Are they really a thing? By gosh, I can assure you in our case, they truly are! In fact, only a month or two after Matt’s first birthday did we started witnessing glimpses of the dreaded “Tantrum” appearing. As our sweet babs grow physically, so does that sweet mind of theirs and they start to make it very clear when they’re not happy that things haven’t quite gone their own way.
It started off very subtly, and we only barely spied a little bit of a scene. This would occur when perhaps he couldn’t reach his favourite toy or he needed his nappy changed (and didn’t want it to be!) Now that he’s just 19 months, we are witnessing “scenes” on a whole new level! Boy oh boy… You just never know when one is going to emerge.
A seemingly happy boy can turn into a monster (or swine of hell as my grandma might phrase it!) in ten seconds flat. I’m talking about dramatically falling to the floor, kicking legs kinda thing! Check out this awesome website for a whole lot of laughs on the things us “asshole parents” (love that!) have done to upset our beloved children so terribly. Let me think back to this past week and I will try and recall all my asshole parenting moments that made Matt kick off.
Made him sit in the trolley while shopping at Tesco. (The audacity!)
Made him wear his trainers instead of mine! (How dare I?)
Had to leave the soft play (classic one)
Wanted to read a tenth bedtime story and I said (as gently as humanly possible) “it’s bedtime now.” (Who needs sleep anyway?)
I wouldn’t let him draw on the floors. (How unreasonable)
And the biggest of sins I committed this week… was breaking a piece off his (massive) gingerbread man cookie, (to give to him) might I add… That was a big one. We were in a coffee shop (trying to have a conversation with other adults), but hey, I guess we all have a little asshole in us! You’ve just got to laugh.
I’m hoping that we don’t have another year of these not-so-lovely incidents, but if we do, we will figure out a way to deal with them as we always do. At the moment we are lucky in that distraction still works wonders. Even when his precious gingerbread man had so awfully been decapitated (shame, that’s probably how it looked in his sweet mind!) I was able to distract him by taking him outside and showing him things in the shop window next door. It was a touristy London shop that was full to the brim with snow globes and magnets and stuffed toys and beefeater bottle openers. They did the trick… that time!
It has been far too long since my last post, and so much has happened I don’t know where to begin… Matt at 14 months old seems like a lifetime ago already! In the meantime; we have moved from east to north London, been to Ireland for Claire and Danny’s wedding and we’ve just arrived back from a glorious holiday in South Africa. All the while Matthew is blossoming into the most beautiful of characters (on the one hand) and on the other hand; signs of the dreaded toddler tantrums has reared its not so beautiful head! We’ll get to that later.
Let’s start off with the good bits shall we? First off, the move from Canning Town to New Southgate has been lovely (tiring, but lovely). We are living in a 2-bedroom house in a tidy, leafy suburb. We have a quirky, little brekkie spot just up the road and we have discovered some wonderful parks and activities nearby. We even have our very own patch of grass! Londoners will appreciate just how precious even the tiniest piece of outdoor space is. We are happy here and Matt and I have even managed to make one or two friends in the few months that we’ve been here. I’ve made a real conscious effort to do so in order not to become isolated and literally go nuts. And honestly it’s so lovely having other mums (and in some instances grannies and nannies) to chat to. It’s also paramount to Matt’s social development that he gets to interact with other tots.
His physical development is coming along well. He’s still tall for his age, and weighs in at a solid 12.4kg (18 months). He’s now wearing 18-24 month and 2-3 year clothing and his shoe size is 6.5. He loves to run everywhere and his becoming very sturdy while doing so. (Not so much arm flapping in the process)
He continues to loves climbing (on everything) and just generally being busy like most kids his age. Matt loves the swings and slides and playing with all the apparatus at the park. My mom and dad had put a swing set up in their their garden and let’s just say Matt was in his complete element! Playing with cars and trains (in fact anything with wheels), building blocks and being in the sand are some of his firm favourites. He still adores ‘reading’ story books, especially ones with animal characters.
