18 things in 18 months

Oops. Sorry about that. Things got busy, I got happier and the blog fell by the wayside somewhat. But I’m feeling the creative twitch and so…I’m back. Possibly. Let’s see how long I can keep up regular posts.

Lesson planning calls tonight so this can’t be a long one. So here’s a whistle-stop tour of what’s been happening in this house since my last post. 18 months in 18 things.


  1. My job got made permanent. I’m still loving it. Moving jobs was the best thing I could have done and I am still so glad every day I go in to work that I took that leap of faith.
  2. Bean 1 finished her Reception year, absolutely flourishing despite being one of the youngest and continues to enjoy school and show us the new things she’s been learning every day.


3. Bean 2 has turned from a toddler to a pre-schooler, soon to be a ‘schooler’. He cannot wait to start school in September and, second time around, I feel so much less anxious about it all.

4. The house that is standing is not the same one it was 18 months ago. Having decided in January 2017 we were definitely staying put, in February 2017 we decided we definitely wanted to move. We’ve been in the new house for 9 months now and it has been such a great decision. The extra space and a proper garden for the children make it all worth it. As long as we don’t think too much about the extra mortgage, that is.

5. In the spirit of ‘don’t think about the extra mortgage’, we’re currently spending most of our remaining savings on remodelling a large part of said house. And therefore living out of boxes, in an enormous mess and with a kitchen best described as ‘basic’.


6. MrHSS and I celebrated 9 years of marriage, and are looking forward to our 10th anniversary in October. Our original plans of a big holiday have been put on hold thanks to said new kitchen but then this is us all over…our honeymoon budget was spent on installing a downstairs loo instead all those years ago (and it was worth every penny!). Feel very proud that we’ve managed to make it through the ‘new baby fog’ and are still here, still together and still happy.

7. Talking of that ‘new baby fog’, we made a big decision. We are all done with babies in the HSS house. As the children get older we’ve come to the realisation that two is the perfect number for us. I’d be lying if I didn’t own up to the odd moment of brodiness but more and more I know this is definitely the right thing for us.

8. Not our own babies, but we did become godparents. People who know us – & especially MrHSS – well, generally look pretty incredulous at this. He was just glad not to burst in to flames at the altar. Sensibly our friends stuck with the simplest version of the service and we are so proud of our friends and the wonderful children they are raising.

9. Bean1 learnt to read in her head. This feels like a massive milestone to me. Books were SO important to me growing up. I love that she’s starting to discover them for herself.


10. Bean2 has discovered The Faraway Tree. With an absolute passion. Every conversation is about Rick, Beth and Franny (yes, even their names have been sanitised for the 21st century audience) and he has added the words enchanted, google buns and fiddlesticks to his constantly growing vocabulary. He has also stopped being scared of things and discovered tantrums and boundary pushing to a whole new level.


11. The Beans stopped sharing a room. When we moved, we gave them the choice of having their own rooms or staying in the same room. Bean1 was adamant – she wanted her own room. Bean2 was happy to keep sharing. After 2 weeks, Bean1 was desperate to start sharing again while Bean2 firmly refused. Whether they’re sharing or not, it’s pretty irrelevant since at some point most nights all 4 of us seem to end up in the same bed anyway.

12. I started doing more work stuff. Remember all those responsibilities I gave up? It’s been fantastic just being able to focus on my class but with Bean2 off to school, and being my own worst enemy, I couldn’t resist looking for the next challenge (why, why do I do this to myself?!). From September I’ll be a Maths Mastery Specialist Teacher. That’s pretty exciting.

13. I discovered the true joy of the Ikea creche. This may sound like a small thing. It is not. It is the freedom of a whole hour of child free time. Yes, you do have to spend it in Ikea but I can think of worse things than that.


14. We hosted Christmas. That was an undertaking. I loved it. MrHSS says “Remember how much this kitchen is costing? You don’t think we can afford to cook in it, do you? We’d better go to someone else’s this year.”

15. Bean2 saw his first real snow. Enjoyed it for a day then said ‘I’ve already played in snow.’ when we tried to encourage him out again the next day. Then saw it again a couple of weeks later. Still fun.


