I’m starting this post with one of the ultimate parent cliche statements, but HOW has it been three years since I first held my baby in my arms?
Judging by the fact I almost wrote ‘Evie Turns Two’ as the title for this post, it’s clear I’m in denial. And I think this last year has been the fastest one yet. The older your child gets, the harder it seems to notice the changes. They change and grow before your very eyes daily, and yet each day the child that wakes us up that morning, with each of their new skills and attributes becomes the child we know and love and accept. We can remember the child they were only yesterday, but yet today’s present version is here and just a tiny bit more wonderful and we can’t help but embrace and love them even more, the more they change. Some days I long for a little sleepy cuddle with those soft baby cheeks, or to hear her babbling away to herself in a chorus of ‘dadadadadadadadad diddle diddle dadadada’ (she still sings to herself constantly only now it’s to the tune of Frozen or Katy Perry), but (another cliche incoming) it’s true what they say, it really does just keep getting better. I heard someone say recently that they can’t wish to go back to the baby days because they’d miss the current version of their toddler too much, and that’s exactly how I feel. It would be nice to just be in that moment one more time and remind myself of how her voice sounded or her skin felt, but I couldn’t go back because I’d miss the girl of today too much. I love our chats and the way she can walk alongside me when we are out and it’s so wonderful to have proper conversations with her and watch her understanding develop. She’s become my best friend and she really is the BEST!
If you’ve followed for a while, then you’ll know that Evie’s birthday can often warrant the teeniest bit of melodramatics from me. And as a result for the last couple of years, we’ve never quite celebrated in the way we planned to (read about her 1st birthday, and her 2nd birthday). This year I really was determined to give her a proper celebration. Not just because I wanted to make it special, but also because I knew she would get so much from it. You see, my girl just LOVES a party. Not a day goes by where we don’t celebrate someone or something, from a pretend birthday for one of her toys to a balloon party or even a ‘let’s surprise daddy when he comes home from work’ party. She lives for the organisation of it all. Her favourite phrase being ‘I’ll get all the things ready Mummy’ as she busily collects random objects from the fridge and gathers plates and cups to accompany her tea-set, balloons and blankets. She is absolutely my daughter!
But as is becoming apparent, things are never simple when it comes to Evie’s birth date. February tends to be a very busy time for my Husband at work and many weekends involve travelling for him, so it took forever for the holiday request for him to have Evie’s birthday weekend off, to come through. Only for it to be approved, us start to tell people and organise for that weekend, and then be told that actually he would need to travel that weekend after all. Bummer. It was a bit of a blow as it meant that he wouldn’t be at home for her actual birthday (the Thursday) or the weekend we’d planned the party for. I also work on Thursdays and Evie goes to nursery that day, and with my husband unable to pick her up like usual I was having visions of her being stuck at nursery until past 6pm on her special day and feeling like the worst parent in the world. Then to add to things, my Dad who had been waiting on a date for a planned operation found out that was also due to go ahead in February meaning they wouldn’t be able to travel. For a minute or two it was looking like her birthday might be going from being the first year we actually celebrated properly to being the year it wasn’t even acknowledged. Cue some serious Mum Guilt. But with a bit of juggling, and understanding employers on my side, we managed to figure out a weekend we could celebrate. And with only 5 days to spare, we realised our only free weekend was the one right in front of us.
Still, I wasn’t going to be put off so we decided we’d just pretend her birthday was a week early and celebrate accordingly and then the week that Daddy was away would be just another week. We decided to have her birthday on the Saturday and celebrate just the three of us, then attempt a little party on the Sunday. I flew into action and tried my best to organise something she would love in the space of a week!
We started counting down to her birthday a few days before to help build the excitement and read the book ‘how many sleeps until my birthday’ each night before bed. That Friday evening she was bouncing off the walls with excitement and so were we! There’s actually nothing better than joining in with your child’s joy is there? We set up the living room with her presents that evening, blew her up a few balloons (as she just loves them so much) and I made her a little cupcake for her happy birthday song as we were keeping the main cake for the party on Sunday. Presents are always a bit tricky for her birthday as it comes so close after Christmas where she’s usually got a lot from family. Also the time of year means that things like outdoor toys (or a Wendy House for example which we were originally thinking of) probably wouldn’t get much use until summer. We didn’t want to go overboard but wanted to get her something with longevity that we knew she’d get lots of use out of, so we opted for an easel as drawing and painting is one of her favourite activities (and she also loves playing at schools so we figured this would double up for that). We bought her a little wooden birthday cake (which I thought would be a great addition to those pretend parties) and also some wooden chopping vegetables which I just thought were really clever.
