Monday, October 06, 2008

Party, Park and Play

Lately, our time has been disappearing at an alarming rate.  I can't believe that a whole month has passed since we returned from Chicago and the big wedding; it honestly doesn't seem that long.  To be fair, it is perhaps still fresh in my mind because I've been blogging about it over the last few weeks.

On our return from Chicago, I was catapulted into a busy week on call at work.  However, at the weekend, Lauren had the opportunity to go to her first birthday party.

She was invited by one of her best friends at nursery, a little boy named Cameron.  I was so relieved and pleased that after all the upheaval of changing nurseries, Lauren quickly started to make new friends.  She now has a core of close friends - Cameron, Lorenzo, Suzie and Lilah amongst others at the nursery.

Although she remembers her old friends, I don't think she thinks about them much anymore.  Her chatter on coming home from nursery is always about her new friends.  We went to Ravenscourt Park last weekend and passed by her old nursery but she did not recognise it at all.

Cameron's party was held at a child friendly pizza place in Kew.  Lauren and I were really excited as the time for the party drew nearer.  We both got dressed up and arrived on time to find that we were the first ones there.

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The room was lovely; it was upstairs with a beautiful view of the village of Kew and we had it all to ourselves.  A big table was set for all the children and a smaller one for the adults.

I didn't really know what to expect as this was the first time I'd been to a children's party as a parent.  I was surprised as the children were all quite shy; I think they were a bit thrown by seeing each other out of their familiar social context.  After a while though, they did start playing together.

I was really touched when the time came for all the children to sit down to their lunch and the birthday boy Cameron wanted to sit next to Lauren!

The food was good and the children all enjoyed themselves.  I found it hard to sit down with some of the other parents though as Lauren didn't really want me to leave her alone.  She insisted that I sit down with her to eat my pizza, so I grazed the best I could.

All too soon, it was time for Cameron to open his presents and cut his cake.  Here he is with his mum Kristen.

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Cameron was really impressed with Lauren's fire engine gift, which she chose herself at the toy shop.  It had all manner of lights and sirens which were instantly investigated by many of the little boys at the party after Cameron opened the present.  I was glad he liked it, being one of Lauren's special friends.

Lauren ate all her cake, gave a Cameron a little hug and a kiss, we thanked Cameron's parents and then we went home.  I was amazed that there were no tantrums or screaming from any of the children; they were all remarkably well behaved.  I was proud of my Lauren!

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In the past, I have written on a number of occasions about Lauren's previous aversion to the swings (started here, then continued here and here).  Much to my surprise, in the last few months she has completely turned around.  In the summer, she agreed to go on the swings with me if we only did very gentle swinging.  As her confidence grew, she agreed to swinging higher and higher.

We've had a few recent trips to the park where all she wants to do is go on the swings.  This has been a noticeable change since her birthday.

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I'm glad of this change as Jocey really loves the swings and is keen to go on them every time we go to the park.  Lauren also loves going on the same swing as Jocey; the girls spend all their time giggling together.

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We've been really lucky to have a few really sunny weekends to enjoy.  Here are the girls clambering around the play jeep at Wendell Park.

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Lauren has hugs with Daddy.

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Jocey has a turn of driving.

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Lauren even ventured on the roundabout, another thing in the playground which she previously would have avoided.

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We also met up with Charlotte and George in the last month, who has grown massively since we last saw him.  He is coming up for 12 weeks now.  He definitely will grow up to be tall; he now stands level with Jocey's shoulder blades!

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Jocey herself is rapidly changing and growing in both confidence and ability.  Although her language skills are behind Lauren's at the same age, Jocey is physically stronger and is now able to walk a couple of steps completely unaided.  She is just short of 13 months and I think that that is a huge achievement.  However, for speed she still prefers to crawl.

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Her social skills are really quite advanced and I am sure that this is due to being a second child and playing with Lauren all the time.  I remember that it took Lauren much longer to start to play with other children, whereas Jocey has already begun to occasionally play with Lauren. 

However, some things are the same no matter which child you are bringing up.  Here Jocey attempts to untidy my recycling box.

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Almost identical to my experiences with Lauren when she was a year old!  She then went on to untidy our folded laundry, much to my dismay.

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And just like her sister, she is fascinated by shoes.

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I have no idea why!

Lauren meanwhile has moved up into the Pre-school room at her nursery without any major problems.  I was really proud of her.  I know it will take her time to make new friends but she has settled in well so far.  Her language skills are improving in leaps and bounds and her play is becoming much more sophisticated.

She is developing into quite an artist.  This is a picture she drew recently, which I absolutely adore.  Unfortunately, I could not keep the original as she had drawn it on a piece of mangled scrap paper but here it is digitally preserved for all time.

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She tells me that it is a picture of Mummy, Daddy and Jocey.  Mummy is on the left, Daddy is the big one in the middle and Jocey is the small one at the bottom between the wavy lines.  I think she started to draw herself on the right hand side but then changed her mind.  Isn't it fabulous?

She is also overcoming many of her previous fears (like the swings).  Today, we went to swimming and she managed to swim completely by herself for most of the time we were in the pool with armbands for support.  She's come such a long way from the girl who used to cry and wail whenever we went swimming!

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