Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Time for tea

I hadn't heard of raspberry leaf tea in my previous pregnancies, but have since come to hear of its supposed benefits in late pregnancy. It is believed, amongst other things, to make the second stage of labour more efficient and to help the uterus to contract after birth. I figured there was no harm in giving it a try in this pregnancy. After all, who doesn't want that second stage of labour to go quickly!
After my cousin had her little girl earlier this year, she passed several boxes of raspberry leaf tea on to me (with strict instructions from my aunt not to take it until I was 37 weeks pregnant). With Mark being away and wanting to get the bedroom decorated, I have held off drinking it until now just in case. I was fancying a hot drink this afternoon and, suddenly remembering the raspberry leaf tea, duly brewed myself a cup. I have to admit I wasn't expecting to be overly keen on it as I'm not normally a fan of fruit teas, but this stuff is delicious. Regardless of its supposed benefits in late pregnancy, I'm going to enjoy drinking this tea anyway. It is set to become my new drink of choice. Of course, if I go into labour tonight we might give some credit to the tea!

Monday, 29 June 2009

A view with a room

One of the reasons we were able to buy our house is that it was sorely in need of some decorative attention. Although we were able to tackle a few of the rooms before we moved in, the master bedroom has remained in a pretty poor state for the last two years. The lady who lived here before us was a little cavalier in her approach to decorating and abandoned her attempt to paint the bedroom halfway through. It was truly horrible! As someone who is affected by her surroundings, I have to say that the bedroom was not somewhere I looked forward to relaxing in at the end of the day.

I was thrilled when Mark offered to have the bedroom decorated for my birthday present this year, but despaired of it getting it done before the baby arrived when our decorator kept letting us down. He finally came round last week and finished the job on Friday and to say I am over the moon with the result is an understatement. I'm looking forward to putting the finishing touches to the room at some point (throw pillows, pictures, etc.), but the bedroom is finally somewhere I feel I can relax and unwind in. Probably a good thing given that I will soon be spending a lot of my nocturnal hours sat up in bed nursing a baby!

Just waiting for baby!

A butterfly tea party

I haven't had butterfly cakes since my mum made them for me when I was a little girl. My goodness did mum and I enjoy them!
.One morning during my mum's visit we were doing collages with the Podlings using a new craft kit my parents had brought for Lily. Included in the kit was a pack of colourful butterfly sequins which Tom immediately took a shine to. After finishing his pictures, he pulled all the butterflies out from amongst the other shapes and proceeded to play with them for the entire morning. He lined them up and marched them across the kitchen, he gave them rides on his fire engine, he pretty much took them everywhere with him. He was enjoying them so much that, on the spur of the moment, I decided to throw a butterfly tea party that afternoon.

We spent the afternoon making butterfly shaped Shrewsbury biscuits and butterfly cakes. At tea time, we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labours, along with butterfly shaped sandwiches and a cake plate piled with lots of colourful chopped fruit including peaches, strawberries and watermelon. If I'd planned it sooner, I would have made butterfly-themed decorations too, but Tom decorated the table with his butterfly sequins so the table still looked pretty. At the end of the party, Lily was asking for cake so we put a candle in a butterfly cake and sang 'Happy Birthday' to the butterflies. The Podlings really enjoyed their special tea and both of them asked if we could have another butterfly party next week.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

A new toy

Mark's mum and dad visited us this afternoon, bringing a colourful little gazebo with them as a present for the Podlings. As soon as Mark's dad had finished putting it up, Lily decided she wanted to have a picnic inside. Since Nanna always has treats about her person, she and Lily were soon enjoying a little snack in the privacy of the gazebo. I'm hoping the weather stays nice for a few days so the Podlings can have some fun outside with their new toy. Weather permitting (and assuming Podling No.3 doesn't put in an early appearance), I'm planning on having a little tea party in the gazebo with the Podlings one afternoon this week.

