Dummies: Good or Bad?

Like pretty much most mums-to-be, I firmly advocated that I would not be giving my baby a dummy. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did. When Sandy arrived he fed. And he fed. And he fed and fed and fed and we pretty much got to the point where we knew he wasn’t hungry anymore and just feeding because he liked it. Being recently kidnapped from a time when I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, I found the transition to being at a little scrap of flesh’s beck and call 24 hours a day rather constraining. And frustrating. And nervous breakdown enducing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a Mum, and I adored breastfeeding, but that Stuart couldn’t just take over drove me a little batty. So we relented and popped that infamous bit of plastic in his mouth and he finallystopped sucking on me for enough time that I could shower, eat and just generally restore a drop of sanity to my life. From that moment on the dummy was never out of sight and it stayed firmly in his little mouth at several times a day for the next two and a half years.

At first I was ashamed of it. I remember vividly carrying him in his sling. He was sleeping with his dummy in and I was approaching the NCT baby meet up group and I slipped the dummy out of his mouth as I entered the room, hiding it. I couldn’t be sure where this embarrassment came from but it was certainly there. After a few weeks though I stopped caring as I realised a lot of mums were sticking fake nipples in their babies faces and, more importantly, these babies were not crying. We picked up many dummies and helpful clips to keep them in place. They littered his cot and the bottom of my bag, and if I was ever without one sheer panic set in. The dummy was there to stay, and it did.

When Roslyn came around then my pre-Sandy concerns over dummies were of course non-existent. In the top drawer of her dresser lay several brand new dummies, in the brand that Sandy had enjoyed, and a new strap too. We were all set for her to suck away on them to her heart’s content. Of course life being the way it is Roslyn decided that no piece of plastic was going to replace her Mummy and gagged and chocked as soon as the thing approached her lips. She even once projectile vomited as I placed it gently in her mouth, such was her aversion. I tried without fail, putting it in when she was upset (nope), when she was already asleep (double nope) and leaving them lying around her when she was old enough to grab them (yeah right). In the car she gleefully played with the dummy on its strap until she was tired then she threw it across the back seat and cried until I pulled the car over in some ridiculous spot and fed her standing up outside the back door, slipping her back in the seat and racing off so she would finally rest. The girl hated dummies, and I am still at a loss how to get her to settle without a nipple in her mouth.

Still, despite my pushing the dummy on to Roslyn, there was a little part of me which felt proud that she wouldn’t take it. I really, really do not know what that is. I’ve racked my brain, thinking of my initial aversion and I can only assume it is deep seated in society and culture but I still can’t put my finger on it. I wish I didn’t feel it, because it means I’m judging, and I wish I hadn’t felt it, and had just given it to Sandy in the first place.

But what of the actual differences in life with and without dummies. Honestly, there is quite a lot, because – putting it bluntly – I am now the dummy. Roslyn needs me in a way Sandy never did. Don’t get me wrong, he loved and wanted me, and preferred me to others, yet he was happy to go off (dummy in mouth) with any of his family. Roslyn on the other hand took a significant amount of easing in to being away from me. In fact I don’t think she even did leave me until she was 9 months old, even for a moment. I remember my Mum taking her out for an hour – a mere hour! – at 10 months old and returning to tell me she had been fine, but was getting upset at the end of the hour, needing me. Me, of course, being my boobs. And it is still the same. I just went to get her from her cot and carried her down the stairs as she pulled at my top and shouted “boobs boobs juice!” (something she replicated during my PhD supervisors review meeting, rather embarrassingly). When I am there, Roslyn will not be with another. She cries for me even though I am a metre from her. When I’m gone she is fine however and I can only sum up that it is like leaving a dummy on the floor in the room with the baby and keeping the baby from crawling over to get it. I know I am much more to her than a dummy, but it is being her dummy that stops her from needing me quite so much.

