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A snapshot of some of our goings on over the last couple of weeks:

1. & 2. Walking on Hampstead Heath

3. & 4. We’re practising lots of balance with Roo at the moment. We took advantage of this fallen log in Richmond Park at the weekend

5. & 6. Elsie has started to make purposeful reaches and hits at her play gym

7. & 8. Every evening after Elsie goes down, Roo and I read bedtime stories on my bed with Dodo and DogDog

9. & 10. My blue eyed girl wearing my favourite vintage baby romper

Last week my brother, sister and I took Raff and Elsie to see the Dinosaurs at The Natural History Museum. Rafferty was in his element - he is just the right age for it. He marvelled at the scale of the dinosaur skeletons in relation to him, and gazed about the rooms full of model animals with sheer delight on his face.

I’d forgotten just what a beautiful building the Natural History Museum is, with it’s impressive high ceilings and striking staircases. The light streamed in through the skylights and made for some interesting pictures. I particularly love the lime green balloon Roo found floating loose in the main hall as a quirky pop of colour in some of these, otherwise subdued, shots.

I have no doubt we’ll go back to the museum many times as a family over the next few years and I am sure that with each visit we’ll notice something new and amazing to be inspired by. What a fantastic resource it is for families, and with free entry, you can’t really go wrong.

15/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014. Linking up with Jodi

Rafferty: You were mesmerized by the dinosaurs during our visit to The Natural History Museum last week.

Elsie: Somehow I managed a whole week without taking a portrait of just you, so I’m posting this picture that I took this morning. I think it’s my favourite photo of you to date. What a beautiful girl you are.

Learning to embrace slow

I was reading a post from Jodi's blog while nursing late last night and something she said struck a chord. She was talking about being mindful when exhaustion starts to creep in and learning to 'embrace slow'. 

I realised that’s exactly what I need to do a little more of. Put the brakes on every once in a while, take deep breaths, say ‘no’ more often. To accept I can’t do it all. I frequently try to cram too much into a day and only end up feeling overwhelmed, flustered, run ragged and perhaps worst of all, I feel I failed when I pull my weary body into bed that night.

Sometimes I forget that my life and its pace have changed from the days before children, never mind before our second baby came along. Gone are the days I could nip out to the shops with only so much as a handbag on my person. I’m slowly accepting that trying to do more than 2 activities a day is useless unless I want to feel drained come teatime.

I guess life isn’t really productive in the conventional sense at the moment. Two young children certainly keep me on my toes and fill my days but by the time we reach Friday the list of things I’ve actually achieved is really quite short. I think more than anything, nursing a young baby is incredibly time consuming and means you are tied to hour long bursts in a chair drinking luke warm tea throughout the day. It’s certainly a commitment that limits what you can fit into your day in between. With just one baby it was easier to do so, but trying to get two out of the house is a small mission in itself.

The good news is, I’ve decided to stop fighting it and accept that there is nothing wrong with a slower pace for a while. Some days may only be filled with the basics - feeding, playing, a walk to feed the ducks, but that’s ok. Setting fewer goals each day will mean I am more likely to realise them and feel a sense of productivity and achievement at the end of a week. And as long as I have time off too to just be me - with my husband or with friends as often as possible, I can deal with the fact that some days can just end up sucked into nothingness.

I love my family more than life itself and they come first, but I sometimes I need to nourish myself. To take a moment when things get a little crazy. Us mothers do so much giving that we often forget to cut ourselves some slack, take a little time, recharge, be good to ourselves and embrace a slower pace. I’m realising more and more that the sign of a great day is often as simple as messy corners, muddy boots, sleepy babies and left over dinner heated up with a little glass of red on the sofa.

