Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Gallery - Happy

Given the theme for this week, I was tempted by a number of past photographs, and once I decided to use a photo from the week, I have managed to narrow it down to this one.

This week, I am happy as Tom & Seb have been so excited about starting 'big boy school'.
They will do five afternoons a week, so once lunch was over yesterday there was so much excitement as they were able to put their uniforms on for real.

And we gathered outside for my mandatory first day photos.
And this happened as we got into the car.
I am blessed with children who are so excited, that they do not seem to need a comfort mattress.
Who bound into school, with mummy begging for a 'goodbye'.
And now, I get the benefit of knowing that; as they decided to go their separate ways as they explored their new surroundings, they will always know where a hug is waiting.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Applying make up

Years ago, I use to travel to work via the M60. Such was the standstill nature of the journey I took to applying the handbrake, shifting into neutral and applying my make up.

By the time I got to work there had been enough traffic and traffic lights that I could quickly swipe eye liner, mascara and lipstick on in minutes and work into the office on time.

I only wear make up to work and when going out 'proper' so it's always a case of having to find the time rather than it being a part of my routine.

In preparation  for Blog Camp I queried whether it was acceptable to apply nail polish on a train. After a resounding 'yes' the conversation moved onto the efficiency of applying make up on trains. And it would seem this is definitely commonplace.
I find it unreliable.
I never know how busy my trains are going to be and don't think I have the confidence to have someone watching this with cursory glances (because you know you would).
Eye liner would definitely be problematic. 
And also because I carry enough on journeys to London or Birmingham without adding my make up bag to the mix.
Me? I do my make up in the station car park.
My make up bag actually lives under the passenger side seat.
After nearly three years I have it down to a fine art. In the winter it's the same amount of time as the mirror light before it automatically turns itself out.

It means at home, whilst I scramble around to get ready at 5.30 I don't spend long enough with a light on to disturb anyone.

It means on the odd occasion I might hit traffic I have a bit of spare time to eat into (on those days I do without buying a coffee and run for the train).
And, once again, I wonder how I'd cope if I had to work in an office 5 days a week.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Word of the Week

This is Tom.
Tom was born at 36 weeks.
Tom stopped growing just after 30 weeks.
At 10 weeks Tom was admitted after an ultrasound, he had pyloric stenosis.
A few days later he had surgery.
I crumbled.

Tom has always been my soldier.
Always poorliest, first, and for longest.

On the occasions we take him to the GP they will detect his heart murmur. And ask us to bring him back healthy for a second check. Where they would tell us he is fine.
It is repetitive.

At a referral to a paeditrician a second opinion on a niggle, the heart murmur was identified at full health.
We were asked if we would mind going for an ECG. We did. And we went home.
We waited.

Today, we had an appointment with a cardiologist.
Another ECG.
An ultrasound of Tom's heart.
Tom, in proud possession of a photograph of his heart.
The Cardiologist confirmed. Tom has a heart murmur.
And then specifically.
Tom has an innocent heart murmur.
Everytime he has a temperature, his heart rate changes, and the murmur becomes more apparent.
There is nothing to be concerned about.
From now on, everytime a GP finds it, we can tell them what we know.

The week started with Easter.
Our Puppet Ministry was warmly welcomed at Easter Service.
We had our first Easter Egg hunt in the garden.
I spent a lovely Easter Monday with the children at a local fruit garden.

With a mid week blip, as events caught up, and the worry of Friday built.

This is my word of the week:

The Reading Residence

"Around the World We Go!" by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Christine Toppin #Review

I love how Tom & Seb respond to new books.
They know that new books are kept for bedtime.
That as soon as their pyjamas are on, their milk has been drank, storytime can begin.

The first thing that drew the boys in were the illustrations by Christine Toppin. Exploring the world in vivid colours, with detail which kept the boys engaged with each page.
The repetition in the words by Margaret Wise Brown meant the boys were riveted by changes in rhythm and joining in as they guessed the direction of the text.
They loved the references to other countries and languages.
Although the spaceship may have captured their imagination most!
This book offers a great opportunity to explore with little ones, understanding the 'big, wide world' is never going to be easy with ones so enraptured with their immediate surroundings, but with children so obsessed with aeroplanes and spaceships it was a great routeway to exploring book.

