A letter to Matilda Mae

PrintIf you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll remember I’ve mentioned the tragic story of baby Matilda Mae who went to sleep one night and never woke up.  I discovered her story as I found the huge community of bloggers and have been drawn to it ever since – because Jennie, Matilda Mae’s mummy, writes so very beautifully and honestly, because I’m constantly reminded of my daughter and because, despite the continual heartbreak, Jennie still manages to inspire and share ideas that have brough fun to my family.

This weekend marks one whole year since Matilda Mae died – and bloggers everywhere are writing to her to show that she is not forgotten.

Dear Matilda Mae,

As I quietly gave my daughter her bedtime milk in the dark of her bedroom this evening, I thought of you – as I often do at that time of day.  I enjoy the peace and closeness with my youngest and relish her sleepy cuddles.  And I watch her settling in her cot, cuddling her bunnies and rubbing her eyes.  And I think of your mummy and her last night with you.

I cannot imagine the horror your mummy went through – and continues to experience, although I feel some tiny part of the fear in my stomach as I leave my daughter alone as she sleeps.  I wish your mummy had you safely asleep in your cot upstairs right now and that I wasn’t writing to you in the sky.

I never had a chance to meet you, nor have I met your mummy in person.  I heard your name for the first time on the day of your funeral, when twitter was filled with mummies everywhere showing their support for yours.  I won’t forget reading your story that first time while my own daughter, just a few months younger than you, was napping.  I remember grabbing the baby monitor and listening for my girl, paralysed with fear, imagining the worst.

Since then, I have visited your mummy’s blog often – always struck by her strength, honesty and infinite love for you and your family.  Because of you, I truly appreciate what I know I am so lucky to have.  I cuddle my children even closer, focus on the things that really matter and try to make the most of every day I have with my little ones.

In your name, I have blown birthday bubble kisses, stopped to admire bright stars at night and worn pink and purple.

bubblesI have bid in auctions and walked in wellies – and contributed in a tiny way to the incredible effort your family is making to raise funds for the Lullaby Trust in your name.  You should be so proud of your mummy.

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I have learned about messy play, tuff spots and so many brilliant play ideas and products from your inspirational mummy – and enjoyed tales of your funny twin siblings.

And I have been struck repeatedly by the unfairness of life.  I wish I wasn’t writing to you now – because that would mean you were growing and thriving in the love of your family.  But now that I know your name and your story – know that it will not be forgotten or in vain.  That in this little part of London, you are thought of every day and the impact of your life is felt.

x

 

I am linking to more letters to Matilda Mae

Catching up

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet on the blog front.  We’ve been super busy with work and looking after the little ones that I’ve not really stopped to jot down what we’ve been up to and take pictures.

But it has been a good couple of weeks. Both Alex and Sophie are on really good form – happy and calm (most of the time). Best of all, they’re sleeping beautifully and giving Matt and I little lie ins at the weekend.  Of course, by lie in I mean 7.30/8am – but that’s a pretty big deal for parents of young children!  And I’m sure I’ve just jinxed it by writing that!!  It feels very wrong having to wake them both up on week days in order to get to Jacqui’s on time!

So, after enjoying a lovely snooze on Saturday morning, we packed a picnic and headed east, out to London Docklands.  Alex loved the journey there, getting extremely excited at the DLR trains and a bit concerned at their lack of drivers on board!  We headed straight to the Museum of the London Docklands for a bit of an explore and play in their brilliant Mudlarks softplay room.

Sophie had a great time toddling around the exhibition rooms and Alex could barely be dragged away from the sensory spice exhibit – going up and down the various spice samples and giving them a good sniff!

In the softplay, they both had fun splashing in the water play area and Alex attempted to load up some wooden ships with their cargo using magnetic cranes!

Docklands

It’s a lovely little place.  After a picnic lunch, we searched out the Thames Clipper pier and got the fast boat back to London Bridge.  Sophie sadly snoozed through the entire journey, but the rest of us enjoyed the stunning view in the rare sunshine – nothing quite beats zooming along the river under Tower Bridge!

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We whiled away the rest of the afternoon along the river and in Borough Market where we stopped for ice cream before heading back home.

On Sunday we had a much quieter day with our normal trip to the pool for a family swim.  My Newcastle-based friend, Jo, popped over for lunch and I enjoyed a lovely glass of wine and catch up with her.

We ended our weekend on a playdate with Alex’s “girlfriend”, Rosita!  It was exhausting watching the pair of the running around and amusing watching Sophie trying to keep up.  They had a great time playing “schools”, although Alex was more interested in thinking up creative reasons for why he was late for school than concentrating on the alphabet.  Doesn’t bode well…

The children have clearly had a blast with their childminder, Jacqui, who regularly sends me lovely (and often hilarious) photos of what they’re up to.

jacquiAlex is clearly starting to enjoy dressing up!!

