Showing posts with label siblings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label siblings. Show all posts

Monday, 28 May 2018

An Ordinary Day at the Beach

These four, they are a team.  They are a little gang of small people, the leader often changes as do the dynamics and my gosh do they like to squabble but underneath it all is a friendship that nothing will break.  They have their own personalities, strong opinions and unique perspectives but together they are strong and I love watching the way they react to each other.

This was just an ordinary half term day but we had no plans and the sun was shining so the beach seemed like the obvious choice.  Ed was working and so it was just this gang and I which always prompts comments every few metres as we walk to the coast about 'having my hands full' (I totally do!).  We had the wagon packed with buckets and spades, water and swimwear and we had nowhere else to be.  

I think the freedom of the beach always puts them in a good mood.  The sea and sky seem endless, there is nobody showing them how to play or what to do, they are just given tools and left to create their own games.  I think their favourite at the moment has to be throwing rocks into the sea.  I will never understand how it can create so much enjoyment and entertain them for so long, but they can't resist the temptation of throwing and watching their rocks splash in the cold British sea.  They run in and out of the waves, kick the water in the air and splash with their fingers and they smile and laugh as they do it.

The day wasn't all perfect, but this moment was and looking back, that is what I want to remember.  The way the big two competed, both thinking they had won, the way they encouraged their younger siblings, showing how to throw underarm, and the way they praised them for trying.  The way they giggled as they did it, Archie doing a silly dance in between each throw.  The way Cora counted rocks 'three, three, three', the way Dylan checked them all thoroughly to find the best ones and the way Finn picked only the biggest ones, telling me he was so strong every time he lifted one.

As much as I love recording the big moments and the milestones, I wanted to make more of an effort to write down the little ones too and I hope one day the children can look back on the memories we made and remember the fun of their childhood.
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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Does it get easier? Four aged four and under, an update

When Cora was born, Dylan was still four and I had six weeks of four children aged four and under.  I had two babies as Finn at 16 months old was still two months away from his first steps and it was logistically tricky as well as completely exhausting having two children up in the night. As the children have got a bit bigger I have had lots of comments about 'having my hands full' as well as questions about whether it is getting easier.

And the truth is that it is, and it isn't.  The baby stage will always be my favourite, I love having a newborn and I find there is something so comforting about knowing that they stay exactly where you put them.  When Cora was little she would nap most of the day and Finn was still having an afternoon sleep too.  They both sat happily in a pushchair or a sling when we were out and I had my hands free for the bigger boys.  

Of course it was tricky as newborns want to feed a lot and I was often pinned to the sofa whilst a baby, a toddler and a 4 year old wanted my attention and help.  I was juggling twice as many children as I had arms on very minimal sleep and I couldn't leave the house without taking a giant bag and a pushchair and a sling.  

Now the children are 6,5, 3 and 20 months and things have changed a lot.  There is only one that still wakes up in the night and I am trying to convince myself that we are on the verge of sleeping through.  They can all walk, they can all run and they can all play without needing me.  I spend more time sat on the sofa with a hot cup of tea than ever as they are old enough to entertain each other, to play independently and having four means there is always a playmate.  Even if they start to squabble, they can switch up and things remain calm.  

On the flip side, they can all walk and run, which means they often do so, in the opposite direction from one another.  They are not so content to stay in a pushchair, but the little two are not always very compliant when we are out and I am often seen herding them in the right direction.  Finn doesn't nap very often and Cora's are sporadic and unpredictable and instead of napping the pair of them can often be found causing mischief and plotting to take over the world.  

These four are noisier and messier than they were but we have settled in and adjusted to the new dynamics and worked out how to be a six.  It is easier, with the big two at school and the little two able to occupy themselves but it is definitely trickier at times too! 

Ask me again when I have four teenagers and I am sure I will long for the days of four little ones!

