52 Weeks of Happy: 30/52, 31/52, 32/52, 33/52

School holidays are here, family birthdays are here, it’s been busy, busy busy in my household so I’m going to try to choose one picture for each week. It won’t be hard. The last few weeks have been great.

IMG_7775Babykins enjoying filling his shoe with gravel after a hard day exploring The Forbidden Corner near Middleham. If you are in need of a family day out, The Forbidden Corner is a lot of fun. We took Son Number One’s Godmother, who is 20 and I think she enjoyed it. I really don’t think I can describe it very well. It’s partly a beautiful garden but it has lots of strange, surreal, underground sections, some of which are quite scary for little children.  Son Number One and The Middle Miss had a whale of a time exploring it, dodging the unexpected squirts of water and trying to find all the ‘landmarks’ on the leaflet you get at the start. It’s expensive, but well worth a visit. Just remember you have to book in advance.

IMG_7824Son Number One requested a party at the local climbing wall to celebrate turning eight. We took four boys and two girls to RockAntics, who gave them an hour and a half of climbing fun. First they warmed up with some bouldering (climbing without ropes above big crash mats) then they each did three climbs roped up, with an instructor holding the other end. Son Number One got braver with each climb and managed to reach the top on the last one. The Middle Miss was a natural and scampered up to the top each time. Even Babykins sneaked in on the bouldering. Not for the first time I was grateful that I could hold onto his dungarees!  We ended the party by scoffing a load of Dominoes pizza and birthday cake. Good times – not cheap but relatively low on stress levels.

IMG_2923It’s the time of year for family holidays and this is the first time we have been away for more than a week. It’s also the first time we have been on a family summer holiday without any input from a charity! We have benefitted from the generosity of various groups over the years of Son Number One’s leukaemia treatment but this year, we were on our own! Well, we were in my Mum’s caravan. So it’s thanks to her generosity in loaning it to us, along with her car, that we were able to chill out on this lovely campsite in Somerset. Here we are on ‘hay watch’ as the farmer unloaded his wagon full of towering round bales by pushing them over with a tractor.

IMG_3298The Middle Miss turned six the day after we returned from our holidays. It was a bit of a last minute dash to get her birthday presents organised. I didn’t even get around to decorating her birthday cake. Not to worry, Grandma had lots of little cakes just ready for embellishing. The old tin of candles and decorations came out and some new tubes of ready-made icing were cracked open and ta-dah! All three children had fun decorating their own cakes. The look of concentration on babykins’ face was priceless as he squirted and squeezed the icing. A ‘magic moment’ according to Grandma. Here’s to more Happy Days.

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52 weeks of happy mash up, weeks 12, 13 and 14

Just for the sake of completeness I am going to amalgamate my last few 52 weeks of happy posts in to one and then normal ‘service’ can resume.

Week 12/52 – March 19th to 25th

IMG_1929My haul of yarn from a charity shop. Four almost complete balls of 100% cotton and six and a bit balls of  Shetland, 100% wool, lace weight. All for less than £4 and bought whilst having a sociable, child free, morning out with an old friend.

IMG_6613Starting my bunny making extravaganza. Making the centres was the easy part…

IMG_6626Doing some ‘research’ for a suitable birthday cake recipe.

IMG_6620Not a great photo but a magic moment. The Middle Miss is really beginning to enjoy reading to herself and these Usborne phonics books are just right for her.

Week 13/52 March 26th – April 1st

IMG_6691Making an aubergine parmigiana with my little helper (I can’t help but think of Miranda Hart’s Extreme Mothering article in the Telegraph every time I make this). We got cooking oil everywhere and I was slightly nervous about the proximity to a smoking hot griddle pan but the end result was very tasty. Even Son Number One ate it up. I had to laugh at his verdict “Hmm, it smells good, like a nice pizza but it looks horrible.” He had a fair point. My advice was to shut his eyes while he ate it…

IMG_6703More reading, this time ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ by the great Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Everything about this makes me happy – the fact that she can read, the fact that she loves it so much, the fact that she read to her little brother and the fact that he listened intently. Happy, happy, happy.

IMG_6708The arrival of The Easter Basket from school. The Middle Miss was so excited about doing this. Also, bringing it home marked the start of the holidays, which meant we could go….

IMG_2051here! It may look a bit cold, dark and brooding in this photo but trust me, it is a beautiful spot. I have loads and loads and loads of photos to upload of our happy holiday with friends and family. If you want to see more, take a peek at last year’s lambing time visit by clicking here.

Week 14/52 April 2nd – 8th

IMG_6715A real fire in our holiday accommodation – bliss, especially when the electricity went off one day.

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Don’t ask me why but taking photos of hens makes me happy. Perhaps it is because they don’t mind it when you get close to them, perhaps it is because they are good subjects and often stay relatively still. There’s just something appealing about them, despite the fact they are the ultimate recyclers and eat anything.

