planting

  

Spring doesn’t seem so far way when you’re planting springtime bulbs. Who am I trying to kid? 

We spent this weekend digging out unwanted messy bushes and weeds from the front of our house ready to plant pretty flowers. Tulips, Aliums and a couple of other flowers that will look pretty and colourful next year…all being well. 

We made two trips to the garden centre last week, firstly to buy some seeds for quick growing flowers (they don’t exist this time of year, so we settled for cress seeds). I was lured by the bulbs and so went back later in the week when my dad was visiting. After making my selections (‘Stop now and go to the till!’ Dad cries….but so many pretty flowers!!) we ate cake and sat in the sunshine while the boys played outside.

So bulbs to plant gave me the incentive to start digging (OK, I weeded. Matt dug). 

I was very patient and restrained, allowing all the kids to help plant the bulbs, fighting every urge to lock all other members of the family indoors while I carefully planted exactly where I wanted. There was a little method to the chaos, hence the lolly sticks, but I decided random would look ok too. I hope they survive the winter and any passing animals who might want to dig them up (or children!). 

 

There’s something very satisfying about planting bulbs for next year. Ooh, is this what planning feels like?

turning

 

We’ve turned a corner since the new year. Perhaps it’s partly my perception; a new year has begun and things must be different, right? Spring is on it’s way or something. But I’ve really noticed change. Good change. The kids and I are more than adjusting to being at home so much and not having the rhythm of school five days a week. I rarely need to help them find ‘something to do’. They’re better at it. And there’s lots of good play and that happens easily. There are many sibling fights; I doubt that will disappear, but they are short lived and the eldest three are playing a lot more altogether. Joseph is growing up and becoming more of a playmate for the elder two, so he’s not left out so much. We are finding rhythms to our day that work well, such as reading together, house jobs and even quiet rest times, and the kids are more a part of jobs around the home and preparing meals. 

I am making much more fuss over our evening meal and really enjoying it. One of the kids will help me cook or chop salad while another sets and decorates the table. They enjoy picking out a jug of flowers or craft they’ve made and a candle, which we always light to remind us that “Jesus is the Light of the world”. 

I’m trying to have most of the tidying up done before Matt gets home…over Christmas, we moved a lot of the toys into bedrooms so it makes this easier! It’s a calmer, nicer space for Matt to come home to and then, after dinner we can relax a bit more and let the meal linger (for Matt and I anyway, the kids see little point in sitting around the table once their food is finished!). I often go out for a quick ‘blast’…walk/run as soon as Matt’s home and then quickly shower and change into comfy clothes or PJs for dinner. I enjoy it so much more after a bit of exercise and a shower, knowing there are no more jobs to be done. It’s time to relax.

We’ve freshened up the family menu a bit, just to bring a bit of change, but are still working on a three week meal planner. I find it wonderfully helpful to have it planned out. There’s nothing very ‘domestic goddess’ on there, just family favourites that are quick and easy to cook…spaghetti meatballs, casseroles, fish cakes, curry and rice. 

I enjoy making the simple meals more special just by using pretty dishes, making tasty side salads and using our favourite cups and napkins. And a glass of wine is a welcome symbol that our evening has begun. 

I’ve enjoyed thinking this through a bit more. I want our evening meal together to be special and a place of connection….it’s a work in progress but it’s now one of my favourite times of day. It used to be like feeding time at the Zoo..chaotic, loud and frustrating because it wasn’t the atmosphere I wanted. Remembering that it’s me who sets the tone and models this mealtime to them…inviting them to join in making it special..is all helping to change it for the better.

 

baby led weaning

Well the time has come for our baby Rafael to move on from his milk-only diet. He turned 6 months old this week and, although I started weaning much earlier with our elder two children, with Joseph I left it later and tried baby led weaning…and was converted! There’s a great website here for more information on baby led weaning….it’s really all about letting the baby feed himself, rather than putting food into his mouth. They learn to chew before swallowing, not the other way round. And you can give them (mostly) whatever you’re eating as a family so it’s an easier, more sociable way for them to start enjoying food. 

I think it creates happier eaters because they are in control. It’s great for their use of motor skills but is very messy! Joseph has generally been a much more adventurous eater than the older two…though now, age 3, he’s having a break from that to do the usual independent trying-to-survive-on-biscuits-when-I-can-find-them. Grrrr to young children who won’t eat their meals then whine about being hungry!

I have to confess to being a little sad that this stage has come for Rafi. It signifies him growing up a bit and, although babies are adorable and in some ways much more enjoyable in the next six months, I grieve the passing of the early months….and, well (can I say this out loud?) I don’t want his poo to stop being milky poo! Milky poo is so lovely isn’t it (only to the mother of course, any other baby can keep his milky poo to himself)? And food poo is everything but lovely. 

