Friday, 26 December 2008

Podling No.3 ~ 12 weeks pregnant

12 weeks and 1 day pregnant
As you've no doubt gathered by now, we are very excited to be expecting our third child and I'm now 12 weeks pregnant. So now you know why I haven't been blogging very much lately! I've been pretty wiped out with the usual first trimester tiredness and sickness, so I haven't been doing anything worth blogging about! I've had very little energy for anything other than the bare basics, so my home currently looks like a worthy candidate for 'How Clean is Your House?' Mark has been wonderfully supportive and has been looking after the Podlings so I can rest, doing laundry and helping round the house. I really couldn't have got through these last couple of months without him! I'm looking forward to feeling better as I head towards the second trimester and getting my housekeeping back on track.

As you can tell from the photo, I'm already looking very pregnant. I assure you that 12 weeks ago I was looking rather more svelte! I guess a combination of being 5'2" and pregnant for the third time in five years means I show early! I'm having severe wardrobe issues at the moment as hardly any of my regular clothes fit me any more, but maternity clothes are still rather loose. I have about two jumpers and one pair of trousers to get me through these awkward few weeks.

Believe it or not, I still haven't registered with a midwife. It's funny how you get more relaxed about these things after you've had a couple of children! I plan to sort this out as soon as we get home after Christmas as we should be able to hear the heartbeat by now. I never fully relax about the pregnancy until I've heard that little heart racing away inside me. I've probably missed out on the early scan now (usually carried out at 12 weeks), so I'll have to wait until I'm 20 weeks along to see our new baby. We don't find out the sex of our babies, so you'll have to wait a few more months to find out whether I'll be washing the pink or the blue baby clothes from the attic. I'm praying that all will go well with the pregnancy and we will have a beautiful, healthy baby in our arms sometime in July next year.

Boxing day barbecue

Greg, Ryan and Mark braving the elements for the sake of barbecued meat!

When Mark's brother Ryan heard that Mark and I hadn't had a barbecue this year, he decided to throw one for the whole family on Boxing Day. Yes, I married into a crazy family! After the children went to bed, Ryan and Greg (Mark's other brother) fired up the barbecue and stood out in the 2 degree winter cold and cooked vast quantities of meat for us all. Mark is a real meat lover, so he was rather happy! It was a fabulous meal, but, just to reassure you that we are not completely nuts, we did eat it indoors!

A very happy Mark with his plate of meat.

Enjoying the fruits of Ryan and Greg's labours
(apologies to anyone in mid-chew when I took the photo!)

A boxing day walk

It was a beautiful sunny day in Derbyshire today, so after lunch we all bundled up in our warm winter coats and went for a walk to blow the cobwebs away. Mark's mum and dad are lucky enough to live right next to a country park, so we had a lovely stroll and the Podlings were able to run as much as they wanted to. They haven't been out in the fresh air for a while, so they loved being able to get out and burn off some energy. They should sleep well tonight!

Do you think I'm cute?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

A few Christmas photos for my mum and dad...

Opening their stockings

Due to unavoidable circumstances, we are spending Christmas with Mark's family instead of in Devon. For the benefit of my parents, who are missing their Grandpodlings, I'm posting some pictures of what Tom and Lily got up to on Christmas day.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.

Tom trying out his new watercolours with Grandad

Tom and Lily playing with Tom's new wooden castle. Yes, Tom still prefers to go about with no trousers on. I'm getting quite good at taking photos that hide his modesty!

Lily cooking some dinner with her new wooden kitchen.

Tom and Lily playing with Lily's new styling head doll, a gift from Uncle Greg.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Special delivery

Although we'll have to wait until July for this very special little parcel to arrive.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Meeting Father Christmas

The Podlings had a lovely time at their Christmas party this afternoon and were in high spirits when Mark and I went to meet them. There was a 'surprise guest' arriving at two o'clock and the parents and their cameras were invited up for the visit. Lily's face was a picture when she saw Father Christmas walking through the door, but would you believe I was having camera trouble at the time so was unable to record it. Tom was hilarious as he kept trying to get up on stage to see Father Christmas before his turn. He certainly wasn't shy! All the children received a book and a small selection box in their parcels and came home very happy. Father Christmas had also put in an appearance at our toddler group Christmas party a couple of weeks ago, and Tom was excitedly telling me at bedtime how he has now seen Father Christmas twice. I'm really enjoying the pleasant fiction and wonder how many years we will get out of it. I was rather a hard convert to the truth as a child, choosing to believe for as long as I could!
I should point out that Lily looked a lot more 'put together' when I sent her to the party, but she had a nappy related incident involving a pair of pristine white tights. They only had a spare pair of boy's socks to put on her, so just imagine white tights on those legs please!

