A Smell of Spring?

Is it just me, or is there more than a hint of Spring in the air? I mean, this has been the most ridiculously mild winter anyway, but the last few days have definitely smelt pretty Spring-like.

Tom and I were out on the Marshes on Wednesday, enjoying the afternoon sun after a rather wet morning. There was still a bit of a chilly wind blowing, but otherwise it was a lovely mild day. The kind that makes you want to explore.

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We had a great afternoon of nature play. Tom found a feather, which he then made me carry for the rest of the walk. 

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We stopped by a while by some fallen logs, which were perfect for prodding and climbing on.

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Tom got a bit tired of walking towards the end, so hopped back in the buggy for the final loop towards home. We passed hawthorn bushes with fresh young leaves just starting to appear, and this blossom laden tree.

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I know it’s not the end of winter quite yet, but I couldn’t help starting to make plans for when the weather is warmer…picnics and day trips and weekends in my mum’s garden. It’s that optimism that comes with the first signs of Spring.

Of course, these early signs, along with all the extreme weather we’ve experienced this winter, likely relate to climate change. Which is a dampening thought. But I still can’t stop myself from enjoying the thought of the changing seasons.

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Toddlers and Trains

Tom is obsessed with trains at the moment. And cars too. But mostly trains. He has a little set of the brio ones that he was given for his birthday and he loves to push the trains around any available surface, whilst saying ‘beep beep’ softly to himself (he hasn’t learnt ‘choo choo’ yet although he has got ‘nee naw’ for ambulances).

His obsession is quite a useful one, as it means we have a new source of entertainment when out on the Marshes. There’s a train track which runs along the top of our favourite bit, and a bridge that goes over the track and road. Anytime I let Tom choose our direction he heads straight for that bridge, which can be awkward if we have the buggy with us instead of a sling.

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He also loves to stand by the track and watch the trains go past. I’m trying to teach him to wave, but so far he prefers just staring in amazement.

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I don’t know that trainspotting really counts as engaging with nature, as such. But as long as it means he’s happy to come for a walk on the Marshes with me, this is a love of his I can get behind. Choo choo!



Weekly Report: W/c 30.11.2015

What is it about December? The month clicks over and instantly my calendar is full. Every weekend and every Tuesday night (my Tom free evening), is now taken until after Christmas.

We had a pretty busy first week, though we started slow on Monday by meeting up with a friend for a rather windy walk over Walthamstow Marshes and up past the reservoirs by Coppermill Lane. Having had a good long walk in the morning, it seemed ok not to brave the now rainy weather and stay indoors in the afternoon for some screen-free play.

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Wednesday was a rather sad day, because we had to go to the funeral of a friend’s mother. I did have a slight wobble in confidence shortly before leaving, wondering if it was actually appropriate to show up to the funeral of a non-family member with a toddler in tow. The friend in question is one of Tom’s godfathers though and I had no one to leave Tom with (Mr Techno was working), so we went. Tom behaved pretty well, though he did ‘chat’ through a few bits of the service. We stood at the back and I took him out about fifteen minutes before the end when it looked like he might start crying. We had a wander round the cemetery waiting for everyone to come out.

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I think it was the right choice  to go – Tom struggled towards the end but didn’t really know what was happening and we were able to be there to support his godfather, who gave a really beautiful eulogy. His mother was an amazing woman and it was wonderful seeing so many people come to celebrate her life and support her family. A very sad day but also a hopeful one hearing about a life so full and so well lived.

Thursday and Friday were work/nursery days, so Tom and I walked to nursery and back as usual. The wind was pretty strong both days and Tom struggled to keep his balance, so he didn’t want to stay for long in the park on our way home.

We had a lazy start on Saturday, as Mr Techno wasn’t starting work until midday, so we spent the morning at home as a family. After Tom’s afternoon nap, we headed out into the winds to forage up some Christmas decorations for the flat.

