Sunday, 28 February 2010

Standing on her own two feet.

Just thought I'd post these two photos of Hope who is now pulling herself up to standing.
The poor little mite has sticky eyes at the moment so I'll probaby have to take her to the docs tomorrow for some drops.
My cold still has a good grip. I can hardly breathe.

Friday, 26 February 2010


I've finally got round to setting up the Lent focal point. I saved the things we made from last year but needed to get some new jars for the sweets. This is based on another idea I got from Catholic

Henry made this cross by sticking on coloured sequins.

Honor wrote out the 'Fruit gum prayer' and we framed it. The children earn suitably coloured sweets ie jelly tots or fruit gums according to this guide. So they earn a red one for hard work/sacrifice. A yellow for something like good manners or, in Honor's case yesterday, when she encouraged her brother by saying well done for something he did at school, which reflect God's bright light. An orange for appropriate behaviour during bedtime story and prayers.

Then the sweets go in the jar. Last year they waited until Easter before they were allowed to eat them. But as the priest told us on Sunday, you can have Sundays off from abstinence so they'll eat what they have earned during the week on Sundays. After all - there's far too much chocolate arriving at Easter time anyway. A few days ago I found 2 Easter eggs from last year still in the cupboard!

Thursday, 25 February 2010


This is the second time I've taken part in the Small Successes challenge. Is there something about Thursdays that makes thinking of three successes this week so difficult? Perhaps that is why they, at Faith and Family, picked it. Perhaps I'm not the only one who could benefit from a bit of encouragement... what, with a rotten, stinking cold on top of that general getting to the end of the week exhaustion, to try and think of something positive is probably just what the doctor would prescribe. So, here goes:

1.) I helped my daughter understand improper fractions.

2.) I've made some progress with smartening up the kitchen - on very little money.

3.) I looked after Hubby really well when he had man-flu, making him my flu-busting hot'n sour chicken soup.

That wasn't so difficult. And that is because my wonderful Hubby came up with all three, just now, in no time at all. Aren't I lucky!


I have another cold. Bah!
It's a really bad one.
My nose is so sore.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Nigel Slater incident,

A few moments ago I popped upstairs and found this note pushed under Honor's bedroom door. (She often leaves notes for me). This one, in particular, made me smile. There is a bit of a story behind this message. For a while Hubby and I have found our darling daughter's behaviour frustrating. She is nearly nine years old. Her attitude is a bit.... well, let's say we'd like to help her improve it! The biggest issue by far is that at school she does not learn and puts in the minimum amount of effort. What are we supposed to do? We can't go to school with her and make her do it so it must be the school's fault, right? Well, I recently came across a book called 'Have a new kid by Friday' by Kevin Leman. I think somebody on the Faith and Family forum recommended it. I googled the guy and watched some clips of him on youtube. He is very entertaining and talks common sense. So I bought the book. I have read many parenting books. I'm a trained teacher, for goodness sake. So I though I knew what I was doing! But, actually I was already realising that I've made mistakes in the way I've handled my first-born's behaviour. I've been honest with myself and acknowledged that while I thought I was being an authoritative parent, I have actually been passive. Oh, woe.
Now things are changing around here. HM has committed some serious crimes this week: not getting her homework done, backchatting and... dah, dah, dahhhhhh... left her clothes on the floor when she got changed for Brownies tonight. So. When she got home at 7.30pm, she said "hi Mum, are we going to watch Nigel Slater?" My reply was, "I was hoping to watch it with you but unfortunately you left your room in a mess and now you have to go and sort it out and get ready for bed". Then there were tears, and "it's not fair!" .
A while a go I'd probably have said "well go and clear up quickly and you'll be able to catch it". But no! Not now. There's no discussion. No second chances.
It's sad for me too. I wanted to cuddle up with her and watch it. What a shame. But it has to be done. (And anyway, it wasn't even on in the end - they put an extra episode of Eastenders on instead, but she doesn't know that.) But then there is the note: Dear Mummy, I know you are right about the tidy bedroom, Nigel Slater thing! Please can you say goodnight (on note) and leave something (NICE) to eat. HM xx.
So. She's getting it and I'm not the bad guy...but she's still trying it on. See what I'm up against?
We are watching Masterchef right now. Hubby is talking at the tv like a real pro! Well, I suppose he is, really!

