only. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is fill out the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/10-funky-giraffe-bibs#sthash.RguMKxNV.dpuf

Thursday, 15 January 2015

17 Hardships Only Mothers of Bald Baby Girls Will Understand



  1. Your baby’s bald head will be the first thing friends and family mention each and every time you see them
You won’t get asked how you’re feeling anymore, people will simply stop to comment on your child’s baldness. “Oooh, it’s starting to grow,” they will say, even when it definitely isn’t.


  1. This will happen so much that your baby’s first word will be ‘growing’
My daughter went through a phase (that lasted one whole year) of, each time someone said hello to her, grabbing her tiny tuft of hair and proudly exclaiming that it was growing (even though it definitely wasn’t).


  1. You will spend most of the day correcting people who refer to your daughter as a boy
It’s highly likely that you will have to quit your job to take up the (unpaid) full time position of correcting strangers as to which genitals your child has. And, no matter how many times you tell them, they will continue to use 1950s terms of endearment such as ‘chap’ and ‘sonny’.


  1. You will pray every night for the mullet to come back into fashion
Your heart will skip a beat each time you see a tweet about a new celebrity haircut. And won’t be able to hide your disappointment when you discover that the Kardashians have not ditched the hair extensions in favour of the skullet your baby is currently rocking.


  1. You have a ready-made group of friends in the form of every other bald baby’s mother
The sisterhood sticks together in the shiny face of infantile baldness. Imagine the scene, you’re sitting at playgroup enjoying a cup of tea and glance up to locate your baby. As your eyes search for the glare of sunlight bouncing off your baby’s lack of barnett, you are momentarily blinded by the rays projected from a slap head only to realise that that is not your baby’s beloved scalp you can see. There is another skullet in the building! You make it your mission to find the other bald baby’s mother, become her bestest friend, and together start a letter writing campaign to all the big babywear brands asking them to use more mullet-wielding girl models in their advertising campaigns.


  1. Nothing in life mocks you more than the adorable bottle of sweet smelling baby shampoo you were given as a baby shower gift
It just sits there in the bathroom, gathering dust yet looking hopeful each and every time you go to wash your baby’s head. This hope soon turns to disappointment as you reach of the wax instead, to perfect that delicious sheen that really draws attention to your baby’s seemingly endless supply of cradle cap.


  1. Elderly relatives will ask you WHY your daughter is bald, as though you are somehow failing her by providing an insufficient diet, lack of sunlight or just generally rubbing her head too much...
They will probably even suggest a trip to the doctor to help solve the mystery of the baldest baby that ever lived (thanks for that, Nanny).


  1. ... you will laugh it off, feel secretly outraged and then spend all night Googling variations of “vitamin deficiency bald baby”
It’s fine, Google will just reassure you that you haven’t done anything wrong. Well, aside from pass on terrible genes to your child, or select a mate who has.


  1. No matter how many bows, dresses and vagina hats you put on your baby, people will still comment on what a gorgeous little boy he is
When strangers have gone out of their way to tell your daughter what a handsome young man she is, it can feel a little awkward to correct them, which brings us nicely onto the next point.


  1. Sometimes you’ll just pretend she’s a boy
The twentieth correction of the day can feel like one too many, and at some point you will lose the will to keep telling people that your child was born with a vagina. You will start referring to your baby as a he, and will probably have a boy’s name you whip out of special occasions. Max, or something.


  1. You will want to punch people when they try to reassure you about the bald
“Oh, don’t worry. My sister had hair like that, she was completely bald until she was 15.” No-one has ever felt better when hearing the news that bald baby syndrome can actually last for years (basically, eternity).


  1. You will be publicly outraged at the idea of baby wigs
But will secretly consider buying one and then moving to a new area where nobody knows that your baby is a baldie.

