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Ambling through the fields
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Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Me and my doggy friend
This morning I dropped Theo off for his first session at nursery and afterwards for the first time in two years, I walked the dogs on my own. 
We beat a rapid pulse-quickening path around the fields and made it back to the house in record time. The dogs looked tired and slightly bewildered, this is not how we normally do things!
But Theo shall be back with us tomorrow, so we shall be ambling again. Stopping to stare at planes in the sky, examining the ants on the ground and watching the tractors on the horizon…

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Theo’s 2nd birthday (with toxic green icing)
Picnic time..

Theo turned 2 yesterday and spent part of the day having his first taster session at his new nursery. We visited once before to view it, and on both occasions he dived straight in without a backward glance. This time we left him there on his own for an hour and a half and he was utterly unphased.

The nursery is based in beautiful old farm buildings and operates under the free-flow philosophy, where the different age groups mix and are free to explore inside and out, it even has an on site chef. I honestly couldn’t fault it in any way, and I’m excited for him that he’ll soon be attending regularly.

In the afternoon we had a family tea in the garden with presents, sandwiches and cake. The day brought to an end an incredible fortnight’s leave for Jim, where we have been blessed with day after day of sunshine and have been able to have some wonderful days out locally. We didn’t have a holiday this year, but the past two weeks have felt entirely like one, with the benefit of all our home comforts.

For Theo’s birthday I made him a tractor cake. I struggle a bit with novelty cakes because appaearance and taste seem to battle each other! I personally think royal icing is pretty horrible on anything except a fruit cake (and even then I’m not entirely sold on it) so I compromised with butter icing (which to be honest, I’m not a massive fan of either) Jim insisted it couldn’t be chocolate and had to be a colour (as you don’t get brown tractors) so we ended up with cake smothered in headache inducing, highly sugared, highly coloured buttercream.

theois2_cake

I know what you are going to say, it wasn’t made for the adults! But there were more grown-ups than children at this party and I think most of us just pushed our cake around the plate! Oh for a nice simple chocolate fudge cake!

Fortunately I made cucumber sandwiches and one of my all time favourites, strawberry palmiers too. Now they really are delicious (and stupidly easy to make!)

strawberry palmiers

And after much game playing and running round the garden, after nursery and presents, no nap and far too many jelly babies, Theo collapsed into bed in his new pyjamas with an assortment of his new cars – one happy tired two year-old boy!

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23 months

23 months

by Clare Mansell
This boy is one month away from the big milestone that is two. And what a change from last year. Living in our own home, with Daddy in the same country and extended family around to celebrate. I’m looking forward to it.
Being nearly-two presents it’s challenges. He’s just starting to work out things don’t always go his way, so we’ve had a few dramatic (and short-lived) tantrums, and tears when things are taken away from him. Apart from a few bad nights during the warm weather, he still sleeps tremendously well and has to be coaxed out of his bed in the mornings… and in fact the afternoons. Does it show in his face?

His vocabulary is expanding at a typically leisurely boy pace… Ma-Ma, Jane, Macy, Bella, Again, Juice, Tea, Doggies, Daddy, Car, Chocolate, More, Please, Eggy, Choo-Choo, Cheese, Gone, Tractor, Train, Quack Quack and Up, but take note, absolutely no use of the word “Mummy.” If people suggest he says it, he looks at me, looks at the person who suggested it and remains steadfastly silent.

And he swings between baby-faced and growing young boy in the space of a haircut…

He loves Marmite, being chased round the house by his wooden push-along penguin, cars in all shapes and sizes, the dogs, being in the garden, playing with his cousins, pouring liquids between containers, watching Cbeebies, waving at people as they drive past the house, emptying drawers/bookshelves/cupboards, pushing his brick trolley, visiting Ma-Ma & Grumps, soaking people with the garden hose, sharing a joke and running.

He’s funny, happy, outgoing and full of surprises.

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Theo at 10 months!

Theo at 10 months!

by Clare Mansell
Doggy walker

So another month gone and a steep learning process has begun, as in the last week Theo has begun to pull himself upright. Those extra few inches of elevation over the world have made him rather keen to view things from that height more permanently, but the leg muscles and the confidence are not quite there yet!

We bought him a doggy walker second-hand, which he has really taken to and there’s a push along brick trolly I had as a child on the way to us from my sister too.

Talking of wooden bricks, I’m pretty convinced they are the best toy ever. Theo spends a lot of his day chasing them round the house, chewing them or banging them against things and I still have memories of playing with mine when I was about 10! Nice that some toys never go out of fashion.

Theo in sunnies...

Last week Theo’s paternal grandfather came over from Cyprus to visit, it’s the first time he’s seen him since he was less than a month old, so quite a change. Theo just loved having a new person in the house to entertain him and provide a new distraction. As always it brings home how far away we are from all his relatives, but nothing is forever, and though we’re still 600 miles away from the closest ones, we have gradually been creeping closer over the last 5 years!

Theo & Grandpa

Food wise, Theo is starting to get bored with being spoon fed which is challenging our well honed system of freezing portions of meals for him. Last night he had fish fingers and carrot slices, but we need to raid the kiddie cookery books for ideas of quick and simple meals. Fortunately there’s one thing we can always get down him no matter how tired or bored he is. He’s absolutely addicted to blueberries and strawberries, I swear he’d eat them all day if I let him!

Unsurprisingly with his new exertions, he’s still sleeping pretty well. Anything between 90 minutes and 3 hours at lunchtime and about 12 hours overnight. I don’t want to jinx things, but it’s been a long, long time since we’ve been woken at night…

And finally his impressive flight tally continues to grow, as we shuttle backwards and forwards between the south-coast and Scotland. There’s another flight booked for a fortnight’s time and we’ll be spending his birthday down south too, so that’ll be 10 flights before he’s one. In comparison, I don’t think I’d managed 1 flight before my 10th birthday, but of course that was long before Easyjet!

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Nine months and counting…
Summer's here!

Theo is now three-quarters of the way through his first year of life and crawling! One Tuesday morning about three weeks ago he suddenly worked out how to shuffle his legs forwards and he was off. We now spend most of our days pulling him away from the broadband router, the fake coals in the fire, the stack of cookery books in the kitchen or the cord of the iron. Why is it that with all the experience and money behind the big toy brands, no one has yet invented something that is more alluring than the forbidden things in a house?

Although the summer has generally been disappointing so far, there have been a few warm days to get him out in the garden, an experience which has met with mixed results! He’s still extremely unsure about the feel of grass on his skin and left on a rug will remain marooned until someone returns to save him!

On the move and causing trouble...

With a new way to burn off energy he’s appetite seems endless. As his menu expands, we even tried him on a recipe containing lamb’s liver (much to Jim’s horror!) and he seemed to love it. Bouncing up and down in the high chair, murmuring sounds of appreciation!

Talking of high chairs, as I mentioned a while ago, around Christmas I took on the task of repainting our inherited Tripp Trapp high chair. It very rapidly turned into one of those things I wish I had never started! I bought two types of paint (spray and regular) and two types of sandpaper and spent most of the winter trying to get a proper finish on it, and failed. So Jim came home from Afghanistan and took over, he bought an electric sander, undid all my work and then varnished it. Four months, a lot of money and effort later (and with the addition of a £50 play tray and £30 harness) we ended up with a chair that looked identical to the one we had when we started – Gah!

All of this was even more frustrating when we saw the high chair my mother bought for him to keep at their house, which cost £15 from Ikea! The moral to this story is if you are ever in need of a high chair, and are near an Ikea, simply do not bother even considering anything other than the Antilop Chair, I cannot fault it!

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