Friday, 22 July 2011

The birthday party that almost wasn't

Emma enjoys a fairy cake

Thanks to the norovirus sweeping through Tom and Lily's school we almost didn't have a birthday party. During the course of this week we have all succumbed to the illness one by one. Only Mark and my dad have managed to escape it. Because of the rotten virus I had to do the unthinkable and buy a commercial birthday cake for Emma's birthday. In my nearly seven years of motherhood this is the first time I haven't made the birthday cake for their party. I had it all planned out in my head and had bought the most delightful decorations for it too...botheration!

The theme for Emma's birthday was 'round and round the garden, like a teddy bear'. Emma is my little bear and she loves to be outside in the garden, so it seemed appropriate. My plans for this party had to be dramatically scaled back as I was left with no time to make the decorations I had wanted and didn't do half what I had planned to. As it turned out, thanks to the virus the only people at Emma's party were Emma, Lily, my dad and me. My mum, who had made the journey to visit us expressly to be here for Emma's birthday, succumbed to the virus about mid-morning and spent the rest of Emma's birthday in bed. Tom was also ill, Mark's parents wisely stayed away to avoid catching the nasty bug and Mark was at work. I still wanted to make her party special though, so I decorated the sideboard, made a batch of fairy cakes and served some of the party food in plant pots. It was a small party, but it turned out nicely and those of us able to attend had a lovely time. Most importantly, Emma loved it and that is what it is all about. Still cross about the bought birthday cake though!

 Since the theme was 'round and round the garden like a teddy bear' I filled watering cans with fresh flowers and propped Emma's new teddy up against one of them. Garden tools were also part of the decor.

I call Emma  'Emma Bear', so I like to give her a special teddy on her birthday and at Christmas and I have started collecting the Bearington Bears for her. This one was so appropriate for our party theme with its ladybird dress and handbag.

 It wouldn't be a birthday without homemade fairy cakes. I managed to whip these up during Emma's nap, though I didn't use the decorations I had originally bought for them. We hope to have a birthday party 'mark 2' at the weekend, so I am saving the decorations for then.

Another picture of Emma's new teddy bear because I love it and want to steal it. I have always loved teddy bears, especially those in pretty dresses!

 Emma helps herself. She really enjoyed her party.

To keep with the party theme, I served some of the party food in plant pots. One of the few ideas I actually had time to carry through!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Snug as a bug

So what was it that put that beam on her face?

What was Emma's favourite present? Well, she loved the trampoline of course, the colouring pens were popular and the Weeble treehouse was a big hit, but I would say her favourite present was this...

New bedding! All laid out with new birthday pyjamas.

We have recently discovered that Emma sleeps a lot better without her baby sleeping bag on, so she has been going to bed with a sheet and blankets over her for a couple of weeks now. However, she loves to snuggle down under the duvets on all the other beds, so for her birthday we gave her a duvet of her very own, with a pretty red gingham duvet cover, pillowcase and matching scatter cushions to complete the look. To say she was pleased is somewhat understating the case! She spent quite a while just rearranging her scatter cushions and playing at being asleep and when it actually came to bedtime I've never known her so keen to go to bed. She wasn't even interested in a mummy cuddle tonight, it was straight to bed to snuggle down under her very own duvet. I hope she is as keen to go bed every evening and, more importantly stays asleep all night!

Playing at being asleep. She actually sleeps on her side with a dummy in her mouth and her muslin cuddled up by her face. My little angel...I could eat her!

Baby loves her bedding!

Emma's BIG present

We thought it would be nice to get Emma a trampoline for her main present. It is something I have wanted to get the Podlings for a while. We thought that if the whole family clubbed together, we could afford a nice big one that all the Podlings could use, even as they get bigger. All the family generously chipped in, so we were able to afford a nice 10 foot trampoline. However, what I thought was going to be a ten foot trampoline with an 8 foot bouncing area turned out to be a 12 foot trampoline with a 10 foot bouncing area. It's massive! The top of the enclosure is higher than the guttering on the one storey portion of the roof and it takes up a huge section of garden. Please remember, we are buying this ostensibly for a two year old!

