Category Archives: General

being a christmas present :)

i have never been a christmas present before :) and actually I wasn’t this time either :( but SB and BB were :) . one of their friends had asked for xmas that they could visit us, so this was arranged for the first day when my niece and nephew had gone home. girls were v excited and inpatiently awaited their arrival. We had a great day with good friends. me and em got to chat and drink tea etc and put the world almost to rights ;) O got to stick things down, play and have lots of attention, and the girls all had fun. Both of them were really happy :) I had wondered if BB would be a bit left out, but she had just as much fun, so all good.

I was aseked to do a treasure hunt, and so wrote lots and lots of clues that sent the girls with O trailing all around house and garden until finally successful. some of them were better clue spotters than others :) . they all did a bit of christmas crafting that was in the conservatory, and then settled down to play smallworld v happily. well, it is a world of slaughter ;) whilst BB ds-ed. We handed on a cornet that had been handed along for them to try as a temporary swap for a bass recorder – much enjoyed :)

Finally after tea they went home. I don’t seem to be able to add photos still, but they are here

i am the voice of christmas present

I am struggling to find time to do justice to Xmas! mum, dad and m and e came up on the thurs before xmas. I had bought loads of crafts for all the children to do, and got the conservatory all ready for this, so when at a loose end they could plonk themselves in there and craft. Mum helped DH sort the house out for xmas, and i went to work. we started to feel all xmassy :). my b-i-l and his dad arrived fri eve and my m-i-l sat am. we were full :) . i don’t know my bil’s dad v well, but he was a perfect xmas guest, he seemed genuinely delighted to be sharing xmas with us. thrilled with presents from us, and more importantly, a great help with the washing and tidying up after meals!

sat was chatting, playing games all settling in and hunkering down, the prep for the next day done, we had made food in advance and frozen wherever possible. house was all glitzy and christmassy and carols blaring :). sherry, mince pies and carrots left out for santa, and reindeer food courtesy of le ciel rouge scattered outside.

christmas day worked well, so much of the prep had already happened, that the meal etc wasn’t such a big stress, and that takes out a lot of the day stress. the kids all were told they couldn’t go downstairs for santa until 8, and had to get us first :) . so they did :) and we piled downstairs. unfortunately i used mums camera for father xmas sacks – small, lovely and not full of tat :) . breakfast of croissant and pain aux chocolate for veggies and gammon for carnivores. the kids v happily got dressed and teeth cleaned and present opening began! think next year might do kids then adults or go back to adults on xmas eve! however everyone really happy with what they got. SB had a netbook, bb a telescope and camera and then some crafts, books and ds games from us, lego and sylvanians and various exciting things from family, and all happy. mum like the lizard i had made, and dad liked his choc brazzles in a bowl marked ‘grandad’s nuts’ !! we also added a family game of forbidden island :)

dad was in charge of nibbles and champagne half way through the present opening :) I had set the oven to be ready for 11 – what a fab think to be able to do :) and then we could enjoy seeing what we had and kids getting out the lego to make etc before lunch, on time at 2 :) the rest of the day was spent watching kids, playing games, doing jigsaws [bil's dad and my inlaws] and was actually v chilled for such a number. I missed viv, and could see mum and dad did too. none of us managed much tea :) boxing day was more of the same. bil and dad went home earlier than anticipated – before lunch – so some moments with e and m, all sorted and sunniness resumed. a day of craft, lego and wii :)

tues onwards had holiday orch, all 3 girls booked in, but bb dithered over going, and in the end stayed with m, and now def wants to go another time. e went, but came out of 2 of the 3 sessions in tears [i was in with her] only enjoying the choir. i think she was wishing bb there, and missing her dad. sb loved it :) strings, samba and gamelan. e didn’t go back the following day.

dad took us out bowling on weds, which was great fun, and i even got a strke! only dad was watching tho! the kids had great time, and bb did better than i thought – thank goodness for rails :) a lovely time out.