16. We’ve holidayed in the Peak District, France, Dorset, Bristol, Greece, Wales (multiple times), Devon and France again. I’ve rediscovered Youth Hostels from my childhood and discovered a love of camping (still trying to persuade MrHSS a full summer holiday under canvas is a great idea). We’ve stayed in bunk beds, tents, yurts, basic cottages, luxury houses and Premier Inns.

17. We got Netflix. This has been both a power for good and a horrifying insight in to what passes as children’s television nowadays. Currently reviewing our children’s Netflix viewing privileges.

18. MrHSS and I continue to realise that whilst we may now know it all about parenting babies and toddlers, all that knowledge and experience is basically worthless to us since the babies and toddlers became school children. Yes, the house is still standing. Just about. What happens next is anyone’s guess.




On terrible twos

Bean1 gave us some tricky times in her first couple of years. To start with, she didn’t sleep. For a year. My friends’ babies all seemed to have these luxurious 3 hour naps every afternoon while I was happy if I’d managed to put Bean1 down for 20 minutes that week.

Then there was the biting. That was a horrible phase which left me feeling like an utter failure as a parent, as we became pariahs at baby group after baby group.

However, that was pretty much outgrown by around 18 months and she is now (at almost 4 and a half) a mostly very delightful, polite, well-mannered girl (with just a hint of over-exuberance).

I don’t really remember the terrible twos that everyone talks about. Of course, this is quite possibly because for most of Bean1’s second year I was in a ‘how-the-fuck-do-I-cope-with-two-children’ daze. It is very, very possible that she was, in fact, completely horrendous and I’ve just blocked it from my memory in an act of self-protection.

Bean2, though. He has always been my sweet, easy-going little darling. He slept! He never complained about being left until last, or tagging along behind his big sister. He smiled, and cuddled, was happy with boob or bottle, Mummy or Daddy. He was easy.

Was easy.

Suddenly, he has made very good friends with the word No. Along with ‘don’t want to’, ‘won’t’, and generally unintelligible screaming, shouting and kicking.

And I am flummoxed.

I’m actually sure that we did have some of those ‘terrible twos’ with Bean1. But we also had strategies. Techniques which she had helped us hone in her first two years due to her *ahem* high energy.

Bean2 has honestly never required more than a look, a cuddle or a bit of encouragement. I don’t know what to do with this new child who complains every time I try to: put a jumper on him; leave the house with him; prepare him food; carry him; let him walk; put him to bed; get him up…


You  might have Santa fooled…

I told you things were changing.

What happened there? September to December

Sorry about that. Somehow we got back on the school term treadmill and now it’s December and Christmas is just a couple of weeks away. There’s that cheesy saying about having children, how the days are long but the years short but actually, now Bean1 is at school, the days feel pretty short too as we’re in the routine of rushed mornings, school, home, dinner, then suddenly it’s bedtime again.

This past week or so, though, I’ve really been noticing all the little things that have changed since September: those tiny, creeping little changes that you don’t notice happening until, all at once, everything’s different. So here are how things have been changing for us, month by month.


Bean 1 starts school.

Bean 2 is finally tall enough for lots of the rides at Paulton’s Park. We renew our annual membership and he is utterly thrilled to be able to join in with his big sister.



We move Bean2 from the nursery we’ve been using since Bean1 was 7 months old. He now goes to preschool and a childminder. Suddenly seems much more grown up in his preschool ‘unicorn’ (yes, we still haven’t painted the step).


MrHSS and I celebrate 8 years of marriage, and enjoy a drunken night away revelling in the fact things finally feel like they’re getting to a new ‘normal’ as the children grow instead of just the lurching from crisis to crisis we felt we were doing in the first couple of years of Bean2’s life.


Bean1 starts painting and drawing proper pictures, and doing complicated jigsaw puzzles and all sorts of new skills. She grows and grows and grows and is overjoyed to be able to reach light switches in our house (apparently this is important if you’re 4).



No-one cries at the fireworks party this year. These ladies are still my absolute rocks and the reason I’m still (mostly) sane. There is still plenty of alcohol.


Bean1 can suddenly read, and write. We are suitably impressed.

Bean2 talks and talks and talks. I show off unashamedly by writing 5 connected (lengthy) sentences in the ‘Does your child make sentences that are three or four words long? Give an example’ box on his 2 year check form, in a pathetic attempt to out passive-agressive the irritating health visitor who made me so miserable during his first year. Take that, judgey lady.

