Baby no. 2 is nearly two! The Cycle of Life.

Yesterday, Lucian was playing in between the bookcases and something in my memory jolted and I rushed for the camera. I didn’t even realise until I went back to check but life has a funny way of repeating itself!

This is Spring 2013, Lucian aged 22 months.ImageAnd this one is Spring 2011, Gabriel aged 19 months.

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You can see why I leapt for the camera! I didn’t set it up at all, but they both happened to play in the same place (Lucian had never gone between the bookcases before) at roughly the same age, both in March wearing the same jumper! 

Gabriel was only 19 months here but had trainers on, whereas Lucian is 22 months but no trainers. Who will be the tallest? It’s anyone’s guess! This cheered me up after a few days of non-stop migraines and a humiliating episode in a café in Central London where both boys shrieked, cried and generally showed me up as a useless mother who can’t control her children at all and ended in me calling my husband in tears to come and pick us up!

It started well enough:

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We had been out for the day, following the same routine as we always do: A walk from our flat at Finchley Rd to Regent’s Park with them in the buggy, let them out to play in the playground and then walk to BASE bistro on Baker St. for milkshakes. I did everything the same as usual, I just didn’t see it coming! Although I had some sense that the boys were bigger and more demanding and active and I had planned for a change to grab a sandwich and juice from Pret A Manger next door and take it to the park but it being Easter Weekend, the place was jam-packed so we ended up in our usual restaurant, unusually crowded with hushed adults having a grown-up lunch. At least they were: then along came the Azoitei boys! It started with Lucian shrieking for food and knocking everything on the table onto the floor, the fish and chips taking ages to arrive, Gabs crying about God knows what and then getting his leg stuck in the buggy and crying as loudly as he could while Lucian escaped and ran off towards the steep staircase while I freed his brother. They had food, drinks, clean bums, crayons and paper and still they made such a fuss! I left in tears, vowing NEVER to go anywhere with the two of them ever again.

Why did this happen?? We live in London, I’ve been a mum of two for nearly two years, Gabs is usually fantastic in public places, so grown up. What the hell went wrong?! I realised on the way home in the car: We’re starting a new phase.

Gabs is turning four this summer and already very excited to learn what school he will be going to. All his mental energy is gearing up for it, he talks about it all the time. And for some reason, this transition has made him really disobedient lately, he’s really testing my boundaries.

Lucian is very nearly two and has just started morphing from an easy-peasy second baby into a strong-willed, noisy, head-strong toddler who is starting to challenge his brother’s place as the “Biggest Personality In The Room”!!

My babies are gone!! I have big boys now. And if I thought I knew what the hell I was doing with two children… well, I was wrong. All these memories of Gabs going through this toddler-twos are coming flooding back: The backbreaking physicality of wrestling clothes on and off them, the stress, the fear of judgement in public, the hard stares and tuts in cafés from people who are under the illusion that it’s at ALL possible to make a frustrated two year old who can’t communicate in many words or any sentences at all, stop shrieking.. people who’ve never had children, people who are yet to have them, people who have forgotten what it’s like to have children and people who should just plain know better… People who are blissfully ignorant that one can’t negotiate with a toddler terrorist and that mum is doing her goddam best and just can’t stay in the flat all day for another day this cold, cold, snowy Spring. I suddenly remembered all the times I left bookshops, supermarkets and coffee shops in tears, wondering when the impossibe-to-predict or plan for, shrieking-in-public-when-you’ve-just-paid-for-food-you-really-need-to-eat-but-can’t-enjoy episodes will end, with Gabs.

And that was just ONE child!

Now there are two of them and just when I thought Gabs was maturing beautifully and such a great little man in public, he gets riled by his brother’s attempts to upstage him and back we go… Regression time! It’s like having twins, with Luci trying to throw his weight around and be the bigger boy and Gabs wailing like a baby. Aaaaaaaarggggh!!!!

But you know what? I accept your challenge, you little monkeys. A New Phase is coming and Mummy will up her game. It took me a weekend, but I finally got with the programme. I don’t have a toddler and a baby any more. I have two big, gorgeous, funny but physically demanding boys and I WILL keep up with you!

This summer, Remus and I are having our large but very worn and shabby flat completely repainted and recarpeted. After six years and two children I can’t explain to you how badly this is needed. We will have a huge declutter. The cot will go down, the pram will be sold, the ball-pool under the bed given away and the boys’ room completely redesigned. I’m going to give them a fantastic place to sleep, read and play. The double bed that takes up the whole floor, which Gabs shares with Daddy, and the cot which Luci has never really slept in (but has fallen out of many times) will go and be replaced by two matching, wooden single beds. They slept in these in a Cornish cottage we rented at Christmas and both loved them. I hope to find something similar:ImageImage

They’ll have much more floor space to play then and I want to get rid of all their baby toys and rubbish bits and bobs and get them some more advanced toys, and this IKEA system to organise all their cars and trains and toys:

ImageSo, once the flat is done, and Gabs is off to school, my next plan is to take Classical Babies to the next level, with more staff and more venues and more little baby string instruments!  I’m not sure how that will work with a demanding toddler around but that’s a plan for another day.

And so begins a new life cycle for Coco and Co.!