Would I change it though? At this point no, I wouldn’t. Mostly because I have persevered this far and it would be like putting that work straight in the bin. Would I go back and magically have her take a dummy? Maybe. Yet I coped fine in the end and I can only attribute that to experience. With Sandy I was so unprepared and acclimatised to life with a needy little sucker that the relief the dummy got me was far more important than it would have been if Roslyn had taken it. It occurs to me that my aversion to dummies stems probably from their being unnatural. Let’s face it, hundreds of years ago there weren’t dummies and women coped just fine. Yet life was geared for coping in a way that it isn’t now. When rearing children was the focus of life and a bad night’s clusterfeeding could easily result in a day resting rather than doing all the things necessary in modern society. And even if it was harder than that, and more needed done, the extended family would have been far closer, far more involved and far more able to allow the Mum to cope.

In sum I think of dummies as a modern answer to modern motherhood, a means of alleviating the pressure on mums who are the sole focus of their infants’ lives, but also people with demands of the home and work and friendship. People who are used to having other interests and purposes than raising children and who are not prepared in the same way for the task as they once would be. I’m fine with Roslyn not taking a dummy because our breastfeeding relationship is closer, more natural and longer than it was with Sandy. And I am fine with Sandy taking the dummy because he enjoyed it, he slept far better than Roslyn, and I was able to continue my PhD, my life and my sanity during that delicate new mum era.

Pretty Muddy 5k Race!

A while back my Mum and I signed up to do Cancer Research’s Race For Life Pretty Muddy 5k and we completed it last weekend!

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Here are our before and after selfies! You will notice the temp tattoos Mum has on, well I only had one of my four on because the other three ended up on the rest of the family…

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Roslyn got the pink army one, Sandy got “hell hath no fury” on his little bicep, and Stuart proudly wore “Stronger, Braver, Pinker” ;)

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We ran with a group of ladies from the gym we go to, Bodymorph Fitness in Hamilton. As you can see, we were clean in our before shot, and not so much in the after…

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However, Mum was miffed as I seemed to come out cleaner than her. The reason was clear as when you approached an obstacle people were spraying water and flinging shovels of mud at you, but only if you weren’t going fast enough! As you can see poor Mum got a pile of mud thrown at her as she entered the mud bath!

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I loved it! And I was very happy with the time of 30 minutes considering my PB 5k is 28:50 not including any obstacles!

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In fact it has spurred me on and Stuart and I have now shaken hands on taking part in a tough mudder sometime in the future!

Homemade Elderflower and Orange Cordial

For the last two years my friend Kris has given us a bottle of Elderflower champagne and it is hands down my favourite alcoholic drink ever (probably because it’s sweet and not too alcoholic!) Elderflower drinks always feel so summery and fresh, so I have decided to make my own foray into making drinks from foraged flowers. I’ve taken the first steps in wine making and more will follow in the months to come on that, for now though I have made a delicious cordial that the littles can enjoy too.

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I used a recipe from Rosamond Richardson’s Hedgerow Cookery (my Mum lent me her 1980 edition) swapping lemons for oranges:

20 heads of elderflower
1.75kg sugar
1 pints boiled water
2 sliced oranges

All you need to do is combine it all in a large saucepan or tub and leave for 24 hours, stirring periodically. Then strain it with a jelly bag or piece of muslin…

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… before bottling…

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The resulting cordial is sweet, floral and refreshing. Sandy and Roslyn are big fans of it in sparkling water (“bubble juice”) already!

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We also have been foraging for mayflower to make a mayflower wine. We went out behind the house to the hedgerows to gather as much as we could with a whining Rozzie in tow. I then removed the majority of the greenery and it is in boiled water for 5 days in preparation for wine making.

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There is also a similar vat of elderflowers in preparation too! I’m quite excited for the next step of the process so watch this space for more…!

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Celebrating: Uncle Jamie’s Birthday and Father’s Day

Last weekend we celebrated Uncle Jamie’s birthday. Sandy and Rozzie were all too happy to assist with the opening of presents…

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Roslyn was rather taken with the condiment bench we got Jamie.

