Sunday, 20 December 2009

Getting excited!!!

The Christmas spirit is now with us! Everyone has broken up, we can live at our pace now, no more getting up hours before dawn to get everyone packed off to their various locations of day-time occupation! We can see friends, and generally chill out!

The finishing touches are being made to presents, and new ideas already being formed for next Christmas!! And to top it off it has snowed! I don't think I have ever felt this Christmas-sy, perhaps it is to do with making far more gifts this year.

We are heading west for Christmas. Meeting up with Stuart's sister and her family, and staying in a cottage with my parents-in-law, my Mum and her dog. And hopefully by brother will be visiting too. A week on the coast on the Llyn Peninsula. The same cottage we stayed in last year. Although this year, I think there will be far more running about after a certain little somebody who will have a whole new environment to explore. New cupboard, new stairs, a fire, Rayburn, the sea! She'll have a whale of a time!

I hope everyone has a peaceful (in the loosest sense of the word!) Christmas, and enjoy the celebrations.

See you in the New Year.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Rats!

I guess it was bound to happen, what with chickens and an active compost bin. It seems we have some additional garden dwellers at the moment. I noticed something was digging into the bottom of the compost bin, and had in fact tunnelled all the way through it to make a sleeping quarters at the top. I guess it must be rather nice in there for a rat. The warmth of the compost, straw and food being added regularly, and away from the elements.

We were happy to just let it be for the winter, although I was removing the lid of our dalek bin with great trepidation of late, just in case our resident was snoozing! He was doing me a favour too, mixing up the compost, and shovelling out the really well rotted stuff I just coudn't get to through that piddly little hatch of a door at the base of the bin. The chickens were enjoying a bit of a treat too, rummaging through the compost for grubs etc. However, ratty has decided to explore under the hen house now too, and I don't want him (it could be a "her" I haven't investigated that closely!) to interfere with the chickens. So I'm now in search of a humane rat trap, to relocate Mr Ratty to a more suitable place. Although I'm sure he thinks here is quite suitable enough!

There was a fleeting moment where I thought this would be a good excuse to get a cat again, but I know I would be way too anxious having a cat again, where we are. My heart can't take any more losses to that road. Besides, relocating Mr Rat is a far better option, if only I can catch him!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Comfort Zones

Aaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh!

It is so easy to get on with my little life, thinking I am making such a difference. Thinking about what we do, trying to be sustainable in some aspects of our life, trying to reduce our waste, bringing up the children to be respectful of our planet, etc.

However, last night I watched a programme by David Attenborough about population growth, and how we are sitting on a time bomb. I realise the irony, a mother of 4 going on about how awful population growth is! But with a projected extra 3 billion people being added to the planet in the next 50 years, how are we going to survive? We need to get everyone to be thinking about this now. With our current level of living in the UK, we would need just over 2 planets to allow everyone to live like us. Something needs to happen, I wonder whether we will just reach crisis point and the world sorts out the problem itself, to return to some equilibrium, or whether human kind really is altruistic enough to save itself.

Depressing thoughts, sorry. If anyone has any ideas as to how an individual can make their voice more loudly heard, please give me some ideas. Emails to governments just don't seem enough.

I would love to return to my little life, but I feel the need for action right now.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Questioning minds

A normal walk to school this morning, chatting about the day ahead, when Alec pipes up "What is fire?"

Where the question came from, goodness knows, but it got us all thinking. My initial response was, when something gets hot it releases energy, and that's what fire is, the release of energy. "But why does one thing burn and one thing melt?",
"Is the sun fire?"
"Why do dome solids burn, like wood, but other things like gases burn?"

All from walking to school! Typical that these questions pop up when we have no way of finding out! I have suggested to them all that they ask their teachers, see if they have any better answers.

This one to go down with the classics I've had in the past such as "why is air invisible?" (Luke aged three!) and "if God is in everything, if I chop down a tree, am I killing God?" (Luke aged 4)

They constantly amaze me with their enquiring minds. I think I must have just taken things for granted as a child, and never questioned why. I certainly can't remember being so inquisitive!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Perfect!

Yesterday evening, we did the advent candle and book, then the boys settled down to play on the Wii for a while, whilst I made blueberry muffins and tea. The fact that all three boys were playing together was in itself lovely. No interruptions from friends calling, the darkness outside wrapping itself around our house like a blanket.

Sophie was beginning to get a little tired as she hadn't had a nap that afternoon, and once again, I was a little late with tea. I felt bad having to call on the boys to try to entertain her whilst I got the pasta bake in the oven, but they rose to the challenge. I had expected just Luke to occupy her, but all three of them decided to turn off the Wii and got the wooden blocks and the farm set out and entertained her well beyond the time I needed. In fact, Sophie decided she'd had enough and the boys carried on playing with her toys.

This is what family life is all about, time, quiet time, working together. This is just to acknowledge that it does work sometimes (not all the time by any stretch of the imagination!), and for that I am grateful!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Advent

Usually we just have some Divine Chocolate advent calendars. So this year I dutifully bought the choccie calendars. Then on the Green Parent forum there were ideas to do for advent, and I loved the idea of a Christmas book per day. So I went around the house collecting Christmas-sy books to find we had 18, so a trip to the library brought our total up to 24.

Combined with the advent candle, we can sit and read a Christmas related story whilst the candle burns. Great reading practice for the boys too!

To top it all off, my aunt turned up with the most gorgeous wooden advent calendar in the shape of a reindeer head, with 24 hooks on the antlers and little hessian sacks to hang from them. She even provided toffees to go in the sacks! 3 toffees will fit in one sack, so Sophie will have to miss out for now, even though she has discovered that she likes them!

This makes so much more of a family tradition to Christmas than your standard advent calendars. I'm hoping a tradition is in the making. So whilst this year there seems to be a bit of a sweetie overload, next year we can dispense with the chocolate and find an alternative to toffees, ie something we can get 4 of in the sacks!!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Crafting

What a wonderful weekend filled with creativity.

Saturday was my Mother-in-laws birthday. She is a wonderful mother, grandmother, mother-in-law to us all, and all she wanted was to spend time with her family. We invited her and my Father-in-law over for tea, which was local minted lamb chops with roast potatoes, and lots of veg. Followed by a homegrown raspberry pavlova (apart from the cream and the sugar!), and birthday cake. I think it went down well (especially the pavlova!)

Sunday was far more relaxed, I finished a hat for Ethan for Christmas, an added challenge being that it being pure wool, that had been stored in the conservatory for a while, some moths had found it, and had a good munch! (Note to self, get some cedar balls!)

Stuart and the boys settled down to a WarHammer painting session, the looks of intense concentration on their faces were fantastic. Although Sophie wanted to join in, so needed entertaining elsewhere. In fact her frustration at the whole thing has prompted her to learn to climb onto the dining chairs, to try and join in! However, toddlers and fine detailed painting really do not go together!

A stupid realisation has struck both Stuart and I, we spend far too long online, to the detriment of the children. It really should have hit us ages ago, 4 young children and an online life do not go hand in hand, therefore, far less time online for us, and hopefully far more creativity at home. In fact our Christmas tree this year is going to be decorated with WarHammer dwarves painted as santa! That should add a certain "something" to it!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

money, money, money...