As far as his language development is concerned, he’s progressing in leaps and bounds. He’s able to communicate whether he wants something to eat and also responds with ‘no’ or a ‘yay’ and nodding of the head for yes. Which takes the guess work out of what may have been wrong. I can imagine the more he’s able to communicate, the less fuss we will have. His words are coming along well, but we haven’t had a word explosion just yet… “Mama, dada, shoes, keys, bubbles, nana (banana), no no no,” are among his favourite words still. Recently he has said ‘two, tree and there.’
Since we got back from South Africa (I’ll tell you all about that trip next time) I am pleased to say we have successfully gone 5 days (and counting) without his beloved dodo (dummy). That’s also another post in itself, but for now, let’s just say he’s been a real trooper. I am so proud.
We are so blessed to witness how Matthew is thriving. He’s a beautiful, fun loving soul. We’ll have to start thinking about his second birthday party soon.
Matthew doesn’t look too impressed in this photo, but then again, I wouldn’t be either if you woke me from my peaceful slumber. The day of Aunty Claire and Uncle Danny’s wedding was full of exhilaration and joy. The household was bustling with different people coming and going, and for a 14 month old toddler; long before the wedding had even begun, this proved to be somewhat overwhelming.
It was an early start to day (as usual for us) and it was “all go!” from around 6:30am. The beautiful bride and her lovely posse of bridesmaids were being made even more beautiful by a great team of professionals. Nana Rose and I were off early to have our hair done, so that left the boys in charge of minding our bundle of energy. It was fantastic being in a big house with an even bigger garden for Matt to explore. He kept on the move constantly by gathering stones from the flower pots, jumping in puddles (of course there were puddles, it’s Ireland after all!) and playing about with Dad, Grandad and uncles; all very full of energy. He definitely needed a good scrub after all that banter in the garden.
By the time we had got back from the salon and picked up the brekkie, it was almost time for Matt to have a nap. I was praying that he’d get a good rest in before the ceremony. Thank goodness the boys had him so tired out that he literally fell asleep in a minute and got a solid hour and a half (before he was rudely awoken!)
At around 12;30pm, we woke Matthew up (sacrilege I know!) but he needed to be fed and changed and at the church (luckily just down the road) for 1pm. He clearly wasn’t loving the fact that he had to wake up and was a bit groggy for a while. He gobbled down some of Nana’s delicious lasagne (this definitely helped on cheering him up) and we got him dressed in the most adorable suit and dickie bow. If hearts could melt… mine definitely would have been pure liquid at the sight of him.
As soon as he was dressed, we had about 5 minutes of (hundreds of) photos being taken and everyone wanting a snap with the charming young gentleman. Of course, he’s now completely glued to my hip at this stage (did I mention he’s experiencing slight separation anxiety at the moment?) This is when I thought, “How on God’s green earth, is this sweet child of mine going to manage walking down the aisle?”
We arrived at the church and Uncle Danny and Aunty Claire (who was the most beautiful and relaxed bride ever!) had even thought of buying Matt a new toy to keep him busy during the ceremony. Donal and I had a strategy planned- I sneak away go into the church while he was distracted by the toy and seeing the other lovely Page Boy Ryan. Donal would wait with him till the last minute and hand him over to Leah (the gorgeous junior bridesmaid) who would walk with the two boys down the aisle. Oh did I mention that there were over three hundred people at the wedding?
All I can say is that Matthew really did us proud. My heart bursting with love as I watched him stepping towards us. The ceremony was about to begin…
“Keeping me on my toes,” is probably my most commonly used response when people ask me how things are going with Matt. My goodness, this toddler doesn’t stop. “Live wire”, “full of beans” and “very active boy” are comments I hear a lot in our play groups. He is honestly bursting with energy (and that’s without eating any refined sugar!)