Oh smiler, you make my heart sing!
Two months old and I can’t imagine how I ever existed without you, you are such a huge part of me already. Your first month was a sleepy one, in fact you spent the first six weeks dozing and yawning. But in the last 2 or 3 weeks we’ve watched as you came out of yourself.
You now reach towards objects placed in front of you, follow people around the room with your eyes, smile the biggest, beamiest of smiles when we talk to you, respond to conversation with your own little collection of cooing sounds, take interest in the little animals that hang from your play gym and knock them so they make a sound, and today you even let out a little giggle for the first time. It’s wonderful relearning all these milestones again through you Elsie, I have no expectations and am in no hurry for you to grow but I do get such joy watching you flourish.
We have so much getting to know you to do as your little personality becomes more prominent in this household. You’ve just started to make sure your voice gets heard and that is fair enough my love, especially as big brother is loud a lot of the time and craves our attention when it’s feeding times.
So far our feeding relationship has been strong despite our shaky start. I haven’t put you into any sort of routine yet but I think you are ready for some more structured feed times soon which will help balance out our days and ensure we don’t get caught indoors in my efforts to ensure you and your brother are both fed, watered and rested. I am finding the juggling of two kids quite a challenge now you are more wakeful so a little more structure to our days will be important for us all.
Love you so much darling girl.
Mama xxx

Oh smiler, you make my heart sing!

Two months old and I can’t imagine how I ever existed without you, you are such a huge part of me already. Your first month was a sleepy one, in fact you spent the first six weeks dozing and yawning. But in the last 2 or 3 weeks we’ve watched as you came out of yourself.

You now reach towards objects placed in front of you, follow people around the room with your eyes, smile the biggest, beamiest of smiles when we talk to you, respond to conversation with your own little collection of cooing sounds, take interest in the little animals that hang from your play gym and knock them so they make a sound, and today you even let out a little giggle for the first time. It’s wonderful relearning all these milestones again through you Elsie, I have no expectations and am in no hurry for you to grow but I do get such joy watching you flourish.

We have so much getting to know you to do as your little personality becomes more prominent in this household. You’ve just started to make sure your voice gets heard and that is fair enough my love, especially as big brother is loud a lot of the time and craves our attention when it’s feeding times.

So far our feeding relationship has been strong despite our shaky start. I haven’t put you into any sort of routine yet but I think you are ready for some more structured feed times soon which will help balance out our days and ensure we don’t get caught indoors in my efforts to ensure you and your brother are both fed, watered and rested. I am finding the juggling of two kids quite a challenge now you are more wakeful so a little more structure to our days will be important for us all.

Love you so much darling girl.

Mama xxx

14/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014. Linking up with Jodi for The 52 Project.

Raff: You’ve turned a corner in the communication stakes suddenly stringing more words into sentences. Your relief is palpable, the frustrations have eased and for now, at least, I have my chirpy, chappy back.

Elsie: You turned two months last week! The speed at which your first year is passing terrifies me. I often get to the end of our days and feel guilty about how little 1-2-1 time we get, but you are such a content baby, you don’t seem to mind. I relish our mornings alone and savour nursing you when the rest of the house sleeps. I am trying to preserve memories of you being this small because I know, only too well, how quickly those memories fade. Your dainty hands, long, slender fingers, kicky little legs and tiny baby feet are simply perfect.

Dear Roo,
On Tuesday your preschool teacher pulled me to one side when I came to collect you. She told me you were the happiest child, always singing to yourself, always with a spring in your step, an “utter joy to be around” she said. She told me you’d visited the allotment and planted potatoes that morning. Apparently you were in your element, digging, planting, being outdoors.
It’s been full on these last few months for you Roo what with me suddenly being around all the time, your beautiful sister arriving, and starting at preschool, and you have risen to these changes with grace and optimism. That was my proudest moment hearing your teacher say those words to me. My biggest wish in life is that you and Elsie are happy.
Keep on dreaming little one.
Love mama xxx
photo credit to my husband who captured this picture

Dear Roo,

On Tuesday your preschool teacher pulled me to one side when I came to collect you. She told me you were the happiest child, always singing to yourself, always with a spring in your step, an “utter joy to be around” she said. She told me you’d visited the allotment and planted potatoes that morning. Apparently you were in your element, digging, planting, being outdoors.

