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Another one of the fab charities we try and support is Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service which supports children with life-limiting conditions and their families. Lucy, our community children’s nurse, is an Alexander’s nurse and will provide respite care for Jessica should we need it, as well as visiting regularly to check her sats and weight. The information leaflet for parents and carers produced by Alexander Devine has one of my favourite photos of Jessica taken at the children’s Christmas party in 2012. It shows her with a duck hat on her head and a big smile on her face.
I love sitting down and doing things with Jessica – baking, drawing, painting, playing with toys, building Duplo towers… Today I thought I would introduce her to the delights of potato stamping (cutting out a shape in a potato half and then dipping it in paint to make pictures). She had a lovely time with the paint, making a colourful picture (admittedly mostly rubbing the potato across the paper rather than stamping shapes with it!) and I got to sit down and focus on spending quality time with her rather than getting distracted by the household chores needing to be done.
Sophie now likes to lie on her back and lift her head and feet up which makes her look like she is trying to do sit-ups. Those little tummy muscles are getting stronger. Jessica's technique for sitting up was to roll on her front, push herself up with her legs in a splits position and then bring her legs round which was quite unique. I suspect Sophie is more likely to pull herself up to a sitting position from being on her back judging by what she is currently doing. She is definitely starting to become more mobile now.
I got to meet and have a cuddle with my new great-niece Gracie-Mae today. She is absolutely beautiful, so much dark hair and looks so much like her big sister did as a baby. Sophie seemed so very big next to her little cousin. It is lovely to have another baby in the family – more cousins for my girls to play with as they get bigger. Having a big, close family is such a blessing. Recent events have made me even more aware of just what a gift children are and how important it is to enjoy those precious moments.
Having a heart child has taught me never to take time with my children for granted, to enjoy all those special little moments and to appreciate just how much of a blessing they are. The last few days have taught me that you really don’t know what lies around the corner and just how important it is to give your children kisses and cuddles and let them know how loved they are. I hope my little girls always know how much mummy and daddy love them and how very thankful we are for every moment that we have with them.
I love going to the airport and meeting my husband at arrivals, particularly now when I go with our girls and Jessica gets very excited about seeing Daddy again. Most of his trips away tend to be fairly short, a few days here and there, with the occasional trip that’s a week or more. It’s been six days this time, which is a longer trip than average and we have all missed having Daddy around (even if we did all have fun staying with Nanny earlier this week) so it is good to be all together as a family again.
More arts and crafts with Jessica today whilst Sophie had her afternoon nap. This time we had the Play-Doh out for the first time (saw it on offer in Tesco at the weekend - eight tubs for £3 is a bargain!) We haven't yet got any cutters or a little rolling pin but Jessica was quite happy squishing the Play-Doh and shaping it with her hands and using a bottle top to make circle shapes. She had a lovely time and as always I enjoyed time sitting with her and just focusing on having quality time with my daughter.
The stork brought along another new baby to my family today with the arrival of my gorgeous new great-nephew Freddie who easy born this morning and weighed in at 6lb 10oz. Huge congratulations to my nephew Matt and his girlfriend Jodie on becoming proud parents. So lovely to have another new baby in the family; the third so far this year (and the last of the anticipated arrivals for 2014). Freddie's arrival brings the total of great-nieces and great-nephews to 15. Love being part of a big family and looking forward to meeting baby Freddie very soon.
The combination of nice weather, just enough rain, a broken lawnmower and hubby being away recently has meant that our garden has turned into a bit of a meadow (making me wonder if I let Jessica loose in it, would I be able to find her in all the long grass?!) Thankfully hubby and his dad managed to mend the lawnmower yesterday and the meadow is finally getting the first shearing of spring. Our new garden waste bin also arrived a couple of weeks ago so getting rid of all those grass cuttings is going to be much easier too!
Today is one of Jessica’s heart days – it is two years today since she had her last open-heart surgery, the Glenn procedure. It is amazing to look at her today and see how far she has come – we have been so very blessed. Her recovery from her Glenn was quite rocky as she had parainfluenza and a wound infection after her surgery, but since then she has gone from strength to strength. She will still need another big operation, the Fontan procedure, at some stage but the cardiology team are hopeful that it will not need to happen this year.