The other difference of opinion we would have with the website we ordered it from would be our definition of 'easy assembly'. It took Mark and my dad almost four hours to put this thing together. They finished at 2 am this morning! Here they are at midnight last night, halfway through their ordeal...

It is a trifle large for a two year old. Emma can stroll around quite happily underneath it without so much as bending her head...

It might be big, but Emma loves it. She and Lily had a really good time on it this afternoon and we are going to have some really good fun with it this summer. Tom is sadly still much too ill to be bouncing on anything following a nasty bout of norovirus, but I know he will love it when he is better. I have to confess that I had a sneaky go on it when Emma had her nap today. It was great fun! It was the first time I had ever been on a trampoline, but it won't be the last!

We have identified one significant problem with a ten foot trampoline. When it is time to go in for tea and the toddler doesn't want to get off, she is ten feet away. My arms are not ten feet long! Here is my dad trying to retrieve said toddler, who was adamant that bouncing time was not over...

Love it!

Two today!

 Emma at one day old, back when she had dark hair!

The littlest Podling turned two years old today, despite my being in absolute denial about her getting older.

Why do they grow so fast...Why?!!

Happy birthday to our darling little Emma Bear. We love you sweetheart!

Emma at two years old, with lots and lots of blond hair.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Foto Friday - Books

A detail of the cover showing the goatskin binding, gold blocking and hand-marbled papers. Beautiful!

This week's Foto Friday challenge was books. It was hard for me not to go nuts with this one because I am a complete bibliophile! Time, as ever, was the real challenge, so I grabbed one of my Folio Society books (the prettiest books imaginable) and took a few pictures of it. I have always believed that books should be as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside, so I really treasure my handful of Folio editions. They are kept on a bookcase in my bedroom, well away from Podling traffic! This one was a birthday present from my husband and is a facsimile of the 1853 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. It is one of the prettiest books I own!

Finally, a quick picture I snapped this morning whilst on one of my walks with Emma. I pulled out my trusty field guide to wildflowers, (a wonderful book we inherited from Mark's grandfather) to look up a flower I couldn't name and thought 'Oh yeah, it's a book isn't it' and snapped a picture just for you. Yes, I do carry books around with me all the time! Tufted Vetch is the name of the flower, in case you were wondering. I learned something new today!

This photo illustrates my two favourite things, books and flowers.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

King (and Queens) of the Castle

I was rather pleased to get this picture of the Podlings on the bouncy castle at the church fun day last weekend. I think it is the first time I have managed to get a bouncy castle photo with all three children in focus. This is more typical of the type of shot I get...

The Podlings really enjoyed the fun day and had great fun playing the games and eating lots of food. The day ended with a puppet show in the church which we thought the Podlings might enjoy. Tom and Lily found the music too loud, so I took them outside. Emma, on the other hand, absolutely loved it and couldn't take her eyes off the puppets. Mark sat with her until the end of the performance and snapped this picture on his phone...

Love her sweet little face!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sports Day

This morning, Emma and I got to watch Tom and Lily in their school sports day. I completely messed up and thought that the sports day was tomorrow afternoon. I turned up at the school to drop the Podlings off this morning only to find that sports day was starting in half an hour! I rushed back home to grab my camera and some snacks for Emma and raced back up the hill to the school. By the time I got back to the school, I felt rather like I had taken part in sports day myself!

Tom and Lily both seemed to really enjoy taking part in the day and although they generally came towards the end of the races, neither of them seemed bothered in the slightest. Tom, in particular, always looks like he is having a great time and really couldn't care in the slightest which position he finishes in...he's so sweet! Lily really gave it her all and I was very proud of her for trying so hard in her first sports day.

Well Done Tom and Lily, we are very proud of you both!

Waiting to race

I love Tom's smile in this race. He is not remotely competitive!

I love that Lily can still look straight at the camera and smile, even in the middle of a race! 

 Lily really threw herself into the sprint and was doing so well, but just ran out of steam towards the end. The school are so good at not making a big thing about who wins and loses. The children all seem to just be having fun, which is so nice to see.

