Sunday, 26 June 2016

The 52 Project: 26/52

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

Dear Ruby and Jude,
By now, you will be aware that I have written letters to each of you individually since you were born. This week, I have decided to write you a joint letter in light of the events of this week. Today marks half way through 2016, and Friday was perhaps the most momentous day of the year so far. If not the most momentous, certainly, the most historic moment of the year. A referendum took place where everyone aged 18 and over had the chance to vote to decide if the United Kingdom (currently consisting of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - who knows if it will still look the same by the time you are old enough to read and understand these letters) would like to remain a part of the European Union or leave and effectively be independent. Our entire family (us, your Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents) all wanted to remain in the E.U. However, 52% of the people who voted wanted to leave the E.U, and so they won the referendum. For my entire lifetime, we have been a part of the European Union, and so I have never known what it's like for our country to distance itself from all of the other EU countries, and you will grow up never knowing a time when we haven't been independent of it. (Which will be the case, unless something revolutionary happens, like a second referendum, which is possible but quite unlikely.) There was a heaviness in my heart the whole day after hearing the news that we would be leaving the E.U, and that was echoed across the country. Politics is so complicated, I cannot even begin to unwrap it here in this little letter, and you might be thinking, 'but why are people sad if this is what the majority of people chose?' I cannot imagine my head around what your futures will be like in light of this decision, but time will tell, and I sincerely hope the leaders of this country make some wise decisions from here on in. It's an odd thought that the events of this week could become a topic that you study when you are in secondary school, learning about the history, politics and economy of our country. You are both so young right now, and have no concept of what is going on in the world beyond our little lives, and yet the decisions of this week will have major consequences for your lives.
All my love,
Mummy xxx

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The 52 Project: 25/52

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

Dear Ruby,
This week you have scooted all the way to the Post Office dressed in your sandals, mermaid dress (made by Granny), and pyjamas, practiced diving at swimming, told stories about Cinderella and learned that your birthday is in November. Here's how your storytelling went: (You were looking at a book about a poor girl called Hannah who was hungry and saw some bees with honey, just to add some context.)

'Once upon a time there was a girl called Cinderella....Once upon a time there was a girl called...that girl. Today there was a girl called Cinderella. She went on the garden with him. Once upon a time, there was a girl called Cinderella. She looked very sad. She wanted some bees.'

Talking about your birthday with great excitement:
'I remember I went to her birthday....it's my birthday in No...No-member! Daddy! It's my birthday in So-member!' 

I have a feeling your third birthday party is going to be a lot of fun.

On Saturday night, you woke up at 1.30am, and came running to my room in floods of tears, saying, 'I want Giraffe's Can't Dance' over and over again. I had no idea why you were so upset about this and figured you must have had a dream about this book. I suggested you go and find Daddy in the spare room, as I was worried that your loud crying would wake Jude, and once you had found Daddy, you just got more and more upset, saying, 'I want these books! I want my books!' In the end, the solution was for Daddy to get your book basket, bring it into the spare room, then you were content to fall asleep.

All my love,

Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
Last week was a tough old week. You just cried so much and we struggled to help calm you down. As a parent of a new baby, it can feel a bit like you're failing if you can't soothe your baby. We are the ones who know you the best, and yet we just couldn't work out what you needed. On Tuesday this week, I was chatting with a good friend (we met three years ago when I was pregnant with Ruby and she was pregnant with her first daughter), and she very helpfully reminded me about the Wonder Weeks. This is a term that has been coined as a way of describing the significant developmental milestones that every baby experiences and reaches in the first seventy five weeks of life. The first of these milestones, or 'wonder weeks' is week five. That afternoon, I re-read the first section of my Wonder Weeks book, having not read it since Ruby was a baby, and had one of those 'Aha' moments. Everything they described that happens during the fifth week of life was so characteristic of how you had been. I was so thankful to that friend for giving me just the little bit of perspective I needed in that moment. To be reminded that perhaps you were going through significant developmental changes, rather than us being awful parents, was very helpful. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the friends I have to journey through life with, and one of my prayers for you is that you would find the kind of friends that Daddy and I have been blessed with. You do not need lots of friends, but those you do have should be people that you know love you regardless, who can see you at your worst and walk with you through those times, and celebrate with you when you are at your best.

