Monday, 26 July 2010

A Really Useful Day Out!

Xander and I have had a lovely day today: we've been to see the one and only Thomas!

I didn't actually tell Xander who he was going to see, just that he had to meet someone very special. Bless him, even when we got there and sat in the cafe with the Thomas tablecloths and flags and posters he didn't click. Then we went outside to find this guy all ready to open up the railway:

Suddenly the penny began dropping. Then I told him to look down the track towards the sheds: Yup, penny well and truely dropped now!

We got to have a ride on Thomas to the next station, which was so exciting, especially when he 'peep-peep'd'!

Once we got back, Xander got to give Thomas a drink of water and got given a certificate by the Fat Controller to say he'd been a helpful engineer today!

He also had a look in the cab to see how Thomas worked:

Just then, we met up with Xander's friend Kyran, who was riding on the train that afternoon:

After lunch it started to rain, so we went inside and got Xander's face painted. He's never had his face painted before so I did have to assist by holding his head in a vice-like grip, but it turned out fab:

However, face paint doesn't mix very well with rain (especially when you've been riding round trains in downpours) and a very Thomas'd out boy rubbing tired eyes:

But, despite the rain we had an excellent day and would recommend it to anyone who has a little Thomas fan in the house!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Why Are Pirates Called Pirates?

Because they AAAAAARRRRRR!!!!! ~ Joke courtesy of Annabel Davidson 2006 (Age 2)

LOL, love that joke!

Today is last day of term and, gulp, the school year. Deep breath mothers, we can get through this together! Anyway, for the last day, Xander's class were having a pirate party and so they were asked to dress up as pirates. 'Don't go and buy anything especially' they say. Er, yes, because little boys just have skull headscraves and cutlasses in their wardrobe. So, me and Xan went shopping the other day; couldn't believe how hard it was to find a pirate costume! Doesn't every boy want to be a pirate? Anyhoo, finally we found one and so a very excited Xander got all dressed up before school today:

So so so so so cute!

And, this is what I'm loving about Xander now, he has little pirate friends. First of all Pirate Sean turned up:

Pirate Sean is coming for lunch and to play next week, as if you've had a conversation with Xander lately you will know as it's ALL he talks about!

And then, in comes me old hearty Pirate Izaak:

Not sure if Izaak's mum knows what has happened at the school childcare but I zaak seems to be sporting a hook instead of a hand. Izaak and Xander are going to see Toy Story 3 together in the holidays. Bless, my little pirate boy is getting all grown up! ***SNIFF****
Right, now have to fly and pick up me old hearty after ye sugar and ye E numbers. Who'll be the first to walk ye plank?!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Pages From The Weekend and a New Favourite

As promised, here's the finished layouts from the retreat this weekend. First of all I scrapped the pic of me, Joolz, Ann and Ally from our BBQ a couple of weeks ago, using this month's kit:

Then a couple of pages using June's kit which consisted of some gorgeous welly and umbrella papers:

The 2nd one of these I incorporated into a challenge set by Ali yesterday. We'd all been coveting a lovely LO she'd done with a patchwork loveheart. So she challenged us all to do a LO with a patchwork shape and 1 photo on. We put them all to a vote and woohoo, I came 2nd!

Next up a LO using some jungle papers that were on sale last week when I went to the craft shop. Ideal for scrapping the Elephant Parade we saw when we were down in London last month:
Now, I started another couple of LOs, but got side tracked by a brand new project (and nope, it wasn't the wine, though there was a bit of side tracking on that front! ;)). Kirsty has been making little Fimo fairies and we were all admiring them at the last crop. So this weekend she brought her box of Fimo for a quick lesson. OMG, I am addicted! First of all, I got all pre-planning and made a couple of models for Xmas: here's Santa and Mrs Claus:

That was all I intended to make but once I'd done them, I couldn't stop! So, I made a fairy for Em and a pirate for Xander:

How blooming cute?! They only stand about 1 1/2" high and I can't believe that I managed to do something so fiddly with my big man hands! And best of all, the wonderful Kirsty gave me some Fimo to bring home so I can do some more.
So, have a couple of LOs to finish and I can see a couple more fairies popping onto the blog before the week is out! ;)

Sunday, 18 July 2010


I've had the most fantastic weekend!

On Friday, I dropped Xander at school and headed off to the Dales on my first ever scrapbooking retreat. It was for the girls at my local crop but as I've only been going for just over a year it's the first chance I've had to go. It's also the first weekend I've had away on my own in nearly 5 years, so I was SO looking forward to it.

Our crop leader Kirsty organised it and not only did a superb job, but also surprised us with treats on our beds and little crafty kits. She's one in a million that girl!