This afternoon I had to take Henry to the hospital for his appointment with the orthoptist. The history behind this is... I have a lazy, left eye. So has my grandad and uncle. My problem wasn't spotted until I was about 6 years old, during a routine eye test for children. I noticed, when Henry was a baby, that his left eye had a slight turn inwards. I mentioned this, and my family history to the health visitor and we were quickly referred to the orthoptist where my suspicions were confirmed. So Henry has been wearing glasses since he was just 18 months old! Yes. It has been quite a job getting such a young child to wear glasses. At least, it was in the beginning, though I suppose in more recent years it has been easier because he is used to them. The worst times were when he had his tantums and would fling his glasses across the room or just pull them so hard, snarling, until they snapped. Fortunately, the glasses came with a year's guarantee so they usually got replaced or fixed without too much extra expense. Now, Henry doesn't have the temper tantrums so often and if he is about to blow his stack, I quickly remove them! But, I think he is getting better at managing his temper (he hasn't broken anything, this way, for ages). And, today, the orthoptist announced that his vision has improved so much that it is likely he will be discharged after our next appointment in October. He will still have to wear glasses for a while but, it seems, our efforts, and catching it early, has paid off.

Monday, 22 February 2010

INSET day.

The half term break is extended into this week as the teachers have an Inset day. The weather maybe miserable but we have plenty to keep us busy including sowing these seeds.

The children want their own little gardening plots this year. HM practised her multiplication and fraction knowledge during this activity. She multiplied 8 x 5 to find the total number of cells and then divided the seeds into fifths.
Henry has some sea monkeys which hatched on Friday. Lisa bought them for his Christmas present. Honor wants some of her own and I said she could if she worked hard on her maths this week so it looks as though we'll be off to Pets at Home this afternoon!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Farrow, Ball and Fractions.

This is why Hubby went out to get me a packet of paper plates the other day. I cut them up and used them to teach Honor some fractions concepts. We compared equivalent fractions, did addition with the same denominator and converted improper fractions.

Here she has made 2 whole plates and one quarter out of nine quarters.

Honor struggles at school with maths because a) she finds it hard to concentrate and follow a lesson amongst 30+ other kids and b) because in primary school, the curriculum moves very quickly on from the concrete to the abstract. Far too quickly, in my opinion! Pretty much from age 5 the children use manipulatives less and less and rely on computers more. My daughter finds maths much easier to understand when it is real. So I'm having to find the time to help her with this at home. She really enjoyed doing it and actually asks to do it (unlike her Kumon!)

This afternoon we went to a local antiques and flea market where I bought a little 1950's kitchen cupboard. Hubby wasn't keen on it but he let me have it and has promised to put it up for me next weekend. As I paid, the man selling it asked me if I was going to paint it. "Oh yes", I replied. (It does need a bit of a revamp). "What are you going to use?" he asked, "Farrow and Ball?" I was tempted to say "Oh no, B&Q!" but just mumbled that I hadn't decided yet. Farrow and Ball - my arse!!!!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

I wasn't going to post tonight but Hubby told me to! He cooked for me tonight, again, and enjoys to read about how good his cooking is! (Hee, hee!).

I've been thinking how, erm, necessary, I suppose routine is in our lives, anyway, to get things done. Since I left work to have the kids, my attendence at Mass has been very up and down. I decided that during Lent I will go every week and hopefully this will get me back into the routine for making this happen permanently. Hubby is helping me so we've decided on going to Saturday evening Mass. Sunday has become a bit of a mad dash to catch up with things like making sure school and work stuff is ready for the Monday. So that is what we did this evening. It feels more relaxed, knowing that we are only half way through the weekend. Our son, Henry, is over at Grandma's for a sleepover (the first this year) and that also made the whole Mass experience more relaxed!!! When we got home, our big girl stayed up an extra hour with us and Hubby cooked me chicken livers in port. It was lovely, really! (He had Alpen!)

After the girls went to bed and we had dinner/Alpen, I relaxed by reading my favourite blogs. (And Hubby used his laptop to find out why his knee hurts. Cartilage failure? Patellofemoral pain syndrome or housemaid's knee? Boy, am I in trouble if it is the latter!) Anyway. On the Blessed and Busy blog, Heather writes about how she has a family games night. I think I'd like to copy this idea. We have lots of games in the house and yes, we play them from time to time, but as I was saying about the importance of having routine, we should actually schedule a regular time to do this....

