Pop goes the weasel

This morning we woke up to beautiful blue sky. Colin is off work sick, so I decided to seize the opportunity to go somewhere in the car. We quickly got ready (which isn’t actually that quick by the time everyone is appropriately dressed and I’ve packed the coats, hats, gloves, binoculars, camera, field guide, changing bag and pushchair) and off we went to Fremington Quay. We wandered along the quay, watching the many fishermen and spotting little egrets, oystercatchers, redshanks, mallards and gulls. Then we set off along the Tarka Trail, towards a nature reserve called Home Farm Marsh which we’ve never been to before.

We saw so many robins along the path! We also spotted a pair of song thrushes. I remember seeing them quite regularly as a child but sadly these were the first I’ve seen in years. When we got to the nature reserve, there were three sets of stiles and all the gates were padlocked. Not very pushchair friendly! I did consider leaving the pushchair in a hedge but the children weren’t keen on this idea. Then Esther fell down on her bottom into a very muddy puddle, so we decided to turn back.

On the way back, Aaron suddenly stopped and held up his hand for us to be quiet. He had heard rustling in the bank. A few moments later a weasel popped its head out! I’m really glad I took my long camera lens, as I was able to zoom in enough to get a couple of shots. They’re a bit blurry as it was a gloomy area, but I’m pleased to have captured it. After a few seconds it disappeared and then Tabitha caught a glimpse of it in another spot. This is only the second time we’ve seen a weasel in the wild, so it was very exciting!

We headed back towards the estuary and the children played underneath the old railway bridge for a while, throwing stones in the water. Esther thought this was great fun!

Despite my warnings, Aaron almost got stuck in the mud. Just look at the state of those boots!

By now Esther was feeling rather uncomfortable in her wet clothes, so it was time to return to the car.

Our nature walk didn’t quite turn out as I’d planned, but seeing the weasel definitely made up for it. Aaron listed it in his top three favourite nature spots, along with the kingfisher he saw recently! We’ll go back to explore the nature reserve another time, preferably with Colin and a sling!

Esther’s Montessori coat and shoe area

Esther has recently been interested in putting on shoes. She kept getting my shoes out of the shoe cupboard and proudly putting them on! I moved the children’s shoes to a lower drawer so that she could reach her own instead of mine, but it still wasn’t ideal as she would sometimes trap her fingers in the drawers. So I decided to create a little space for her coat and shoes to encourage independence. Our small entryway is already pretty full with our shoe cupboard, pushchair, hoover (we don’t really have anywhere else to store it) and Aaron and Tabitha’s coat pegs, but this doesn’t take up much space.

The wooden peg hooks came from Sainsburys. I first saw them in a post by Tales From a Happy House and knew they would be perfect for the job. The little rucksack contains Esther’s hat and mittens. The cube chair can be turned over to give three different seat heights, so it will last well as she grows.

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The rope basket contains her wellie boots, shoes, socks and slippers. I bought the slippers in the hope of stopping her wearing shoes inside the house, but so far she has refused to wear them.

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She can put the wellies on all by herself. Shoes are a bit harder but she can usually get her feet inside and just needs help with the zips.

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She has a waterproof coat and a warm winter coat on her hooks. I haven’t hung her all-in-one rainsuit or snugglesuit there as she won’t be able to put those on independently for quite a while. We’ve started teaching her the same Montessori method for putting on a coat that we used with Aaron and Tabitha.

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And just so you don’t go away thinking she’s a little darling, here’s a picture of her launching a shoe through the air in frustration! (She’s still a darling though… sometimes!)

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Storm chasing!

We got up super early this morning (for a Saturday, anyway) and drove to a nearby seaside town to watch the stormy waves at high tide. Upon arrival we discovered a newt in the middle of the car park, so we had a quick look at it before moving it to a safer spot. I don’t know much about newts as we rarely see them, but I think it was a female smooth or palmate newt. We walked around the seafront and harbour in search of the best waves. It was very windy and the rain was lashing down most of the time. Esther got splashed by a huge wave even though we were standing well back, and decided to watch from the safety of her pushchair from that point onwards. Everyone else got thoroughly wet. Afterwards we went for an all-you-can-eat hot breakfast buffet to warm up!

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Esther at 15-16 months

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Esther is now between 15 and 16 months old. I want to record what she is like at this moment in time so that I don’t forget.

She can say daddy, boo, hello, bird, poo, tickle, food, bath, thank you, bye, baby, book, shoes, car, look, that, banana, chair, stairs, down, gone, home, fish, spoon and probably a few more that I’ve forgotten. She can sign drink, milk, food, bath, shower, bed/sleep, thank you, more and fish. Her understanding and ability to follow simple instructions is pretty good.

She sometimes uses the potty. She first used it the day after her birthday, when I explained what it was for. She has used it several times since whilst having nappy-free time, including a couple of times completely by herself when I wasn’t even in the same room! She is now beginning to tell me before she goes in her nappy, although there is not yet enough warning to undress her and take her to the potty. I’m not putting any pressure on her at all, we’ll just follow her lead.

She loves music and dancing. She likes to bounce on the bed or sofa. She has lots of little board books with pictures of first words, animals and vehicles which she spends ages looking at. She grabs my finger and points it at each picture to get me to name it.

She dislikes being in the pushchair or trolley when we go shopping and soon starts to scream, which makes shopping trips rather stressful! She sometimes doesn’t want to go in her carseat. It’s an extended rear-facing seat and our car is quite high up, so it can be tricky to get her in while she is trying to fling herself out. However, unlike her two older siblings, she has never shown any signs of travel sickness.

Slides are her favourite thing at the playground and she can manage most of them completely by herself. She is very friendly and will walk right up to strangers, babbling away and pointing to show them things. She is quite happy to sit on the laps of people she has only just met. She is fascinated by dogs and will go up close to them, but is not quite so keen on actually touching them (with the owner’s permission of course).

She is definitely a water baby and loves swimming. She recently learnt to float on her back with almost no support, just a hand ready to catch her if she rolls over.

She insists on shutting the kitchen door whenever we are in there. I tried to prop it open whilst cooking because I was getting rather hot, and she immediately worked out how to close it again! I have no idea why she does this as we don’t normally close the door. When she is hungry she sometimes goes to get a bowl and spoon out of the cupboard as a hint.

She has loved dolls for a while, and is now beginning to play imaginatively with them. She says “poo” and gets me to undress them, puts them in Tabitha’s wooden highchair or cot, feeds them a bottle (I suppose she thinks it’s a beaker) and makes them dance or jump.

She is such a joy to be around most of the time, but she does still have days (usually several in a row) when she just screams for no apparent reason! She hasn’t yet slept through the night and usually wakes up early.

Edited to add: A week later she can now say Mama and Esther. She has also learned to nod and shake her head which she does whenever we ask her a question!