He loves to climb and run and just keep busy in any way that he can; that’s why we like to frequent our local children’s centre, take part in our Waterbabies’ swimming lessons and ‘Play and Learn’ class at Gymboree. Every evening (weather permitting) we go out and play with our neighbours. We are so lucky in that we have a nice patch of green space just in front of our apartment block as well as the church playground that we are allowed to use. There are also many children close to Matt’s age in the East City Point development; and with so many more blocks going up, there are loads more young families moving in.
It’s great for his social development to be interacting with so many different children, he actually gets excited when I mention “Sophia”, one of his best buds. It’s very sweet. Also great for the mums and dads to have a chat and let the kids entertain themselves.
We have had a very busy few months (hence my lack of blogs!) I use Matt’s nap time for cleaning, washing, picking up what seems like thousands of toys, and preparing his lunch and dinner. It’s great because he generally naps from 1-3 hours, so I can get a lot done. Because he’s so active, he normally falls asleep really quickly too.
For the last month or so, he’s started resisting the afternoon nap; so for a good while he was up for ages (from around 11 till 7pm!) which is far too long. The morning nap is getting later which is ideal. From around 16 months, he should be napping from around 1pm, we are almost there!
The teeth are coming out in full force now, and you can see that he’s quite uncomfortable, especially with the back teeth cutting through. We stick to using teething gel and he chews on basically everything! He currently has 5 proper teeth and three coming through at the same time.
I know that all parents think their children are the best, and we are not in the least biased… but I am so proud of our sweet Matt. He’s thriving in every way possible. The way he can follow instructions really impresses me. He helps me around the house with washing and unloading the dishwasher. He can carry out simple instructions like, “Please put this in the dustbin” or “Go and get Mr Fox and put him in your cot.” He clearly understands numerous words and phrases and his speech is developing well too. The words he uses frequently with meaning are “mama”, “dada”, Bye-bye”, “bubbles” (sounds more like “babas”) “shoes”, “cheese” (sounds like “chiz”). He is also able to identify many different objects in books. He can point to different animals, food, clothing items etc. Body parts are a favourite- he can point to his head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, tummy, belly button, hands, fingers, toes and feet. We are working on the rest.
On another note, Matt has suddenly decided that he doesn’t like being put in his car seat or pram and he’ll make his whole body stiff so as to make it as awkward as possible for his mama to try and manoeuvre. So that’s been a bit of a challenge some days. We’ve found that distraction is key- food works wonders, so does the car keys (not ideal!) He’s still our ray of sunshine and makes me smile a million times a day.
I will post another blog soon highlighting our trip to Ireland for Aunty Claire and Uncle Danny’s beautiful wedding; where our dear son had the privilege of being a page boy!
So it’s been a year since our little hurricane very promptly appeared in our lives; and my goodness, what a great, adventurous year it’s been. When I look back now, I take a moment to remember the more challenging early days (more like months) of Matt’s life. I am in awe of the sweet, charming toddler he has become. Actually, I am grateful for those early days, they were a learning curve as they’ve allowed me to grow deeply as a mother and learn so much along the way. How times have changed though. As Matt gets older, the challenges change too. It’s hard to believe just how much he’s grown and developed in only a year.
Matt now weighs in at a solid 10.45kg (he’s still gaining weight well on the 75th percentile) and for the first official time; he’s had his height measured. I knew he was going to be a tall lad, but when the health visitor informed me that he is now 80.2cm tall- and on the 98th percentile- I was gobsmacked. I’m predicting a 6ft5 giant one day! Also, he now has 4 teeth, the fifth one just starting to poke through- that doesn’t stop him from eating like a champ. (And yes, he was allowed a cupcake on his birthday!)
At his one year review, he was observed by the health worker, who gave him an array of toys to interact with. She was pleased with his progress, noting that he could follow simple instructions, could walk well, had a strong pincer grip and was content. She asked about his eating habits and reminded me that he could now drink cow’s milk as opposed to formula. (Which he had started doing the week before he turned one). All in all; a glowing review.
