I may have mentioned a while back that I downloaded an app for Ryan on my phone. The app itself is called 'Kid Mode' by a company called 'Zoodles.' It's the *free* version and serves as a "desktop" for kids about 8-years-old and under. There is a child lock feature where you need to draw the letter 'Z' or verify your age to exit, but otherwise, your children are free to peruse a set amount of apps at their leisure whilst being blocked from accessing your own desktop as well as the internet, even through those silly pop-up ads. What is even better is that you can set up profiles for each child you want, specifying which games and apps you want them to have access to.
Ryan has been enjoying lots of Nick Jr. videos and some musical clips with his favourite muppet, Elmo! He has even become so familiar with it, that he's no longer interested in the apps on my phone if he accidentally gets a hold of it, he simply clicks on the little blue icon and waits for his profile picture to appear. He knows that if he touches his picture, all of his games and activities pop up!
Another interesting aspect is the 'Parent Dashboard' where you can keep track of progress and change settings. If you want your child to focus more on maths or reading related games/options, you simply change it in the menu options. So far, Ryan is really enjoying the games/clips that cover 'Life Skills' and 'Creative Development' which means games and puzzles where he is exploring pictures, matching, or even tending to the needs of virtual Baby Dora the Explorer. Great little exercises he uses to help his logic & reasoning skills!!
In addition to games and videos, children can also read/listen to stories or even have them read out loud to them by family members. The initial story 'The Three Little Pigs' is the default story and it's free. Other stories are a few pounds each and you receive an e-mail if your child has tried to access them to request you read the story.
Stories aren't the only interactive feature! You can also enable/disable videos and invite family/friends to send & receive videos with your child. We're still trying to suss this bit as the videos come out quite pixelated, but we still think it's a brilliant option!
All I know is that Ryan absolutely loves it and it's great as a little treat for him or something nice he can share with his cousin during a visit.
A late-morning trip on the train led us to the city centre to meet up with fellow expat buddies, Stacy and Erin. Ryan is always up for a ride on the train, so he didn't need any convincing and I love having an occasional day off for a somewhat impromptu meet-up with my lovely American ladies. I'm thinking another proper meet-up is in the cards.
After we parted ways, Ryan and I stopped in The Entertainer toy shop before heading back to the station. There he spotted this Melissa & Doug activity where you have to match the coloured pegs with the colour in the picture. I wanted to get him one in the past so with this one marked down in price I just couldn't pass it up. I have a feeling this will be a new favourite to take to Nana & Grandad's!
The longer this little curl grows, the more grown up he is becoming! In fact, just yesterday on his own accord he called me 'Mommy' instead of the usual 'Mama.' I like the way both of them sound, especially the way he drags out the end on "Mommeeeeeeeee." But it also makes me realise how less and less of a baby/toddler he is. You're told these moments don't last forever and they grow up so quickly, but it's not until the change is upon you that you start to wish back or want to hang onto the bits of them from before the change.
Another big change is reading. He has always loved books and he loves to be read to. He sometimes will tell us he is going to read to us and he recites familiar bits to stories or simply tells us what is going on in the pictures. But today he picked up one of his mini-books and opened to the first page before saying, "One-pon-tieee..." (which is clearly his version of "Once Upon a Time").
To say I had a proud-Mommy moment would be an understatement. He has really come on leaps and bounds with his speech and even now, some words that he would previously leave the endings off of he will now at least make an attempt to say.
I never honestly imagined one tiny person could bring me the joy and happiness he does and it truly affirms that being a Mommy is by far the best "job" or role I have ever had. Ever.
Ryan has become a fan of Will.i.am and his Sesame Street hit "Stronger" and has watched it so many times on his Zoodle that he knows the words almost by heart! I don't mind, of course, because it has a very positive message.
From time to time we're a bit over-eager with dear kitty and we end up with a small scratch. Ryan has been "recovering" from a series of "dings" on his right hand. Each day he has approached me and requested a kiss to make it better. Today, he tells me he kissed it himself to make it better.
I hope this isn't the beginning of not needing Mommy anymore.
I was teaching locally today but Matt was also at work, so Ryan spent the day with Nana and Grandad. The Year 2 class I had was fab! There was no raising of my voice, I did my Whole Brain Teaching exercises and they responded fairly well to them. The children got on with their work and for the most part got on with one another. Several of the pupils even came to me at the end of the day and asked if I would please come back and teach them again. It was honestly a breath of fresh air and I loved it. I was even more pleased when the teacher told me I'd be covering her class again tomorrow.
