Monday, 19 January 2009

Weekend Walks

There was a rare occurance around here on Saturday. Egg accompanied Auntie Keggy to a party, leaving Grace to get a day spent on her own with Mummy and Daddy. I can't remember the last time the three of us spend time together just us, so it was really nice to get out and do something.

We offered Grace a couple of options on what we could do but she finally settled on going for a walk and then something to eat at Taybarns (which is her (and my) new fave place). We dropped Egg round at the ILs and as we were up there anyway we decided to take a walk up around Sutton Manor Woodland. This is another one of the areas near us that used to be a colliery - in fact, coal was mined from here up until the early Nineties. This spot has also been chosen as part of the Channel Four Big Art Project to be home for a large sculpture by the artist Jaume Plensa . The piece has been chosen by a group of ex-miners from the colliery and entitled The Dream. The scuplture is a 20m high white concrete cast girls head and will be seen from the nearby M62 motorway.

The cost of this project is an estimated £1.3m. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that amount of money being spent on something like this given the current economic climate, and the fact that many, many people in this town are facing redundancy and unemployment at the moment. Hmmmmmm.

That said, the woodland park is a nice place to visit - with or without the big ol' concrete head and we all had a nice leg-stretch and got some much needed fresh air. It was even almost light enough to get some decent photos. So here's a couple of them:

Heading up the hill to the site of the sculpture:

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

This will be a very different view come spring:

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

What goes up (hill) must come down (quickly!):

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

Minding the mud:

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

Although not well enough, clearly!:

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

I'll help you up:

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

If you'll help me down:

Sutton Country Park 17/01/09

Time will tell what the final verdict on the sculpture is. It's supposed to be up and open by spring and there will be a Channel 4 show to accompany it. We will wait and see.


Random Musings On The Nature Of Mummy Brain.

Anyone who has ever had a child will tell you all about the Nappy Brain or Mummy Brain. I’ve often joked that I delivered amniotic fluid, baby, placenta and brain, in that order, when I was having Ewan. This thing is. Ewan is 28 months old, and I still have it. Some days I have a thought about something vitally important that I need to do – and then literally two seconds later I can’t remember for the life of me what it was that was so critical to my existence just seconds earlier.

My theory was that when you first have a baby your brain pushes all none-baby-essential information to one side so full brain capacity can be given over to making sure the small person in your charge is getting your full attention. That flies for the first year, but once they start getting a little older and more independent then you don’t really need to be thinking about their every need 24/7 (at least, I don’t think you do). So – why would the nappy brain continue afterwards? Well, I have another theory on that too.

I figure, once you get past a certain age, when you’ve pretty much stopped making all those lovely new brain connections that you did when you were developing and learning growing up, your brain can only possibly hold a finite amount of information at any one time. Now, I’m not saying we can’t learn new things, clearly we can, but it’s definitely a slower process than it was when we were younger, and you need to concentrate and focus more on one thing to absorb it. Anyhoo, once we get to that point were our kids don’t necessarily demand our full brain power to keep them fed and watered 24/7 they’re still making us use our overworked noggins in other ways.

For example:

~The requirement to know the names and occupations of every inhabitant of Higglytown, or Sheetrock Hills, or Greendale.

~Having to know the lyrics to all the sings from High School Musical.

“We’re all in this together, once we know that we are……….”

(now I know any of you reading this who have a daughter between the ages of about 5 and 12 have finished off singing that line! Admit it!).

~Having the ability to sing a hundred different nursery rhymes, and remember the actions (and probably which children’s TV character usually sings it!)

~Remembering which child is scheduled to do what activity, when, where and with whom.

Once we have to make room for all this new stuff that we need to know to keep our children happy and coupled with the fact that we also need to think about feeding everyone, making sure people have clean stuff to wear, cleaning the loo, getting to work, balancing the money, and if we’re lucky finding some time amidst all of this to do things that we like to do, is it any wonder we can’t remember where we put the car keys, or what size knitting needles we already own when we go shopping (so we end up with 5 pairs of the same size), or what exactly was that really, really important thing we were going to do two seconds ago? Finite room in the brain I tell you. Finite.