Nativity play

Lily spent a good deal of time waving at us from the back row. This picture was taken after the concert was finished and the children had 'broken ranks'
The Podlings are at their playgoup Christmas party this afternoon, so I have a few moments to post about the Christmas play they were in last Thursday. Tesco came up trumps with the costumes and I was able to get a little angel costume for Lily and a sheep costume for Tom for very little cost. Lily had to have a short angel dress as the the longer dresses were only available for ages three and up, but she looked adorable and was quite happy to dress up. As you can see from the pictures, though, her halo kept slipping...should I be worried?
I really didn't think Tom would dress up at all, but he started out in full sheep regalia, complete with head. He soon got too hot though, so one of the group leaders took his hat off and he was a headless sheep for the duration of the nativity play! I was completely amazed that Tom sat on stage and didn't even attempt to run off for the whole concert. If you know Tom, you know what an amazing achievement this is for him. I think he was so fascinated with watching the audience he was too mesmerised to move! I have to say that I stand in awe of the playgroup leaders, who were able to get fifty or so 2-4 year olds to perform a Nativity play. Incredible!

After the concert was finished and the children were allowed to mill around on stage, Lily went straight up to Tom and gave him a hug.
Although there were a few tears from both Podlings before the concert began (they were kept waiting for a very long time), they soon cheered up. Tom didn't sing a note (he doesn't like to sing!), but Lily joined in with gusto and appeared to be having a great time. I was so proud of them both! The appalling thing is that I barely glanced at the other children, I only had eyes for my two! Isn't that shocking! Mark's parents were able to come and watch the play with me and a good time was had by all. I was able to get some video footage, which I will always treasure. No matter how old they get, I'll always have a record of their first nativity play. Isn't technology wonderful!
NB. You may notice that I have blanked out the faces of other children in the background. Whilst I am happy to put pictures of my children on the Internet, I know a lot of parents would be uncomfortable doing so. I didn't feel comfortable putting pictures of other people's children 'out there' without permission.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Economic downturn

It would seem I've been absent from the blogging world without leave again. Unfortunately, we have a lot on our minds at the moment as we received some rather bad news last week. It would seem that Mark is being made redundant just before Christmas, which was rather unexpected and very unwelcome news. The company Mark works for is planning for a downturn in profits next year and is making several people redundant, including two of the ten senior managers, of which Mark is one. It is obviously rather a worrying time for us and the timing couldn't have been worse. To paraphrase Mister Micawber, we are hoping that something will turn up soon. In the meantime, we are planning a simple Christmas in Devon with my family and I know that we will be able to forget our troubles and have a lovely time. Besides, there's always a silver lining...the children and I will love seeing more of Mark whilst he is at home with us.

Monday, 1 December 2008

It's huge!!

Mark surprised us by picking up a Christmas tree on his way home from work this evening. He drove home with about a foot of Christmas tree sticking out of one of the back windows! He picked out this rather attractive Nordman Fir, which is a much nicer shade of green than the picture shows. It is rather large though! Mark is six foot tall, so I got him to stand next to the tree for reference. I have no idea how we are going to get round the back of the tree to decorate it!


Well, the advent calendars are up and the countdown to Christmas has begun. My mum made these fantastic advent calendars for the children last year. Each one is nearly three feet long and they are both beautifully quilted. The numbers are pockets and we fill each pocket with a foil-wrapped chocolate coin. They're really impressive (the pictures don't do them justice) and I do think my mum is very talented.
The Podlings were very excited when they wandered into the dining room this morning to discover their calendars hanging ready for them. Tom remembered from last year that each number hides a chocolate coin, so he was especially excited when he knew he was going to get chocolate before breakfast! He's also old enough to realise that you only get one number a day. Lily, on the other hand, was trying to get me to give her more coins. What two year old wouldn't want to breakfast solely on chocolate!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Seven Quick Takes

Looking at the date of my last post, it would seem that I haven’t been blogging much lately. Maybe it’s the cold weather, or the dark afternoons or maybe it’s something else, but we haven’t been doing much to blog about. I thought 7 Quick Takes would be a great way of reassuring you that we are, in fact, still alive and kicking!