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We were meant to have a BBQ in the sun, and the weather had been wonderful just the day before but sadly it was overcast and pretty cold. Luckily Dad and Jamie cooked outside and we all ate from the warmth of the house!

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We’ve also been celebrating Father’s Day this morning. Sandy and Roslyn got Daddy a massive chocolate coin with “NO. 1 Dad” on…

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…and two new canvases of themselves…

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I’d canvased all my friends about which of these two pictures I should get for the kids to give him and the verdict was completely split between the cute hug and the fun (and better composed) one. So I just got both and found wall space to hang them one above the other. I think it looks pretty good!

Stuart and the kids are out to Granda’s while I wait in as the electrician puts new sockets and lights in the loft (for a sort of conversion, more to follow on that!) and later my Dad is coming over with Mum. Then the lucky parents that Stuart and I are get to head into town for dinner and a film while Tate and Pa babysit, woohoo!!

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

Potty Training at 2 Years 9 Months

Sandy is now potty trained.

HOORAY

It was a pretty average experience I think, not incredibly easily, but by no means hard. To be honest, I was really dreading potty training, I think more than any other aspect of parenthood. It wasn’t as bad as I thought though. Honestly.

We tried a few times in the past six months to sit him on the potty, to give him pants, to let him run around naked, but nothing stuck and we didn’t pursue it. He probably would have been fine if I’d been up for it but I wasn’t, and he was happy in nappies. When he was 2 years and 9 months old though we just decided to make a go of it and do the naked weekend.

At first it started not great. He couldn’t go on the potty. He would sit on it but nothing would come. Then a few minutes after he got off he would pee on the floor. We made no big deal of it and asked him to try and go to the potty next time. It took a good day of accidents before finally, when we were eating dinner and he had run off to play, he came racing over shouting “I did it! I did it!” and right enough there was a pee in the potty. This sounds a bit sad given the context but I actually have never felt more proud of him. It was that pride that surges up your chest into your throat and you feel so much bigger because of it. You should’ve seen his face too, so proud of himself.

From there he spent the next few days doing all his pees on the potty from being naked and we were highly impressed with the success levels. The only problem came to having pants on. He would just pee in them. We did manage to get him from just peeing in them to holding and going to the potty but the problem was that he couldn’t go when he got there. That was the hardest part of the whole thing, getting him to go on command so to speak. He tried to push a pee out, which was of course fruitless. In the end we just kept trying with no pressure, lots of praise and stickers on his chart, and he did get it. It was actually on the big toilet at the wedding we went to and he was so happy. Prior to this outing we had been at the museum, potty in tow, and had accidents, and sitting on the potty to no avail, but after the wedding he just got it and he’s been great ever since!

The poos came later and are still more unreliable. If naked he did, and does, them on the potty every time. If he has pants on though there are instances of him using them as nappies again. If you can see him needing to go and catch him he will happily do it on the potty or toilet, it’s just if he gets distracted, which I read is totally normal.

So all in all I am happy with the progress. The fears I had of accidents everywhere, rushing to find toilets and not being able to go out were unfounded. Well done Sandy!

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First Beach Day of 2015!

When the sun shines you make hay, or if you are us, you head to the beach. Because lets face it, the one day it’s warm enough may be the only chance of the year, so you’ve got to take advantage.

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It was roasting for two days at work and I was a bit worried the weather wouldn’t last until I was off, but luckily it did and we headed out for Troon, our favourite beach location, and set up camp.

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We went to the beach just the three of us last year when Roslyn was a newborn and, while manageable and fun for Sandy, it wasn’t the relaxing beach experience you would get without a newborn baby in tow.

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This trip was a whole different kettle of fish (heh) though, as Sandy and Roslyn LOVED the beach, were very low maintenance and we spent four very summery and relaxing hours there.

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It seemed the day for lots of Sandy favourites to come out the woodworks too. Aside from the obvious draws of water and sand, there were numerous close up planes flying from Prestwick airport, a beach combing tractor, a police buggy and a moris minor fire engine!