Friday, 19 February 2010

It was Stacey.

I said to Hubby that was my guess. Wish I'd put money on it now!

Gratitude Friday.

I'm grateful for a fabulous half term holiday and in particular for somehow getting along so much better with my big girl.

Today Hubby had another day off so we decided to go to Folkestone for swimming and then on to Brockhill Country Park. Just as we were getting in the car, my Mum turned up so she came along too. That was a blessing... to have another pair of hands to help with changing!

It has been another lovely sunny day. Although I worked in Hythe for 6 years, I'd never been to Brockhill. We only stopped for a quick look and for the kids to have a good play, but it looks beautiful, lots of waterfalls, wildlife and snowdrops and we'll definitely have to go back for a longer walk round.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and now the kids are in bed, tuckered out. Hubby and I are having nachos and waiting for this live episode of Eastenders to come on when we'll find out... who did kill Archie Mitchell! Duff, duff, duff, duff, duff, duff, duff, duff!!!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Ash Wednesday and today...

I didn't get a chance to sit down and post yesterday so I have some time this evening, now the kids are in bed and Hubby has popped to Tesco to get me some paper plates, to write about the last 2 days. Of course, being Catholic an' all, we got ourselves off to Mass at 9.30am. Honor did the Offertory Procession with her Grandma and I quietly prayed that she wouldn't drop anything. I've never seen anyone do that but it would be my kids to be the first. I should have more faith! She did a good job.
Here she is doing another good job, helping Brown Owl provide the Lenten Lunch at the Village Hall. The soup was great! I had 3 bowls! So much for fasting and abstinence.

Hope enjoyed it too!

And it was a beautiful sunny day. Later that afternoon we visited Supernana's grave at the cemetary as Mum had some peach coloured primulas to plant there. The kids brought their gardening aprons and tools that they got for Christmas and helped out.
To finish off, Honor and I practised some fractions (hee, hee) then snuggled up in bed together and watched Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers. She is very keen to have her own little area of garden to grow her vegetables on. We liked the look of rainbow chard, so we'll try and get some seeds for that.

Today Hubby had a day off. The weather, unfortunately, was miserable and we had trouble making up our minds about what to do. We all had a wander round a garden centre and
ended up buying a selection of vegetable seeds costing around £17. So we need to make sure we get a good return on that little investment!
This afternoon, I went out with my Mum, HM and Hope (the girls!) to Waterstones while the boys stayed at home and put together some flat packed furniture! Inspired by the Percy Jackson film that we saw on Tuesday, HM bought these 2 books from the series. I've just been up to see her ('cos she's in bed) and she has already read a few chapters of the first one and is loving it!
Hubby has just returned with the paper plates... and a chocolate sundae. Mmmmm. So, I'd better go. Bye!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Shrove Tuesday.

Yes. We had pancakes. (For breakfast with banana, agave syrup, cinnamon and squirty cream!)

Yes. We did some Kumon and other maths. (HM's fluency in multiplication is getting better but she needs repetition, repetition, repetition!)

Yes. We did some fun things. I do know it's supposed to be the holidays! We went to the cinema this afternoon to see The Princess and the Frog. It was full so we saw Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief instead. We really enjoyed it. I'm glad the other film was full!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Half term.

This is Henry learning place value Montessori style. We laid out the tens and units from 10 -19 and with number cards I showed him how they were made up from 10 plus units. He was able to complete the activity by himself.
HM went on a bus trip with Grandma today so I took Henry and the baby to Wildwood. We are members and I think it is well worth the money. Quite a few of the animals are in hibernation at the moment but we saw the fox and the heron up close today.
Hope is getting very good on her feet all of a sudden!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

I've had a lovely day today, I have! The kids have been well behaved, got on with things without the nagging... that in itself is enough. But we had a lovely lunchtime treat, meeting my best friend Lisa and her nieces for lunch at Frankie and Benny's. It's the first time I've been there. I don't go out of my way to go to restaurants with kids in tow. I resent paying lots of money for a meal I can't relax and enjoy, usually spending up to an hour trying to keep whining and fidgeting kids entertained before getting served, even! But this place wasn't too bad if you don't mind hearing Cliff singing 'Congratulations' several times over for the birthdy parties. Hope was very good. She was happy sitting in her high chair for an hour and a half watching all the goings on. I brought bread sticks and fromage frais with me for her to eat. The meal deals for the kids were very reasonable, in my opinion. For £3.95, they got a main meal, dessert and unlimited soft drinks. I enjoyed my food, too.