Mummy gets marginally better at children’s hairstyles, expanding her repertoire to include (wonky & untidy) dutch braids. Bean1 is a compliant and accepting model.



Bean2 keeps growing, and can now reach to press the button on the pedestrian crossing we use every school run.

Bean1 finally successfully counts all the concrete posts (39) making up a fence we pass on the school run. In September she got stuck somewhere around 20.

Bean1 prepares for her performance as a ‘star’ in tomorrow’s nativity, dealing with that disappointment so many of the non blue-eyed and blonde-haired amongst us will remember well “but I really wanted to be an angel Mummy”.

Bean2 is no longer afraid of people in costumes. Last year he ran literally quaking with fear. Last week he ran up for cuddles and didn’t want to leave.


So here we are. Not much happening, but everything changing. What next?


Letting go


4 years ago our newly-arrived 8 week old was really getting in to smiling. It was amazing to begin to see her budding personality.

Today she started school.

So tonight MrHSS and I are celebrating the fact that we’ve kept her alive to this point, and are proud beyond anything of the awesome little person she is.

She’s already been in nursery, and pre-school, so her going somewhere without us is not new. But this does feel different. Gone is the detailed feedback at the end of the day; instead this afternoon we had to make do with ‘I made a new friend’ and ‘You can just guess the rest Mummy!’.

She’s headed off into the world, ready to find out more about it and the kind of person she wants to be.

Luckily, she posed quite nicely for photos beforehand (just wish we’d gotten round to painting the front step like we planned this summer!).

Holiday time – surviving the journey

Last September, in an attempt to ease the pain of a frantically busy start to a new school year, MrHSS and I decided Summer 2016 would be the time we took the plunge and embarked on our first big family holiday.

There’s a lot of pressure when you’re choosing a holiday. You’re spending precious time and money on – what you hope will be – the highlight of your year. You do not want to be disappointed. So, feeling the pressure, we got as far as agreeing on France then deferred to the power of Google, searched for ‘best places to holiday in France with children’, found a Guardian article and booked the first place on the list.

All without looking at a map.

A couple of days before our trip, we looked at the map, planned the journey and realised we were insane. Who on earth thinks a 12 hour drive (without stops) is a good plan with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old on board?

But actually, it was ok. In fact, so ok we would happily do it again. And just in case you should ever find yourself facing a 12-hour drive with preschoolers on board, here are the things which we found made the journey bearable.

  1. Take some home comforts with you, but not EVERYTHING. 

full car

This photo was actually from a couple of weeks before our big holiday, taken as we headed off for a weekend camping with friends. They all sent similar photos with poor children barely visible and there were a few debates about which child we should leave behind to fit all the STUFF in. After this I was quite apprehensive about how full the car would be for 2 weeks away and this was probably quite helpful as I was more considered in what we actually took with us.

So the boot was full but not to the roof, there were things under the Beans’ feet but not in-between them and we all had enough room to stretch out and stay comfortable.

2. Food. Lots of food. 

Normally I do try really hard to give the Beans a healthy, balanced diet with limited sugar. Not on this journey. I packed a bag full of tasty treats and snacks – mini cookies, raisin packets, crisps, biscuits, breadsticks, brioche, variety packs of cereal, etc, etc, etc, – and reached for a snack whenever the Beans got restless. It was a very effective strategy. (I should also admit that I had a glove-box full of Haribo for the real emergency moments.)

3. Distractions. 

Similar to the food. I collected some bits and pieces together in the weeks leading up to the journey – magazines, colouring books, stickers, audio books – so that I could produce something new when tempers started to fray. Luckily both the Beans seem to be pretty good travellers so we haven’t yet had to worry about car sickness (though I did take some tablets with us just in case!). The biggest hit was some scratch books (where you scratch off a black top-layer to reveal colours underneath) which I picked up in Aldi while doing the weekly shop – they came with us in the car everywhere we went for the whole two weeks.

