This will be Violet’s first time capsule on my blog.  Pre-kids if you had asked me what kind of 3 year old daughter I imagined I would have, I’d probably have said:

    • Fairly quiet
    • Straight, white blonde hair
    • Average height
    • Pretty good behaviour
    • Love of animals
    • Unisex tastes

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I look at my Violet and often wonder how on earth we made her and quite who she takes after.  I’ll take my list above and update it:

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    • At home she is the noisiest, wildest little terror.  If she’s not being loud because she’s having fun, she’s being loud because she is ANGRY!  Out and about she is a timid creature, very wary of others and quite nervous.  She hates loud noises and covers her ears at the sound of cars, hand dryers, chairs scraping on the floor, echoy rooms etc.  It’s quite a contrast!

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    • Her hair is a real mystery.  For the first 9 months of her life she rocked a bald head!  Then she grew bright ginger whispy hair.  I love that she was at the height of her ginger phase at our wedding.  And all of a sudden those whisps turned into ringlets and changed to dark blonde.  We haven’t cut her hair yet, and I have no plans to!  The curls are just so beautiful.  I’m getting to grips with styling her locks and so far am going for the wet brush and scrunch technique.  I really hope she keeps her wonderful curls.

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    • Violet is tall.  Well, her red book says she’s on the 75th centile and certainly among her pre-school friends she seems like a tall one.

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    • Behaviour….well I have learnt fairly quickly that 3 year olds are a force unto themselves!  Joe and I are trying very hard to instil good behaviour in her and without a doubt I think we have left the dark days of 2.6 – 3 years behind!  But she is a hot-head.  Once her flip switch goes there’s very little we can do to prevent the fallout.  I admit I get frustrated and downhearted sometimes but I constantly remind myself that she is still very young and still processing her emotions.  Thankfully her manners are good and outside of her home environment she is impeccably behaved.

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    • She loves every animal going.  I was right about this prediction.  Violet has a spider which lives in the garden called Brian.  We often go to the bush he lives in to see if he is in his web.  Granted, some days Brian is a tiny weeny spider, other days he is the massive chunky one bouncing in his web, but it doesn’t matter; they are all Brian to her!  Sometimes I wish we could have a pet, or more specifically a cat!  I love cats and think she would really enjoy looking after it and stroking/playing with it.  But now just isn’t the right time, we have enough on our plates.  Hopefully one day.

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  • I have been quite deliberate in my toy and clothing choices for Violet.  She has dresses and dollies but also trucks and dungarees.  When buying toys I have shied away from pink and opted for the green/red/yellow version.  I didn’t want to put a label on her gender.  But as much as I have nurtured her in this way her nature is to be a typical girly girl!  She always wants to play with dollies and set up tea parties.  She will find my scarf and tie it round her head and say she’s a princess.  She gets her blanket and asks me to tie it round her and make sure it drags along the floor like a Cinderella dress.  Last week I found myself playing mermaids with her!

Violet is maddeningly wonderful.  Complex in so many ways.  Imaginative and dramatic yet prone to anxiety.  Articulate and witty.  Fiercely independent yet hates being alone for a moment.  She fills our days with laughter, twirls, singing and boogying.  She rules the mood of the house.  She adores her brother endlessly yet has really struggled to share the limelight.

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I think the next 6 months will be key for Violet.  She will really leave the toddler phase behind and mature.  Pre-school is doing wonders for her confidence and socialising but soon we will begin to prepare her for reception class.  I hope the next few months will see her behaviour mellow with less extreme highs and lows.

Above all I just want her to be happy.

 

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My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

 

Christmas started early for me this week with the wonderful annual Scandinavian Christmas street market on Albion Street in London.  This market has been going for about 10 years now and this year was the biggest yet.  Stalls selling Norwegian knitwear, Swedish seeded rye bread with scrumptious smoked salmon pate, Estonian warming fast food and of course cool Finnish design and our lovely Joulupukki (Father Christmas himself!)
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Rotherhithe in South London is a bit of a Nordic hub.  There’s the Swedish church on Lower Road, and the Norwegian and Finnish churches on Albion Street.  All churches are Seamen’s churches and where seafarers and immigrants during the late 19th Century from Scandinavia could congregate and maintain their unique Nordic identity.  I have been going to the Finnish Seamen’s Church since I was a baby – I was Christened there!  My mum then took me fortnightly to the Finnish Saturday School which was held at the church.  The lessons were very informal and although we did read and have homework it was more about chatting in Finnish, drawing, playing and have a few hours of being little Finns.  I did love it.
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I have been going to the Christmas Market at the church since I can remember.  As a teen I helped out in the kitchen peeling potatoes and prepping other veg.  One year I worked on the confectionary stall selling my favourite Fazer chocolate and delicious liquorice.  Nowadays I’m there to support the church and stock up on Finnish goodies.
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The church stocks all of the staples a Finn would need:

That really is a very limited list, there was so much more!
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We started off by going outside to the grill.  They were serving grilled sausages, mashed potato, reindeer, pea soup and a selection of soft and alcoholic drinks.  All were accompanied by delicious dark rye bread and lingonberry jam.  I had reindeer and mash (sorry Rudolph) and the children shared a sausage and mash.  We discovered that Ezra loves rye bread.  It’s nothing like bread as Brits know it. Finnish rye bread is dark, strong and fairly chewy.  I think it tastes best when lightly toasted with some melting margarine spread over the top.  Ezra took the whole piece and over the space of about 20 minutes devoured the lot!
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Next we went inside to the café upstairs.  We shared a Scandi smoked salmon open sandwich which is rye bread with lettuce, cucumber, smoked salmon and dill, a filter coffee and 2 cinnamon buns (‘korvapuusti’ which is a cinnamon and cardamom swirl bun).  Once we had eaten our fill we went back downstairs to shop.  The prices aren’t cheap.  Already expensive food is marked up due to the transportation and import costs and to raise money for the church.  We treated ourselves to:

  • Ruisleipä (rye bread)
  • Karjalanpiirakka (savoury rice pudding parcel)
  • Muumi toothpaste (Moomins!)
  • Felix Sinappikurkkusalaatti (pickle mustard salad)
  • Auran Sinappi – tulinen (strong mustard)

I could have filled my basket over and over again but this was enough for us.  We still have some supplies left over from our trip to Finland this summer.
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Whilst we were shopping we bumped into Muumipeikko (Moonintroll) and Pikku Myy (Litte My).  The Moomins were created by Swedish-speaking Finn Tove Jonsson.  She created the Moomin characters and wrote books which were published in the mid-late 1940s.  The stories are so typically Finnish with an absolute focus on family and the natural world.  Moomins are more popular than ever, both in Finland and the world over.  I tried to encourage Violet to agree to have a photo taken.  As interested as she was in the giant Moomin Troll wandering around the fair she did NOT want to pose for a photo.  So here’s me grinning with Muumipeikko with Violet’s face buried in my neck and you can just about see Ezra’s foot peeking out from my back!
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We left the church with our tummies full, our senses topped up with Finnishness and bags full of treats.  I am so proud of my Finnish heritage and hope that my children will one day also feel that stamp of unique Finnish identity in their hearts.

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I little late but here are the small things which have made me happy over the last week:

  1. On Wednesday 111 advised me to take Ezra to hospital because he was vomiting terribly from his cough (whilst fighting Chicken Pox also).  The Dr at our local hospital checked Ezra thoroughly and said he must be suffering from a viral infection as there were no signs of bacterial infection.  I am so thankful to the NHS for being there 24/7 to care for us.  I needed the reassurance that we were treating Ezra’s illness correctly and the Dr made me feel like a good mum for bringing him in to be checked, rather than silly for wasting his time when there was no treatment he could give.
  2. Violet’s relationship with my Dad is really developing.  He wasn’t vey hands on when she was a baby, just not quite sure what to do with her.  But since she has become little girl with personality, thoughts and chatter they spend a lot of time talking about this and that.  This week while I was working I heard them laughing because the squirrels kept coming and digging up my Dad’s flower pots!  He kept getting up to shoo them away which Violet found hilarious.
  3. Violet went to pre-school for an extra day this week.  This made her SO happy.  Enough said!
  4. We carved pumpkins together on Saturday.  Violet wasn’t overly keen on getting her hands dirty but it was fun making traditions which I hope will grow year on year.
  5. My aunt, uncle, great aunt and great uncle came for Sunday lunch at my parents house.  It was so lovely to see them after a long time.  And I loved seeing Violet and Ezra interact with their family.

What Katy Said

The List

 

Here are the small things which have made me happy this week:

1. Violet loves pre-school. She has 2 best buddies there who she adores. I’m so relieved and happy that she enjoys going.

2. On Friday I went out for dinner with 2 of my friends from primary school. We went to the most idyllic primary school and have managed to stay in contact almost 25 years since we first met. We may not see each other very often but when we do I’m always so thankful for their friendship.

3. Joe cooked such a delicious dinner on Saturday. Fresh cod coated in mixed spices from Sri Lanka, sweet potato and samphire. Yum yum!

4. I am pretty sure Ezra has chicken pox. Thankfully it’s a very mild dose. I expect by the end of this week we will finally have a germ-free house!

