A sedate Christmas, flat-sitting and an ambulance

After the excitement of Sophia’s birthday died down the anticipation and run up to Christmas was slightly marred by everyone getting sick. An odd bug whose main symptoms seem to be extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and a nasty cough. Everyone came down with it bar me so I’ve been pottering around looking after everyone.

However we still managed to have a lovely Christmas spent with friends up the road and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so calm and relaxed at Christmas! Church was attended, presents exchanged, good food eaten and mandatory viewing watched…and all in the company of dear friends.

Said friends headed off to visit family on Boxing Day and kindly let us flat sit until their return which was a blessing as everyone was still poorly and recovering is much more comfortable on dry land with a big sofa, proper beds and a bath (and far too much TV for when all too tired for anything else)!

The calmness was briefly disrupted by the out of hours GP calling an ambulance for Isaac last night after he had a very high temperature and laboured breathing but paramedics declared a trip in wasn’t necessary. I’m pleased to report that he’s looking better today already and our gentle end to the year has resumed.

Oh…and my wooly challenge? Not a complete success! I knitted (and really enjoyed doing so!) both the big girls ballet slippers and was really pleased with the result but faltered when it came to the babies. The pattern had some incorrect instructions and to be honest, when it came to the cabling was beyond me. Luckily Mum came to the reduce and knitted some for Thea using my wool for me-thank you again Ma! She also showed me another pattern and have me some wool to knit some felted slippers for Isaac which will hopefully be done before his birthday (the 18th). So I didn’t quite get there but 3 out of 4 had slippers in Christmas Day and I’ve learnt my lesson about giving myself enough time and not worrying about changing patterns if needs be.

So there you have it, a brief round up of the last two weeks for us and I’ll leave you with some photos for your viewing pleasure.


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Nigella’s Christmas Puddini Bonbons!

This year we decided to make Christmas gifts for both sets of Grandparents; there was two-fold reasoning behind this decision, firstly that I thought it would be more meaningful to give a gift that Sophia had made and secondly, because I have NO IDEA what any of the four Grandparents would like – they genuinely seem to have everything they need!! So when I stumbled upon this recipe I knew we were on to a winner!

We chose to make them while we were in the house in Exeter as we had more space to spread out and do it and most importantly, a normal sized fridge which was essential! The recipe was incredibly easy and required few ingredients but the end result was really striking and festive so it was a good recipe for an (almost!) 3 year old to do most of herself. I won’t teach you how to suck eggs as you can clearly follow the simple recipe yourself if you chose to make these but I did document the process of making them so thought I’d share those photos.

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Turns out crumbling Christmas pudding is a very sticky job!

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Eager as always to do the washing up…how long will this last? Definitely making the most of it for as long as it does!

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Showing super-human restraint in not licking her fingers until the decorating was finished!

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Ta Da!

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I made a couple extra for me and Dan to sample (as if they were foul I wouldn’t give them away!) but was not disappointed, they were chocolately, Christmassy and very indulgent – yum!

Just a quick aside whilst we’re on the topic of homemade gifts…I’m getting there with my knitted slippers, no one pair is complete but I’m confident they’ll all be done in time to be under the tree or in stockings!

I have to admit, I did start to over think the homemade gift idea, worrying that people would think we were being cheapskates…etc (in the end we just bought presents for the kids and for our friends we are spending Christmas Day with) but then a friend happened to link me to The Gift of Death by George Monbiot and it reassured me that we had made the right decision, especially as any presents we had chosen to buy would have unfortunately ultimately probably been in the ‘tat’ or ‘novelty’ category with no real meaning or sentiment behind them. Sophia really enjoyed making these gifts for her Grandparents and I reckon that’s much more important than buying them a wooden duck ornament or another cookbook that they don’t need or want.

I’d definitely recommend reading this article, especially at this time of year and will leave you with a quote from it.

‘Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for god’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows is that you don’t.’

How to celebrate a birthday when you’re three

Take one excitable almost three year old and add:

– a big hall

– lots of food and drinks

– many many balloons

– music (ranging from ‘The Fun Factory’ nursery rhymes, a Christmas CD and Antsy Pants!)

– classic party games

– a parachute

– a couple of doggy themed (Sophia’s chosen theme for the party – hence her costume, think she was the only one dressed up!) craft activities in the vain hope of keeping the party goers on the level

– a dozen or so similarly hyper friends

– some tea drinking adults

– amazing cakes provided by a wonderful Mother-in-law

…. then throw in some crawling babies and presents for good measure and you have Sophia’s birthday party!

