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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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!