Monday, 26 December 2011

GETTING INTO THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Well in preparation for the big day I dragged out the domestic goddess in me.  This doesn't come very easily, but as A&D have now reached an age where they are thrilled by the prospect of Christmas I felt it only fair that I try to indulge them a little.  Neither of our baking attempts were a great success presentation-wise, but I was really pleased that the kids had a great time and also that I made such an effort, oh and taste-wise they really weren't too bad and went down well. Even my lovely husband enjoyed getting involved in making the gingerbread house.

So our first baking attempt was on the afternoon of 23rd when we made the gingerbread parts for our gingerbread house which was subsequently assembled by my other half on Christmas Eve and decorated by A&D on Christmas Day.  With the leftovers we slightly burned made gingerbread stars as a little Christmas gift for nannies and also as a nice snack ready for Santa's visit Christmas Eve.
Finished Gingerbread House

Stars for Santa
I am pleased to say that for once I wasn't bogged down on Christmas Eve by last minute wrapping, preparation or shopping so we had a lovely afternoon eating fish and chips whilst watching Christmas movies (The Polar Express being the favourite in this house which pleases me no end).

A&D then had an early bath and hopped into some new PJs which had been left on their beds with a letter by Santa's elf, Elsie as an early gift from Santa.  They were very impressed with these, although D has the teeniest waist in the world so despite being age 2-3 (and he is already 3) the bottoms kept falling down which means that I am going to have drag out a bit more of the domestic goddess in me, along with the sewing kit and put a stitch in the back of them.

Elsie's Letter
New PJs were quickly followed by spilling drinking home made hot chocolate with marshmallows and eating gingerbread stars whilst writing letters to Santa and leaving him and his reindeer their snacks.

Yummy Hot Chocolate
Goodies for Santa and Co
Finally the children finished off this lovely day by hanging out stockings in the bedroom and reading some festive stories from the Christmas book that Elsie brought for us a couple of weeks ago. 

 
Once A&D were in bed the second of my baking attempts began in the form of this chocolate yule log.  The plan was to make the sponge and the filling and then to assemble on Christmas Day.  I did doctor the recipe slightly by replacing the brandy in the filling with Baileys.  I did this for two reasons, the first being that I don't like brandy and the second being that we didn't have any, but we did have Baileys that needed using and obviously I would not be indulging in emptying the bottle given my pregnant state so Baileys it was.  This stage of the yule log went quite smoothly and without hiccups and I really enjoyed doing it.  The assembling on Christmas Day however, was not such a straight forward affair.  I got distracted by the dinner and so forgot to make the chocolate flakes to decorate it with and the rolling was disastrous to say the least so my final yule log actually looked like this and nothing like the picture on the recipe, but hey ho I tried and for me that is a big thing and to be fair it tasted yummy and nobody who tried it left a crumb so just need to work harder on the presentation next year.

Poorly presented, but still yummy yule log.
Domestic goddessness does not come easy to me, but I am hoping that A&D had as magical a day as I intended for them.

I love you and your daddy more than you will ever know.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Am up to my eyes in wrapping paper and food, but just wanted to write a short post to say have a wonderful Christmas today.

Will update  properly later.

Lots of love

xxxxx

Sunday, 18 December 2011

TEENY AT 20+2



I would like to be able to say that Teeny is always this glamorously adorned, however given that I have two three year olds I am sure none of you would ever believe me.  Work's Christmas party on Friday was just an ideal opportunity for a bump picture.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

ELSIE HAS BEEN TO VISIT

I was really inspired by this thread on the Verity forum about Santa's elves coming to stay, but knew that we probably wouldn't get an elf coming to stay with us this year as I am just nowhere near as organised as the lovely Bronwyn, Helen or the other supermoms on Verity.  However I was really hoping that Santa would choose to send us one of his trainee elves next year so I made sure that we got the Christmas CDs on and the Christmas tree up this weekend so that Santa could see that we are serious about Christmas and I am pleased to report that on Sunday morning we found under the Christmas tree the following letter from Elsie Elf along with a lovely book that Santa sent her to bring to us.

 

"My name is Elsie and I am one of Santa's trainee elves."

"Santa noticed that you have have been getting into the Christmas spirit by listening to Christmas music and taking part in your Christmas concert at pre-school.  A, Santa thought that you sang beautifully and D, he was really impressed that you shook your bells in time with the music.  So now that your mommy and daddy have put up the Christmas decorations, Santa has decided to send me to bring you a special book full of stories, songs and poems about Christmas that you can read with your mommy and daddy."

"You must take care of this book and get it out each year with the decorations so that you can enjoy the stories all over again and then, when you are grown up, you can read it to your own children at Christmas."

"Santa says that if I do this job well and manage to get the book to you safely then he will send me to stay with you for a few weeks before Christmas next year to carry on my elf training."

"Please take care of the book so that Santa lets me come to stay with you next year."

"Lots of love, Elsie x"

So needless to say we are thoroughly enjoying the book that Santa has sent to us and absolutely cannot wait for Elsie's visit next year.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

BIRTHDAY SHENANIGANS - PART 1



Well my poor, deprived kids have never had a proper birthday party, just a nice day out somewhere followed by lots of people who love them visiting them over a couple of days around their birthday bringing pressies, cards and most importantly lots of kisses and cuddles.

Well this year before the shock, but fabulous, pregnancy I had been planning a lovely big party in my head, but unfortunately I am far from the most organised person in the world and so when the exhaustion and nausea that are the first trimester of pregnancy took over I went to ground and forgot all about couldn't face arranging a birthday party until it was all too late. 

