I can see clearly now

Trying my glasses on for size

Trying Daddy’s glasses on for size

When I was 3 or 4 years old – I’m not entirely sure, but I know I was at nursery – something exciting happened. A plastic bag had blown into a tree, and the teachers were lifting us kids up, one by one, so that we could see it. When it was my turn, I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t see what the fuss was about. It’s not that I didn’t find the idea of a bag caught in a tree exciting – after all, who wouldn’t? - I literally couldn’t see the focus of everyone’s attention.

At home time, someone had a word with my mum and suggested I might need to have my eyes tested. Which I did. And have been wearing glassed ever since, which is definitely a good thing, because it turns out I’m blind as a bat.

Gem and I always knew there was a chance our kids would end up with bad eyes. Leaving me aside, the rest of Gem’s family are spec-wearers, and my lot all have glasses too, albeit none of them have eyes as bad as mine. But we’ve never noticed either of the girls having any problems, and when Heather’s eyes were checked out last year at nursery, although she needed a follow-up appointment at the hospital, they told us her eyes were near enough perfect.

So on Sunday, when almost on a whim we took Megan for an eye test (she’d been complaining of a sore eye), we weren’t expecting any different. But we got more than we’d bargained for, as did the poor optician who examined her!

You see, being three, and all this being a brand new experience, Megan wasn’t too keen on sitting still while they looked in her eyes. So the optician gave her some drops to slow her eyes down, and sent us away for 40 minutes while they worked their magic. A cake and a drink later (virtually untouched by Megs, it has to be said) we were back, and the difference in her was very noticeable.

Apparently these drops can cause drowsiness, and in Megan’s case that was certainly true – she was almost sleeping in the examination room. Which made it all the more surprising when she threw up all over herself, Gem, the optician and the floor. It was quite the spectacular expulsion by all accounts!

I (perhaps fortunately) missed it though, as I was in the waiting area with Heather. The first I knew that anything was amiss was overhearing Gem apologising repeatedly before I was despatched to procure some baby wipes, to help with the cleanup.

Look at my new dress!

Look at my new dress!

The staff in Specsavers managed to find Megs a promotional t-shirt to wear in place of her sicky clothes, and it was dressed like this that she picked out her first pairs of glasses. I say “she picked out”… truth is she was (understandably) so traumatised by the whole experience that she just wanted to go home, and it was under much duress that she agreed to go for some pinky/purpley Hello Kitty glasses, and some similarly coloured sunglasses, which we’ll pick up next week.

It turns out Megan’s eyes are about as bad as mine are – we’re both very long-sighted, with very similar prescriptions, and both suffer from astigmatism. The fact that our prescriptions are so similar (Megan is +5.0 in both eyes, I’m +5.0 in one and +4.25 in the other) has meant I’ve been able to let her try out my glasses, which she has done a few times since the weekend. Last night she told me things look “more pointy”, which I’m taking to mean “more in focus”, which is encouraging in terms of getting her to keep them on.

In the meantime, both Gem and I are feeling a bit guilty. I’ve already apologised for giving her my rubbish eyes, while Gem somehow feels responsible for a) not noticing anything was wrong and b) not building her properly in the first place, both of which are ludicrous. Things are what they are, and having to wear glasses is nothing like it was when I was a kid – there’s so much choice now, where in my day we had a choice of blue or brown plastic frames (for the boys, girls got pink or, em, pink).

We have, however, struggled a bit to come up with positive glasses-wearing role models that Megan can relate to, which surprised me a lot. The entertainment industry still seems to view specs as being for old people or geeks, and mainly boy geeks at that. Pretty much the only girl we’ve come up with is Margo from Despicable Me, which is definitely pretty poor. Millions of kids wear glasses, it would be nice to see this reflected a bit more in movies and on TV. Something to keep an eye on (keep an eye on, geddit?)