Matthew’s birthday celebration was lovely. It was a balmy day (the hottest day of the year so far) and when I say hot, I actually mean proper hot (like 30 degrees!). We decided to put on a braai (BBQ) with some close friends and family in attendance. Even though we are in a larger apartment now, space was still a factor. It was a huge hit! Matthew was basking in all the attention, he really took everything in his stride. I thought it may have been a little overwhelming, but he did so well.
Donal was the braai master,and we had lots of nibbles, cake and sweet treats for later. I think watching Matthew devour almost an entire chocolate cupcake was a highlight for everybody! As well as the Bokke winning the game against France. He also loved all his beautiful presents, spoiled rotten is an understatement.
After eating way too much food and cake, we decided to head down to the local park. We were desperately seeking a cool breeze and the shade of a giant oak tree. Outside was still scorching hot, but the shade was welcoming. Some us lay sprawled under the trees, sipping on cool coronas or cokes, while a bunch of crazily energetic others, played a game of touch rugby (as we cheered on!)
It was a truly memorable day celebrating one whole glorious year of precious life! Looking forward to many more! Cheers Matty!
As much as I loved Matt when he was a sweet, little newborn who mostly slept in his mama’s loving arms (ok, let’s be honest, and cried a hell of a lot!), it’s great now that he loves to be entertained. Now that his bubbly, smily personality is shiny through brightly, it’s wonderful to witness the bursts of joy on his face when he’s enjoying a game or activity.
It can be quite challenging trying to invent new and exciting things for Matt to do on a regular basis, but lucky for us, I found that it’s in fact the simple things that hold our baby’s attention and keep him coming back for more!
Here are some of the things that Matthew absolutely loves engaging in, now that he’s just turned 11 months. Many of them, he’s been enjoying over the last few months. It’s so rewarding to see how he’s mastered some of the more challenging tasks- and his rejoicing when he does so.
What joy it brings me to see that Matthew has already developed a love for reading. We have been looking through picture books since he was a tiny baby, but now that he’s older, he giggles in delight when “Do you want to read a story?” is asked. He crawls over to the bookshelf, pointing to the array of books to choose from. He has his favourites of course- at the moment- he loves anything with an interactive quirk. The flap books are a huge hit as well as the feely books, which are great for sensory development. Here are some of his current must haves.
Balls- of all shapes and sizes
He does love playing with his balls! (Sorry, I had to!) The sensory balls are great. We got the pack of Bright Stars balls, which includes some twisty ad shaky ones. He loves hearing the sound of the tiny plastic balls inside bobbing about, it’s great as it doubles up as a music shaker. He can now throw the ball on demand, and one of his favourite games is searching for them under the couch. A classic soft play ball pit is always a hit when we are out.
I’m going to catch you!
This is one of his absolute favourite games to play with mom and dad. Now that he’s a highly skilled crawler, it’s great fun. I say, “Mama’s going to catch you!” and get down into the crawling position. He squeals in delight, and crawls away as quickly as he can. (Which is alarmingly quick actually!) When I finally catch him, fits of laughter ensue. It works great when daddy gets home too and one of us is ‘it’ and chases after Matt in the other’s arms. He’s greeted with numerous kisses and tickles. ‘Hide and Seek’ can be incorporated here too- another top hit.
So simple, yet so much fun. Catching and popping bubbles is the best for lots of laughs.
Did someone say ‘recycling’?
Oh my goodness, the hours of joy Matthew has received from going through the recycling bin is priceless. Since moving into our new home, we keep our dry recyclables in a big blue eco-shopping bag. Every day, peeping into the bag, is like a new adventure for Matt. From folded cardboard boxes and magazines, to milk cartons and plastic lids. He can spend ages literally looking through the trash! He takes each item out, closely examines it and then moves onto the next. He’s slowly learning to put them back in the bag- but where’s the fun in that?