1. The children are going through a particularly lovely phase at the moment where they play with each other for ages. They’ll base themselves in a room, ask me to bring some toys (usually play food) and then play together happily for half an hour or more. It is so sweet to see them getting on so well together and co-operating in a game. I hope they will always get on this well.

2. One of the reasons I haven’t been posting many pictures of the Podlings is that Tom is currently going through a bit of naturist phase. He’ll happily wear a jumper, but prefers to be naked from the waist down these days. This makes it rather difficult to get photos you would be happy to post on the Internet!

3. I have to try and get costumes together by December 11th for the children’s playgroup Christmas concert. Lily is an angel and Tom is supposed to be one of the animals in the stable. Given the problems I’m having just getting the boy dressed in everyday clothes, I don’t hold out much chance of getting him in an animal costume. To increase my chances, I tried to get Tom to choose which animal he wants to be. The result...he wants to be a mouse! Whilst I’m sure there were a few mice in the stable in Bethlehem, I’m not sure that’s what the playgroup leader had in mind. I’m hoping to change his mind.

4. Despite my love of all things crafty, I am probably going to rely on eBay to supply my costume needs for the aforementioned concert. I’m rather lacking in energy at the moment. I feel slightly ashamed that I probably won’t be making the costumes myself, but I don’t suppose the children will care either way!

5. We’re hoping to get our Christmas tree this weekend and I’m looking forward to getting the decorations out ready to start decorating on December the first. I adore the Christmas season, but I am always annoyed at the stores and catalogues for trying to get me in the festive mood before the time is right. It just doesn’t seem right to me to have decorations up before December.

6. Lily got in trouble this morning for throwing a plastic pear at her brother. They were playing happily on opposite sides of the playroom when, for no apparent reason, Lily just trotted across the room and hurled said fruit right at Tom’s nose. Now we all know how it feels to be hit on the nose by something and Lily has quite a good arm, so the poor boy was in tears for a few minutes. I don’t think the resulting red nose was due to the crying either. It’s not all sunshine and roses round here!

7. I’m eating lots of satsumas at the moment. I love to see a bowl full of the cheerful orange fruit and something about this time of year makes me want to eat them by the net full. I’ve always associated satsumas with Christmas and I have now passed on the family tradition of putting one in the bottom of the Christmas stocking to my own children. I was gutted last year when satsumas were really hard to get hold of. Thankfully, this year they seem to be in abundance again.

Thanks to Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


During lunch yesterday, I was chatting with the children about what they had done at playgroup that morning. Part of the conversation went something like this:

Me: So, did you play with any boys and girls at playgroup.
Tom: Jack
Me: You played with a little boy called Jack? That's nice.
Tom: He fell over and hurt his head.
.Me: Oh dear, that's sad. Poor Jack.
Tom: It really hurt him. He cried.

He then went on to tell me about a little girl called Amy and the conversation moved on. Tom isn't usually very forthcoming when asked what he's been up to and he's certainly never mentioned any friends by name before. I usually rely on Lily to tell me what they've been doing at playgroup, so I was pleased that Tom was so chatty about it today. When Mark got home, I encouraged Tom to tell him about playgroup.

Me: Tom, tell Daddy what happened to Jack at playgroup today.
Tom: He fell down and broke his head.
Daddy: Did he? Did Jill come tumbling after?
Tom: She did!

The penny dropped! Mark is much quicker than me!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Baby bunting

I finished making this bunting for Lily's room several weeks ago, but I've only just got around to posting about it! It was very simply made by blanket stitching felt shapes together, stuffing them and sewing a button and felt 'flower' in the middle. I then stitched the shapes onto a length of thin pink rope and hung the whole thing above Lily's cot. I have plans to do something similar for Tom's room using different shapes and brighter colours. Any future Podlings can probably expect to find a line of little white and yellow ducklings adorning the wall above their cots. The possibilities are endless and the bunting is so simple and fun to make. I love working with felt!

A close-up of one of the hearts

The bunting in situ. Keep 'em in a cot as long as possible I say!
Note the rather splendid quilt that my mum made for Lily. I will share a proper picture of it sometime, it really is amazing.