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For Roslyn it was her first real beach visit, inasmuch as she actually got to play on the beach this time. She adored it. At first she sat on the blanket and batted the sand with spades, but before long she was romping about and eating her body weight in sand. I dread to think of the nappies to come!

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Sandy was very into digging holes and making castles (which were promptly destroyed)…

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…as well as just running wild.

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Being here a year on brought home how much he’s changed in a year. Once again I see him closer to child than baby.

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Rozzles ate up her lunch from the tent…

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…while Sandy deemed eating as a waste of valuable beach time.

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Before long it was time to hit the water so the kids donned their costumes…

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…and got stuck in!

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One of the reasons I love Troon beach is due to the puddle of water that remains half way up the beach after the tide has receded. When the sun is out this turns the normally chilly Atlantic water rather warm which is fab for letting little ones splash in.

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Thanks to Auntie Emma for Roslyn’s adorable costume!

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Roslyn was close to getting up and standing on her own at the beach, on all fours, almost ready to go… but not quite!

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Of course before long Sandy wanted to go to “the big water” so we went down and jumped some waves.

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Rozzie found it a bit chilly, even on this hot day, so we headed back up to the tent for a dry off, clothes change and fiftieth reapplication of sun cream. My vigilance paid off though as no-one ended up burnt despite being outside so long.

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I made a throne for the queen of the beach which was promptly destroyed by the king of the sand castles.

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Then Roslyn really came into her own, warmed and filled with sandwiches, she rolled about in the sand giggling away. She kept crawling off to try and join other families, then ended herself laughing as I shouted after her to get back!

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No visit to the beach would be complete without icecream. I figured Roslyn was already filthy so she may as well have her own cone.

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By the end of it it had sprinkles on, in the form of sand. Yum!

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The next thing we knew the police had arrived in their beach buggy and all the kids were taking shots in it. I couldn’t get Sandy to wear the policeman’s hat but he and Roslyn went for a ride. Then he had the tantrum to end all tantrums as I dragged him back to the tent. Eventually he accepted that the policemen had gone to do their work but it didn’t stop him spending the remainder of the afternoon looking out for their return.

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As we packed up and headed back to the car (after chasing Sandy for several minutes to get him off the beach) we spotted a moris minor fire engine and Sandy donated some pennies and got a photo with it.

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It was a brilliant day out at the beach and, as I said last year after our beach day, at least now even if the weather is rubbish the rest of the year, we will have had our day in the sun!

West End Festival

Recently I sat down with the ipad and my diary and scourged the internet for all the summer festivals in central Scotland, putting all the dates and events where I was off work in to take the littles to. The first on the list was Glasgow’s West End Festival so on Sunday we headed out to watch the parade.

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Sandy was very excited about riding on the “under the ground train” and loved it so much he cried for quite a bit as we left the station for home at the end of the day.

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Roslyn didn’t seem bothered with the train ride but she was entranced when, on the return journey, a man with a clarinet serenaded her!

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While we waited for the parade Sandy checked out a bee hive at one of the stalls…

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…and Rozzie and I took ridiculous selfies…

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We went to Church Street for the family play area and watched 50s style dancers rocking around the clock and all that.

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I tried to get Sandy to repeat his performance from the wedding but he wasn’t for it, so I made so with some Roslyn bopping.

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A local outside nursery had a play area with logs, sticks and pine cones which Sandy and Roslyn were quite taken by.

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Then it was time for the parade. The kids loved it, Roslyn was shouting and bouncing the whole way through.

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After the parade we headed to Ketchup for a burger dinner before going home. It was a lovely start to the summer and the weather has smiled on us ever since. I can’t wait to take them to all the other things in my diary and especially our big holiday down south!

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Come on Summer

I titled this draft post over a week ago and never got round to writing it until now, but I am glad to report that, as I type this, I’m dodging the sun through the play room window and feeling a slight heat from my arms and face after today. Which is pale, Scottish-skinned individual for “SUMMER IS HERE!”

