I loved watching TV as a kid. Some of my earliest memories are of dragging my Dad out of bed, way before the sun had risen, to come and watch Sesame Street on the sofa with me. As I got older, trips to the local video store to rent a VHS for the evening were a treat to be cherished. My consumption of these TV shows and movies are to what I mostly attribute my love of American culture – the things that have prompted me to make many trips across the Atlantic to be a part of the fantasy land I have been fascinated with for so many years.

Back in those days though, these programmes were, for the most part, exactly that. Fantasy. With the exception of learning numbers with The Count from Sesame Street, there was little in the way of education on the box (at least in the shows that I watched). However, I don’t ever recall my TV time being restricted or dished out as a reward or anything like that. It was just something I did because I liked doing it.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that these days I hear so many parents saying that they don’t allow their kids to watch TV, or that they are never given the opportunity to “play” with any technology. Before I continue I have to say that I do genuinely respect differing opinions on how to raise your children. One of the first things that I learned as a Dad was not to judge other parents. That phrase springs to mind… “Everyone is fighting their own battles – try not to be a…”. You get the idea. There is though, a distinct difference between disagreeing with an opinion, and disrespecting it. I have no problem whatsoever with Thea watching the television or using one of our many devices that we have in the house. She already knows how to access her own folder on my iPhone home screen, select the apps she likes to use, and repeat the process when she wants to switch between them. The difference is that almost every single app she uses or TV show she watches has an educational benefit. Dave and Ava Nursery Rhymes on Apple TV (which she can already access herself using the Siri remote!) have helped her learn her ABCs from start to finish ahead of schedule. Her speech is coming on so well, thanks in part to reciting her favourite songs and rhymes along with the TV. This, combined with other things like the great work that the team at Snapdragons Nursery do with teaching her all sorts of stuff, is really helping our little girl develop her intellect and independence.

Yes, there are also games that we play that have very little educational value. Unless that is, you count being able to catch a Pokémon (or Poképon as Thea calls them) as a life skill! Sometimes though, fun and Daddy/daughter bonding supersedes the need for a learning goal.

Proof that we go to the park! :p

For those parents reading that disagree and are probably muttering “Why not read a book? Go to the park!” or something similar, of course we do all that too. I strongly believe though, that the world in which our children will be adults, will be so heavily reliant on technology that learning these skills from an early age will play a crucial part in their later success. Restricting them from this now would be the same as if we were prevented from learning another language when we were at school. Technology will be one of the most important languages they will need to be fluent in as they move into adolescence and beyond.

I’d love to hear any thoughts on both sides of the argument. Leave them in the comments below if there is anything you’d like to share. If not, then just enjoy this picture of Thea, ecstatic in her completion of a game which required no screen of any description! This girl just loves to learn…

 

Anyone with a child will almost certainly remember the first time that child was left alone with someone other than Mum or Dad for more than a few hours. For one reason or another, it took us until just after Thea’s second birthday before we took the plunge and booked a grown-ups only long weekend trip to New York. The fact that we never really got to jet off somewhere exotic for our honeymoon, combined with my recent big 4-0 birthday guided us towards doing something more adventurous and bigger in scale than a nice little weekend in the country.

We’d always talked about visiting New York together as a couple, so that is where we set our sights. The decision to go as a two, rather than a three, was a difficult one – probably in part due to how long we had left it before making our first trip sans baby. However, you can’t really go to the city that never sleeps and end up back in the hotel room by 7pm each night with a beaker of warm milk now can you? The 86th floor of the Empire State Building would have surely been a more anxiety-inducing experience with a toddler charging about and climbing the rails and the logistical nightmare of navigating a buggy around the marauding masses in Times Square was also not a challenge we relished. You get the general idea.

As we tucked Thea into bed on the Friday evening that we left, the reality that we were going to be more than 3500 miles away for the next 5 days suddenly started to sink in. I had purposely booked a non-refundable hotel room so we didn’t have the opportunity to chicken out – which would have been so easy to do! We pulled out of our cul-de-sac and began the drive up to Heathrow. A few tears were shed, but for me, the fact that we had started our journey made it somewhat easier. The build-up to this moment had actually been pretty stressful. The days and weeks of see-sawing decisions… should we? Shouldn’t we? The weight of these choices had now been lifted from our shoulders and we could now head off and enjoy ourselves (or at least attempt to!).

