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42 Days of Summer

The six week summer holiday is at an end. L goes back to work tomorrow and our time as a family of four goes back to being only evenings and weekends – at least until the end of October.

I started the summer holidays with two just-turned-one-year-olds and finish it with two toddlers heading towards 14 months old. Well, I say toddlers. Maybe one toddler and one cruiser-who-still-refuses-to-let-go-of-the-furniture-or-someone’s-hands (although she did stand unsupported and take two small steps on Wednesday – go Claudie!) is more accurate.

We have really enjoyed our weeks together and – unlike last summer holidays, when we were just grateful to survive – we have been out and about and had lots of fun together.

Let Claudia and Imogen be your guides…

We went to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill and checked out the aquarium:

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We went on holiday to Swanage with our mummies and our Grandma and Grandad.  We played on the beach and went on a real steam train!

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Our mummies had a date for their second anniversary (we weren’t invited!):

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We went to Godstone Farm and played in the sandpit:

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We had our jabs and spent some of our birthday money to make us feel better.  We had fun playing in the garden:

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 We visited our friends and had some playdates here too:

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We visited our Great Nana in Deal and tried out the Walmer paddling pool:

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We visited our Great Granny in Trowbridge and saw lots of family we haven’t seen in ages – including our cousins!

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We have had a wonderful 6 weeks with our beautiful, amazing babies.  They have come on leaps and bounds and can do so much.  They are a constant source of amusement and entertainment.  It’s just so much fun being together.

Roll on half term!

School’s Out for Summer!

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We’re a week into the summer holidays now and it feels so good! The weather has come out the other side of the almost unbearable heat wave and – okay – it’s kinda drizzly, but it’s the summer and all four of us are at home together for the next five weeks. I’m so excited.

The girls’ birthday party was a great success. It was warm but not too hot and it didn’t rain. Our garden was filled with people and our friends’ children loved playing with the girls’ toys and on their swing set.

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We had a barbecue and alongside that served a load of food that would be easy for the girls and the other children/babies at the party to eat, including some rainbow fruit skewers that I had seen on Pinterest, which looked really cool and went down extremely well.

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I made the girls a birthday cake, which was supposed to be rainbow layers, but the food colouring just didn’t take that well, so although there was a clear graduation between the layers, they just didn’t have the vibrant colour I had been going for. Still, it tasted lovely and Claudia and Imogen didn’t seem to mind the lack of colour. I had also made cupcakes to go along with the cake as I was worried it wouldn’t quite go far enough. These were also iced with butter icing and sprinkled with coloured sugar, finished off with these really cool flags the girls’ Auntie and Uncle made them (Auntie A is a graphic designer – always someone good to know!).

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The girls were brilliant all day, which was a relief as Claudia had been quite grumpy on her actual birthday and the day after (teething, I suspect). They were very entertaining and seemed to have a great time with everyone.

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By the early evening it all got a bit much for Claudia, who fell asleep on her Great Auntie’s lap. She woke an hour or so later and there was no putting either of them to bed, so they ended up having an after party with us and their Popsey and Grandad, opening some of their many presents!

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presents Imogen has been walking more and more since she took her first steps on Sunday 14th July and can now pretty much cross a room without holding on. Claudia is just starting to let go of things and is getting pretty good at standing up, but has yet to actually take an independent step.

We are off on holiday on Friday, to spend a week in Dorset with my mum and step-dad, hopefully allowing us a little bit of baby-free time as well as getting to enjoy the girls’ first experiences of the beach, fish and chips and ice cream cones.

I just cant believe we are now mothers of one-year-olds. Where does the time go?

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Bathtime cuddles from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

 

Dear Claudia and Imogen

At this time a year ago today our little family became complete. That’s not to say that one day you might not have a little brother or sister, but in that moment, at that time, we were perfect in our completeness.

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What a year it’s been, my darlings. I had never before experienced such highs or moments of such pure joy. Of course, these moments were counterbalanced with times of exhaustion, frustration and irritation, but such is life with two tiny babies and I wouldn’t change a single moment.

Getting to know the two of you has honestly been one of the greatest joys of my life and has brought your mummy and me even closer as we have united in delight over a new skill learnt or a new quirk revealed.

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As I sit and write this, the two of you are busy cruising around the furniture, casting smiles at me over your shoulders and dancing – a million miles from the fragile, skinny infants who were placed in my eager arms a year ago, but still providing the same sense of oneness as I wrap my arms around you and wonder when I end and you begin.