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Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Ordinary Moments // These Four

The first week of the summer holidays has passed and we have settled in to this new way of being.  The dynamics are changing, relationships are evolving, our normality has gone and in its place is a freedom from the schedules, and a desire to simultaneously do absolutely nothing, and go on a big adventure.

These four babies of mine are together now, for better and for worse for these six weeks and I love it.  The noise levels have gone up, there is more squabbling, more tears and more demands for food than I am used to, but there is also more laughter, more beautiful moments that I get only to observe as an outsider, and more opportunities for them all to learn and grow.

Having four means that they often pair off, and when things get tense, they can swap who they play with and gain some space.  It mostly works that the big two disappear to play a game of their own whilst the small two play around my feet together, but Dylan will often read a book to Cora whilst Archie and Finn play wrestle or build Lego together.  I sit down and play with them all, but I love sitting back too, with a cup of tea in one hand and watching them together, seeing their differences and their similarities, the way they copy each other, the language they use and the bonds they are building.

We spent last week in France where this photo was taken.  There were three small huts that the elder two claimed as their houses and the smaller two were allowed to visit.  The little ones waved at each other through the windows  and they eventually decided on a picnic right in the middle - the spot where they are sat here.  Of course they wanted snacks - having four children means it is never long between snack requests.  

I can already tell this summer is going to fly by, whilst also feeling pretty long and I can't wait to enjoy it with these four small people by my side. 

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Monday, 12 December 2016

Lascal Buggy Board from Cheeky Rascal

With four small children I find myself using a variety of ways to get around.  Sometimes I have a double buggy, sometimes a single and a sling and recently we have been testing the new Lascal Buggy Board Maxi + from Cheeky Rascals.  Archie walks or scoots nearly everywhere but as a non-driver sometimes I want to go somewhere a bit further and it is so much easier letting him hop on when his legs get tired.

lascal buggy board, buggy board maxi plus, maxi +, buggy board with seat, cheeky rascals

We have been using the board with our iCandy Raspberry but it works with almost all pushchairs - I like how Archie sits inside the handle on this one though.  It clips on and off easily so if I am using this stroller whilst he is at preschool I can leave the board at home.  

The seat can be put up or down depending on whether the child wants to sit or stand and there are handles on the seat too so they can hold on there, although Archie always wants to use the buggy handle instead. The seat is spacious and comfortable for him at nearly 4 years old and it isn't nearly as heavy as I imagined to push.

Of course adding 18kg of child onto a buggy does make it heavier and more cumbersome, that is obvious but I can get this up and down curbs and around shops with no issues and a baby in a sling on my front too.

Archie loves facing in to the buggy, usually I have Finn in there but in these pictures it is Cora and they both love being able to interact as we walk.  Cora's legs are shorter so they fit quite nicely together, when Finn is in the buggy he has his legs either side of Archie and is happy that way.  I think it would fit best with the child in the buggy forward facing but I prefer to have them parent facing so we find a way to make it work.

buggy board with seat, lascal buggy board maxi +,

I love how the buggy board gives me the freedom to go a bit further on foot and not worry about tired little legs struggling to get home.  I think it will be so valuable once Finn is a little older and walking more so that I can get away with just a single stroller.  The buggy board is suitable from approximately 2 years to 5 years (20kg) and can be folded into the buggy too when not in use.  It comes with extenders to ensure it fits most buggies and there are easy instructions online to show you how to fit for your pushchair.  It handles different terrains well and retails at £99.99

We really love our buggy board, thank you to Cheeky Rascals for sending us one to test.

icandy raspberry, lascal buggy board, cheeky rascals

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Holidaying with Four Children

We have recently returned from our first holiday with four children and we had a wonderful time.  I never expected to write this post feeling rested and refreshed but actually our short break was exactly what we all needed and I have come home with happy memories and significantly less stressed!  

We decided for our first trip with four aged five and under that we would stay in the UK and we picked a caravan park down in Sussex for a Monday to Friday break.  Being a family of six, caravans become one of the easiest places to stay as we can all fit in one unit, we have the space to eat our own meals and spend some down time and we can put the children to bed and still stay up together as a couple.