I was however determined that they would have some sort of party given their current obsession with party food and balloons so little old me decided that we would have a very small (due to our dolls house size house) indoor teddy pears picnic themed party.  There were no fancy invitations I am afraid just an email to a few people inviting them mainly because if they had had  to wait for invitations they would never have got them. 

I then sourced some gingham table covering in red and green from Dunelm; one to use as a cover for the dining table and one for the indoor picnic rug.  I really am not very creative, but I decided that it would be nice to use the offcuts from the table coverings along with some ribbon to make some bunting and a happy birthday banner, after all we were having a picnic even if it was inside in the middle of winter.  Other than some red, white and green balloons and some gingham ribbon I didn't need to buy much else in terms of decorations as we gave all of the teddy bears that we had in the house a red gingham bow and just used them to create little bear scenes in the living room and used the bears as weights for the balloons by tying the balloons to their arms or legs.  We had a big bear reading three little bears a story, some bears having a cup of tea, one on its mobile phone, a big one on the dining table guarding the food and a few others scattered around for good measure. 


Unfortunately the reason that I am having to describe all of this as opposed to putting lots of pictures up is because all of my hard work was destroyed enjoyed by the children before I got the chance to take many photographs and then even the few photos that I did manage to take of the whole day were rubbish (I am a natural light kind of a girl when it comes to photos and I am just not very good at flash photography, I have no ability to take a really good photo as opposed to just an ok one using a flash. Anyway I digress, sorry!)

Food was typically over catered party food (I have a distinct inability to correctly cater any event, I just can't stand the thought of there not being enough).  So there was sarnies (bear shaped ones for the children), crisps (none other than Pom Bear for the kids, obviously) pizza fingers (well pitta breads with tomato puree and cheese on), vegetable sticks (which you may be surprised to find out went down very well with the kids), failed bear shaped jellies, biscuits, raisins, fruit and a million other calorie and/or fat ridden foods which on the whole I normally avoid when it comes to my kids, but I know that they generally make sensible choices when it comes to food, ie fruit and a biscuit so at parties I just roll with it and make up for it over the few following days.   At this point I must say a special thank you to the Irwins lot as you are so affectionately labelled (you know who you are) for showing up post party and finishing off the food, I was genuinely so glad not to have to throw half of it away.  You rock!

The piece de résistance of the food table (which I also have no decent photographs of despite how delicious it all looked) was this cake.  As I am not very skilled at baking cakes (although I did attempt it last year just so that I could say that I had baked A&D a birthday cake at some point in their lives, even if it was not a very good one) they normally get a good old Costco one as I would never normally go to this expense for a birthday cake, but given the theme of the party I just could not resist it and a friend of mine raves about M&S cakes so I felt the need to try and we really weren't disappointed.  It tasted lush and looked exactly as it does in the picture.


We had a few non attendees due to illness (we missed you all very much) so in the end we had five children and five adults.  I let the party run its own course really, the children were really happy just to ruin all of my decorations play when they got here so I left them to it for a little while, this was followed by our picnic then pass the parcel, the prize for which was a Winnie The Pooh book as obviously I wanted to stay in the bear theme and we just had time to blow out the candles on the birthday cake before it was time to go home.

Because the children were confined to my teeny house I had been worrying about needing to fill time so my lovely husband had made a pin the bow tie  on the bear a la pin the tail on the donkey, but I needn't have worried because we didn't even have time to play it so have stashed that away for use at a later date.  Its a good job we used the cardboard bear as a decoration and had stuck him in the window so at least he got some exposure. 

I wanted to continue with the bear theme for party bags, so I made them fairly simple and just got some teeny teddy bears from Asda and popped them into some lovely brown paper gift bags that I found in good old Wilkinsons (where the gingham ribbon came from too) along with a teeny bag of Haribo sweets.  I have since heard that the bargain bears went down very well.



As if the party with the children's friends wasn't enough; after a short interlude we were inundated with visits from nannies, aunties, cousins and a good deal of others.  This gave A&D the opportunity to sing happy birthday and  blow out the candles on their cake for a second time that day which they were absolutely thrilled about.



A&D seem to have become highly accomplished at ripping open wrapping paper since the last time they had presents and luckily for them none of their guests came empty handied so A&D were thoroughly spoiled and I spent the next few days telling them how extremely lucky they were to be loved by so many people and to get so many lovely things.


So finally just a huge thank you to everybody who remembered them on their birthday and who took the time to be here.  Love you xxx

Sunday, 4 December 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Well my babies are three today and I will update you on our shenanigans in aid of said birthday later on in the week.  Those shenanigans are the reason for my absence from this blog and why I have so many half written posts for this blog waiting to finished and published.  There are just not enough hours in the day!

Anyway as I was saying A&D are three today, seriously three, where on earth did that time go?  It seems to have flown by, but at the same time being pregnant with them and bringing then home from hospital seems like a lifetime ago   They have taught me more than I had learned in my whole life, they have challenged me more than I had ever been challenged in my whole life and there has been more love in my house since they were born than I have ever known possible.  Most of the time I don't feel worthy of them, but I was made their mommy for a reason and I try as hard as I can to be the best that I can be for them.  I am by no means perfect and we don't have the biggest and best of everything, but my children will always be loved.

So to A&D here's wishing you an amazing birthday; I hope that you had a wonderful time today.  Thank you for all you do for me everyday, you could never begin to imagine how special you are to me or how blessed I feel to be your mommy.  Love you more than words can say.

Mommy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 18 November 2011

TEENY AT 16+2


And just as a little comparison  this is me at 16+6 when I was pregnant with A&D.



