Friday, 30 December 2016

Visit to a smallholding and making butter

Another good day relaxing here. This morning we had been invited to bring the children to a local friend's smallholding to meet her alpacas, sheep, peahens/cocks, geese, chickens and ducks. The kids loved it and I came away with a new cock to go in with the girls. My feet were mighty cold by the time we got home though and it took a good while to warm up.

This afternoon I got to play with one of my Christmas presents and churned some butter. It was really quick, I just won't tell James that to buy the cream makes it twice the price ;-) 
It does also produce buttermilk which I'm hoping to make into scones tomorrow.

I also oiled the new doors that were hung in the upstairs extension, they'll need a second coat but at least now they're somewhat protected from sticky little fingers and I feel I've got something productive done.

Yesterday as I was doing some jobs I could hear some very sweet singing and I called James upstairs to see baby girl singing her heart out on the windowsill in her new room (that we're currently borrowing). She was at it for ages but I caught 30 seconds and I thought it was so cute.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Merry Christmas to you all.

Last weekend we had the honour of collecting the little man's award for swimming, he has come a long way and is less fearful of getting in the pool now. 

We also had a big first, the kids had a sleepover at my mum's whilst James and I went out with my best friend and her husband. We hadn't got together in ages as he was studying for his detectives exam and we were so pleased that he passed, so we all went out for a curry. He suffers endless ribbing and we call him our 'pig in the pocket', but he takes it in good humour and we're really very proud of the effort he has put in and he makes a great policeman because he really does care about the people he looks out for.

Baby girl had her cot made into a bed too, I can't believe how quickly she's growing.

Friday night couldn't come soon enough for us to finish work and together James and I cooked and cleaned in preparation for the big day.

Christmas eve day we saw my best friend, her husband and their kids for lunch, it was so lovely to spend time with them. 

Here's a photo of our traditional carpet picnic on Christmas eve, we invited James' sister and watched Elf and A Christmas Carol. You can see Santa's glass of milk and a mince pie in the background. He must have been grateful for the refreshment because it has to have been hard work bringing all the presents and stockings to the kids.

Little man was up at 4.30am on Christmas morning and had to be put back to bed until a decent hour. The kids both brought their stocking's into bed to open with us and then moved to the main event downstairs. After the presents were opened and James' parents had visited for an hour we went to my mum's for lunch and ate more than was comfortable!

On boxing day my mum and sister and her fiance came to us for lunch which we had in the downstairs extension. Obviously it was not beautiful in there but we lit the table with candles and it was great to have our big table out. 

Today we visited a nearby friend so James could help her husband cut down some trees and she made us lunch.

Tomorrow is back to work for me for a day then we can spend a few quiet days together as a family.

Here are a few picture's of the kids enjoying Christmas. Little man got some geodes for a present and was so excited to split them open for the crystals. Baby girl got a ladybird dress and looks incredibly cute.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Tree's up and preparations are in full swing.

At the beginning of the week we got the tree out of the garage, planning to get it up for the kids to decorate the following day. James started the unpacking whilst I fed the fire and we started to get a whiff. Not of the lovely cinnamon decorations we hang, but of urine and death.
The further in we got the worse the smell, until James had to take it outside. Entombed in their own Christmas tomb were a family of mice. The smell has permeated the plastic and we have left it in the greenhouse to air for next year. Plan B came into effect; next day delivery. As it turns out trees before Christmas are expensive so I borrowed my mum's as her mental dog means she can't have the big tree out.

So after a short delay the tree was out up on Wednesday evening and decorated Thursday evening. The excitement was palpable and the bottom half of the tree was once again crammed with decs. This year the kids have their own mini tree for their room and it was done in the least tasteful style, you literally couldn't fit another decoration on it! Although between then and now the tree and been much loved and many decorations have fallen from it's overcrowded branches.

Wee man had his school play this week, he was a sheep in 'The Innkeepers Breakfast' and as it started at 6, he proceeded to yawn throughout the entire performance, but was so cute I had a tear in my eye the whole time.

This weekend I worked Saturday and the kids went to James' work Christmas party. It's a bit of an old fashioned thing for a company to still hold a Children's party but is always well done with lunch, entertainment and a toy, so they loved it.

Today James opened the door between the house and the extension downstairs so we could get in there as we're planning to put the table in there for Christmas dinner. Unfortunately when we went to get it from the shed the wooden top had warped markedly, so much so it won't lay in the top of the legs. We're hoping a few weeks in the extension will mean it dries and shrinks down enough to use on Christmas day. 

I practiced making the Christmas tree cake for the big day and the kids helped decorate it today with ganache, silver balls and some icing sugar for snow. I was going for understated elegance, the kids were going for overstated exuberance, there was icing and baubles a plenty.

I also finally got the last of the garlic in the veg bed, but we had to build it first and although we tried to keep the good soil in roughly the same area it's definitely very compacted and not as good quality. It'll need lots of compost this year to get it back up to scratch.

And finally one more from last weekend, all four of us in a photo for a change (not that we're all smiling!).

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Our weekend trip to Cardiff

This weekend we spent a few lovely days in Cardiff visiting a uni friend of mine that's recently had a baby. He was just the cutest little thing and looked so dapper all dressed in a shirt, trousers and braces! 