One of the hardest parts was being out of contact completely while we were on the plane. With all the luxuries of modern technology that we take for granted these days, for 90% of the duration of our trip we could see Thea within a matter of seconds via FaceTime. However, having no Wi-Fi on the plane (at least none we could access without selling a kidney), meant that we were totally out of reach for a few hours. Once we landed and checked in with Thea, and of course saw that everything was totally fine, it set our minds at ease somewhat and we headed to Manhattan, desperately trying to remember how to function independently as adults.

We had an incredible holiday, managing in 3 long days to cram in the must-see monuments of the Statue Of Liberty, Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, the incomparable Broadway version of The Lion King, a lengthy walk (Pokémon hunt) around Central Park, the obligatory samplings of NYC’s finest pizza, bagels and other sundries, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime evening with my adolescent idols Temple Of The Dog at Madison Square Garden.

When we finally got back and picked Thea up from nursery her response could have been so easily predicted. She ran across the room and threw her arms around Gemma for a huge hug. It took her approximately 5 seconds to turn around, exclaim “Cake!” at the top of her voice, and march back over to her friends around the lunch table. Miss us? I’m not sure she even knew we had gone!

Sometimes, no matter how much you love your kids, you have to do something just for you – as a single parent or as a couple it is so important to not lose touch with who you are. Yes you are a Dad, a Mum, a parent, but you are still you. Getting away for a few days together for the first time since Thea was born allowed us to do just that – some things for ourselves. It gave us an appetite for adventure, a taste for travel that we are committed to repeating… we’ll just take her with us next time 😉

As a parent you always hear other parents talk of the “terrible twos” –  that magical age when your adorable little angel descends into the pit of Hades, only to re-emerge as the devil incarnate. Well, I wouldn’t say we’ve reached those levels of stroppiness quite yet, but we’ve certainly seen Thea begin to develop more of an independent… umm… character, lately. There are many theories on how best to deal with these little episodes – we’ve played the negotiator, the disciplinarian, the logical reasoner, and of course, the soft touch at times. Look out for a blog post to follow on the success (or lack thereof!) of these different approaches, but for now, here is a recent Top 10 of Toddler Tantrum reasons that have made us laugh and cry, in equal measures, over the last few weeks…

1. I wouldn’t let her comb the bin lid
2. I politely asked for a cuddle
3. We foolishly suggested that barbecue sauce and raspberry yoghurt is not an acceptable combo
4. Mummy turned her head slightly to put an end to repeated attempts at eye gouging
5. I declined her kind offer to repeatedly slam the living room door in my face
6. I took approximately 6 seconds to choose the next episode of Bing!
7. I asked that there be more than 5mm distance between her nose and the TV
8. I turned the microwave on
9. Mummy wouldn’t let her eat a yoghurt with a fork
10. Mummy wouldn’t let her have peas for breakfast

What other unfathomable meltdowns have you parents witnessed? Let me know in the comments and I’ll collate the best of the bunch.

 

 

imageUp until about a month ago, the longest that I had spent apart from Thea was three nights, back in February of last year when I had to go to London with my job. Even that short amount of time seemed an age, and the 100 odd miles or so may as well have been El Camino de Santiago, such was the feeling of distance between myself and my two girls, patiently waiting at home. So, when it transpired that I would be travelling again – this time to California for just over three weeks, both Gemma and I knew this would be a real challenge. Of course, we had been apart from each other before, but rarely for this long, and only as a pair, with no toddler in tow.

It wasn’t until about three or four days before I flew that the sinking feeling of realisation started to rear its ugly head. I’ll admit, it was slightly offset by the excitement of the challenges that would lay across the ocean, but only slightly. Being an inherent worrier (something I am working hard to address), I couldn’t help but feel sad as the days until my departure counted down. I clearly wasn’t even remotely prepared for quite how difficult the goodbye would be. With my suitcases neatly stacked at the bottom of the stairs, in a dimly lit hallway, the taxi pulled up at the foot of our drive. With Mum and Dad trying to stifle the tears, Thea just stared, a bemused look dropping down over those chubby little cheeks. We made the goodbyes as quick as our heartstrings would allow and I closed the door gently before heading down the path.

