365 pictures: 71 – 80

My last 365 pictures update featured a rather spectacular birthday cake. This one starts with the birthday itself and features kids, food, and crafty stuff. Which pretty much sums up life chez ours. No snow here, although there has, of course, been more. And I hear the current cold weather might last until the end of APRIL!

All I can say is we better get a decent summer after that. Anyway, on with the show…

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71. Oooooh presents!
Given how much the girls love Barbie: A Mermaid Tale (although recently it’s been all about the Fashion Fairytale) this Merliah Summers (Barbie) doll was a no-brainer as a birthday gift. Heather looks as delighted with it as Megan does!

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72. Farewell to the bunting
This birthday bunting was originally made by Nana for Heather’s first birthday, using Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric. It’s a while since it’s been used, but the girls’ reaction was so good, I think it might become a new tradition.

73. Snow White
Both girls love dressing up, but until now Megan’s had to make do with sharing Heather’s wardrobe. This Snow White costume, a birthday gift from Uncle Ian, is the first that’s her very own.

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74. Red Nose Day
Heather’s nursery did a great job of making the kids aware of, and involved in, Red Nose Day. Heather might not have won the crazy hair contest, but she had fun, and we got to meet this happy chappy, although I think he could do with some more sleep!

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75. Cuddles
Sometimes you see a great photo opportunity that’s gone by the time you actually get the camera out. Happily, this wasn’t one of those times – love this.

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76. Crafty
Without a doubt, Heather’s favourite activity is making things. We’ve managed to wean her off her Mister Maker addiction (I think) but she absolutely loves anything involving paint/pens/glue/scissors/stickers, and had a great time making these farmyard animals. Pretty much all on her own too!

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77. Rainbow flower
Another nursery creation, Heather told me about this flower in great detail one evening when I got home from work, but neglected to mention that she’d brought it home. We spotted it at bedtime, in the bathroom where she’d left it, and it was exactly as she’d described it.

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78. Magnets
I’m not sure which of the girls was responsible for this little arrangement. I think it might have been Heather, because I’m pretty sure Megan tidied hers away, but maybe it was the other way round.

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79. Meatballs
We’re still working our way through Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, and still enjoying everything that we’ve created. This dish – Swedish meatballs, with celeriac and rice – was one of mine, and very tasty it was too. And best of all, no horses were harmed in its creation :)

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80. Daddy in his shorts at bed time
More of Heather’s art, this time a portrait of yours truly. Good job I no longer sleep in the buff!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Somewhere over the rainbow (cake)

Megan with her birthday cake

Megan turned 2 last week, and we celebrated it like we’ve never celebrated before. Which wasn’t as difficult as it might sound, since her first birthday was never “properly” marked – a double whammy of colds followed by chicken pox meant her planned party was postponed (once if not twice) and then cancelled altogether. Poor Megan :(

Fortunately there wasn’t a repeat, and the party went ahead. Yay! Even better (for me) we’d opted against the organised games we had at Heather’s birthday, and instead let the kids run riot amuse themselves with toys and dress up clothes. Pretty much the only time we saw them was when we were serving up food, and as ever Gemma did a tremendous job on that front. The centre piece was a stunning rainbow cake which disappeared like I’ve never seen birthday cake disappear before. So much so that there were no leftovers to take into work, which left my colleagues most disappointed, even moreso when I showed them the picture of what they could have had.

Rainbow cake

The birthday girl had a ball, although she obviously didn’t get enough to eat at the party itself – at least that’s the conclusion I’m drawing from catching her eating hummus straight from the tub with her fingers, once everyone had gone home!

Opening birthday presents

Her actual birthday was a bit more low-key. It’s safe to say she’s got to grips with the opening of presents, although still struggles a bit with finding a starting point. Heather was on hand to help with that though. My mum and dad came round for a bit, as did Uncle Ian, and we had more cake, again whipped up by Gem, although this time it was a less colourful chocolate sponge. And there was even enough for me to take some into the office next day as well – happy days!

