Wicked Wednesdays 17.09.14: The Face

Grump

I was just taking some lovely ‘pickled head’ selfies with the boys the other day when all of a sudden I noticed EJ had put on ‘the face’. Still to this day I do not know what that was all about! Two year old’s eh? Still makes me chuckle every time I look at it though, tee hee! Linking up with Wicked Wednesdays – a collection of imagery intended, I presume, to explore the more *ahem* difficult/full on/downright nutty moments of this parenting train we have all found ourselves a-riding!

 

brummymummyof2

The Black and White Photography Project: Panda and Monkey

Monkey and Panda

If you’re going to take a great b&w photo might as well take it of something black and white! Panda is getting a lot of love from the boys these days after they discovered that their cousin’s favourite toy is a Panda called ‘Pat Pat’ (I think!). They’ve both got a monkey and they do love their monkeys! I was going to say it’s like visiting an apiary going into their room (four monkeys – including them!) but actually an apiary is for bees. A primate enclosure?? šŸ™‚

Linking up with Charly’s Black and White Photography Project over at Podcast Dove.


 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg

Word of the week: Unplanned

pause

After recent weeks of hyper planning for birthday parties and JJ’s first week at school, uniform and wrapping and baking, this last week I have let it go a bit. On my day off I did my cleaning but I didn’t push myself to cook something new or tick anything off any particular list. When I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands yesterday I didn’t try and cram in a hundred and one jobs or finish my book or start a new project. I did a little bit of catch up blogging (the wireless connection had been down the night before), read some of my book and had a cup of tea.

It was really quite liberating – I recommend taking the pressure off yourself once in a while. Although I admit that I did feel a bit anxious about time wasted or lost for a while, but I was also feeling bone tired. I think it was a culmination of my few busy weeks and a couple of sleepless nights. Now JJ is settling into his new routine I just feel like we all need to take stock and let the dust settle.

Hopefully I will return to planning and organisation for the coming months with renewed vigour!

Love the Little Things 12.09.14

READ

Due to unforeseen circumstances I have had a little time on my hands this week and took the opportunity to pick up my current book A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn, managing to get about half way through. It’s an intriguing concept which gets you thinking about what we mean by terms such as happiness and quality of life.
It’s also JJ’ s first full week at school and he’s already been sent home with a little book so he can practice recognising the words ‘the’ and ‘and’. I think it’s going to be hard going!

the puppy

WATCHED

Big school

Great British Bake Off! Nobody binned anything this week but the tension is mounting now it’s down to the final six. I’m also loving Big School with David Walliams and Catherine Tate. I watched the first series and loved the gentle humour and nutty characters but I have admit I’m missing the extravagant science experiments – maybe they decided they couldn’t stretch that joke any further!

HEARD

After reading the top ten albums of Denise over on Listen, Watch, Read, Share I was reminded of a couple of great Moloko songs from the early noughties. Which then made me think of a couple of great Portishead songs from the early nineties. I still find this one absolutely mesmorising after all these years – some songs are just timeless…

WORE

JJ SWAT

Nothing new or exciting for me this week but JJ was treated to this amazing S.W.A.T team fancy dress outfit from Costco (apologies for the fuzzy phone photo!). Not the cheapest at Ā£16.50 but considering it includes a full police kit of walkie talkie, binoculars, cap, sunglasses, handcuffs, baton, whistle and even a working torch I thought it was pretty fab!

MADE

I’m gutted that I didn’t have time to link up last week now because I made so many great things for JJ’s pirate party and this week I have put my feet up a bit and don’t have much to show for my time.

AND LASTLY…

I’m just so happy that JJ seems to be enjoying his new experience of being a big schoolboy! Nothing has phased him – in the words of Moloko he has given himself up into the moment, and the time *is* now!

Happy Friday Little Loves!

 

butwhymummywhy

How to shine

Choose to shine

Over at Mum turned Mom HQ this week, Sara has gone for a word as this week’s Prompt: Shine. I didn’t immediately know what to say about this and wasn’t going to enter the link up this week, but I find myself with a little time on my hands and started contemplating what ‘shine’ means to me.

The dictionary tells me that to shine is to emit light, to glint or glisten, to excel or to be immediately apparent. When I think about what it takes to shine, as a person, it takes confidence, it takes a happy, outgoing spirit who is not afraid to put his or herself on the line, and, to be more philosophical, it takes a person who can accept that they have a light inside them which can be directed out into the world, to counteract the darkness.

It’s not easy to shine or to feel like you are capable of it. It takes a lot of encouragement and championing but maybe some people are just born to project themselves and their light into the world from an early age (natural born confidence?).

It might be easy to shine if you are born with an innate talent, an innate beauty – but for the rest of us plebs here on Earth it takes a bit of practice. As a mother, how do you shine when every day seems to be about cooking and laundry and school runs and work? You challenge yourself, you shine through your actions, you attempt to bring a little light, however small, into the lives of others.