Now I am more than aware that this may sound like an overreaction, that there are much bigger problems in the world than a temporary separation from your loved ones. I’ve never claimed that this was the biggest hardship, but it was our little family’s current hill to climb. It look about 30 seconds before we had sent each other the first text and if I’m honest I couldn’t swear to giving my full attention to the usual taxi driver dialogue. My opening gambit of “Been busy tonight?” was as much as I could muster, as the rest of my conversational repertoire was punctuated with heavy sighs and  suffocated sniffles. The meter ticked on.

One taxi, one train, one bus, one coach, one plane, one hire car and 5302 miles later I checked in and collapsed in the kind of comfort only a hotel bed can provide. The first few days were difficult for us both. For me, a mixture of nerves, sadness, excitement and jetlag made for a heady cocktail. Our initial FaceTime calls served mainly to remind us of how long I was actually going to be away. But it was technology that made our separation manageable. The ability to see my wife and little girl at a moment’s notice was priceless. My morning break coincided serendipitously with the bedtime routine and nearly every night I was able to blow Thea a kiss and wish her sweet dreams. Seeing her little face light up when she noticed my face on the screen was a joy to behold. After a few days she started asking for a “cuggle” whenever we talked and my heart melted when Gemma told me that each time Thea pulled the phone into her chest for a hug, she patted the back of the handset. The golden moment though was when, during one of her calls, she strung two words together for the very first time. As one of our nightly calls came to an end, she turned, waved, and casually said “Bye Dadda” before pottering off towards her toy box. Gemma and I just stared at each other, mouths open wide. There will be so many more firsts in the months and years to come, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss this one.

My time away was one of the best experiences of my career and I definitely had the easier part of the deal. Gemma was an absolute superstar, studying, working and looking after our little one all at the same time. My love and admiration for her grows with every passing day and her dedication to our beautiful daughter is nothing short of incredible. Her willingness to hold the fort at home and take on this challenge without a second’s hesitation is something I’ll always be thankful for.

I won’t bore you with tales of all the incredible places I visited or post a stream of photos of every single meal I consumed – I’ve been chastised enough for that already! Besides, it is not the point. All of that was surpassed in a few short minutes as my return leg taxi pulled up outside our house and I caught a glimpse of Gemma and Thea waiting in the window. Thea’s eyes popped wide open and smile spread suddenly across her face. She was so excited to see me, bless her, that her tiny button nose bumped into the glass. As I opened the door she wobbled her way across the lounge as fast as her little legs would carry her, arms open wide. The grin remained for at least half an hour, all three of us so happy to be back together.

In the modern world it is all too easy to slip into a “same-old” routine day in, day out – especially when you have busy jobs and a toddler to look after. The sofa and the soaps can, if you let them, make one evening blend into the next, and into the next and into the next… if you let them. As tough as it was at times, being separated from the two most important ladies in my life, it has definitely awakened us to realise how lucky we are to have our little family. There will be other trips in the future, for sure, but this time apart has taught us not only that we can do it, but also to make the most of the time we have together, taking nothing for granted.

Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

It’s all too easy to keep on thinking about your baby as if they were still merely just days old. Hanging on to those glorious moments that the first few weeks and months provide is something I’m sure every parent does. There is a subconscious unwillingness to believe that our little ones are growing up right before our eyes, and although each new achievement is received with wonder and amazement, we perhaps still refuse to address the fact that we can’t keep them that way forever.

Having not really had any exposure to babies before we had Thea, it’s been an education for me to see how much she can understand, even at such a young age. Over the last year we’ve seen her learn to do such things as smile, laugh, wave, blow kisses, and even attempt to make a phone call! However it didn’t really dawn on me until a couple of days ago how much she actually understands. I recall watching a programme called “The Secret Life Of Babies” where if I remember rightly they said that a baby can understand on average, roughly 20 words by the time they are one year old. I guess I must have forgotten that of late, but Thea gave me another jaw-dropping moment as she worked her way through her newest picture book…

As I swore in amazement, it really made me take a step back and think about how much more she must be able to understand without necessarily being able to communicate it back to us. In our house, with the constant banter that goes back and forth between Gemma and myself, the language used could be described as somewhat colourful – okay, it’s like a docker’s canteen in here at times. Looks like we’re really going to have to watch what we say from now on…

Wow… a year has passed already since Thea was born, since our lives changed dramatically, since we took our first steps on the long winding road known as parenthood. It has been an incredibly busy year for us, what with moving house, organising our incredible wedding from the ground up (literally!), two mini-moon excursions to our beloved South Cornish coast, oh yeah, and that whole raising a child thing 🙂 Because of all this (and a modicum of laziness if truth be told), the blog has been somewhat neglected. Okay, let’s be honest, I straight up abandoned it for the last few months. However, having friends and family together last weekend to celebrate the little one’s birthday reminded me exactly why I started documenting our journey together – to capture the thoughts and feelings of moments such as these that would otherwise get lost in the haziness of time.