Heather went to nursery as normal, and then it was off to Pizza Hut (Heather’s idea, although Megan was fully in support) for birthday tea. Eating out with kids is always nerve-wracking, but I’m relieved to say that both girls were brilliant, and as well as pizza and ice cream, they even ate some salad! Heather in particular surprised us, picking a very grown-up sounding tuna and sweetcorn pizza. We weren’t sure how that would go down, but she devoured the lot (minus crusts, naturally). Megan asked for “sausage” on hers, so we got her pepperoni, but she didn’t like that much and picked it all off. Ah well, you live and learn!

Blowing out birthday candles

It’s funny to think that our youngest is now two – the time really has flown by so quickly, and this year will be more of the same. There are lots of big changes coming up, including toilet training (which we’ve already started) and a big girl bed to name but two. And before we know it the baby/toddler years will be behind us for good. Which is both a happy and sad thought.

But definitely not one that’s making us broody!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Ain’t no birthday like a princess birthday

H opening presentsThis past weekend we celebrated the fourth anniversary of our lives changing forever, when we became parents for the first time. And to prove it, I’m absolutely knackered. What a weekend!

I had the day off for Heather’s birthday itself, which was obviously good, although far from relaxing. The day began with a very important task: opening presents. Megan, somewhat predictably, got upset that she didn’t have the same pile of stuff to unwrap. Very hard to explain to someone who’s not yet two though, despite her apparent ability to understand every word anyone says to her.

Heather was suitably thrilled with everything she opened, and even hugged one or two of the boxes which was absolutely adorable. But there was no time to play with anything, because we had a Disney Store shopping spree to go on, courtesy of Nana and Grandad.

And how impressed were we with those nice Disney Store folks? As she handed over the money for her loot, Heather mentioned that it was her birthday. “Really? And what age are you? And what’s your name?” were the responses, after which we were sent over to the video wall for a special on-screen birthday message, accompanied by projected fireworks all around the store. I think Heather struggled to take it all in – I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw her so quiet and still (awake anyway) but she definitely enjoyed it.

H birthday message

And something to remember for the future – birthday people get to open the Disney Store with a special giant key, if they’re there a opening time (presumably requires prior arrangement?)

After that it was home for lunch and an afternoon at nursery, where everyone got to enjoy some birthday cake. It must have been good, because there were no leftovers. At least, none that came our way…

Final treat of the day was dinner at Pizza Hut. It should be stressed that this was 100% Heather’s choice – Gem and me had been campaigning for a visit to Equi’s, our local award-winning ice-cream parlour and chip shop, but Heather was adamant that Pizza Hut was where she wanted to go (“it’s my favourite!”) so that’s where we went. And a good meal was had by all.

So that was her birthday itself. The rest of the weekend was similarly busy, with a Christmas party on Saturday, and then a Princess Party at our house (activities: pizza topping, crown making and various party games) on Sunday. Honestly, sometimes I think our 4 year old has a better social life than we do!

To be honest, I’m still finding it hard to believe that we now have a 4 year old. No longer are we the parents of two toddlers – Heather is very definitely a little girl now. And weirdly, in the few days since she turned 4, she’s actually seemed older. I remember growing up being asked how it felt to be a new age, and answering that it was good, but really not feeling any different at all. But Heather somehow DOES seem different, dramatically so. Maybe it’s the curls in her hair, or maybe it’s because she feels different. I don’t know.

H in her Belle dress

What I do know is that she’ll be starting school in about 8 months time, and things are really going to change then. What happened to my baby?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Life moves pretty fast

H and M at KelvingroveI knew it had been a while since I wrote about my gorgeous girls, but I didn’t realise it had been 6 months. Six months – that’s, like, almost half of Megan’s lifetime! Shocking. Well, consider this a looooong overdue catchup.

Of course I blame the chickenpox. Not entirely, but it has to share some of the blame, because that’s what delayed poor Megan’s first birthday party (indefinitely, it would seem) and I’d absolutely have written about that. We did manage to mark the occasion amongst ourselves though, with a visit to Calderglen Children’s Zoo and dinner at Frankie and Benny’s, where Megan charmed the pants off the waiters with her beaming smile and chair-dancing.