This week has been quite different. You have been calmer, less uncomfortable after feeds and you are just a little bit more interested in the world around you when you are awake. On Thursday we spent the entire day going back and forth between appointments for you. You had your hips scanned at the hospital, just to check that everything is ok with them - you were breech until 37 weeks of pregnancy, when an obstetrican managed to turn you around - but they like to scan all babies that have been breech in the last weeks of pregnancy. The Doctor checked you over for your six week check and deemed you 'perfect'. We love you, Jude.
All my love,
Mama xxx

P.S Your new favourite way of falling asleep is in the sling with me walking up and down the stairs over and over again. I don't know why but this works, almost without fail at calming you and lulling you to sleep. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The 52 Project: 24/52

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

Dear Ruby,
This week, you have mastered how to flip over by holding onto Daddy's hands, climbing up his legs, then flipping backwards. I still remember how this feels from doing the same kind of flips with my Dad. It's such a joy and privilege to witness you finding enjoyment in the same things that I enjoyed in my childhood. You also learned how to do a forwards roll / roly poly this week at Whazza, and you are completely delighted in this new skill. You practiced it over and over again and as I write this, you're sleeping off the tiredness induced by all of that exercise!

You have also discovered that your body makes a pretty great painting canvas, and have started to ask to paint every day about five minutes before I'm ready to serve dinner. I love watching you unleash your creativity.

All my love,

Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
Yesterday you smiled while looking at me for the first time (you have done a lot of sleep smiles ever since you were six days old), and it was a beautiful moment in the midst of a fairly tough week.
We love you, little one.
All my love,
Mama xxx

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Self Portraits of Motherhood part one:

This morning as I was trying to coax Ruby into letting me brush her hair, she discovered my camera under the bed and said, 'I take a photo of you and Jude, Mummy.' It took me all of two seconds to decide to prioritise helping Ruby learn a little about photography over brushing her hair.
As you can imagine, handling a DSLR when your hands are the size of a two and a half year old is a bit of a challenge, so I took advantage of the mirror to help Ruby take a photo of all of us. A simple morning portrait of us, not quite ready for the day, but able to make time to take a photo and preserve the memory. Because photos will always outlast my memories of these early days as a family of four when it takes approximately two hours to leave the house with two children.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The 52 Project: 23/52

'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016.'
Dear Ruby,
​This week you have danced while singing 'Happy Birthday' to Uncle Rob, eaten more lasagne than Nanny, fallen asleep while sitting upright and surrounded by your books, and climbed higher than ever before at Old Down Country Park. Here's to celebrating the simple things in life that bring us a lot of joy, like singing, food and climbing. 
All my love,
Mummy xxxx

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Dear Jude, 
Nanny came to stay with us this week and you spent a wonderful amount of time in her arms. She has raised four children, so is pretty experienced with caring for babies, and she is the most gentle soul I know. When you were screaming, Nanny took the time to find out the best way of making you comfortable when I felt like I had tried every trick in the book for settling a newborn babe and was at the end of my tether. Family is so precious and I am very grateful that you get to spend time cradled in your Grandmother's arms. 
In other news, I took you to have your newborn hearing test this week, but they couldn't complete the test because your sleep-snuffling was too loud for the machine to detect if your ears can hear or not. You've had a cold pretty much since the day you were born, so your poor little nose doesn't yet know the joys of breathing easily and quietly. Here's to hoping you make that discovery soon (and preferably before I have to take you back for another hearing test!!)
All my love,
Mama xxx