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my first day in nursery with glasses. I can remember being on a climbing frame, and one of the boys asking me my name, because he hadn’t recognised me and thought I was new – and I don’t think he was the only one. I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing, but I doubt Megan will have to deal with anything like that as she adapts to her new life. Glasses will be as much a part of her as they are of me, and it won’t be long before, like me, she can barely remember a time when she didn’t wear them. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. (ok, I’ll stop it now…)

 

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The cold never bothered me anyway

If, like me, you share a house with two young girls, you’ll no doubt know all about Frozen, the latest movie from Disney Animation Studios. To date it’s taken over $810m at box offices worldwide, enough to make it the 42nd highest grossing movie of all-time. Which isn’t bad going, when you consider that neither of Disney’s last two releases (Tangled and Wreck-it-Ralph) broke $600m – and I believe Frozen is yet to be released in China.

For those not familiar with the movie, it’s the tale of two princesses (of course!) who’ve grown apart thanks to one of them having the power to create ice and snow out of thin air. Things come to a head when Elsa (the one with the power) is crowned queen, and accidentally freezes the kingdom before running away from it all to an ice palace at the top of a mountain. Anna (her younger sister) gives chase, convinced that Elsa will be able to undo everything and they’ll all be able to live happily ever after.

There’s a little more to the plot than that (including a fantastic twist that I didn’t see coming at all) but you get the gist.

We’ve only taken the girls to see a handful of films, and only then thanks to a benefit we get with a life insurance policy, but it’s far and away the best thing we’ve seen as a family – so much so we’ve seen it twice (so far… Gem’s hoping the sing-along version gets a release round these parts). And, it’s the only film we’ve seen where neither of the girls has needed a toilet break – if that isn’t high praise, then I don’t know what is!

My favourite thing about the movie is how much the girls love it. If they’re not watching their favourite bits on YouTube, or singing their favourite songs from the soundtrack, or arguing about who will play which sister in the next re-enactment, then they’re probably asleep, because honestly that’s about all they’ve done for the past 6 weeks or so.

And who can blame them? The soundtrack really is excellent, in a West End/Broadway style, and if Let It Go doesn’t walk away with the Oscar for best song I will be very surprised – performed by Idina Menzel in the film, it’s a real showstopper and one that I’m struggling to get out of my head. Demi Lovato’s version over the end credits, on the other hand, isn’t.

I’m not sure when the DVD is due to be released, but Gem’s already desparate to pre-order it (for the girls, of course!). We might need to get two copies though, in case one wears out.

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Here comes the sun

Gro-clock sun

The sun, this morning

I’ve written before about how much we love Gro-clocks. Megan’s hasn’t been quite the raging success that Heather’s was, but to be fair to her she’s only now reaching the age Heather was when we got hers, and I think she’s just about there. She definitely understands the concept of staying in bed until the sun comes up, she’s just not very good at executing it. But she’s getting better, and that’s all we can hope for at this stage.

Now, since I started cycling to work, I’ve developed a very fixed morning routine. It’s become a well-oiled machine, just like my bike itself: out of bed, pull on my clothes, visit the bathroom, put lunch in my bag, eat breakfast, and go. No room for dawdling, something which can sometimes be difficult with small people around.

This morning I was in the bathroom, doing… well, what one does in the bathroom… when I heard the pitter patter of toddler feet. Toddlers aren’t renowned for respecting privacy, so I wasn’t surprised when Megan appeared to tell me cheerfully that the sun was up. I asked her if it really was (knowing that it would be) and she said she’d go and check. What I wasn’t expecting was the next bit:

“Close your eyes… and no peeking!”

Now, when a 2 year old tells you to close your eyes and not to peek, what can you do but comply? So I’m not really sure what the banging, huffing, puffing and muttering that followed was all about. I think she had knocked her Gro-clock over in trying to turn it round, but I guess we’ll never know. Eventually, though, I was told I could open my eyes, and there was Megan, standing proudly beside her Gro-clock where the sun was, indeed, up. “See? Sun’s up” she said. And it was!