We started the day off by bringing Thea downstairs to the lounge, which Gem had prepared amazingly with the new play tent already set up and filled with balls, books and her favourite toys. With presents stacked outside the entrance in a multitude of colours and shapes, it took mere seconds before those little legs were wheelspinning and Thea was off across the carpet like a mini whippet, headed for playtime.

We were genuinely blown away by the generosity of our family and friends as we opened present after present, each one bringing a different look of fascination to our ever growing bundle of joy. After getting acquainted with Mr. Tumble, Piggy, Pigger et al, the morning nap was next on the agenda – playtime is tiring don’t you know…

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Time to seize the opportunity that this brief interlude provided – prepping the tea party for the afternoon. Gem did an incredible job of baking a four-tiered birthday cake and some delicious blueberry muffins with pink lemonade to accompany, while I was on sandwich detail. With a wheelbarrow of scones and their complimentary clotted cream and jam, and the obligatory party rings, the feast was complete. As we collapsed onto the sofa with 30 mins to spare and a sleeping baby still kicking out the zzzzs upstairs, we allowed ourselves a moment of smugness and a high five for the parenting win.

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It was so nice to see everyone showing Thea so much love and it reminded us how lucky we are to have both her and all those that were there, in our lives. It was a shame that some of our closest family and friends were too far away to be able to make it but they were certainly there in spirit, and a FaceTime call to Granny and Grandad in Turkey made the distance seem almost irrelevant. Eventually it was time for Thea’s first rendition of Happy Birthday and as we gathered round and all joined in she seemed somewhat bemused as to what all the fuss was about…

I’m sure these fleeting moments will soon have disappeared in the rearview, and before we know it we’ll be pulling out these photos and videos to embarrass her on her 16th birthday, in front of all her friends. Some friends gave me a great piece of advice on the morning of our wedding – to try to take mental snapshots of the special moments that pass so quickly, which I did, and have retained in the dark caverns of my usually porous brain. This is something I intend to repeat, especially during these early years as we keep reaching different “first” milestones with our little girl.

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So… one year down and we’re still going strong (and grey!). Here’s to all the birthdays to come and the fun-filled years inbetween. Both Gem and I are relishing watching our baby move from one stage to the next, on one hand eagerly anticipating the next achievement, the other hand firmly clawing on to the status quo, desperately trying to keep her from growing up. Such is life. Happy birthday little one. Dad out x

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This weekend, Gem was away in London on her hen do which meant Thea and I would be at home alone together for the first time overnight. I thought I’d keep track of the events during the 30 hours or so where Thea was left to look after Dad all by herself. We started with a lovely breakfast with some of our closest friends before we bid goodbye to the naughty hens and Thea and I headed home…

 

11:00 : Back from the Hen’s breakfast and into Dad duty mode! Nappy and bottle done and time for Big T to have a little power nap. She manages to time this perfectly with “The 50 Greatest FA Cup Moments” on BBC so Dad gets to relive Giggsy’s legendary glide down the left wing, seeing off the Gooners in the semi-final of ’99!

12:10 : Poor form – Thea is still snoozing through Football Focus. We will have words about this later. If she thinks she’s getting out of the FA Cup final and the Premiership Rugby Final today then she’s sorely mistaken. Tiny Pop is going for a burton this afternoon :p

13:00 : Decided to wake the kraken and bring the little monkey downstairs for some lunch. Today’s tasty treat is a chicken and sweetcorn pouch from Ella’s Kitchen (Click here for product info). She loves this range and they are so handy when you’re out and about. Normally Mummy makes things from scratch but Daddy is in charge/feeling lazy today! A little fromage frais for dessert and we’re all set for playtime on the rug, enjoying the buildup to the big game. I’ve gone for Benteke to score first with a shock 3-2 Villa win but Thea keeps banging on about how Wenger is due some silverware. I guess we’ll see…

14:30 : We’ve temporarily put our differences aside about the FA Cup and now we’re dual-screening. I’m on the sofa watching Bath vs Saracens on the Mac and Thea is chilling in the Jumperoo (find it on Amazon here), engrossed by Justin’s House on CBeebies.