Sophie and I had a lovely morning together attending a Baby Hartbeeps session at our local children’s centre. Sophie loved the music, lights and bubbles and the different puppets used and it was so lovely to have some one-to-one time with her. Jessica went to Hartbeeps several times as a baby and loved it but Sophie hasn’t had much opportunity to go to sessions aimed solely at babies as I tend to take her to the toddler sessions that Jessica attends. It was lovely to be able to focus on my little one whilst Jessica enjoyed a morning with Grandma.
Mornings are usually hectic – trying to get two children dressed, fed and out of the house to various activities. If I manage to grab a coffee and a slice of toast for myself, I’ve done well. So it was very nice when hubby took both girls downstairs on Saturday morning and got them dressed and sorted out whilst Mummy got to have a rare and much appreciated lie-in and then to top it all, when Sophie needed to come back to Mummy to be fed, hubby appeared first with coffee and toast for me and then brought Sophie upstairs. Bliss.
We have a monthly Sunday lunch at our church for those living alone, and in the past few years, I’ve taken my turn on the rota to provide the meal. Since Sophie’s arrival, I’ve not been able to do this and my mother-in-law has volunteered to help out instead. This week was her first time doing the lunch and so we were helping her out in the kitchen. Despite a mini disaster with one tray of food having to be discarded, it went fairly well and we managed to make what was left stretch far enough to feed everyone there.
Another lovely day and a chance to sit out in the garden enjoying the sunshine. I have managed to find the seat for Jessica’s baby swing and Sophie has enjoyed being able to sit in that and particularly loves it when Jessica pushes her in it. Jessica has been having a lovely time playing with all her outdoor toys, pushing her soft toys and the ball down the slide, riding round the garden on her scuttlebug trike and kicking the ball about. Plus the nice weather means being able to put the washing on the line which is always good!
As it’s the Easter holidays, Hub Café isn’t on at the moment and so I invited some of the other mums (and children) over to my house for tea and cake this morning instead. As we are enjoying some very nice weather at the moment, it was lovely to be able to get out and sit in the garden so the children could run around in the sunshine and enjoy playing with all the garden toys whilst us mums could sit and enjoy a nice cup of tea and a slice of homemade sponge cake with cream and jam (yummy!)
Have had a lovely afternoon catching up with my friend Denise at a local garden centre where Jessica enjoyed playing in the soft play area and Sophie enjoyed having lots of cuddles. Denise is one of these wonderfully multi-talented people who is really good at crafts – she made Jessica a dolphin jigsaw for her birthday last year and when we met up today, she presented me with two beautiful ceramic plaques with ‘Jessica’ and ‘Sophie’ on for the girls’ bedroom. It was such a lovely surprise – was so touched that she thought of doing something like that for my babies.
Jessica enjoyed decorating an egg for the first time at Stay and Play this morning plus we had an Easter egg hunt which she absolutely loved as it involved looking for numbered eggs and she loves being able to recognise numbers. She’s had quite a crafty day all round today – decorating eggs this morning and then going with Mummy and Sophie to craft group at church where she helped Mummy make a card for cousin Erin and did a lovely drawing of a bear (at least that’s what she kept telling us it was whilst she was drawing it!)
We walked through the town today with many other Christians from the local churches to share the story of the crucifixion, of how Jesus sacrificed himself and died on the cross so that we could be forgiven for our sins. Jessica walked a little bit of the way with us although it was a long walk for her little legs and so she was content to be in the buggy with Sophie for most of it. We prayed for the people of the town as we stopped along the way to share parts of the story and sang Easter hymns.
Have had a lovely day out and about in London with my girls. We took the coach in and met up with some other 40acts-ers in Trafalgar Square for a prayer walk followed by coffee in Leicester Square. We then wandered around M&M World before walking to Hamleys (quite a walk for Jessica’s little legs) to take the girls there for the first time – Jessica loved it. We then had lunch in Oxford Street before taking the coach home. Quite pleased with myself for managing to get there on public transport with the double buggy and both girls to manage!
Busy day – off to church for 8.30am communion service followed by an Easter breakfast in aid of Mercy Ships and then the 11am service where I was running the crèche and doing Easter crafts (making bunny and lamb masks). Have decided that our family tradition will be Easter eggs after church (mainly so we don’t go to church with the girls’ new Easter dresses being covered in chocolate!) – Jessica was very happy with her Mr Tumble egg and breakfast set and Sophie will have to wait until next year for her first taste of Easter egg as not weaning yet.