She woke up super excited of course, and as per usual came into our bed for a snuggle before shyly asking ‘is it my birthday today?’. None of us could contain our excitement too long so we were up and down the stairs pretty early. The big three balloon was a big hit (just as it was last year – I vow to always give her one of those until she is in double figures at least) and the morning was spent excitedly opening cards and presents and playing with all her new things alongside a birthday breakfast of chocolate crumpets. We’d given her the choice the day before of what she’d like to do for her ‘birthday adventure’ and let her choose between an animal park, aquarium or ‘jumping’ at the trampoline park and she chose jumping. When it actually came to it on the day, she was so immersed in her little birthday bubble that she didn’t want to go anywhere, but we managed to lure her out with the promise of an apple juice in the cafe. I’m so glad we made it though as even though she was apprehensive beforehand and a little unsure when we first got there, she LOVED the whole thing and was bouncing away non stop and throwing herself down huge inflatable slides not one bit bothered by all the bigger kids flying past her. Evie is a true mix of me and my husband in that way – she has my apprehension and caution and gets very worried about doing things (sometimes to the point that she’d rather just not and we have to force her a little) but then once she gets past those nerves she’s the biggest daredevil around and throws herself into things with abandon, always willing to try (just like my Husband).
After an exhausting afternoon all round it was home for dinner (Evie’s favourite – a pizza party) and to sing happy birthday and let her blow out a number three candle on her little cake. She was oh so chuffed with being three, and asked us non stop all day whether she was still number three and whether she was a big girl now. Although the first thing she asked on the Sunday morning was ‘am I four now?’ and ‘is there a 4 balloon today?’ so I’m not sure she quite grasped the ageing process just yet!
On Sunday we all dressed up for a little party for our best girl. The short notice organisation meant it was quite a small celebration but actually it was probably the perfect number of people for our little Evie, who can be terribly shy. Her favourite thing at the moment is Peter Rabbit – she loves the TV show and the books, and got the little figures for Christmas. Evie adores anything where the lead characters are heroes or have to ‘save the day’ from ‘the cheeky ones’ as she calls them, so the stories of adventure and good winning out really appeal to her. She is Peter of course (as blue is her favourite colour), and luckily there’s three main characters so in her world Mummy gets to be Lily and Daddy can be Benjamin (when he’s not playing the role of one of the ‘Cheeky ones’ of course). It couldn’t be anything else for the party theme really, and I felt like it was a nice literary theme too which I could add touches of without going crazy. I set up the kitchen table like Mr McGregor’s garden and made snacks and party food which fit. Evie helped me bake bunny biscuits and carrot cupcakes and I tried my hand at a birthday cake in the theme of Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch. I won’t go into detail in this post as to where I got everything as it might get a tad boring if you’re not interested in that kind of thing but I’ll aim to write a seperate post with all the info on the party prep.
Our little party girl loved it all. We made a party playlist with all her favourite tunes and before anyone else had arrived we were all dancing around the living room in our party clothes to Katy Perry’s Firework and Aqua’s Barbie Girl (two of her current favourites), Evie clutching her three balloon and squealing with joy. She got treated to more presents from family, danced and played games with her wee friends, got to blow out her candles and eat a lunch consisting of all her favourite party food (cheese sandwiches, pom bears, strawberries and biscuits – toddler dream!). It was a really lovely day and we’re so grateful to those of our family and friends that were able to make it. I was sad that my parents couldn’t be there, but Evie and I ended up flying up to them the following weekend while my Husband was away so they got to celebrate the birthday girl another time. It sure is exhausting though, this kids party lark. I felt like I could sleep for a week when the weekend was over. Once everyone had left on Sunday, we all got into our PJ’s and watched a movie – the perfect end to a lovely weekend.
Evie at Three
I find it incredibly difficult to summarise Evie at three years old as her personality seems to become more astounding and complex every day, but I’ll give it a good try.
