And now she is 10.

My youngest little girl is ten.

One of my friends said something yesterday that I’ve been thinking all week.

When my big girls were ten, they were practically grown up. Josie is still just a baby.

Surely, she is still just a baby?

One of my ancestors, great, great aunt Josephine.

But she isn’t. She is, as all ten years old girls are, a little girl on the cusp of a waft of hormones that will bring curves and strops and worries and attitude. She is all about becoming now, even though her heart and mind, like her biggest sister, is all about staying little.

This birthday I have bought her, I imagine, one of her last dolls. This year she chose Lego, and boyish Lego at that and she will cling to childhood through the games it will give her for just a few more years.

This year she is still a little girl.

Being 10 means she has lived half her life in the shadow of something which took away her smile and left her brittle boned and tough as a tree that stands against a gale.

Being 10 means she is having to hear the words that she is too old to still be able to catch up in the sport she loves.

Being 10 means she is becoming one of the big girls of the house, though she clings to her little status fiercely.

Being 10 means laps are getting too small for her, though being the size of a 7 year old is delaying the inevitable.

Single-minded. Stubborn. Serious. Sensitive. Strong.

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This day, which was difficult and damaging in so many ways, is so far in history now. What is left, is a beautiful girl, as is only right.

I’ve watched her trying to perfect this move over the last week, the piggiest of pig moves for half way decent gymnasts. I watched her stand and do 20 or 30 of them, shaking with rage at herself for not being quite there. She has tenacity and determination, all wrapped up in a tiny parcel. Not for nothing did she deserve this post on talent the other week.

And when I watch her being like that, self motivated, driven and talented, I can hardly wonder that school has lost whatever edge it ever had for her. She’s been feeling very sad there, having found herself lonely at lunch after last years friend re-found her own friend of the year before and bored with the humdrum of the national curriculum and waiting for people to settle down to do tasks that come easily to her anyway or do not ignite the fire within her.

She’s in a lovely school, with a lovely, lovely teacher who has been there for her from the very start. The one who wrote this:-

Love this. Given to Josie from her teacher.

And who I know would do anything to make the environment as good as possible for my littlest girl.

Josie needs something else at the moment; she needs to be home educated and I can’t give her that, so the school and local authority have agreed that it is in the interests of Josie’s mental health to be home tutored (by us) one day a week.

I have so much admiration for a headmaster who will work to make a system suit a child. He has a beautiful ship, with a wonderful crew, that he works very hard to steer down a river of education system that is filled with something too toxic for too many children.

I really feel for teachers.

And I’m realising that while she has always been a funny little thing, Josie used to smile more – and we need to get that back again.

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Happy tenth birthday Josie – our Fridays are my gift to you this year because you are, as you have always been ‘Just Josie’ and you need to feel like life is right for you.

Birthday Girl

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Today was my birthday and as usual, I was very spoiled. I got my iPad thoroughly pimped, thanks to a sensible protective Apple and a cute etsy cover, bags of Lush to bathe in, a new phone cover, a handmade pad by Josie and handmade cards from them all and some knitting and crochet books from my mil and fil. Tonight Max and I had a lovely meal out too; it was great.

I love how much the girls like giving us gifts, it always makes me feel very proud of them. They made it a good day; Josie and Amelie even brought me tea and toast in bed and tidied the house ready for it being cleaned. The rubbish is all gone now and all that is left to do is hire a carpet doctor and try to de dirt downstairs as much as possible. It feels great.

Everything feels so different to a year ago. Hard to believe so much has changed. I enjoyed today without too much sad, angry or pain – and that was a good feeling. Long may it continue.

Josie is Seven

It’s a bit of a given, if you have a birthday on November 5th, that your birthday will include fireworks. If you happen to be Josie, your birthday will also include penguins, which it did in various forms, from handmade ones from Maddy to purchased ones from various people (and one she wangled on a trip into work ;) ) If your parents happen to run an online toy shop and are rapidly running out of children who want toys from it, you are also on a likely ‘get spoiled thoroughly’ ticket :lol:

Our recent trips to Lower Hookner Farm have been a bit of a revelation to Josie, who is absolutely and completely sure she wants to grow up and own a farm. A while ago she asked how much a real farm would cost, as she had so far saved £3 and was very disappointed to discover that would not be enough by some margin. So quite independently she decided that she would no longer spend any birthday or Christmas money she got and would save it till she was grown up; then, even better, she remembered that the government gave her £250 when she was born, so now she has the bank statement for that hoarded under her bed. That’s some forward planning :)

However, 11 years is a long time to do without a farm, so she asked if she could possibly have one for her birthday too. And naturally, being people who can, we did the business :lol: She got a Pippin Wooden Farm and a Farm play mat along with this gorgeous set of Budkins Farm people (who have been named Susie and James in honour of her favourite farmers!) and some Le Toy Van wooden animals. Her sisters rustled up a collection of plastic animals too from inside the house and Fran donated her Sunshine stables for a few days and a huge amount of farm playing has been going on since. Amelie had saved up to buy her a Rubens Barn Emma baby to be a twin to Oliver (really called Eric ;) ). She was very thrilled.