Well this pregnancy all of a sudden seems to be flying by. I had my 16 week midwife check up on Wednesday and am pleased to report that all is fine with me. I also got to hear Teeny's heartbeat galloping away; I had forgotten what a wonderful sound that is and what a relief it is to hear.  I really wish my lovely husband could have been there to hear it.  Even though this is my second pregnancy I still find the whole experience of being pregnant amazing and want him to share all of that with me. (Sorry if that is a bit soppy for some of you and makes you want to vomit!)

My community midwife was off sick which normally would frustrate me a little, however we are, touch wood, planning a homebirth this time so actually it worked out quite well as I got to meet two other members of the community team so now have a greater chance of having met the midwives who will deliver me and am pleased to report that they were both quite up for and positive about my choice which put me even more at ease in our decision.

Am really looking forward to my 20 week scan in a few weeks time as then we will then tell A&D about Teeny over Christmas and I can't wait to see their reaction.  D is so gentle and adorable with babies and A is a bit obsessed with them at the moment so will be fun to see what they say about it all, although I fear that I will spend the remainder of my pregnancy answering the same question over and over again about when the baby is coming. 

We have decided that we aren't finding out the flavour this time as we only did with A&D for practical reasons and we I really want a surprise, although our current bets are on a boy, but think that is probably because we have no idea at all what we would name a girl.  All (sensible) contributions/ suggestions welcome on that point!!


Sunday, 13 November 2011

IN REMEMBRANCE


A&D's friend, C came over on Friday morning to play as she normally goes to Nanny's whilst my friend Marie is at work, but Nanny was on holiday so we were more than happy to have her, although a whole morning with three almost three year olds required some planning so as not to send us all completely mad! 

I had originally planned a bit of a Christmas themed morning of a baking session followed by hot chocolate and eating of the baking then crafting, lunch and a little chill out before Marie came to collect C.

The baking went ahead as planned quite successfully in fact; the children made shortbread stars dusted in icing sugar and seemed to really enjoy doing it.  They (the shortbread not the children) maybe could have done with slightly less time in the oven, but to my surprise were actually quite  lovely.  Shortbread is far from my favourite thing so I didn't indulge that much, but Daddy on the other hand loves it and was very impressed with their efforts.



As we were having a cosy morning in I then sat them down with hot (ok warm for the tiddlers) chocolate (made with proper chocolate and marshmallows I might add) and a small shortbread star each.  I was actually quite disappointed because the only person excited by the hot chocolate was me!  I thought the children would love it, but they were really not fussed by my hot chocolate and were much more interested in their shortbread.

The Christmas crafting was then replaced by making poppies in honour of the fact that I had realised while we were baking that it was actually 11/11.  I had some left over sheets of foam from a giant sized rubix cube fancy dress outfit that I had made so we used the red and black ones along with some red glitter to make the flowers and then some green pipe cleaners to make the the stems.  You can see their attempts in the picture above.

So on that note, given that it is Remembrance Sunday today , I really want take a moment to think about and thank those in our armed forces, both past and present, who have fought for our country and the freedom that we have; the freedom that I have to sit and write my views about this day in this blog without fear.  It is not a political day and in my opinion it really doesn't matter whether you agree with the conflicts that our forces have been or are now involved in.  It is about individuals who sign up to ultimately die for their country and also, just as importantly, their families. 

My lovely father in law was in the Royal Artillery for 12 years.  He doesn't really talk about the serious stuff much, just about the camaraderie, but from what my husband tells me, like the fact that he did combined ops (Parachute Regiment's P Company and Royal Marines' Commando Course) I get the impression that he was an excellent and well respected soldier, but, whilst he sustained no physical injury that I know of, I don't doubt for one second that it had a long lasting effect on him.  He was based in Singapore when he met my mother in law; they "stepped out" briefly while he was home on leave and got engaged and then a few months later she flew out to Singapore and they married without any family around them and had their first child out there.  I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been especially for my mother in law.  So to think that there are members of the armed forces out there who go through the same thing every single day and then others who go through things a million times worse than that I think that all we can do is be eternally grateful to them and support them. 

I could go off on a huge tangent here about how poorly paid I think they are and how I don't really feel that they are supported enough with the transition back into civilian life when they leave (my husband has friends who have been in the forces and then left so I am not talking blind when I say that), but today isn't about that and I will save that rant for another day. 

Today is about remembering and being thankful for those who have fought and lost their lives; for those who have fought and sustained physical injuries that they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives; it is also for those who are fortunate enough not to have sustained injury or lost their life, but who have seen things that most of us couldn't even imagine and who have to deal with those memories and the impact of those events for the rest of their lives and then lastly to the families of all service men and women.  I SALUTE YOU!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

TOO CUTE

I have a half written, unpublished post from the weekend which I will return to later, but just had to pop this quickie post on.

The three of us are having a little snuggle on the sofa and I just looked up to find D asleep on A's shoulder.  Far too cute.  Just a shame I can't move to get to the camera.

xxx

Monday, 31 October 2011

Thursday, 27 October 2011

MESSY MONDAY MORNINGS

So off the back of my psycho post and my feelings of inadequacy I have been trying to come up with some solutions.  The first one being that I have decided to dedicate Morning mornings to making (most likely a mess) with A&D. You know the usual stuff baking, sticking, painting, that sort of thing.  However the creative bones in my body are few and far between so if any of you domestic goddesses and/or supermoms out there can help me out with some simple projects that I can do with two pre-schoolers I would be most grateful for any input.

On that note, a couple of Mondays ago (my photographs tell me it was 17th) I had promised to take A&D to the park as there was no rain forecast, but typically it poured down and I felt so bad for them as they were really looking forward to it so we decided that we would bake some muffins.  Well I say we, but to be fair to A&D there was minimal supervision from Mommy.