Whilst Alec was off from school yesterday recovering from a tummy upset, I thought it would be an interesting task to count all the loose change (2p's and 1p's) that have been accumulating over the years so we could put them to good use. In fact I told him we would split the total amount between the three boys.

I was suprised how he took to this, and he sat there for a good couple of hours in total piling up the coins into 10p groups. We looked at different ways of counting it all, i.e individually, in 10's, 50's etc. We looked at the dates which lead to a discussion about decimilisation. We looked at the changing pictures on the coins. But the thing he was most proud about was he did it all by himself.

To date he has counted £16.80 which is pretty impressive!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Eurgh!

This week has pretty much been a right-off. Sophie's cough has developed into a chest infection, and after a slight recovery on Wednesday I decided not to give her the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. However, she is now struggling so decided that breastmilk and cuddles is not enough and she is now on the antibiotics, much to her disgust!!

Ethan has been fighting some bug that gave him a temperature and some sickness. Alec has a tummy upset, and Stuart has had blocked ears!

Luke was rather upset at being the only one going to school, but at least he is healthy for now, if a little exhausted! He went to see Muse with Stuart on Tuesday, which kept him on a high for Wednesday despite the return home at midnight, but he definitely crashed and burned on Thursday!

I've heard alot about juicing recently, and years ago bought a book with various juicing recipes in. This has been brought out again this week in an attempt to stave off the inevitable illnesses, I haven't even offered the children any, as I'm pretty sure they wouldn't go for pepper and onion etc. If anyone has any child friendly immune boosting juice recipes I'd be grateful to hear of them!

I have been trying to sort everyone out and do a few things for myself too. I have finished off the longies for Sophie for Christmas, I just have to tie-dye them now. Doing some little knitted projects as and when I can, and trying to get my head around patterns etc for a big sewing session! Also managed to use some more of the cooking apples up to make 8 jars of apple chutney, in the slow cooker of all things!

However, due to Sophie being ill, she is wanting to be carried much more, and I have really noticed the effect on my pelvis following the SPD during my pregnancy. I guess it will always be a weakness, I just hope, as she is getting bigger now, I can carry on wearing her without too many repercussions.

The chickens are not laying regularly now, I guess with the awful light we have had, so we may get to a point soon where I have to buy eggs! And the poor allotment has not had a look in!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Communication and music

I find this age of toddlerhood so amazing, they are absorbing everything, making sense of it, and copying. Sophie has many ways of making herself understood, from getting a cup and taking it to the fridge for some water, to nodding her head when she eats something tasty, to lying herself across my lap for a feed!

She now has one consistent word that she uses in context, and that is "goch" pronounced like scottish pronunciation of loch. It means "hot". She will declare something is goch and then sign "ouch". So now food, radiators and the oven are told they are "goch" on a regular basis!

She LOVES music, and does a lovely dance, and wiggle of her head whenever she hears any music. Although, she did make me laugh when she was jumping up and down quite energetically to the Foo Fighters the other night! It seems such an easy medium for toddlers to interact with, I hope her love of music continues.

I would love to have the space for a music room in our house, between us we have quite an array of instruments, from drums, djembe, clarinet, guitars, to keyboard and recorders. I would adore to get hold of a cello, one of my life long ambitions is to learn to play the cello, I just love the deep sound that seems to go straight to your heart. But I think the garage is destined to be a play room (interpret that as a WarHammer gaming room!) Do you think we have too many hobbies?!!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Is it really worth it?

I seem to have spent alot of time recently doing fruitless things! Stuart mentioned the other day how I get very little return for all the effort I seem to put into things. On a day like today, it is really disheartening. From the NCT sale where I made £3.90 to baking cakes galore for Halloween and nothing getting touched.

It should be the enjoyment of the task that is all that is required to make something worthwhile, but is it worth it when it means you are exhausted and not spending time with the family. I am contemplating not bothering baking for things like this again, and just doing what other people do and pop to the shops, at least I've lost nothing in time.

When I am in a more positive frame of mind I can see past the "return" side of things and just appreciate the "doing" of it. It also makes me appreciate the effort that goes into the things around me, and how something that can look simple can have many hours of labour behind it.

However, when I'm in a mood like this, I just feel a little hard done by! I think I ought to go back to bed!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Swimming

Today was all planned out. Luke would have his friend over, Alec and Ethan were off to some friends house (two brothers who are best friends with Alec and Ethan), and Sophie and I would entertain ourselves with trying to fix the dishwasher!

However, Luke's friend was unable to come, as he was fighting off a cold. Luke was so disappointed, he'd been looking forward to it for ages. We tried other friends but they were out, and the fact that Alec and Ethan were meeting friends just seemed to rub salt in the wound. It then struck me that Sophie had never been swimming, and with two non-swimmers I would never be able to take her with the boys until they learned to swim. However, Luke can swim, and the other two were busy, so off we went to some local baths.

She had a wonderful time, giggling, drinking the water, jumping in, chasing after Luke, and then when we went into the bigger pool with the big children jumping all over an inflatable, she was not perturbed at all. We were in there for at least 45 minutes, and not a grumble (well only when I said she shouldn't try to bite the rope!)

I have a feeling this will be a regular event now, but just Sophie and me. It was lovely spending that extra time with Luke too, it made me realise how often he just has to tag along with the younger ones, and how little he complains. The joys of juggling the needs of everyone, but today I think I just about managed it!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Fairtrade ups and downs

This week I have been concentrating on Fairtrade. Starting last Saturday with a fair at a local-ish church. This had been arranged all around when I could do it, and it sounded as if it could have been great, taking Fairtrade to a new audience. Except, no-one was interested. A few people came in through the door, and I sold one thing (and that was half price!) I have left catalogues with them so hopefully a few orders may come from that, but I'm not holding my breath.

Today I had a coffee morning at home, invited people from school, from the neighbourhood, from church, and from our brestfeeding support group. Lots of cake, tea and coffee, chatting and browsing of catalogues. It was far more relaxed, far more enjoyable, and Fairtrade products were ordered aplenty!

I have another one to finish off the week at Jo's house, which will be a relaxed affair too, so hopefully a few more Fairtrade Christmas gifts will be given this year.

I was quite shocked by the strength of my emotions regarding the flop on Saturday. I hadn't realised how passionate I had got about Fairtrade. I think what wound me up the most was, people wanting to be seen to be doing Fairtrade, perhaps as if it were some status symbol, but just not committing to it.

I will stop before I launch into a rant! But just to say, please, if you have the choice to choose Fairtrade, just do it. The knowledge that it is free of enforced labour, and is helping communities who are experiencing situations we can barely begin to imagine to get on their feet, is worth those few extra pennies.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Blog Birthday Celebrations

Following my post about a giveaway for my blog birthday, we drew a name from a proverbial hat (ie a pile of names on folded paper on the table!) and Michelle now has the choice of a tie-dye top, any size, colour and design.. If you pm me your details on GP we can sort out what you would like.