Matt returned home with Ryan with the news that he hadn't had a nap all day and my little man came running up to me calling, "Mama, Mama, Mama!" with a grin spread across his face. As a treat, I got out his recorder and we put on some music and danced and played to the rhythms. He absolutely loves dancing and music! In fact, by the time bath & bedtime rolled around, I was getting demands to sing 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' over and over before he settled on my lap for his milk.
Tomorrow he's off to the childminder whom he hasn't seen in nearly 7 weeks so it will be interesting to see how he gets on. Roll on Wednesday!!
The longer stretches of daylight make it more and more difficult to convince young, Master Ryan that it is, in fact, time for bed. He complies by brushing his teeth and will eventually settle because he understands the routine itself...but getting him upstairs without a tiny bout of whimpering is impossible. Then, he stands, twirling the toothbrush and biting on the plastic while he stares from the window and tells Mommy all the things he can see because the sun is still out.
It only took one reminder from the 'stay in bed technique' tonight, but it's especially important that he gets plenty of rest since Mommy AND Daddy are both at work in the morning. Luckily I'm just a few streets away at a local school and the transition will hopefully be good for Ryan as well since he's excited to spend it with Nana & Grandad and his cousin, Amy...or Aye-eeee, as he calls her.
Still, only about 4-5 more potential weeks of this until I'm off for a minimum of six weeks until school returns for Autumn term. As much as I look forward to the break, I'm seriously going to miss the opportunity for income. I'll be so happy when this QTS thing gets sorted.
I caught Matt just gazing, in pure awe, at our beautiful son tonight. He's taken to sitting right with Daddy for longer periods of time and lately doesn't even announce what he is doing...just plops his bum right next to him.
I forget if this was Peppa or Humf that had them both mezmerised, but the looks alone were priceless!
Ryan has a teddy that was given to him by his Great Aunt Margaret & Uncle Eric from Bolton. This has been the teddy that he has consistently taken a liking to and Teddy goes everywhere and does everything with him. Whenever he has a new discovery, he can't wait to "show Teddy." When it is time for bed or time to go somewhere in the car...he must grab Teddy to tag along. If he forgets Teddy upstairs on a morning, he will actually call up to him, "Teddyyyyyy..." from the bottom stair gate!
It's sweet, really.
With Teddy being such a good mate to Ryan, this also means he is well-loved and already a bit worn in places. One place in particular is the stitching in his mouth. There is a piece of string/wool that has come loose from his mouth and while I very nearly trimmed it off, I have since decided to leave it. I do this because I noticed how Ryan, when he's distracted, nervous, or falling asleep...he plays with this string. It's almost like a security blanket. My older brother, Aaron, did something similar with those fleecy blankets that had the silky trim. He would rub the trim so much that the material would weaken and it would start to break down or get holes.
If this is just a nervous habit on Ryan's part, I don't want to take away from him something so tiny that offers him a bit of comfort when he needs it.
Ryan has been full of energy today, especially since I have been home, so I thought of a nice way to channel some of it. Today is Daz's birthday and I thought it would be nice if Ryan left him a little message on his facebook wall.
We experimented with some of the props and settings that came with the webcam software, but in the end we settled on something short and sweet...
And then later...I caught the little nut being super silly, so I may as well include this, too...
I texted Matt from school today to see how Ryan went down for his nap and check in with how his day was going, but I never got a response. I was only set to work half a day so I resigned myself to walking home from the station at that point. It wasn't until I was walking towards the train station in Birmingham that I finally had a phone call. Matt explained that for the first time since he was an infant, Ryan had fallen asleep on him and they even had a little kip together. Ryan had come to Matt around half-eleven and they snuggled up whilst watching something on the telly and before long they were both spark out...for about 2 hours!
I've mentioned yesterday how their bond has strengthened with this time Matt has had off work, but it's quite sweet to witness first-hand because it's true. Matt has always felt close to his son, but what parent wouldn't give anything to be able to be home with their little one instead of at work if they could.
Growing up, my older brother was never close to my Dad and while my little brother wasn't particularly close either, they at least shared some things in common. I love how I can see such a closeness with the pair of them now and it only reaffirms how I believe this will be a life-lasting parent-child friendship between them.
It's even to the point where Ryan is starting to look out for Daddy a bit more too -- giving him a back rub all on his own!!
I hope he won't be too hurt when Matt returns to work full time again next week.