It always amazes me how children can play with so little concern about scale or ‘realness’ – at work I’ve spoken to lots of people over the years who fret about animals being the perfect size or how real a doll looks, or if the people scale perfectly with the dolls house or animals. But kids just don’t care. I sat knitting yesterday and grinning at the wide variety of animal sizes, model people of all shapes being roped in and a TARDIS landing on the farm and a teleporting slinky whooshing soldiers in from a cardboard trench. They had such a lovely game.

The hit of the day were actually some Holztiger farm animals which the lovely Sam from BigJigs sent me as a sample and which I then had to go and buy more of Josie loved them for ‘how they feel when you hold them’ and didn’t mind at all that they slightly dwarfed the other animals. I’ll definitely be stocking those over on PlayMerrily soon; they are gorgeous. Thank you Sam :) Josie was thrilled with them and we told her they came from you – it made her very happy!

I’m in love with the ducks – I can make a perfect PoP logo out of that range and I think I’m going to!

She had such a nice day; she has blossomed this year into such a lovely girl. She is beautiful, quietly confident, very much her own person. She can’t be pushed at all, you might call her stubborn but actually I think she is just very sure of herself and not prepared to be made to do anything. She’s handled Freddie’s death and the existence of Marmite with great maturity; she’s thoughtful and kind and graceful and suddenly a child who is interested in expanding and trying new things. This week she got offered a place in a group at gym that trains twice a week and she’s really excited. I’m fascinated to see how that goes. The coaches know her a bit – and her sisters well – but she really isn’t like any of them and it will be interesting to see how it works out.She isn’t someone who can be co-erced into doing something she doesn’t want to. She’s started musical theatre and swapped ballet classes, both without a second thought, started going on sleepovers and thinking about holidays without me. I just love watching her blossom. She’s saved me, this last year, by being the one out of all of them who will talk openly about Freddie and I have loved her for that and for the wonderful way she is emerging from the baby girl, the one who wouldn’t bend for anything or anyone, into a creative, clever and thoughtful little girl.

Happy Birthday to my littlest girl. I do so love you.

Birthday Girls

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Earlier in May, Amelie was 9. She had a lovely day I think, even though we didn’t actually do much. It isn’t every child who would be quite so thrilled with a Jayne’s Aircraft Manual, but I’m not complaining. There is nothing wrong with a child who has a good smattering of weird interests :D

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A model aeroplane, several compendiums of stories (she turned her nose up at Stories for Girls and went for Stories for Boys instead!), a jigsaw, some D & D monsters, a special diary she had coveted and a jigsaw made her very happy. Her sisters spoiled her, as they always do and made a good fuss of her all day. Last year she was the first to have a birthday in the aftermath of everything and she was desperately hyper about it, this year she has a new gravity, a little more composure and a great deal more maturity. She is growing and changing
all the time, becoming stunningly beautiful and learning to use her personality for all manner of things :lol:

And now, Fran is a teenager. I’m not sure quite how this has happened, that little mite who once seemed like she ruled our world, stopped us
from even cooking a meal, turned us upside down and inside out. I thought there could be no greater worries than the ones she brought us. How wrong I was. She’s so grown up now, taller than I thought she would be, slim and agile and fit and growing into her adult face and body. It’s a miracle to watch it happen, even more so, in some ways, than watching a toddler change. I’m fascinated to see where another
year will take her. She’s very calm and assured too, in many ways. We try not to be restrictive parents but up till now that hasn’t mattered as she’s not really asked us to let her do anything we are not happy with. She’s open about her thoughts and feelings, communicative and
stretching her wings in ways that make me proud without making me be afraid.

Everyone says “4 girls, the teenage years will be a nightmare!” And so they may. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m interested to see where the next few years takes us.

Happy Birthday Girls.

Money can’t buy you love

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I know they say that – and it’s true – but nothing beats a birthday where the people who love you go out of their way (and some way out of their pocket) to give you gifts that will bring masses of joy and pleasure.

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Look at that; 1000’s of hours of reading, knitting, lovely smelly baths, candlelight relaxing and peace. I’m a very lucky girl.

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Josie made me a family of fairies, Maddy a candle holder I have yet to photograph and all of them took great care in planning nice meals and lovely things today.

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Fran made me a cake – yummy :)

It’s been one of my best ever birthdays (I didn’t even get older, we moved my birthday from later in the week to today for convenience!) and that is saying something. It might have been different, but since it wasn’t, they made it lovely.

I ADORE my Kindle; it’s definitely going to be a massive hit :)

Thank you all, my darlings. I’ve been well and truly spoiled.