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!

Saturday, 11 October 2008


Lily and her grandad hanging out in the tent.
What child isn't entertained by a tent made out of two dining room chairs and a sheet? Lily loves tents (she actually sleeps in a 'tent', but that is a story for another post and shall be told another time). I'm always having to drag half the dining room furniture into the play room for her. She was gracious enough to ask for her tent today expressly so she could invite her Nanna and Grandad inside. Lily is a very generous hostess and will often offer some of her half chewed biscuits to her guests. I think Mark's mum and dad were spared that particular pleasure on this occasion, for which I'm sure they are grateful!
Nanna in the tent. As usual, Tom moved just as I took the photo. The boy cannot sit still!


On a completely separate note, my parents and sister arrive tomorrow for a week long visit in anticipation of Tom's birthday next week. I'm really looking forward to seeing them and I know they are looking forward to spending time with the Podlings. There will be much talking, playing, cooking and crafting going on next week, but not, I suspect, much blogging! I will try and catch up with my blog when my family have returned home and I'm feeling lonely!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Butter fingers

These little treats came about by accident as I messed up a recipe this morning. I'd planned to make some millionaire's shortbread (that's the shortbread with caramel and chocolate on top), but I was in a lazy mood and was using the recipe on the side of the tin of condensed milk. This involves crushing 200g of shop-bought shortbread and mixing it in with melted butter, rather than making your own shortbread base. "That's a lot of butter." I thought as I melted the 5 oz of butter required by the recipe. I mixed in my shortbread crumbs, poured it into the centre of my lined tin and watched it ooze towards the edges. Wasn't I supposed to press it flat...this couldn't be right! I looked at the recipe again. It did indeed require 5oz of butter in the caramel. I was only supposed to use 1 oz of butter in the base...oops! I was annoyed with myself for wasting so much butter and nearly a whole pack of shortbread biscuits and decided to try and salvage the situation. I figured that with that much butter, adding a caramel layer would make the treats way too sickly, so I just melted 200g of chocolate and poured it on top of the chilled base. I cut them into small fingers when they were cold. If you like butter, you will like these treats! I think they would also work well with a digestive biscuit base and you could reduce the amount of butter used! The chocolate tends to fall off the top of the biscuit base, but at least I didn't have to waste the ingredients and they are really tasty. However, be warned ladies, these butter fingers will go straight to your hips!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ice, Ice Baby

This stack of coconut ice is the result of my first foray into sweet making. I've wanted to have a go at sweet making for years and finally treated myself to a sugar thermometer this week. It was a lot of fun and the coconut ice turned out really well. It's absolutely delicious and it ought to be with ONE POUND of sugar in it! That's the downside to sweet know just how much sugar goes into them!