H and M with birthday cake

At that point, of course, she was rocking cute but slightly comical 8-toothed grin – all bite and no chew. We’re up to double that now – and boy does she make use of them. That girl can eat, in fact it’s not unusual for her to eat her big sister’s leftovers! Shouldn’t it be the other way about?

Mind you, she burns it all off again. She’s been able to climb the stairs since about 8 months old, and a few months after that she was walking about on her own and hasn’t stopped since. Recently, her and Heather have become a proper double act, interacting in ways that only a few months ago we couldn’t imagine. I hope they’re always as good together as they are right now.

She is, of course, very much her own person, and although they look very alike, her personality is quite different to Heather’s. For example, while they both love books, Megan loves flicking through them, at an age where her sister was much more interested in eating them. Also, she’s neater – where Heather would tip dominoes and jigsaw pieces out onto the floor and walk away, Megan will take them out one by one, arrange them into a tidy pile, then put them back in the box.

M with H's sunglasses onAnd of course, she’s starting to grasp technology. Whether it’s playing Happy Mrs Chicken on the iPad, or telling me she wants the TV on by bringing me the remote, she’s really a smart cookie. But then her sister was too, so that’s less of a surprise.

Best of all is how communicative she’s getting. Last week she said “Mum” for the first time, which of course pleased Gemma no end. She does have a few other words (“ta” and “glasses” spring to mind) but of course at the moment most of what she spouts forth is random noise. She is fond of singing, though, and can gurgle a mean Twinkle Twinkle. Which is really, really cute, although not so much when she does it at 3 in the morning, waking us up in the process!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Ain’t no party like a toddler’s party

It had to happen some time, I know that, but knowing beforehand doesn’t make it any less traumatic. And maybe I’m over-reacting a touch, but as a father that’s my right. And anyway, it definitely feels like the end of an era…

Heather is no longer a toddler!

To be honest, I think she’s been way beyond that label for some time, but to have her officially move out of the toddler age bracket (as defined by Wikipedia) still feels like the passing of something we’ll never see again… at least until Megan takes her first solo steps anyway. And that could be any day now!

Birthday girlAnyway, all of this is a long-winded way of saying that we’re now in recovery from celebrating Heather’s third birthday, and her official transition into “little girlhood”.

Saturday’s party surprised me, in that it was a calmer affair than in previous years – I expected the opposite to be the case. Maybe it’s because there were no boys there (I’m excluding Lewis from that count, on the basis that he’s only 4 months old), or maybe it’s because we refrained from getting the caterpillar tunnel out.

Or maybe it’s because the kids involved are getting older, and consequently things are more structured? I think this is the first year we’ve had organised games and activities (as opposed to organised chaos) all of which seemed to go down well. A particular hit was cupcake decorating, which involved sprinkling liberal amounts of edible glitter, dolly mixtures and various other cake toppers over pre-frosted cupcakes (expertly made by mum). What we hadn’t considered, though was the risk of spillage – despite sweeping several times I’m still finding little sugar balls on the floor, and probably will be for years.

Birthday girlYesterday we took the birthday girl out for ice cream sundaes at Equi’s. While her younger sister munched her way through several scavenged bits of wafer, Heather amazed me and Gem by powering through a chocolate marshmallow sundae that was almost as big as her head – and that was a kid’s portion! Ours were even bigger – 3 large scoops of ice cream, plus toppings, wafers, sauces and a large dollop of cream on top. I have to admit I was struggling a little to finish it, but I battled though and got there in the end. Is that a sign of getting old?

As far as presents go, she got a good haul. Highlights included a doll’s house (I was pleased with that – it only took 2 hours to build, but the box said 3 years+!), a bike from Nana and Grandad and a Baby Annabel doll from Grandma and Grandpa. I’m pretty sure the only gifts that got an audible “WOW”were the Woody and Jessie dolls, which tells you how much she loves the Toy Story movies.

We are going to have to send an urgent memo to Santa though – quite a few things need scoring off the Christmas list! I’m sure he’ll have it all under control…

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!