Sunday, 28 August 2016

The 52 Project: 35/52

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

Dear Ruby,
You have spent two nights and three days staying at Granny and Grandad's house without us this week. This is the longest time I have ever spent away from you, and we have missed your lovely presence in our house. You caught two buses and three trains to get to Southbourne from Bristol, and told us on Facetime, 'we went on ALL the trains!'
Spending time at home with you being away makes me realise how much time we spend talking, talking, talking every single day. You are so intrigued by the world and ask a lot of questions to make sense of everything. Here are some notable conversations from this week.

You: 'What did you do?'
Me: 'I just cleaned up Jude's sick from the floor.'
You: 'Why?'
Me: 'So that we don't tread in it.'
You: 'So it doesn't go mouldy?'

On our walk to the park:
You: 'Where do cats live?'
Me: 'In people's houses, but they like walking outside a lot.'
You: 'Have they got paws?'
Me: 'Yes, they do!'
You: 'Why? Can't they wear sandals?'

You are fantastic.
All my love,
Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
About a month ago, you started sleeping on your tummy at night time, purely of your own volition. This week, we finally decided to try a different approach to get you to sleep for your naps (which you have fought since you were tiny), and much to my surprise and delight, it has worked! When you start showing signs of tiredness, we put the white noise app on, lie you on your side or tummy, depending on what you are most comfortable with, then jiggle you gently until you fall asleep. You consistently flip from your side onto your tummy to settle into deep sleep, keeping your left arm tucked under your tummy. I love seeing how peaceful you look when you are sleeping. I realise that I am talking about sleep quite a lot here, and I imagine you reading this as an adult thinking, 'seriously, what is the big deal. Mum?! Why were you so bothered about sleep?' If this is what you're thinking then you probably haven't had your own babies yet. The topic of sleep suddenly becomes all consuming and perplexing in a way that it never has before when you have your own children. Sleep is so fundamental to our well being, and it is unbelievably hard when babies don't sleep well. Anyhow, it has made the world of difference to our week, now that we have found what works best for you, and I am thrilled. You seem to have turned a corner in every respect this week. You laugh a lot these days, and are so much calmer now. I am loving getting to know you, little one.
All my love,
Mama xxx

The 52 Project: 34/52

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

Dear Ruby,
We have been on holiday this week with some of our friends, and you have spent a wonderful amount of time outdoors. The two friends who you have played with this week are a little bit younger than you, and it has been so wonderful seeing how you have instinctively taken care of them when they were upset, offering them cuddles or toys to help them feel happier. You experienced your first trip in a canoe on the River Wye - albeit very short and you didn't paddle anywhere! Over the last couple of months, you have started dropping your afternoon nap. Some days you can't quite cope without a bit of a daytime sleep, but I happened to take this photo on an afternoon when you clearly hadn't napped. Your eyes look so incredibly tired, but you were still having fun chasing giant bubbles!
All my love,
Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
From a very young age, you have shown a preference for feeding while lying down. This creates a bit of a challenge for us when we go out, and has resulted in me lying down in all manner of places that I wouldn't normally do, from beaches by the River Wye, to meadows and parks. Life with you is certainly never dull! Getting you to sleep during the day continues to be a great challenge, and the phrase, 'it takes a village to raise a child' has come to my mind many times this week as we have called on our kind friends to cuddle you, walk with you, sway with you and do whatever it takes to get you to fall asleep when you're tired. I took this photo in a park in Leominster. You spent almost an hour lying on the grass under an avenue of trees on a beautifully sunny day, completely content just looking up at the leaves and sky. It was a lovely time relaxing together.
All my love,
Mama xxx

The 52 Project: 33/52

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

Dear Ruby,
We spent half the week at Nanny and Grandad's house, and you were enthralled by their lovely garden. You particularly loved declaring, 'Let's go and run around the tree!' I lost count of the number of times you ran around their magnolia tree over the course of three days. There was a wonderful moment where you were eating a sliver of chocolate cheesecake at dinner time, completely shattered from the adventures of the day. You could barely keep your eyes open, but you managed to scrape every last morsel of cheesecake from the bowl, propping your elbow on the table to involve minimal effort, as your eyes blinked slower and slower, edging you towards sleep.
We celebrated Nanny's 60th Birthday, and you relished another opportunity to sing, 'Happy Birthday' to her over and over again. I love your enthusiasm for celebrating and I hope this never wanes.
All my love,
Mummy xxxx

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Dear Jude,
You have spent abundant amounts of time in the arms of my family this week. Grandad is far from being old, but his arms and wrists might well feel like they have aged twenty years from holding you for so many hours, helping you to drift off to dreamland. You have some serious staying awake stamina, little one.
All my love,
Mama xxx

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The 52 Project: 32/52

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

Dear Ruby, 
I know that this photo is fairly similar to your portrait from last week, but I just love it. You were running into the sea, then you'd turn around and run up the beach until the waves caught up with you, then you'd repeat the process over and over again. It has been so lovely to think about how much your confidence in the sea has grown since last Summer when we spent two weeks in Italy, and you regarded the sea with a healthy amount of caution for days before venturing in for a paddle.
This week has consisted of daily trips to the beach, visits to the playground (one of the playgrounds involved taking a short boat ride across the river), crabbing at Mudeford Quay, flying kites, baking scones, countless games of hide and seek, and reading hundreds of stories with Granny. 
All my love,
Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
Ever since you were born, we have used white noise as a way of settling you to sleep. Both Daddy and I love the sound of rain on the roof, and waves crashing on a beach, so these are the sounds that we play to you via our white noise app. This week, we have been visiting Granny and Grandad who live by the sea, and so you have had the luxury of the sound of real waves to lull you to sleep rather than an app. On a couple of our trips to the beach, you fell asleep within moments of hearing the waves. This is so very different to your normal struggle to sleep, so much so that it brought tears to my eyes. 
You continue to love sucking furiously on your fingers, and can often be seen trying to put your entire fist into your tiny mouth. 
Keep growing strong, little one.
All my love,
Mama xxx

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The 52 Project: 31/52

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

Dear Ruby,
I am going to keep this week's letter short, as there aren't many words or memories in my head right now. This week ended with a trip to see Granny and Grandad in Southbourne. You were so incredibly excited to get to the beach, run in the sand and paddle in the sea. Upon seeing the sea, you jumped up and down, saying, 'we're at the beach! we're at the beach!' then proceeded to run all the way down the long slope to the beach. You and I needed this break, to come to this beautiful place and be refreshed, and I hope that you will take the time when you need to, to be refreshed by the beauty of the outdoors and open spaces for the rest of your life.
All my love,
Mummy xxx

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Dear Jude,
We've had another week of clocking up many miles of walking together (approximately 45), as this is often what you need in order to calm enough to feed, or go to sleep. The fresh air works wonders for you, little one, and when we go walking, I keep thinking that I am so grateful that you were born in the Spring, so that we can enjoy the warmth of the sun and the beauty of blue skies on our walks. 
One night last week, you stirred in your sleep and all I had to do to help you resettle was hold your hand. That was enough to reassure you and I couldn't help but think about how love can be complex, but at times, it is so simple. Sometimes all we need to feel ok is to hold the hand of someone we love, and for now, I am grateful that I get to have this role in your life.
All my love,
Mama xxx