We got stuck in straight away to some scrapping and it's been non-stop crafting all weekend. It's also been lots of naughty food, wine, chatting and cheek aching laughter!

TBH, I've not really done as much as I could have probably got done with 48 hours of pure scrapbooking time, but who cares?! I've had a lovely chilled weekend with no 5am alarm calls, no 'Muuuuum, he just hit me!' etc etc!

Most are still there crafting away until tomorrow but I did come home today. It was lovely having a break from the kids but it was also lovely coming home to them, I really really missed them but feel all the better for having some quality mummy time.

I'll photograph and upload the stuff I did later, which includes my new craft obsession that Kirsty taught me; but for now here's a pic of me and all the fabulous girls that made my weekend so special!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Wooly Stuff For Special Girls!

We've not had a knitting post for a while. It's not that I've not been knitting, it's just what I've been doing couldn't be posted until recipients had recieved!

Yesterday was my friend Lauren's little girl Abi's 2nd birthday. I miss them all so much since they moved back to South Africa and was sad I wouldn't get to see Abi on the day, so decided to make her something special instead.

I just fell in love with this Alan Dart tea set pattern when I saw it:

How unbelievably cute is that?! I especially loves the jam tarts! Anyway, Abi very cleverly text me yesterday to say the tea set had reached SA and she'd had fun playing with it.

Then the other day I treated myself to a knitting magazine as I spied free wool on the cover. Coincidentally, it also had on a pattern for a hat to make with the wool, right on the day I'd been thinking 'I should knit the kids hats this winter'. An omen me thinks.

I've loved doing this and it's incorporated so many firsts for me: 1st time I've knitted a hat, 1st time doing a lacy pattern and 1st time I've actually conquered my crafting nemesis, crochet! Em's really pleased with it too:

Next: graduating bunnies! Yup, you heard me right!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

I sometimes think about changing the name of this place to Procrastination House. We're rubbish the lot of us!
We've lived here nearly 8 years now, and every June we drive past the farm up the road and see the sign saying 'Strawberries Ready Late June'. 'Oooh,' we say, 'we should go and do that'. Late June comes and the sign changes to 'Strawberries Ready'. 'Must remember to go and do that' says we...and the week after...and the week after...It then gets to late July and the sign changes to 'Strawberry Picking Now Closed'. 'Awwww,' says we, 'we should have done that'!
However, yesterday something changed, there must have been something in the air or the water but we actually got in the car and drove the whole 2 miles up there! As we got out of the car the smell was amazing! We got our basket and spent a happy 15 minutes hunting out the biggest juciest ones we could find:
Emily got right in there, making sure no berry went unpicked:
Xander was a little unsure at actually pulling the strawberries, but he hunted them out well and so Mummy picked them and gave them to him to put in the basket:
Soon we had a healthy harvest:

Rob was mildly panicked by how many we'd managed to pick in the whole 15 minutes we'd been there, 'I've only got £20 on me'. However, got them weighed and it was a whole £6.98, bargain! Bet you couldn't get 2kg of strawberries in Tesco for that!

So, home they went, got them washed and after tea we had them with ice cream; well except Xander who licked one and swore they were yucky! We've had strawberries for breakfast and Em's begged for them as an after school snack, plus we'll have to have them after tea. And, they are DELICIOUS!

So, got the kids outside for some fresh air, got cheap food, got 3 out of 4 of us to eat healthy treats and found something that is within a 3-year-old's 15 minute attention span!

Why did we put it off so long again?

Friday, 9 July 2010

On Your Marks, Get Set....

There's nothing like being a mum, especially when it comes to beating other mums to stuff for your kids apparently!

When Em was approaching school age, I tried to get her into swimming lessons at the local leisure centre, only to be told that there was over a year's waiting list. In the end we never bothered and just took her ourselves. However, it's a bit harder finding things for boys to do at an early age so, when I heard that the newly opened leisure centre was doing enrolments today for swimming lessons, I thought I'd get down there and sign him up.

Now, the new centre has proven very busy since it opened, so as enrolment started at 8 I thought I'd get there for then as it may get too busy later. 7.50 me and Xander pulled into the carpark and there were cars parked up on pavements, on grass banks etc; however someone was just leaving so we got a space so thought we may aswell go in.

The entrance hall resembled this:

O...M...G!!! Oh well, I'd already filled in the form so I joined the queue to get a raffle ticket and wait for my number to be called. As I approached the front I saw a mum from Xander's class.
'Oh, did you get her in?' I enquire.
'Yes, just done it'. OK, so maybe things are moving quickly.
'Yes' says she' was here at 5.30 queuing'
'Er, excuse me?'
'Oh yes, took the day off work just in case'

Ahem. Now, I do want Xander to have a hobby, but getting up at the crack of sparrow fart and then queuing for 2 1/2 hours?