My darling boy came last in just about every race and had such a great time. He really just enjoys taking part. Love him!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Foto Friday - Breakfast

This week's Foto Friday challenge was breakfast. I knew this one was going to be tough because I eat breakfast with Emma, so trying to set up a shot with an almost two year old to help was going to be a challenge! The weather has been miserable this week, so we have been having my favourite miserable weather breakfast, porridge and brown sugar. I don't normally sprinkle the sugar in the shape of a heart, but then I don't normally take a photo of my breakfast either!

My camera is useless at indoor photos, so I put a tea towel down by the patio door in the kitchen so I could make use of the natural light. I could see Emma watching, so I quickly dumped the bowl of porridge down on the towel and grabbed the camera in the hope I could take one picture before the toddler moved in. She was quicker than me, so her hand is in the photo (though I actually like it better that way)! All hope of arty photos went out the window as Goldilocks declared the porridge to be "just right" and tucked in...


Tom's robot homework

Tom really enjoyed his homework last night, so he asked me to 'put it on the blog' again. Happy to oblige my darling...

Tom is very good at maths. He just has one of those brains to which numbers come naturally (he could count to 50 at the age of two and a half). His handwriting, on the other hand, needs a little work! His brain works faster than his hand I think.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

In which Emma fails to co-operate!

Emma has been able to recognise and name shapes for a little while now (square, circle, triangle, heart, star and flower). We were drawing together this morning and Emma was happily naming all the shapes I drew for her. I suddenly thought 'Oh, the grandparents would love to hear this', so I grabbed the camera and started which point Emma stopped co-operating! I know that the grandparents love to see the outtakes too so I thought I'd share the videos anyway. In the first video she is too distracted by the camera to pay any attention to the shapes...

In this second video she seems inclined to co-operate to start with and then gets distracted by a noisy wood pigeon in the garden. She spends the rest of the time trying to copy the pigeon...

Never work with children or animals!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Smiley, happy Podlings

In a rare moment of co-operation, the Podlings all sat together on the stairs as we were getting ready for school this morning and Lily asked me to take a photo. I actually have a picture of all three children looking at the camera and smiling at the same time!! Lily was extremely excited this morning as her class are going on a visit to the Blue Planet aquarium today and she has been looking forward to it for weeks.

I feel the need to point out that I did  tidy up their hair before sending them off to school, though there isn't usually much I can do about Tom's curls. Some days they behave, some days they don't!

Monday, 4 July 2011

A woodland walk

We didn't get up to much this weekend, but we did manage to take a lovely walk in Biddulph Grange Country Park on Sunday afternoon. It was pleasantly cool in the woods, which was a welcome relief from the heat of the sun. We've not been here before, but we plan to go again soon and next time we will bring a picnic to enjoy by the pond. It was the perfect shady spot for a picnic, but I don't know how long it would take Emma to give in to temptation and try to get in the water!

 Oh my goodness...this baby is so adorable I just want to eat her!

 Would you look at all that hair! When it's wet it reaches halfway down her back. 

Lily called this her adventure tree. The biggest adventure was getting out of it, which she couldn't manage without help! In case you were wondering, she had been to a birthday party in the morning and that's the remnants of the face painting you can see on her face.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Foto Friday - Clouds

Playing beneath the wide blue sky, the girls look so small!
I enjoyed taking part in Foto Friday last week so much that I actually took some photos on purpose this week so I could join in again! Thank you to everyone who left a comment last week, I really appreciated your kind words. I love to get comments...they make my day!

The challenge for this week was clouds. I took the photo above yesterday when the Podlings and I were out enjoying the fresh air and blue skies together. The photo below is my rather poor attempt at being arty and trying to make clover look like clouds. Not an easy shot to achieve since clover aren't very tall, so I had to pretty much put the camera on the floor, angle it slightly and hope the focus was okay because I couldn't see what I was doing! My camera is only a little point and shoot, so all things considered I think the picture turned out okay. I had to take quite a few shots to get this one though!
Clouds of clover