The Weekly Daly Roundup #6

High

Day out to Bolton Abbey.  This is a place I remember vividly visiting as a child.  My memory of it is of sunshine, a river, open green space.  So went along with the kids this week.. and its as I remember.  The kids played in the river all afternoon – how simply wonderful it was to watch (I did get about a third of the way across the stepping stones before turning back, not quite brave enough to join them for anymore.. the water was freezing!!)

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Low

Laptop died a death, so had to invest in a new one.  What a chore as I have no interest in technology, so having to choose one (yawn), then figure out how to use new operating system (more yawning), get all my stuff transferred (cue heightened anxiety levels as I panic that all my itunes library and playlists are lost!)  But its all up and running now.

Good

Final week of Mini Mess completed – means that I am on the final countdown to a full week off work (almost never heard of).

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Bad

Camera on phone (which is my only means of taking photo’s) is not working properly.  All pictures are blurry round the edges.  Phone has to be returned to manufacturers – a task I am putting off as the chore of transferring everything to a new handset in the meantime is more than I can bear.  So for the time being I am putting up with naff photo’s

Enjoyed

Some much needed family time.  We don’t get much of it, so treasure what we do get.  A couple of hours out on Sunday did the trick to a local play park with sand, bouncy pillow, zip wire etc

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Didn’t enjoy

Having to console the children after being let down by their dad.  His weekend to have them, something they look forward to so so much.  Collected them as usual, all good.  45 mins later a text to say he was brining them back as they were bickering and arguing.  10 mins later, 2 very distraught little girls on the doorstep.  It can be so hard to hide the frustration and anger sometimes.  Trying to explain to and 8 yr old and 6yr old the reasoning of his actions when I don’t really understand them myself.

Mundane

Shopping at 7am on a Saturday morning.  The insomnia still hasn’t improved.  So thought I’d utilise the time and get the shopping done.  The downside being that because I had loads of time, because the aisles were empty of people I spent time browsing (what that actually means is putting loads more stuff in the trolley than I usually would) and spending double what I would do normally – I took a big gulp when it got totalled at the checkout!

Out of the Ordinary

Losing my enthusiasm for being organised.  I am usually sooo organised, have a list for everything.  Life is timetabled to maximise use of time and daylight lol.  I don’t know whether I’m finally getting in to the swing of the holidays – but just can’t motivate myself to organise my life.  This is both good and bad, means that life has a bit more of a relaxed pace than usual – even culminating in a Pyjama day – literally the kids spend the whole day in the their PJ’s watching TV, whilst I figured out the new lap top/  They thought it was an amazing day and out of all the fun stuff we’ve been doing over the holidays its what they’ve gone on about the most!. But it also means that I am double booking stuff, getting behind on things – and this doesn’t help my insomnia and anxiety levels.  No doubt, normal organisation will resume shortly – but for the time being I’m just looking the other way!

Linking up with #TWTWC

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{Ordinary Moments} #7 Family Time

Family time – for most families is something that occurs pretty much everyday at some point, whether that be sitting down for a meal together, watching some TV, bath and bedtime stories etc

Not so in our blended household.  For until the time that Ron and I live together, the Ordinary Moments of family time that most people enjoy, are probably more extra ordinary moments for us.

So because of this, the few hours snatched here and there each week that we have together as a family are precious, and to be made the most of.

Generally, every other weekend the girls go off to there dads – as much as I miss them, its also has its upside that Ron and I get to have couple time on a regular basis.  This weekend the girls were meant to be at there dads, so we were looking forward to having some time together, not planning much, playing things by ear.  However, for one reason and another, at the last minute, plans changed and the girls ended up being with us.  Our ‘no plans, lazy weekend’ suddenly became a distant memory, so we got stuck in to ‘family time’

I love family time – we don’t have to be doing anything major, costly or exciting, just being together for longer that a hour at a time is a luxury to be enjoyed.  I love watching Ron with the girls, and the girls love being with him – I think because of his childishness childlike ability to have fun on their level.  He will happily play games with them, climb, swing, hide and scooter

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ron scooter

Favourite family time activities are usually the simple ones –  a walk in the woods, wandering round local beauty spots, a trip to the park, rock scrambling etc

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rock scrambling

As ordinary as these moments are, its the things that I hope our children look back on and treasure.  A price can not be placed on the time and attention we give to kids – it has meaning to them beyond value (especially if icecream at some point is involved!)

