Continuing Collecting Memories…

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Holly suffered so much more with tooth pain than Scarlett ever did, I’m not sure Scarlett ever even noticed her teeth coming through(!). Holly was quicker to walk than Scarlett, Scarlett started talking clearly sooner than Holly has. They are both very spirited, bright eyed and full of smiles and laughs. Holly has more of a temper, Scarlett I think may be a bit less of a daredevil than Holly (maybe slightly more sensible is the better way to explain it!)

As they grow up, they will gain other similarities and their differences will also become more apparent. Their differences are to be celebrated as much as their similarities are to be cherished. Their hearts will be forever entwined together, but they will travel their individual paths with each others support (and probably gentle mockery because the sibling bond is like no other). My brother and I are similar in many ways, we’re both dorky and a bit weird, we’re just as likely to make a strange noise at each other as we are to communicate normally. So far, so sibling. We’re both defensive and have tempers. We’re both extremely passionate about our interests (both of us with video games, him with football and me with theatre), and we both also use humour to hide what we’re really feeling 90% of the time, both only really confiding primarily in our partners and quite often each other. On the same page, he loves fast cars and I wouldn’t be out of place running barefoot in a meadow. If he goes on holiday, he’d rather stay someplace nice with English speaking areas, whereas I like to roam locally when abroad and would happily stay in a shared hostel room if it meant getting to see the ‘real’ area. I have an open door policy at home and often invite groups of people round, I’m his sister and have never been round to his for a meal and that’s not because he hates me, I don’t think he’s ever hosted a family event or more than one friend because he likes his space to be his space. Neither of us are wrong, neither of us are bad people, we’re very similar with quite a lot of differences. We’re extremely close despite being different generations and despite sometimes not understanding each other. The biggest thing is that we both know that in an emergency, we could call the other and we would be there in an instant. 

My hope is that my girls will have a similar close bond, perhaps even easier as they are so close in age. They will grow up watching the same TV shows, knowing the same people, perhaps being taught by the same teachers and having the same cultural references. This will likely mean they have more moments of screaming at each other, more days that they hate each other. the close proximity will draw them closer and on occasion make them wish they were further apart!

At the moment Holly adores Scarlett, and Scarlett adores showing off to Holly. They make each other laugh, they hit each other with lego bricks when one wants to build a tower and the other wants to knock it down. They both love to dance and sing, they both like giving cuddles and I think that they are both going to be very empathic as they always notice and react when one of me or my husband are upset or in pain. 

I’ve been proofing and arranging two books today to be published. ‘A Bumpy Ride’, and ‘A Bumpier Ride’. I started this blog to take note of both pregnancies right up until their first birthdays. They have a book each, from around 4 months pregnant, to just after their first birthday. And within the pages, are countless memories, anecdotes and descriptions of a time that even now, not much later on, the details have become fuzzy. The memories have started to fade, which is terrifying, it makes me extremely grateful to have written it all down. Putting the thoughts together made me wonder what to do with the remaining posts. I have continued writing now past Holly’s first birthday with no real plan with what to do with those posts. But in reality, this entire process is for the girls, for them to read, or ignore if they’d rather! I have so many questions from when I was younger, questions that understandably are a bit difficult for my parents to now answer, especially as it was over thirty years ago! I’m lucky that I have a diary from 1985 that my Mum wrote, a short passage of which I’ve posted below. It’s an insight into those small details that you can’t remember even a couple of years after as the first few years are such a blur, it’s like a descriptive memory that you don’t have as such a young child and that you inevitably lose as an adult. 

Perhaps the series WILL become a trilogy, the what came next, ages 1 – 5, the years that they won’t be able to remember for themselves. Whatever happens, I hope they both know how much my husband and I adore them, and how much of a priority they are to us. I also hope they grow up to know how important they are to each other, regardless of how their differences might make them feel like they don’t have a lot in common, or how much their similarities remind them too much of each other! I’m so excited to see how they both grow up together, but for now I’m enjoying savouring every little, desperately important but fleeting moment.