4. Embrace the stops – relax the time pressures. 


It was always going to be a long journey. 700 miles. With that in mind, we planned an overnight stop for the journey down and stayed at the theme park Futuroscope, meaning we could spend the next day at the theme park and then pop the kids into PJs at their bedtime and drive the final few hours while they slept. On the way home we didn’t plan such a big stop but made decisions as we went along about where looked a fun place to spend a little time (which is how we ended up in the centre of Paris hoping for a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower). This worked really well and made the journey part of the adventure.

5. Flexiplus on the Eurotunnel.

This was key to the point above. We really didn’t know how long the journey would take, and were worried about tying ourselves to a fixed train time that would then be hugely stressful to keep to. We booked a fixed slot for the train to France as the journey to Folkestone was fairly predictable (and thus saved some money this way) but splashed out on Flexiplus for the way home. A Flexiplus ticket promises that you can turn up at any time in the next 12 months and get on the next train.

We certainly hoped this would be the case, particularly as we followed the Eurotunnel’s travel updates and Twitter feed in the days leading up to our return journey and read about long delays and people turning up a few minutes late for check-in having to wait hours to get on a train.


A car ON a train. This boy was in heaven. 

Well, it did everything it promised. Feeling only slightly guilty, we sailed past the long queues to get to the special Flexiplus check-in, and then with a brief stop in the Flexiplus lounge (where you get a pretty decent sandwich meal included in the cost of the ticket), drove straight on to a train and were pulling away from the station less than 5 minutes later. If you’re planning on travelling at a busy time of year, I would definitely recommend it if you can stretch to it.

6. Car TVs.

Ok, I will own up. I have judged people for using these in the past. After all, my parents drove us all the way to Spain and back with only a Just William audio cassette for entertainment. We survived.

Ha. Now I actually am a parent, I can tell you that I would never do a long drive like this without them. I owe the friend who lent us them a HUGE favour. The Beans may have been slightly zombified but unlimited TV was enough of a novelty to make a 700 mile journey reasonably pleasant. Travel without them at your peril.


Sunglasses hiding any square eyes. 

So who else made an epic journey for their holiday this summer? What tips do you have to share? I’d love to hear them for next time!


Achieving my dreams through my 4 year old

I know, I know, this is usually considered a very bad thing. 

However, this time I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is because my dream is, and has always been…(drumroll please)…the Playmobil Grande Mansion.

Yes, you read that right. From the age of around 5, ever since I first saw my best friend’s immaculate (I’m not actually sure we ever played with it) version, I was desperate for my own. Alas, I had to make do with a 3-room bungalow which didn’t even have a door to one of the rooms (I inherited it from my mum and the story goes my grandfather only realised late on Christmas Eve that it was flat-packed).

But now, finally, I have a 4-year-old daughter and therefore the perfect excuse to finally get me a Playmobil house of my very own. Ahem, sorry, I mean, to get her a dollhouse. Honest.

Sadly, the Grande Mansion has been discontinued. I did consider purchasing one from eBay but the £200+ price tag was beyond reason. However, luckily there is a brand new version available. And so, with just a few quick clicks of a mouse, the Playmobil Deluxe (Romantic) Dollhouse was mine. Sorry, Bean1’s.

And it is amazing. 

I should say that it is pretty fiddly to build. Fortunately, I’d learnt from the IKEA kitchen fiasco of 2 years previously (that thing took longer than an actual fitted kitchen would have) and started a couple of days in advance of her actual birthday. The main frustrating thing is that everything comes in little bags, but none of the things in an individual bag actually go with each other, so you have to open everything to find the pieces you need.

However, after only a couple of hours work, the doll house was built. And now, thanks to generous friends and relatives, the rooms are filled with furniture. We haven’t stopped playing with it.


So, finally, finally, thanks to my 4-year-old, I can happily tell you I’ve fulfilled my life goals. All is well with the world. And, at long last, I have a house I can actually manage to keep clean and tidy. Good times.


6 reasons not to have children with a teacher…and 6 reasons why you should 

Firstly, let me make it really clear that I am talking about ‘with a teacher who is your life partner’ here. Not just any old random teacher. That would definitely be weird. Also, if you are still at school, having a child with your teacher is not going to end well, for any of you. Definitely don’t do that either.

