Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Passing the time

Our old boiler leaked last year, causing a lot of damage to areas of the dining room, lounge and the built-in cupboard in Emma's bedroom. The damage to the boiler sadly meant we had to get it replaced. Thankfully the damage to the rooms was purely cosmetic so we have had the decorators in this week to put it right. Aside from the chaos associated with having two of your main living rooms emptied and out of bounds, I have the added fun of trying to keep an inquisitive toddler out of the action. The last thing I want is for Emma to think that it is okay to paint walls! Yesterday we spent most of the day upstairs and I have to say that Emma has been a little treasure.

We were able to use the lounge today, but tomorrow we will probably have to spend most of the day upstairs again. I hope she is as good tomorrow as she was yesterday. I'm looking forward to getting my pictures back on the walls and my books and ornanments back where they belong. I don't function well in chaos, but it will be worth it to have nice freshly painted walls and ceilings.

 We spent some time on my bed watching DVDs on the laptop
 What to watch with your toddler? Bagpuss of course! It was my favourite programme when I was little and Emma seems to love it too. They just don't make programmes like this any more, mores the pity.

 I put a blanket down on the bed and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in my bedroom. You can see how much Emma enjoyed the experience!

 Emma playing with her toys in the bathroom sink. She got absolutely soaking, but it kept her amused for hours. She has a wonderful abiltiy to play by herself and I love listening to her games.

 Drying off after a long session playing in the sink.

 Taking advantage of the fact that the furniture is pushed away from the walls, we built a tent behind the sofa.

 The kitchen is full of the contents of the lounge and dining room at the moment so I just don't have enough space to cook. Thankfully Dominos and a 50% off coupon came to the rescue and provided tea, much to the Podlings delight. We couldn't go in the dining room because the paint was still wet, so I put a tablecloth on the coffee table and we had our meal in the lounge. The Podlings loved it!

Emma can't resist an empty box. Here she is enjoying her pudding in the empty pizza box!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Baby in red

Before I had any children, I dreamed that one day I would have a little girl and that this little girl would wear a red wool coat with black velvet trim and matching beret. Imagine my excitement on finding this little matching set for Emma! I gave it to her for Christmas and since Emma loves to get clothes for presents (most unusual for one so small), she was as thrilled with it as I was. However, the practicalities of giving a dry-clean-only coat to a toddler means that there hasn't really been much chance for her to wear it yet. We were going to Lily's class assembly on Friday morning, so I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to dress Emma in her 'best' coat. She looked so adorable I just wanted to eat her with a spoon! She looked like the little girl in my dreams!

Look at those adorable golden waves! I have to say that the little girl in my head had dark hair. Since my hair is naturally almost black I always imagined that my children would have dark hair. Imagine my surprise at having three little blond children!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A special birthday

My mum is celebrating a special birthday this year. This last year has been rather difficult for her as she has learned to live with multiple sclerosis, a condition she didn't even suffer from at all until just over a year ago. It has been hard to live so far away from her during this time. We wanted to make her birthday special for her, so we planned a surprise visit to Plymouth last weekend. I rang my dad to make sure they were going to be around at the weekend, but we all kept it to ourselves and managed to surprise Mum by turning up unannounced on Saturday afternoon. I was very impressed with my dad, who managed to prepare a delicious dinner of pork chops, roast potatoes and vegetables for an extra five people without arousing Mum's suspicion!

We shared a lovely evening together and gave Mum her presents before heading to a hotel for the night. We could hardly have expected them to get the rooms ready for us and still kept our visit a surprise, so Travelodge provided the accommodations on this trip. All five of us sleeping (or in some cases not sleeping) in one room was not fun, but that's a story for another time!

The following morning I had a phone call from my brother-in-law to tell me that he and my sister were coming down to join us (they live in Bristol), so Mum had another surprise when they turned up unexpectedly at lunchtime. It was lovely to have us all together for the day as it doesn't happen very often. I haven't seen Elaine and Gareth in ages, so it was lovely to spend time with them. We had a little party lunch, involving the usual party food and then some of us went for a walk with the dogs. The plan was for us all to go out for a  meal in the evening, but unfortunately Emma took ill so we sent Mum, Dad, Elaine and Gareth off for the meal and we packed to head back home. We were able to say a last goodbye as they returned from the meal just as we were getting into the car.

We had a lovely weekend and I'm so glad we were able to surprise my Mum for her birthday.

Mum, I love you very much and I'm so proud of how you have coped this last year.

Happy 60th Birthday!!

The birthday cake I made for Mum. We have a tradition of Smartie cakes for birthdays in our family that was started by my maternal grandmother, so I thought my Mum might appreciate a Smartie cake for her 60th. This photo was taken after Tom had been experimenting with candle placement, hence the holes in the chocolate!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Pretty and practical

We recently had to retire the chest of drawers that Lily had in her bedroom. The bottom two drawers were unusable as they would collapse if you tried to open them, pushing the sides out of the unit and causing the second drawer to drop down too. Only the top drawer was usable, but it was such an attractive wooden unit I was reluctant to just throw it away. I threw out the bottom two drawers and then pinned a remnant of net I had leftover from another project across the gap. The unit now sits in the family bathroom and the dirty washing basket I had in that corner is now hidden behind the net curtain. The unit serves the double purpose of hiding the ripped wallpaper caused by the radiator coming off the wall last year. Plus, I still have two drawers worth of storage space available to me. I can consider it a success as even Mark said 'That doesn't look too bad' when he saw it...high praise indeed!