I'm about to get some more lovely grub. Here I am, sitting at our Valentine's dinner table. We're having pear and roquefort toasts followed by roast duck in a redcurrant sauce. YUM!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Gratitude Friday.

1.) My big girl who, with her friends, took the initiative to raise money for the Haiti disaster and held a cake sale at school. They raised £85.
2.) Hearts. I've done a bit of Valentine decorating.

3.) Used cards. I've saved them and the kids recycled them to make Valentine cards after school. Here HM is making a birthday card for her friend who has her birthday on Valentine's Day.

4.) Seaside shapes and chips. 'Cos I can pop them in the oven and tea is done. No hassel.
5.) Dunelm Mill. I went there today and bought this red table runner for £6.99. I enjoy the music they play as I browse round. This afternoon they played 'We are detectives' by The Thompson Twins! Cool!!!!
6.) Hubby. He's not going to wait until Sunday to cook me a nice meal. He's gonna make me one right now. XXXX


I'm having to post yesterday's news today because I've been having problems with viruses and stuff.
Snowmaggedon... it arrived much to Hubby's annoyance because he had to bring the kids back home again as school was shut! He did, however, get to go skiing in the afternoon along with Honor on her sledge. (Henry had to stay home as a result of not so good behaviour!) Before the outdoor fun we got some studying done. Well, they don't get out of it that easy! Honor worked very well on number sequencing and her Kumon. I also gave Henry some simple number sequences to complete. Both of them began with a Montessori style activity, completing sequences on a mat and then progressed to workbooks/sheets. After that, they played snakes and ladders together on the Numbertime website:

Then we made some heart shaped butter biscuits using this recipe The kids need to take them to school today to sell on the cake stall. The proceeds are going to the Haiti Earthquake Fund.

We then decorated our biscuits with pink icing and pink sugar sprinkles.


Monday, 8 February 2010

Lunch time.

Well, it's not quite 'snowmaggedon' out there yet. I made it to Tesco by myself (and baby). I had quite a lot to get so I was hoping that the cashier would say to me "would you like any help with your packing?" like they usually do, and I always say "no". But not today. I was feeling very restricted, wearing about 10 jumpers and having the baby strapped to me, so a little help would not have been turned down. Unfortunately all she said was "do you need carrier bags?" and then looked very disapprovingly at me when I said "yes".

Anyway. It's nearly 2pm. Baby is having her nap so I'm going to have a break with this lunch: ham, tomato, onion and mayonnaise roll, apple and coffee and browse through this reading material. Yes, I bought 'Have a new kid by Friday' from Amazon and it arrived this morning. I think I first saw it recommended on one of the Faith and Family forums. Hubby and I have watched a few Youtube clips of Dr Kevin Leman. He is very entertaining and we've already tried out some of his suggestions. So now we can read it properly.
Nice and warm now. Mmmmmmmm

It's snowing... again!

Hubby said it was coming on Wednesday. I have no food in. I can't drive in this. I wonder if he'll drive me to the supermarket later? S'pect he will when his tummy starts rumbling!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

My old friend.

Whoa! Look at these 80's chicks! I mentioned before that I was looking forward to my old school friend, Michelle, coming to visit. She thinks this was the last time we saw each other. It was her 18th birthday. We are now 38. I don't know why we lost touch.

She told me that she had teenage children. I was a bit surprised to see them come with her. From what I often hear from others with teens and what you see on the telly, I assumed they'd be off skulking somewhere. How wrong I was. They did not fit the stereotype you see and hear about. They were perfectly normal, actually they were lovely. I thought they must be so bored listening to us two going on about old times. They probably were, but they didn't show it and often joined in with the conversation. I suppose I've got used to little ones constantly interrupting and trying to hold the thread of a conversation with another adult so it was refreshing to keep the chat on an even keel. If our kids turn out anything like hers, I'll look forward to the teen years, not dread it!

I really enjoyed our afternoon, catching up. We won't leave it so long next time.
Cot update:
Hope slept well in her cot last night. As well as has been usual, anyway. I had to feed her at 3.30am and 6.30am. When I got her up at 6.30, she felt very cold. I think the hammock kept in more warmth and because it was much smaller, her blankets were folded a few times over. So I need to get the bedding right to keep her warm.