Congratulations, and than you everyone for joining in for a bit of fun.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Autumn down the plot

I have decided I'm going to try to be far more organised with the allotment this next year. Starting with recording what is going where etc.

Today I have planted 50 red onion sets, 50 Japanese Onion sets, and 3 bulbs of garlic. All in the bed that had the new potatoes in this last year. More fortunate than by planning but apparently alliums follow on nicely from potatoes. There is space for one more row of something, so perhaps come the spring we can add some spring onions to the allium bed.

The runner beans are dug up, and the plums we cannot reach on the tree are now past their best, so will be left for the birds! We still have LOADS of cooking apples to come, but again they are out of reach, and are not falling with a good shake of the tree, so I will have to be a little more patient!

We have alot of tidying up to do. My to do list for the autumn/winter period is:
Pot the runners from the strawberries and thin the strawberry bed
Clear the calendula when it has stopped flowering, and perhaps collect a few more seeds
Finish clearing the top plot, and move the raspberry canes to the far end
Lay a couple more paths
Plant broad beans to overwinter.
And LOTS more clearing!

Should keep me busy for a while!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Friday, 9 October 2009

Help me celebrate

On the 15th October I will have been blogging for a year (still haven't got to grips with photos though!!) I thought to help me celebrate I would have a give-away. I will do a custom made tie-dye top for the person whose name gets pulled from the hat from the people who leave a comment on this post. It may be a recycled top if I have one in the right size to hand, or I may have to buy new, but you can choose from a range of colours and designs (swirls, circles, stripes, or random).

Thank you for following me this last year, it is a lovely way to connect with others.

x

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A positive post at long last!

Reading through the last month or so, there has been alot of negativity, well not so much negativity but posts of concern. I thought I'd better rectify this, and look at the things that have been happening, often in the background, but should be acknowledged.

Alec has been voted as vice-chairperson on the class council. He was soooooo chuffed. He had prepared a speech to give in the pre-election build up, and was looking forward to the counting of the votes. He had a landslide victory, and was, of course, over the moon!

Ethan is doing football after school, which makes him feel very grown up.

Luke, despite being unhappy at school has had a lovely weekend at home, playing, helping Stuart with clearing out the garage and just relaxing.

I have been doing some crafting. I knitted a pumpkin hat, that was supposed to be for a newborn baby, as a gift for a friends baby, but ended up WAY too big, so Sophie has acquired it! I will have to rejig things to make another hat quite a bit smaller. The little baby who it is intended for is Joel, who was born to Paul and Sue on the 24th September.

I've also made a lavender wreath, more by accident than anything. I started sticking bits of lavender in one of the willow rings I made a while ago, and it just happened. I found some ribbon to finish it off, and now have to find somewhere to display it. I am rather pleased with myself as it looks really rather good, for an accident!

Sophie... well her sole purpose seems to be to empty things! She will empty any box, drawer, cupboard, and then try to sit in it! I don't know whether to laugh or cry sometimes, as she is obviously enjoying herself, but the trail of devastation is unprecedented! One of her sweeter moments is her singing "twinkle, twinkle little star" with the actions! It has definitely been "her" song, after the 40 minute drive back from Worcester one time singing it over and over again in an attempt to keep her quiet!

As for Stuart, despite an awful cough (thank goodness he didn't have that whilst he was recovering from his op!) is enjoying being able to hold Sophie again, and is now making inroads into getting things put away, ie loft contents back in storage in the loft, "junk" in what will eventually be Sophie's room being sorted through, and clearing out the garage. It has been bugging him for so long, but has been unable to do anything about it, so I think he is relieved more than anything to be at last able to address it!

And the lottie and the chickens are still producing well. A bumper crop of apples and plums, which is stretching my culinary skills as I'm the only one who likes stewed fruit! And Betty (the temperamental layer) is laying again, for now!

If anybody has got this far, well done! But it shows me how much we have to be grateful for, and after the last month, I really am truly grateful!

Friday, 2 October 2009

School Blues

Luke is not happy. He really has not settled in well to school this year. There has been a change in the tutor system so they are in mixed year tutor groups, and Luke has found this rather unsettling, combined with some rather "shouty" teachers, who have struck the fear of god into him, so now when he is confused about something he won't ask, for fear of being shouted at. He doesn't want me to intervene, as it would make him feel "a baby", so we are stuck.

Its heart breaking to see him so sad, and having had a miserable time at school myself at his age, I can empathise so much with him. The best I can do is make homelife as stress free as possible (not easy when organisation really isn't my forte!) so at least he has some nice hours in the day. I had thought of going behind his back to speak with the teachers, but that is just too much of a risk, one that I am not prepared to take, if he ever found out, how could he trust me again?

This parenting lark is tough! I cant wait for half-term to have him happy again.

Fortunately the other two are enjoying school, I must be grateful for that.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Normal service is resumed

Today I had to turn the burglar alarm on, for the first time in AGES! Stuart is now back at work, children are back at school (after already picking up those bugs that abound at this time of year) and it was just Sophie and me.

My Parents-in-law are doing very well at home, taking things steady, and helping each other out. So, fingers crossed, things are looking up.

Sophie is now so confident on her feet. Any opportunity and she is walking somewhere! After those first few steps she took, she didn't really go on from that for quite a while. It was last Wednesday when she suddenly decided to walk about 13 steps across the kitchen, and now she's off. Even trying to run! I love this age where you can see so many thought processes slotting things in place. She knows that when Daddy gets up early in the morning she has to wave bye to him (sometimes before he has even gone!), she knows keys go in the door, shoes go on feet, socks go on heads (well when you are playing they do!)

I look at her now, and all signs of my baby are gone, she is a wonderful, inquisitive toddler. It is an end of an era, one which I feel so priveleged to have witnessed through the development of all four of the children. But it is time to move on. I am getting rid of the baby clothes (apart from all plain things that have tie-dye potential), the car seat is going, as is the cot (she never sleeps in it anyway!), and various baby toys too. We are going to decorate a room for her, so she has her own play space, and you never know, one day she might even sleep in there!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A mish mash of things

Apart from the ongoing saga of my parents-in-law (MIL back in hospital with a racing heart), what else has been happening this week?

We had the boys returning to school. They have all settled in ok, although Luke had some teething problems with his rather strict form teacher. When will they learn that to gain a child's respect you have to respect them, not dominate them or strike the fear of god into them?

Mum, bless her, has been down the allotment regularly harvesting what is ready. We have maincrop potatoes coming in now, along with more runner beans, cooking apples, plums, a bit of purple sprouting, we had to pull all the carrots and they were riddled with carrot root fly, but we were able to salvage some. And we should have had some lovely sweetcorn, we'd just been waiting for it to plump up, and when Mum went to harvest it at the weekend she found some vandals had beaten her to it, and have destroyed some plants, strewn the ripe cobs around which have subsequently been eaten by local wildlife, and we are left with a few cobs which are not ripe, but, fingers crossed, will come to something later. It has been a regular occurrence on the site, but the first time we have been hit. Hopefully the instilation of high, locked gates will help deter the trouble makers. Only time will tell.