But. Say you are in a loving, committed and consensual adult relationship. And your partner is a teacher. You’re happy together, you have lots in common, you’ve accepted that you’ll never go on a cheap term-time holiday again. In short, you’re starting to think about taking the next step and reproduce. Should you do it?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the pros and cons of having children with a teacher.

The Cons 

  1. The ‘your job probably is harder than mine’. There’s that thing where you’ve been at home with the kids all day and they have been hard work. You haven’t had a minute to sit down, or eat anything, or even go to the loo. And then your partner walks through the door and you can justifiably disappear somewhere leaving the children to him (or her) because he/she has at least had time for a hot drink and a wee during their working day. Except your partner is a teacher, so you know they haven’t. Instead of being run ragged by 2 toddlers, try the same but with 300 Year 11s. I mean, you still disappear the minute they walk in the door but you can’t help feeling guilty about it too.
  2. The workload. If your partner is a teacher, they will bring work home. They will stay up late working leaving you feeling you have no option but to take the early shift with the kids and require you to entertain the children at weekends while they ‘just get this done’. Bean1’s earliest sentence was ‘I busy working.’ Both Beans’ roleplay regularly consists of one of them disappearing into a corner looking grumpy and saying ‘I just need to get this finished.’ or ‘Shhhh! I’m working!’. And you won’t be able to complain (much) about it because it is all stuff that just has to be done.
  3. Timing is everything. Prepare to be ruled by the roller coaster that is the academic year. The bright eyed optimism of September (This year I will keep on top of my marking. This will be the year I really make a difference.). The long hard slog through the winter (is that a holiday I see approaching? Will I ever see daylight again?). The frenzy and despair of exam season (I taught them this. Five times. Why don’t any of them remember?!). The descent into madness that is the summer term (so tonight is the play, right? No, that’s tomorrow. It’s sports day today. And don’t forget next week is parents’ evening and there’s colleague A’s leaving do on Wednesday and colleague B’s on Friday. Plus the school fete, the leavers’ assembly and the disco. Ok, got it. When was the play again?). Then, finally, the joy of six weeks of holiday stretching ahead; just don’t forget to account for the depression of the last two weeks as your teacher partner realises the holidays are nearly over and they haven’t yet started on their to-do list.
  4. The holidays. Now, this is usually sold as one of the biggest plus points of a teaching career. 13 whole weeks of holiday every year. I’m actually pretty certain MrHSS only chose to retrain as a teacher because he got fed up of seeing me lounging around in the holidays while he still had to go to work in his IT job. When you have a child with a teacher though, what this actually means is you need to be prepared to have your lovely, organised routine thoroughly disrupted for 13 weeks a year with someone else loitering around the house. Plus they are on ‘holiday’, after all, so help may not always be as forthcoming as you might like. Oh, and there’ll still be some of that work to get done just when you think you might be able to enjoy some fun family days out.
  5. Other people’s children have to take priority. It’s sad, but true. If other people’s children are the reason you’re being paid a salary, there are plenty of times that other people’s children will have to take priority. Don’t expect your partner to make sports days or school assemblies for your own kids – they’ll be too tied up organising them for other people’s. Worrying about other children will keep your partner up at night just as much as your own kids do, and there will be times when you feel you spend longer discussing Kyle from 7G than you do your own children.
  6. Money. Or lack of. Plenty of other jobs pay worse. I’m not denying that. But teaching is hardly going to make you millionaires. Plus there’s the fact that most teachers can’t resisit supplementing meagre school budgets with resources bought from their own money – so don’t expect a whole load of disposable income.


The Pros

  1. The holidays. Yes, they make the pros list too. There’s no need to scrabble around trying to organise holiday childcare if your partner teaches – they can do it. And you will get more family time than someone with only 4 weeks holiday a year – that’s precious.
  2. Teacher on tap. Have no worries, your child will be school ready. The teacher in your partner won’t be able to resist a little 3 part lesson planning to fill any gaps they spot with a little AfL on your beloved offspring. Not only that, but you will have more experience than most to enable you to successfully navigate the minefield that is school life – not to mention some valuable perspective on a teacher’s role and what is really reasonable to expect of school.
  3. Resources. Need an obscure prop for the World Book Day costume you’ve lovingly been crafting for your child? There’s probably one kicking around at your partner’s school you can borrow. Not to mention classrooms make fantastic playgrounds for preschoolers if they do need to tag along on a little holiday working trip.
  4. Home for bedtime. Teachers definitely DON’T only work 9-3. However, the parts of their job which have to be done at their place of work are over by about 4 most evenings. Which means they can usually get away and join in the chaos of bath and bed before settling down to work again once the kids are in bed.
  5. Stickers and stationery. Teachers have all the cool types. These little beauties will keep your children entertained for hours.
  6. Because you love them. And really, this is the only reason you need. If your partner is a teacher, you already know the downsides. You know about the long working hours and the hectic times of year and the restrictions of school holidays. But you also know about your partner’s passion and drive and enthusiasm and kindness. And that’s why you love them, and why you want to have a baby with them. So do it. It will be totally worth it.