christmas was full of fun, laughter and good cheer. i tried not to be grumpy when the few ppl either barely helped, or helped making a meal of how much they did as a favour. really, it isn’t a favour. helping out is a sign of love and respect, my house may be the venue each year, but the care and effort is better shared. but small gripes! lots of game playing, lots of happy kids, and therefore happy adults. moving on step by step but still missing viv and especially at this time little nanny. x x

i am the voice of christmas past

i have been lucky enough, as has DH, to be born into families where family was valued, where those church calendar events have been grabbed to become a celebration of family [as well as christ on DHs side, and somewhat secular on mine]. Childhood christmasses were always spend with one side of the family or the other. with often cousins auns and uncles as well as grandparents. when christmassing with little nanny, there was the advantage of great aunts and uncles too. who could ever forget uncle robert telling aunty peggy he had bought her a new winter coat because she looked like bloody quasimodo in her old one. particularly as the sprout i was eating didn’t manage to completely stay in my mouth.

family christmas feels like little nanny to me. she was the matriarch and the role model. she made xmas work, with care, love and food. the house was warmed with a coal fire downstairs and hot water bottles and multiple ppl sharing the 2 bedrooms upstairs. the pantry smelt of flour, raisins and baking, the kitchen of roasties, and there was copious tea and cake. as a 2 up 2 down council house, we were crammed, adults got seats, kids got the floor, and we played games, giggled, had christmas carols and felt wrapped in the warmth of family. popular games of tell me, chase the ace, rummy and taste testing. indoor fireworks were a hit, though dad and grandad chuntered about them. the presents were smaller, more carefully chosen, and often included the nice’ clothes for next year and reading books.

maybe i only remember the good bits, but i remember warmth, laughter, love. i remember you always x x

Christmas History

We had a great Christmas history day as a break from the usual history etc, and brought loads of fabulous crafts. It was a lovely convivial spirit and felt very Christmassy. We did a bring and share lunch, and had some hot spiced berry drink as well [to simulate mulled wine J ]

Starting with my craft ;) I bought red and green felt which I had cut into star shapes, various coloured embroidery threads, a bag of mixed jazzy buttons, and a bag of sewable bling ;) and some stuffing to make hanging decorations. We put them together however fancied and had a very jolly display. They worked really really well J I had forgotten [obviously] that I had bought something similar in mass numbers from baker ross – doh! I did have one lad tell me that boys don’t sew… so he definitely did, and it wasn’t as completely unenjoyable or difficult as he had thought!

Michelle brought oranges, red ribbons and cloves to make scented Xmas pomanders. These made the conservatory smell absolutely delightful! Lots of very intricate designs were done, and in the end I did one too J. SB spent hours on hers.

Zoe’s first craft of colouring in a matisse stained glass window en masse was done in bits and pieces through the day, and finished off by us and the manor borns in the evening, it looked really lovely.

Katy was dipping pinecones into candlewax to make firestarters. We haven’t used ours yet, but BB was particularly taken with this activity, so we do have rather a lot of them. Due to the number of guests over Christmas, we had our heating on to a hotter setting than usual [too hot for me!] so no fire. We did think afterwards we should have added some copper sulphate to the mix.

Merry brought some fimo J to make plaques with holly leaves and the word ‘joy’ on as a tutorial, and then optional penguins or snowflakes for those who wanted to do more. Many did. BB in particular does enjoy the clear instructions.

Gina brought some cross stitch bookmarks [with ones predone by her DH J ] and also provided Christmas music practice for those with woodwind instruments.

In the afternoon, most did Zoes fabulous wreaths, even better than before J my garden isn’t completely stripped of all greenery…

So a fantastic day. The manor borns stayed for a jacket potato supper – so unusual for them not to have to rush off so that was lovely J. Certainly got us in the christmass mood. Such a shame I still had work to go to!

hmm, my blog def seems to have forgotten how to add photos :(

christmas camp 2011 – castleton

Each year for quite a number of years now we have had a christmas camp with friends in a youth hostel. There is never all of them attend, for various reasons or other, but it is nice that spouses often attend [including me as a non hone educating spouse!] . So, to those of you who planned to be there, or those that never could come but have come previously and are part of the fabric of the thing, you were missed :) . thus ends my disclaimers :) we had a really fab time!