I have managed to add to my jam store with damson jam and plum and apple jam, which will hopefully help to make up some jam hampers for Christmas, hopefully I'll be adding quince and blackberry to this. As far as Christmas goes I've also made a start on some longies for Sophie, it will take me til Christmas to get them done, as she seems attracted to the needles!

Stuart is planning to go back to work this next week, his recouperation has not been as restful as we would have hoped, but he has put a very brave face on it all.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The Mother

For fear of repeating many other blogposts that are being posted. I thought there may be some people that do not yet know that The Mother magazine is under threat of closing down due to falling subscriber levels. If there is ever a magazine that makes you stop and think, then this is it, just when you think you have travelled a fair way down the gentle, green parenting route, The Mother shows you the next step in your journey. It would be an unforgiveable loss if this source of wisdom, and enlightenment were to be lost, so if you have never looked at The Mother, I urge you to now, and help keep this light shining.

You can subscribe here

Thank you

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

And the rollercoaster carries on!

A week after Stuart's operation, his Mum had to go in for a routine op. No problems there, it went as planned. However, Stuart phoned his Dad to see how he was, as he gets nervous when in the house by himself. Stuart felt his Dad was not sounding right, so made his way over to see him. On spending a couple of hours with him he felt he needed to see a doctor, so the GP came to the house, who then called the paramedics to admit him to hospital with suspected pneumonia.

Well, the week has had its lows, with concerns over Stuart's Dad, trying not to let Stuart overdo things, and exhaustion creeping in with trying to hold everything together. There have been highs too, this time Luke's birthday (although quieter than he would have liked, and marred by the return to school on the same day), joy that Stuart's Dad has responded well to antibiotics, and a chance to see family as Stuart's sister and family arrived with Jessie to visit and see the poorly crowd!

Stuart's Dad has now been discharged, a little too soon I feel as they do not see to have recognised the needs of Stuart's Mum who is recovering from her op, and whilst she is very stoic, she too is elderly and treading a fine line between health and illness. Therefore it has fallen to Stuart to try and ease the situation. Family is everything to him, which is one of his wonderful qualities, but I do worry that he will hamper his own recovery. I am hoping things will calm down soon, although I said that last week, and look what happened!

Monday, 31 August 2009

A rollercoaster of a week

The week started off on Monday with Stuart going to his uncle's funeral. He has been diagnosed with throat cancer earlier in the year, and had spent the rest of his time back and forth between hospital/hospice and home. Unable to speak, he spent his time writing, much of which was used at his funeral, for what was a very moving service.

On a far happier note, Tuesday was Sophie's birthday. I always think first birthdays are so special, with the events around the birth still relatively fresh in your mind. To celebrate a year of discovery and growing, we went to the Monkey Forest near Stoke. Sophie loves all kinds of animals, so we thought this would be a lovely trip out. Somewhere where we haven't been before, therefore all our memories of the place are linked to her birthday. I think the rest of us had a great time there too, looking at free ranging family groups of Barbary Macaques acting as naturally as possible with groups of people looking at them.

We returned home in time for a tea party. Friends and family arrived (with my Dad and his wife seeing Sophie for the first time!) She wore her birthday crown with a heart appliqued to the front of it. I explained to the boys that each year I would add another, Alec pointed out we could fit 21 hearts onto it, not sure that Sophie would be happy wearing it for that long though! For gifts, we bought her a whirlygig bee. Again the boys have had their fair share of playong with it, trying to make it drift around corners! The boys got her some maracas, sleigh bells, and tambourine, which she loves. She also got a toy phone (in a vain attempt at getting to speak to people on the phone without her grabbing it off you!) and some wooden blocks which the boys build up into elaborate constructions, until Sophie smashes it down! Great fun!

She got beads on a wire from Grandma and Grandad, and some lovely mini IQ books and clothes from Nanny. And with the money she has been given, I can feel a trip to Myriad coming on!

It took Sophie a good couple of days to recover from her birthday, but she had a great time, and made lots of wonderful memories for us all. Happy Birthday Sophie Grace.

As the week moves on we start to focus on Stuart's impending hernia repait operation. Never going under a general anaesthetic before was a great cause for anxiety. Wills were written, just in case. And lots of questions were going around in our heads. Stuart took it all very much in his stride, remaining positive throughout. When it came to it, the procedure was straightforward, admitted at 1pm, discharged at 8pm! The waiting inbetween though was tough. However, he is home now, recouperating. The hardest part is gently stopping Sophie from clambering over him. You don't realise how often she wants picking up until you are not allowed to!

Thoughts are now turning to the return to school (on Luke's birthday of all days - he's gutted!) A week of quiet family time will be much appreciated!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Willow

Following a post on Pippa's blog about making willow rings, I had lots of ideas as to what I could do with them. But failed miserably on my first attempt.

However, this evening we were invited to Mum's for a barbeque, and to christen her Chimenea we bought her for her birthday last year. Mum has the most fantastic weeping willow in her back garden, so as Stuart cooked the food on the barbeque, I stood by the willow taking off the trailing branches and made a couple of willow rings. It took far longer than I anticipated as Sophie was intrigued by the barbeque! I am really pleased with the results, and hopefully can harvest a bit more willow from the tree!

The boys had their own fun with the tree, first of all hiding within the curtains of branches, then Ethan decided he wanted to see if he could be Tarzan. He discovered he had to hang on quite high up to avoid hitting the ground, and he also needed quite a few branches to hold his weight. The older ones also joined in, but it was Ethan who was entertained by this for ages, with a bare patch appearing on "his branches" where he'd been holding them!

Sophie also joined in the fun with trying to eat the leaves, but also with showering herself with the stripped leaves.

Isn't it great when so much fun and entertainment can be had from just one tree.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Birthday season

The beginning of August sees the beginning of birthday season in our house, with four birthdays happening in the space of 5 weeks. Alec started us off with turning 8, closely followed by me just about staying in my mid thirties. Sophie finishes August off with her first birthday, followed by Luke at the beginning of September with his 11th birthday.

Each birthday is such a milestone for each of us. I forget how independent the older ones are getting, thinking back to my own childhood, and how parents seem to be in the background for much of the time, so looking at my own children I realise I have to start to let them go a bit, have adventures by themselves, which I would love to be part of, but have to realise that it is important that they have their own little independent adventures.

I have my own dreams for the future, that include far more homemade remedies (hence a present of chamomile, lavender and borage from my Mum, and much more reading hoping to improve my parenting skills before it is simply too late!

As for Sophie, I have to remember I have a toddler now, not a baby. I feel guilty when she has been in the sling for too long. She gets restless and wants to be involved with things. She has so much energy, and really is exploring every element of her environment, ie, what it tastes like, can it be moved, can it be climbed on, what happens if you shout at it... you get the picture!