So. That’s my excuse as to why, in the past month I have:

1) Forgotten that I was suppose to collect Grace from school at 2.15pm on the last day of term (thank goodness my parents are only 5 minutes away from school!)
2) Thought that school term started for Grace on Monday 5th January (and gotten her dress and all the way to school) when it actually began on Wednesday 7th
3) Ditto with Ewan but I didn’t actually make it as far as school on the 11th before I checked and found out he’d only start back on 18th
4) Misplaced a pile of papers in work which I need for course evaluation. I have filed them…..somewhere safe….so safe they’ll never be seen again
5) Forgotten my best friend’s birthday, which is today, which I only realised this morning. Arrghhhhh!

This is just a selection of stuff. There’s a whole host of other little Mummy brain misdemeanours that have occurred too. There’s no hope for me I don’t think. I’m destined to have a head filled with useless information that, whilst vital to a 2 or 5 year old will not help me function as a useful adult.



Thursday, 15 January 2009

Fending Off The January Blues.

I'm generally a fan of winter. I love dark nights and being all snuggly and warm at home while it's blowing a gale outside. By the middle of January however, like the rest of the UK I think, I'm starting to flag a bit. There's only so many days without a hint of sunshine you can take before it starts to make you feel a little bit blue (or maybe grey would be a more accruate description). Definitely a touch of SAD I think.

There are a couple of things that manage to pick up my mood a little though.

Like hearing this song on the radio:

Gotta love The Jam.

Being able to get this from the shop round the corner from work:

(photo borrowed from here)

Perfect with a raspberry, lemon and white chocolate chip muffin.

Managing to complete my first 12x12 scrapbook layout in I don't know how long:


Not the best photograph of this page - which comes back to the whole problem of not enough light around at the moment. I love this photo of Grace. I don't recall why I had it printed at 9x6 - I'd probably meant to scrap it at some point, and now I have. Lovely spring colours to perk me up a bit.

There is hope I think.

Hope that perhaps Spring is on its way?

Sooner rather than later I hope!


Monday, 12 January 2009

Birthday Party Madness

One church hall + One Children’s entertainer + One big pile of party food + 27 children = total chaos and extraordinarily good fun.

Saturday was Gracie’s birthday party. What were we thinking??? It was absolute unorganised madness from my end (I was still putting sandwiches on plates at 12.45 when the kids were still at home not even dressed!). It all worked out fine in the end though. We’d hired an entertainer for the party who was completely worth every penny. Clearly it takes a certain sort of insane to entertain small people for a living and he had it by the bucket load. The kids were totally engrossed the whole time, even the parents got a few gags thrown in for them. T’was all good. The best thing was getting to see my good bloggy buddy Louise (who we’ve decided has officially moved on from the category of “weird bird you met on the internet” to actual RL friend ;)).

My ILs ordered a birthday cake from Costco for Grace (if you’ve never eaten on of these you really should, because they are divine!). We’re not entirely sure what was going on with the “princess” themed icing though. I suspect maybe Les Dawson was the model for this particular princess. She was certainly well covered in the bustage department (all the more icing to eat though, so that’s a bonus).


Even more amazing than managing to survive a room full of small people for 2 hours we actually managed to get a decent photograph of the four of us together (something which NEVER happens). We all look vaguely human in this shot. I’m still astounded. Definitely one for scrapping, and printing out for relatives!


In other, non-5 year old related news (well non-birthday related anyway), I’ve made a start on the 2009 crafty projects with these little softies:


These are made from the tutorial by Nicole Owens I mentioned a few posts back which you can find here at 60piggies. They are super easy to make and look really cute. Ewan is total taken with the pink one for some reason and as the blue one has gone off to a new owner I fear I will have to make another (more boyish one) before a riot ensues in our house over who gets to have the pink one). They are very squishy, so I can kind of see why they’d want to fight over them.

The next project will be a paper crafty one and it will be based on this challenge that Miss Lou has set over on the Garlics and Ginger Turtles blog. I totally love the idea of this project for Christmas photos (and might be tempted to do one for Gracie’s birthday too).