Camp preparation consisted of making lots and lots of cake, and lots and lots of tablet :) as well as some soup and some puff pastry pizza swirls and a quick scurry wrt music for camp. Luckilly some cyberfriends as well as real-friends-in-cyber-land came up with some links and an email that got the ball rolling :) I was most grateful. I love the excitement of camp prepartion, hearing what everyoe is planning, and stressing about being ready, and wondering whether it will snow [it did] etc etc :) .We set out on time, and the giggle that we would have to return home and try again proved clairvoyant, as we had forgotten to drop keys at neighbours for rabbit feeding – doh! but at last we were off and headed for a church in sheffield as our first stop.

journey to bethlehem: As we arrived at the church they diverted us to the side of the carpark due to imminent arrival of sheep :) !! and i was a bit worried not to recognise any cars. a quick phone call and we were united with loads of friends :) and went into the church to start the celebration. they had made lots of paper stars, a cheap but hugely effective decoration and it looked fab. if had time off between now and xmas would consider trying to recreate.

Sb and lots of the other kids did some dancing with the dancing ladies, i had tea and chatted with friends and the minister. all very welcoming, especially since we were so early. They were very interested in the fact we had come so far tho! we got going and it was really lovely, a lot of thought, effort and joy have gone into the making of it, and me and my girls were really appreciative. i liked the break in the middle with the market/crafts as well. poor bb was a bit tired and got flustered with the photo, so was wailing, but i sorted out the problem, and she carried on happily. loads of ppl shouting bb at her made her feel in trouble! back on track she loved the end of the journey, and we swept both off to the youth hostel, greeted there and shown where to park and got stuff into hostel and prepared to have fun :)

food: first night was soup and stuff, so made it to kitchen to start helping out. DH and i took turns to be kitchen elves through the week – he got to do the dumpling tossing this year, including new modifications from bfish! he also made an utterly fabulous roasted veg in filo pastry parcels [with help] . i made the traditional camp curry and helped with chopping and roasting veg for xmas dinner and last meal. so we both saw a fair bit of kitchen. the prob with the kitchen was that it was so cut off from the rest of the world so you didn’t get popping by helpers as previously as it was v easy to not notice ppl were missing for great swathes of time, and also carrying the food across was a bit of an effort. we knew the kitchen was a bit of a problem when booking, so decided to make the best of it, and we soon got used to the difference. still prefer an integrated kitchen tho! i think over the years we have gradually perfected the timings and getting on with the food, so that this year we were mostly on time! cooking for 50 has its challenges when you rarely do it. ringing my mum and getting her rice advice was a good plan tho, and now feel comfortable with cooking rice for loads! As always, the food was good, hearty and plentiful :)

games: i think being in the kitchen i didn’t play quite so many games as planned, but did get in quite a few!! mostly with kids as well as adults it has to be said, pandemic, settlers, carcassonne and alhambra and did like the playing with various groups and chat :) . didn’t get to caylus with the babs, but must fit a games weekend at some point! lots of the kids played the games tho – we are raising the second generation of gamers! A hit for camp [adults] was the camp top trumps as invented by the lovelyem and then giggled over endlessly. Although there was some contentious scoring ;) i don’t think anyone saw it as being anything other than fun.

craft: a fair bit on offer for when kids were exhausted, needed a chill out or fancied it, and the same for adults :) we made a christmas banner, and hopefully can add year on year, did needle felted star decorations for the xmas tree, stained glass window pics and felted dreadlocks for most ppl – channelling our natty-ness :) [i think we were scary in the end!] . it was lovely sitting in various groups chatting to adults and kids as things were being made and displayed. I spent some time with kids i don’t usually – like n and J, talking about dinosaurs and fish and the burgess shale whilst felting ammonites etc.