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Linking up with #theordinarymoments

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Romance – Dead or Alive? #1

Did you know that August every year is Romance Awareness month.  Well I didn’t, not until I came across it on Trista’s (Domestic Momster) blog.

Got me thinking – So I’m not a slushy hearts and flowers sort of person.

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I don’t need or expect big romantic gestures (although chocolates will always go down well no matter what – mentioned just in case Mr D is having a nosey at the blog).

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Asked myself a few questions….

  • What is romance?
  • Am I romantic?
  • Is Mr D romantic?
  • Do we make enough effort, time and opportunity for romance?

We both do the little everyday stuff which is a general part of our lives together, we hold hands, we cuddle up on the sofa, I love you is said a lot.  Those things are part of who we are, the type of couple we are and the relationship we share (nice stuff & niggles detailed in a previous post).  Surely all of that is classed as romance.  But would I say we go above and beyond these… not on a regular basis.

  • Do we need to?
  • Are we taking our relationship for granted?
  • Are we taking each other for granted?
  • Would a bit of extra ‘Romance Awareness’ now and again go amiss in keeping the fire burning bright in our relationship.

Probably not, certainly couldn’t hurt.

I am pretty action orientated, bull by the horns so to speak.  So with Romance Awareness Month in mind and it being a child free Sunday (they were off at their dads) – a perfect opportunity to inject a bit of ‘romance’ in to the glorious warm day.

What could be easier better (am meant to be making an effort, easy shouldn’t come in to it!) than a picnic in the park together.  Me, him, picnic blanket – spot on.  Sunday is Church day, but today, romance was coming first, so left church early, picked up a few bits and put together a couple of his favourite picnic foods – namely tiger bread and cheese, jumped in the car and headed off to Shibden Park.

As busy as it was (given its a family friendly place, lots of open grass and the sun was cracking the flags, it was hardly suprising), we found a nice spot, laid out together and watched the world go by.

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Food, followed by chat, followed by a bit more food, and a lot more chatting.

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I approached the subject of ‘Romance’ cautiously – expecting to be met with the rolling of eyes and a response of ‘all that fuss and nonsense’, but he was actually quite receptive.  Especially as I put to him we could have a little romance competition for the month, see who can get in the most ‘random acts of romance’ before the end of August – my dear husband is THE MOST competitive person I know (well, him and his brother!).. so this was pretty much a sure way of getting him involved.  But we’ll see, as we know the saying and the doing are totally different things! I also said we could have a prize for the most inventive gesture – that should be interesting.

So I am now trawling looking for romantic ideas other than the usual stuff we do as part of our ‘ordinary’ Daly lives

IDEAS – GRATEFULLY RECEIVED!

Over the next 3 weeks I’m going to update on our ‘randmom acts of romance’ – lets see where it takes us.  Sick buckets may well be needed – pre-warning issued.

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My Random Musings

The Weekly Daly Roundup #4

Half way through the holidays – where is the summer going. I’m so concious that the weeks are slipping away I am trying to get so much in.

A quick round up of the week

High

An early morning brekkie treat with Ron at the local Harvesters followed by a lovely walk around Oakwell Hall to work it off. Was a perfect start to the day. Breakfast was amazing, not only in amount and quality, but cost too – at only £4.99 for unlimited continental option and then full English – can’t go wrong and it may turn in to a bit of a regular weekend outing.

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Low

Seeing everywhere and buying back to school stuff – very depressing

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Good

Birthday – uneventful which is the way I like them.