They weren't the greatest muffins in the world, far from it in fact, but Daddy, who is easily pleased, quite enjoyed them and obviously A&D had a ball making them as well as eating them which to be honest was the whole point of our little baking session.

I did take some photos of the baking process, but they didn't come out very well so here are some of the finished products.  A&D were very impressed with their efforts and, of course, so was Mommy!

A's muffins

D's muffins

Well done guys.  Love you xx

WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?

**Warning! A bit of a woe is me ramble**

God I love my kids, but at the moment I feel like I'm making such a huge cock up of it all.  I go through waves of feeling like I'm doing ok to feeling like a complete novice.  I try so hard to take the firm, but fair approach; they aren't short of positive praise, but equally I will follow up on my warnings, however I am just struggling so much at the moment.  They seem to be going through a phase where they just do not listen to a word I say and I spend my days saying the same things over and over again so that by the time my other half is home and it is time for me to go to work I've usually lost the plot and ended up having a shouting episode which I hate and then I cry and get so cross with myself because I have shouted at them and my poor husband doesn't know whether he's coming of going what with his grouchy and/or crying wife and crying kids.

I just feel like such a crap mom. I am home all day with them, but because I work at night I have to try to squeeze in all of my jobs with them under my feet before I go (of which I seem to get very little done) so I really don't feel like we get any quality time in or do enough nice stuff together.  I'd love to sit and paint with them or make stuff with them, but I just don't know where to start or to be able to find the time and I just don't know where all my time goes.  It's not like I have a show home or anything...far from it in fact.

I'm just not the mom (or wife in fact) that I wanted to be or ever thought I would be despite how hard I try and I don't know how to fix it.  I wish I could either just do better or be content with who I am instead of feeling like this.

I feel like I need to write a whole lot more, but must be off to fix my face and sort the dinner before work.

Sorry for the self indulgence, but I suppose for me that is partly what this blog is for; to get things of my chest, but I don't expect anyone to actually read it so feel free to bypass this post and if you actually managed to get the end of my ramblings well done and thank you.

xx

Sunday, 23 October 2011

WELL I NEVER. IT ACTUALLY WORKS

The IT in the title of this post refers to my body.

I have PCOS you see and A&D were conceived with the help of the drug Clomid  combined with follicle tracking and blood tests because before they were born I don't remember a time when I ever knowingly ovulated on my own.  I was very lucky in that my journey on the fertility treatment road was a relatively short one in comparison to a lot of women and I didn't have to fight for referral or treatment as a lot of women do.

After A&D were born we weren't sure whether we wanted more children,  but I didn't want to pump my body full of hormones either until we were sure about what we wanted because I was keen to be able to see what (if anything) my cycles were doing so the only choice I really had contraception wise was an IUD which to be fair I got on with quite well.  After lots of talking over quite a long time I had my IUD taken out in June of this year just so that we could just see what my body was doing with a view to trying for another baby at some point in the future and just seeing what, if anything, happened. 

Well to our absolute disbelief, but sheer delight I am now 12 weeks and 4 days pregnant.  I have read of and heard of quite a few women who had fertility treatment and a tough journey first time round, but then got pregnant naturally and fairly easily second time round, but never ever dreamed that I would be one of them especially given that ironically my ovaries seem to have improved, but all of my other PCOS symptoms see to be a million times worse since giving birth to A&D. 

A little bit of hope
12+1

Having been through fertility treatment and the inability to conceive on my own this pregnancy is tinged with a little bit of guilt at having conceived so easily because I struggled so much with my feelings about pregnancy announcements whilst trying to conceive (TTC) first time round and even after A&D were born and so I really feel for those women going through those feelings and the horrible journey that is TTC with fertility issues.  In fact just before this little miracle was conceived I wrote the following in a notepad because I was having quite a tough time not through desperation for another child because we were not actively TTC, but in mourning of my inability to conceive a child without help.

"August 2011"

"Despite the fact that our journey through fertility treatment wasn't a particularly complicated one compared to what some couples go through I have never come to terms with the fact that I wasn't able to conceive my children naturally and so, irrational as it may be, with every pregnancy announcement comes another kick in the stomach.  I thought that I understood those sickly, stomach churning and gut wrenching feelings when we were TTC and I always assumed that they were because i didn't have a child of my own and I wasn't sure that I ever would.  So once A&D were born I thought that those feelings that accompanied somebody's pregnancy announcement  would not longer be there, but I could not have been more wrong."

"Since having A&D every pregnancy announcement of a friend or family member has been quickly followed by a huge feeling of inadequacy on my part and also a huge sense of guilt that I cannot just be genuinely and unconditionally happy for them.  Every announcement, including this week's, just makes me want to cry and I become consumed with jealously and resentment which probably in part is because everybody really close to me who has had children since I found out I had PCOS have conceived those children mostly by just looking at their other half (ok not literally, but you get where I am coming from) and even though I would not wish fertility issues on anybody, sometimes I secretly long for somebody in the real world to talk to about it all and who understands my bitterness even though it is completely uncalled for and unnecessary.  On that note though must say that I am so lucky to have the girls on the boards at Verity to sound off to.  Verity is an amazing charity supporting PCOS sufferers and I would be lost without them."

"The most recent pregnancy announcement comes from a couple who i can hand on heart tell you that I utterly adore.  They are two of our best friends and are a very special part of our lives and  to be honest I had already sort of guessed anyway so I am not quite sure their announcement hit me like a bolt from the blue, but all I know is that it really did..."