Lily and her Nanna enjoying a little snack in the gazebo

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Friday, 26 June 2009

Fun with Grandad

Painting with Grandad

Although my mum was able to stay with us for over a week, my dad was only able to stay for one night. The Podlings certainly made the most of him while he was here though and wanted to play with him constantly. He played with them all day and then drove back to Devon late in the evening. He must have been exhausted by the time he got home, but we were so glad he was able to be with us even for a short visit.

I'm not sure who had more fun, Dad or the Podlings!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Happy Father's Day

We were having trouble with the Internet yesterday, so I'd like to wish a belated Happy Father's Day to the man who raised me, the man who raised my husband and the man who stands beside me as we raise children of our own. You are all wonderful men and I love you! I hope you enjoyed your day.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


My mum and me (with broken arm) in our garden in Malaysia in the mid 1980s (mum is about the age I am now in this picture). You'll notice the storybook under her arm. She spent a lot of time reading to my sister and me when we were little. An activity I'm sure she will get to indulge in a lot during her visit as the Podlings love to be read to.

It's all excitement round here today as we get ready for my parents' visit this afternoon. Unfortunately, my dad can only stay for one night as he has to go back for work, but my mum will be here for just over a week. The main reason she is staying is to act as a back-up birth partner should the baby decide to come a little early. You are considered full term from 37 weeks (a milestone I reach tomorrow) and unfortunately Mark has to go to Germany on business for a couple of days next week. I'm not expecting to have the baby early, but Mum is here 'just in case' as I don't fancy giving birth on my own!
I don't get to see my family very often since we moved to Staffordshire, so I'm really looking forward to having Mum here for a week and spending some time with her. We never run out of things to talk about and I know she is really looking forward to seeing her grandpodlings again. I don't know if I will have much time to update the blog during her visit, but I'll be sure to let you know if the baby does arrive early!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Lazy days skirt

I've been making some of Lily's summer play clothes this year. I found a fabulously simple pattern for an elasticated skirt with a ribbon hem (available here) and have really enjoyed sewing them. I've made two so far (the one in the picture and another with pink flowers on a white background with pink ribbon trim) and I have enough fabric to make three more. I'm not an experienced seamstress, but these were so quick and easy to put together I fear they may be addictive! I've also been using leftover ribbon trim to make matching hair bows to go with the skirts (Lily is wearing one in the photo). Hair accessories are generally overpriced, yet are so quick and cheap to make yourself if you have the inclination and a glue gun. I think the matching bows really finish off the outfit. Little girls are so much fun to dress!

Monday, 15 June 2009

A taste of things to come

Stopping to enjoy the flowers on the way to school.

Tom had his school visit this afternoon. We took a slow walk up the lane after lunch and Tom was quite excited about going to see his new classroom. However, he lost his enthusiasm a little when it came to leaving my side and actually going with his new teacher. He hung back slightly and said he didn't want to go, until his teacher smiled, held out her hand and asked him if wanted to go and play with them today. When she said they would be doing something about dinosaurs he walked towards her, took her hand and quietly walked off down the corridor without a backward glance.

I had slightly more upset from Lily who called out "My Thomas!" and fell dramatically to her knees as the doors closed behind him. They are best friends and she was quite upset at the prospect of being without him. She cheered up when I suggested we go to the park for a little while and pick Tom up later. Lily and I spent a happy hour watching the tractors in the fields, admiring the horses and playing in the park. It was lovely to spend some one on one time with her. It was very strange only having one of the children with me though. Lily seems much quieter without her brother to play with.