A great sign of a good book is how often it is requested at bedtime. 
And as it seems this book is a favourite in the morning or at bedtime, means it's definitely getting the thumbs up from my three year olds!

Disclosure: We received a copy of "Around the World We Go!" by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Christine Toppin as part of the Parragon Book Buddies. All opinions and views expressed are our own.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The dilemmas of the working mum

One of my biggest dilemmas as a working mum is figuring how to make the most of 25 days annual leave across half term holidays, Easter and the Summer.
Balancing the odd days, or taking whole weeks, not being able to take any leave due to the holidays falling in a claim period.

There is nothing worse than knowing that whilst you're sat working, your children are discovering new parks without you.

To be baffled by a MMS on your way home from London, explaining how, on a whim- "we went out to get her hair cut, but they were busy, but they had a flyer for the circus"- your daughter has been for a ride on a camel.

And the best you can do, on working from home days, is to make sure there is hot chocolate awaiting their return from the park.

Then there are the days.
When it has been decided that the present you forgot to get for your daughter's 5th birthday, but it's ok because Mr J remembered, was the first fishing rod.
 Which is would seem was a good choice.
 And little fishes were caught.
And from little fishes comes confidence.
And who would have known, that the nature reserve a short walk from your home, is not just any nature reserve.
Because there's a reason there are no boats on the reserve.
Big Bad Barry!

And, you know what, if it had been my day off, it would never have happened.
Sometimes life keeps it's own answers.
And you can just enjoy the high!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Celebrating Easter

This year was the first year of introducing Seren to Easter 'proper'.
Of getting involved in our local Church activities and making family time special.
We crammed lots into our four days.

These are our highlights:

Music credit: The Beatles "Here Comes the Sun"

Monday, 21 April 2014

"The Carrot Cake Catrastrophe!" A #review with Parragon Book Buddies

With Seren becoming an independent reader, our book collection inadvertently separate into "Books which Seren reads" and "Books which mummy reads".
Mummy's books are usually distinguished by font or duration.
As I love books which are a journey for both of us, I love the books which we can cwtch up and read together.
Those books are ones which Seren realises she can't read alone, but wants to enough to accept support, and avoid the 'laziness' of letting mummy reading them.

"The Carrot Cake Catastrophe", by Elizabeth Dale & Gemma Raynor, is one which naturally falls in the 'inbetween'. Seren understands that it is a story, but also sees it as her receipe book. 
Associating with the Grampy reliant on spectacles, loving the baking which she enjoys so much.

Seren loved the illustrations by Gemma Raynor, identifying out the ingredients and humour.
We have yet to make the cake (Secret: Mummy hates carrots, loves carrot cake, but can't bear acknowledging the contradiction by baking it).
The good news is Seren is going from strength to strength reading the book, and seeking support when the words are unknown.
And we have giggles every time- which can only be a good thing!

Disclosure: We recieved a copy of this book for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views expressed are our own.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Blog Your Heart Out

So, in a few weeks I might just get to meet the awesome Trouble Doubled - someone whom I have known since the early days of blogging, and now thanks to her tag- you get to read this post!

So, now you get the answers, to the questions she is making me think about!
Note: she will always make you think!

Who or what encouraged you to start blogging?
It was obviously a moment of inspiration, so much so I can barely remember it.
I was using the TAMBA forum quite a bit when I was on maternity leave with Tom & Seb. I think a couple of parents had begun blogging and after exploring, and finding some fantastic blogs.
Well, it seemed like a good idea.
Oddly, I had set up a blog a year earlier for a #365 photography project. Which lasted a day.
I therefore like to think my blog now represents continuous improvement!

How did you choose what to blog about?
I'd like to think I distinguished. My blog was, and remains, verbal diarrhoea. Or, as I like to think of it, my online diary.
I started, just blogging about life as a mum of three. Which remains. But now. Now, I am a better baker (the blog is a great record of this). Now, my children are three years older. After Easter, the maternity leave that motivated my blog becomes a memory- as Tom and Seb start school. Ouch.

What is something most people don't know about you?
What a tip my office is.
I am organised by trade, I am a programme manager. It's not negotiable.
I was a mum of three under-two's. To not plan was to not leave the house.
And yet, like my childhood, my own space is chaos.
My mum hated it. Not only was it, in her eyes, a mess- but infuriatingly I could lay my hands on anything I needed. It remains that way.
People assume I keep an organised, tidy desk.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What three words describe your style?
Based on the last response:
An Organised Mess.