I chose Combe Haven site for many reasons, the location, the facilities and the fact it had a couple of clubs that worked for both the big boys ages.  I will be writing more about that soon though.  The boys love caravans and so they were really excited when we revealed where we were off to and they loved the lifestyle of a caravan park - having the doors open so they could come in and out, scooting around with new friends, eating bbq's outside and having all the ammenities within walking distance.

One of the best ways we found to enjoy holidaying with four small children was just to relax.  Usually I like to plan all sorts into our days so that we make the most of our time away, but we took it slower this time and followed their lead more and it made everyone a bit more relaxed.  We made the most of everything we had paid for already - the holiday clubs, the swimming pools and parks and the big open spaces that come with being on  a caravan site.

It was Cora's first holiday and being only 2 months old it is rather hard to say whether she enjoyed it or not.  Her brothers loved having her around though and asked for cuddles even more than usual.  In the absense of play mats and toys we put her down on a duvet on the floor or in her carrycot and they enjoyed having her as part of their play.  She had her first experience swimming and she was relaxed and content in the water and she slept really well in the caravan so we are considering it a good holiday for her too!

So after 5 days experience, I thought I would share my top tips for travelling with lots of little people.

1) Don't plan too much into your days.  Some days the boys just wanted to explore where we were, or they needed a lie in, or they just wanted to spend some time together without really doing much.  We went out and did something every day, but keeping it simple kept everyone happier.

2) Choose your accommodation wisely.  We went for the three bedroom above the two even though both would fit us all in and we upgraded to the prestige caravan too as I wanted us to be comfortable and to have space to spread out.  Obviously if you are planning to be out all day every day then it isn't so important but if you are just after a change of scenery and are planning on making the most of where you are then it is worth going for the best you can stretch to.

3)You don't have to go far to get away.  We ended up chosing somewhere that was less than a two hour drive from our home.  It meant that we didn't have to worry about a long car journey with a newborn but it felt far enough from home to be novel and we enjoyed exploring somewhere none of us had been before.  The boys would have happily had a holiday in the same town we live in, as they were just excited to have our undivided attention and a new home for the week.

4) Let the children pack their own bag.  Ours took a trunki and although I found the contents rather random (apparently they needed one pretend egg with them), they loved the build up excitement of packing and the toys all got played with (even the egg).  I added in some extra Lego Duplo which was a great idea as all three boys could play with it when they wanted some time inside.

5) Matching clothes are actually really useful for keeping an eye on them all and to help locate any children that have a tendency to wander off (Archie).  I can't resist a bit of matching anyway but I feel like I have a real excuse when we are on holiday! I pack one outfit for each of them into a fabric bag before we go so that each morning I just grab a different bag and know that I have everything I need to get all four ready for the day.

6) Whilst you have come away to enjoy family time, divide and conquer is still a great motto.  With four it isn't easy to give any of them one on one time, but there were evenings when one of us would stay at home with the babies whilst the other took the bigger boys to the arcade so that they could have different experiences. 

7) Staggered bedtimes can work really well.  Ours normally go to bed at the same time at home, but the small caravan bedrooms meant it was easier to put them to bed one at a time as they were not going to go to bed nicely if they went together.  It worked out quite well as they all had a little one on one time whilst one of us read them a story and tucked them in.  Each night the order changed depending on who seemed the most tired.

8) Try and pick one thing each to fit into your holiday.  You can't please everyone all the time, but everyone getting an input makes it a holiday for all.  Dylan was desperate to go to the arcades, Finn wanted  to swim and Archie loved the park.  Ed wanted to have a bbq together outside and I wanted to have a little time to sit outside and just read my book (Cora was too young to express her wishes but she loved having her naps in the pram outside during the day)

9) Time things right and make use of nap times to do things with the older children.   We went swimming a couple of times and never had to take all four in the water as there was always one asleep.  We were allowed to take the buggy on the side of the pool which made it so much easier and meant that the child to adult ratio was more favourable!