Enjoying a lovely afternoon
As we walked back up the lane to go and collect Tom, Lily decided to pick him a bunch of flowers and collected a handful of cow parsley heads. They were looking slightly worse for wear by the time she gave them to him, but I thought it was so sweet of her to think of picking flowers for her brother.
Tom came out of school with a smile on his face and a painting in his hand. I get the impression he had a nice time, but I'm short on the particulars. Tom isn't one for talking about what he's been up to, so I just have to piece things together from the snippets of information he does part with. I know they did painting because he gave me the end result (he tells me it's a daytime picture and he wants us to paint a nightime picture tomorrow). He told me that they had a story, that he had to listen during the story and that "I don't like listening" (oh dear!) Oh yes, and he also washed his hands in the sink. However, when I asked him if he thinks he will like going to school, he said 'yes', so that's reassuring. In a few short months, he will be spending a great deal of his time in school, so I'm glad his first experience of the place seems to have been a positive one.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Collecting shells

Exchanging snail shells
The Podlings are fascinated by snails at the moment. Their favourite activity when the weather is fine is to walk about the front garden hunting for snail shells. They generally gather up all the shells they can find and line them up between the stones of the driveway. Judging by the number they are finding, it's no wonder all the flowers in the front garden were decimated last year.

Inspecting the ranks
Thankfully, most of the shells they find are empty. They are quite squeamish about picking up shells where the snail is still in residence, for which I am eternally grateful! I'm not too fond of things that crawl and creep myself, so I wouldn't relish being handed a live snail to inspect!

Lily studies a new snail shell

Friday, 12 June 2009

One of those days

Relaxing with some new piano music.
An arrangement of 'Be thou my vision' by Joel Rosenberger.
It's been a tough day today. Lily just woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning and has been a pain in the proverbial all day! Just one of those days that motherhood throws at you sometimes. As much as I adore my little ones, it's been a very long day and I was glad to finally tuck them up in bed this evening. We were rather naughty and ordered take-away for tea as Mark could see I was rather frazzled and didn't feel much like cooking. After eating, I unwound with some new piano music I downloaded this afternoon. I always feel much more relaxed after playing the piano. It was my favourite way of taking a break from studying throughout my higher education, but I don't get to play very much these days and I'm really rusty. I'm not the pianist I once was, so this new piece will take me a while to learn. It's a really pretty arrangement though, so it will be worth the effort to learn it.
I now plan to relax further with my wonderful husband, a mug of hot chocolate, a good book and an early night. Tomorrow is another day and a Saturday at that.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Waiting for breakfast

I thought Lily looked so cute this morning as she sat drawing in her pyjamas while I made the breakfast. I love her little collection of dummies on the tray. We're having some success with getting her off the dummy during the day, but she still likes to take at least four to bed with her. She curls up on her side with one dummy in her mouth and holds another one up to her nose till she falls asleep. I really must try and get a picture of her doing looks so sweet.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Just playing around

I've now been blogging for over two years, so I thought it was about time I personalised my site. It may or may not change again over the next few days as I tinker around with it. I'm naturally drawn to pink and girly, but given that I blog about my son and my husband is a frequent visitor, I'm taking pity on the men in my life and going for a more neutral colour scheme. Feel free to let me know what you think of the changes.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Evidence of nesting

Exhibit A - The toy cupboard
The Podlings have a lot of toys. Seriously...we probably have more toys than the toddler group we frequent! I have regular culls, but the toys just seem to keep multiplying! We are lucky enough to have a playroom/family room in addition to our lounge, so most of the toys are kept in there. However, I find that if the Podlings have all their toys out at the same time, they don't play with anything. I've had a lot of success with toy rotation, but have been unhappy with how we've been storing the out of rotation toys.
One of the things I really wanted to do before the baby arrives was to reorganise our toy storage to minimise the potential for chaos when I'm sleep deprived. When we were in Asda on Saturday, I spotted some large lidded Tuff crates at £4 each. I snatched up six of these beauties and spent today on a mission to restore order to the play room. I'm really pleased with the result and have basically spent the latter part of the evening sat on the sofa staring at the newly ordered room. I'm a nesting machine at the moment and the house is looking so much better for it. There's still lots to do however, so I'm hoping baby will stay put for a few more weeks.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Starting school