And then, just to add to the feeling of “aren’t kids great?”, Heather appears from her room to tell us we were being too noisy! 4 going on 14, that one.

Of course, all these goings on somewhat derailed my smooth machine-like morning routine. But in this instance I’m not fussed. I don’t get to spend much time with the girls during the week, so moments like this are absolutely priceless.

I just had to pedal a little faster to make up the lost time.

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Sponsored Post: BakingMad.com

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Anyone who knows us knows that amazing things come out of our kitchen with amazing regularity. Rarely are these wonderful creations my doing, I should point out, for I am married to a veritable culinary genius who can whip up an incredible meal in the time it takes me to find and open a recipe book, never mind pick out something I think I can make.

And it’s not just meals, either, Gem is also becoming quite the master baker, and several of her offerings have featured on the Sunday Baking Club blog.

So when BakingMad.com got in touch with me, and asked me to make one of their recipes I jumped at the chance – it would be my turn to shine for a change! I also knew that Gem would approve, because BakingMad.com is a site she’s used in the past. And there was so much to choose from: sconescupcake recipes and even cheesecake recipes!

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In the end I actually ended up baking some peanut butter cookies not from the website but from recipe book they sent me. I say I did the baking… I did have a kitchen full of helpers, although mysteriously most of them vanished when it came time to wash up. And Gem stayed there to offer advice and assistance as required. Which I’m pleased to say wasn’t much – maybe I’m better at this baking business than I think!

The cookies were delicious. So good, in fact, we gave some to my dad as part of his Father’s Day present, and the rest didn’t last very long at all – not with all those helpers to feed! Definitely a hit though, and something I expect we’ll be making for years to come.

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Bakingmad.com supplied a goodie bag of ingredients and a recipe book in return for this post. All words, pictures and opinions are my own.

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Everything changes

Megan and Heather

The Usual Suspects

It doesn’t feel like almost four weeks since we took the side off of Megan’s cot, and yet it totally is – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun! Not that it’s been all fun of course, but I’m pleased to report that things are still going well with the transition. So well, in fact, that the next (and final!) stage in the transition will be occurring tomorrow: the big girl bed!

We’ve bought her a Barbie pink (not my description, it’s what’s on the side of all 3 boxes it came in) metal bed frame, which I’ve got to build tomorrow, and then that will be it – no more cot. What a strange feeling!

Even more strange, in the midst of changing her sleeping arrangements, Megan has stopped wearing nappies during the day, and is doing remarkably well – in two weeks, I think I could count on one hand the number of accidents we’ve had, which is incredible. Especially when you consider that most of the accidents we’ve had have been bottom burps with follow through rather than not knowing something was coming at all.

The final stage, of course, will be going nappyless overnight, which we’re going to leave until a) she’s settled in her new bed, and b) we’re consistently getting bone dry nappies in the morning. I don’t expect it to take more than a couple of weeks though, that was certainly our experience with Heather, and if there’s one thing we know about our girls it’s that Megan wants to do whatever her sister does.

Speaking of Heather, she’s going through big changes of her own just now, having just a week and a half of nursery to go! Gem has already started buying bits of school uniform, and I have to say, the sight of Heather in her school blazer made the whole thing seem so much more real. How on earth have we got to this point already???

Heather’s more than ready for school though, in exactly the same way as she was more than ready for nursery when she started 18 months ago. And having visited the school, and had an overview of how primary 1 works (totally different to my day!) I’m confident it will live up to her expectations. What’s more, from the glowing report we got from nursery (which is passed on to the school as part of her transition) I’m sure she’ll live up to theirs.

Of course, the changes aren’t limited to the girls. I’m still planning my new commute, and as for Gem… I’m not sure I’m allowed to share what she’s up to yet, but suffice to say things are going well there too.

So everything’s good, although some more sun over the summer would be nice. I guess some things never change!

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