Saturday, 27 September 2008

Reasons to love Autumn

Last night: Blackberry picking at sunset

This morning: Blackberry muffins, fresh from the oven, for breakfast

(The lovely sunset photo was taken last night by Mark as the four of us wandered up the lane to our favourite bramble patch)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Cozy coupe

Ever since Tom got his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe for Christmas last year, Lily has been desperately in love with it. She wants it to be hers in the worst way and usually gets quite annoyed when Tom tries to ride in it. Luckily, Tom still prefers his smaller ride on car, so everyone in usually happy. Every so often, though, Tom decides to have a ride in his big car, usually resulting in a minor melt-down from Her Ladyship, who now thinks it is her car. Today, they seemed to reach a compromise. Lily decided that it was okay for Tom to ride in the car as long as she could get in too. The coupe has never been cosier!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Autumn fun

Today is the first official day of autumn, so the Podlings and I had an autumn themed day today. We started off with some gluing, which always goes down well with the Podlings. I drew some freehand leaves on green paper (see below) and gave the Podlings some red, yellow and orange paper to tear (though I ended up tearing it up myself) and some red and yellow glitter. I talked to the Podlings about how the leaves on the trees are green, but in the autumn they change to red, yellow, brown and orange. I then told them we were going to change their green leaves to autumn colours and let them loose with the glue. They had a wonderful time doing this and Lily enjoyed it so much I had to give her a second leaf. I later cut the finished leaves out and glued them on different colour background paper.
Let the sticking commence! I wrote 'leaf' on each picture because I find that Tom only needs to be shown a word once (sometimes a couple of times) and he knows it. He seems to be learning to read the 'see and say' way. Whatever works for the individual child I always say.
After naptime, the Podlings did some autumn colouring. I printed some leaf pictures I found online and put out some autumn colour pencils for them to use. I cut out their pictures and added them to the autumn display board I've put above their table in the kitchen.

Leaf colouring
The colder months are all about cinnamon and spices for me, so our next activity was baking some leaf-shaped spice biscuits. Tom got bored and wandered off (he's not into baking), but Lily was there till the end (and beyond...she was 'washing up' for half an hour!). I quickly iced the biscuits while I was getting their tea ready and the results were quickly snatched up for pudding.

Autumn leaf spice biscuits
After tea, we played with some leaf shapes I had cut out of paper earlier in the day. We pretended to be trees in the autumn and dropped dozens of paper leaves all over the carpet and each other. We also played 'who can find a red/green/orange/yellow leaf', which is good colour practice for Lily (not that she needs it!). We learnt a new autumn song, read some autumn poetry and generally had a fun day.
We're having a great time doing this and hopefully the Podlings are learning something at the same time. I have some more autumn-themed activities planned for the rest of the week. Hopefully the weather will dry up and we can go out and get some real leaves!
Our autumn display board in the kitchen. There's still space for some of the projects I have planned for later in the week.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Running Man

Tom has been fascinated by green exit signs for several weeks now. Whenever we go in a building, he looks about for the green sign and excitedly shouts out "It's a running man!" in a loud voice when he sees one (slightly embarrassing when he spotted one in the library!). Tom is so enamoured of them that Mark bought one for him today and we stuck it above the door in his bedroom. At bedtime, we told him we had a surprise for him in his room. He's old enough to know what a surprise is and he went upstairs pretty sharpish!


His face when he saw the sign was a picture! He is absolutely thrilled with it. "Is it a present for me?" he asked. When we told him that, yes, it was his very own running man to keep, he asked, "Is it my birthday?".

The only downside to the sign is that it now looks like we are renting student accommodation!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Crayon cupcakes

I recently discovered a great way of using up all those bits of broken crayon you get when you have two overzealous artists in your home. I used them to make crayon cupcakes (I found the instructions for this here)! Tom loved them and carried them around with him for the rest of the afternoon. Lily has been using them as play food today and is thankfully only pretending to eat them. They're not the easiest things to draw with, but it's not a bad way of using up something that I would normally have just thrown away.

Line a bun tin with paper cases and put in all your broken crayon pieces

Melt them in the oven at ~150 degrees C for about 10 minutes. Leave them to cool (or, if you're impatient like me, put them in the fridge!). Aren't they pretty!