I know that my friend who I talk about here has this blog address, although am not sure if she ever checks it, but I am sure that if she does and is reading this she will appreciate what I am saying here and that no matter what my initial feelings were when I found out that she was expecting I will love that little one like I do her other daughter and would have done even if I were not pregnant now.  If you are reading this honey I love you all very much, but you know that I struggle sometimes.

So there it is, maybe this will exercise some demons for me I do not know.  Believe me I have heard all of the cliche's about chilling out and not stressing and then it will happen, but  TTC, especially when you have no children at all, can be all consuming because you have so many unanswered questions so if you can identify with this post in some way I will not patronise you will all of those cliches, but just please never ever give up hope,

Monday, 17 October 2011

NEW SHOES!

A&D have needed new shoes for a while, but it is just one of those jobs that I never seem to be able to get around to so this weekend I was forced to schedule it on the calendar to make sure that, without fail, they got new shoes for the winter.

Bad mommy that I am meant that A had gone from a 5.5 to a 6.5 and D from a 7 to an 8, although to be fair to me normally I can tell from putting their shoes on that they are getting tight, but I really had no indication this time around.  The only reason they were getting new shoes was because the ones they had were both quite summery and well worn.

So the expense of their shoes normally kills me, but it didn't hit the purse (or should I say my husband's wallet) too badly this time which is a good job given that their birthdays and good old chrimbo are coming up.  The lovely Auntie Maz and Uncle Seany had cleverly bought A&D a £15 Clarks voucher each for their birthdays last year which, when I bought their shoes in the summer, I had completely forgotten that I had so they came in very useful this time around and the whole purchase only physically cost us £30!!  A had boots from a Clarks Factory Outlet that I have only just found out we have locally so they were £24.99 instead of £36 although I did get stuck for full price for D as they didn't have anything I liked in his size at the factory outlet, but I love them (which I can't normally say about boy's shoes) and he does too as they are, to quote him, "like Daddy's boots."

Check out these sets of cute, newly adorned feet.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

I AM A TEENAGER AGAIN (OR SO I SEEM TO THINK!)

You may have seen here how much I was looking forward to reliving my youth on Saturday.  Before we went I was a bit concerned that it might not live up to my expectations, but I am pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed!  Even the DJs who were playing before and between the acts were playing back to back 90s soul. I was absolutely in my element. It is funny because about 10 or 11 years ago I went to a night at exactly the same venue and Trevor Nelson was headline DJ and, despite the additional dress size and grey hair, I was back there in an instant.

With regards to the acts I have to admit that I wasn't overly impressed with Jon B, he has a great voice and has released some great songs, but he was too busy trying to play this keyboard/guitar thing (sorry I really don't know the technical term) really badly and it totally took away from his performance.  He should have really left that thing at home and concentrated on what he is really good at.  Such a shame really.  His report card reads "must try harder!"

Jagged Edge had a great energy and were much better live  than I imagined that they would be.  You just can't beat a bit of Let's Get Married no matter how old it is and then there are all the other songs that I had forgotten about over the years, but that I was reminded of on Saturday night and have been searching out since.

And finally we have the one and only Joe.  That man just has the smoothest sexiest voice ever and has written some fabulous "slow jams" over the years.  His voice is as smooth and sultry live as it is on a CD.  He must be a producers dream. Oh and as an aside looks gorgeous in a suit!  LOL.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to hear him sing, amongst other things, All The Things (Your Man Won't Do) which is my favourite ever song of his so I was an extremely happy lady.  He played a great set including a couple of acoustic tracks which was a great treat.  I had never realised that he played guitar.  I am not really sure what I expected of him live to be honest; he had great stage presence though, but, given his talent, was very unassuming and did not come across at all conceited.  I, and I assume every other person in that room given their reaction, thoroughly enjoyed his performance and without question I would go and see him again live given the opportunity.

To top it off I must just also say that the atmosphere was great too.  I was a bit concerned beforehand that it might be half empty and so not have the buzz that a great gig has, but I needn't have worried everyone else was obviously there for the same reason as me, to reminisce and hear some great artists perform some great songs that hold lots of great memories for me.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

WHEN BERTIE CAME TO STAY

So back in my day (there seems to be a general theme of me feeling quite old lately) we used to have pets at school that we got to help look after, well at A&D's pre-school they have Bertie.  It is just a genius idea so let me explain.  Bertie is a teddy bear who comes in a Tweenies trolley suitcase and in that suitcase along with Bertie are his blanket, comb, brush, toothbrush and diary.  The children take it in turns to take Bertie home for a night or two (depending on what days they do at pre-school) to look after and then record a little entry in his diary, with pictures or drawings, about what they have done with Bertie.

So Tuesday was D's turn to take care of Bertie and while he was with us we made sure he did everything with A&D. (Please excuse some of the poor quality photos, Daddy has a phobia of my camera so took them on his phone while I was at work.)


Here they are having a meal together.

They also had naps together.

They played in the garden together. 

D brushing Bertie's teeth.

We even took Bertie to Booby Club with us to meet all of the mommies and babies.

I think Bertie had lots of fun with us and A&D certainly enjoyed having him.  The only problem we had was that A grew very attached to Bertie's Tweenies suitcase and she seemed to be attached to it for Bertie's whole visit which did not impress D in the slightest!  Oh dear you can't please them all.


Monday, 10 October 2011

SOOOOO EXCITED!

Ok so I am showing my age now, but at heart I am a 90s soul girl, with some hip hop, old skool garage, a bit of bashment, etc and even a bit of speed garage, funky house, grime and DnB thrown in for good measure.  I guess though that I would, in today's terms, generally be labelled a fan or "urban" music.  Seriously though I really hate the label "urban".  It just lumps too many genres of music together.  Ok sorry I appear to be going off on a tangent here, I'll get back to my point.