Years seem to go so quickly now, I can only hope that the childrens memories of their childhood and their experiences of day to day life are as long and happy as they should be.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Sophie's smiles

From when she has been able to Sophie has been a smiley baby. We always get the annoying comments, when she is in the sling, of "isn't she good!" To which I reply "it depends how you define "good", but she is very content, she likes being in the sling" However, she is in herself a wonderful advocate for babywearing, and people are always curious about her and the sling.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanted to mention was her smiles. She has this really "cheesy" smile which usually indictes she is doing something she really wants to do, but knows she shouldn't, such as emptying the contents of my wallet whilst in the sling, usually as I am trying to pay for something. I have been trying to capture it on camera, but it is so fleeting, I always miss it, so I will have to describe it. She has her eyes nearly closed, the widest grin possible showing her two teeth, and tilts her head backwards. It makes me laugh every time.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Walking the dog

We've been loving looking after Jessie for the last week or so. We have been forced to go out in weather that we really wouldn't attempt to go out in otherwise, and in doing so we have found lots of little dens to shelter in when the rain just gets too much!

We have all had more exercise than normal, which is always a good thing. We have been discovering masses of slugs following the rain, and consequently learning about their anatomy. We have discovered plum and damson trees, along with some hazlenut trees. All for re-visiting when their bounty is ripe.

Would we have a dog? Well, if we could have Jessie, yes! But a pup, perhaps not, I think that might just be expecting a little too much just at this point of life. But one thing we will do is try to continue daily walks, just for us. It has been such great fun.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Confidence returned!

I do apologise for my previous post. I occasionally get these moments where I analyse the purpose of everything, even the things that make me happy, and why they make me happy etc. It can get rather depressing. But people have shown me to enjoy the joy, and I have snapped out of my doom and gloom!

So what has been going on? The boys are off school, and we have pretty much stayed at home. They much prefer doing their own thing at home than anything structured outside the home. The most structured thing that has been happening has been walking the dog, invariably in the rain. We attempted a trip to the allotment, amongst lots of complaining from the boys as they had other ideas as to what to do with their time, but the rain moved in again, and we had to abandon our, no, sorry, my plans, but not before getting rather wet!

Alec has had his 8th birthday which was a lovely weekend, birthday on the Saturday with a trip to the Sea-life centre (and yes, we got wet in the rain!) followed by a tea party with family and close friends. Then on the Sunday a Scalextric party with some of his class mates, where the birthday boy always wins! His face was fantastic! Of course, Stuart had to make up the numbers, which he really didn't protest about at all!

Today Stuart wasn't feeling to great (too much party food possibly!) but it meant that the boys were able to do exactly what they wanted. Luke spent time with his mates up the road, lots of WarHammer gaming going on there! Alec played with his birthday presents (a new bike, lots of lego, and a game for the Wii), Ethan and Sophie came with me to a slingmeet at the Nature Centre in Birmingham, and Stuart recovered watching the cricket! The result, everyone was very happy! Topped off with a neighbour bringing an enormous bag of clothes for Sophie that her daughter had grown out of.

My greatest challenge this holiday is trying to keep everyone happy. We have resorted to taking a vote, and the majority gets to do what they want, which will be fine until Sophie gets to express her wants! I am open to any suggestions that may be more effective than voting in trying to meet everyones needs.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A crisis in confidence

I love reading other people's blogs. I love having a record of what has been happening in our life. But... I have lots of ideas to put into a blog, and then I think that I am just showing off, being proud of some of the things we have done. Part of me thinks that we should be proud, but another part of me thinks it should just be life. So what if I grow some vegetables, or make some clothes, or we enjoy going for walks, or a whole host of other things. Perhaps I feel we are nothing special, or we should just get on with life, but then I look at other blogs and find inspiration, or celebration in the small things of life. Could my blog be like that? I doubt it.

I want to show life how it is, like how I neglected the fish, and one died. Or in trying to get the boys attention I shouted so loud that the dog was cowering in the corner. This is the true life, the making, growing and nice stuff is intermittent. I would like it to take up a greater portion of our lives, but it simply isn't reality.

What purpose should a blog serve? If it is just a record of life, then pictures alone would do that, why publish them? If it is to show off, then perhaps I should blog away. But to inspire, that is quite an aim, one I feel I am not worthy to do. If I go quiet for a while you will understand why. If I start blogging again you will know my confidence has returned. But in the mean time I will enjoy reading everyone elses inspirational blogs.

Sorry for the negative ramblings, but as I say, I'm having a crisis in confidence.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Just for the record

Yesterday Sophie took her first controlled steps. 2 steps, she was sooooo proud of herself. She spends alot of time on her feet now, clapping hands, shaking her head in excitement, jumping up and down!

Summer Holidays

Finally! No more rushing to be at school in the morning. Living life at our natural pace. Having time to play with the children, do arts and crafts together, having help down at the allotment, plenty of walks, and more playing. How I am looking forward to the next 6 weeks, and secretly hoping that the plans to delay school opening until October actually bear fruit.

We are looking after my sister in laws dog for two weeks as well, which is like birthday and Christmas rolled into one for the boys. They would love a dog, so I guess depending on how the two weeks go, it might be the next addition to our growing menagerie!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Things to remember for next year...

Indulge me for a moment, if I write this down on a piece of paper I will have lost it by next year, so I thought this would be the safest place.

Need to plant more peas, more broad beans, more onions, more tomatoes, more spinach.

Need to remember to plant beetroot, garlic, lettuce, spring onions, sunflowers.

Plant chamomile, echinacea, st.john's wort, and other such herbs.

Remember to plant things out sooner, rather than waiting for them to get bigger in little pots, it does not happen!

Do things with the stuff you have picked, and if you don't have time then give it away!

Think about winter crops before it's too late to do anything about it!

This allotment has definitely been a steep learning curve, and one day in the very distant future I WILL have one of those nicely kept allotments, not one where you can't see the crops for the weeds!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

What better than...

... feeding homegrown blackcurrants in the form of a cooling sorbet your daughter who is fighting off a cold and sore throat.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough. It is courtesy of the blackcurrant foundation, and is just fantastic for fighting off those summer colds (never lasts long enough to fight off winter colds!) It is packed with vitamin c, and is delicious. So if you have a glut of blackcurrants, or if you can get your hands on a load, give it a go.

Blackcurrant Sorbet

Ingredients:

4 cups blackcurrants
2 tablespoons Orange juice (juice of approx. 1 orange)
1 cup sugar
1.25 cups water

Directions:

1. Heat the water until boiling and dissolve sugar. Keep on low heat for two minutes, then remove and leave to cool.

2. Use a blender or food processor to puree the blackcurrants. Sieve the puree to remove pips to leave a smooth mixture.

3. Mix puree with orange juice, then with sugar solution to form a smooth mixture.

4. Place mixture in lidded container in freezer for 2-3 hours.

5. Remove from freezer and beat again or if available use a handheld blender.

6. Return to freezer until set. Serve in scoops.

Friday, 10 July 2009

He Passed!

Luke had his grade one drum exam yesterday, and was feeling really confident having spent pretty much every opportunity this last week or so practising on his drumkit!

Dosed up on Rescue Remedy, as the nerves began to kick in, he entered the exam room, knowing he only had to try his best, and it was all experience. The first time he has had an exam, I was so nervous for him (I think I should have had some rescue remedy too!).