Bad

Birthday – 42yrs old – I’ve never really been able to come to terms with getting older.  I remember turning 10, and being devastated that I would never be single figures again.  Turning 30 was a nightmare, I was traumatised for days!  40 was more manageable, helped by a weekend away with Ron (we were newly dating at that time), Now I’m just doing my best to ignore them.

Enjoyed

Lots of great home activities with the kids.  From tie dying t-shirts , to a sports day & water slide with friends, to paint wars in the garden – its been a blast

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Didn’t enjoy

Girls being at their dads.  Its a bit of a double edged sword.  Having a break is great.  Having couple only time with Ron is fantastic and not to be taken for granted EVER – but I really really miss them when they’re not here.

Mundane

Got all the practical jobs done on Saturday afternoon – lawn mowed, survived supermarket shop.  Actually gave Aldi a try this week – everyone saying how much they save gave me a bit of a push.  I wasn’t disappointed, must admit, spent less than I usually would. Washing done (and the makings of Mount Everest aka the ironing pile has started again), – might be mundane but still get a sense of satisfaction when its all done.

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Out of the Ordinary

Attended the last of the summer weddings – congratulations to Nicola & Zak – finally tying the knot after 10 years together.  Her dress was stunning, and Nicola’s three kiddies were adorable.

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Natalie danced non stop at the evening do – she’s her mothers daughter afterall, she certainly has all my moves and more!

Grateful for

All the wonderful local beauty spots we have around here.  We are so lucky to have so many amazing places on our doorstep where we can enjoy green open spaces, woodland walks, wildflower meadows.  Great to enjoy as a couple and explore as a family.

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Linking up with #TWTWC

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{Ordinary Moments} #5 Creative Kids

I am not a naturally creative person.  Doing crafting, baking, and the general making stuff activities with the kids for me takes a lot of effort.  But they love it, so I do make the effort despite my OCD tendencies to take over what ever it is they are doing .. I find myself getting overly involved wanting to ‘help a little’ (ok.. a lot!) if they are not doing it quite right, or exactly how I think it should be done.  I would probably be better off tying my hands behind my back during these type of activities to stop myself interfering and let them just get on with it.

I’ve really been noticing this week that whilst I am not particularly creative, actually my children are.  One of the activities on their Summer Bored Board click here see prev blog post to read more about the Bored Board– (SERIOUSLY – introducing the Bored Board these holidays is one of the best things I’ve ever done!) is to ‘write a story’ – Jess has been loving this.  She talks through the concept of the story first, writes a title and introduction before beginning her narrative.  Pictures always accompany the story and she never forgets to credit herself on the cover as the Story Author and Illustrator! She finds so much to spark her imagination, creating delightful characters going on different adventures.

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Its been really inspiring to watch how she puts her stories together, the pride she takes in her pictures and how much she wants to read her stories to pretty much anyone that will listen (thank goodness for the patience of grandma!)

i know its important to encourage creativity where you can, but I’ll be honest I find it hard work – I’m all for the self entertainment sort of stuff (writing their own stories, drawing pictures etc), the larger projects – painting, model making, baking – any really messy stuff I’m not so keen on.  Setting it all up, covering everything that is in danger of being glued, painted on or covered in gunk for what seems a very short amount of playtime before I find myself deserted as they’ve gone off to do something else and I’m up to my elbows is mess!

But this week, I decided to grasp the nettle so to speak.  One of their ‘Bucket List’ activities was to do some tie dying of t-shirts.  A definite outside activity, and with Monday being a dry, occasionally sunny day it was the perfect opportunity.  A quick google on instructions – came across parents.com (click here), a dash to Wilkinsons for the dye, salt and cheap washing up bowls,   Dug out their P.E t-shirts from the last term of school and off we went.

It was such a pleasure to watch them coming up with their designs, deciding on colours and how they wanted them to look. They showed patience in waiting for the dye to work and were so excited when it was time to take them out and see how their designs had turned out. They even offered a critique on the patterns, and decided what they would do differently with the next t-shirt.

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They enjoyed it so much I ended up opening up the new t-shirts for the next term of school and letting them dye those as well.  Safe to say, we have enough tie dyed t-shirts to get them through the whole of the summer!

