I can’t believe how long it has been since I last wrote a blog… I feel like my feet aren’t touching the ground at the minute.  The pre-Christmas countdown was as you would expect… having Ava home for the holidays meant I had to make sure the girls were entertained every day and Seren loves having Ava all to herself.

Indoor water play to encourage Seren to stand for longer

I enjoy school holidays because the morning rush, packed lunches and the in and out of cars is taken away.  Its lovely to be able to take our time in the morning and be able to stay in our pyjamas a bit longer if we fancy it.

Seren's sencond pair of Piedro Boots!

Seren’s new shoes arrived – her little feet have grown and she is cruising furniture really confidently now so she needed them… cute eh?

We had such a wonderful Christmas (with a couple of minor hiccups).  So here is how it went…

Ava sprinkled some reindeer food on Christmas Eve… she made it at pre-school and the mix of porridge and sparkles is a must-have for any 3yr old.  She dutifully disappeared in to the garden and shook it all over the lawn.  She kept looking up at the sky as if she would catch a glimpse of the reindeers, it was very cute.  She also lobbed a carrot into the garden – just to make sure that the reindeers would have enough to eat! We asked her what she would like to leave out for Father Christmas and she chose 3 biscuits, a cup of milk and a Fudge chocolate bar.  We left them on a plate in front of the fireplace.  She shouted up the chimney for one last time before heading up to bed.  The excitement on Christmas Eve is one I remember well… it’s such a magical time, it’s so special having children.  Christmas is all about the tradition of Father Christmas to us… we are not particularly religious, and at 3 years old, lets be honest – its all about Father Christmas to Ava too!!

Christmas Eve - Santa's snack all ready....

Anyway, Seren was totally unaware of what was going on (as you would expect at 18 months old).  She liked the tree and loved any decorations out in shops / shopping centres, but that was where the interest ended.  She had no concept of presents, Father Christmas or anything else.  Getting her into bed wasn’t a problem – she went off happily as she does most nights.  Ava wasn’t too hard to get into bed either – the threat of Father Christmas not visiting children unless they are sleeping was enough to render her silent and motionless for 12 hours, even if she hadn’t been exhausted enough to fall asleep.

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas Eve bath time!

We were woken at 6am… not bad going really.  I wanted to wait for Seren to wake, but I realised pretty quickly that it was far too much to ask of an excited 3 year old who was ready to scale the stair gate to get down the stairs.  I woke Seren so that we could go downstairs as a family.  Mistake. Big mistake.  Rookie error in fact, but I simply couldn’t have gone downstairs without her and Ava was going demented, so on balance I don’t know what else I could have done.

Ava ready to hurdle to stair gate on xmas morning!

Ava willing Seren to wake on xmas morning

Seren was not impressed and not really interested in her presents at all. Obviously, she did enjoy playing with the wrapping paper and eating some of it, but her presents?  Not really interested.

Father Christmas was very generous this year!!

Father Christmas was VERY generous.  Mostly, my mother-in-law goes overboard and buys loads.  This year we started a new rule of grandparents only being allowed to give 2 gifts each from them, and if any more are bought, they have to go under the tree from Father Christmas.  This was done intentionally to stop my very generous MIL outshining Father Christmas in terms of quantity of gifts.  We have such a precious short time while the girls believe in Father Christmas, I don’t want him to be outshone or the excitement of Father Christmas being dulled by anything.  It worked well and Father Christmas was very generous indeed!!  It took the girls half an hour of frantic unwrapping to get all the gifts open – then the unpacking and putting together started.  The girls could barely be dragged away from playing to eat breakfast.  Later in the morning we headed over to my parents house to exchange gifts with family members then we came back home to await the arrival of my MIL (she works a shift on Christmas Day morning at the nursing home that she is a manager of).

Nanna Rose (my MIL), Seren & Granny (my mum)

We all exchanged gifts and then it was back to my parents later in the afternoon for our Christmas Dinner.  I got a new lens for my camera, smellies, facial stuff, slippers, a home made cushion and a home made silhouette of pictures of Seren and Ava, with a space for our new addition! I felt very spoiled this year.  Matt got a telescope, smellies, undies, socks, a game and 2 tickets to the Grand Prix at Silverstone next year (from me and the girls) he was over the moon.  The girls got too many things to mention.

Pair of nutters on Christmas Day

Obviously I was non-alcoholic this year (most depressing I must say), so I am really looking forward to never being pregnant again and being able to enjoy a few glasses of something tasty and very alcoholic next year! We ate loads, as is obligatory on Christmas Day, and I felt so full that the skin on my stomach felt like it was stretching even more than it should be!  Ava had a little accident while we were at my parents – she was messing around and dancing and spun round and cracked her face on a chair… she split her lip and had has a nice bruise on her face.  Poor little thing.  Then that night night to add to her scrapes, she slipped in the bath, caught her heel on the plug and grazed it.  It bled, she got a plaster… I felt sorry for her, she is a clumsy kid.

Ava fell on to the edge of a wooden chair

All better on Boxing Day as she admires fairy lights!

So that was it.
Christmas was over in a heartbeat and New Year came and went without incident.  I didn’t make it to midnight… I was tucked up in bed at 10pm and really it was just another night of the year to me.  Hello 2012!!