Friday, 5 February 2010

The cot!

Oh, and I'd better post, for the record that Hope has just gone into a cot. Hubby put it together this afternoon and I put her in it a few hours ago. She cried for a bit, but when I went back in she was asleep and still under the covers. I wonder how it will go....

Gratitude Friday and Peter Rabbit.

This is what we had for dinner tonight. Salmon pasta bake. I made it up based upon what needed to be used up in the fridge/freezer and what is on offer at the supermarket. I rarely buy a newspaper now. (I can't see the point of paying 50p per day to read about people's sex lives, or lack of it. One week it was the woman who wrote about how she gave her husband, for his 40th, the gift of sex every day for a year and the following week another woman who wrote about not having sex for, oh, I don't know how long it was. But I decided then I was giving up the Dailys!) I did get one this week, though and read about a journalist who switched from shopping at Sainsbury's and M&S to Aldi and Lidl and worked out that if she did this properly she'd save herself about £3,000 a year. I've personally found Morrissons a bit of a star this week. A pack of 4 kiwi fruits cost 30p! The kids have chopped kiwi and peaches for their dessert. And tinned salmon was buy 1 get 2 free! So I did and mixed 2 of the cans with wholewheat pasta and a mix of frozen veg, cream and cheese. We had this with chips and garlic bread and a dish of celery and cucumber sticks to nibble at too. It was very nice. I even lit a candle!

These little cherubs are now waiting for me to come and read Peter Rabbit because it is Beatrix Potter night! Yay!!

Such a naughty rabbit!

I don't know if it is because I'm so very tired, but I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself for the last half hour so it'll do me good to list some things I am grateful for...
1.) HUBBY - cos to cheer me up he set out a cup of camomile tea and a couple of 'munchies', those little chocolate thingys, for when I came down from the bath. I asked for vodka but this is nice. Thanks. XXXX
2.) Friends. I recently found an old school friend on Facebook and tomorrow she is coming to visit. I haven't seen her in about 20 years! I'm grateful for my other friends, too. I only have a few, but they are good ones and they know who they are. Big kisses to you too! XXXX
3.) The comments left by the ladies from Faith and Family after my Small Successes post. It's the first time I've joined in and it was lovely to read their encouraging words.
4.) Moonlighting - It is being shown every night on CBS Drama channel (Freeview) and is on right now. How can I be miserable when bears bear and bees bee????

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Here is Hope playing with her 'treasure basket'. She played with the lid, mostly!

Henry is very helpful. He's been desperate to have a go at feeding the baby for ages, so I finally let him.


Today I am taking part in Faith and Family's Small Successes.

My 3 small successes for the week are...

1.) Remembering to keep my seedlings watered.

2.) Using the 'n' word with my big girl, yesterday, and not giving in even though I think it hurt me more than it hurt her!

3.) I'm struggling to think of a third.... erm, ...


I'll ponder on it for a while and maybe come up with something for my next post this evening.

3 hours later....

Ha, ha, ha. I've got one. The kids are in bed. I've had a bath and I'm in my pyjamas and it is only 7pm! That's not even a small success. That's a big one!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Flu buster!

I have a cold. Today I made my flu busting hot n sour soup. I usually make my own stock from the carcass of a roast chicken. Yesterday we had chicken wings for tea so afterwards, I put all the bones in the slow cooker with a couple of chopped onions, chopped ginger, chopped garlic (a couple of cloves) and a few sticks of chopped celery. I then cover with water, throw in a few bayleaves and add about a teaspoonful of paprika and turmeric. As some of the chicken wings were left uneaten, I removed the meat and put aside in the fridge.
About 24 hours later I have the stock. In this bowl I have just added some of the chicken meat and some frozen sweetcorn and baby carrots. The kids eat this version. (I whizz up the baby's portion.)

And then for us, I add some chilli, fish sauce, chicken meat (or prawns if there's no meat left), kaffir lime leaves and at the end a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
I've just had mine. It's certainly cleared the nasal passages for the time being.
My other secret weapon in the war against the winter bugs is Medised. It's meant for children but I find a few teaspoons of this helps me get a more decent nights' sleep.
I sometimes do Nigel Slater's version too.