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The aftermath and clean up wasn’t too bad either, and seeing their creativity, personal style, originality and imagination really come through was well worth it.

After such a successful and relatively stress free activity,  later in the week we really decided to push the boat out on the messy play front – and went the whole hog with ‘Paint Wars’ .  This amounted pretty much to covering the front garden in lining paper, squirting a load of paint all over it, and letting the kids (ok.. and me too) slip, slide, run through, roll in and get throughly covered in paint.  Of course, it descended in to not only squirting the paper with paint, but then each other!

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A quick clear away of the paper, and it was out with the garden hose.  There was no way anyone was entering the house until at least the majority had been washed away.

The water hose brought a whole other dimension to our play time, being chased round the garden by my 8yr old squeeling (the squeeling was me, not her!) jumping through the spray and their total awe when they made rainbows appear through the mist was pretty magical.

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It was such a sense of freedom, play without limits, so much laughter, the biggest smiles ever, cheekiest of giggles, screams of excitement.

Truly what sunny, summer days should be made of.

Linking up with #theordinarymoments

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Introducing – Back to School Traditions

Half way through the summer holidays already!  I remember as a child the signal that we were midway in to the holiday was the sudden appearance of all things ‘Back to School’ in the shops.  Uniforms, school bags, lunch boxes, stationary etc. As a kid I hated seeing it all as it meant that all too soon it would be back to early mornings, homework, and dark, cold evenings.

Nowadays though, ‘Back to School’ stuff appears in the shops pretty much immediately!  In fact the new uniforms were in the entrance to Asda before schools had even broken up for the holidays!

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Really, the only tradition we have done each year is around the purchase of new stuff for the new term – and thats just because its an essential activity, rather than a tradition as such.

Historically I’ve done this the the last week of the summer holidays – but I found last year that I’d gone to do the whole back to school shop and there was almost nothing left.  Getting jumpers in the right colour was a nightmare, the choice of pinafores and skirts non existent and the queues at Clarkes for new shoes was interminable.

To not get caught out this year – we are starting early.  However, I absolutely, categorically refuse to start any earlier that week 4 of the holidays.  It just doesn’t seem right or fair to be thinking and focussing on the end of the holidays when it feels they’ve not long begun.

But also this year, I thought we’d start a couple of new traditions.  As much as the summer holidays are great, its awful that the last couple of weeks of them, and certainly the few days are plagued with that feeling of dread (for both me and the kids to be honest) that the holidays are ending and the return to school is looming.

I want this year, and the years that follow to bring some positivity to the prospect of the new term starting for all of us.  A few things that will ease the pain so to speak, and that form family traditions over the coming years.  After checking out Pintrest, blogs and the like I decided not to go overboard, but choose 3 – keep it simple ideas

1.A super shopping date – aka purchasing of new uniform etc

Ok, so not original, but something that has to be one each year.  However rather than it just being me that does a mad dash to the shops, grabs an armful of clothes and shoves it in drawers and wardrobes on my return home.  This year I’m going to take the kids with me on the shopping trip – make a bit of a treat out of it.  Let them choose their own (oh heavens!), make it a bit more special with lunch out etc

2. Last Supper of Summer – a themed meal

Something that I read on a blog The Larson Lingo that one of their traditions was to have a theme for their school year – things like ‘Grow’,  ‘Love’, ‘Be Brave’.  It was the Be Brave one that caught me.  This is going to be a big year for Jess and Nat.  The move of house, new school, new friends, new routines.  All major changes.  They really are going to have to be brave, show courage and determination.

So, we are going to take on the tradition of an annual theme and introduce it through a Last Supper of Summer. A special dinner on the last day of the holidays. Theme – we deffo have to go with ‘Be Brave’  – I’m working through ideas, will include them, and update on a future blog.