10) Relax and enjoy it.  It will never be as easy or relaxing as holidaying with one or two, but watching them explore and bond and enjoy themselves is amazing and having four children is no reason not to go away.  

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Little Sister

The school holidays have been an adjustment for us all - six weeks of having four children full time.  A new baby to challenge and develop existing relationships, so much time together, so many opportunities.  The boys have always been close, but they are used to their time apart, to spending time with other children and in different situations.  This summer has been about us.

Dylan and Archie are the best of friends, of course they fight like only brothers can, but they play so well together, they chat and giggle and create and bond.  There are 18 months between them and that age gap shrinks the longer they are together.  Finn has always been the baby, but since Cora arrived he has had to step up, and he is changing so much now, desperate to join in with his brothers, determined in everything he does.

And these three boys of mine, they have a baby sister.  They are learning all over again, finding their place in the new dynamics of our family and having to share me with another (demanding) little person.

They adore her, all three of them and I am so thankful that her entrance has been so smooth.  Dylan regularly declares her to be his best friend and he lays next to her, his hand on hers as he sucks his thumb and stares at her.  He is convinced that he is her favourite as she gives him the most smiles and talks about the things he will do with her.

Archie's caring side comes out around Cora and he starts singing her nursery rhymes as soon as she starts crying.  He is curious about her and asks to have her on his lap the most.  Sometimes he is a little too curious and tries to lift her up, not entirely gently but mostly he strokes her lovingly.

And Finn, the boy who has been our baby for so long, and who loved his role as the youngest has surprised me with his lack of jealousy.  As soon as Cora is low enough for him to reach he crawls or toddles over with the biggest grin on his face to give her kisses.  He is gentle, he pats her, strokes her hair and kisses her on the forehead.  He may try and crawl over her at times, or give her the biggest cuddles when she is just trying to get some sleep, but you can see how desperate he is for her to be bigger and more responsive.  He loves an audience and he is going to be the star of the show once his little sister is able to give him more attention.

When Cora is awake, they are less interested in each other and more interested in her, each one vying for a space in her eye line.  She watches them calmly and with interest, sharing more of her smiles with her brothers than she does with me.  They don't have to work as hard or be there at the right time of the day.  At 8 weeks old she is already used to the chaos that comes with being the youngest of four and she is happy (so far) with her place in this family.

These boys of mine have taken to their baby sister so naturally,  they have made the transition from three to four so much easier and she is a lucky little girl to have three big brothers.  I never imagined a little girl in our future but it feels like she has been around forever already. 

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Friday, 5 August 2016

What the Kids Wore - Duns Puffins

Life with 4 is busy but I am not letting being completely and utterly outnumbered stop us from getting out.  I find myself doing head counts quite regularly and I am really appreciating the benefits of bright clothes and dressing the boys in matching.

When this Puffin print came out from one of my favourite kids clothing brands, Duns Sweden, I knew I needed something for one of the boys but the fact that the print comes in three different colours and so many different items means I couldn't resist ordering for all four of the children.

Dylan has a t-shirt in blue and Archie in yellow.  Finn has a summer romper suit in the same blue and I chose a footless sleepsuit for Cora in white and orange.  Their older child sizing is really generous and I did the super geeky thing of ordering a dress in a child's age 13 which seems to be roughly an adult size 10.

I love how unisex all these items are, the bright colours that stand out in a busy park and the wonderfully soft organic cotton.  

I ended up ordering from several retailers in order to find all the items I wanted in the right sizes - Funky Little People, Uni and Jack, Heimoose and JuicyTots

 It won't be long until they refuse to wear matching but for now it makes days out easier and they just look so sweet together!  There will be no questioning that they are all mine anyway.