Happy / not happy

Bean2 is obsessed with how people are feeling. He wants everyone to be happy. He can’t yet understand that it is possible to feel more than one thing at a time (insert sexist joke here about how ‘men’ never do) and so a comment like ‘Oh, Mummy is tired,’ is met with ‘No, Mummy. Mummy not tired. Mummy is HAPPY.’

And mostly, Mummy is happy. Mostly, and most of the time. Really I am.

Here’s what’s making me happy (and sometimes not happy) at the moment.


  1. Nearly the summer holidays! Nearly time for proper family time: 6 whole weeks of it. Holiday and free time and no evening working or deadlines.
  2. The lovely Beans. Playing and laughing and doing funny, crazy things together. Loving each other more than anything else.
  3. Bean1 – very nearly 4, funny and smart and kind and caring. Noisy, bossy and so, so brave. Starting to read and write. So ready for school.
  4. Bean2 – a smiley, happy 2. Affectionate, loving and such a chatterbox. Potty training and actually doing ok at it. An amazing little person.
  5. House feels a bit organised, garden coming together, happy in our space.
  6. Work. I’m enjoying it. I’ve fallen back in love a little bit with teaching and know I get to carry on where I am for the whole of next year. Making the leap was the best thing I could have done and it’s all coming together.


  1. Nearly the summer holidays. Which, as every teacher will tell you, has meant a crazy few weeks since half term. MrHSS and I have barely seen each other since the end of May. If he hasn’t been working, he’s been gigging, and I’ve been solo parenting (for at least part of) every weekend since half term. It’s been full-on, and relentless, and I’m in desperate need of some time to call my own. I need a haircut, and my eyebrows threaded, and fitting in the time even to do jobs that are essential for our family organisation (stuff like buying birthday presents, posting letters) is nigh on impossible without two small people in tow who, lovely as they are, do not make chores easy.

My career has taken a hit, and in the meantime MrHSS is climbing ladders all over the place and looking forward to starting a new job in September. MrHSS is a great husband and father. He’s interested, and involved, and we are the most important thing to him. I’m extremely lucky to be able to work part time and spend time with the children – and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  But every so often being priority number 4 in a group of 4 (actually, make that 5 – even the cat comes before me – gets a little wearing. I know I don’t do myself any favours – I’m the one who puts the others above me – but I could do with a bit more recognition right now.

Let’s hope some holiday time will redress the balance. Less work, more play, and more time. Just a bit more time, please. Then, Bean2, Mummy will be really happy.

mum and bean2

Check out my eyebrows. Horrific!

How did this happen, Bean 1?

My timehop is entertaining reading at the moment.

4 years ago I was 39 weeks pregnant; MrHSS had been sent to the Isle of Wight to give evidence in a trial (in hindsight, my concerns that the weather would be so terrible the ferries would stop and he would be stranded there forever were probably slightly unnecessary in a hot July); I was having daily arguments with the shop we’d ordered our pram from as it still hadn’t arrived and they wanted to give me a black one not the red one I’d ordered; and, having organised his paternity leave in March, MrHSS’s work suddenly said he couldn’t start it on the date we’d planned.

Ticking away behind this was the undercurrent of extreme anxiety that had been running through my entire pregnancy. 2 years of trying to conceive, fertility treatment and a miscarriage left me unable to believe I would ever bring a live baby home. I wasn’t really stressed about the colour of my pram (well, ok, I was a little bit but…it wasn’t about the pram). Looking back, I can see that my mood during my pregnancy with Bean1 was not ‘normal’. In short, I was a nervous wreck.