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3. Knowing you – knowing me

One of their concerns each year of returning to school is having a new teacher.  They have spent a whole year getting to know the last one.  They have built a bond with their teacher, they know what they expect, how they will react, and will rightly so miss them a great deal. Then all of a sudden they’ve to start all over again.  For both the children its something they have talked about regularly and I feel that its what causes them the most anxiety when thinking about starting the new school term.  Yet another good idea on The Larson Lingo blog which I’m going to adopt and adapt was ‘My favourite things’ questionnaire.  A list of simple questions they give to their teacher to answer along with a gift to help them get to know her.

I think this is a wonderful idea.  A little gift for the teacher at the end of their first week to show a bit of appreciation (I do admire teachers, and I can imagine that the first week back for them is a total nightmare).  And what a great way for the kids to get to know their teacher, feel more comfortable around them and start a strong teacher pupil relationship.  I’m adapting it a bit as I’m going to get the girls to fill our their own questionnaire to give to their teacher with the small gift so the teacher can know some things about them and one for the teacher to then complete and return back to the girls.

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An example of one from Pintrest – check it out for lots of fab ideas on teacher questionnaires

So, 3 new Back to School traditions in our ‘Daly Life’ – can’t wait!

I’d love to know other family traditions people have – back to school ones or others

Linking up with #momsterslink

Blended Family – Nice stuff & Niggles

Blending together as a family is one thing, blending together as a couple is another matter entirely.  Its almost unheard of nowadays for couples not to have lived together before they get married, we however didn’t do the the try before you buy scenario.  Not only did not live together before we married, but haven’t done since we married either.  That is set to change in the next couple of months, and its brought to my mind recently on how I’m going to manage the transition from being a married yet singleton so to speak, to being real life couple and all that it brings with it.

I’ve lived on my own for 4 1/2 years (with the kids of course).  I’m a bit set in my ways, used to ruling the roost, making my own decisions, getting my own way pretty much all of the time (except when the kids pester power gets the better of me). Mr Daly is here only a couple of days a week, and as such has little impact on the way I go about everyday life, but there are the odd couple of things that I’ve had to take note of, little reminders along the way that he has his own way of doing things, his own foibles and little quirks.

Blending together as a couple has meant embracing the good and the bad, the odd compromise here and there, keeping a balanced and honest view of our relationship – recognising the positives and keeping them at the forefront of the relationship and accepting that there will always be a few negatives.  No one is perfect, perfection would afterall I think get boring anyway.  However, it can be so so easy to take the good bits for granted and let the little, insignificant annoyances fester.

its the small nice things I love the most.  I don’t need big gestures, hearts and flowers are a bit lost on me really.  The little things are not –

  • He walks through the door, and before doing anything else he kisses me hello
  • He is always the first to ask me how my day has gone.  What I’ve been up to, how have the kids been.  Despite him working very long hours, often being very tired and usually arriving at mine pretty late in the evening, he always puts first my need to off load my day.  Only after I’ve rattled off everything I’ve been up to, do I take a breath, and remember – his turn.
  • We’ll sit down at the dining table to catch up on our day, and he always holds my hand whilst we talk
  • No matter what I cook for dinner he remembers to thank me (and proceeds to eat the lot, thankfully he’s not a fussy eater, just a wheat intolerant vegetarian!)

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Then, there are the niggles – small, insignificant things, but as insignificant as they are, they haven’t gone unnoticed!

  • He squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle instead of at the end
  • He brings a glass of water to bed, but never takes it down again in the morning- amazing how quickly a collection builds up

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  • I  find socks anywhere but in the washing basket
  • He uses the nicely folded towel in the bathroom, but never refolds it afterwards

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But you know what, even though I give a bit of a mental ‘tut’ when I am re-folding the towel again, or a resigned sigh as I squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube back up to the top.  I also have an inward smile, a bit of a warm feeling.  Because as tiny and unimportant as these niggly things are, I’m grateful for them.  When I pick up his stocks from the bottom of the stairs and throw them in the washing basket, it reminds me that he’s here, and due to the way we currently live, thats a bonus as the majority of the time he’s not.