At the beginning of the year I spent a lot of time thinking about ‘random acts of kindness’. I even contemplated starting up a linky all about encouraging others to both do and share their own RAOK. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and was very taken by the notion of happiness coming through giving of yourself, and now I’m reading a book she recommends A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn and the concept of ‘happiness’ is once again in the forefront of my mind (and I’m not missing the parallel here of the Sun – a metaphor for happiness, and the one word which we most associate with the descriptive ‘shine’).

So go forth and emit your light, people! I know you can do it.

 

mumturnedmom

A strange day…

Freeway Jam

Picture this: you’re all set for a normal day. Well not quite normal – normally I would wake up on a Thursday at 06.30am, get washed and dressed, grab my coffee and be out of the house by 7 on the road to start work at 8am. On this particular Thursday I had a different scenario. The hubster was down in Exeter yesterday running in a 10-mile race and stayed down there overnight. I was tasked with getting the children up fed and dressed and JJ to school for 08.45am which is what happened. Then I had to pop to the supermarket with EJ before transferring him over to the town where my in-laws live and I also work, dropping him there and getting myself into the office for 10.30am. So far so good…

Then we hit the main A road that links our two towns – a ten mile stretch – and almost immediately grind to a halt. Hmm. A little traffic I think to myself. Ten minutes later we haven’t moved an inch and I phone both the in-laws and my work to tell them that I’m likely to be a little late. I get out my coffee and EJ begins to demand I hand it over. When I don’t, he cries. I phone the hubster to tell him what’s happened and ask him where he is on his journey back east. When I hang up EJ demands my phone. When I don’t give it to him, he cries. Two ambulances and a police car pass us on the hastily carved out ‘middle track’ (there is no hard shoulder). Other people begin to reverse back down this track to attempt a u-turn at a suitable place (this is a dual carriageway divided by a hedged, grassy bank). I dismiss this notion as dangerous madness.

EJ begins to cry in earnest. It is that screaming, bored, frustrated crying which nothing is going to assuage. The muzzies begin shooting over the car like missiles. Even the precious dummy is flung with anger in my general direction. I phone my mum and tell her what’s happened (using the call to explain the mystery of EJ’s disappearing shoes (his brother threw them over the garden fence two days ago). EJ is happy to say hello and goodbye to Grandma.

By this point we have been sat still in the car for 20 minutes. I think, enough is enough, and attempt to reverse down the middle track which has somehow closed up a bit in the interim. A kindly lady runs up to tell me that I won’t be able to get round the U-turn as it’s now completely blocked. I pull back in to the left lane. Thinking on my feet I begin entertaining EJ with a game of ‘pop-up’ monkey – magicking his soft toy round the side and over the top of the passenger seat next to me. He thinks this is hilarious and begins flinging his muzzies over Monkey each time he pops up. This game lasts about 5-10 minutes before I can take no more. We are still in the same place on the road and have now been here for 40 minutes.

I switch on to the local radio channel and almost immediately find out that there has been a ‘serious’ accident about five miles up the road ahead of us, the road has been closed both ahead and behind us and we are now, essentially, trapped in the middle. A low-flying helicopter hovers above us. It seems we have hit the road at exactly the wrong moment.

I look in the rearview mirror and see other people behind making their way up round the u-turn and make the decision to attempt this course of action again. This time I am successful!! We are finally moving again, albeit in the wrong direction. I take a long route home as there is a lot of traffic coming off at the next slip road. Now I wonder, do I attempt an alternative route? But no, stuff that, the roads in to town will be jam-packed with people who have been diverted off and the thought of getting myself and EJ stuck in another jam – one we can’t escape from – is too much to bear.

I phone work – arrange to take the rest of the day off. EJ is obviously relieved to be out of the car and I get him a bowl of Shreddies and put on Cbeebies. He is happy. I am happy, but sad that my already squeezed annual leave is being siphoned off in this unpredictable way.

EJ is now in his cot, having a nap. And here I am. What a strange day…

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The big fifth pirate party!

Pirate party spread

So it’s finally happenedĀ  – the event that I dreamt up and began planning months ago is over – and my little boy is suddenly a big five-year-old schoolboy!

This is the fourth party I’ve thrown since having children (JJ had a second birthday party and EJ has had a 1st and a second) and with each experience I am learning how to be better and make it more impressive and at the same time stress-free. I spoke about the idea of a ‘kids party life hack‘ when I was preparing for EJ’s big circus party back in July, but even then I hadn’t got it quite right, giving myself the most massive headache of preparing 23 clown cake pops (and me, a complete cake pop virgin!). This time round I opted for marshmallow pops – just as impressive to look at but soooo much easier to make (assuming you have the right tools for the job)! Here’s a shot of my little army:

Pirate pops

I also bought a fair bit of party ware and the Pirate theme is awesome because there are so many different places that carry pirate party wares and you can shop around. I got some of mine from the online party site Party Pieces, some more cheaply from Amazon and even some from the 99p shop!

The one thing JJ had specified as a non-negotiable was a bouncy castle with a slide. I managed to source one with a pirate theme!

