My name is Paula. I'm a full-time mum and homemaker. I live in Staffordshire with my wonderful husband Mark and our four delightful children Tom (12 years), Lily (10 years), Emma (7 years) and little Alexander (2 years). A cosy home, good books to read, access to the countryside, tea and flowers. A little time for some needlework, a little baking, time to play my piano and my family nearby...that's me happy!
Life is good!
My parents were able to come up for the week of Tom's birthday, which I'm sure they would have enjoyed a lot more if we hadn't shared our stomach virus with them while they were here! I love having my parents to visit and no matter how long they stay it never seems long enough.
The Podlings are always thrilled to see their grandparents, especially since they always bring their two dogs with them. Molly is a seven year old Yorkshire Terrier who has the good sense to stay away from children except during mealtimes. Flash, on the other hand, adores the Podlings and has a special fondness for Lily. Flash is a two year old Shelty and is a fine specimen of doghood, He basically looks like a miniature Lassie and is admired wherever he goes. Wherever he goes is usually not very far from wherever Lily goes when he is visiting us. He will even go and wake her up if we don't keep an eye on him. He loves her and the feeling is definitely mutual!
Poor Lily is a little squashed here. It's hard being loved!
There seems to be a pox upon our family birthdays this year. Mark had pneumonia over Lily's and my birthdays, we were all suffering from norovirus the week of Emma's birthday and the week of Tom and Mark's birthdays we were once again all suffering from a nasty stomach virus. Tom was supposed to be having a couple of friends round for a party tea after school on his birthday, but because of the virus we had to put them off. The poor little boy was so disappointed, even though we promised him a second birthday party when everyone was better.
Because I had been ill the day before his birthday, the little party tea we put together for him was entirely devoid of homemade goodies. For the second time this year I had to give one of my children a bought birthday cake instead of the usual homemade one. My disappointment in this fact was not mirrored by Tom who adored his store-bought caterpillar cake to such an extent that we haven't been allowed to cut it and it is still smiling down at me from a shelf in the kitchen. I've never have a fuss made like that over one of my homemade cakes...humpf!
Stomach viri notwithstanding, Tom ended up really enjoying his birthday. Thankfully nobody was actually ill on the day of his birthday (although my dad started going down with it the next day), so we were able to make it special for him. One of his favourite presents was a little £1.49 rocket balloon pump that caused no end of delight in the Podlings. He also loved his Playmobil pirate ship, though I am very glad my dad was here to put that one together! A good time was had by all in the end and Tom is now looking forward to having his two best friends round for his second birthday party on Friday. We have a duplicate caterpillar cake for this party and he assures me he will let us eat that one as long as we can keep the original. That's one advantage of store bought cakes at least...they are so chock full of preservatives you can keep the things for weeks!
One thing I have learned from the birthdays this year is that it really is okay to keep things simple. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy putting the fancy parties together, but sometimes trying to get everything 'just right' can take away from what the day is really about...celebrating my little ones. My perfectionism is not always my friend! Too often have I spent the birthday afternoon in the kitchen instead of playing with them and their new toys. Tom was over the moon with his store-bought cake, his store-bought decorations and unco-ordinated wrapping paper. Whilst it is okay to give them their special parties with the homemade decorations, homemade goodies and colour co-ordinated everything (and I will always enjoy doing that), it is also okay to sometimes just kick back, buy everything from a shop and just enjoy the wonderful little people in my life! It is about the memories we make together, not the parties I make alone.
Emma got very excited when she saw me putting the food out in the kitchen and immediately climbed up to the table and started demanding cake! She then got distracted by the blanket we were using as a tablecloth and started singing 'Twinkle twinkle little star'!
Tom might be seven, but he still loves the Hungry Caterpillar and was thrilled with his new Portmeirion china Hungry Caterpillar plate, bowl and mug set.
Tom with his much-beloved store-bought caterpillar cake.
My darling little boy turned seven years old today. I blinked and somehow that tiny little baby in the incubator grew into a seven year old boy! But what a sweet, caring, thoughtful little boy he is and he brings so much delight to our lives. I am so grateful that he is a 'young' seven. He isn't in a hurry to grow up and is just as happy to play with his little toys as his 'big boy' toys. He brings so much joy to our family.