On Sunday we visited St Fagans national history museum. It's one of Europe's largest open air museums and has relocated old buildings from all over Wales to a 100 acre sight on the outskirts of Cardiff. 

It was a bitter day but we trooped around all the buildings. James and I used to visit here when I was in university and this is our first time back in over 10 years. I could go on for hours about the amazing buildings but I'll just show you a few photos and say if you're near Cardiff you must go!

On the way the car developed a fault and has gone into limp home mode. The garage can't get me a courtesy car for another 10 days so I'm stuck driving the worlds slowest car for a bit. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Busy, busy, busy

I have been super busy the past few weeks. My appointments at work have really started to fill up so I feel like I get in and rush all day until home time! On top of that I have started doing my permanent Wednesday's too so that's four days a week at work.

As part of the training scheme I'm on at work, I've had to apply for a postgraduate course at Birmingham University and that has taken me countless hours to put together. I even had to write a personal statement, I haven't done that since I was 17! It seemed harder this time around, the honest reasons for applying for a course such as 'it's necessary for me to keep my job and I really need that to pay the mortgage and feed the kids' don't seem as glamorous as 'I want to save the world and everyone in it', which I probably intended as a teen! Still, I really have always wanted this training and to have it paid for is amazing.
The application required so much work; finding references, getting out old uni documents and worst of all waiting for colleagues to fill in parts of the form. All that, added to the fact that our area was very late applying as the course that was intended for us isn't running has added to the stress.

Last week I also went for a chat about doing some locum work in another local GP practice. I don't have the hours in the day, but then I also don't have the money to make the house habitable. They were very flexible and said I could do Fridays around school pickup and Saturday mornings. I'm hoping to  alternate so I can still have a day off with baby girl occasionally. Before I've even started I feel the guilt of being a full time working mother, it's not something I ever wanted to do.

I've spent the last few evenings trying to catch up on form filling, emails, reading documentation for work and today having done a lot of it I am feeling more positive and less stressed. I may even get to read some blogs tonight.

The house hasn't come on much, I have run out of time and James is running out of materials. He is ploughing on with plaster boarding and fitted another internal door frame this week.

Last Friday I went out with my girlfriends and we made Christmas pudding ready for the big day. On Saturday I steamed it on the woodburner, it was on anyway so it saved the hob being on.

Sorry no pictures this week but things should settle down into some semblance of a routine soon!!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Let there be light!!

No I have not found God, James has wired the upstairs lights in and we no longer need a torch to use the bathroom!!

Yesterday James cut the skirting and architrave for baby girl's room and this morning caulked the gaps ready for me to paint. He wired the plug sockets in there too, so once it's connected to the fuse board we're in business. I did the final coat of white paint on baby girl's room and the window sill.

Friday night I took the wee man to ASDA to pick some bits for his operation Christmas child box. It was so sweet to see him pick things for another little boy, we got a bath toy, some toy cars, a little lego set, a calcliator (calculator to you and me), soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, pens, pad and pencils and a wooly hat. It really made me think about kids who have nothing and it does our children good to appreciate how lucky they are.

On Saturday night we visited the local schools fireworks for bonfire night and they even had a traditional Guy for the bonfire, I haven't seen that in years, there's nothing like burning an effigy! It was two hours from the gates opening to the fireworks lit though and the kids were up past bedtime and starting to get cranky and tearful, next year I think we'll arrive a bit later.

My sister and her fiancé came to stay Saturday night so we saw the fireworks as a family, had a few drinks and a chat and James and I were up a good three hours before they appeared this morning, the joys of being child free!

Today we had a change of pace and watched a film this afternoon together and I had a nap throughout and it was delightful.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

First new room plastered

This weekend just gone James and his friend started plastering baby girl's room, all very exciting. We went on Saturday evening to a halloween pumpkin walk and so they had to leave off around mid-afternoon. Sunday morning and James got back to it to, finishing the last walls. Unfortunately the little man was sick all night Saturday night and Sunday morning so I spent the day on the sofa with him cuddled up under the blanket and watching Disney films. If I'm honest it was nice to have a long cuddle when he wasn't in a rush to get to the next game. 

The pumpkin walk was so much fun, the kids enjoyed it no end, as did we. Our friends and their children came so it was even better. I hadn't had a party for the little man and he was asking when it was his turn, so I asked my friends to play along and say it was his party. I brought cakes and doughnuts and one friend's mum even brought him a balloon, which made his day. The kids squealed round the walk, they got to roast marshmallows, listen to stories and got a lolly at the end. 

Monday was my birthday and James and I started Christmas shopping in Birmingham, it's much nicer when you go mid-week before the rush starts. I got a fab book from James about the origin of phrases, which is my favourite, I've read hundreds of them and he managed to find me a book with a collection of them. For example the phrase 'pull your finger out' has a naval origin. The firing hole of a cannon would be filled with gunpowder and a wooden bung put in to keep it in place. In the heat of battle a finger was used to do the same job and an artilleryman would yell 'pull your finger out' to enable the gun to fire, lots of people lost fingers this way. So I have a whole book of these to enjoy!

On Wednesday I didn't have any locum work so the baby girl and I started painting what's to be her room. She borrowed one of her dads working tops and splattered the walls and her mum with paint. We were finishing the pot so the room isn't finished, but at least it's started.