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Unfortunately, such a good time was had that my worn out, run down little girl caught a bug and whilst she enjoyed a quiet day at home playing with her new toys with her Aunty (thanks Lydia!) and then later her best friend Seren on her actual birthday it became apparent in the afternoon that she was not very well when she threw up halfway through her birthday dinner! However, she still opted for birthday cake (more on that to come) which I’m glad to say didn’t reappear. So now a few home days are in order to rest and recuperate before Christmas! Luckily I think we’ll be well occupied due to all her birthday presents (including but not limited to: a check out till, a doctors kit, a lacing toy and an amazing play dough set!) – we have some very generous friends and family! I just wish Isaac was old enough to play gently, be read to or curl up with us and a movie as he is also ill but unfortunately his default when poorly is just to cry. So beam your healthy vibes our way please!

But to end on a funny note, Sophia has been asking for a birthday cake that has ‘spiderman, pink icing and stars’ for literally months now and as Dan’s Mum very kindly made us the incredible (and tasty!!) dog cake featured above I thought I’d give it a go. However, it was an absolute fail as my cake fell apart and had to be glued together with butter icing. Still, Sophia seemed chuffed with it so that’s the main thing and here’s a peek to give you a giggle!

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3 years young!

My gorgeous girl turned three yesterday….three! The last three years have gone so fast yet at the same time, I can’t remember life before her. I’m not soppy enough to do one of those letter to her style posts (though don’t get me wrong, I do find them sweet!) but suffice to say she has changed our lives immeasurably for the better over the last three years. She is joyful, compassionate, loving, laughing (especially at her attempts to tell jokes or play tricks on us), thoughtful and wise. I have no idea where she gets it all from but she continually surprises me with her generous loving attitude (today desperately wanting to give Isaac one of her birthday presents as she’d gotten so many and wanted to share) and I am just so so proud to be her Mum.

I will save the story of her party and birthday shenanigans for another post but thought that I’d just include some photos of her from the last three years to commemorate her turning three.

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Sophia's Birthday Weekend 2010 156

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Playing with her present from us aged 3 exactly!

A week in the country

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We spent the last week in a cosy cottage/house nestled in a working farm just 10 miles outside of Exeter. Dan was asked to come down here to work for the week and his work put us up here so that we could come down here. The picture above shows you the view from the back garden – quite literally in the middle of the rolling hills of Devon.

The timing was perfect as we’ve spent the last few weeks fighting off colds and possible slapped face syndrome whilst still meeting our commitments and being out and about a lot. Due to the location of the house, going anywhere other than pottering around the farm wasn’t really an option (nearest bus stop is almost an hour’s walk away) unless we went in to the city with Dan early in the morning and spent all day there (we did it on Tuesday and it was an enjoyable but long day). Consequently, this week was a week of enforced rest and convalescence and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

My tired little ones snuggling

My tired little ones snuggling

Knowing that we’d be indoors a lot I prepared last weekend with a trip to the library and got a stack of books, another book bag (this time with an emphasis on counting), some new (to us) puzzles and a pop up play tent. Add to that the drawers stuffed with games and puzzles here, the spying of cats, cows and sheep around the farm and some basic drawing materials and we had plenty to keep us occupied. It was a quiet, gentle week of  books, games, puzzles and yes…more screen time than I’d usually permit. But I figured hey, we’re on holiday (sort of!) and all feeling a bit ill so a bit more TV than usual isn’t going to hurt!

As mentioned, we had a day trip to Exeter where we met my Mum and Dad briefly and sister Julia came with us for a trip to the museum (I love the FREE museum in Exeter, we could spend so much time there!) and shops and then came back to the cottage for a ‘sleepover’. It was lovely to see her and Sophia very much enjoyed having her Aunty around.

We also took advantage of our empty lazy days to do some Christmas craft for the Grandparents…this deserves another post as it was such a lot of fun but I need to wait until after we’ve dished out the goods so I don’t spoil the surprise! We’ll see how long I last before deciding to share!

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Isaac was in his element here with lots of space to crawl, climb and generally explore. Our travel stair gate didn’t fit the stairs and he quickly figured out how to safely get down the stairs FEET FIRST (as Sophia kept shouting at him)!  Despite not being able to turn my back on him for a second (he moves fast!) I found caring for two little ones so much easier in a house and really enjoyed the opportunity to do some knitting and generally relax a bit more than I usually do, especially as they have the most comfy sofas I’ve ever sat on here!

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We’re prolonging our time on dry land by heading down to Dartmouth tomorrow to spend some time with Mum, Dad and Julia for a few days before heading back to Pinafore and Brighton next week for some last minute preparations before Sophia’s 3rd Birthday Party (I can’t believe my baby girl is going to be 3 in 10 days but that’s another post….)

A snapshot

There’s no Internet or 3G in the country! We’re staying on a farm just outside Exeter hence the virtual silence.

Hope you’re all having a good week and staying warm! (Feeding a baby in the sling whilst walking down a country lane is chilly!)

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