1985 Diary Entrys

Tuesday 21st May 1985: Danielle got up at 8.30am and I feel completely refreshed although I woke up at about 4am anticipating Danielle waking up. She has been trying to lift herself up from her bottom. At the moment she can’t lift her top half together with her legs and bottom. Danielle went to bed at 8.30pm. She woke up at 4.15 but it was because her little arm was caught between the bars in her cot and was absolutely freezing

Thursday 23rd May 1985: Danielle was first up at 6.15 for a feed, then went back down at 6.30 until 9.45. She has been really good today, although she seems to want to chew on her bottom lip – I’m not sure if she’s teething but it sure looks like it. I put her to bed at 8pm but she woke up again at 9 laughing at her Nanna Whelan!! I put her back to bed at 9.15 and she seems to have settled.

Sunday 2nd June 1985: Danielle first woke at 6.15am, then after feeding her she woke up at 8am. She’s been very good today, smiling everyone. I took her to the beach and she loved it. Her Auntie Jan put Danielle’s feet in the the water but it was a bit cold!! Danielle settled at 8pm.

Monday 29th August 1985: Danielle has finally got her tongue around the word ‘Dada’. she’s been saying it all day and she sounds lovely. I put it on tape so that Nick would believe me.

Friday 9th August 1985: We took Danielle to the baths today for the first time. It was so cold but she loved it.

Sunday 15th September 1985: Danielle started crawling today. Although she’s been moving around for some time, she actually crawled properly today.

Friday 20th September 1985: Danielle said ‘mama’ properly today. Now Danielle has started crawling there’s no stopping her and we keep having to move everything out of her way (especially the papers and my catalogues which she is determined to eat)

There it is, a little insight to my first year, first swim, first words, crawling, little moments that would otherwise be lost to time. In ten years time will I remember that Scarlett went nappy free and started using the potty on Friday 1st September? Doubtful. Will I know that the girls went to their first music concert on Saturday 17th June 2017, and it was Rick Astley, one of Mummy’s favourites? No probably not. But I’ve got it written down, and although it seems unimportant, those moments are precious. And therefore I will continue to safeguard those memories.

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Worlds Apart…

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My littlest Ladey turns 1 in just over a month, and it occurs to me that I have very little time left with my babies! As if she could read my mind, Holly woke up at 11pm tonight with tooth pain, and so as my husband got an early night ready for a very long day tomorrow, I brought her down, and she and I are now cuddled up on the sofa watching The Crown while she has an extra feed. She’ll fall asleep soon in my arms, and after taking in the smell of her and the cosiness of being cuddled up to her, I’ll head to bed, dropping her off on the way in her cot.
I know I’ll be tired tomorrow. We’ve had a mad 24 hours after a last minute trip to St Ives to go and see family. A bit of a restorative and much needed retreat for us all. We stayed in a beautiful little cottage, and stood by the sea as the waves crashed over the bay. The sea being choppy and the air being so fresh and windy reminded me so much of being a little girl on the beach with my Grandad who taught me how to ‘read’ the sea. I’d forgotten just how therapeutic the ocean can be. For a tiny pocket of time, work stress was a million miles away, I wasn’t writing notes in my phone to monitor any signs of epilepsy, and I wasn’t responding to any emails. I was just surrounded by family, my hair all over the place because of the wind, and the salt spray of the amazing waves drenching us from our daring vantage point. I introduced my two girls to the delightful terror that a choppy sea provides! I’m not ashamed to admit that after the first few moments by the waves I burst into tears. Emotional, happy tears. I felt my shoulders unclench for the first time in, maybe years, and I truly just loved the moments, without anything else or any other worries seeping in. I could almost hear my Grandad saying ‘that’s better girl’. My husband arranged the trip, he knows me better than I know myself sometimes (eurgh, what a cliche..), and not for the first time did it feel a bit like I had been falling and he caught me. 