The only other thing of note this week is that Alex had his pre-school booster innoculations – he was super brave, not getting upset at all, and instead getting rather obsessed with getting a chocolate lolly for bravery!  I can’t quite believe that he’s done with his jabs until he’s a teenager!

To close, here’s beautiful Sophie – not a baby anymore!

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Ups and downs

This has been a week of contrasts – and I must admit I’m feeling exhausted!  We started the week on good form with happy children.  I even did a solo bedtime that was calm and fun – usually they are a bit frantic when you’re on your own!

But by mid week, Sophie was under the weather again.  Cue the worst thing about being working parents – Matt and I scrabbling around with our diaries to make sure we could stay home with her.  So I spent Thursday morning in a lengthy work meeting – handing over childcare with Matt at Victoria station, so he could spend the afternoon in the office.  Poor Sophie.

Having said that, after a bad night and sad morning, Sophie was on pretty good form all afternoon so I had a rather nice time at home playing with her in the Autumn sun in our garden!

By Friday she seemed better and had a good day with her childminder, but she then had a really bad night and a pretty rough Saturday.  Not overtly sick, but generally sad and unsettled.  Alex, on the other hand, was brilliant all day – happy, polite and well-behaved!  Matt took him swimming and to Brixton market for lunch whilst I stayed home snuggled up with Sophie.

Then Matt took over baby duty, and I took Alex out to Brockwell Park for the first “Hobofest” – a great little music festival of local performers, including Bea from one of our favourite music classes!  It was a beautiful afternoon, and we had a great time lounging on the grass, eating ice cream and watching some amazing bands.  Can’t wait till next year.

Sophie thankfully brightened up a bit and had some fun in the garden, discovering Alex’s old trike:

After a great sleep (at last), today was much smoother, with a trip to Crowthorne for Sunday lunch with Granddad and Nanny Michele.  As usual, Alex and Sophie love seeing their dogs:

And Alex enjoyed feeding the big fish in their pond and watching the little fish in their aquarium!  The children had a lovely time, and we all enjoyed a delicious lunch (although I did kick myself for forgetting the high chair as it’s quite challenging eating a roast with a baby on your lap!)

Here’s Sophie having a walk with Nanny Michele:

A trip to the local park concluded the day – and now the children are both tucked up in their beds.  Am keeping everything crossed that everyone is on fine form in the morning!

Before I sign off, one thing I want to remember from today…  Alex was biting his nails earlier (naughty boy!) and he accidentally pulled his thumb nail too far – resulting in a rather sore thumb.  He got quite upset, so we put a “Cars” plaster on his thumb – then Matt told him that when we took the plaster off in the morning his nail will have grown a bit and it wouldn’t hurt anymore.  I think he’ll regret telling him that – as Alex kept popping out of his room when he was supposed to be sleeping to tell us that his nail had grown a bit.

Birthday kisses for Matilda Mae

Today I am thinking of another family.

I’ve been blogging for nearly three years about my family, but only very recently discovered that there is an huge community of family bloggers across the country (and indeed the world).  A chance comment by someone I follow on Twitter a few months ago introduced me to this community through the tragic story of Matilda Mae – a beautiful 9 month old girl who fell asleep and never woke up.  Today should have been her first birthday.

Since learning of Matilda Mae, I, like thousands of others, have followed the incredibly moving story written so bravely by her mother, Jennie on her Edspire blog.  I have cried and smiled and looked at my own children differently as a result of her story – not least because I too have a beautiful, smiley baby daughter (who seems to share much of Matilda Mae’s taste in clothes!) and a train and tractor mad two year old boy.  And I have been inspired by what a strong mummy Jennie is (like many others, I have introduced a tuff spot and messy play to my toddler, much to his joy!).

So today, I am thinking of Jennie, David and their gorgeous twins and sending them my love.  And this sunny lunchtime, Sophie, who is dressed in pink and purple today, and I are sending bubble kisses to Matilda Mae.

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Tonight, Matt and I will make a donation to The Lullaby Trust who provide specialist support for bereaved families and promotes expert advice on safer baby sleep.

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Catch up

A lovely dinner with family in Wales this week reminded me that this blog has been a great way for us to share Alex’s first years with our friends and relatives all over the world – and as a result I’ve been feeling bad that I’ve become terrible at keeping it updated.  Promise I’ll try harder…

My excuse is that the past couple of months have been completely mental – with the countdown to the arrival of baby number 2 resulting in work being busier than ever, the London Olympics and a huge number of house guests – and of course the extra exhaustion from pregnancy – blogging hasn’t been my top priority.