By this time I'd got to the front, it was 7.58.
'Hi' says I, 'I have my form all filled in, just need a number'
'I'm sorry' says she 'all places are now filled, he'll be put on the waiting list and we'll ring you when places become available again'.

Luckily, a pushy mum I ain't so me and Xan just shrugged our shoulders and set off to Morrisons to buy some things to make muffins (luckily, my son is very fickle and the he soon got over the lack of swimming with the idea of baking!). But, as we walked past the 100 or so people who'd turned up in the queue in the 10 minutes we'd been there, you could hear the news filtering down, and the faces getting angrier and we hot footed it out of there before the riot police turned up!

I swear there'll be repercussions in the playground today. May turn up in dark glasses and a hat; we're number 4 on the waiting list, I don't want to run into numbers 5, 6 and 7!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Flump Cloud

So, this morning I decided I needed to tackle the ironing pile. If I put it off any longer I was in danger of Ranulph Fiennes trying to scale it!

Aha, but how to entertain the munchkin whilst I decrumpled the Gillard family? So, I took Xander over to the dvd cupboard:
'How about Jurassic Park Xan? Look big dinosaurs'
'Nope' replied his highness 'I seen it'.
'OK, what about Charlie & the Chocolate factory?'
'Nope, seen it!'
'OK, which then?'
'This one' he's pointing to Fight Club...
'Er, maybe not.'
'OK, this one'
'The Flumps?'
'Yes, I like that one' (note, child has never heard of a Flump, never mind seen the dvd).

Now, any self respecting child of the Seventies can not deny their child the right to a good old Flump episode. I loved the Flumps and used to sit every lunchtime with my Heinz tomato soup (with cut up bits of bread in) and watch it:

LOL, love that theme tune, an all time classic!

And low and behold, what episode does he pick? Only my favourite ever:

The Cloud! That was the one I always remember and often comment that I feel like Perkin with a great big cloud following him round all day!

Tomorrow? I'm between Trumpton, Chorlton & the Wheelies and Jamie & the Magic Torch.

OK, off to grow up now!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Book Club

Remember last week I was discussing my love of books? Well, I finished the Louis Drax book last night and it was fantastic, such a page turner. I'd definately recommend it to anyone.

I got to thinking about some of the books I'd enjoyed lately and remembered this post by my blog friend Kim at the beginning of the year. I loved that she did a list of her favourite books. Since then, I've read 2 off the list (one I'd already read) and really enjoyed them and have just ordered another one from Amazon.

Anyhoo, I thought it may be a good idea to do as Kim did and list some of my favourite books. I always find recommendations are so much better than reviews! So here's some that I can remember:

Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson - full of wit and humour and a brilliant main character. I love Kate Atkinson stuff anyway but this has to be my favourite and I must read it again soon!

The Ship Of Brides by Jojo Moyes - I loved this book so much that I bought it for both my mum and mother-in-law for Christmas. A story about a ship crossing from Australia to England post war, containing women that had married English service men who had been stationed in Australia. I've read everything else Jojo Moyes has done since and her novels are fantastic, but this will always be my favourite.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - There are so many emotions you go through with this book but that is the appeal of it, you get so involved that it's a bit of a rollercoaster. It's the story of a Jewish girl in Nazi Germany and all the things a child had to go through at that time. A brilliant story but also a big eye opener about what the Jews went through.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters - I think this was the book that made me love WW2 fiction. The story of what it was like to go through the bombing raids in London in WW2. Beautifully written with great characters.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - A shocking and controversial book about a school shooting. If you have kids it will scare the cr*p out of you but is probably also a must read. A jaw dropping ending too.

Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale - I so related to the character in this. An artistic woman that is struggling with all the emotions in life. I loved how Gale unravels the tale bit by bit to keep you guessing.

Random Acts Of Heroic Love by Danny Schienmann - Not some chick lit book like it may sound. It follows the stories of 2 men, one has just lost his girlfriend in a bus crash and is struggling to come to terms with it; the other is a soldier in WW2 (you see, that war obsession again!) who is thinking of his love back home and what he'd do to see her again. The story is amazing, then you read the author's notes at the end and you realise just how extraordinary it is.

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes - I read this for my English GCSE and it's been one of my all time favourites ever since. It tells the story of a scientific experiment performed on a retarded man to make him intelligent. What I love is it's told by the man himself and is written how you'd expect him to write so can be quite challenging at first (think about trying to read a young kids work with all that phonetic spelling!), but as the experiment takes place the writing becomes better and finally quite academic. Brilliantly written!