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On Sunday, we had our first Christmas party of the month, heading to Oxfordshire to the home of Tom’s great-grandmother (Mr Techno’s maternal grandmother). The whole of that side of the extended family was there and I think Tom was a bit overwhelmed by the parade of great-aunts, great-uncles and various cousins. Though he was very pleased to see his cousin Rose, who is just five weeks younger than him. They get on so well and I’m really excited to see them both enjoying Christmas together when we all gather at Mr Techno’s parents’ house in Suffolk.

We did manage to escape into the garden with the numerous family dogs between courses – a three course meal with coffee is a lot for toddlers to sit through! Some fresh air and a run around ensured good behaviour for the seated parts of the meal. Fortunately, Tom crashed out in the car both on the way there and the way back, as the journey took us about 3 hours.

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A busy week and a very worn-out toddler by the end!

Remedy for a Toddler Bad Mood Day

Last Monday was just one of those days. Tom was in a bad mood from the moment he woke up. I don’t know if it was his teeth bothering him (he got his first four molars through all in one go) or if he hadn’t slept well or was just not happy, but all was clearly not right in Tom world.

I know from experience that the worst possible thing to do on a bad mood day is stay inside. We have a very small flat and there is not enough physical space to give us the emotional space to deal with well with negative feelings. If we had stayed in, I would likely have lost my patience and stopped being able to be supportive (my tolerance for whining voices is not very high). So out we headed for a long walk over the Marshes.

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Tom, unusually, was initially unsure about walking and insisted on carrying ‘sock’ – a knitted bedsock of mine that he has adopted as a substitute comforter (he’s not allowed his main blankie comforter out of the cot, for fear of losing it). However, the fresh air soon cheered him up and he had a great time pointing out every ‘goggy’ (doggy) we walked past.

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The route we took is one that we don’t often walk, but which I had chosen purposefully on this occasion because it takes us past the riding centre’s paddocks and you can see the horses from the path. Tom, like many toddlers, is a real animal lover and there is no better way to cheer him up than to show him a furry, fluffy or hairy friend.

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After a good stare at the horses, we headed for home, with Tom in a much better mood. I still wouldn’t say it was the easiest evening we had ever had, but he was a good deal more cheerful than he had been earlier in the day. Fresh air, a bit of exercise, and a few horses. A simple remedy for those bad mood days.

What about you? Any tips to share on how you shake your toddler’s bad moods?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Weekly Report: w/c 23/11/15

This week did not get off to the best of starts, with Tom waking up in a foul mood on Monday morning. We had errands to run first thing, though fortunately he was fairly happy to sit in the buggy whilst I picked up groceries. In the afternoon, we headed out onto the Marshes for some bad mood therapy – more to come tomorrow.

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Wednesday was our family day, as usual. Tom and I spent the morning in the garden, testing out his new snowsuit and bopping about to the tunes played by next doors’ radio.

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Mr Techno works for a restaurant group owned by well-known chef Mark Hix and had been rewarded for two years of service with a £150 voucher for any Hix restaurant. So at lunchtime we headed to Oyster and Chophouse in Farringdon for a free meal. Tom very much enjoyed his fish, chips and minted peas, whilst Mr Techno and I sampled oysters, cockles, ox heart, hake’s head and liver. We like unusual food in this family! We rounded up with a Yorkshire Parkin shared between the three of us before heading home for a well-deserved nap.

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On Thursday, I walked Tom in to nursery as usual, but then had to travel to Exeter that afternoon. I didn’t get back until late Friday and Mr Techno has admitted they caught the bus in on Friday morning, so I guess that was a bit of a fail on the outdoor front.

Saturday morning Tom and I spent at the open day for Free Range Urban Kids, a new outdoor nursery opening in Hackney in January. Read all about it here.

Tom had a bit of a cough and clearly need some extra sleep, because he didn’t wake up from his nap until 4. The light was already fading, so we stayed in and he played with cloud dough instead.

Sunday was incredibly windy. We spent the morning in the park in the rain, splashing about in puddles. In the afternoon, we went for a walk on the Marshes. Tom did get out of the buggy for a bit, but found the wind too strong, so asked to get back in and ride his way round.

It’s been a bit so-so this week, with work commitments keeping me from spending as much time outside as I normally like.