It’s been full on these last few months for you Roo what with me suddenly being around all the time, your beautiful sister arriving, and starting at preschool, and you have risen to these changes with grace and optimism. That was my proudest moment hearing your teacher say those words to me. My biggest wish in life is that you and Elsie are happy.

Keep on dreaming little one.

Love mama xxx

photo credit to my husband who captured this picture

A snapshot of our day to day over the last couple of weeks…

1. We celebrated Mr G’s birthday with a four tiered lemon cake

2. This girl sure can smile

3. Balancing with a little help from daddy

4. Bird watching and duck feeding

5. Whenever we get the chance, we get out in the garden. Raff and I planted some bulbs and seeds this week which he loved!

6. Pretty much a daily occurence - I catch him kissing and stroking her multiple times throughout the day. He says “Hello Elsie” and giggles to himself

7. Spring anenomes

8. Mother’s day this year was spent visiting my brave mama in hospital

9. There is something about seeing my baby brother with my littlest baby

10. And again, the kissing, the loving. She’s so lucky to have him, and he her.

I recently reconnected with an old friend I met at university. She has two beautiful kiddos, one is one year older and the other, 6 months younger than Rafferty who has taken a real shine to them. We visited RHS Wisley gardens together so the kids could run around and get some fresh air whilst we caught up over coffee. The gardens were beautiful, with the first shoots of spring peeking through the earth and an overwhelming sense of lushness. These shots were a little test run with my new camera and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. Making the move from amateur to professional is at times terrifying but I’m passionate about doing it and pictures like these really do give me the confidence to make my dream a reality.

Huge thanks to Claire for all her advice on cameras and lenses! This is what I love so much about this blogging community - the willingness to share knowledge and experience.

12/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014. Linking up with Jodi for The 52 Project.

Rafferty - you are obsessed with scooting about here, there, everywhere. You call your scooter your bike and squarwk ‘bike! bike! bike!’ all day long. I’ve started to leave earlier for preschool and let you scoot there. Its hard to let go, allow you the freedom but an important step for us both.

Elsie - there is that gorgeous smile we all love so much. You brighten up even the darkest of days and make me grateful for all that I have.

11/52 (posted a week late)

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014. Linking up with Jodi for The 52 Project.

We’ve been a little bit crazy around here lately with sickness and lots of goings on so my 11/52 is a week delayed although these pictures were taken two weeks ago and have been sitting on my memory card ever since.

Rafferty - your love of the bubble gets stronger by the day, as does your ability to throw monumental tantrums. I’m finding you quite the handful at the moment but perseverance is key and your sweet moments and comedy antics more than make up for the meltdowns.

Elsie - no longer my newborn, forever my baby. You’re really starting to grow into those beautiful features of yours. I’m enjoying watching you evolve so much - seeing the little developments emerge. You follow us with your eyes as we move around the room, have a fascination with your hands which are curled tightly into fists, smile big, beaming smiles when we talk to you or when your big brother tickles your fluffy head and coo at daddy when he chats to you each evening. You’re such a joy!

I can’t fail to be entertained by these two…

Elsie: loves to sleep wedged into Teddy’s legs so she feels snuggled.

Rafferty: obsessed with wearing daddy’s shoes and practising his scooter all day long.

10/52

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014. Linking up with Jodi for The 52 Project.

Rafferty, in his element playing with water in our garden over the weekend. He was soaked by the time he came inside - splishing and splashing with pots and pans, and watering cans. He stood in our washing up bowl as if his life depended on it and at one point got so excited he even dipped his head in it!

Elsie: You’re beaming! Every time I catch you smiling I marvel. This week you’re enjoying some time on your mat, taking in the world around you as those beautiful blue, almond eyes scout the room. It’s lovely to see you alert and awake and to hear you cooing.