Last night the four of us attended the parent's induction evening for Tom's new school, which he will be starting in September. I still can't believe I have a child who is about to start doesn't seem like that long ago Tom was sunbathing under UV lights in an incubator and now we are measuring him up for a school uniform! There was a short talk about the reception curriculum and school uniform and then we had a chance to look around Tom's future classroom and playground. The classroom he will spending the next year in is really lovely. It is bright, colourful and a really child-friendly environment. Lily immediately made herself quite at home and anyone would think it was her starting school in September. She will have no trouble making the transition to school when the time comes! Tom, on the other hand, was a little unsure of everything at first. He needs time to adjust to new situations and it was a lot for him to take in. However, he immediately warmed to the idea of going to school when we came to the reception class playground. It is a small courtyard, but is full of ride-on cars and play equipment. He certainly brightened up when he got to play there and started making friends. In fact, we had a terrible job getting him to leave and he actually cried the whole way home (only five minutes in the car) because he wanted to stay. I hope he is that enthusiastic about actually going to school when the time comes. I really loved school when I was little and I want so much for my children to enjoy their education too. Tom will have a chance to spend an afternoon in the classroom with his new teacher next week, so it will be interesting to see what he has to say after that experience.

It certainly helped me to be able to see the school and get a feel for the type of environment and people that my little boy will be spending so much time with. I've heard nothing but good things about the school and teachers from people who have (or have had) children in the school. Now I've seen it for myself, I'm happy that he is going to a good school. Now I just have to hope that Tom makes a smooth transition to full-time education. It will be a big change in his life and I hope it will be a positive experience for him.

"Starting school" by Ethel and Harry Wingfield. Image available from

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


A couple of months ago, Tom discovered a couple of Miffy books in our local library. He liked them so much we had to renew them and he was quite put out when we eventually returned them. The books (by Dick Bruna) are ideal for young children as they tell simple stories and are all very simply and brightly illustrated. Miffy is now so popular with the Podlings that we have started building our own little collection of Miffy books (including our own copies of the two we got from the library!). Tom keeps looking at the pictures of the other available Miffy books and telling me which ones he would like next.

They've been enjoying the stories about Miffy so much, I thought the Podlings might like to have their own little Miffy dolls to play with. Yesterday afternoon, using the illustrations in the books as a guide, I drew out a pattern for a small Miffy toy and cut two dolls out of white felt. They were actually quite fiddly to put together and I wish I'd had enough felt to make the toys a bit bigger, but they didn't turn out too badly for something I just threw together. I finished them up when the children were in bed last night and made dresses in the colours requested by the Podlings (yellow for Tom and pink for Lily).

The completed Miffy dolls. They are far from perfect, but I'm quite pleased with them. Thankfully the Podlings overlook my many mistakes.
The dolls were well received, particularly by Lily, who has been trying to get Tom to give her his all morning. She has been carrying Miffy around for much of the morning and I was particularly amused when she put it in her fishing net and wandered about the playroom pretending to be the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the film is very popular in our house at the moment and is frequently requested by both Podlings). I'm not sure 'Miffy and the Child Catcher' is a title that will ever catch on with the pre-school crowd however!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

I must go down to seas again...

We've been enjoying some glorious weather round here lately. Given the vagaries of the British climate, we decided on Saturday to 'make hay while the sun shines' and headed to North Wales to the beach. Our favourite beach so far is Talacre, originally recommended by a friend of ours who used to go there as a child (thanks Fiona). It is a lovely sandy spot that doesn't involve a long hike from the car park. We packed up a picnic (of course!) and spent a happy afternoon building sandcastles, collecting shells and paddling in the sea. Mark took the Podlings off for a long paddle, which meant I was able to sit back with a hot drink for a while and enjoy the peace and serenity of the place. I even got to read some of my book ('Cranford' by Elizabeth Gaskell if you're interested). We left the beach at eight o'clock, which meant a late night for the Podlings as it takes us 90 minutes to drive home. We had a fabulous time though and are hoping for some more good weather so we can repeat the excursion soon.

I love this photo of Tom. He is just so content at the beach.

Lily loved playing in the pools left behind when the tide went out