I recognise the fact that I am most definitely, without doubt not an easy person to live with or even be around sometimes. I would hate to see his list of niggles about me – endless is a description that springs to mind!  Quite often my stress levels are off the scale for which unfortunately my family bare the brunt of – but he accepts this, without question, with patience and understanding (and lots of hugs).  This is what I mean by me trying to keep a balanced view of our relationship – keeping and remembering constantly of what is good, what is really of value in our relationship, my husbands true worth rather than any of the occasional trivial annoyances I come across.

Blending together is a process for me that has and is taking time, patience (hmm.. need to work on that.. not my greatest attribute),  and love (we’ve got plenty of that thankfully). I am having to learn that I am not the centre of my world , we both are.  That means working together, seeing, understanding and sometimes accepting (only sometimes mind!) an opposing opinion.  I learn a lot from him – mainly a better way to deal with stuff other that screaming my head off, and I do try (not always successfully I admit).  Blending together has wanted to make me a better person, better mother, better wife (again, not always successfully, ha ha…but I’m trying)   And isn’t that the ultimate goal – to become better  and happier people together than you were apart – I hope so, thats certainly where I want to head.

Linking up with #bestandworst

Best of Worst

The Weekly Daly Roundup #3 .. 2/8/15

Week 2 of the holidays and a bit of a jam packed week.  Many more highs than lows, many more goods than bads – so I’d say a pretty productive, fun, family week.

A roundup of our week:

High – successfully managing to bake a cake!  With much help from the girls, a never fail recipe supplied from a friend, more buttercream than you’ve ever seen before – ta dah!  An edible, half decent looking birthday cake for my mums 70th.

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Low – Spending £25 on ingredients, cake tin etc for said cake when could’ve bought one from a supermarket for less that a tenner!  Ah,but it wouldn’t have had the same love, care and attention (and slightly sunken middle or wonkey edges!)

Good – successfully got through the first week of Mini Mess without any mishaps – my summer kids programme.  Week 1 can be a bit manic, and I’m never quite sure how its going to go –  but thoroughly enjoyed myself as I think did everyone else.  Just 3 weeks left to go

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Bad – Currently in mid-bout of insomnia – leading to finding the milk in a a cupboard rather than the fridge, searching for and eventually finding my car keys in the shoebox, leaving house in slippers (twice!), leaving house without kids..

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Enjoyed –  Loads of fun with the kids this week – from baking the cake, swimming followed by the obligatory cheesy chips in the cafe. A day out at Sundown Adventureland with friends.

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We managed a lazy Friday morning before heading off to a kids ‘Breeze’ event in the park for FREE put on by the local council.  Great afternoon making masks, bouncy castles, dress up, icecreams, roly polys down the hill and especially loved watching the kids put on Sumo suits and try to wrestle – hilarious!


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Didn’t enjoy – Spending over 2 hours on the drive back from Sundown – traffic was a nightmare to say the least.  With 4 kids in the car it was endless rounds of hold your breath under the next bridge, spot the green & yellow cars.  In all honesty, they were great, no bickering or falling out, and only a couple of ‘how long till we’re back now’ comments

Mundane – finally finished climbing Mount Everest – otherwise known as the ironing pile!  Something I’d put off everyday for almost 2 weeks, so you can imagine the size of it.  The kids are going through clothes like there’s no tomorrow – they don’t seem to able to keep even just one item clean enough to wear for a second day.

Out of the Ordinary – A couple of things this week.  Went to see Texas in Millenium Square with a friend.  Last time I saw them was 1998 in Sheffield (WHAT!  how long ago!) They didn’t disappoint, fab music, amazing energy.  There is so much to be said for an open air venue, warm summer evening, live music and being out with your bezzie mate acting a bit daft! Makes for a brilliant atmosphere and the ability to remember what it was like to be young and carefree again

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We also attended the lovely wedding of friends – John and Sarah, and they did the Christening of their youngest daughter Isabelle at the same time.  Loved the reception.  The tables all decorated in a shabby chic style, hession table runners, jam jars with fresh flowers and vintage style tea-cups and paper plates.  Food was picnic boxes filled with delights of pork pies (best I’ve ever had), fresh bread, cheese, pickles, crackers, coleslaw and salads.  Desert was a table filled with homemade cakes – coffee & walnut, strawberry and cream, bannofee pie, scones, chocolate cake – it was a help yourself kind of deal.. so would’ve been rude not to try a bit of a few!