The good thing with drums is you can hear them easily. All his set pieces were perfect, and he came out feeling he had done his best, but eager for the results.

His teacher called today to say he had the results and he had passed with merit, and was very close to getting a distinction. Luke is really pleased, and we are all very proud of him. The nice thing is even though his exam is over, he is still spending alot of time on the drums.

Well Done Luke!!!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

An update

Well, once again life is ridiculously busy!

We had a lovely holiday down in Cornwall with great weather, and meeting up with Jo and company who were in the same area at the same time! We spent evenings going for coastal walks, or playing skittles at a local skittle alley. Days were on the beaches, my all time favourite being Kynance Cove. A couple of daytrips to either Penzance (to a wonderful fairtrade clothes shop) and St Ives, were thrown in for good measure! This was weeks ago now, and I still haven't finished unpacking!

Luke had a day back home and then was off to Brecon with his school for a 5 day adventure holiday which included raft building, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, trapeze and many more things, all right up Luke's street!

Luke came back from Brecon, and then Alec went off on his first Beavers sleepover. He was so excited by it all, and had a lovely time. He was, apparently, completely oblivious to waking up many Beaver Scouts and leaders by screaming in the night!

Whilst he was at the sleepover we went to get a drumkit for Luke. It is a lovely Pearl VBX kit in claret. It is now established in his bedroom, and we have been rather impressed with his drumming ability. His grade one exam is on Thursday, and he is feeling pretty confident! We have had to get pads for the kit though after neighbours 4 doors away could hear him playing!

In all this swealtering heat I have been down the allotment trying to harvest things as quickly as I can. Everything is ripening at such a rate of knots! Then it has been trying to preserve the harvest. We have got strawberries by the bucket-load, blackcurrants, raspberries, redcurrants, broad beans, onions and new potatoes all ready at the moment. Broad beans are eaten; onions are drying; new potatoes are dug up as and when needed; blackcurrants are now made into sorbet; redcurrants are still on the plant because I have no idea what to do with them; raspberries are in the freezer awaiting time to do something with them; and strawberries... well we've had strawberry and orange ice lollies, strawberry milkshakes, strawberries and cream, 8 jars of strawberry jam, given some away, paid people with strawberries, and there's plenty more still ripening!

A neighbour of mine has a sister who works at M and S, and has swatches of material for the Per Una clothes sent to her. These are now getting forwarded to me, and they are just the right size to make clothes for Sophie. I just have to find the time! Also, as I obviously have so much spare time (ha ha!) I have decided to start trying to sell tie-dyed clothes. I am currently collecting plain clothing to experiment with, then Stuart is going to do a website for me! I will keep you updated.

Amongst all this I think Ethan has been feeling a little neglected, so I am trying to spend a bit more time with him too.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Some introductions

Now that I can do pictures, I thought I should introduce you to a few things and people.



Luke




Alec





Ethan



Sophie

Hetty - our top hen, and most prolific layer



Little is in the background, our friendliest chicken



Betty was being a little shy!

And this is the view of the allotment from my favourite breastfeeding post, sat on top of some pallets!



Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A wonderful weekend


We have just had the most fabulous weekend meeting up with many like-minded families in the Forest of Dean.


It was rather surreal meeting people that I had chatted too online, but never seen, or had read blogs and seen pictures of them, but to see them in real life was strange, like meeting a famous person. Anyhow, after introductions were made, and everyone was settled in we had one amazing weekend. From rock walls, zip wires (for young and old alike), walks through wonderful woods, and some redwood trees too (how fantastic were they!), to campfires, barbeques, pasta feasts, to tie-dyeing, henna tattoing, weaving, and lots of talking and playing by everyone.



To see so many people who do things like we do was great, I don't think anybody had the same sling, and believe me, there were many slings on show! Every woman was breastfeeding at least one child, I don't think we managed it all at the same time though! It was like a little haven, that nobody wanted to leave. Whilst driving home, and seeing the "real world" I felt sad, that our weekend was over, and that we had to return to the consumerist, media driven world, if only everyday life was like that weekend, where everyone has respect for their children and the world they live in. Thank you to you all for some wonderful memories.


Sunday, 10 May 2009

What have you started?

Claire what have you done? Claire from Border Stories has introduced Free Food Friday, and whilst I'm never organised enough to do it on a Friday, it has got me looking in the hedgerows, and I whilst down the allotment digging up some nettles the other day, I brought some home for nettle soup. Truly delicious, Sophie and I tucked in for lunch two days on the trot, and I now have a recipe for nettle fritters too, so guess what's for lunch next week!

Yesterday, whilst walking around the football field trying to get Sophie to sleep in the sling, whilst Alec was trying out his first attempt at football training, I was noting down some blackthorn bushes, which will hopefully give rise to plenty of sloes come Autumn, and an elder bush, with blossoms very close to opening, so elderflower cordial here we come! All I need to find now is some wild garlic, as there a recipes aplenty for garlic bread, soup, etc. I guess some more scouring of our local wilderness is required!

I am awaiting a parcel of beeswax to finish off my comfrey nappy balm, that has been sat in a cupboard for a couple of weeks. I'll hopefully be able to tell you about that next week!

More progress down at the allotment this week, with the runner beans going in, and some more ground cleared for hopefully the purple sprouting. Also got around to sowing pumpkin, courgette, and cucumber in the mini green house, along with some naturtium and calendula saved from seeds from last year. The school that Alec and Ethan go to have just started their own veg garden, and are willing to take some of the extra seedlings of purple sprouting. Although the amount of extras that we have, I think we could feed the school a few times over!

Luke has been put forward to take his grade one drum exam, so he is now angling for a drumkit! Might have to be an early birthday present, along with ear plugs for us and the neighbours! He has also been identified as gifted and talented for English and Maths, which has boosted his confidence even further to become an author. A good week for him!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

A good week

What a week! Glorious weather, the boys now have a healthy glow about them after looking so pale for all of winter. Alec has had a school trip to a local farm, which he enjoyed, but I think he would have preferred there to be some animals there. Ethan and Luke were a bit reluctant to return to school, with Luke even suggesting home-schooling. However, a week into it, and they all seem to have enjoyed themselves. We had a trip to a toy shop yesterday as the boys had some money to spend. It was a credit to them that they didn't fall for all the horrid cheap plasticky stuff, and even though they what they did buy was still plastic (lego, and nerf guns) they have not stopped playing with them, to the point that at 11 o'clock last night I had to ask them to go to bed, as I was tired, and they were up at 6.30am to continue playing with them!!

Sophie has achieved things herself this week. She has her first tooth, is now crawling properly, rather than a combination of bunny hops and combat crawling, and she was in the newspaper with her woolly knickers (as Stuart likes to call them) helping to promote real nappy week!

Well, what have I done this week, with the house back to myself (and Sophie, of course!)? I've been down the allotment of course! I alwas find this time of year a bit awkward, as I am torn between being outside, or continue being inside doing all the jobs needed to keep us just about ticking over!