Object Permanence Box
This fantastic activity is Montessori inspired and brilliant for cognitive development. Read more about Piaget’s theory here. The term object permanence is used to describe a child’s ability to know that objects continue to exist even though they can no longer be seen or heard. A seemingly simple task, where the ball is inserted into the hole at the top of the box, and the baby has to retrieve the ball at the bottom. At first, even managing to get the ball into the hole was tricky, now it’s no bother at all. I looked to purchase a box like this online, (let’s just say they aren’t cheap). I asked my very talented grandfather if he could make one for Matt. It came out so beautifully and Matt loves it, thanks Grandpa!
Get your groove on!
Dancing and singing have been a huge hit with Matt for many months. Music really does have such a great effect. If he’s ever feeling a little niggly, all we have to do, is put the radio on and dance away. He shows his delight by bopping his head and bouncing to the tunes. So much fun for mama and baby!
Stacking rings and cups
It amazes me how quickly babies can pick up on things and just how much they learn through observation. Matt just loves playing with the stacking rings and cups so much. At first, he would just pull everything apart and knock the cups over, but now, he’s able to put the cups into each other and stack the rings on the pole. Not quite in the correct order just yet, but it’s a great activity for fine motor skill development.
And then there was light!
Matt, like many babies his age, is fascinated with switches, buttons, knobs, handles… you get the idea. So turning the lights on and off proves great fun. I’ll ask Matt to switch the light off or on or push the buttons in the elevator. He knows to look out for the effect- so he looks to see if the lights went out or listens out for the ‘beep’ in the lift. Such a simple lesson for cause and effect and many other skills gained too. He also quite likes it when I close the door to the bathroom (so it’s in complete darkness) and then slowly open the door. He’s always beaming a great smile at his reflection in the mirror. He’s also learning the words “dark” and “light”.
These are just a few of Matt’s favourite things to do at the moment, the list really could go on.. But yet again, I hear the sweet coo of my baby waking from his nap. So ciao for now.
How do we have so much stuff? In my previous post, I was bragging about how vigilant we had been about getting rid of things that we don’t need or use. Ha! How our little flat actually stored all our shizzle, only God knows. ..
We were very fortunate in that we only had to move to the apartment block next door. But, my goodness, how tiring was that? And I’m not even talking about the heavy lifting. (Luckily, that wasn’t my job!) We had slowly starting packing and taking the odd few boxes and bags over during our walks, which made a big difference on the official moving day.
Fergal (Donal’s brother) and Cameron (my cousin) volunteered to help us with the move. Their help was truly a godsend, lugging our bits over the road, while I got on with Matthew and his usual activities (you know, eating, drinking, sleeping and pooping!), while trying to keep as much stability as humanly possible. To be honest, Matt coped quite well and still managed his usual 2 naps that day. The boys also enjoyed watching a rugga game over a couple of beers while on a much needed break.
We handed the keys over to our new tenants on the Wednesday night as we were off to Ireland the next day. (No pressure then!) I think the most tiring part of the whole process was trying to get our old flat perfectly ready for its new occupants. Organise a professional cleaning service, doing paint touch ups, drawing up an inventory and sorting out a few niggly bits were all on the list. Donal was amazing; working a long day, and coming home every evening to sort things out, move boxes over and still have a smile on his face afterwards (while sipping on a cool beer of course!) I’m truly grateful for such a positive, proactive hubby. It wasn’t easy doing all of this silently so as not to wake the sleeping baba!
Somehow we managed to leave the flat in pristine condition, move into our new home and pack for our long weekend in Ireland. Did I mention that Donal still managed a half day in at work?
Thankfully we flew from London City Airport (only 10 minutes away) on British Airways. What a treat; extra leg room and we even got free drinks and snacks on board, proper posh! We enjoyed a wonderful few days in County Galway with Donal’s family. Our activities included a wedding, a farm visit, yummy food and treats from Nana Rose, and lots of fresh air. Our boy was amazing on the flights both ways, keeping entertained by his books, snacks and milk. He’s almost 11 months old and still such a ray of light. Did I mention that he’s taken his first steps? I’ll save all the goss for the next post as I hear my sweet boy waking from his morning nap.
The blog of a new, south african mama living in london