Monday, 30 May 2016

The 52 Project: 22/52


'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,

This week you got a new (second hand) scooter. You have never asked for anything in a material sense before, but ever since scooters caught your eye on our trips to the park, you have looked at them longingly, and occasionally said, 'I want a scooter.' One of our friends had one that they no longer needed, and very kindly gave it to you. Before you had even seen it, you were incredibly excited about it. You jumped around the garden, saying, 'I'm so excited about my new scooter! I'm so excited!!' I loved seeing your joy, and relished the fact that at the tender age of two and a half, you will not look at this scooter and wish that it was brand new, you will see it for the potential it has to take you places at great speed. Here's to a lifetime of seeing the great potential in everything.

All my love,

Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
After a few traumatic car journeys last weekend, I have tried to avoid driving with you as much as possible.

You're four weeks into your life on Earth, and honestly? You're looking a little battered by the experience. Your face is covered in lots of little milk spots, your tear ducts have been clogged since two days after birth, and your cheeks bear bright red scratches from your tiny nails, which you flail and claw at your face with when you are upset. Typing those words brings tears to my eyes, little one. You have had quite a tearful week, and I have struggled to find the ways to comfort you. But we're getting to know one another, and I am doing my best to help you when you struggle to sleep.

You were born into water, and to mark three weeks of being born, I gave you your first bath. The warm water has the most beautiful calming effect on you, and we have shared a few baths together this week - the perfect respite at the end of days which feel punctuated by both calm and chaos as I navigate the waters of parenting two children while Daddy is at work. Currently, the things that calm you most effectively are:

1) Being carried in the sling
2) Walking (while in the sling)
3) The hairdryer (which Ruby almost blew up the other day when she switched the temperature to hot instead of cold and put it directly onto the bed sheet!)
4) Being swaddled
5) Bath time

Here's to many years of learning from one another.
All my love,
Mama xxx

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The 52 Project: 21/52

 'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'


Dear Ruby,
This week, we had our house valued by an Estate Agent, and when you looked at the piece of paper with a photo of the front of our house on it, you said,

'Our house looks so lovely Mummy. I like the roof too...and I like the door...I like the windows too...'

I loved listening to your observations about the different parts of our house, and couldn't help but wonder what the house will be like where you make the most memories. If we move in the next couple of years, you won't ever remember this house where you spent the first few years of your life. There's something slightly sad about that.

You have recently started taking an interest in your Jelly Cat rabbit that you've had since you were born. (You've never been attached to any soft toys - your preference has always been for your hard bodied new born baby doll, and no matter how many beautiful clothes Granny makes her, she always ends up naked!) In the last week, you've started calling your rabbit 'little moon bunny', which is influenced by the one and only TV programme you watch - Topsy and Tim. Topsy's bunny has the same name, and you've adopted it for your own bunny. You've also just started calling us 'Mum' and 'Dad'. which also seems to be directly influenced by Topsy and Tim.

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Dear Jude,
This week you experienced your first wedding, first visit to London and first time meeting your cousin Carolina (who is currently your only cousin - who knows how many more you'll have by the time you read this!). You didn't particularly enjoy the car journeys - your screaming was enough for me to never want to have to drive anywhere with you again, and make me feel like a terrible Mother for putting you through the stress of being in a car when you really weren't happy about it. I am sorry for doing things that make you cry. 

I took this photo just seconds before you drifted off to sleep in the sling, which is currently your favourite place to sleep. On the whole, you are a very quiet sleeper, although you have got a cold at the moment, which means that you occasionally snuffle like a piglet. 

All my love,
Mama xxx

Thursday, 19 May 2016

I want to remember...

For the last 18 days I have been basking in the wonder of having a newborn in the house again. There are so many things that I had forgotten about having a newborn, from his tiny squeaks and grunts, to the way he startles so easily - sometimes at a loud sound, sometimes at nothing in particular - just his Moro reflex. I had forgotten the way that newborn babies breathe. It's not the consistent quiet breathing that I have become accustomed to with Ruby. Rather, it's a series of snuffles, short quick breaths, long slow ones and sometimes pausing between breaths, which can be mildly alarming.

I have loved the slow start to our days together, thanks to my kind husband who gets up with our daughter so that Jude and I can carry on sleeping for a few more hours. Each morning during John's paternity leave, the smell of coffee has wafted up the stairs, signalling that it's really time for me to get up and get on with the day. Just minutes later after my nose has detected the wonderful aroma of Square Mile coffee, my husband will appear at our bedroom door, holding a mug of the good stuff, brewed in my favourite way.

I want to remember how having Spring baby has felt. The way I wake up and see long shards of light on our bedroom wall, peeking around our black out blinds and curtains, which definitely don't 'black out' the room. I want to remember how much I have enjoyed certain luxuries like a small glass of chilled white wine in the evening, and our favourite chocolate ice creams that we've had occasionally during Ruby's afternoon nap time, along with a cup of coffee. I love combining a hot drink with cold food (but never the other way around). I want to remember how much I have loved seeing the bright blue skies and Spring blossom everywhere we look - Ruby was born in the Winter and I adored the coziness of having a baby at that time of year - but this is equally as wonderful in a very different way. I want to remember the evening walks I have been taking with Jude sound asleep in the sling during these first few weeks. Having the time to stretch my legs and enjoy the last light of the day has been such a pleasure.