I also made this rose wreath to decorate the wall above Lily's dresser
As an aside, I tend not to go into too much detail about how I make things on here as there are plenty of websites and blogs out there who are much better at this sort of thing than me. However, if anyone ever wants more information about how I have made something, or would like a recipe I have used, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

On the mend

Well, it's been a long couple of weeks, but we're finally all on the mend round here. We're all still coughing a bit, but the colds are clearing up and the Podlings are almost back to their usual bonny selves. They were actually able to play in the garden for a little while yesterday. Between rain and illness, they haven't been able to play outside for ages and they clearly loved it. Lily still seems to tire quickly as she is still a bit under the weather, but I was so glad they were able to go out and get some fresh air. Children don't like being cooped up for too long.

We went to toddler group this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks. We all enjoy this morning out together and it was nice to be able to go again. Tom looks so much older than the other children there now. He's the oldest in the group by at least a year as a lot of people seem to send their three and four year olds to nursery these days. Luckily, Tom loves playing with the younger children and seems quite amused by the toddling babies. Lily spends most of the time at toddler group playing with the toy kitchen and play food. I'd love to get her a kitchen of her own for Christmas, but I have absolutely no idea where we'd put it!
Anyway, with any luck we will all continue to get better and we can get back to some semblance of normality round here. Being the house of disease for a fortnight means I am now totally behind on the housework and laundry and I have a lot of catching up to do. With that in mind, I guess I should stop procrastinating and go and do something productive!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Checking in

We are consuming vast quantities of hot honey and lemon here at the moment because we are poorly, folks, very poorly! We are all suffering from bad colds and coughs and are basically feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. Between seeing to the children and my own cough, I've hardly slept at all over the last three nights and I'm feeling a bit drained, to say the least. Mark worked from home today to help me look after the Podlings, but he is now pretty ill too. We're just off to bed with steaming mugs of honey and lemon with the promise of another sleepless night ahead. Hopefully we'll all start to feel better soon. I'd settle for a good night's sleep!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Tea and fireworks

With Guy Fawkes night looming next week, a lot of people are letting off fireworks this weekend. We got back a little late from shopping this afternoon, so it was around six and very dark when we got home. Tom had been watching the fireworks from his bedroom window while I was getting a quick tea together. He was thrilled when I let him have his tea at his window so he could continue watching the fireworks. An unheard of novelty that will no doubt result in him asking to have his breakfast up there in the morning!

Lily, on the other hand, is still terrified of fireworks. Our normally confident little girl was reduced to a crying, clinging, nervous wreck when the bangs of the fireworks echoed round the sky. She was so upset that I had to sit knitting by her cot until she fell asleep this evening, which at least meant I was able to finish a square of the blanket I am working on. It was obviously quite upsetting to see Lily so distressed by the fireworks, so our plans to take the Podlings to a bonfire display later in the week have been modified to a Father/Son outing. I will stay home with Lily and try and get her to bed early so she won't be upset by the noise. Hopefully she'll enjoy them next year!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Some pictures from Tom's 4th birthday

The birthday boy
The presents

"I wish it were my birthday!"

My sister playing with one of Tom's presents. Notice there isn't a child in sight!

Lots of party food!
We had quite a houseful for the party. Both sets of grandparents, my sister and Mark's brother Greg were all able to some and share Tom's special day with us.

A triple decker birthday cake with a layer of my homemade blackberry decadent!
It was made by my mum and my sister decorated it.

Singing 'Happy birthday' to Tom.
He enjoyed it so much, we had to relight the candles and sing it to him again!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

If you give a moose a muffin...

The Podlings choosing buttons for their puppets
We currently have a copy of "If you give a moose a muffin" by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond on loan from the library and it is one of the Podlings current favourites. It is a funny story about what happens to a young boy when he sees a moose in his garden and offers him a muffin. Before he knows it, the moose is in his house and is eating jam, wearing a cardigan, making puppets, painting scenery, dressing up as a ghost and generally making a mess. It is a lovely book and one of those rare gems that you don't mind reading again and again.
At one point in the story, the moose makes sock puppets, so Mum and I thought it would be fun to do this with the Podlings. When asked what kind of sock puppet they would like, they both decided they wanted a moose. We let them choose the socks they wanted to use and let them explore the contents of my button box so they could choose some eyes. When the buttons were selected, mum and I quickly sewed them on the socks while the Podlings chose the colour felt they wanted for antlers. Mum and I then drew the antlers freehand, cut them out and sewed them on. By the time we got to the noses, the Podlings had lost interest, so we just got on and did those by ourselves. I definitely think mum and I had the most fun doing this!
Mum sewing on some eyes