music and entertainment:
em and i did manage to play our trio together once, but accretions of children collected, so it turned into a runthrough of xmas carols. we did several runthroughs with various kids and adults and a bit of rejigging of arrangements until all were happy and were part of a singalong at the christmas day. it was fab. the kids are all improving on various instruments, and more adults joined in, so it actually sounded good!!! Em brought bells, which always sounds really beautiful, and was again practiced a couple of times, and then the kids played after xmas dinner. unfortunatley em missed it, but they did you proud :) other entertainments were a magic show [2ce!] with BB, C and B which was best the first night, and they did have to put up with a great deal of heckling. courage under fire and all that! the weds had a cabaret with sb dancing [v nicely] magicking and playing a piano duet with me [which i bodged as the keyboard threw me a bit - tho lovely keyboard :) ] Jan and I also duetted, and the keyboard gave us a really surprise by having a life of its own midway thro!! lots of good solos/jokes etc by other kids and v enjoyable [whereas sometimes it can be a bit...] . was glad to know what the real words were for one of the songs… Also on offer was xmas line dancing :) . Music degenerated into karoake carols including the rhythm generator on the keyboard and conga around the hostel. whereas the earlier carols had passers by stop and look in the window as generally beautiful, i think this had the hostel staff in fits of giggles behind their desks!

kids: they had a ball, sb had a varying group she played with, and it was all v flexible based on what ppl fancied doing rather than who they fancied doing it wth. BB was playing ninja/kung fu/spies etc with J and X and they were inseparable for most of the week :) . they really had a fab time and thought it was wonderful. what was also v nice was there didn’t seem to be any ggrumps or grouches that needed a parental intervention to get things back on track :) so a v happy camp for parents too.

secret santas: the christmas day and secret santa at camp is always magical :) there is a made/second hand or cash price limit, and we do try and stick within it and do home made :) we all loved preparing our secret santas to give out, and hope all were appreciated – galokas usually are ;) and I know bb’s was too. the girls had spent ages trying to get theirs perfect. We all loved ours. SB was delighted with her bag of goodies including an apron as she loves baking, bb adored her dinosaurs – fimo and knitted, i loved eating all my chocolates without help ;) and will enjoy the chutney and DH has made an inroad into his custard creams :) . thankyou everyone :) :)

educational stuff and outings: the first outing was a short multicache around town led by MDJ mwah ha ha in best voice!! having realised that took us straight up a cliff into the snow, so we did an ‘alterntae walk’ which turned out to be walking up a stream/waterfall with not all kids in perfect clothes for the task! however, it was a beautiful walk, and most kids raced up and down the rocks. bb raced once too often, and after comforting we found we had been abandoned! we pushed forwards, but she was disheartened, so only a couple of hundred meters sort of the goal we turned back. ah well!! The second outing was to eyam plague village. sb and some friends took turns reading out the info boards [good way to know they read them ;)] whilst bb was trapped in the stocks. A short walk round as a v v cold day, and the museum was shut. A peer in the church and look at the story in stained glass, and the mediaeval paintings in the upper church before looking at graves and the saxon cross outside listening to jan educating us. the final bit was the fossil activity put on by the youth hostel themselves. this was rather fun, we went and saw all the fossils in the walls, learnt abit about the geology of the area but rather more dreadful jokes! then the kids made fossil imprints and one with plaster of paris. a nice easy way to spend the day :)

it was a really lovely camp. a few initial stressy moments about sleeping arangements etc were all sorted out with the minimum of fuss using good old fashioned direct communication techniques ;) and from then on there was lots of laughter and jollity. quite my most favourite ppl to go away with :) . * . lots of drinking [diet coke for me], cake eating, chatting, merriment, late night [ and all day] laughter. some of ‘the men’ even did a pub run! thankyou everyone. somethings we never got round to – we never did spray glitter in snoring mens’ beards :)

I may come back and add highlights etc and photos

other views here, here here here here here

so a catch up on last week

which is going to be really quick! partly cos besides the weds i wasn’t there much, DH would be better blogging!!
monday SB had her grade 4 ballet exam and thinks it mostly went ok, but her partner went wrong in the character dance and she got all fulstered. She has certainly worked hard at getting some arm poise and timing with music – 2 things that don’t come naturally – so we shall see :) SB also did the primary maths challenge. The results are back and she comfortably got a silver. She might have got a gold had she done a bit more reading the question :) but she and I were pleased as got a bronze last year. Also, what I liked about it was the stretching and discussion about maths which she may not have done yet, or not in that form. I was also impressed at how she aimed to answer the last 5 – one she got right, and 2 she was clearly on the right track. Last year she couldnt do those at all :) . She did some of her ticksheet things on monday, and bb did some reading, explode the code and new spelling book – which she likes :) and base 10 practice – which she isn’t so sure about!!