My breadmaker doesn’t get used very often but one of the things I do like to use it for is to make pizza dough. Homemade pizza gets a big thumbs up in our house – I make a mini one for Jessica (and sneak some veggies on it!) and then hubby and I share a big pizza but do a half and half with the toppings so we can each have what we like (he likes very meaty pizzas whereas I prefer lots of veggies on mine). The breadmaker is also very good for making naan bread dough for curries too.
We are doing another concert at church on 17th May which is a joint fundraiser for Friends of PICU and Christian Aid – a group of performers from our church is doing the first half of the concert and then my group Pyramix is doing the second half. The concert is titled ‘Strawberry Fair’ and will feature pre-1945 English folk songs and musical theatre songs. I’m involved in both halves although so far rehearsals have been focusing on the second half of the concert where I’ll be singing a couple of my favourite Ivor Novello songs – really enjoying it so far.
Took the girls to get their first passport photos done today as we are hoping to go to France later in the summer (subject to cardiologist approval and being able to get travel insurance). Sophie was surprisingly quick – it only took a few attempts before we got a decent picture whereas Jessica was a bit of a pickle, waving her arms about, looking everywhere but at the photographer, putting her hands in her mouth, having her mouth open – it took ages to finally get a decent shot. Just need to start filling the form in and get the application in.
Today wasn’t a happy day – it was a very sad one as we attended the funeral of our friend’s little girl and offered them our broken words of love and comfort in the midst of their grief. We were asked to wear bright colours and invited to a celebration of Amelia’s life afterwards where there was a bouncy castle and a sweet trolley – both of which Jessica loved as did all the children attending. It was a beautiful send-off for a beautiful little angel and we continue to keep our friends in our thoughts and prayers over the coming days.
Jessica had her cardiac check-up this afternoon and we were pleased to be told that her heart function is stable. She is gaining weight beautifully and getting taller and her oxygen saturation levels are remaining around 78-80 which is normal for her. With the appointments being spaced out, the changes in her development between them become so clear when watching her playing with the toys in the waiting room and interacting with the other children. It is so lovely to see how much she uses her imagination now and how far she has come over the last couple of years.
Grandma came over to babysit Jessica so that hubby and I could go out for a lovely meal with a group of friends (with Sophie in tow as she is still breastfeeding). We try and go out for a meal as a group every couple of months or so and it’s always great to be able to catch up with each other. This time the meal was at a very nice Belgian gastropub which serves fabulous moules marinéres (which I had as a starter). I also enjoyed some very rare steak and frites and Belgian waffles with strawberries for dessert.
It’s Sophie’s half-birthday today. I can’t believe she is six months old already – time really has flown by! Being six months old means that it is time to start weaning and so she had her first taste of solid food this afternoon – yummy parsnip purée. She seemed to enjoy her first taste of food (although she did pull some funny faces whilst I was feeding her) and enjoyed putting her hands in the bowl and smearing it everywhere. I’d forgotten just how messy this stage is but at least some of it got eaten and seemed to go down well.
NaNoWriMo is a challenge held in November to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Camp NaNoWriMo is a similar challenge held in April and June but the word count target is flexible and the written work doesn’t need to be fiction. I’ve taken part in, and completed, NaNoWriMo a couple of times but since becoming a mummy, 50,000 words has been a bit too much of a challenge. Camp NaNoWriMo gives me a more realistic challenge to aim for – this time 20,000 words covering different pieces of writing and this morning I managed to complete my word count.
When Jessica was first weaned, we did a combination of baby-led weaning and purées (my original plan was just to do baby-led weaning but the dietician advised against it due to the importance of getting calories into her). As this worked quite well with Jessica, we’ve decided to take the same approach with weaning Sophie. So far, we’ve just tried a breadstick but she seemed to enjoy tasting it before dropping it on the floor and we’re managing to get her to taste some of the puréed veg as well (although most of it just gets dribbled back out again).
Bedtime has been a bit of a mission over the last couple of days – I think it’s time to get a blackout blind as I suspect the lighter evenings are not helping. Trying to get both girls settled for the night has not been a very easy task and so when I finally managed to get back downstairs this evening, a glass of wine seemed very appealing! It’s very rare for me to have a drink but as Sophie hopefully won’t wake up for her next feed until the early hours, I thought I’d treat myself to a small glass.
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