I also chose to bake a cake from scratch this time round and found an easy chocolate cake recipe (it really is very easy – I’ve made three of them!) but opted for some ready made chocolate fudge icing to cut down on the faff of one more little job. I really dislike fondant icing; although it looks absolutely amazing when people sculpt and design it into amazing pieces of artwork, I’m all about the fact that it’s a cake for goodness sake and should look and taste like a yummy cake in my opinion! I decorated it by creating a homemade pirate bunting topper (the skull and crossbones got a bit washed out by the glue unfortunately) an X marks the spot in Smarties and a pack of five pirate themed candles which was perfect as it was his fifth birthday! It had been my intention to buy a cake stand of some sort but in the end I covered a small tin in red paper and created some more pirate bunting to go round it, then sat the cake on top. It would have been nicer if the platter it sat on hadn’t just been the plastic tupperware lid of the cake box but that’s where my imagination ran out I’m afraid!

I had felt that things had fallen a little flat at EJ’s party to begin with because of the fact that I hadn’t really planned any organised games, so this time I chose to package up a pass the parcel. I had planned for there being up to 22 children involved, all needing at least one turn at the ripping (and subsequent Haribo mini prize). In the event there were probably about 16, what with the toddler drop outs and a few no-shows and I’d also completely forgotten to bring any music so attempted to run the game using music on my iPhone (not nearly as loud as I’d hoped!!). It all got a bit tedious as I’d suspected it might, and I was constantly distracted by this and that no one could say that it was the most organised game ever invented! Still, at least now I know for future reference that it’s not worth the bother when there’s that many children!

Other than that and an attempt to get some parachute games going, I basically left them to it. When there’s a massive bouncy castle outside a big hall, balloons bouncing around and a constant flow of tea coming out to all the mums and dads, you don’t really need structure – everyone seemed to be having a lovely time!

After the faff at EJ’s party with the food I opted for simple individual lunch boxes for the party tea this time, filling each one with either a ham or cheese sandwich, a bag of grapes, a bag with a few cocktail sausages, a packet of Hula Hoops and an individual jelly pot. Then they were offered a very lovely looking cupcake thanks to Mr Sainsbury (which I’d jazzed up with some pirate flags!).

The lovely thing about this party was that so many of JJ’s friends could make it and even his cousins travelled up from 60 miles away to join in and this was the first time that they’d all been together for a party so we made the most of the opportunity for a little portrait opp!

Pirate party cousins portrait

Another slight fiasco of the ‘herding cats’ variety (two two-year-olds – what can I say?!) but at least we got them all together if not smiling and facing the camera!

Despite my mum advising me not to give myself a headache with too much planning and prep and asked whether everyone goes to this much trouble, I actually enjoyed putting it all together and enjoyed the experience of throwing this amazing party for my little boy. I hope it will be a lasting memory for him.

By strange coincidence one of JJ’s friends (who’s just a couple of days older than him) was having his own party the day after this and not only that but another pirate party! It was an eye-opening experience to see how my friend interpreted essentially the same brief. She is super creative and she’d built a massive pirate ship out of cardboard:

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I was suitably gob- smacked! The party was the anti-thesis of mine – run like clockwork, like a military operation with games from musical squares (which was really good fun for the kids!) to the ubiquitous pass the parcel (with real music!) and a big ‘dig for pirate treasure’ in the sandpit.

Lovely ideas but I felt it wasn’t my style to be so structured and that’s not just an excuse, I really think that the structure and organisation side of it would be the biggest headache for me and I just wanted to make sure that our guests were fed and watered and given the tools to entertain themselves essentially!

I think if I were to throw another children’s party in the future I would consider hiring an entertainer (although this is an expensive option) as the children do enjoy the games but at the same time it frees you up to socialise with the parents and relax a bit. Having said that maybe future parties will be ones where the parents don’t hang around!! :-/ now there’s a scary thought!!

When all is said and done, this is what makes it all worthwhile:

Pirate party birthday boy

One happy little Birthday Boy!

 

Word of the week: Arrrrrgghhhh!

(Said in a Pirate stylee!). Or the word of the week could equally be ‘big’ or ‘school’ or transition as Wednesday was JJ’s first day of Reception class at his new infant school and he loved it!

First day at school!

This has also been a week of ramped up preparations for his *fifth birthday* party which is all happening tomorrow! He asked for a pirate party but his strongest and most insistent desire was that there be a bouncy castle with a slide! I’ve managed to source one with a pirate theme so that should make one little ‘big’ boy very happy!

In the meantime I have:

  • Baked a test chocolate cake (I’m not a very seasoned baker so I wanted to give it a go and it turned out to be the first cake I haven’t incinerated from the bottom third down!). It was then devoured by my work colleagues…Test cake
  • Here’s the topper I made for it:

Pirate cake bunting

 

  • And I tried my hand at some Pirate marshmallow pops (soooooooo much easier than cake pops!!) (but still not easy to do perfectly!)

Pirate marshmallow pops

I have also created a few jazzed up decorative touches to some other bits and bobs – there will be pirate gold, eye patches and ‘pirate punch’ for all!

I’ve put a lot of effort in but I appreciate that it all looks a bit home-made! Oh well, as long as my little boy enjoys himself that’s all that matters.

What word best sums up your week?

 

The Reading Residence