At three, Evie really is equal parts wild and sensitive. At home she is confident, loud, and mad. She LOVES ‘wild times’ or ‘silly business’ when she runs riot around the house, she is a non stop talker and loves to boss us all around and direct us in her own games and productions. But out of the house or in the company of big groups/ strangers she can be reserved and wary and often prefers to take a backseat and watch on. She takes a long time to warm to new people and doesn’t show her true colours until she really gets to know them (me all over) but she’s fiercely loyal and oh so loving once you gain her trust. She’s a true mini comedian and I could fill a whole post with the hilarious stories, one liners and silly games she delights us with each day. My Mum used to say she had funny bones even when she was a tiny thing, as she used to hide her toys in plain view and then spend AGES ‘looking for them’ and chuckling away to herself when us adults couldn’t find them, even though she knew full well where they were. She has the cheekiest cackle of a laugh and the biggest, most beautiful grin and loves nothing more than making us all fall about in giggles (right now toilet humour features high lol). There’s definitely a show business gene in her (which I’m not sure comes from our side of the family) and she’s a born leader (if only she could find her confidence outside of the home and around others) so she loves to ‘put on a show’ as she describes it, which usually results in her being the ‘teacher’ and us all copying her lead in some elaborate dance/game/assault course. She loves to sing and dance and always has since she was tiny. I used to dance around the living room with her in my arms and she’d have the biggest grin on her face, and we still do it now only we hold hands and jump around instead. As a baby she was always ‘singing’ as we called it (babbling away in song form while in her pram/buggy/playing with her toys), and even before she could talk she could hum the exact tune to ‘if you’re happy and you know it’. Now she sings all day long, so much so that often we feel like we are living in a musical. Lately she’s taken to singing every question or conversation with us and demanding we sing our answers back so almost everything that comes out of her mouth at the moment is in song form! Her favourite songs at the moment are Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Barbie Girl, although she still loves the Moana soundtrack for some dramatic acting moments.
Her imagination continues to astound me. She’s been doing imaginative play since just after she turned one and it’s always been a huge part of her personality. She thrives off of it and is happiest when lost in her own world of make believe. As a parent you don’t know any different than your own child, and as she’s our first I always just assumed that all kids were like that but I’ve since realised that she really does dance to the beat of her own drum and I LOVE her for it. I often see other parents describing ‘setting up’ games or activities to encourage imaginative play and I don’t mean this as any form of a criticism but it’s always slightly baffled me, as I’ve NEVER had to do that with Evie. She comes up with the games, she comes up with the story and we are simply pawns for her to direct. I am entirely led by her and simply go along with whatever character/storyline she wants to play each day. In fact I’d say that the majority of our days with Evie involve her ‘directing’ us in her own theatre of life – say this, do that, no not like that Mummy, like this, I SAID LIKE THIS!!!, just put that here, no that’s the door to the castle you can’t walk over it, and so on. She’s such a busy little thing, always buzzing with ideas and engrossed in something. Her Uncle is a theatre director so maybe she’s set to follow in his footsteps. Or, you know, rule the world or something ha!
She remains an incredibly particular little thing, and hugely stubborn too. Two traits that she undeniably gets from me so I try to accept and work with her on. Things always have to be done a certain way and change isn’t her favourite (although she loves new experiences and takes adventures in her stride) which is why I think she’s such a homebird at heart as she can control her surroundings in just the way she wants at home. She immediately tells us when things ‘are not right!!’ and if we do something a certain way one day then it has to be repeated in exactly the same way the next. I fear she has a future of perfectionism ahead of her just like me. She’s generally a wonderfully happy little girl and I must admit although she is incredibly headstrong and can be known to stamp the odd foot, we’ve been lucky not to have dealt with too much of those famous toddler meltdowns. Any tantrums or upsets she does have largely come out of frustration. She wants to be able to do everything straight away and gets frustrated with herself when she can’t quite do something as she deems to be right. Those who are close to her quickly come to understand her quirks and particular ways and love her for them (yet again that imagination coming through) but I guess it’s why it took her much longer to settle at nursery. At home for example she can always have the blue plate and cup because blue is her favourite, but sometimes someone else might get the blue plate at nursery and that’s hard for a wee three year old to understand.