OUR Playroom – in response to Jennie

The gorgeous Jennie blogged about her fantastic playroom yesterday and I was so impressed with her beautiful organisation and creativity. You can see it here: http://www.edspire.co.uk/year_2013/03/17/our-playroom/

It was such a popular post, I thought you might also like to see ours.

Here, in the boys’ bedroom, we have a nice organised book cupboard with one shelf for each of the boys:

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Next to that, on the opposite wall, we have this upturned IKEA tub of assorted crap:

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Next to that a patch of carpet where we keep some cars, a fighter-plane with no wings and a scooter:

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Anything else we find which doesn’t fit into any of the above categories, we put on the piano…

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…awaiting a rainy day when we will sort and tidy them away. (Today is raining cats and dogs, but I’m not doing it today as I’m blogging. Maybe on the next rainy day, which should be tomorrow..)

Jennie, PLEASE come over and organise my life a bit… you are much needed here!! I will give you spaghetti…and wine…and tea…and chocolate! xx

 

Classical Babies turns 3!

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So this Friday 15th March was the 3rd anniversary of the very first Classical Babies concert for mums, dads and babies!!

3 years since the very first concert, at the same venue, also by a string quartet, also with me playing, on Friday 19th March 2010, when Gabs was just 8 months old and I dragged him along with my mum and dad!

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3 years and one month since THIS very, very first Classical Babies free tester concert in my living room for five of my NCT friends and their babies! 23422_10150096825175457_8182611_n

So much has changed since then, not least the fact that I no longer run Classical Babies with Estela, my friend whose fabulous idea these concerts were – that’s a (rather complicated) topic for another blog post. We started doing monthly concerts at the O2 Centre, with audiences climbing quickly to 50, 60+ mums and babies a month, moved to weekly in Belsize Park (something I later slightly regretted, and now I’m back at the O2 Centre it’s still my favourite venue!).

In 2011, Estela and I welcomed the wonderful pianist, chamber-musician, music-blogger and teacher Nadine André  as a franchisee, running a new monthly venue down in Teddington and later Kingswood too. Now we have venues all over and soon to be far more widespread… Essex and Kent coming soon, amongst others. Watch this space!!

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In 2011, my second little boy Lucian was born, two weeks early (again, a future blog-post!) and I really struggled with running the concerts and the sheer amount of work needed to keep my end of the partnership. After a horrible, horrible Christmas, Estela struggling with a divorce and me with a small baby and toddler, I discovered a copy-cat (literally, Facebook-page likes in the same order and all!) had sprung up and was beating us to the punch at our precious, precious business-baby! I came to the almost impossible impasse of deciding whether to jack the whole thing in, or bite the bullet, take the business on on my own at whatever personal cost and really try to build something that could compete. I will cover this topic more fully another time, and it feels like a huge risk even to mention it here. Estela meant the world to me as a friend, I risk upsetting her if she ever reads this as I know she saw the whole situation differently, and for me to affect another person’s life in such a big way was majorly traumatic for me. It also cost me my health, lost time with my little boys, especially Lucian when he was very small, and a fair amount of money!

BUT… this is where I’m at as I look back on the last year and the last three. I wouldn’t change any of it! I haven’t come as far on my own in one year as I thought I would or should, I haven’t failed on my own like I feared I would. And I’m really, really proud of what I’ve done in making Classical Babies my own. There’s LOADS of room for growth and improvement and change and learning. But the boys are bigger and need less of my every waking hour now, I’m coming out of the tunnel of shock of being swamped by running a business – which has enough work for three people at least – alone, with two small kids on my head and I can see a bright, bright future ahead!

I’m so sorry for the casualties along the way – Lucian, my little Lucian, I’m so, so sorry I was such a poor Mummy to you in your first six months or more, I wish I had enjoyed you more and I’m so sorry for how much I shouted at Gabs when I was overwhelmed; Estela and a friendship if not lost, altered forever; my husband’s bank balance! But I’m not sorry I took it on. At the start of Classical Babies’ fourth year, I’m more passionate than ever about creating access to classical music for mums and babies, and mums and babies who don’t even know they like it, or that they are allowed to like it, and all those little ones who don’t know how musical they can be given a chance!!! And I can’t wait to see what comes….

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Hello London!

So we’re back from Paris and I have to say, I didn’t miss the boys like I thought I would! I feel so guilty about that but it’s like the second I tasted a bit of sleep and that gorgeous, melting feeling of “free-arms” I forgot all about them….Is that terrible?! My God, I enjoyed it so much, I must have needed it. The fact that it snowed and so we did very little except walk a bit, eat and drink in little brasseries (wine for lunch followed by a nap, anyone??) made it even more perfect and we agreed next time we don’t need to go anywhere as glamorous but just out of London a bit to a spa hotel where we can hole ourselves up in a room with a DVD player, a big bed and lots of alcohol! I would feel guilty about being so lazy and uncultured in my holiday-ing style, but we are violinists and I’m studying acting so I think that’s enough Art anyway. If I was really going away to enrich my normal life somehow, I ought to go to a maths camp or something.

It was LOVELY to come home to my two boys though. Look what greeted us!

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They had a wonderful time with Nana Pip and Grandad. They were well slept, well behaved (the boys too :P) ALL my washing was done and the place was clean and dinner was cooking. My Mum is unbelievable and I don’t deserve her at all.

It’s lovely to be back. Paris was lovely, but home is better.