Tuesday I think was devoted to angry birds and pigs making by the entire family [well those not at work!] When I came back from work they all looked stunning. DH put lots and lots of time and effort into this birthday cake. Luckilly it was all worth it, as BB was so excited and happy :) Although suggested he could make money from this, i think not, if labour was charged the price was prob equiv to wrapping in gold leaf!!

thurs i imagine was a slow get up and goodbye to all the overnight party guests!! i only made it home near midnight so no idea, but think it was prob a chill day :)

friday was arts award. Some fab work done again. I do think arts award is fantastic opportunity. They did metal etching and then stamping. BB did have help with hers from DH – she has help most weeks as aimed for older kids, but she is definitely better at not stropping and wailing if it doesn’t turn out exactly as planned, and tho heavily helped, i think it gives her confidence. SB loves it, and is also getting more and more adventurous and skilled.

they came back in time for SB’s friend from guides to have a sleepover. All went really well, some wii-ing, playing e5c etc and far too lare sleeping – again! A bad week for sleep, noticeable at the weekend.

christmas and birthday rolled into one :)

weds was an early start and off to a CHEF event – victorian christmas. we managed to be organised enough to get up and out and early!! we were v impressed, especially as we then got a proper place to park. Nice to see other home eds, as DH usually does the CHEF group things, i often don’t get to see people v often. Loved the community venue – apprently the k’nex session was there too.

We went in, most mums chatted outside or left, but BB keen to have me stay, and i am quite happy to do so as it is my non-work day. we started by making calling cards, as all victorians would have needed them to be announced at parties. A good idea first craft as simple and allowed those early to be gainfully busy and yet allow latercomers to join in easily.

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We then did some party games, hide and then seek an object, blind mans buff, don’t smile, then we sang a round and finally some dancing, which all went v well. BB clung to SB and was happy. then some crafts at the end. they had planned to be age specific, with similar age children at tables, as actually HE kids often spend time multiage, so some similar age options can be good . However this didn’t happen in the end. Both girls were v happy tho, making a decoupage snowman card, a silhouette cameo card and a horn of plenty. I did lots and lots of helping and enabling! we prob could have done with one or 2 more parents. The girls really enjoyed it, i think our historyetc days spoil me, as we parents put on a jolly good show of organised crafts :)

we then hightailed it back to the car and drove for 45 mins to arrive nice and early for BB’s and J’s joint party at a huge soft play place. It is a shame that the pulic sector strike was on, as it was pretty full, and i had thought it would be half empty! loads of dear friends from around the country turned up to help celebrate and BB was absolutely ecstatic :) thankyou all. She has loved all the presents she received, but as i didn’t see her open them, we may just have to write thankyou on birthday thankyous! the children all charged off and had loads of fun together, and we adults hugged the wandering wonderers and everyone that arrived, as lovely to meet irl. DH spent most of the time really carefully putting the cake together!
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The party tea was excessively noisy due to multiple hooters in the room and v v excited children. Excitement reached feverpitch when BB started interacting with her cake – shooting sugar angry birds at it :) :) Everyone seemed happy and well fed :) lots went to Merry’s for a bit, some followed DH home – a fact he was unaware of and lost some :) and I went off to gym for SB’s gym display. BB thought she had had a really really fab birthday and was soooo happy that it was just lovely.