Here’s how we got on..slowly…this week. We started simply with some banana and pear pieces…very slippy though!

 

That got a bit boring so we dived in head first with a chicken and roasted pepper wrap…what the rest of us were having. This was much easier for him to hold. Wraps are great as you can stuff all sorts into them..

 He tried a lemon and raisin pancake at one point too. I mashed some banana into it to help him eat the banana without it slipping out of his fingers. 

I need to read up for some recipe inspiration. Any ideas welcome…:-)

 

big night in

I stayed up a bit late on Thursday night…with a very tired husband sleeping soundly and an unusual amount of energy and motivation myself, I spent a lovely couple of hours reorganising our craft area. It was an easy job to start tackling, after my Angel had been, leaving a clean, clear table and one big pile of left-over pictures to sort out. I started by just sorting out this pile into ‘file away’, ‘to be finished’ and ‘recycling’ (bin!). But, as can so easily happen when one is left alone with music… 

one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was soaking jars in the sink….

And peeling off the labels, which I find come into two categories of very-easy and very-frustratingly-difficult. I seemed to have a plethora of the latter….well, what do you expect if you buy jars of 28p jam? 

Anyway, most of them look lovely now..

 

Oooo, I wish I’d taken that photo differently with those big ugly scissors and Pritsticks at the other end of the line! 

Forgive me.

I’m afraid I’ve been feeding the Amazon Giant a lot lately and they have chopped down several trees just to make cardboard boxes for my deliveries. I LOVE deliveries! Very large card (what for, I hope you will soon find out), lots of paper and good quality pencil sharpeners and scissors (after watching a YouTube clip of an American homeschooling mum making something I’m trying to learn about….I need some of those scissors! You can enjoy your manicured nails, though, that’s not happening here.) 

Where stationary is concerned, we have learned to value quality. It makes such a difference, for kids included, to use quality goods that actually work. So far, I would heartily recommend Staedtler. Their pencil crayons are fab (pictured above), creating excellent colour with leads that don’t easily break and pencils that don’t roll off the table (can you hear that sound?)! Following high recommendations on Amazon, there’s no looking back.

After reorganising, I spent a little time prepping for a craft activity on Friday, inspired by another blog (am I supposed to link it here? Not sure of the blog etiquette….anyway, not passing it off as my own idea!)

When they were painted, a couple of them fell apart too easily, but hopefully I will have some finished products to show you soon…

I enjoyed myself enormously….and there wasn’t even a glass of wine involved!

 

my Angel

I have a confession….I have a cleaner.
In the early weeks of our new house, knowing I would struggle to keep it clean with all the kids at home every day, I asked a friend to recommend a cleaner. She recommended a lady she knew to be a great one and very reasonably priced. For the purposes of this blog, I will call her Angel. After some discussion about hours and requirements, Angel started cleaning for us 3 weeks ago. She is a God-send, worth every penny.

In our first conversation, she actually said she is passionate about cleaning. I couldn’t believe my ears…this is the woman for me, I thought…I pursued her like a stalker until she agreed to come! She uses phrases like ‘get right in the corners’, ‘deep clean’ and ‘get carried away’. Go for it love, come on in, welcome, enjoy yourself, clean your heart out. And she does, for 4 hours. I think I love her.

I find it hard to describe just how messy our house gets at the moment, but I’m sure you can imagine some of it….paper, pencil shavings, paintbrushes dress the table, paper and card cut-offs on the floor, mating with the peas and spaghetti from the last meal. Theres always a few Shreddies left over from breakfast to find as I crunch crunch crunch my way round the house, books and Lego bricks scattered everywhere, cardboard box dens, clothes abandoned all over the house in favour of a new dressing up outfit, clothes waiting to be washed, clothes drying, wellies and crocs left in the middle of every room, coats dropped wherever they were taken off…not to mention the relentless pursuit of mixing ingredients from 3 year old, baby muslin cloths thrown around every corner in the hope of them being there at the appropriate moment (which of course they never are), baby sick puddles splattered wherever I’ve walked, used nappies waiting to go in the dustbin (I know, I’m embarrassed).

So Angel comes every week and works her magic (oh yeah baby!) and it’s the most wonderful gift to walk into. Floors swept and clear, clean sinks, bathrooms, surfaces. Things folded. It’s a different and more peaceful house to the one we left behind earlier in the day. I cant quite stop myself snapping to the kids to take off their shoes on the mat! I creep around as if browsing an antique shop….the kids make themselves at home.

As the week continues, of course we gradually lose that order and cleanness, but thank goodness we have it at some point. As I hear Matt upstairs reading and settling the kids into bed, I think I will just do a little dance around my tidy floor, thanking God for this amazing woman who takes so much joy (and a bit of cash ;-))in cleaning our home.