On the subject of nursery though, she is finally starting to settle properly after a year and we’ve noticed real progress lately with less tears at drop off and her talking more about the people she spends time with and things she enjoys. She’s now in the pre-school room (I know!!) which I think has made a big difference as there’s more to grab her attention there and she’s finally being stimulated. She’s such a bright little thing, sometimes scarily so. She hears everything, understands everything, nothing goes by her and she never misses a trick. We can’t say anything around her, have to be super creative with hiding places for any presents and have our own sayings and words repeated back to us with sass daily. She picks things up so quickly that we often can’t keep up, she already seems to know almost all of her letters and can tell us which words begin with what sound and she’s a sponge for anything creative. Books and films captivate her and after one read/watch she’ll be reciting and acting out whole stories and telling us a full synopsis better than we’ve understood it ourselves. I have no doubt that she will be outsmarting us very soon (if not already) so we better have our wits about us. She LOVES learning new things, never gives up when she’s set her heart on doing something ‘all by herself’ and is always so chuffed with herself when she cracks it.
She’s adventurous and has a real daredevil streak (absolutely gets that from her Dad) which at times I’m not sure I fully nurture as I’m inherently cautious but she loves running and jumping and is really good at football and sporty tasks. In fact she’s a good mix of both myself and my Husband in that respect as she loves both being creative (drawing, painting and playdoh are some of her favourite activities and she’s a great sous chef when I bake) and being outdoors running around and kicking a ball around. PJ Masks is still a favourite (that idea of superheroes appeals to her imagination and features heavily in a lot of her games with someone always being the ‘cheeky one’ and chasing her around), and of course Peter Rabbit though (hence the party theme). Right now she is obsessed with her ‘baby’ who was actually my dolly as a child (I called her Lily) and has been given a new lease of life. Baby comes everywhere with us and does everything that Evie does but also gets cleverly used a scapegoat when Evie doesn’t want to do something. ‘Baby says she doesn’t want to put her pyjamas on Mummy’ or ‘Baby needs a biscuit too Mummy’ (a personal favourite). Of course we are taking full advantage of this and Baby is now getting used as a parenting tool too – ‘Baby wants to try sitting on the potty today’ or ‘Baby always eats all her dinner’. Somehow along the way I have roped myself into always talking for Baby, so Evie creates a whole scenario and spends all day giving me Baby’s lines for me to repeat. ‘Make Baby cry Mummy’ or ‘Baby say ‘Thank you Evie’. The things we do hey?
We’ve reached a true stage of independence (although she’s always been an independent wee thing) where she constantly tells us ‘no, I can do it’ or ‘I want to do it all by myself’. So much so that we’ve actually got a book entitled ‘I can do it’ and she now knows the rhyme at the end off by heart; ‘I can do it look at me, I’m as clever as can be. But when things are hard to do, you are there to help me too. Now I clap my hands and say, I can do it, hip hip hooray!’. So I’m sure before long we will be completely defunct as parents and she’ll be running the show herself! We are getting there with potty training and she enjoys trying to dress herself but of course there’s still a lot of things that I’m happy to do for her and when out of the house she does still seem to need my reassurance and lead. Personally I hope she always wants to hold my hand when we go out.
She’s growing up too fast but we are loving the girl she’s becoming. Sweet, sensitive and kind natured. Strong willed and knows her own mind. So clever, creative and imaginative. And constantly FULL of energy and ideas! Having never really been a cuddly baby (for anyone other than me) she now gives the biggest and tightest – wraps her arms right around us – hugs which are true tonic for the soul, and she’s so affectionate with her love. She tells me she loves me daily and whenever I get dressed in the morning, regardless of what I put on, although a dress or skirt does seem to excite her more, she always says without fail ‘ you look lovely Mummy’. What a gem, my own wee cheerleader!
My husband would tell you she’s a Mummy’s girl, and certainly she does like to be close to me, but there’s a unique bond that only her and Daddy share that I’m definitely not privy to. Her wild side truly comes out when with her Daddy and she’s much more adventurous and silly with him too. When I come home from work on Saturdays I almost always find them engrossed in some silly game, Evie clambering on top of daddy and them both cackling away in joint enthusiasm.
Happy three years Evie, you’ve brought so much joy to the lives of everyone who knows you and we love you more than words can say!