But we’ve kept taking pictures, so I’ll attempt to quickly catch you up on July in this post.  We started the month with Alex smarter than ever before at the christening of our friend Marie’s little boy, Harry.  Check out the cute shirt (and smile!):

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We also enjoyed a wonderful trip to Hampton Court Palace to celebrate Auntie Katharine’s birthday – the weather took a surprising turn for the better and we enjoyed a picnic in the grounds with her family.  Alex loved a horse and carriage ride – he looks a bit cross here, but he really did love it:

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And the gorgeous grounds gave us an opportunity to take some nice family pictures:

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After a glamorous start to the month, we then headed with some apprehension to the New Forest for our first family camping experience!  Not sure what I was most nervous about – sleeping in a tent whilst pregnant, or coping for two nights in the outdoors with 6 couples and 6 boys under the age of two…

It was both a fabulous experience and a bit of a nightmare.  Despite the rain, the boys adored it.  New Forest ponies wandered around the campsite, they could jump in muddy puddles to their hearts content, and run around all the tents.  And we grownups enjoyed the chance to properly catch up and spend some time together.  The first night saw Alex sleep brilliantly in the tent with no night waking, and sleeping till 6.30am.  Sadly, I got almost no sleep at all (quite why Matt and I thought that the old bedding rolls we used in our early 20s would be acceptable when 6 months pregnant, I don’t know!) – so I was a bit of a zombie on Saturday!

But we still had a fun day, visiting Longdown Activity Farm where the boys petted baby animals and played on toy tractors, and Lymington where we watched the ferry and lots of sail boats.  It was a fun day, but Alex got progressively grumpy and not quite himself.  The day sadly ended with him being very sick in a Lymington pub (sorry other customers).  So we packed up the tent and fled back to London just in case he was coming down with something.  Thankfully he slept brilliantly and was fine the next day – and I enjoyed a bonus night in my own bed.

So all in all, it was a fun introduction to family camping – and a definite indication that holidays under canvas would be fun as Alex grows older.  I don’t regret for a moment going, and am already looking forward to the 2013 trip as we’ve agreed to make it an annual trip!  Here are a few photos of the experience:

The rest of July was a bit less dramatic – with all our visitors, we stayed quite local, but enjoyed a weekly visit to the Herne Hill farmers market:

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We finally tried out the brilliant little steam train in Brockwell Park – £1 a ride:

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And we’ve enjoyed many local cafes!

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July ended with the build up to the London 2012 Olympics – and the arrival of grandma who introduced Alex to gardening:

Gardening with Grandma

Next post – the London Olympics!!

Hever Castle

I completely forgot to mention the highlight of our week long Summer in the last blog post – a trip to Hever Castle…  What a glorious place!  I’ve intended going for years, but never quite made it, although we have cycled past the entrance a couple of times in fitter days!

With the weather hot and sunny, we decided we couldn’t possibly spend a Sunday in central London, so we headed South to check it out. The gardens were absolutely stunning.  Alex managed to guide Matt to the centre of the big maze (yes, really!) – and he even managed to behave for long enough for us all to enjoy touring the castle itself (although he didn’t like to be restricted to the roped path through the ancient rooms, preferring to try and sneak underneath to try and climb on the antique furniture).  Thankfully we weren’t thrown out – and survived to enjoy a quick lunch, trip to the play area and big ice cream.

Alex’s absolute highlight of the day was the water maze – a network of raised wooden pathways through a shallow marsh area, with various sprinklers and water shoots ready to soak you if you stepped on the wrong path!  He got soaked, and it was quite an effort to drag him away back to the car!

Here’s a slideshow of a few pics from the day (frustratingly, Matt and I both seemed to forget how to use our decent SLR camera, so most of the pics we took didn’t make the cut)

Royal wedding

Alex and his "Kiss me Kate" beer!We all had a fabulous Royal Wedding day yesterday.  I’m not ashamed to say that I was looking forward to the festivities so was delighted when our friends in Blackheath, David & Bergin, hosted a wedding tea party.

They laid on cucumber and salmon sarnies, victoria sponge, scones, fruit cake – and of course bubbly, bunting and beers.  We all had a wonderful time munching through everything whilst oggling the dresses and hats (and Matt didn’t complain too much!)

Most amusing moment was their 1 year old son, Emmett, managing to switch off the TV right in the middle of the vows – so we missed that bit as we fumbled around trying to work out how to turn everything back on again!

Here are a few pics of the day.  Check out Alex’s fantastic toothy grin – this is a new facial expression and we LOVE it!  [Once again, I am stealing pictures from our friend David who was snapping away at the party – thank you!]

Royal wedding watching

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