Prior to this amazing weather which has finally surfaced we had a lot of this:

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And along with that we had a lot more in the way of gale force winds, torrential rain, temperatures lucky to go above 5 degrees and actual honest to goodness sleet and hail. In JUNE.

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“Look Mummy! The weather’s awful again!”

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I’m not usually one to complain too much about the weather. I get a little disappointed if winter doesn’t bring a little snow, and if summer is a complete washout, but on the whole I come to expect the unexpected, living where we do. However, this kind of shenanigans heading into June? Nope. Not that happy.

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We did however make the most of a “good” (read ‘not raining’) day at my Mum’s house recently (or not that recently, based on my inability to keep up with blogging at present!) and went for a wander outside, albiet brief.

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Lib being photographed against her will.

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Sandy looking ridiculously like a boy not the newborn baby he still is in my head…

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Three lovely sisters.

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And a group shot which took a ridiculous amount of cajoling to get and resulted in Sandy and Pa’s heads being chopped off… oh well!

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So I’ve been waiting for summer to come and it appears to have finally emerged so hooray! We’re taking no chances and hitting the beach tomorrow while it lasts, because this could be all we get!

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Sandy & Roslyn’s First Wedding

Sandy and Roslyn attended their first wedding last weekend. It was Stuart’s cousin Hazel and her partner Brendan’s wedding at Stenbrooke Castle Hotel in Glasgow. The first thing I thought of when I saw the invite addressed to the four of us was TINY LITTLE KILT. And the second thing was TINY LITTLE FROCK.

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We couldn’t decide between hiring a kilt for Sandy or buying one. In the end we decided to buy one so he would be able to keep it as his first kilt and when I had found a vintage green velvet waistcoat the deal was sealed.

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It was pretty fun buying all the little kilt bits for him. We got his kilt, shirt and hose online; his waistcoat and sporran from a vintage shop, and his shoes are from Schuh (of course!)

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Our fair lady was wearing Kiin by John Lewis and knitting (including hair clip) by Granny Tate.

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Hazel looked beautiful in her dress, I loved the lace especially, and Brendan looked very smart too. I certainly should mention that among my fawning over my own spawn.

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At first Sandy was NOT keen to wear his kilt. He had just woken from a nap (planned to allow him to stay up late) and we had to get out the door. “No like that! Mummy! Take it off!” was all that could be heard as I dressed him in his room. But as soon as he saw Stuart emerge in his kilt and realised he was wearing one too, he was overjoyed. He then noticed that Stuart was dressed in the same as he was wearing on our wedding photograph which he found hilarious.

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Little chops wore her charm bracelet out for the first time too which was lovely. It was a great ceremony, Hazel had specified that it was to be family friendly with kids running and chatting as they pleased which took the pressure off! But some biscuits ensured that they were perfectly behaved anyway and we were very proud parents.

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While the bride and groom headed off for photographs, we decided to do the same. It was a lovely sunny day, if a tad windy (hello marilyn monroe type situation for me, though infinitely less attractive) so we went into the gardens and tried to get some pictures together.

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Sandy’s kilt became a bit of a floor length garment due to his skinny waist. Now he’s out of nappies (post to follow on that soon!!) there is little to hold up his clothes around his figure (clearly inherited from Stuart’s side of the family I hasten to add) and his kilt kept flopping down. It was largely due to my buying him a 3-4 not a 2-3 because there would be no wear in it!
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My beauties with “the castle”

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And there I am in a photo for posterity, rocking my Aunt Lib’s fascinator and everything.

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So we tired for a family timer shot. Sandy ran away and his kilt fell down. Yep.

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We succeeded on the next attempt though!

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Inside, Sandy gave Hazel a decorated horseshoe for good luck. We’re all about the traditions in this family.

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And we hung out with Gran and Granda while waiting for dinner. Sandy and Rozzie mostly played under a table with their big cousins.

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Beautiful.

