I grew up in a large, noisy family. 3 children, a close relationship with my cousins and that's what I always imagined I would have when I started my own family.
My sister is my best friend and confidante and I miss my brother since he emigrated to America a few years ago. We still have an incredibly close relationship despite the thousands of miles of ocean between us and Face Time has been a god send.
Of course we bickered and argued as children, but I have extremely fond memories of my childhood. Mass games of 40/40 in the garden, birthday parties unlike any other, magical holidays in Southbourne with our cousins. And I love watching my boys follow almost the same path.
They love traditional games, playing in the garden, having the freedom to roam on the beach in front of the beach hut. It's literally like a snap shot of my childhood and Sammy is so much like me in personality, I do sometimes worry how the house will be when he's a teenager. I predict some clashes!
We joke about having another baby all the time. Joke being the operative word. It sounds quite ridiculous to say we haven't had time to really think about it and make that definite decision, but we haven't. In a year we've launched a tea business, my photography work has grown beyond all my expectations and this blog has become a firm part of my working life. Not to mention the fact that we have lived in 3 houses in one year!
Then last week we had the pleasure of our little niece for a week. My sister's in laws kindly share her childcare with my mum and as they are away in The Philippines for 5 weeks over Christmas, I am helping mum cover off the time before and after Christmas.
Suddenly parents to 3!
Yasmin is a delight. Now I know I am biased but it's true. She has the most beautiful colouring thanks to her Filipino grandmother and she has a tone of voice like a little excited mouse. People stopped me in the street, stroked her cheeks in the garden centre and she distracts all the check out staff in the supermarket.
She has impeccable manners and knows how to use her girlish charm, "Oh peeeeeeassssse Auntie, more snack, more snack!" and I had to be really firm not to give in to her chocolate button, puppy dog eyes every time.
And it was strange because although toddlers are undoubtedly demanding and tiring, she slipped into our life with ease. I mastered the art of carrying my little shadow on my hip and dressing boys, putting on washing, making dinner. Serving one more at breakfast didn't seem any trickier and watching them all laughing in the car on the way home from school was precious.
She sat with me each morning on the window seat next to me whilst I dried my hair and called to the horseys and the birdies out of the window.
And it made me realise something. Soft play centres aren't that horrible. They are actually quite fun if you don't spend the whole time reading your phone like I normally do. Ollie adored shooing me onto a quite terrifying slide, Yasmin thought it was hilarious to bury her head in a ball pit and play hide and seek (Even though the rest of her was completely out of the balls!) and they were giddy at me chasing them kicking the footballs.
A week with 3 made me play more, because work had to stop. When I put her down for an afternoon nap I would race around like a mad woman, setting up little shots to share on my Instagram feed, shooting a few photos for patient clients and replying to work emails. I am in awe of how many with young children at home during the day manage everything! I had grand plans of a little woodland photo shoot for a Christmas surprise for Natalie and Andrew but I literally took one photo on my big camera. ONE! Can you believe it?!
Being an Auntie means you have the luxury of putting things on hold for a week. I get to do the fun stuff, spoil her, take her out 3 times in a week, just because. And I loved it. I loved that she was totally content at our house. The little bedroom is now set up with all of Sammy's old nursery furniture and pink bunting, which I guess will stay up for the next time she comes to stay and we eventually redecorate that room.
I had lots of kisses, cuddles, sleepy snuggles at bedtime whilst she drank her milk and the best compliment of all, was when she saw my sister and my brother in law, she wanted them to come in and play, with no worry when my sister left again, after a few hours on her day off in the week. It was like she lived here.
It's an incredibly special thing to know you are trusted with someone else's most precious person.
A week was a long time for her to be away from home (Although Sammy protested that 6 nights wasn't enough!) We have left our boys for a few days and this weekend they are off to their grandparents in Poole for 2 nights, whilst we have Christmas parties with friends. But could you imagine yours being away for a week?
I know my sister and brother in law missed her terribly but I feel very lucky to have developed my little bond with my niece. Feel fortunate to have had had that intimate time with her, kissing her goodnight, hearing her say "I, looove, youuuuuu!"
And it's helped with that definite decision. 3 is lovely. Sammy, Ollie and Yasmin are lovely, and that's the 3 for us. A temporary 3 when we get to borrow a little pink one. But I don't have that broody feeling, instead I feel excited for what will come next. What adventures we can have with the boys now they are out of toddler routines and have an almost unquenchable thirst for life.
It was a treat to slide a clip into her whispy baby hair, and the tutu skirts are incredibly cute, but those are not reasons to have another baby! I was born to be surrounded by boys. Our boys suit us, suit our family dynamic and we are very grateful for them. Now I must go as I need to pop out and buy some slime, sticky slugs that will clime down the wall and something called a putrid pizza.
But do you know what, I couldn't be happier! Because I know the little faces I will see on Christmas morning are going to be magic.
My only one from our week (bar the few iPhone snaps), a calm, contented, beautiful little girl. Beautiful Yasmin lu.
Linking up with Mummy Daddy Me and The Ordinary Moments