Gym display was not so much, as although we were half an hour early – do you see the theme of the day? – all the seats on balcony run out and standing room at back only. Although loads of seats on the gym floor, these were apparently for disabled only. just before it was about to start, someone decided upper balcony too full, so a horde of late ppl got to sit in best seats!! [moan, gripe!] however, i did get to see SB doing her part of the display, so could tell her how happy, pleased and proud I was to cheer her on. And also Louis showing off his pre-olympics moves :)

finally we returned home, SB joining all her friends, and me joining mine, and we had a convivial eveing until way too late, which didn’t really help with the utter nightmare day at work that followed, but that i wouldn’t have changed :) Thankyou all for such a lovely day :) we have great friends


Just a quick post to say this is the advent calendar we have for the girls this year [obv 1 each :) ].

i really like the idea of an interactive, non chocolatey, and relative [relatively ;)] cheap alternative. My parents ahve bought the obligatory chocolate, but both girls disappointed that the moulds not changed! I should have posted this before, but those advently challenged, amazon delivers quickly, or give it a thought next year!

getting confused!

I am def working too much. I am losing sense of where i am in the week! Mostly because I just blogged a saturday without the sunday!

So… SUnday! :)
We met up with the manorborns at an rspb place at fen drayton where there are good swallow murmurations. unfortunately, the day before we went, the rspb posted most had migrated – argh!! anyway, we thought we would stick with the plan, and have a nice tramp around and perhaps pick up a geocache or too. it was a chilly day but sunny, and we met up in the carpark, ate lunch, and after a bit of wiffling, set off. the wrong way. after a couple of geocache clues, we realised we hadn’t headed in the right direction so retraced steps. we got back to carpark and set off the otherway up the track, after debating whether we should take a footpath heading west or the track north as the clues not so clear. we went north, but when we saw a footpath pointing to the river, we thought that was prob it. it wasn’t as it ended in scrub, nettles and a barb wire fence :(
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so we went towards the other foorpath, and i went down a rabbit hole!! [in truth, it was v sandy, and i collapsed a rabbit chamber :) ] so we waded through stingers to the wrong path, went the wrong way again and ended on the busway 100m from where we had prev arrived when went wrong. much hilarity ensued :lol:

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so we gave up on the multicache, and instead went for a walk around to find a single chace, which we did [tho were told off by c for being noisy, as it is a bird place and we were frightening them off :lol: :lol: pots and kettles! ] and went to a hide, chased out the real bird watchers and then had a good view.

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we found a microcache on the way back – some panic when sb dropped it into the brush as it was getting dark. amazingly we found it, thanks to a torch app on DH phone!! we didn’t make it back for the murmuration either – there were only 500 starlings, i must have nearly that number in the garden ;) but did get a great view of rooks flying over one of the lakes in twilight.

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back home for chatting, yummy dinners and kids having fun playing on wii, games and general ‘hanging out’ a lovely day :)

we have got to the weekend again!

and again, it has whizzed past me at work. I blogged weds separately. A much less successful normals week, as a lot of shopping, out and abouting going on – nothing dramatically exciting tho! SB sat the primary maths challenge, so we will see how well she has done. BB has mostly been doing birthday lego :) but she has really enjoyed her lets draw ds game. They have, thanks to shopping, got some new wellies in the 40% off at millets, and various fleeces. I have bought a few things for xmas through amazon – v handy store that is! just have mum partial, dad partial – i need m and s for and sb’s main thing that dh is sorting, and the present aspect done.

Today, after some nit removal, we went to M-I-L for BB to have a birthday tea there. SHe loved the roasties for lunch – as did we all – and is desperate to get started with her crafty presents! I think I have mentioned i love djeco crafts before. I bought numerous of their sand crafts before – this – being a fav , and for bb, mil bought this one which she is v keen to get her hands on. Particularly as SB has been finishing her birds sand art that she got for her birthday.

This summer I bought my niece an adaption of the sandart kits – glitter art! and BB was a bit jealous, so luckily she got a set for her birthday. Merry is a friend of mine, so I always buy from playmerrily or craftmerrily, but the things she sells are so fab, that they don’t really need me to advertise them :)

After lunch and pressie opening, BB fell asleep!! and SB , nanna, DH and I played cluedo. A great afternoon with family before coming home – bb on the wii and sb catching up with some home ed [i am happy for flexibility with what we do, but she had kinda taken it too far!] Actually, talking about the wii, we have all played a lot of supermariobrothers on it, and mostly had fun!!