It has to be a strategic visit, timed around Sophie's sleeps, as she doesn't like me bending over whilst she is in the sling, even when on my back, and there aren't that many jobs to be done down on the plot at the moment that can be done stood upright all the time. This week we have finished the raised bed, and planted the carrots (Autumn King), but no space left for my purple carrots :( . We have dug over some of the bottom plot which had been undercover for the last year, after being rotovated last spring and it was clear of everything, so in went the maincrop potatoes (Desiree). We have pruned out bits of "big bud" on the blackcurrant bushes, which are looking like they will provide a bumper crop, despite not being pruned last year...mmm.. more blackcurrant sorbet! We have planted the peas (although I can't remember what type!), and manured trenches for the runner beans. Finally we had our last bonfire before the growing season really starts. There are many more things that need to be done, and I'm not sure I want to list them all, as I would find it rather depressing, but needless to say I am feeling very optimistic about this season, as it is feasible that we could stay on top of it all, and get some good stuff out of it this year. By the way, if anyone wants some purple sprouting, I have plenty of seedlings!!!

To top off the feelings of self-sufficiency, Hetty laid the most enormous egg, it is at least a double yoker, and nearly fills my hand! And I'm hoping Betty will start laying again soon, after a broody spell. Although looking at her earlier, in the rain, she was throwing straw over her back, which was very comical, looking as if she was either attempting to camoflague herself, or protect herself from the rain!!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Catching up again!

I can't even remember how much has happened since my last post! However, I have finished Sophie's dress, and it even fits her! However, I still haven't mastered the camera, I will get there I promise! I have also been busy making a knitting roll for mothers day, a bag and purse for a friends daughter, little knitted chicks and rabbits to put a small egg in for Easter gifts for the boys friends. And each time I make something I think "I should take a photo of that" and then forget about it until it is too late, and it is given away. I do wonder about myself at times, I've never been particularly organised, but lately things really are getting out of hand. I just need more time....

The children have been enjoying the holidays, with playing with friends, and the occasional trip out. We had a lovely day at the allotment last week, and managed to pretty much clear the bottom plot, which included having to dig up about 4 plum saplings, and brambles that were at least two inches thick at the base! So now we have some extra space to plant some more crops. Stuart has an idea for growing some hops, as he fancies beer brewing from scratch. Well even if we don't get as far as the beer brewing, I can imagine a few doorways adorned with dried hops!

We had a trip out to Mary Ardens house and farm near Stratford, which was lovely. Alec had the chance to do some falconry with a common buzzard, and they all had a go at splitting logs, threshing and winnowing, as well as an Easter treasure hunt. Amongst all this was the learning of what life was like for Tudors, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. In May they have a week on sheep, and I'm hoping the chance to do some spinning of wool, we'll have to go back just to see!

Another day out was to the Brecon Beacons. Stuart had been wanting to do some hill walking, so Easter Monday we set out early (for us!) and reached the Brecon Beacons by lunch time. We found a sign post to some waterfalls, and decided to explore. It was fantastic, with so many waterfalls coming down the hill, the boys were in their element, and we even found pools of frogspawn, which Ethan was very enthusiastic about. A picnic by the stream ensued, along with some rather wet feet from stepping on stepping stones, and missing! It would have been perfect if it were not for all the other people who were there too, there was us thinking we were off the beaten track, but not so. Is there anywhere in this country where you can truly get away from it all? We then continued to climb some unknown hill. With Sophie in the back pack it was pretty hard going (she seems so much heavier in that than in the sling!) Luke and I were the only ones to make it to the top of the cwm, after having to scrabble over copper laden rocks to reach the boggy moorland at the top. We returned to the others waiting below with red cheeks after such a climb, but a great sense of achievement. I think we have finally found a family activity that we all get something out of, next step camping!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Much making, socialising, and nursing

I seem to have gone into creative overdrive at the moment. Much to the boys delight, and to be honest, my surprise. I bought a Jean Greenhowe book with animal patterns in, so made a mummy duck to go with my chick made by Michelle. Apparently now I have to make a daddy duck too! In now feel a little more confident in my knitting skills now, so my next thing (after the daddy duck) is this.

Quite a while ago I saw some fabric in a charity shop, which I just had to buy. It has already made a new peg bag, Ethan's book bag and PE bag for school, and is now providing Sophie with a dress. It is very nearly done now, and as my first attempt at making clothes, I can honestly say I am rather impressed with myself. I will post a picture of the finished item hopefully in a couple of days.

Finally, to go with my handmade pledge, I have made some beanbags for a lads birthday tomorrow. 4 bean bags of different colours and shapes, filled with split yellow peas, and a felt letter blanket stitched to each one, spelling out his name. Now I hope it will be well received, as I get the impression he is more into plastic figures etc, but my lot certainly seem to like them! I may well make a stock pile of beanbags, and then all I have to do is the letters for when a childs birthday comes up!

Ethan, bless him, has had an ear infection all this last week. Whilst he is no longer in pain, it has left him rather deaf, which is very frustrating for us, and he seems to be shouting all the time, just so he is heard in his own head. Note to self, remember to tell his teacher he can't hear at the moment! Sophie has also been fighting off a cold, along with teething, so it has been rather difficult to get much done (apart from the crafty bits!)

For Fairtrade fortnight I had a rather successful coffee morning at home. I had handed out lots of invites, and many people turned up, which was wonderful, as some had not been to one of my coffee mornings before. I love promoting fairtrade, and I'm getting some regular orders too now, which is fantastic, as it means people are thinking about what they buy regularly, not just on a whim.

This last week I was due to meet with some GP mums. Unfortunately many were unable to make it, but I did get to meet the lovely Sarah, and her little daughter (with the most fantastic squeaky shoes!) It is very inspiring to meet with people who have similar ideals, and just talk, and talk. I feel as if we could have talked all day, but time was against us. I think we will be meeting up again soon, hopefully with a few more people.

Last but not least, the chooks... We are now getting three eggs a day from our little ladies. And in the space of a week we have had one double yoker, and one teeny egg. The double yoker got eaten, but the little one is going to be blown, decorated and added to the season table. Betty seems fully recovered from another bout of some infection,and hopefully that will be it, as she is proving a very expensive chicken!

When I come to write all this down, it make me realise how much has been going on recently. Fortunately it's all pretty much good at the moment, and I count my blessings for this.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Wedding Anniversary

13 years today, Stuart and I devoted our lives to each other. So much has happened in that time, and I am very much looking forward to growing older with him, and seeing what path our lives take together.

We are off out for a romantic meal for 6 tonight, so we'll see how that goes;)

Monday, 16 February 2009

A lovely weekend

It started off on Friday evening. Meeting up with some friends, old and new, to sit, eat homemade cake, knit and chat. It was definitely my kind of evening, and hopefully it will become a regular event.

Saturday was relaxed, with no tennis lessons first thing as it is half term. As much as Alec enjoys it, it is rather difficult getting up early at the weekend, especially when it is so cold... roll on the spring. Alec and Ethan, instead spent most of the day playing outside with the neighbours boys, whilst Luke and I went to a lego exhibition held by George (one of Jo's boys). He had been working very hard all week on his creations, and Luke was very impressed with Indy stuff!