16:25 : Disappointing result for Bath in the rugby. Thea’s such a fair-weather fan – she’s off for another nap!

17:00 : Bath time! After a splash around in the tub it’s time for a quick play with Mummy’s hair dryer. Hmm… Thea is now sporting a rather fetching Van de Graaff generator look. Ah well, let’s hope it returns to normal before Mummy gets back! Anyway, Thea is more concerned about being in her PJs before the FA Cup final kicks off – mission accomplished!

19:15 : Last bottle of the night (for Thea at least) has been sunk and she is now tucked up in bed, drifting off to the soothing sounds of our neighbours cheering on the Gunners. Just realised I’m still watching Tiny Pop. Babar is the man.

22:10 : Takeaway pizza has been demolished and Thea is sound asleep. She has stirred a couple of times but as usual once her dummy is popped back in she immediately drifts off again. Time for me to hop into bed and catch up on House Of Cards. Got a feeling I’ll be sleeping very light tonight.

03:30 : Quick check on the sleeping monkey. All good in dreamland. Back to bed for Daddy.

03:59 : Sounds like someone has lost their dummy. If only that was all I needed to get a solid 11 hours kip every night! Back in it goes and the “zzzzzzz” starts before the bedroom door is even closed.

06:30 : Seems like Thea is kindly giving Daddy a lay-in. Well I suppose it is a Sunday.

06:40 : I spoke too soon. Two loud sneezes from across the hall, followed by a combination of what can only be described as some Exorcist-like gargling, quality raspberry blowing, and a few little songs, signals the end of the lay-in.

09:10 : Uh-oh! Seems like we drifted off again and now we’ve overslept. It’s now half past Weetabix o’clock. Don’t tell mummy!

10:30 : Just sung the Babar theme tune for the 112th time in 24 hours. It really can’t be that funny, surely?

11:00 : Couldn’t get to the remote before Justin’s House started. Ah for fff… Although she’s actually waving back to Justin which is hilarious 🙂

12:00 : Impromptu and greatly appreciated visit from Great Nan brings a smile to Thea’s face. It’s nice for her to hear a different voice and get some Nan cuddles.

12:30 : Lunch time. On the menu for her ladyship is spaghetti bolognese with a hint of cheese, yes hint. Ooh get you with your hint of cheese. Followed by a strawberry Petit Filous. Dad’s lunch is a glass of squash with two budget headache pills. I reckon they come with a hint of ibruprofen as they don’t seem to be even taking the edge off it Maybe it’s the continual string of Disney’s Greatest Hits that Spotify is blasting out. I got those Bare Necessities down tight.

13:20 : Not sure the yoghurt quite cut the mustard. I’m currently dancing around the kitchen dancing to Phil Collins’ classic from the Tarzan soundtrack “Son of Man” while Thea gets into the spirit of it by devouring a plastic monkey. Life has certainly changed. I remember when Sunday afternoons were spent nowhere else apart from The Hob, accompanied by blackjack vodka, Bee Sting and Atreyu, with a nutritious accompaniment of Nobby’s Nuts. But I wouldn’t change this for the world. Come on Phil, let’s have another…

16:30 : Mummy just called. She’s leaving the big smoke and heading home. Time to get this place looking ship shape. Thea conveniently decides it’s time for a nap. Always bloody shirking the chores, that one…

Dad out.

 

Over the last few months, one of the many difficult choices we’ve had to make as we prepare for our wedding at the end of July, has been how to choose the photographer. As with everything on the big day, you only get one chance to get it right, so it wasn’t a decision we made lightly. After many hours of painstaking research, Gem found someone who was not only within our budget but also whose style we really liked. After making contact with Paolo he suggested that we meet up and chat about our ideas and also have a mini photoshoot with Thea, so that we could get used to working with him.

One major hurdle we’re going to have to get over before the wedding is that neither of us really like being in front of the camera, but Paolo made us feel really comfortable and urged us to relax and have some fun. We spent almost two hours chatting and doing the shoot in a place that we both love, and where had one of our first dates – Parade Gardens, Bath

We couldn’t be happier with the results – a selection of which speak for themselves below – and are very much looking forward to having Paolo document our special day in a couple of months…. Roll on July!