Right, that’s it for now. Work is a calling.


Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Happy Birthday Gracie!

I can hardly believe it.

This girl.


This increasingly bonkers, perpetually loud, occasionally over-emotional, wickedly funny, outrageously wise-beyond-her-years, delightfully snuggly girl IS 5 YEARS OLD TODAY!

I think I might need a minute to regroup. How exactly has 5 years passed without me noticing? Seriously? Gone. In the blink of an eye. Scary.

There she is this morning looking a little bed-heady while she opened her presents before Daddy left for work. She loves the Doctor Who Annual and is firmly of the opinion that David Tennant (her Doctor, apparently) rocks. I’m not one to argue with that.

Unfortunately for Miss Grace today is also the first day back at school. Yes, today. Not Monday. Despite me getting her up and dressed and as far as the school gates on Monday Morning. D’oh! *Note to self – Pay more attention to school newsletter*

Here she is all togged up in her uniform and ready (if not willing) to go.


How can it be that only 3 months ago she looked so small going to school?


How much have her legs grown in 3 months?? Oh my! And look. There, in the photo. SUNSHINE! Do you remember that stuff?

We’re not doing much celebration wise today as we’ve got a big party (complete with clown/entertainer and many school friends) on Saturday. Just Gracie’s favourite for tea and maybe a little sneaky cheesecake action for dessert.



Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Back To The Grindstone

Well, the festive season is definitely dead and gone. It hasn’t taken long to get back into the usual round of work and home and work and home. After the crazy dash of trying to finish all my crafty Christmas projects I’m in a bit of a crafty lull. With the New Year having rolled round I’ve decided that anything not finished from last year is not likely to get finished. So I’m drawing a line under all WIPs that haven't actually had any "P" in them and beginning 2009 with a fresh crafty start.

First I have to show you these though. Do you remember I mentioned that I’d been looking for wrist warmers knit on straight needles? These were perfect and really easy to knit up (even to a cabling virgin like me).


I’m really pleased with how they turned out, they’re super snugly and warm. Love ‘em!

And just to prove that I did actually knit both:


And to illustrate how shockingly bad the light is in our house. First one with no flash and the second with the flash. The actual colour is somewhere between the two of these!

Kendo actually showed interest in a crafty project after I’d made these (other than the usual “That’s nice dear”) and insisted that he needed some for work, only black and without all that stuff on them (which I took to mean the cables and bobbles). So next on the needles will be some plainer black ones. I'm stranded at work today for my lunch hour (Kendo's bike is still off the road until the insurance cheque arrives and it's repaired so I am once again car less *sigh*) so I have my needles and yarn in my bag ready to go.

I managed to get to a little (enforced) paper crafting last night and made cards for Miss Grace (who is 5 tomorrow! Eek), and for our friend’s daughter who turns 5 on Friday. I really don’t care much for card making, so I always find it a chore – which is probably why I usually end up buying them instead. I also didn’t take pictures, which was a bit remiss of me, but they honestly weren’t that exciting so you’re not missing much.

Now, on to the fun stuff. There are so many fabulous crafty things I’ve seen around that I want to make this year. He’s just a few of them:

The really cool snail racing game by Jodie @ Ric Rac

This adorable and slightly quirky softie doll by Nicole @ 60Piggies

This car organiser from Mayflower (via here)

This chocolate drop handbag from U-handblog (along with a million other from there)

This amazing non-chocolate filled Advent calender from Relentless toil (I know, I know, too early for this but if I stand a chance of getting one done for next December I need to think about it now.

This cute little needle book from Jellybelly*Jellybean

See. Tonnes of stuff to keep me going, and this is only what I could find off the top of my head. I'm sure there's been hundreds of other things that I've seen and thought "I really want to make that", and I'm sure there'll be loads of other exciting things I come across on all the lovely crafty blogs I visit.

I still have 3 PIFs to make - I haven't forgotten about those by the way, in case the intended PIFees were wondering ;) and I'm going to try to make more handmade gifts for birthdays this year. Just thinking about all this potential crafty loveliness makes me excited - definitely the best way to ward off the back to work blues!