I’ve kissed hot cheeks flushed with fever; I’ve tasted tears; I’ve experienced the wonder of a tiny arm curled around my neck and a tiny hand holding mine. You already share a wonderful connection with each other that I desperately hope continues through childhood and beyond. As much as you often seem unaware of the other’s existence – crawling over legs and arms, sitting on each other’s laps without seeming to have as much as the tiniest clue that the other is there – there have also been some beautiful moments between the two of you as you smile at the sight of one another or reach out to touch and cuddle.

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You are so different in so many ways and complement one another perfectly. You are both so inquisitive although, Claudie, you are far more cautious and like to stay close by. You love music, whether it’s nursery rhymes at the library, the tinny jingles from your toys or music from our iPods or the radio. Last week you were bopping up and down to One Direction and Rihanna.

You love food and are so good at eating now. You love blueberries more than anything on earth and have been known to demolish a punnet in under five minutes flat. We really hope that you continue to love food and experiment with new flavours. We want you to enjoy food the way that we do and are really looking forward to eating out with you more and more as you get older.

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You’ve started trying to talk. Claudie, you love to say “cat” and although you are often right – there are three around after all – you also like to point out various other objects and proclaim them to be cats. You are both quite good at saying “bye bye” and are starting to give shy little waves. I can’t wait for your vocabularies to grow and look forward to all the conversations we are going to have.

Your smiles both have the capacity to light up a room, even though they really are so different. Immie, you like to show us all eight of your teeth (and another one cutting through) when you smile at us. It’s almost a grimace but it’s the cutest thing. You also like to growl at us. Immie started this first, but you soon followed suit Claudie. You both do this cute little growl and we say there must be a monster inside you. Speaking of monsters, the hair monster visits you most nights, Immie. Your hair is quite out of control and more often than not, if I try to clip it out if your eyes, Claudia takes the clip out and tries to eat it.

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Everything you do is so delightfully funny. You are constantly entertaining everyone around you – including each other. You have so much spark and I don’t know if it’s because you have each other to bounce off, but you seem so much happier, livelier, inquisitive and giggly than any other babies we know.

We often observe you learning a new skill or performing in a certain way and try to predict what you will be like when you are older: what will you be good at? What will you enjoy? What sort of people will you be? We love to guess, but at the same time I never want you to be constrained by our expectations. You can be whoever you want to be and I know you will continue to surprise us as you grow older. Just know that the best you can be – whatever that may prove to be – will always be good enough in our eyes. We love you more than we could ever begin to put into words. You are beautiful and brave and clever and funny.

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You are everything I dreamed you would be and so much more. You are so precious and so, so loved, by many more than just us.

Happy birthday my precious babies. I know that you won’t remember this day, but I hope that some day you read this and know how important your first birthday was and how the first year of your lives gave us such immeasurable joy.

We are looking forward to your party on Saturday and all the people who want to come and celebrate with you. There really are a lot.

Have a wonderful day my darlings.

I will always love you.

Love,
Mummy xxxxx

One Year from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

Music: A Thousand Years, Christina Perri; Run, P!nk

Her Day

I could wax lyrical for paragraph after paragraph about how wonderful it is to be spending my first Mothers’ Day as a mummy.

But I don’t want to do that.

Instead, I want to take a moment to appreciate the best mummy I know: my wonderful wife.

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She (half) jokingly tells me all the time how lucky I am to have her and she doesn’t mean just as a wife, although obviously I am incredibly lucky to be married to her, but instead she means as half of our parenting team. And she’s right. I don’t know if it is because she is a woman or if it is just by virtue of being, wonderfully, her, but I know how fortunate I am when I hear my other friends with small babies talk about their own husbands and boyfriends.IMG_2505

I guess there is an element of the fact that we have two babies to look after instead of one, but she has never considered not getting up in the night and leaving it all to me. Whereas other “dads” have resumed their weekend golf days and nights out, my wonderful wife would never dream of missing out on time spent with the babies unless it was a break we were both being given together. My friends talk about how their partners can’t settle their babies and just seem to make them scream louder, whereas L seems to often have a more calming effect than I do – although of course the one area I do still trump her is that I have the “magic boobs”.

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She hates having to spend so much time away from us all. She calls herself the Strange Lady, saying how she only appears in the mornings and the evenings; she says the girls wonder who this strange lady is who only shows up twice a day. She jokes, but she worries that they don’t know her. She is reassured when a grandparent hands her back a squalling baby and she manages to settle them. Because of course they know her – they love her, it’s obvious.

I love the way the girls’ faces light up when she walks through the door. Whether she’s been out at work all day or is just coming back from the toilet, their little faces break out into wide grins and their eyes go straight to her.