The finished puppets (mine is the one on the left, made following Tom's suggestions), along with the moose in the story
To finish off the theme of the afternoon, we made some blackberry muffins using blackberries we'd picked the day before and had them after tea (blackberries feature in the story too). Tom really wanted to paint some scenery and put on a puppet show just like the moose, but it was getting a bit late in the day by this point. We did read the story twice more at bedtime though!
Mum and me with our carefully constructed sock puppets

Monday, 27 October 2008

A budding bookworm

We are big readers in our family. We have books all over the house and Christmases and Birthdays always involve a large stack of new books to add to our already large collection. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures and I have spent countless hours of my life curled up with a good book. I want so badly for my children to inherit this love of reading, and, so far so good, they both love books and story time.
Tom has been wanting to read independently for some time and seems almost to be teaching himself! He constantly surprises me by reading words out to me that I may have told him once, weeks ago. Tom is a child who learns easily and rapidly when he is interested in something, so we thought that now would be a good time to introduce him to some first readers. You have to be very careful with Tom because if he thinks he is being taught, or is being led towards a certain goal, he will refuse to continue and run off. However, it is incredible what he will retain when we 'play' at reading and maths. Goodness knows how he will fare in a classroom situation, but at least we can give him a good start now.
My mum started teaching me to read from a very young age. She started off by making some flashcards and used the Ladybird Key Words scheme. By the time I started school I could easily read all the usual books and was, frankly, a bit bored with what the school were giving me.
(As an aside, the school apparently didn't believe my mum when she told them I could read, so I was bored and...ummm...somewhat disruptive when I first started. One day Mum went down the school and had me read a book to the teacher who was, apparently, somewhat surprised. I distinctly remember reading a book called "My House" aloud to my class and wondering why they all seemed so impressed. I just thought everyone my age could read!)
Anyway, back to my own children! We were excited to discover that the Ladybird Key Words scheme is still available, so my Mum and Dad got some flashcards, the first few Peter and Jane books and a few early readers for Tom for his birthday. I was surprised to find that I still remember them nearly thirty years on.

Mum sat down with Tom and the books and the look on his face when he started to realise he could read some of the pages was precious. I loved watching my mum teach my son to read using the same books she used with me. I wonder if we looked like that 28 years ago.

Without further ado...

...a few pictures from my family's visit earlier this month. The above picture shows my dad, Mark and the Podlings watching cartoons on the laptop. I always feel sorry for my dad when my parents come to stay because he has to put up with my mum and me talking constantly! He's a patient man! My dad has a tattoo on his arm from his old army days that Tom has become quite obsessed with. He now wants me to draw a lady on his arm just like Grandad's. Not likely sonny boy!

My sister slept on the sofa bed in the play room, which meant she had the dubious pleasure of having Lily dumped on her first thing every morning. As you can see, Elaine is not used to having to deal with toddlers at the crack of dawn! Auntie Lainey became Lily's chosen best friend while she was here, which I think Elaine enjoyed, but found quite exhausting at times!

Mum and Dad slept in the lounge during their stay (the lounge has been named The Music Room by the Podlings, probably because it's where our piano lives). It can get pretty chilly in there at night, so I lent Mum my big red shawl so she could curl up with her book before bedtime. She loved the shawl so much she told me I'd have to frisk her for it when she left! I hope she doesn't mind me posting a picture of her in her pyjamas, but I love how cozy she looks in this picture.
By the way, the porcelain doll you can see on the chair in the background of this picture was made by my mum a few years ago. He's called Joey. She sanded him, set his eyes, eyelashes and hair, painted him, made his clothes, the works. There's nothing creative my mum can't do...she's very talented!

The blogger returns

I've been shamefully neglecting my blog this month. As usual, the more I have to blog about the less time I have for blogging! Between my family visiting for a week, two birthdays, sick Podlings and potty training (please don't ask how that is going!) I've had very little time/energy left for blogging this month. Because Podheim is as much a record for us as it is a chance for our family and friends to know what's going on in our lives, I hope to post a few of the things we've been up to this month. Then, hopefully, I can get back to posting more regularly again!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Birthday greetings

Wishing my wonderful husband a very happy birthday.
I love you!
This picture was taken in the Black Forest on the German leg of our honeymoon tour in 2003.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Now we are four

Tom, aged 4 days, October 2004. He was 6 weeks early and weighed just 4lbs 6oz.

Tom, aged 4 years, on his new roller skates.

Happy 4th Birthday to one very special little boy!