Monday, 25 June 2012

Sisters, sisters...

...There were never such devoted sisters.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Walk in the Woods

On Sunday afternoon we took advantage of the lack of rain to take a walk in nearby Biddulph Grange Country Park. Not only was it a dry afternoon, we even saw some actual sunshine! We had a lovely walk in the woods, round the fish pond and through a meadow. It was nearing six as we finished our walk, so we were accompanied to the car by the sound of the church bells calling the faithful to Evensong. It was a beautiful end to a lovely weekend.

The woods were full of foxgloves 

 Tom is actually cradling Emma's head affectionately, not trying to break her neck as it appears!

The Podlings loved running in the beautiful meadow at the end of our walk 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Fairy Hunting at Biddulph Grange Garden

"Up  the airy mountain,
        Down the rushy glen,
    We daren't go a-hunting
        For fear of little men;
    Wee folk, good folk,
        Trooping all together;
    Green jacket, red cap,
        And a white owl's feather!"
 ~ From 'The Fairies' by William Allingham 

My mother-in-law rang us this morning to tell us that she had seen that Biddulph Grange Garden was having a fairy hunting weekend and would we like to go. Well I have two little girls who love fairies and dressing up and the opportunity for them to wear a fairy costume in  public and hunt fairies in a beautiful garden was too good to pass up. We all had a lovely time when we went to the garden a few weeks ago and we knew Tom wouldn't mind the fairy theme. With two sisters he's learnt to ignore things that don't interest him!

It wasn't the warmest of days and we did have to shelter from a rain shower at one point, but we had a really lovely afternoon. Lily and Emma looked so sweet running around in their fairy costumes, though Emma had the sense to wear a coat over hers. I've come to the conclusion that Lily is immune to the cold as she will remove all outer layers in any but the coldest conditions. They had fun hunting for fairies and even Tom got quite interested in finding them.

The Podlings each got to pick a lollipop for finding the fairies (Lily had the prettiest lollipop I have ever seen. It was pink and white with a pink heart in the middle and a circle of  roses around it...I would have said it was too pretty to eat, but Lily obviously didn't!). We finished off a lovely afternoon with fish and chips for tea, so I didn't even have to cook today. It was a wonderful afternoon and we all had a lovely time.

Fairy Lily watching the fish 

Nanna, Grandad and Emma watching the adorable Moorhen chicks that were walking on the water lilies 

Emma pointing out the chicks to Grandad 

Lily the tree fairy 

I love this photo of Tom. He is growing up so fast!

Lily finds a fairy in the garden 


The Podlings find a fairy in the woods 

Lily helping Emma over the stepping 'stones' in the wood 

 After an afternoon of running around, Emma finally started to tire at the end of our visit and wanted to be carried. She started to get a little tetchy at this point.

Trying to persuade Emma to cheer up, little did I realise that the perfect solution lay just at the end of this path... 

Just like her mummy, Emma thinks there is nothing like a new book to lift your mood! There was a small room that had been set up as a second-hand book shop with bookshelves and an honesty box. The children's books were only 50p, and we were able to pick up four lovely titles for our home library. In addition to the book that Emma is holding (she read it all the way home!), I also picked up two lovely bible story books and (my favourite find) a really charming children's book of Saints that I'm sure will be read and loved for many years to come. Not bad for a total of £2! A beautiful garden, time with my family and new books...pretty much a perfect afternoon I would say!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Bedtime Girls

Lily and Emma share the rocking horse at bedtime yesterday evening.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Emma's First Nightdress

Lily is in desperate need of new summer nightdresses. Like me, Lily prefers nightdresses to pyjamas, but nice traditional girls' nightdresses are awfully expensive. I'm afraid I have rather expensive taste! Luckily, I also have a mother who taught me to sew, so I have ordered a pattern and am planning to make Lily and Emma some summer nightdresses. Emma, listening in as I was telling Lily this, got very excited and spent much of the afternoon talking about her nightdress. I simply couldn't get her to understand that Mummy hadn't made it yet.

When it came to bedtime, she flatly refused to get into her pyjamas. "No! No jamas! Want my nightdress!". There was no way she was going to put them on, so I eventually gave in and gave her the pretty nightdress I had intended to give her for her birthday next month. Her reaction was well worth it! She was over the moon and happily paraded around in front of her brother and sister holding out the skirt in elegant fashion. "Is that my nightdress? It's got butterflies! Look, Tom, my nightdress! Look Lily, I got a nightdress!" She was completely enamoured of it!

It's rather long on her, so I'll have to keep a close eye on her when she is wearing it, but she does look adorable! Emma loves pretty dresses, so she was one happy little girl as she went off to bed this evening. I'll just have to make sure she doesn't try climbing the stairs in it!