Matt is due to return to work next week and he was sharing with me tonight that although he hasn't been able to move much off the sofa to play each and every time with Ryan (due to his bad back), he has felt a lot closer with him during these past 5 weeks that he's been off. For once since Ryan was just a newborn, Matt has been an intregal part of Ryan's daily life (purely because of the extra time off he has had) and Ryan has grown so much to depend on Matt that he will now openly get a bit sad when Daddy leaves the room or goes outside. He and Daddy have had a couple "special" trips to the shop on their own to pick up the odd jug of milk or loaf of bread, he's had a companion who historically loves cartoons just as much as him and now they share yet one more thing...
...and that is...
...their sense of humour and fondness of Pepperami adverts! Just look at em both giggling away!!
Ryan's also had the bonus of having lots of Daddy along with Mommy together to play catch (or Ryan-in-the-middle) with, and likewise we have had lots of Ryan-time. Anyone who has met our lad can tell you how they would feel lucky to have a little extra Ryan-time!!
A few days ago I came across a blog that mentioned that a company called John Crane Toys was giving away free Tidlo recorders while the supplies last. I did the few required steps and thought nothing more about it as I didn't even know if there were recorders left. (Message me here or via Facebook to find out how you can get one too...I believe this is open to UK residents only.)
Low and behold, Matt rang me at dinnertime to inform me that the recorder arrived in the post today! He waited until I was home to open it and we decided to give Ryan a go.
I was worried he would do what he did with his plastic flute (which didn't last a day) and "toot" with his voice rather than blow, but instead he actually managed to blow! He hasn't quite gotten that he doesn't have to snog it although he improved a bit when I told him to make "kissy face" instead. He even let me take some video footage...
After this, he then personally requested I "sing the Thomas song" so he could provide some melodic accompaniment and choreography.
A long or stressful day is always eased by the gentle touch of a tiny hand.
Upon returning home, he climbed into my lap as he watched Peppa Pig. I felt his soft curls tickle my cheek when he leaned back into my shoulder. From the corner of my eye I could see his lips curling into a smile in reaction to whatever it was Daddy Pig was doing. Then his hand slipped down and into mine before his fingers clenched my palm.
He doesn't know it yet and won't likely understand until he is a parent, himself, but his touches, squeezes and cuddles are like a natural drug to me. I can be in the worst mood or down about anything and it makes it all go away for that moment because all I want to do is forget everything else and enjoy the present. After all, it's a full working week for me, so I'll take every second I can get.
What has two thumbs and totally wants a play-house for the garden?
::points thumbs towards self::
Er-- for Ryan, I mean. But I did really want one of these as a kid, and I think Ryan would love one as well.
This little discovery was made this afternoon in Em & Daz's garden when Ryan made a bid for freedom through the kitchen and out the back door. We discovered Daddy & Uncle Daz playing darts in the back garden. Ryan immediately headed for Amy's play-house, passed down and previously loved by her own cousin.
When we all started to head inside because of the rain, Ryan was quite happy to carry on playing outside with the promise of shelter within said play-house to protect him.
Looks like I'll be on useddudley and eBay tonight!
I had an interesting conversation with the boy tonight. After he finished his tea he asked to be let out of his chair, "please." First, I'm over the moon that he used the word 'please' without me needing to prompt him, so I praised him for that and told him he was such a good "big boy" for using nice words.
This is where it began...
Ryan: No, Mama. I not a boy. YOU a boy! Me:::laughing:: Ryan, sweetie...you ARE a boy. Mommy is a girl.
Ryan:::adamant:: Mama, NO! I a girl! YOU a boy!
Ryan:::corrects himself:: No...you not a boy...you a MAMA!!!
Ryan had a fantastic idea this morning from right inside his Peppa Pig magazine...rainbow cupcakes!! "I wanna make these, mama," he said to me.
So after his nap, Daddy took us to the store to get a few missing ingredients.
The recipe calls for:
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
80g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100ml vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 different food colourings
cake sprinkles and frosting
We didn't have buttermilk and Asda didn't seem to carry any, so we made our own by using a tablespoon of lemon juice in a measuring jug and filling the rest up to the '1 cup' line with milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
I did the main ingredients and then brought the bowls into the front room for Ryan to help with the food colouring and spooning it into the cupcake moulds.
Daddy helped Ryan get the colouring really mixed in.
And Ryan tried really hard to mix as quickly as Daddy, sticking his tongue out to gain speed.
Then it was time to put the different colours in!!
I first put blue in all the cake holders to start. The recipe suggests 1/2 a teaspoon of colour into each cupcake case and I think in future I won't use as much as I did because I really didn't follow this too close.
I also think I may have put in just a bit too much food colouring in the batter itself because I wanted the colours to come out bright like they looked in the magazine.