Sarah and johns weddingWas such a wonderful, social and relaxed way to have a wedding reception.  Loads of kids entertainment, bouncy castle, soft play, picnic blankets out for them – fabulous. And the sun even made a re-appearance early evening. It was a beautiful wedding. It was also really great to attend as a family and the girls were the best behaved little angels for the full day.  They were polite, they self entertained (with the help of a couple of activity books I’d taken along to get them through the ceremony), no arguing, happy to talk and answer grownups with their simple child endearing conversation when required – lots of fuzzy’s awarded for their chart at the end of the day.

Grateful for – having children that can be (when they want to be) so delightful, so charming and adorable it makes my heart swell with pride and brings tears to my eyes with joy

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Linking up with #TWTWC

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{Ordinary Moments} #4 Let us eat cake

My mum has a bit of a landmark birthday this week – the big 70.  Normally for birthdays I get cakes made, I have a fab friend who has a real talent and does it as a hobby (although I think she should make it her career) or I use Paula at The Perfect Cake Company – who I have to say is the most amazing cake decorator.  She has done numerous cakes for me over the years for my girls birthdays and I’ve loved each and everyone of them.

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But, I’d left it a bit late to order one, and given its the holidays I decided to try my hand at a cake myself.. or rather, do one with the girls.  Whilst I cook often, and think I’m ok at it (kids eat most of what I put in front of the, Ron eats everything I put in front of him, but he hates waste, so will eat it whether he likes it or not!), I rarely bake.  I’m a bit of a throw it all together type of cook so generally limit myself to baking flapjack or scones.  I think to bake successfully (cakes etc) you have to be precise or it all goes terribly wrong in my experience, and I’m not too good at precision!

But I thought, hey, no matter how it turns out, I’ll just say the girls did it and everyone will think its wonderful.

My girls certainly have their priorities right .. In their own true style they decided on at the outset was who was going to get to lick the spoon and who was going to get to scrape out the bowl!  I know its the best bit, and boy did they make the most of it.

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My friend had given me a Mary Berry Victoria Sponge recipe that she said had never failed her and was the easiest out there. We set about weighing, measuring, cracking eggs in to the mixer

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It wasn’t long before the kitchen looked like a flour bomb had gone off in it, but the cake was in the oven, and the kids were glued to the oven door waiting for it to rise (I stood there with my fingers crossed that it would actually rise!)

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Decorations were in order – I had in my mind to make lovely pretty roses, and cut outs of flowers and butterflies – all looked so simple in the pictures.  In reality.. not quite as easy as I thought, but we gave it a go and overall, did a reasonable job.  The girls loved using the cutters and we had enough to decorate 3 cakes never mind one.

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I actually had a try at covering the cake in icing, not the most professional job, but given it was my first time I was pretty pleased with myself.

We sat around the cake together, deciding on placement of roses, butterflies and flowers, stood back and admired our handy work.  Ok, so entry in to the Great British Bake off is not going to happen anytime soon – but I think Grandma loved her birthday cake so much more than anything professional I could have had made for her.  There’s nothing quite like something thats home made, slightly wonky, but done with much love and effort.

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As soon as we’d finished, the next words spoken – ‘can we eat the cake now mummy?’

The finished article, made with love (and lots of buttercream) and presented with a rather charming if quite loud rendition of Happy Birthday To You from the girls!