5. Ezra has started cruising along the sofa. I don’t think he has realised he’s doing it yet but it’s so cute watching him manoeuvre his little legs to get over to me! He also has a new sound; na-na. His sound vocabulary at 11 months old is da-da, mam-mam, na-na and dit-dit!

 

 

What Katy Said

I have a strong willed child.  Well, haven’t we all?  But I have one of those really REEEAAALLLLLYYY strong willed children.  Like the time she was so angry with me for suggesting she come in and wee on the potty, she just pulled her pants down and squatted on the doorstep.  Or when she threw the bowl of tomato soup on the (carpeted) floor because it wasn’t on a plate.  I could fill a book with the down right unfair things my poor child has had to deal with in the 3 years she has ruled our house.  I mean, what mummy doesn’t give their toddler jelly for breakfast?!?!

I know toddlers tantrum.  I was quite geared up for that.  But what I wasn’t prepared for was the fireball of rage switch that flicks on and off at seemingly random intervals.  We tried showering her with love, ignoring, timeout, stickers, rewards, tokens.  You name it, we tried it but we were still faced with behaviour which spanned the entire spectrum.

When my sister-in-law suggested the Promise Fairy I jumped at the idea.  The concept goes something like this:

  1. Get a fairy door and stick it to a wall somewhere in the house.  Preferably out of reach of the newly crawling baby who will no doubt find the door and rip it off the wall much to the horror of the 3 year old*
  2. Write a note in tiny fairy handwriting which explains who the Promise Fairy is and why she has left her door in the house.
  3. Get all excited about the new parenting tactic but then feel deflated as the 3 year old walks past the fairy-door-of-certain-good-behaviour and sits on the baby whilst wrestling a toy out of his sticky little grip.
  4. Adopt your best super enthusiastic OTT voice and ask your 3 year old if she has noticed anything new, over there, you know, in the direction of the front door.
  5. Invariably the 3 year old will glance over, not see a giant chocolate in the shape of Peppa Pig and lose interest very quickly.
  6. OK, time to focus.  Go and get the 3 year old and ask her to come with you because you have seen something amazing and she needs to see it.  Wahoooooo she has found it!

Our note said that the Promise Fairy leaves her door in children’s houses so that she can help them with their behaviour.  She asks the child to make a promise and if the Fairy can see that the promise is kept all day then she will leave a coin.  She encourages the child to save up her coins so that she can buy something lovely from the shops.

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Violet was slightly suspicious at the idea of good behaviour but after a lot of enthusiastic encouragement from me, and us going to look at the door, talk about how small it is, what the Promise Fairy must look like, the tiny writing in her letter etc Violet seemed sold. I asked Violet what promise she would like to make and she said “to be a good girl”.  To Violet this doesn’t mean a huge amount as she’s forever saying she wants to be a good girl.  So I helped her narrow it down to something more specific.  With some gentle guiding we settled on; Today I will not scream and shout.

It only bloody worked!

There’s something about having a 3rd party observing her behaviour which really worked.  She felt much more willing to keep her promise with the reward coming from someone other than Mummy and Daddy.  We talked about the Promise Fairy on and off during the day.  Had Violet seen her, does she think she’s in the room or perhaps she has gone to check on some of the other children she was helping and so on… It kept Violet’s mind on her promise and she did so well.  At bedtime we talked about how she thought she had done with her promise and what the Promise Fairy may think.

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The next day Violet checked the door immediately and found a coin (a shiny 1p) and a letter telling her how happy the Promise Fairy was.  The note detailed a few things she had done the previous day so that Violet really believed the Fairy had been there.  Violet saved her coins and after 2-3 weeks we went to the toy shop and I let her choose something to a value I had set.  She took her coins and we gave them to the shop assistant (along with some top-up from me).  This process really showed her how she could be rewarded for good behaviour and without a doubt made our house a much more settled and less explosive home.

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On days where Violet has not kept her promise, the Fairy has just left a note explaining why there is no coin.

I think the general idea is for the child to make a new promise each day, however for Violet, ‘not screaming and shouting’ is an all encompassing promise which has addressed the most challenging aspects of her threenager behaviour.  So we have stuck with 1 promise.

I have tried so many things to try and help Violet with her challenging behaviour and this has undoubtedly been the most effective.  I don’t expect her to be perfect and never fly off the handle.  But to carry on as we had been could have been damaging.  This has been a creative and imaginative way through which has enabled Violet to curb some of her angst herself.

What are your tantrum tactics?  What has worked and not worked?  I’m all ears and love to have ideas stored for next time!

*this may or may not have happened!

The List

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