What do you love to do when you are not blogging?
I am usually doing two things when I'm not working: holding down the day job or spending time with my family. I am guessing it's obvious which one I love.
As well as being with Mr J and the little people, I have also begun Zumba, and I love this 'me time'- school holidays get in the way, which reinforce the need for a teeny bit of me, away from work and home.

Who wants to be tagged?
I tag......
Keep Up With The Jones Family
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Mum of Three Boys
Tiaras and Tantrums

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Spring Cake Pops - Let's make a rainbow

Cake pops in our house are a staple.
I invested in a cake pop machine from Lakeland, so I could offer my little people bite size pieces of cakes, rather than cope with the crumbs of pieces of cake needing to be hoovered up.
And so, cake pops generally just get served like this:
Being able to make something special is always a treat, so when Renshaw's sent us some colour melts to create a Spring treat, well, with my daughter it didn't take long...
 "Coch a melyn a fioled a glas, Porffor ac oren a gwyrdd. Dyma lliwiau enfys, Lliwiau enfys, Lliwiau enfys hardd."
And so mummy went to work.
With lots of little hands helping along the way.
April Showers.
New Beginnings.
Fresh Hope.

A Rainbow.
And so we made our usual sponge mix:

Four eggs, weighed (far more than needed- the children eat lots of pops along the way).
The same weight in caster sugar, baking margarine, and self raising flour.
With a splash of vanilla essence (probably 1.5 tsps).

Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at at a time, and mix.
Gradually add the flour.
Add the vanilla essence and mix.

Warm up your cake pop machine.
Lightly coat with sunflower oil.
Add 3/4 tsp of the cake batter per 'pop'
Close the machine and leave for four minutes.
Leave to cool.

We used the Renshaw Colour Melts as per the directions.
(For all but the blue ones, where the children had been playing 'shop' and at some point during the checkout an accident had occurred. We used a bowl. Conclusion: the tubs are far more effective.).

And so, after the melt set, we created our rainbow.
With a shoe box from Mr J's new squash pumps,
And serviettes from the boys birthday.
Creating some new.
Creating Happy.
Disclosure: We received a Renshaw's Spring Bundle for the purposes of creating this post.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Getting away from it all at Ogmore

As last week closed, it became obvious this working week was not going to be a good one.
Whilst it might only have lasted three days, it has managed to eat away at the last month.
Questioning. Intruding. Becoming that 'voice' on your shoulder which questions now everything you have done and continue to do.

And so, as it ate away at our weekend, Tuesday impending.
So, we got into the car on Monday, on the understanding I had to get away from anything associated with it.
The type of day where your office being in your home is not helpful.
And so we ended up at Ogmore.
My favourite beach from my childhood.
And whilst Barry Island may be on our door step.
Ogmore offers adventure.
The chance to escape.
Armed with a picnic, a blanket, buckets and spades.
We became free for the afternoon.

To explore rock pools.
 To dig for water.
 To sail boats.
 To have fun.

 To be free.

As we drove home we discussed the practicalities of moving to Ogmore.

And, whilst it might seem perfect.

Where would we go to escape?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Creating an Easter Tree

This year, I have enjoyed getting the children involved in the run up to Easter.
To understand it's more than a day you wake up to chocolate eggs.

I decided to create an Easter tree, both for my own craft experiment, but also to get Seren involved.

We started early with a batch of small polystyrene eggs, some sequins and pins.
They make a wonderful contrast... albeit they were a little bit to teeny for a five year old.
Next we went with the awesome eggs we had seen so much of on Facebook and Pinterest. We of course made far too much of a mess of it, and our use of paste was 'excessive', but as the boys had also got involved it was more than fun.
 And they looked fantastic (albeit, not as transparent as we were aiming for).
After popping to Hobbycraft and investing in some medium and large polystyrene eggs, Seren and I had a lot more success in creating both button eggs together, and Seren experimenting with pens, paint, glue, glitter and sand.
 I carried on experimenting with ribbon, and before we knew it...  
And we are proud of our Easter tree.
Complete with cards from nursery and school.
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