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24hrs of an Insomniac

Pretty regularly I suffer with bouts of insomnia.  I am currently mid bout (hoping its more like the end of this bout as I don’t do well with sleep deprivation).  My periods of insomnia vary in both length and severity but its always a frustrating and difficult time for both me and my family (as I am not the nicest of people to be around when tired)

I seriously don’t do well with lack of sleep, if effects every part of my day,.. one day this week in particular –  I thought I’d note down just a few of the affects I’ve experienced of not working with full brain function

The night before:

  • Went to bed 11pm
  • Still awake at 1pm
  • Got up at 1.30am – did emails, read book, washed up, watched tv, made toast
  • Went back to bed at 3.30am
  • Looked at clock at 4.20am
  • Woke up at 7.30pm – panic as had to get up for work!

This has been pretty much a standard night for a couple of weeks now, although normally would be awake again by 6.00am, 7.30pm was very unusual.

My morning

I proceeded to make a number of ‘errors’ so to speak:

  • Put milk away in the cupboard rather than the fridge.  Only realised when I couldn’t shut the cupboard door properly

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  • Hunted high and low for car keys, only to find them in the shoe drawer

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  • Left house in my slippers, was at the car door before I realised.
  • Left house a 2nd time still in my slippers as I’d forgotten what I’d gone back in the house to do
  • Returned in to house for a 3rd and 4th time to get things I’d forgotten – essentials like my ipad (needed for work), purse & believe it or not, my daughters (they had gone back in to the house to use the loo during one of my return trips for forgotten items!)
  • Set off to drop the girls at a friends who was looking after them, took the wrong turning of the roundabout, so turned around
  • Driving along, realised I was almost in the next town, remembered where I was meant to be going, turned around again and headed back
  • Had to return home yet again as had forgotten to collect the neighbours daughter who was assisting me at work today

I managed to get through work without too many mishaps.  I tend to be able to focus at work, its my livlihood afterall, so its essential I at least look and act professional .. Although, at varying points in the day I couldn’t find my phone, cuppa (where did I put it down again), note book, pen etc

My afternoon / evening

  • Collected the children, almost on time and headed off to mums – for her 70th birthday family gathering.  Got there, handed over the cards, took a seat and happily chatted to family (stifling yawns and wondering if anyone would notice if I just nipped upstairs for a 10 mins power nap).  People started to dispurse an hour or so later, saying their goodbyes,
  • realised that I’d left my mums home made, slaved over, children decorated with love birthday cake sat in her kitchen!  Only ones left were just me, the girls and grandma – but oh well, more cake for us, and they were more than happy to give her a personal chorus of happy birthday (minus the candles as I’d left them on the side at home)

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  • Time to head home.. ok.. so where did I put the car keys again???
  • Concentrated very, very hard on the drive home to make sure that I didn’t miss the correct turn off and end up in the city centre
  • Getting everything ready for tomorrow, picnic lunch boxes made, put dirty cutlery in the washing machine – only realised when the knife clattered in the drum.

Seriously.. sleep is required to function, I am clearly no longer functioning.  I’m not always sure exactly what triggers these periods of insomnia.  They seem to creep up on me and before I know it, before I get chance to nip it in the bud, the bout is in full swing and I’m lucky if I am getting 3hrs of sleep.

I know that heightened anxiety of various things plays a part, usually work related.  I know when I’ve got things praying on my mind it effects my sleep, and hormones I also think have their own part in it all.  I have sleeping tablets which I take very occasionally – usually only after a prolonged bout when I get to the state I have described above and normal daily living becomes impossible.

My patience is not the greatest at the best of times, during times of sleep deprivation it becomes even more of a challenge.  I try to be honest with the kids about it, explaining how tired I am, and there may be times when I am grumpy.  Then there are others where I just react, shout (scream sometimes – my poor kids, my poor neighbours!) as its the only reaction I can muster at that point.  I try and be more concious about my interactions when I’m suffering with a prolonged period of insomnia, try to give my brain a minute between processing information and reacting to circumstances that present themsevles.  Sometimes I manage this quite successfully, other times I don’t.

So, from reviewing my day, i think its pretty clear that its time to hit the bottle – of pills that is.  Give myself a half decent nights sleep, and approach the next day with new vigour, hopefully with the ability to find my car keys, leave the house in shoes and with some normal amount of brain capacity to get through the day.