And for a bit of fun:

The Dirt by Neil Strauss - The official biography of Motley Crue, brilliant if you're a fan but such a good read to non-fans who ever wondered whether all those rock star stories were true. Shocking and not for the easily offended but I've reread it a few times, just to check I wasn't seeing things first time round!

Mort by Terry Prachett - Reread this recently and still loved it! The character of Death has to be one of the best and funniest characters ever written!

Right, that's it for now (until I suddenly remember more!). Let me know if you've read anything you think I'll enjoy, always on the look out for a new read! Oh and thanks Kim for the blog inspiration on this one!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Counting Your Blessings - Part 4

Do you know, I've had a crappy day! The apple of my eye, favourite man in my life has been a little sod and I'm stuck in the house on my own on a day that should be for rest and he's driven me crazy! So, for our final count your blessing, I thought it would be important (and good for my sanity!) to do an offspring based post.

There may be those that disagree, but I do think that being a mother has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. I don't think it matters whether you go out to work or stay at home with them, I've done both and both sides are equally as difficult. It's a 24/7 payless, no holidays (OK, you can physically go on holiday, but your job goes with you for 18 years running!) career and the clients are whiny, temperamental and a lot of the time, unappreciative.

So why on earth do people keep doing it? Why has the population not ground to a halt? I know everyone else goes through it as I have other mothers out there who talk me down when the kids are driving me up the wall (like the other mother of a 3 year old who has listened to me text whinge all day! You know who you are! ;))

Well, this week I've had one of the perks of the job. OK, it ain't free gym membership, private health cover (LOL, like any company would ever give me that anyway), a Christmas bonus etc, but there's not much that can beat motherly pride! Whilst my youngest has spent the week polishing his horns and forked tail with pride, my eldest has been busy putting a smile on mummy and daddy's faces.

Last Saturday, Emily finally got enrolled at Brownies - she was ecstatic. I'm not sure what it's like at other brownie packs, but Emily's Brown Owl makes you work for your enrolment. So Em has done her homework every week and been practising the Brownie promise until she's saying it in her sleep. The only down side was they did it on a Brownie trip so we couldn't go and see her, but she got enrolled on a steam train which is much cooler than a church hall! However, I did have an hour or 2 afterwards of mummy pride sewing all her badges on her sash:

Then this week, we got Emily's school report home. Every year it's the same, we sit back with a huge sigh of relief that we seem to have done it right. Her marks are very good, but the main thing is the comments about her hard work and enthusiasm. I could deal with poorer marks as long as she was trying her damndest but we're so lucky that the marks are there too.

Then yesterday we had one of those 'first letting go' moments with her. It was so weird, Rob and I were discussing the school holidays and I was saying I was considering letting her start and call for her friend Shiwone who lives round the corner. Emily's now 8 1/2 and we need to start with just a bit of freedom. Low and behold, yesterday teatime there's a knock at the door and there's stood Shiwone "Can Emily play out?". Doo doo doo do! So, we said Shiwone could come and play in the back garden but she had to phone her mum to say she was staying for a while. But the phone was engaged so the girls asked if they could walk round and let her mum know...ON THEIR OWN!!! Luckily I'd just made a cocktail so, big gulp and I said yes before I could think about it! Longest 5 minutes of my life!!! But, back they came and I just knew they'd been sensible (crossed the roads in the safe places, not stopped to chat etc etc), mummy pride yet again!

So, today I'm thankful for those proud moments where you think "Ah, so that's why I had them"!

The boy? Well, anyone who has had a 3 year old boy will know they're a breed unto themselves so he's a work in progress until we manage to find the instruction manual on eBay! But, he has his moments and hopefully he'll be giving the girl a run for her money soon!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Counting Your Blessings - Part 3

Today, we are being thankful for literature, or more specifically FREE literature (or at least very cheap!).

I was sat in bed last night with my latest book which I just love (you know the kind when you're really angry with yourself for letting your eyes droop 3 pages before the end of the chapter? In fact, you actually resent sleep on the whole as that's 8 hours you can't read!),

and was thinking how great it was that, in this world where you get nothing for free, you can still read books FOR FREE! And actually, unless the only book shop within 100 miles is WH Smiths you can actually buy books pretty cheaply, especially if you live in a town like I do where every other shop is a charity shop.Even if you do pay WHS prices, when you think of pence per hour of entertainment, even that's cheap.

So today I am counting the blessing that I can indulge in something that I love for very little outlay. I am also keeping everything crossed that, after last week's budget, my local library stays free for a long time to come!