I want to remember how Jude doesn't have quite the same newborn curled up legs as most baby's have, which I am almost certain is due to being breech with one leg flexed, one extended until I was 37 weeks pregnant. I want to remember the way that Jude seems less inclined to be comforted by nursing when he is tired, but prefers to be held upright, curled up against my chest. And again, I can't help but wonder if this is because he was most comfortable in the womb in this position, and only spent the last three weeks of gestation with his head down.
I want to remember the myriad of facial expressions a newborn baby makes in the matter of a few short seconds. These are three photos that I took in a sequence of about twenty other shots, all with hilarious results. (The photo below is post-sneeze, which involves Jude's whole body, chin, arms and legs all tucked in as the sneeze hits with full force. Brilliant.)
I want to remember the way my baby is covered in downy blonde hair that's so fine it looks a little bit like fluff. It won't last and if I don't write about it I'll forget. In these early weeks of having a new baby, I am once again reminded of how invaluable it is to write in order to remember. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The 52 Project: 20/52

'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'


Dear Ruby,
On Wednesday afternoon when you woke up from your nap, instead of coming straight downstairs as usual, I came to your room with Jude, and we started sorting through your book basket.

'I love this one - Bobba goes to school.'
'I love the foot book. Bear Snores On is fantastic.'

We spent a good hour in your room - I flitted between jobs - sorting books to take downstairs, putting aside toys to take to the charity shops, nursing Jude, and all the while you just sorted through your books. It. loved hearing your thoughts about the different books in your basket.

Last week, you picked up a new book which Granny had given you a few days earlier, and proceeded to 'read' it. You knew what every page said, and it blew my mind. At this stage, you are using the pictures to tell the story, and recalling from memory the sequence of words, which is part of the process of learning to read. To me, this is no less amazing than actually being able to read the words on each page. One of my favourite things about my time working as an early years teacher was watching young children learn, and getting to watch you learn - my very own daughter - it's such a privilege.
In other news, you continue to be very loving towards Jude, who is now two weeks old. Curiously, you like to lick him rather than giving him kisses. I love the way you express affection!

All my love,

Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
You are the most smiley newborn babe that I have ever met - almost every nap is punctuated with sleep-smiles which have completely taken me by surprise. You sleep for the best part of 23 hours a day, and when you are hungry, it is quite simply a matter of urgency. You go from peacefully sleeping babe to screaming within seconds, barely giving me a moment to pick up the normal hunger cues that babies give. 

After spending nine months growing you and wondering what you would be like, it is so lovely to be finally getting to know you. I love that you have lots dark brown hair like I had as a baby - this is how you looked when I dreamed about you. We think you're brilliant.

All my love,

Mama xxx

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Spring Baby

At this time last year, I was pregnant with a baby who we lost at nine weeks gestation. From fairly early on in the pregnancy, I had felt anxious about there being problems and the possibility of losing the baby. I hadn't felt the same anxiety when pregnant with our daughter, and wondered why I felt differently this time around. I remember praying and talking to God about how I was feeling, and the thing I remember most clearly about my prayers was that God showed me a vision of my family - we were standing under a magnolia tree in full bloom and I was holding a newborn baby. At the time, this didn't make sense to me, because the baby I was pregnant with was due to be born in December - there certainly wouldn't be any magnolia trees in bloom then - our baby would be five months old by the time the Spring blossom arrived. But it was definitely a newborn baby I saw as I prayed. Then, we lost the baby that I had felt all of the anxiety over. I would no longer be having a Winter baby.

A few months later, we found out that I was pregnant again, and felt a great sense of relief and hope when the 12 week scan showed a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat. Our baby was due to arrive around the 30th April 2016, and this picture of my family that God had shown me back in May 2015 came to mind many times throughout my pregnancy. I remember going for a walk in January, and seeing daffodils blooming. The mild temperatures during Winter have done funny things to the Spring flowers this year, and I couldn't help but wonder if there would be any flowers left to blossom and bloom by the time our baby was due to arrive.