  1. You will feel enraged at the sight of little girls with french plaits tied with ribbons
Especially when those braided babies are half the age of your be-mulleted daughter who refuses to wear clips and headbands (and is still refusing to grow actual hair).
.
  1. There will be many, many false alarms
On more than one occasion you will think that your daughter’s hair is starting to grow. You will crack open the prosecco, invest a small fortune in brightly coloured hair clips, and buy a matching brush and comb set, only to discover that no, it is not growing. Just the rat tail at the back is growing, the rest is most definitely still not there.

  1. You will cry actual tears of joy the first time you untangle a knot in your baby’s hair
She will probably be 17 by this point but you will still cherish the moment.

  1. The first time you pull her hair back into a ponytail will be the best moment of your life
I assume. I wouldn’t know for sure, because my daughter is only Three Years Old so is still rocking a mullet.


  1. You will hope above all else that your next baby has hair
And you will preemptively invest in a baby wig before the birth just in case.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Family Christmas


My favourite thing about Christmas this year was spending quality time as a family. Laurie was off work for, more or less, three weeks and it meant he was able to switch off from work mode, and really enjoy his time off. Ebony loved having him around, and was upset when he went back to work this week. I limited my time working so that we were able to spend plenty of time, just the three of us, enjoying a break from reality.

This is the first year Ebony has really understood Christmas. Last year she could repeat the words, but none of it was very magical for her. This year, we wrote a letter to Santa and sent it up the chimney. Or, more accurately, dropped a flaming piece of paper into whatever lies behind our fireplace, and hoped that our house (and the one next door) wouldn’t burn down.

We spent weeks making Christmas cards, reading Christmas stories, and singing Christmas songs. We watched Santa Claus The Movie, did all manner of Christmas crafts, and ate mince pies. By the time Christmas finally arrived, Ebony was high on the hype.

On Christmas Eve, she left out some carrots for the reindeer, and a mince pie and Amaretto for Santa (that’s what Santa likes to drink). She hung a stocking on her bed, had some Christmas stories and went to sleep.

Christmas Day was equally magical, with Ebony very excited to discover Santa had been. She loved the presents he gave her, especially the roller skates (which were a £2 impulse buy from our local charity shop), marble run (another charity shop purchase) and Playmobil reindeer (eBay). We spent the day with family (first Laurie’s, then mine), and Ebony seemed to enjoy having all of her grandparents around to play with. A friend joined us in the afternoon and stayed till the hangovers had passed the next day.

By the end of the day, the house was littered was discarded wrapping paper, marbles (ouch), and tiny cardboard underwear (Ebony’s meal time entertainment was provided by dress up Santa). After consuming lots of vegan yorkshire puddings and a bowlful of ice cream, Ebony was ready for bed.
It was a really lovely Christmas, and I’m amazed we managed do it in budget(ish). Ebony was more than a little disappointed to find out that it won’t be Christmas for another year. I hope we manage to get the living room sorted by next Christmas, because the tree really made me miss our old living room with it's beautiful floorboards, imposing fireplace and white, white walls. By next Christmas I hope our house will be looking a little less magnolia, and that maybe we'll have gotten rid of some of these carpets. 
I hope you had a great Christmas too. And I’m sorry for writing about Christmas in January. I really do try to be organised, but it never quite works out.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Living Arrows: Another Year


2/52
We had a third birthday party for Ebony at our house on Saturday. She let me take one photo of her before everyone arrived. The headband didn't even manage to stay until the first guest knocked at the door.



1/52

Sushi has become one of Ebony's favourite foods in recent week. So much so that she wanted to serve it at her birthday party. It takes a long time to wait, and Ebony usually kills time in the kitchen as a 'tester' in case any rolls need to pass quality control before they reach the dinner table.
Living Arrows

Friday, 9 January 2015

A Letter to My Three Year Old



Dear Ebony,


I am writing this on your third birthday. You are asleep upstairs, exhausted after a long day of opening presents and entertaining grandparents. I am downstairs, equally tired after a week of preparation and late nights. It was worth it, to see the excitement on your face as you opened your presents, and to spend the day with the little girl I love so much.