Towel cake

This was the wedding present I put together for my sister and her new husband. They got married in August and I've been meaning to post this idea for about a month! Because they are living with Gareth's mother at the moment, they asked for vouchers for wedding presents because they have no space to store gifts. I didn't just want to hand over an envelope, so I came up with this towel cake as a way of presenting the voucher (you can never have too many towels!).

I knew they were having a chocolate wedding cake, so I made it a 'chocolate towel cake'. I bought two cream hand towels and two chocolate coloured bath towels. I folded the towels in thirds lengthwise and rolled them to make the cake. I tied a velvet ribbon round the middle (it's supposed to look like cream filling) and tucked the gift envelope in a fold in the outer towel. Finally, I tucked seven dinner candles in the top of the cake to represent the seven years they had been together. It was a nice way of 'dressing up' a gift voucher and turned out really well. My husband informs me most people just put gift vouchers in envelopes!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Last Night of the Proms

Love those sea shanties!
Rule Britannia!
Want to know more about the Proms? Go here

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

My latest addiction...

Homemade blackberry jam! I made jam with some of the blackberries I gathered at the weekend and now I'm addicted to the stuff. My tea this evening consisted of two slices of bread smothered in blackberry jam and butter. It is just so delicious and far superior to shop bought jam. Our local blackberry bushes are going to take a real hammering this autumn as I try to gather enough fruit to keep feeding this habit!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Silver lining

Hedgerow harvest

Before I tell you about the silver lining, let me first get the cloud out the way with. About half past nine this morning, one of our neighbours knocked on the door to tell us someone had broken into our car last night. The passenger side window of our Ford Escort has been smashed to smithereens and Mark's Sat Nav, charger and stand have been stolen. There is glass all over the driveway and inside the car and Mark is far from happy. The policeman who came out this afternoon told Mark that there have been several similar thefts in the area recently. Not a nice thing to happen on you own doorstep, particularly when the area is such a nice, quiet neighbourhood.

Although we have the car booked in for a replacement window tomorrow (Mark will have to take time off work for this), problems with our other car meant that we couldn't drive anywhere today. Because of this, we actually had a lovely day with the Podlings on our own doorstep...the silver lining. We took the children up to the park behind our house this morning and while they played with Mark, I went blackberry picking. Tom ate as many as he could get his hands on and ended up with a distinctly purple face! I nearly filled a 2 litre ice-cream container in a relatively short length of hedgerow and there are still loads of berries on the bushes still to ripen. It doesn't look like people round here gather blackberries, so we should do very well for the fruit this year. I'm looking forward to filling the freezer with blackberries and making up a few batches of bramble jelly. I never understand why people buy them in supermarkets when you can just gather them from the hedgerows for free!

It rained again during lunch, so in the afternoon we went for another walk in quest of some muddy puddles to jump in. As you can see from the pictures, we found some!

Muddy puddles

Muddy Podlings

After getting thoroughly wet and muddy, we went home to a lovely home-cooked tea. We finished the afternoon up with some delicious apple and blackberry crumble (made with some of our morning harvest) topped with lots of custard. My dream pudding!

Homemade apple and blackberry crumble...Mmmm!

Whilst we could certainly have done without having our car broken into, we tried to make the best of it and ended up having a really lovely family day. As the adage goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!



Friday, 5 September 2008

Lazy morning

Lily in 'bed' with her dolls in the playroom
One of the things I will miss when Tom starts school next year is the flexibility we have with our mornings. The Podlings woke earlier than usual today, but we didn't have to go anywhere. It was cold and dark, the weather was miserable and Mark is away on business, so I tucked both the children up in my bed and popped downstairs. I made hot milk and rusks for them and a cup of tea for me and grabbed a stack of story books on my way upstairs. I climbed back into bed with them and we sat there for half an hour drinking, eating and enjoying stories and cuddles together. I love being able to indulge in these lazy mornings with the Podlings every now and then, though I suspect I'll regret it when I get into bed tonight and find it full of crumbs! Despite our lie-in, we were still all clean, fed and dressed by mid-morning and happily engaged in some play dough fun together. It's certainly nice not to have to venture out when the weather is as awful as it is today.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Thinking outside the box

All aboard the nappy train

Tesco currently have the nappies we buy on an incredible deal, so this week we stocked up by buying five boxes. Not only have we saved around £15 on the cost of the nappies, we have also provided the Podlings with an apparently limitless source of entertainment. The boxes have been stacked together and have thus far been a train, a plane, a bed, a dolls hospital and a convenient place to sit and have a snack. Why do we bother buying children toys?!