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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Four Under Five

Four, three, sixteen months and newborn.  When I tell people the age of my children I am often met with the same shocked impression and a variety of  'wow, you are crazy', 'You have your hands full' and 'rather you than me'.  There is the odd person who says something positive, about how wonderful it will be to have them growing up so close.  All of these things are true, I am a little crazy, my hands are most definitely full, rather me than them and it is amazing seeing how close these babies of mine are.

Four under five is exciting, challenging, noisy and a constant learning experience.  We are only three weeks in to this new adventure and I won't pretend to know what I am doing, but I am feeling confident about the challenges ahead.

The boys absolutely adore their little sister which makes everything a bit easier.  They are used to sharing, used to life with siblings and one extra is exciting but not as world changing as getting a brother or sister for the first time.  They love to stroke her, cuddle her and cover her in kisses (Finn).  They hold her hand and sing her songs and interpret her squeaks and expressions.  Finn is still too little to understand the term gentle, but he is wonderful with his baby sister and his face lights up when she is put down within his reach and he crawls over to show her love.

We are very lucky in that the bloke works from home and his job has some flexibility.  The key to these early days for us is teamwork and for the three mornings a week where Archie is at nursery we split the school runs, I take the biggest and the baby to school and he takes the middle two on the nursery run.  Being able to divide and conquer, or to take all 4 for a short while whilst one of us cooks in peace makes things much easier.  

Planning is most definitely the best way to combat stress and taking them out on my own involves a very large bag, enough supplies for a small holiday and a double buggy.  Having more nappies and spare clothes than we can possibly get through seems sensible and having a large supply of snacks means we are prepared for all eventualities.  Cora is mostly in a sling at the moment, but having a double pushchair means I have the option to put her down should I want to and more space for storing the mountain of 'stuff' that we need.

The school holidays are looming close and I know things are going to be manic.  I am looking forward to the more laid back mornings as we won't have the school runs to force us out the house so early, and my plans involve meeting friends at the park and beach as well as plenty of playdates in confined gardens and houses.  Finn is the hardest work at the moment as he isn't yet walking but he just loves to climb so the biggest challenge will be keeping him happy and safe whilst looking after three other little people.

In these past three weeks we have discovered the best way to fit us all in the (new 7 seater) car, how to get all four in bed (well three as Cora stays up with me still) and we have even braved eating out as a family of six (it wasn't really any different as the littlest one slept through the entire meal).

I may be looking frazzled and tired this summer, but I think it is going to be a great one with my tribe of small people.
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Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Girl

I always knew that Dylan was a boy.  From that terrifying moment that I saw those two blue lines that changed everything, I knew I was going to be a mama to a boy.  The twenty week scan only confirmed my intuition and I never really thought about things being any different.  We settled into life, our little family of three and I loved being mama to my boy.  When we found out we were pregnant with our second little bundle, I was convinced that he too would be a boy.  I saw my future as a boy mum - whatever that may entail.

Finn was a huge surprise, but it only made sense to me that he would be a little boy as well. I considered myself to be so lucky to have a trio of boys.  Finn was our last and whilst I thought about the fact I would never get to experience things from the other side, never have a daughter, I was happy and content with my tribe of boys.  I felt certain that it was my role.

When we discovered there was a fourth baby on the way, it wasn't just a shock because we thought we were done, but also because things felt a bit different.  The idea that it may because this was in fact a girl was still hard to accept, but in my heart, I was convinced that it would be a little lady joining 'my boys'

Despite knowing from quite early on that we were growing a girl, it hasn't been an easy thing to get my head around.  I pictured myself surrounded by boys and a baby girl had never been part of that picture.  I was excited from the beginning, of course I was, but it was such a strange concept, that it has taken a while to really get my head around it.

Even this week, I asked the sonographer at my growth scan to check the sex - just incase they had missed something, and for the fifth time they told me that this is a baby girl.  In only a few weeks we will be parents to a daughter, my boys will have a sister and I will get to experience everything that comes with having a little girl (the nappy changing is scaring me already!)