Emma loves the butterflies on her new nightdress

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Impromptu Photoshoot

After her playgroup session and some time in the park, Emma and I took a frolic in the long grass behind our house on the way home. We were having a great time playing and I suddenly looked up and thought, she's wearing a white dress and this is the perfect setting for a photo shoot. So naturally I whipped out my camera (which I almost always have on me) and started taking photos as we played together. We had a great time!

Although there are a lot of photos in this post, it is only a portion of what I actually took. Some of these I have chosen because I like Emma's expression and some I have chosen because I like the composition of the picture. There are quite a few of Emma from behind because I love her long hair. Although I have cut her fringe many times, the back has never been cut and it is incredibly long for her age. Those golden waves get me every time!

I'd love to know if you have a favourite. I love them all, but then I'm rather partial to the subject!

Those eyelashes! 

I taught Emma how to make 'confetti' with the grass seed and she thought it was great fun. 

Here, Emma is busy elaborating on how our game was going to progress. I think monsters were involved and we had to fall over and pretend to be dead. 

The Baby Goes to Playgroup

Emma on the slide. We went to the park on the way home from her playgroup session. On an unrelated note, Emma's outfit was made entirely by my talented mother. The dress was made for Lily and now fits Emma and she made the cardigan for Emma and it matches the dress perfectly.

Emma had a 90 minute taster session this morning at the playgroup she will be attending in September. I've never left her with anyone who isn't family before, but if I had any concerns as to how she would cope without me I needn't have worried. She remembered the setting from when we picked up the forms and were shown around a couple of weeks ago, so as soon as she was in the front door she was off. I had a brief chat with the lady who runs the group and then I went to find Emma to say goodbye.

Up to this point, Emma didn't know that I wouldn't be staying with her, but she had no qualms about being left. I explained that she could stay and play if she wanted to and that Mummy would come back later and collect her. She smiled at me cheerily, said 'Bye!", gave me a jaunty wave and didn't give me so much as a backward glance as I left. I dashed home and ran the hoover around. Emma is terrified of the hoover, so I can only vacuum when she is out of the house. Besides, it is hard to notice how quiet the house is over the roar of the Kirby!

When I went to collect her she was sat at a table happily reading a book and didn't even notice I had returned. One of the assistants had to go over and tell her I was back. She came over and leapt up happily into my arms and we walked out with her smothering me in kisses and beaming from ear to ear. She had a great time and it was obviously a really positive first experience of playgroup.

One of my pre-requisites for letting all the Podlings attend playgroup is that they are able to remember what they've been up to and, more importantly, talk about it. That way if they were having any problems, or they just wanted to communicate something about their time away, they could tell me about it. I think it is so important that they are able to do this. Emma has both a fantastic memory and an excellent vocabulary and she has been happily telling anyone who will listen that she played at playgroup today and she told me several times that she had milk to drink. Emma likes her milk! 

She obviously had a whale of a time, which puts my mind at ease about her starting in September. I don't think Emma will have any problems transitioning to playgroup...I'm not sure about me though.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

I'm going to be an Auntie!!!

The 12 week scan photo of my sister's baby. You can read about the fun and games they had trying to get this photo on Elaine's blog here

It is with great excitement that I can announce that my sister is expecting her first baby! My first niece/nephew and the first cousin for the Podlings! We are beside ourselves with excitement!

This already much-loved little baby is due to put in an appearance around Christmas this year (the due date is December 22nd). They say the best gifts come in little parcels and I suspect that Elaine and Gareth will get the best Christmas present of their lives this year!

Congratulations, Elaine and Gareth, on this wonderful news! We are so happy for you both!

Elaine and Gareth (or Auntie Lainey and Uncle Gruff as the Podlings call them) on their wedding day in 2008

Penrith Castle

Our last visit during our short holiday in Cumbria was to Penrith Castle. Although younger than Carlisle Castle, there really isn't much of Penrith Castle left. The castle was built towards the end of the 14th century, but most of the ruins we see today date from the alterations made by the future Richard III in the 15th century. By the mid-16th century the castle was already described as being partly decayed, so it is perhaps not surprising that there is so little remaining for us in the 21st century to see. This did not stop the Podlings from having a great time. I challenge any child not to have a great time when given the grounds of a ruined castle to play in! It was cold and wet, but the Podlings were undeterred in their exploration and their games. Lily and Emma set up a cafe in a sheltered corner and sold all sorts of yummy imaginary pies to us as we admired the ruins.

I am always left with a feeling of 'how are the mighty fallen' after visiting a ruin like this. It is somewhat humbling to see what short work the ravages of time and nature make of even the sturdiest of structures.

Lily and Emma in their 'cafe'. Lily is serving here, but they later swapped places.