So I now sit with my beautiful baby, fresh from the little detoxing retreat, and I’ll be tired tomorrow but this little late night cuddle with Holly is very much worth it. After a family discussion, it’s been decided I’m going to be cutting down some of the work I’ve got on my plate. Once the girls are at school I can go back to 60 hour weeks as standard. But for now, instead of taking on the world, I’m going to prioritise my world. A few things are going on a back burner, a few things are being passed on, and I’m going to balance out instead; a little bit of work, a little bit of what I’m passionate about (theatre and charity work primarily), and a lot of family time. 

It’s a decision that in truth I’ve been a bit scared to make. Just as my career was taking off I started a family and the guilt I felt with the family support I had received in gaining my qualifications blindsided me. When I was made redundant last Summer, panic set in as I desperately searched for a new job. I was under the impression that my family would be disappointed or angry if I wasn’t going full steam ahead. As it turns out, they’ve all wanted me to slow down for a while, I was fighting a battle only against my own assumptions! 

I’m NOT a good housewife. Most of what it entails alludes me. Ask me to write 50,000 words, or to analyse various larvae development to measure time of death on a violent crime scene, and I could do it with my eyes closed. But running a household is not a skill I possess. Which doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad wife or mother. I am extremely devoted to my children. I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent, but I understand that’s par for the course and one thing I am totally confident in my abilities is how much I love my husband and children. 

Slowing down is not really in my nature(!) but there are not three more special people in this world (or any other that might exist for that matter!) that I would agree to do so for. But importantly I think, (and something I haven’t done before!) is that I’m also doing it for someone I’ve always neglected quite a bit. I’m doing it for me. (Cue huge amount of guilt for even saying so).

I’m hoping to get back to the seaside with the girls soon, or at least I look forward to getting out and about with them that doesn’t involve being on the way to a meeting, or quick coffee dates in between shifts. I’m certainly not going to become the kind of Mum that starts doing things like making leaf rubbings! But I DO look forward to running around kicking up leaves and getting muddy! 

When the girls are both at school, my health is (touch wood) back to 100%, and I have no good excuse to roll around in the mud anymore, I’ll get back to trying to change the world full time. For now, I look forward to making my girls world as happy as it possibly can be.

Dear daughters…

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A few nights ago, I was feeling particularly sentimental. My husband and I came to the end of an extremely busy month, which had various different high pressure or stressful situations, and we opened a bottle and took some time together to relax. We are very excited about this Christmas, Holly’s first ever and our first as a family of four. Scarlett is at the age where she has started asking quite consistently for ‘more treats’ and ‘I want that’, and we’re trying to teach her that that’s a) not very polite but b) not really what this season is about. 

At two years old, we’re (hoping!) that it’s just a riskier tantrum stage, and certainly several other parents seem to recognise it as a phase all kids go through. I went to bed that night and wrote them a letter. Below is that letter. 

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that truly, the unthinkable can ALWAYS happen! Whether it be a presidential election, a referendum or any one of the sad events that have blighted the year. But without sounding like a cheesey cartoon character, good will always prevail. A lot of bad can and will happen, but kindness and magic outnumbers it. It always has and always will, and in uncertain times, it’s even more important to believe, even more important to hold onto.

Here’s to a very happy December to you all dear comrades. I wish you every happiness and an extremely hearty dose of magic! 
“Dear daughters,

Today is the first of December, and your Father and I are both very passionate about December being magical!November has been an extremely busy, hard working, high pressure and stressful one. In a (ridiculously shortened..!) summary, Daddy didn’t have a single day off in November, an already busy month became even busier as it went along and he has been amazing. Girls, I have always been in awe of my husband, admired his work ethic and how well he treats people and this month in particular, those qualities have really shone. You are both extremely lucky to have such a strong role model in your Daddy. It’s kept me going. November for me has also been extremely important. I start Criminology lecturing in January, and I am also working with some amazing people towards increasing healthy communication about mental health for young people, as well as personal safety teaching. A wide remit including how to spot signs of danger, reducing risks, safer choices to make, a whole host of ways for younger people to take preventative measures against crime that will hopefully be incorporated into, at least a few schools. It’s going to be a long, hard slog, but you two girls are the best kind of motivation! You’ve both been at my side for a lot of meetings and countless Skype calls, a local MP told you that you, Scarlett, had a beautiful smile, and you sang Baa Baa Black sheep to him! Moments like that are alongside my research notes to remind me where we started. It may go nowhere of course, I might fail. And if I do, I’ll try again, or I’ll change tact, or I’ll have done all I can and I’ll move onto something else. But failing will be ok.