Sunday we initially thought we would head to Malvern and take the children up the hills. But as ever, we weren't organised enough, and we ran out of time. Instead we headed to some local woods, about 2 miles away. I used to go there as a child, but there were always people riding motorbikes through it. I was very impressed with it now. No motorbikes for a start! But the woods were very well managed, and as parking was so difficult, there were very few people there.

There is something very spiritual about woods, a sense of calm, of age old knowledge. We could have walked for ages, but it was getting dark. We found a rabbit warren, trees on impossible cliffs with their roots exposed, but keeping them upright. Other trees that had fallen across ditches creating natural bridges (which Luke just had to traverse!), or other trees that had fallen or grown into natural shelters. We were all disappointed we had to cut our walk short, but I have a feeling we will be back there again soon. It really is a little treasure on our doorstep!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Catching up

My goodness, where does time go? It's nearly a month since my last post, apologies.

Betty has had us all worried, with her moping around the garden all this last week. Took her to the vets, and the vet was also a keeper of chickens, so did a heavily discounted rate (always worth knowing!). He drew up some anti-biotics for us to administer to her by injection. Now I'm only just getting used to handling the chickens, let alone injecting them! He reassured me it was easy, and with Stuarts help it went ok, but I didn't like the idea of wielding a hypodermic needle around! The good news is she seems to be on the mend, there were a few mornings when I opened the hen house and I thought I would find her perished, but she seems to be made of strong stuff. Still don't know what she was fighting off, the vet ruled out egg perotinitis, which is what I was worried about (a broken egg inside of her that gets infected).

Oh, and whilst on the subject of chickens, Hetty is now laying regularly, and the boys are thrilled to be eating "Hetty eggs".

What about the children, all I seem to have posted about recently is chickens. Well, Luke got a head teachers commendation for a mosque that he built for a presentation. Apparently he is the first boy in the school to have got one since Christmas! Sophie is tentatively trying her first solids ( a bit of a mish mash of BLW and spoon fed weaning, which she is definitely getting the hang of, but the faces she pulls are quite hilarious!) She is also beginning to get slightly mobile with a combination of rolling, wiggling and "swimming" across the floor. I am going to have to get sooooo organised to get all the little bits out of her way otherwise we may have some "interesting" nappies!! Alec and Ethan have been their usual happy selves, but found the recent snow a little too cold for their liking!

Stuart has found his firebowl to be a great excuse to buy marshmallows, and toasting them out in the garden, but the chickens straw has dwindled very quickly, as it apparently make very good tinder!!

I am owing some posts regarding being tagged by Jo, and a tree of happiness by Moon Mumma and Joxy. I will address all of these in the next post!

I also realise I owe you all some pictures of many things. I will ask Stuart to give me a tutorial on uploading them, as I've been taking loads of photos in anticipation of getting them blogged, so please be patient.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

I've been tagged!

Jo has tagged me to find 8 random facts about me. So for anyone who is remotely interested, here goes...

  • I spent many weeks, weekends etc on the canals as a youngster, and dreamed of living on a canal boat.
  • I decided to grow my hair, at the age of 14, when someone asked my younger brother how old his older brother was (I was up a tree at the time!)
  • I love my bed, but don't get to spend enough time in it!
  • I would love to open a Fairtrade shop with a fairtrade cafe in it.
  • I have fallen asleep in many strange places, including stood up at a concert!
  • I would love to learn to play the cello
  • I would love to visit Machu Pichu, Peru and Rotorua, New Zealand
  • I find it very hard thinking of 8 things about myself!

What happens next?

1. Each blogger starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.5. For the recipients, leave a comment for the person who tagged you, so they can go and read your answers.

I am therefore tagging the people who follow my blog (except Jo who tagged me initially!)

So we have Shell, Uma, Joxy, Jacqui, Rachel, Michelle, and nocton4

Friday, 9 January 2009

An Egg!!!!!

Poor Betty, I bet she wondered what was happening to her today. She didn't come out the hen house at all this morning, and I was getting rather worried about her. She seemed perky enough inside, but I was worried about her, and started reading up on lots of nasty things that could be wrong with her (which scared me even more!) By the time I went out to Toddlers she was just poking her head out the door. I thought perhaps the terrorising that Little had been dealing out had got to her, but I was wrong.

When we returned from picking the boys up from school, she was strutting around with Hetty and Little, and I just took one look at her and thought there may have been some developments! Her comb and wattles were no longer pink and droopy, but red. So I went to the hen house, and sure enough there was an egg! Not in the nesting box, but between the roosting bars, and the shell was rather soft, and therefore had broken and spilled its contents. However, it was an egg none-the-less, and I am so proud of her! I just wish I could explain to each of them what is happening to them, although I am sure Mother Nature will step in and guide them.

Resolutions

A bit late in the day, but thought I ought to write down my plans for improvement for this coming year! The one that is always on my list, and always falls by the wayside fairly quickly is to be more organised. By that I mean keep on top of the housework, not just when it gets desperate, spend more time with the boys not just when they demand it, and to generally achieve things rather than just think about doing things!!

Having read through some other blogs, I'm also going to borrow some ideas too. To use things we already have before going to buy more, sounds as if it should suit us to the ground, as the house still seems to be brimming over with "stuff" which has no real use at present. Along with spending more time at home (or down the allotment!), as I really do have more than enough stuff to keep me busy, without going to groups etc.

And a personal one for me, which I had started on prior to New Year, is to eat less meat. Not necessarily for health reasons, but because I want to think carefully about what has gone into my food, and so will try to only eat free range/organic meat, but to have non meat days too.

Ethan has decided he wants to be able to ride his bike up the hill, so a fair bit of practising will be needed as it is a pretty steep hill!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Chickens

My long awaited ladies have arrived today. I was so excited and nervous all at the same time, I really was like a child at Christmas! They are housed in an eglu, which seems perfect for our garden, though I think we may have to find a permanent site for it as our garden is just way too slopey for me to be able to move it around at will, as was my original plan. So some garden design is now the call if the day!

We have 3 chickens. 2 are known as Miss Pepperpot's which are Rhode Island Red/Maran hybrids, and a gingernut ranger, another hybrid I think. The Miss Pepperpots are very different looking, one being black with irridescent green feathers, and the other black with lots of gold neck feathers. They are known as Betty and Hetty respectively. The other hen seems to have established the pecking order, and is ironically known as Little, as in Chicken Little (courtesy of the boys!) Little is a big brown hen, and certainly seems to be ruling the roost so far! However, when they went to roost this evening, there was gentle coo-ing coming from inside the eglu, so peace for now!

The boys were so excited when I picked them up from school, and raced through the house to the back garden where they spent ages watching them, asking questions, and imitating them. They were particularly intrigued with the pecking order scuffles! Some of the neighbourhood children came to look too, but didn't seem quite so excited, although one did suggest his brother kept one on his bedroom!

I am really looking forward to this new adventure for us as a family, especially as the days stay lighter, and we get to spend more time in the garden with our feathered friends.