The weather was so warm last weekend that the Podlings were still enjoying the sea at sunset. Who would have thought one could enjoy being in the Irish Sea at sunset in October! It was truly wonderful
watching the sun set over the sea as my children played in the water and the waves lapped over my feet. By this time we were almost on our own on the beach and it was so peaceful with only the sound of the Podlings' laughter and the waves lapping to break the stillness. Even the gulls were quiet by this time. We stayed on the beach until it was really too dark to stay any longer, but even so the Podlings didn't want to leave. What a wonderful, if unusual, way to spend an Autumn day!
I love this photo!
Emma was mesmerised by the waves. She just stood there staring at them, occasionally saying "Water! Water fun!". I'm slightly sad that she now uses the proper word for water. For a long time she called water 'wee wet', or 'wee wee wet' for a large body of water like a lake or the sea.
I decided that Emma was getting a bit cold so I got her out and wrapped her in a towel. As soon as she had warmed up she was down and back in the sea again!
We took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather last weekend and went to the beach. Imagine, wearing shorts and playing in the sea in October! Not something you would expect to happen in this country, but we weren't complaining. This time we went to Barkby Beach, Prestatyn as for some reason the car park for our favourite beach was closed. We had never been there before, but the Podlings absolutely loved it and Tom said he wanted to go there again. Talacre beach is certainly prettier and has more dry sand, but there was certainly nothing to complain about at Barkby and we had a wonderful afternoon together.
I am terrible for taking photos at the beach, I just can't stop myself! This trip was no different, so I have divided my photos into two posts, one for the beach and one for the sea. You can't have too many photos of your children!
It really has been too nice to stay indoors this week. Here are some pictures of Emma playing with her toys on a blanket in the garden earlier this week. What you won't be seeing is a picture of my ironing pile, which has reached epic proportions during this week of lovely weather. Who wants to iron when the sun is shining!
Emma loves the Jack-in-the-Box. I really like this one as it has a teddy bear instead of the traditional Jack. I have always found the traditional Jack-in-the-box rather creepy!
Emma is very good at stacking blocks and can make some rather tall towers.
Mark was amused at my going for a walk with two baskets (I have a bit of a thing for baskets), so he took my picture before I set off.
One day last week Mark was working from home, so I planned to have a little time to myself during Emma's nap. I packed up a little picnic (sandwiches, apples and a homemade muffin...mmm!), a small thermos of tea, a couple of books, a blanket and my blackberry basket and set off. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to an hour or two of peace and relaxation in the sunshine. I had visions of setting up my picnic under a shady tree and whiling away a pleasant half an hour with my old friend David Copperfield. Alas, it wasn't to be!
I managed to get quite a nice basketful of blackberries and I was just about to find a nice spot for my picnic when I received a message from Mark telling me that Emma was on nap strike and he had had to get her up (there's the curse of the mobile phone for you!). Aaargh! How do the little ones always know when you are trying to sneak away! I set off for home and instead of my picnic under a tree, I ate it at our garden table while Mark played nearby with Emma. Still, the thought of the picnic was almost as nice as actually having it. It's a wonderful thing to possess an imagination!
I wasn't the only lady out for a stroll amongst the blackberry bushes!
The weather this week has been nothing short of glorious and so Emma and I have been trying to make the most of it when Tom and Lily are at school by being outdoors as much as possible. This is naturally detrimental to the order of the house, but the housework will keep in a way that this lovely weather simply won't. The colder, wetter weather that we are used to will return in force soon enough! Here are a few pictures from one of our walks earlier this week. These were all taken within a 5 minute walk of our house (though it takes longer at Emma pace!).
The last rose(s) of summer!
I like teasel. It such a funny, alien-looking plant.
The cows appeared to be enjoying the lovely weather as much as us!
Thistles with their Autumn coats on.
This little ladybird was quite safe from predators, nestled as it was in this prickly teasel head.