Labour didn’t exactly go to plan either but then, finally, after everything, Bean1 was here. Our perfect – and perfectly healthy – baby girl.

welcome home c

Today she had her first solo session at school.


Next week she will be 4.

She’s still so little. But at the same time she’s also so grown up. She is setting out on her own into the world. She is going to school and now, for a large portion of the day, I won’t know what she’s been doing. I will have such little control over what happens to her.

This is mostly good. She is going to love it. She’s articulate, and confident, and downright feisty. She’s nearly fearless. She cuddles snakes and a couple of weeks ago zoomed round a Go Ape course leaving much older children in her wake. She keeps an eye on her little brother when we walk down the road and stops him from going to close to the road just as often as I do. She can cook scrambled eggs completely on her own (supervised, obviously!). She’s starting to read, and to write. She wants to learn and soaks up new knowledge like a sponge (especially if it’s about something gruesome).

But it’s hard. I’m finding it hard. She is still only 3. She has been alive almost a fifth less than some of her classmates have. I’m feeling guilty. Suddenly time is slipping through my fingers and I’m conscious of how often I’m saying to her ‘you need to do this yourself when you’re at school’. I look at her brother and think about how much more we expected of her (‘you’re a big sister now’) at the same – and a younger – age. Maybe this is the peril of the first born, always rushed to the next thing, the next stage. If only I could slow time down just a bit.

This is what they do, though, of course. Children grow. And watching it is pretty awesome, even if I do miss that tiny little newborn.




Bean2 is 2! A hastily organised construction party.

Alright, 2 and 10 days by now. Yes, I’m late as always. But our little, funny, kind, smiley April Fool is 2. How did that happen?


Now my brother, a second child with an (awesome) older sister himself, has a special affection for Bean2. Being, as he sees it, an overlooked second child himself, he has made it his duty to prevent the same happening to his nephew. Thus he ensures we record each memory and celebrate each occasion just as we did for Bean1. He probably has a point. So when we said we might not be having a party for Bean2 this year, Uncle Al soon changed our minds.

It has to be said, though, that I didn’t put my usual amount of prep in to this party. I love organising a good party and generally spend weeks considering themes, browsing Pinterest, sourcing resources and basically seeking perfection in every element of the party. Apart from making sure our guests were available, this was a birthday party put together in 48 hours.

Now part of me regrets this. There were a few touches I would have loved to do, if only I’d thought of them sooner than the night before the party (how cute would construction hats have been for all our little guests as they arrived?!). However, it’s also probably by far the cheapest party we’ve done, and it was just as fun.

So, Bean2 loves all things with wheels. Especially diggers. So, having deliberated over Stick Man and Peter Rabbit, we settled on construction as our theme. Settled on it, mainly, because we already had a load of digger and construction related toys so it seemed an easy fit along with a few decorations printed from Twinkl and a hastily organised ‘digger hunt’ where the children had to find small digger pictures hidden all around the house.


Living room – construction related toys. I probably still need to apologise to MrHSS for losing it slightly half an hour before the party and screeching at him that he needed to arrange the toys differently to create more of ‘an invitation to play’. All this KS1 has been going to my head. 


My (and the children’s) favourite bit…MrHSS’s worst nightmare. This was a very last minute addition but the biggest hit of the party. Tough tray with some play sand and Sainsbury’s value weetabix (which is rectangular), plus a load of diggers / construction vehicles. So much fun. 


Mmmmm food. My standard party fare – sandwiches, pizza, crudites, dips, crisps, fruit and an enormous birthday cake. And cocktail sausages. Lots of cocktail sausages. 

bean1 food

Bean1…chief party organiser. Actually, a lot of this party wouldn’t have happened without her. She shopped with me, wrapped the pass the parcel and made up the party bags. All while dressed like a princess. 

cake 2


The show piece of the whole affair. Amazing cake decorated by the even more amazing MrHSS, who discovered a hidden talent for cake decorating after an emergency Elsa situation for Bean1’s 3rd birthday last year.

And what did Bean2 make of the whole affair? He enjoyed himself, I think. At least, he definitely enjoyed eating as much icing as he could get his hands on. That’s my boy.

eating icing