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Taking The Deccies Down.

Wow. Was it really Christmas Eve last time I posted? That was less than two weeks ago and yet it feels like a lifetime already! The Christmas deccies will be coming down in the house tomorrow, but I thought I'd take the Cookie ones down today while I was posting and refit with a nice new springy look (in anticpation of some nicer weather at some point!!).

We had a pretty hectic Christmas in the Cookie household (as you can imagine with a 4 year old and a 2 year old in residence). They kids were monstrously overexcited (although they did actually sleep until 7.45 on Christmas morning which I thought was quite exceptional) and they got WAY too much stuff and have happily been playing with it…..all…mostly at the same time….much to the detriment of my living room (not that it’s ever anything but a bombsite anyway). We had the usual Christmas visiting and lots of time with family and friends which is what it’s all about after all.

New Year’s Eve (as last year) was a sedate affair for the most part. Friends of ours had a little afternoon get together for all our friends (as some of us have young kids now it’s easier to get together in the afternoon than to deal with cranky munchkins later on). We managed to spend some time with friends who were visiting from the States (after moving their a couple of years back) and other friends who live closer but we still haven’t managed to see much of this year. We were back home and settled in on the sofa with the kids in bed by 8pm and spent the evening with me reading (I went to see Twilight at the cinema in the week (all by myself, I’d forgotten how much I love going to the cinema on my own)) and decided to re-read the novels, and Kendo playing World of Warcraft on the PC. Rock and Roll as always, but just as we like it. I always think New Year is highly overrated as a celebration and I’m happy to let it pass quietly.

I’ve just had a quick look back at the Cookie post from this time last year and read through my “non-resolutions” that I made at the start of 2008. In a nutshell:

1) Keep it Simple.
2) Learn to say “No”.
3) Finish things.

Hmmmm. I’m not entirely sure how successful they were. Ah well, never mind, they were non-resolutions after all.

So, on to 2009. Despite last year's not being a roaring success and ever striving to be an improvement on the chaos that is me I will lay out a couple of non-resolutions for this year I think.

1) Learning New Things – I tried to spend last year finishing things, so I thought this year I might endeavour to discover some new things to try. I don’t know if it will be just crafty things or in other areas of my life, but I love to learn so whatever form this takes it will be fun.

2) The List – There’s a saying in our house, when you say you want something, you will invariably get the response of “put it on The List”. So, I thought this year we would have an actual list, of things that we need and want to accomplish around the place and things we’d like to get for ourselves and for the kids. The hope is that we can actually start to budget better, and save a little money to make a start on the things that we need to do around here (I’m sure the list will be blogged once we’ve made a start on compiling it). I know that going into a recession is probably not the best time to start something like this, but as it stands we’re not doing too badly – we just budget badly, so I’m hoping I can start to get a grip on our finances better and plan a little for the future and for the present.

3) Getting back to the books – by books I mean the kids scrapbooks. I can’t remember the last time I scrapped a 12x12 layout for one of the kids albums. I seem to have gone off on a bit of an (unfinished) mini-albums tangent this year. I’m going to try to get back to doing some 12x12s for a while (and try to stay away from the online classes for a bit).

4) House and Home – the last one listed, but possibly the most important. I really need to concentrate on getting my house in order this year, and on better balancing my time at home to let me spend time with the kids, and doing the things I like as well as getting round to doing some actual housework *shudder*. I somehow seem to have skipped the household organisation gene. Much improvement is needed. We also need to get off our collective Cookie tushies as a family and be more active – which is also good for getting some family time in, so hopefully more walks and trying to find lots of exciting, fun (and FREE!) things to do around here.

That’s it then I think. 2008 done. 2009 just beginning. I wonder if it will pass by as quickly as last year did?

Happy New Year to you all.

Off to read the 202 blog posts that Google reader is telling me I have unread. Or more likely to grab a shower and sort things for tomorrow as I’ve just realised it’s 10pm! Eek.