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Mow Cop Castle

 (I'm rather proud of this photo, taken through the arch at dusk)

This afternoon we took a flask of tea and a basket of home-baked goodies and climbed the hill to Mow Cop Castle. Despite its aged appearance, it isn't actually as old as it looks. It was built in 1754 as a summer house and was designed to look like a ruined castle. 'Tis but a folly, but no less worth the visit for all that. The 'castle' is less than three miles from our house, but despite having lived here for four and a half years, we have never actually driven up there to see it. It is the highest point in the area, so naturally we have seen it from a distance, but we have never been 'up close'. It was sunny, but bitterly cold today, so cold that the morning frost still lay on the ground in the shade. We wrapped up very warmly and had a lovely time exploring the folly and enjoying our little picnic. We left at dusk, but will definitely be visiting again. It is practically on our own doorstep after all!

 Mow Cop Castle. It was three in the afternoon and the morning frost still lay on the ground.

 Climbing the hill

 Stopping to enjoy the view

My sweet boy

Little Miss Independent refused to be lifted up the big steps, but did consent to let her Daddy hold her hand. 

 Inside the folly
My lovely Lily

 My three favourite little people

Enjoying a large piece of Mummy's homemade sponge

Another view of Mow Cop Castle

Friday, 13 January 2012

Sitting pretty

The art table that we gave to Lily for Christmas is actually a child's vanity table. Although she uses it almost exclusively as an art desk, I think it is fair to say that she likes the concealed mirror under the desk lid. I came upstairs at suppertime the other night to find Emma sat at the table and Lily brushing her hair and putting in a hair bow. I had an 'ahh' moment and then quietly dashed downstairs for the camera. Love my girls!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

An impromptu birthday party

On Monday evening Tom informed me that his favourite teddy (a ladybird called Be Mine) was having a birthday the following day and could we have a party tea. Tuesday is usually my shopping day anyway, so I added a few extras to my order and on Tuesday evening we had a little birthday party for Be Mine and one of Lily's toys who was also apparently having a birthday that day. Thankfully both toys were turning one, so I put one candle in an angel slice and we sang 'Happy Birthday'. I relit the candle several times so everyone could take turns blowing it out again. After tea we played a few party games. Just musical statues and blind man's buff, followed by a game of Sly Fox, but we all had lots of fun and Lily was most upset when it had to end.

The birthday teddies. Lily's toy giraffe was given to her by our next door neighbour when we lived in Cornwall. It has always been amongst her favourites, but has undergone many name changes. On the day of the party is was going by the moniker 'Molly', but was called Eleanor the following day.

The birthday cake, an angel slice with a candle in it.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Christmas Ornaments 2011

I picked out this lovely Father Christmas for Emma 

One of our family traditions in the lead up to Christmas is to take the Podlings to our favourite garden centre to pick out their Christmas ornaments. Each of the Podlings has had a new ornament every year since they were born, so by the time they leave home they will each have a nice little collection to decorate their own trees with. Tom and Lily now pick out their own, but I picked Emma's out for her. Next year she will be old enough to choose her own and I will be interested to see what she picks out. The first year Tom was old enough to choose his own decoration he picked out the most ghastly looking thing that I now try to hang round the back of the tree every year! To be fair to him, he was only three at the time!

By way of finishing up my Christmas posts, I thought I'd share pictures of the ornaments the Podlings chose this Christmas.

Lily chose this little red Christmas fairy

Tom chose this lovely sparkly gold train. His taste in ornaments has improved over the years!

Christmas memories

"I rincess!" ~ Emma loves to play dressing up and adored this Snow White costume she got for Christmas. 

We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and we thoroughly enjoyed our family time. My parents travelled up on Christmas Eve and stayed until January 2nd and it was wonderful to be able to spend so much time together.

This was the first time since Mark and I have been together that we have had Christmas in our own home, so I was slightly concerned about pulling off a four course Christmas dinner. I needn't have worried! My Dad was a wonderful help in the kitchen and prepared all the veg and though we sat down to dinner a little later than I planned, it was delicious! The turkey (the first I've ever cooked) was done to a turn and we all enjoyed our traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

It was a wonderful holiday and it was a shame it had to come to an end. Tom and Lily went back to school yesterday and things are slowly returning to normal, but I have the memories of a wonderful Christmas and New Year to make me smile while I catch up with the housework.

 I served pastries for breakfast on Christmas morning. I left the table for about two minutes and returned to find Emma had been enjoying an impromptu tasting session in my absence. She had five different pastries in front of her, each of which was missing a bite!

 Grandad hard at work on Lily's art table

 Lily giving Grandad a helping hand

 Tom managed to avoid the camera for most of Christmas Day. This is the only picture I have of him after he got dressed.

 Lily at her art table

Lily loved her new doll 

 Lily in her pretty Christmas Day outfit. I wish I could dress the girls in Sarah Louise dresses every day!

 Grandad helping Emma with a present

 A rather blurry picture of Emma with her new tea set

 Our Christmas Turkey (which Mark dubbed Lord Gobblington) with his bacon coat on. Lord Gobblington fed us faithfully for several days after Christmas. I really love leftover turkey!

 Our Christmas table, before I brought out the food. My Dad folded the napkins...he is a man of many talents!

Flash and Molly, my parents' dogs. Molly is wearing the Father Christmas coat that the Podlings got her for Christmas.