By 90s soul I mean artists like Joe, Maxwell, Keith Sweat, Brian McKnight, SWV, En Vogue, 702, Babyface, Avant, Jagged Edge, Xscape, Boyz II Men, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on, but I won't bore you with any more.  You get the gist.   

I was gutted a couple of years ago when I missed Maxwell's tour. A&D were still quite young and I was still in my bubble and the info that he was performing locally had not even trickled down to me.  The man has one amazing voice and he gives me goosebumps (if you do not know who he is or have never heard him sing give your ears a treat and list to this) I cannot even begin to imagine how fantastic he would have been live.

Anyway "back in the day" I was really into that music scene and I knew who was releasing what sometimes before they knew themselves and I saw people like Alicia Keys do PAs in clubs in front of a couple of thousand people.  She was just as fantastic back then by the way, but since I got married (my husband and I have quite different tastes in music) and especially since I had the kids I really seem to have fallen off the radar.  To be honest it has all got a bit commercial for me and I don't rate that many of the current "urban" artists.  Most of the ones that I do have been around for a while.  I'm not sure if that is just me getting old though.

So back to the point of the post, the reason that I am soooooooooooo excited is because at the weekend my sister in law and I are going to see Joe, Jagged Edge and Jon B at quite a small venue fairly locally.  I've known it was on for a while, but my friend who would have normally come with me couldn't, I don't do gigs on my own and I didn't think to ask my sister in law to start with.  Once I had my light bulb moment and did think to ask her she was more than happy to oblige so we are now the proud owners of tickets.

Bit of a pointless post I know, but for one reason or another I don't get to see much live music anymore so you'll have to forgive me for being a little over excited at the prospect of reliving my youth!!

Monday, 3 October 2011

SUNSHINE, SWIMMING POOLS AND SECRET GARDENS

Well if we ignore some bombshell news on Saturday (which I really don't feel ready to think about let alone talk or write about at the moment) we have had a lovely weekend. 

In spite of the fact that it is October we are having gorgeous weather and so we took the opportunity to have a friend of ours along with her son, who is just one, and daughter who is just 15 days younger than my two over for a barbecue on Friday.  Unfortunately her lovely husband was working away so was unable to indulge with us.

I love getting together with Christy and her little ones.  She is just a sweetie and the children always play so lovely together.  Friday was no different the children had a whale of a time playing in the play house, trampoline and paddling pool amongst other things.  Yes that's right my children were playing in their paddling pool on 30 September yet they have not been able to play in it over the actual summer!  Bizarre!

We did have a minor hiccup (okay maybe a fairly major one) in that my normally quite domesticated husband hadn't bothered to clean the barbecue last time we used it (as with most men the barbecue is his domain) and because our summer has been so rubbish and the last time we used it seems like forever ago it was in no fit state to cook food on so Muggins here ended up having to cook it all on the cooker.  Seeing as the teeny bit of domestic goddess that I have in me had spent the day shopping for lovely barbecue food and then the rest of it marinading meat, making beef burgers, seasoning  potatoes, making salad, etc, etc, etc I was not impressed by the fact that I then had to cook it all!  That was so not the deal!

Anyway needless to say it all turned out lovely in the end and we had a really nice afternoon/evening with some really great friends and the kids were absolutely warn out.  I did, however, forget to send Christy's husband his doggy bag for when he got back from work though.  Sorry about that lovely!

H enjoying her ice cream

A being the cool chilled out little boy that he always is

A & D - As thick as thieves

My little lady all wrapped up and dishevelled after a dip in the pool

H bouncing around

Can I just ask though, why is it that no matter how much you have worn them (and yourselves) out your kids NEVER seem to want to have a lie in, just once, just for half an hour?  Ha ha, can you tell I am desperate for a lie in? 

Lucky for us we got to see some more of our fabulous friends (we really are privileged in that department) on Saturday.  They recently moved into their new house and so obviously we had to go and have a nose round.  I had intended to make chocolate orange muffins to take as a housewarming pressie, but was prevented from doing so by having to use my oven to cook the barbecue food on Friday night so hence no room for the muffins on Friday and no time on Saturday morning!  I am sure that they will get them at some point, but when I am not quite sure now.

Their new house is just lovely and has so much potential to be a fabulous family home.  They waited so long to sell their house and had a short list of houses to view, but actually ended up buying one  which had just come on the market so it is clearly fate and meant to be.  I am so pleased for them that things have all worked out.  It also has an added bonus for me of them being closer to us so when maternity leave kicks in for that precious cargo they have on board I will be able to pop round for cuddles in next to no time, although I am not sure that they will be so impressed by that prospect!  Ha ha.  Just kidding.  While the boys talked shop (well loft conversions and conservatories) I was given the guided tour of their new home by my beautiful surrogate niece who is five months younger than my two and VERY excited to be living in a new house.  I feel very blessed that she loves her Auntie Rach.

The main attraction of the new house for the children was it's fabulous garden which is very mature and just fabulous, it sort of has three separate sections and reminded me a bit of a secret garden.  I thought it was just lovely, but if I had been a kid I would have been in my element as obviously the children were.  It has a few little paths, a veg patch, apple trees, grass, decking, a teeny pond (which we did not draw the children's attention to) and the list just goes on.  The highlight for my two was using the toy wheelbarrow to collect all of the apples that had fallen off the tree; not just the obvious ones, but they were even foraging for the ones that had fallen into bushes and plants and Auntie Maz was very impressed that they had saved her a job.

Look at all my hard work mommy!

Thanks so much guys for sharing your weekend with us.  We are truly blessed to have you.