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She poked him in the eye.

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Me and my little lady.

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Me getting beaten by my little lady.

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And then an apologetic kiss. Forgiven, I suppose.

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Me and the husband (inherently attractive couple)

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While we waiting on starters coming Sandy made do with crackers, and chose to eat them rather daintily with a spoon.

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He was perfect all day, waiting on dinner, eating it up, doing colouring and then clapping at all the speeches like a tiny wee version of a man!

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And little Channa was great too despite ongoing reactions to her jags and teething making eating something she stuck her nose up at.

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Stuart missed his dinner. Maisie (one of our four cats) was at the Vet overnight due to an unidentified illness, poor mogger. We got the call she was being discharged so Stuart headed to get her, drop her home, and come back, poor man. And I was left with two children approaching their usual bedtime at a big event, poor woman. Luckily Anne looked after Sandy while I tried in vain to get Rozzie a nap. It only took an hour of cajoling and comfort feeding to get her to sleep. Then the band came on and she woke up poor dear. She did very well though and spent the last hour of the night dozing on her dad’s chest, little doll. Meanwhile, Sandy busted a move…

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Children dancing uninhibited at weddings has always been one of those things I’d watch pre-kids and think I’d love to have. One of those over-sentimentalised ideas that rarely transpire, as reality is always a lot harsher, harder and (when it comes to children) messier than you envisaged. However on this night it was true to my wishes. I stood and watched this little person that Stuart and I had made, who not too long ago was a scrap of flesh first placed on my chest all pink and staring, and I felt so emotional.

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He was running, and dancing, bringing all these moves I never knew he’d seen or had, grinning, laughing, falling and jumping back up. He was dancing with his cousins and everyone was watching him entranced by the cuteness of his toddler moves. And I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. That moment had come for me and I felt like we were starting to emerge from the first year’s ‘grin and bare it’ mentality, that it is necessary to adopt when you have two under two. Like things can only improve and they are already good so what’s to come is going to be fantastic indeed.

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And then his kilt fell down and Roslyn wailed and I was thrown out of my soppy haze and back to tending to the needs of my littles. PJs on and boobs out and one quick first dance watched before we bundled into the car and headed for the hills after a great day, careful not to tempt fate by staying too long. We’re still in the trenches but we are a highly skilled army of two now, Stuart and I, and it’s only up from here.

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Hosting an Under the Sea Party

Hosting an under the sea birthday party is pretty easy and a lot of fun.

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The first thing I made was the invites. I went with a take on a wedding invite on pinterest and made an oyster shell from pearlised card. To make it draw the shell and cut out the top half leaving the bottom piece of card attached, then fold it over, trace around the top and cut out the bottom half to have matching pieces.

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Cut some lines for the gaps in the shell.

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Print out the information for the party on paper and cut the shape of the shell around it only slightly smaller then glue in.

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For decoration I largely used coloured crepe streamers and A LOT of balloons, all bought fairly cheaply from ebay. I picked out sea green, teal, pale blue and pinks.

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A simple net from ebay allowed a balloon net on the ceiling.

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And crepe streamers over the windows gave a real aquatic, underwater feel.

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More balloons up the corners of the walls looked like bubbles, and were just stuck on rather than helium filled.

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Shower caps and crepe made jelly fish to hang.

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For the cakes I adapted a pinterest idea to fit our colour scheme and made a layered ombre green cake with waves on the sides, sand from brown sugar on top and a crab!

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I also made a number one cake from the left over icing.

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We had quite a spread in the end too…

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…a watermelon shark…

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…sea jellies…

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…banana dolphins…

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… and a pepper octopus!

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I also made fish and chips in the oven (oven chips and scampi pieces) and served them in these pokes which I obtained after MUCH searching only to discover the name for these is actually a “fries scoop”.

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I made her banner but painting a large roll of paper in blues and greens then cutting out a whale shape. Then I stuck on letters cut from pink paper.

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Roslyn seemed to enjoy it so I think it was a hit!

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