IMG_2004My older children, their cousin and some blue sky!!! Yes, yes there is quite a bit of snow too but when it is piled up in dramatic drifts I don’t mind that, even in April. This photo is all about the freedom that holidays bring.

IMG_6746Freedom that extends to me too. It’s lovely to be on holiday with friends and family but one of the bonuses is that I can escape for a little walk, all on my own, down the lane in the clear, cold, twilight. If only my camera had been able to really capture the light and the landscape.

No time to blog…

But maybe enough time to share a few photos…Keith's cakeA birthday cake for my brother. I had a lot of fun doing this (and a lot of late nights).

bunnyMy first complete bunny. Only another 5 to go….

It’s been a busy week and now the holidays are here (and I can see the sun – yay). Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures of fluffy new lambs next time I’m here. Have a lovely Easter.

Sunday projects.

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IMG_6650A bit of stash busting, thanks to Janette at The Green Dragonfly for the free pattern and tutuorial. I hope I can get them all done for Easter.

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IMG_6663Baking a special birthday cake for my brother. He will be 30 on Monday and thinks he is old (ha ha). I’ve had a lot of fun trying out a new chocolate orange cake recipe (find it here) and even more fun finding the images I want to put on the cake. I will have to share these at a later date so as not to spoil the surprise. Suffice to say it’s been a trip down memory lane.

IMG_6653Finally, this was the scene here a few hours ago. The children, still in their pyjamas, decorated some Easter thank you cards. I’ve been very bad at getting them to do this lately so I feel a bit better knowing I’ve ticked that job off the list.

Hope you are having a good Sunday, despite the horrible weather.

 

Birthday time again

The last of our three Christmas-time birthdays was today. My little Babykins isn’t really a baby any more, he was two today. Last year we rushed off to the in-laws on his birthday and I didn’t seem to have any time for reflection. This year, spending the day in our own home has given me time to remember the events around his (home)birth. I wrote his birth story quite a while ago and I’m so glad I did. It seems really precious now, to have those memories documented. I wish I’d written my other two birth stories down as quickly.IMG_4086Today was lovely. A two year old is so different to a three year old. I expect that next year he will be up at the crack of dawn, desperate to open gifts. Today wasn’t like that, it was relatively slow and gentle to start with. We waited until his Grandma and Great Aunt arrived from Penrith to open gifts. He has been so cute this year – really taking an interest in each present, wanting to play with it before opening the next one, much to the frustration of his older sister.IMG_1275He is now the proud  owner of a mega-blocks crane and construction site, lots of lovely new books and clothes and a big cement mixer wagon. The rest of the family joined us for tea and birthday cake later in the afternoon.IMG_5866There has been a bit of a pig theme going on lately, all due to his recent obsession with the film ‘Babe’. He was supposed to get his special pig shirt for his birthday but my Mum couldn’t resist giving him it on Christmas day. Here he is raising his glass of ‘special wine’ (sparkling grape juice – he’d drink the real thing given half a chance).IMG_1217Mum was so desperate to give him a birthday present today that she was up at the crack of dawn sewing him another shirt – one with tractors on. The boys have quite a collection of these shirts now and we love them all.

After tea the party really got started. New iPods, disco balls and flashing headwear were brought out and The Middle Miss gave us a ‘show dance’ (we’re big Strictly Come Dancing fans in this house) and Son Number One did his best ‘Gangnam Style’ routine. I wish my camera was better at capturing it but the light conditions weren’t the best.IMG_1339The festivities are almost over for the year. Just the New Year celebrations to go and then we’ll be back to ‘normality’. I’m not sure that I am looking forward to that.

Baking For A Birthday

The Middle Miss had a birthday this week. She helped me make her birthday cake. She is very good at this kind of thing as she has been well trained by both her Dad and Grandma. It was a treat for me to have her on her own, for a change, while Grandma had the boys. She was so excited by the whole process, but the best bit was adding food colouring to make pink swirls in the mixture.

This was the cake we were aiming for. It’s from a book by the very talented Debbie Brown called Enchanting Magical Cakes. I haven’t made many cakes from this book but I’ve drooled over it for a very long time. The attention to detail in the cakes is what makes them so attractive. That and the liberal use of edible glitter.

Baking the three cakes that this design required took ten eggs and the best part of the morning. In the afternoon Grandma and I did a child swap. I loaned her The Middle Miss and she returned Son Number One. He took over the baking duties. We decided to make the name of each child that was coming to the party. While he rolled and cut and counted letters, I worked on the cake.

It turned out to be a long day. Things weren’t helped by Babykins refusing to go to bed. He eventually fell asleep on The Husband’s knee at about 10pm. At that point the supper pots were still lying around, the cake was very much ‘in progress’ and I hadn’t wrapped the birthday present. In fact, it was still hiding in the loft. I finally turned the light out at about quarter to one in the morning. I think it was worth it, even though I had to retire to a darkened room for a lie down after the actual party!