I haven't gone crazy with the pink, in fact there is very little of it in her wardobe, and you won't find frills or bows either.  I can't work out if it just isn't my 'thing' or whether three boys has made me nervous of it.  This little lady has some beautiful clothes waiting for her though, lots of unisex styles and plenty of girly things in blues, purples and yellows.  Finn's clothes have always been bright and plenty come from the girl's section so she has plenty of hand me downs to grow into still.  

I know that really a baby is a baby and unless you are changing their nappy, there isn't much difference, but there are things that come with raising a girl that I know will be different to raising boys.  I am hoping it all falls into place, that by the time these differences take shape, I will feel more natural in my role as mama to boys and a girl.  I keep wondering whether she will be 'one of the boys', or will she assert her femininity from an early age?  She will be given the same opportunities, the same rules, the same toys and the same love as her brothers of course, but how will things be different with a girl?

For now I am enjoying the final weeks with my boys - these boys who couldn't be more different if they tried.  I always considered that I had 'one of each' because Dylan and Archie were such opposites and I can only imagine that very soon there will be four completely seperate and opposing personalities living together in this house as siblings.  This little girl is going to have three big brothers to protect her,  to love her, to wrestle with her and to teach her and I think she is going to be a pretty lucky little girl because of that.
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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My Boys

With only ten weeks to go (ish) until we add a sixth member to our team, that feeling of the end that is so familiar now has arrived.  I remember during my first pregnancy trying to get my head around the fact that things would change beyond anything I could possibly imagine and I spent those final weeks with my friends, going out in the evenings (and treating myself to an orange juice), going for long walks, going out for dinner and enjoying my social life.

When I was pregnant with baby number two, I couldn't possibly comprehend how I could fit a second little baby in my life and those 10 weeks were spent enjoying everything about my first born, living life at his pace, letting my newly mobile toddler walk, as we had nowhere to be, there was no rush and nobody but us.

During my third pregnancy, I wanted to make the most of me-time, and I went to the cinema at least once a week as I remembered all to well how little personal space you get with a baby around.  I went for walks on my own along the sea front in the evenings, sat in the hairdressers and just enjoyed peace whenever I could find it, as three was set to be loud, chaotic and always busy.

This time I have realised that the weeks with 'my boys' are soon to be over, there will be a little girl on our team, and everything will change all over again.  These boys have been a three for 14 months, they have such beautiful bonds, they are learning and growing together and they are just wonderful to watch.  My focus will shift, I will be more outnumbered than ever, and I will have to stop saying 'my boys' and start saying 'my children' or 'my family' when I refer to them all.

It seemed to hit as I turned 30 weeks, it is a milestone week and these photos make me a bit emotional.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have three amazing little boys in my life.  To be the one that gets to wake up to their smiles each morning, and tuck them up in bed with a story and a song each night.  I get to watch them grow into the men they will become, nurture friendships with each other, learn alongside one another and be a little team.

These next ten weeks are about them, about making memories, about getting out together, exploring and observing, because I love to just watch them.  I want to have adventures that are easier without a new baby in tow,  I want to capture them as they are now, whilst it is just the three of them, I want to prepare them for a sister without making them wish away the present, because the present is pretty awesome right now.  

These photos are from the weekend and they may be my favourite ever, they capture so much of who they all are, they capture them together, they were in their element, outdoors, exploring, having adventures and you can see that in their smiles, in the way they are so relaxed.  I took my camera out only a couple of times, I wanted some special photos of  'my boys' as they are now, but the rest of the time I got stuck in with them all, I searched for the Gruffalo and got excited when we found the snake's log pile house.  I squelched in the mud, marveled at sticks, and came home with muddy feet.

It feels so strange that my time with just these boys is numbered, that things are going to change all over again, the dynamic, the pace of life, the size of my heart, and whilst I am confident we will adapt and find space and it will soon become our new normal, I am excited for the final 10 weeks, our final adventures just as we are and that I get to watch them just as a three for a little longer.

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