Six months ago today we were both ensconced in a small corner of the maternity ward at the RUH, delirious with a mixture of sheer joy and utter exhaustion, after having welcomed our little girl into the world. It really is crazy how quickly the time has gone since then. Everyone tells you to make sure you savour every moment because they grow up so fast, and while it’s not a case of not believing them, you tend to take those comments with a pinch of salt…. right up until the point you realise that they are growing up so fast!

When she was born she seemed not much bigger than my hand, with a mass of dark brown hair and a cute little nose that mirrored her mummy. To this first time father she appeared so fragile, and every cuddle in those first few days came bundled with a scary sensation that I might somehow break her.

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Since then she has changed so much. At the moment it seems that every day brings something new – a different chuckle, a different facial expression, a new way of getting both of her feet into her mouth at the same time – all helping to give our little one her very own personality. Seeing her discover different foods over the last couple of weeks has been priceless – the introduction of broccoli was a personal favourite…

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Today we visited my Dad and his partner for lunch, and as we dined on homemade burgers, goats cheese and watercress quiche and salad, Thea demolished the end of a banana, propped up in her little red Bumbo seat at the end of the table. She is so at home with people that she doesn’t see every day, and when my Dad holds her it makes me reflect on parenting in a totally different way. It sounds like a cliché, but as with most clichés it is very much true that when you have your own children you finally understand your parents. The sacrifices they have made, the unconditional love they have given you without a second thought, the stress, worry and heartache you must have caused them over the years – it all just clicks.

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For the last six months I’ve done my utmost to be a good Dad to Thea and a support for Gem, who has been nothing short of incredible. Her dedication to our little girl is amazing, and the unassuming, undemanding, unconditional love she has for Thea is the main reason why we have such a happy little munchkin. If I can ever become half as good a Dad, as she is a Mum, I will be happy.

Happy half-Birthday Thea, and Happy Easter to you all…..

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As far back as January, when we learned it would be three of us opening up our stockings on Christmas morning this year, we knew that the festive season would be extra special this time around. As I have found with a great many things since Thea arrived, those traditions that you’re so used to experiencing the same way, year in year out, suddenly take on a whole new significance when you have a little one in tow. I’ve never really been one to have to have the biggest pile of presents under the tree to be happy, but this year I even managed to forget that I had any to open, I was that wrapped up in watching Thea receive gift after generous gift from friends and family. Albeit oblivious to the procession of prezzies and swelling of our usual collection of cards from around the world, she certainly enjoyed the toys once they were out of their packages, and looks simply adorable in all the cute clothes that she was given.

Of course occasions such as Christmas tend to spawn a plethora of themed clothing for both adults and kids alike, and there was no way we were going to miss the opportunity to get some embarrassment ammunition for future events such as 16th birthday parties, or when her first boyfriend comes to meet the parents. There was the Santa’s Little Helper costume (click here for previous post), a podgy Christmas pudding top, and some cute Fair Isle leggings, but my favourite has to be the mini Santa outfit which we used as the picture for our first Xmas message to friends and family.

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I think we have had more visitors this year than ever before, although I um under no illusion that they were coming to see us! Both Gem and I are so grateful for all the love and support that we have received this year. From the moment we announced we were expecting, our friends and family have been nothing short of amazing and if you are one of them, and are reading this, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We have got quite a lot going on in our lives right now, both good and not so good, but times like these help you put things into perspective and realise how lucky you are. Seeing my Dad bounce my little girl on his knee and the sheer, uncomplicated, unadulterated joy on both their faces is something I’ll always remember.

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Even though we’ve all been struck down with miserable colds over the last week, the mood in the house has remained cheerful throughout – the fun starting at 8am on Christmas morning when Thea finally woke from her slumber and joined the party with a Xmas selfie…

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There were six of us around the table for Christmas dinner while Thea caught up on some well-earned sleep, and over the following few days we managed to see lots of family and friends. I’ve always had a relatively small amount of family members near at Christmas time but that has changed since being with Gem, and I thoroughly enjoyed a Christmas with a real family feel to it. I think this year will always have a special place in our hearts as our first Christmas as a three, and I know I will remember it for many years to come.

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