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


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.