This was the finished look before the cakes went into the oven (350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4, about 15 minutes, not long enough for them to brown). Our fan-assisted oven stopped around 12-13 minutes and the cupcakes were ready, so it depends on your oven, I suppose.
Here are the cupcakes...fresh out of the oven and with the icing and sprinkles on top (I finally got to use my piping tool). They turned out a bit lopsided and the red was actually brown, but otherwise not bad for our first try. I think next time I may only do four colours and leave the red out altogether.
Ryan was using his best manners after his tea to ask/sign 'please' for a rainbow cupcake of his own.
Then, once placed on his tray, it was GAME OVER for the poor, helpless cupcake.
She looked good from afar, but as soon as Ryan got close to Peppa he just wasn't having it. She was far too big for his liking -- even taller than Daddy, so understandible that he would be a bit hesitant to warm to her. But it looks like today the pig stands alone because I didn't get even just one photo of Ryan with Peppa.
Perhaps another day?
After the very brief visit with Peppa we stopped at Scallywags in Merry Hill to allow the kids a chance to run around so we adults, more specifically Matt, could sit and relax. Amy was all smiles on the little train ride (that Ryan jumped off of as soon as I put money into it).
Matt and I were told off by staff because we were eating our Greggs sandwiches (and no outside food is allowed...even though they have a very limited/overpriced menu). They weren't even polite about it, they just snapped that we needed to stop eating and put it away.
Later, Daz was up in the structure because Amy had gotten a bit upset about how to get around, and the staff member scolded him because adults are apparently not allowed to join in despite there not being any signs. He explained his child was upset and she backed off a bit, but still, nothing in the facility clearly indicates this.
When we left I decided to approach the staff member at the front desk and point out that the lack of sign is misleading to parents. She argued that it's in the terms and conditions. I then pointed out the terms and conditions aren't posted anywhere inside the facility and that perhaps a sign at the entrance to the structure might make the rule a bit more clear. She then retorts that "people don't read the signs anyway because they still eat outside food." She also said it is something that is mentioned when people enter. Funny...we weren't told this as we went in, nor was I told when I went a month or so ago with Erin and her son. I told her this as well and she really didn't have a response.
I don't think, especially after her snotty little attitude, that I will be returning to this facility anytime in the near future. A little respect towards customers goes a long way...little unprofessional, condescending cow. I'm still tempted to write a letter to their corporate office and suggest they train their little teens in customer service.
In the end, I suppose we got a photo of Ryan with Peppa...even if it was the one on the sign.
How is it possible that I have gone an entire day without taking even just one photo?! I realised this when I was on my way up to bed, and since I always check in on Ryan I snapped a quick one of my little love.
I had a day out on my own -- very odd. I've been in desperate need of some new jeans and I have tried both the New Look at Merry Hill and Matalan without success. I have known there was a bigger New Look in Walsall so I had planned a trip out with Ryan this morning, until Matt suggested I take the train on my own just before Ryan went down for his nap and he would pick me up as soon as Ryan was awake.
So, off I went.
I was not only able to get the jeans I needed, but popped in to Peacocks and found a few items to try on at home to see how they looked (in a normal mirror). One of the things I bought was a black a-line skirt with some white detailing at the bottom. I don't know how I feel about it so I'll get a second opinion in Matt.
In addition to the clothes, I stopped in Smyth's toy shop and found a few small things for Ryan...some new markers, a sticker book, and a find-the-picture book with Elmo. Here he is with Daddy finding the pictures in the bedtime scene.
Ryan woke up this morning eager to have a go wearing pants again. It has been mentioned before that his "reward" for doing a poo in the potty is that he gets to wear his pants with Thomas, Percy and James...so I'm more than happy to accomodate when he shows an interest.
He started off doing two wees all on his own and then shortly after the second wee I could hear lots of "popping" coming from his bum. I asked if he needed to poo and he said "no" but then when he appeared frozen I knew he had already started. I quickly grabbed the potty and put it under him so he could finish and while he didn't do it all on his own, he could see it in the potty and see that Mommy was very happy...so then he was very happy and clapped and cheered for himself!
I decided he'd get a nappy again before his nap, but I feel it was a pretty good start and perhaps a step closer to being nappy-free!!
After two and a half years in a long-distance relationship, I packed my life of 29 years into 21 boxes and moved to England to marry and be with my husband, Matt. Now I'm reveling in the youth of my 30s in Great Britain, supply-teaching in primary schools near Birmingham and enjoying newlywed life, being a mommy, and all the surprises they bring!