Anyway, unknown outcomes aside! November 2016 was a busy month for your Father and I. It was very tiring and at times, we were on schedules that didn’t allow for much family time. And you both know how pathetically soppy your parents are when they don’t get to see much of each other and you girls! And we think the Winter season is extra magical, it’s our favourite time of year. 

Last year was a tough one because Mummy and Holly were both so poorly before we even had our little Moop with us. And we weren’t able to deal with it as privately as we wanted to because of circumstances. So THIS year, we are determined to make it extra special! With LOTS of family time, and friends time to boot! 

Scarlett you now understand what Christmas entails and you are SO excited! We were in Bath the other day and you loved seeing Father Christmas in the streets and we picked up some Christmas gloves and a homemade wooden owl that makes an owl sound when you blow into it. You loved it! Our main goal this year is to try and make sure that you learn that kindness and good will and sharing are the most important messages in December. I know that you’re a kind hearted little Ladey though so although a toddlers will is very strong, I’m positive your generous heart will win this stage! And our little Holly! It is your very first Christmas! The bright lights are obviously attracting your attention, and you are finding your big sisters excitement very infectious. 

We’ve started our annual activity calendar so you’ve both gone to bed tonight in new Christmas Star Wars pyjamas, and tomorrow we’re going to a very special Christmas show. Both of which have cost money (although we have plenty of shows we can attend free thanks to Daddy’s work!) but that isn’t the point. Annual activity calendar is about spending time with friends and family. The first year I did it, my family in Australia took part and we sent each other pictures and videos. And since then, December has been one of the ways we catch up with people who mean the world to us but that we don’t get to see as often as we’d like.

I’m currently watching ‘Once Upon A Time’, an American series for adults but about fairy tales. It’s funny, but it’s reminded me that adults should believe in magic. It’s important to. There have been days I haven’t wanted to believe in magic, or people (which is where magic comes from really girls, it’s from people) and I’ve felt frustrated, and angry, and have wondered why I’m putting the work in. But every time, I’ve taken some time out to breathe, or (more often than not!), your Dad has reminded me what’s important in a whole different manner of ways. And without fail, things are always ok. And I’m constantly reminded that giving in and taking the easy route is never worth it. What can seem like the hardest path at the time, always seems to get us where we need to be! And yes, of course a cheesey series has the same message. For someone who can be so practical at times, both your parents can be laughably sentimental! So there have been times I’ve gone to meetings with certain character pants on to remind me to think of magic when I’m faced with middle aged men who, in a meeting, have patronised me and put hurdles in my way or have suggested that ‘as a young woman’ I would find my goals more difficult. And on particularly tough days, I’ve made a dinner of turkey dinosaurs, smiley faces and spaghetti hoops for us to indulge in childhood comforts as a morale boost. A mug of hot chocolate with squishy cream and mini marshmallows also works a treat. There’s magic in the little things, magic works! 

We are planning to make December 2016 our best Christmas yet. Our family of four is complete, safe and well. And I hope our families friends and family also have an amazing holiday season. God knows with the way 2016 went, the entire planet could do with a short break! And then, ok still a Trump presidency, but hopefully a slightly less challenging 2017 for all! We were very lucky in 2016 to have our Moop join us healthy and safe, you are a shining star in an otherwise pretty terrible year worldwide (history lessons when you’re both older will certainly be interesting when they get to 2016!). 

But, my sweethearts, as I said, magic is in people, and in December, it shines that little bit brighter, and we all have a bit extra to be able to help people for whom Christmas is particularly hard. You two make our December the shiniest it’s ever been. We love you very much and I hope you always remember to be kind, to help others and to give back, not just at Christmas time but all year round. I have no doubt you both will.

We love you very much xx”