Time for bed

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Tom's big day

As I peered at my tiny baby boy in his incubator, it never would have occurred to me that nearly four years later I would be in perfect agonies over sending him to something that he would enjoy. After much worrying, stressing and praying, I decided to let Tom go to a playgroup for one morning a week. For the uninitiated, the difference between a toddler group and a playgroup is me. In short, the mothers stay at toddler group, but the children are in the care of qualified staff at a play group. The other main difference is that I enjoy going to toddler group, but I HATE leaving my children in the care of others when I am a stay at home mum and don't think it necessary. However, older and wiser heads than mine have assured me that most children love playgroup, that it is important socialisation and that it is good preparation for school. Doesn't mean I have to like it though!

Right up until the day before, I wasn't going to send him, but at the last minute I worried that I was just being selfish and rang up the group to say he'd be going. It was a hard thing to do because it goes against all my natural instincts. I told Tom about playgroup and explained to Lily that Tom would be going, but she was too little and would be coming home with mummy. On Tuesday morning, the three of us set off up the lane for Tom's big day. It quickly became apparent that Lily hadn't fully grasped the situation. Every single time anyone walked past us in the lane, she announced "Hewo, I going to playgroup!".

Walking up the lane to playgroup

We arrived at the playgroup and both Podlings immediately ran off to enjoy the play equipment. I went into the kitchen to fill in some forms and Lily popped her head in a couple of times to check on me. Tom was far to busy to worry about where I was, which was a great relief at least! When I'd filled in the forms and had a chance to watch Tom for a while and make sure he was happy, I said goodbye to him and went to get Lily. Her response:

"Not yet"

I explained to her that mummy had to go home and couldn't stay at playgroup and that she was coming with me. However, her take on the situation appeared to be that there was an awful lot of fun to be had at this place and she didn't see why Tom got to be in on it and not her. She's always had trouble accepting the fact that she isn't the same age as Tom. To cut a long story short (well, slightly shorter anyway), I made sure she fully understood I was leaving, but would be back later and left empty handed. She waved me off with a cheerful "Bye Mummy!". Lily, if you are reading this in the future, just so you know, I REALLY didn't want to leave you. You're only two for goodness sake!

I was stunned! I had been in perfect agonies over sending Tom, but could just about see the argument for doing so. To come home with neither of them, especially when I'd been looking forward to some mother/daughter time with Lily, was a shock. I don't mind telling you that I nearly cried when I walked into the was just so empty without them! I don't understand this 'time to yourself' everyone says is so great when your children are at playgroup/school. I HATED not having my Podlings home with me. My one consolation was that at least they were together. Whilst I think it important that the Podlings make friends with other children, I always want them, first and foremost, to be friends with each other. They are very close and I took comfort in knowing they were together.

Stopping for a rest on the way home

I left far too soon to go and pick them up and arrived ten minutes early. I noticed I wasn't the first one there either. All us anxious mums commiserated with each other, whilst our children, clearly having a great time and oblivious to the anguish they were causing their mothers, played inside. When the time came for them to leave, Lily was happy to see me and ready to come home for some lunch. Tom, on the other hand, didn't want to leave! I had to pick him up and physically remove him from the premises!

Lily clearly had a great time and chatted quite happily about what she'd been up to on the way home. I think Tom had a good time, but getting him to talk about it was like getting blood out of a stone! I was a little concerned that he seemed more clingy than usual coming home, so I'll see how he is in the next couple of sessions before I'm completely convinced that he's happy there. He wants to go again though, so he must have enjoyed it.

This post ended up rather longer than I intended, but I guess this has been quite a Big Thing for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy the Podlings like playgroup...I just wish I could be happy about them going. I know it is my job as a mother to raise them to be independent and that one day they will have to leave my side and make their own way in the world. Just, in the words of a certain precocious two year old "not yet!".