I send her pictures and updates throughout the day. I tell her what we’re up to and send her messages from Claudia or Imogen explaining how the day is going and I know she checks her phone constantly – even sometimes when she shouldn’t – because she’s so eager to find out what we are doing or see another beautiful photo of her daughters.IMG_2559

She likes to remind me that I didn’t change a nappy for the first two weeks of the girls’ life. This is an outrageous lie! It was about four days and it was because after the birth I couldn’t get out of bed without it taking about five minutes or without help.

The birth was traumatic – probably more for her than for me – but she was amazing. As the midwife told the doctor she couldn’t stop the bleed, as I went pale and started throwing up, as the doctor called out for code red and the room flooded with people, as she thought she might lose the person in her life she loved the most (besides the two brand new babies who lay in a cot across the room), she just gripped my hand and told me to stay awake.

And then after, when I couldn’t get out of bed or walk across the room to pick up my crying babies, she was so attentive. Day and night she was there to hand me my daughters so that I could feed them. She changed their nappies and dressed them and swayed back and forth with them. All the things I couldn’t do. All I could do in those early days was feed them and everything else fell to her. Even once we were home, I was still on crutches and she still made sure I had everything I needed. She would hold a glass of water under my nose, with a straw sticking out, so I could have a drink whilst I fed the babies. She made sure I had enough to eat and prepared bottles and fed them when I was too exhausted.IMG_2600

So whilst I might argue that it certainly wasn’t two whole weeks that she changed every nappy for, I can’t fault the wonderful care she took of me and our daughters in those early days. And it’s never really stopped.

She misses us all so much when she’s at work and we miss her. When we worked out our finances and realised it made no sense for me to return to work permanently, she didn’t get annoyed that she has to work whilst I get to stay at home. Instead, she was pleased, happy that the girls would have a parent at home with them, instead of a childcare provider.

In the morning, she gets Immie up and changes her nappy. These days Immie often sleeps on her tummy and when her mummy goes in to see her, she lifts herself up on her arms and flaps her little legs inside her sleeping bag like a baby seal, giving her mummy a big beaming grin that says good morning. Some mornings at the weekend, I will go in to Immie instead, and L will snatch a couple of precious minutes with Claudia, who is sleeping in our bed pretty much full time at the moment. As she wakes she does the biggest stretches.IMG_1640

In the evening, L gives Claudie her bath. Now they are bigger we bath them together, but we still always bath the same baby. She splashes and shrieks with delight. She doesn’t mind getting water in her face, she just splashes away, soaking her mummies and her twin too.

If Immie wakes in the night, L goes in to her. IMG_3024 She gives her a bottle and they have a cuddle. Sometimes she sleeps right through and the next day L tells her that it’s okay to wake up, that she likes seeing her in the night for cuddles. She likes having Claudia in our bed too. She likes being able to look over at the two of us curled up together. She likes to kiss her bald head, which is rapidly becoming less and less bald.

She sings to the girls. Silly songs about poos and wees but they love it. She shakes her hair at them and they giggle and reach out and grab it.

She is so good to all three of us. We all light up when she walks in through the door in the evenings. I don’t know if my wife knows how truly amazing she really is and how much I really truly love her and what a totally brilliant mummy she is.

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I hope she knows now.

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Our merry little Christmas

Admittedly this should have been posted about two weeks ago, but although the girls were brilliantly behaved on Christmas day and we all had a wonderful time, since then any and all good sleeping habits have flown out the window so it’s been a struggle to get anything productive done at all.

Still, it would be remiss of me not to post the details of our Christmas, despite it now being the middle of January.

We left out a carrot for Rudolph and a mince pie and glass of Baileys for Father Christmas.

We hung the girls’ stockings off their cots and dressed them in their new Christmas pyjamas.

L and I enjoyed a glass of Baileys and a quiet evening and Claudia slept from about 11pm until 6am!  She must have known that Father Christmas wouldn’t come if she was awake.

In the morning we fed them and then opened their stockings.

After that we went downstairs and L and I opened our presents to one another.  We were then both able to take it in turns to shower and start to get things ready for the day.  L’s parents were first to arrive and we Skyped with L’s brother and his wife in Sydney.  We opened our presents from them over Skype and the girls tried on part of the outfits they had been bought by the Australian contingent.

Then my family arrived and we started getting ready for Christmas dinner.  L had promised “Turkey at two”, but in the grand tradition of Christmas dinners we didn’t start the main course until closer to 4pm.

After dinner we all opened our presents, including an absolute MOUNTAIN of gifts for the girls!

We had an amazing day.  The babies had cuddles with everyone and were really, really good.

Without a doubt the best Christmas ever!

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