Jude was born on 1st May, and one of the first outings we did together as a family of four was to St. Andrew's Park. One of my favourite things about this park is all of the beautiful trees they have there, and they are just glorious at this time of year. Although most of the Magnolias around Bristol have dropped their petals for this year, the cherry blossom is in its element, so as soon as I saw this tree, I knew that I wanted to make the picture that God had shown me a reality - a physical photo of the assurance he gave me that I would be holding a newborn in my arms this Spring time. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

The 52 Project: 19/52

 'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
Your first week of life as a sister has been filled with lots of highs and a few more lows than normal. Understandably, you are feeling a little more sensitive than normal, and we are doing our best to navigate these new parenting waters together. One of the most helpful things for you is if we spend as much time outdoors as possible, and thankfully, we have had an incredible week of sunshine which has made this possible. I took this photo on one of our many trips to St. Andrew's Park. The day had started off rainy and grey, but by the time Grandad had taken some photos of the four of us, the sun was shining beautifully. So, you did what any other water loving child was doing - went to play in the shallow pool with all of your clothes on. Eventually, you stripped off, as wet clothes are not the most comfortable thing in the world, and we all paddled in the pool together. I am thoroughly looking forward to a Summer filled with many more trips to this park, complete with sun suits, towels, picnics and sun cream.

You have been coming out with some wonderful questions and statements recently, so here's a list of some of my favourite things that you have said this week:

'Why don't I have pedals on my bike, Mummy?'

'I spread my toast....Marmite...it's all sticky...because it's hot.'

'You're like a sausage! You're like a sausage!' (To Jude)

'I'm just going upstairs wash my hands. Back in a minute! See you soon!'

'I'm just doing some knitting like Nanny do's.'

There's a small calculator we have which you like to use as a phone. You know it's a calculator but tend to call it an 'escalator'. The conversations you have go a little like this:

'Hiya we just went to swimming we did tiger arms. Bye!'

'Hiya we just planting some seeds. Bye!'

It doesn't seem like very long ago that I was marvelling at your three-word sentences, and now you are communicating so many thoughts, ideas and constructions with your language. Watching you learn and grow is one of my favourite things.

All my love,

Mummy xxx
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Dear Jude,

You are one week old today!

I have lost count of the number of sleepy smiles you have done this week but I never expected to capture one on camera - this happened to be a serendipitous moment - you just happened to break into a perfectly timed smile as I raised the camera to my eye. I love that it also captures your dimple which only shows up when you smile, just like Daddy and Ruby. Seeing as babies don't tend to start actively, socially smiling until they're around five weeks old, your sleepy smiles have been a lovely surprise every time they happen.

There was a moment in the middle of the night last night where you had just finished nursing and you lay outstretched along my arms, and as I watched you sleeping peacefully, I thought about how much I love you, just as you are. You don't need to be able to do anything for me to love you, and I hope that you always know that - love is not conditional upon anything. I love who you are now, and I love that as your parents, we get to watch who you will become as you learn and grow, and discover the things you love in the world.

All my love,

Mama xxx

The 52 Project: 18/52

'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'

Dear Ruby,
This week started with Granny coming to stay with us to help me look after you until your baby brother arrived. I was 39 weeks pregnant at the start of the week and just starting to find it challenging to keep up with your energy levels! We collected her from the station, and it was so lovely to see the way you greeted her. You spotted Granny coming down the two flights of station stairs, and started to jump up and down, saying, 'Granny's here! Granny's here! Then you ran to give her a hug the moment she got down to the bottom of the stairs. I hope you always have this lovely relationship with your grandparents - they are all truly wonderful people who love you greatly. 

The week ended with me saying goodbye to you after dinner on Saturday evening, so that I could go to the Birth Centre to give birth to your baby brother who we have been talking about for so long. Granny put you to bed on Saturday night, then Daddy got home at 4am on Sunday morning once your brother had been born, so he was there with you when you woke up on Sunday. At 5.30pm on Sunday 1st May, you met your brother for the first time. You wiggled his feet and talked about how he had been in your car seat, then gave him some lovely cuddles. While I was heavily pregnant, it got quite difficult for me to hug you, as there wasn't really space for you to climb onto my lap, and I couldn't pick you up anymore. So we had started having cuddles on the sofa where I could stretch out my legs and you would curl around my bump, then we would read together. Each afternoon, you would say, 'Sit on sofa, have cuddles with Mummy', and I cherished these quiet times together. Now that your brother is here, it's lovely to be able to cuddle you more easily (except for when you want to climb all over me while I'm feeding - that is a whole other challenge).

All my love,

Mummy xxx


Dear Baby,
Welcome to our family, little one! Daddy and I haven't quite decided what your name should be yet, so you mostly get referred to as little one, sweetie pie or baby brother for now. 
You arrived just in time for your first portrait to be taken this week - ever since Ruby was born I have taken weekly portraits of her, with Sunday as the deadline, and you were born at 1.44am on Sunday 1st May. 
It was such a joy to meet you, after having you growing inside of me for the last nine months, and we had a very peaceful first night together. You were born into water with the umbilical cord wrapped around your neck, so you were a little shocked and blue at first, but it didn't take long for you to get some pink colour into your cheeks once the midwives had unwrapped the cord, dried you off and gave you to me for a cuddle. We had a very peaceful first day together at Cossham Birth Centre, just sleeping and feeding and sleeping some more until it was time for us to go home. You have a head full of dark brown hair, just like I had as a baby - quite different from Ruby and Daddy. It's such a joy to have you here and we can't wait to get to know you.

All my love,

Mama xx