My wonderful husband and big girl Ava

Ava has no concept of time, so we have broken down the next few months in terms of family celebrations.  We have a birthday in almost every month of the year so we had my nieces 1st birthday in January, my brothers birthday is in February, my birthday at the beginning of March, Ava’s birthday at the end of March, then the baby is due!!  By crossing off these events, Ava can get more of an understanding of how much time we have left before her new baby comes.

Me and Ava

Ava is so excited about having a new baby in the family.  She is convinced its going to be a girl (I think she is right!!) and is practicing her mothering skills on one of her dolls.  She was so amazing when Seren was born – we never had jealousy or the terrible behaviour you hear of.  She has always been very loving, patient and shows empathy and care towards Seren beyond her years.  She instinctively looks out for Seren and highlights danger to me all the time. She is truly wonderful.

My big girl Ava

Seren is going to be a different kettle of fish and Matt sniggers to himself when he predicts what she is going to be like with her new sibling.  He thinks Seren is going to be hell on earth when this baby comes…. Not only is she younger than Ava was when she was born, but she is mentally a lot younger… She will be (at best) developmentally like a 12 month old (she will be 22 months old) when the baby comes.  She is very attached to me and doesn’t like sharing me at all – even with Ava at times. She likes getting her own way and expects to have my undivided attention on demand.  She is definitely NOT patient or delicate or empathetic or gentle.  She is going through separation anxiety at the minute too and likes to have me in sight or at least know I am nearby – if she thinks I am leaving her, she goes ballistic.  Matt thinks I am going to have my hands full.  I am going to beg to differ so Matt and I have bets on!! I know there will be certain behavioural issues that are unavoidable due to her developmental stage… being gentle with newborns has to be taught to any infant and sharing a parent with a new sibling can be hard – but I am hoping that she will quickly understand that she has to share me and I hope that the new baby develops some keen survival instincts! I also hope that I can grow eyes in the back of my head and an extra pair of hands… oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.  Parenting is hard at the best of times, I don’t think it matters if you have one child or three… the house is just going to get a lot messier and noisier!

Wrapped up in the freezing January temperatures

I had a 4d scan the other week.  It wasn’t great.  I have a high anterior placenta which makes it hard to get a good shot of the baby’s face.  It was snuggling in to the placenta like a cushion, and as cute as that was it was very frustrating as we had to pay £140 for the scan experience.  The baby is measuring slightly small for dates which is a first for me.  The other 2 were always measuring a bit chunky for dates.  The baby also has really short femurs still which is a soft marker for Down’s syndrome… I wonder if this baby is hiding a little secret?  I still can’t decide whether or not to go for the late amnio.  It’s all booked in and time is flying… I feel as though I have to make a decision pretty soon now and I swing in roundabouts by the day.  I have another scan booked in a couple of weeks so I might see what that shows first and then decide from there.  I don’t know how much longer I can get away with burying my head in the sand about this decision!

My gorgeous girls!

My latest “hobby” was launched the other day.  Take a look! It’s a website for parents in my local area: www.wallingfordpiper.co.uk  Just another little project to add to my day…  All good fun though.  Who said being a stay-at-home mum had to be boring?!

As for Seren…

She is awesome as always. Her attempts at signing are developing a bit more slowly at the minute as she appears to be concentrating on other skills.  Since I last blogged, she has managed to figure out how to tip a sippy cup up to have a drink all by herself.  This is a pretty late development, but Seren has never drunk from a bottle (even as a baby). She went straight from boob onto straw drinking so the whole “tipping up” concept was pretty alien to her.  She’s got it now though and it’s great to see her pick up a sippy cup or spouted beaker and help herself.  She has also learned how to kiss – a proper pucker up and kiss sound.  Its very cute and also great for speech and language development.  She is gettingstronger by the day with her cruising of the furniture and we are practicing leg strengthening exercises.  I would LOVE for her to walk in the summer but having seen her physio yesterday I am not holding out much hope.  I feel sorry for her being restricted to a pushchair when so much more of the world will be accessible and open to exploring when she is toddling.  Crawling around on pavements / parks etc is just not an option.  I am also pleased to say that she has finally learned to come down backwards off things!! She can now get down off my bed or the sofa safely!! Woo hoo!! The only tricky thing is that she is sometimes unaware of where the edge of the bed it when she is messing around, so I still can’t leave her unattended, but we’re getting there!  Stairs are another matter – she can go up (very unsafely and never without someone with her) but she can’t come down yet.  I was hoping she would be able to do this soon as I am getting more and more pregnant, but its unlikely.

Seren not wanting to get in the bath!!

I have a feeling Seren is going to be her own worst enemy at times.  She is both stubborn and determined.  Stubborn in terms of doing things only when she wants to and determined only in the things that interest her.  Like climbing into the tuble dryer! (yes, it was safe, switched off and I knew where she was)!!

Seren the explorer - she climbed in by herself!! (yes it was safe)

She is going through a stage of not wanting me to feed her at all but she is unable to feed herself effectively.  If I try and go near her plate of food with a spoon to help her she gets really cross.  If I push it too much her fury turns into aggression and she will fling the plate of food, her spoon and then refuses to eat any more.  She is so determined to be independent (which is great) but sometimes I wish she would accept that I need to help her!  She is turning into a little tomboy – she enjoys playing with cars more than dolls and climbs like a mountain goat on speed.  It makes me laugh at how much more “confident” she is than Ava ever was… she sticks up for herself if a toy is taken away from her and has no problems saying “no” to people who want to either pick her up or give her a cuddle when she is not in the mood.  She is a feisty, opinionated little girl.  God help me!