This morning you said to me, “I am three now, you can’t believe it, but I am.” And that’s so true. I can’t believe that three whole years have passed since you made your grand entrance into the living room of our old house. Three whole years since you fell asleep beside me for the first time, and though my eyelids were heavy with sleep, I couldn’t stop myself staring at you.

I remember on that cold distant Monday in January, you seemed to me to be the most perfect and amazing thing that had ever lived. It was like being rewired, all of a sudden you were the only thing that truly mattered. And you still are.

We put some of your old baby things in the loft today. One of the bags split as I was lifting it out of the cupboard, and out tumbled a tiny white baby grow. I held it up, not quite believing that my independent little girl could ever have fit into it. And yet you did. And in it you spent hours asleep on my chest, waking only for feeds and nappy changes, as I tried to acclimatise to my new life of feeling forever in awe of you.

Within no time at all, you started to grow up. Time sped up and together we travelled through a montage of your infancy. You grew from the doe-eyed baby peeking out above the sling, into the contented baby excitedly exploring the world. You learnt to crawl, and then took your first tentative steps across the living room before becoming a fully fledged toddler. And then you were off. Climbing, jumping, skipping, sliding, running and dancing your way across my life.

And now, those stumbly steps of toddlerhood are long gone, replaced by your sure footed stomp. Nothing is ever out of your reach, no matter how well I think I’ve hidden it it. And nothing is ever out of your capability, with you always demanding to do things by yourself.

You are a rush of emotions, a brightly coloured canvas filled with every colour under the sun. You are happy, distraught, angry, excited, scared and in love - sometimes all at once. You always want to know more, and you love showing off new knowledge to anyone who will listen.

You hate to be told what to do, and will not let anyone bully you into anything. You are in control of yourself in a way that fills me with pride. You aren’t afraid to say no, and will adamantly stick to your guns about just about anything. You always stick up for yourself, and always with words, which makes me feel that you will do well in life. I hope you are never too scared to say what you really feel, and that you will continue to use your voice to protect yourself and the people you care about.

You are so caring, and I feel so lucky to spend my days with you. You have lifelong friends and love them dearly. You are always excited to see your friends and grandparents, and often ask to see them on days when we can’t. You tell me everyday that you love me, and always have time to sit on my knee or give me a cuddle. Every night, you fall asleep in my arms, and every morning you are the one who wakes me up (I might not seem all that grateful at the time).

We spend our days together, and I can honestly say I have never once regretted my decision to stay at home with you. Nothing makes me feel prouder than the way we adapted our family life so that I could be the one who cared for you each and every day. We filled our days with adventures, games, make believe, stories and cooking. You talk a lot, and every day you say something so wonderful (or bizarre) that I am reminded how grateful I am to be the one who hears you.

Every year brings changes, but I know that this year will feel the biggest so far. You are confident and independent, and you’re ready to take your first solo steps into the world. You had your first morning at preschool this week, and as soon as I picked you up you told me that you hadn’t been upset once. You even made a point of telling me that you didn’t miss me, not really. Later this year you will be going to nursery, and then after that it will be school. Time is fleeting, and it sometimes feels that we are stuck on fast forward and I wish so much that I could slow things down, and savour the passing moments for just a little bit longer before you grow another day older.

So, my little girl with wonder in her eyes, I promise that this year will be even more fun than the last. We will seek out adventures high and low. We will get lost in fantasy, and we will discover some of the many things you have left to experience in the world. Because, my dear, you will one day be grown. And then you probably won’t want to jump in puddles with me, or let me choose your clothes, or tell me I have to give you lots of kisses because you love kisses even though we are in the middle of a pub. And I can’t think about that just yet, so let us lose ourselves in the now, and immerse ourselves so deeply in your childhood that you never forget the magic of being three.