"It is your friends who make your world."  WILLIAM JAMES

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

PROGRESS

Well since my last post A&D have had a further three sessions of pre-school and despite an absolute tantrum first thing one morning about not going we have had no tears at all.  I am so relieved as I hated leaving them so unsettled.  They seem to be really enjoying it too so in turn I am feeling much better and much more relaxed about it all.  I have even been the lucky recipient of some very lovely paintings and sticky pictures.  Yay me!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

You'll have to excuse the lack of posts this last week or so.  I have had an awful cough and cold for what seems like forever thus resulting in my sinuses driving me mad and not being up to much other than looking after A&D.

Anyway since my last post we have had a massive milestone in my little ones' lives, their first morning at pre-school!  They will be going for two mornings per week and I had been mentioning to them all over the summer that they would be going to pre-school in September and telling them about what they would be doing.  It seemed like ages away for a long time and then all of a sudden it crept up on me.  They had visited the pre-school a couple of times before the summer and so were familiar with it and very excited to be going on their first morning.  They weren't even interested when I dropped them off and told them that I was going home which was a relief. 

It felt quite alien not to have them with me at the shops or when I got home and to be able to do things without having to consider them.  I did manage to make lunch and tea and clean the lounge properly in peace though and those of you with kids will know that you don't get to clean things "properly" very often.

When I picked them up though after their first session, the staff did tell me that they had got a bit upset a short while after I left which bothered me because I knew that I would then have problems, especially with A, the next time that they went.  Well sure enough this week at both sessions we have had sobbing from A and "I don't want to go to pre-school Mommy."  So much so that they have had to literally peel her off me.  D isn't too bad and I am sure he would be absolutely fine if it weren't for A getting upset, but he adores her and seeing her upset upsets him.  Bless my little man. 

The tears are not good for Mommy's emotional state though especially as I have been feeling so poorly.  I have got in the car and cried both times that I have dropped them off this week.  The most annoying thing about this situation is that literally 10 minutes after I get home I get a phone call from the pre-school telling me that they are fine and then when I pick them up they have always enjoyed themselves and have lots to tell me.  The trials and tribulations of parenthood eh!  I am sure that they will get better with time though. (She says with her fingers crossed!)

From what I can gather so far they have:-
"Had snacks" - this is very important and the first thing they tell me every time I pick them up.  My two do love their food.
"Played with Rory" - the racing car I assume.
"Done singing" - Down in the Jungle I am assuming is one of the songs as I keep hearing it sung.
"Played cricket" - what they actually did was played outside and could see the children at the school playing rounders.
"Read a story about a tiger who ate all the food" - my mom who is a teaching assistant tells me that this must have been The Tiger Who Came to Tea
"Done painting" - Mommy got a love red butterfly painting from A and Daddy also got a drawing from her.
"Exercising" - I think this is actually brain gym.  A has been teaching D an exercise class at home recently which I had assumed was from pre-school and then she randomly mentioned brain gym this morning.
"Played with V" - V is a little girl who started the same day as A&D and does the same days. However on further questioning A actually clarified that she "played with her hair, but I stopped Mommy".  A has an absolute obsession with hair, it is a bit of a comfort thing for her.  Most people who she is close enough to to do it to are fine with this, but it does irritate me after a bit when she messes with my hair.  I just don't like anybody messing with my hair.  Her telling me this though did remind me that I must tell the staff about it because, as much as she cannot go round messing with children's hair and I have explained that to her so, I want the staff to know that she is being affectionate and not pulling hair and being spiteful when she does it.

From memory I think that is about all they have told me about; although I know that they have done a lot more I think they always tell me about the things that they have enjoyed most. 

Catching up with them after their session is very cute and far too grown up a thing to be doing with my babies.  Where did the time go?

A&D - 1 day old

D - 5 months old

A - 5 months old

A&D - 1st Birthday (and poorly)

A - 2nd birthday

D - 2nd birthday

A&D - 1st day of pre-school

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

BOOBY CLUB

Well Wednesday can only mean one thing and that is Booby Club as it is affectionately known in our house or to give it its proper name the breastfeeding cafe that I volunteer at.  E, the midwife who I work with, was on annual leave today so twas me on my lonesome and well it was fairly uneventful.  Just one gorgeous little three week old girl with her lovely mommy and daddy who were doing extremely well and didn't really need much other than a bit of moral support and encouragement.

If you do not know me personally and are now tempted to stop reading this blog entry because you think that I am the "Breastapo" as we seem to have been affectionately labelled then please think again.  My agenda is not to guilt trip or force women who do not want to breastfeed into breastfeeding.  How you choose to feed your baby is exactly that, a choice.  My passion is to ensure that all women are given enough accurate information to make an informed decision about how they feed their baby and that those women who choose to breastfeed are given the information and support that so many of them are so desperate for to be able to continue to feed.  Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world, but definitely not the easiest.  There are huge ups and downs along the way, especially in those early days, so some families need all of the support that they can get and unfortunately that support isn't always readily available which is where volunteer peer supporters come in.

Believe it or not I was one of those women who, prior to getting that elusive positive pregnancy test, wasn't really that fussed about breastfeeding and in fact I'd go as far as to say that I really wasn't keen on the idea, but because I knew about the health benefits I thought that I would give it a go regardless of my reservations, although I have to say that I didn't think for one second that I would be successful.

It was only when I found out on day four that A had lost 12% of her birth weight and it was suggested to me that I may need to top her up with formula that I realised how much I actually wanted to breastfeed.  This is by no means a reflection on those who formula feed their babies, like I said before it is a personal choice, but to be honest the thought of having to give her formula (probably combined with a whole host of hormones) made me cry and so that is when the concerted effort began.  You know I am still, to this day,  totally amazed and surprised at how quickly my view about breastfeeding changed.