Happy Birthday, Ebony, I love you more than I could ever even begin to express.
xx

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Fly, Fly Away Free



This week is a week of firsts. Ebony stayed out overnight, all by herself, for the first time ever last night. She went to stay with my parents. I’ve never left her overnight before, but I’m pretty sure it was a bigger first for me than it was for her. While I surveyed my eerily quiet house, and busied myself with decorating, Ebony had lots of fun baking, playing and staying up (very, very) late. I thought it would be a good idea for them to bring her home when she asked to come back, to give her some control. Before she left, she gave me a cuddle and explained that she would miss me, and I would miss her, but that she would be back in the morning. She was not. She didn’t return until almost bedtime, proving that my little independent daughter is now perfectly fine away from my watchful eye.

I wasn’t too disappointed though, I did manage eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time since Ebony began, all those three long (but really short) years ago. And tomorrow we have another first to face. Her first day of preschool. I can’t quite get my head round the fact that the little baby who slept through four series of Grey’s Anatomy bundled up on my chest, is about to start preschool. This will be her first time in childcare. Until now she has always been with me, Laurie, grandparents or close friends, but tomorrow I’ll be handing her over to strangers.

She is excited about starting preschool, so excited. She will be attending with her best friend in the world, and I know that the two of them will be a force to be reckoned with. She is looking forward to being on her own with her best friend, and being picked up later so that she can tell me all about her morning. She’s excited about doing arts and crafts, playing with toys, singing and using the teeny tiny toilets (who wouldn’t be?).

I know that I will cry, hopefully after I’ve left the building. I really don’t want to be that mother crying and clinging onto their child’s leg (even though I am definitely that mother) while the staff try desperately to wrench her free.

This is it. The start of her independence. I remember when she first started to explore playgroups and parks by herself, always looking back to check I was still there. And tomorrow she will run off, hand in hand with her best friend, probably without looking back, as I stand with my binoculars pressed against the preschool window.
Because this is it, my baby is no longer a baby. She will have a life of her own, three hours of freedom each week. And then in a few months, she will be at nursery every week day, and then it will be time for school. And whatever comes after that. All of a sudden it all seems very near. And my tiny baby with the croaky cry seems so very distant.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Welcome to 2015



Happy New Year! I hope you had an amazing time looking fabulous at an exciting party/enjoyed wearing pyjamas and being woken up at midnight by those pesky fireworks (delete as according to parental status).

I can’t quite believe that another year is starting, time seems to slip past so fast these days. January 2015 is a particularly terrifying month for me. It is the month my newborn(ish) becomes a three year old. A Three Year Old. It’s the month she takes her first tentative steps into the big wide world without me by her side (though I’ll have my tear-stained face pushed up against the playschool window’s for the full three hours, of course).

Ebony’s entrance to the world of childcare will force me into the world of self-employed work at home parents who can’t blame their lack of productivity on childcare. I’ll be searching for new and convincing excuses as to why I’ve only done half of the work I set myself during each time I sit down on my desk. All suggestions for fool-proof excuses gratefully received.

I’m not really a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, mostly because they just end up being broken and leave you feeling like a big fat failure. But I’m hoping that Ebony starting childcare will allow me to free up some time at the weekend so we can force ourselves out as a family, into the wilderness, because I really miss doing that as a family each and every weekend. Great as it is to be busy at work, I always end up feeling jealous of the adventures Laurie and Ebony have together whilst I’m working (read: procrastinating) in my office.

I’m also hoping we manage to get the house a little more sorted this year, so that by next Christmas we have a couple more rooms decorated how we want them. After seven months in this house, the magnolia is starting to get to me.

I’m also going to get fit this year. This will be particularly difficult because I’ve just this very week discovered Lotus biscuit spread, but I will manage it somehow. Maybe I will make a pact only to eat biscuit spread whilst on a treadmill, or something.


What are your plans for the new year?

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