For me breastfeeding A&D was a wonderful experience that I am so happy to have had, but it took me a good while of sleep deprivation, sore nipples, thrush, constant feeding, engorged breasts, etc, etc before I came to that conclusion.  That wonderful experience is what prompted me to become a peer supporter; so many women have such a tough time with breastfeeding and give up because they feel that they have no other choice and the support that they need is not available to them.  I hate the thought that so many women, when they look back at their time breastfeeding, have that negative and upsetting association with it.  My aim when I am working with women is simply to do what I can to help them get out the other side so that, instead of that negative association, they know what a wonderful experience breastfeeding can be.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A TEENY BIT OF DOMESTIC GODDESSNESS

So there are a lot of things that I would like to teach myself that I do not seem to be able to find time to; you know bake, sew, knit and the list goes on.  I do cook, but I am no chef I make home cooked food like roasts, lasagne, chilli, soup, beefburgers, blah, blah, blah.  I don't even attempt the gourmet stuff and I generally stick to the same things that I know that I am good at and will get eaten.

As I am in awe of this lovely lady who has a little one the same age as mine and a teeny tiny and still somehow manages to bake, cook, make cards, get creative with her little lady, etc, etc, etc, I was inspired to step it up a gear yesterday and cook something out of my comfort zone with A&D so that they could have some fun too.  My other reason for doing it with them was that as much as I try to give them a varied diet and succeed quite well at it I am rubbish when it comes to fish.  I really don't generally like it and, as much as I try to not to let my dislikes rub off on them, I don't cook it as much as I should and thus they don't eat it very often because I don't cook it very often and they are just not used to eating it.  I thought that if they made it themselves they may be more inclined to try it.

So we decided on Fish Triple Decker .  Admittedly this is a recipe from I Can Cook With Katie so is very very simple, but A&D like to make Katie's recipes and they are very easy to follow for them.  We did alter the recipe slightly by substituting the tomato ketchup (yuk!) for tomato puree, haddock for cod and also swapping olives and mushrooms for peppers.  Oh and I almost forgot we added a sprinkle of mild chilli powder to the cheese and breadcrumb topping.  The tiddlers thoroughly enjoyed making their own dinner and although they didn't eat the whole thing they did eat the toppings and try some of the fish which is all I ever ask of them so I was very pleased.  On top of that him in doors and I loved it (I cannot believe I just said that about fish) so definitely something we will be eating again.

I was so on the ball that I even remembered to take photos (although not very good ones) so here is the finished product. 



Friday, 2 September 2011

THE FIXER

I am a fixer.  You know one of those people who, probably like most, cannot stand to see the people they care about in any hurt or pain or predicament and always has to find some kind of way to make it better,  but today I am stumped and it is bothering me somewhat.

I found out yesterday that the father of a friend of mine has an incurable disease.  What do you say to somebody when they tell you that?  What are the right words to make them feel better?  What do you do to make it easier for them?  The answer of course is nothing.  You cannot make it go away, you cannot say anything to make it better or easier for them.  Their world has just fallen apart and as much as you want to you just cannot take that pain away.  I've concluded that the only thing I can do is to make sure that they know that I am here if they need anything and hope that they take some comfort in that fact, but as a fixer that just doesn't sit right with me.

I don't know my friend's father personally, but I do know a few things about him from the way my friend talks about him.  He works hard, he loves his wife and family dearly and will do anything for them and along with his wife has raised three children that any parent would be so so proud of.  For people that all live in different parts of the country and the world I get the impression that they are such a close family which is probably in part down to their dad and I am sure that they will be each other's rocks through this tough time.

I wish that I could finish this post with something wise and inspiring, but the fact is that my mind cannot rationalise a situation like this so I have nothing wise to say on the matter.  It was just one of those occasions where I needed to process my thoughts somewhere and if they ever happen to stumble across this blog they will know that I would have fixed it if I could.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

LIKE SOMETHING FROM THE RAILWAY CHILDREN

So I promised to fill you in on Sunday's great little discovery, the fabulous Evesham Vale Light Railway .  I was actually looking for the name of the park that we usually go to in Evesham when I stumbled across this and given A&D's fascination with trains at the moment it seemed like a good place to try.  I won't bore you with the details of the trains (I couldn't even if I wanted to as I really don't know anything about trains), but they were bascially mini steam engines that go on a short journey from Twyvern station to Evesham Vale station which are essentially on opposite sides of a lovely picnic spot.

Dougal - one of their fabulous engines.


A - beside herself with excitement to be on a steamie

The guys who run EVLR are just lovely, very knowledgable and happy to accomodate everybody, especially the children, wherever they can.

The picnic spot is just fab, lots of space for the children (and in our case the grown ups) to run around and even some hills to roll down.  Again not just for the children!  You can also fly a kite, check out the orchard (obviously A&D had to bring an apple each back with them, it would have been rude not to) and  my fave bit was that you can even stand on top of the bridge and watch the trains go through the tunnel and wave to everybody on them in true Railway Children style.

D - checking out the sky


Can you believe we picked our own apples Mommy?

We all had such a lovely day for the grand cost of £7 plus picnic and diesel which really doesn't amount to much.  I really did feel like one of the Railway Children and a world away from everyone and everything so I can only imagine what the children thought of it all.

This place definitely gets a big thumbs up from all of us and I am sure we will be back shortly.  For me this is what childhood is all about.  Its not about the amount of time or money you lavish on your children, but what you do with that little bit of time or money that you do have that they will remember.


Just chillin with Daddy