Monday, 23 July 2012

On being proud

Apologies, it's been nearly two weeks!!  In my defence, I guest-blogged over at Leanne's Little Life of Scrap in the meantime.  You should go check her out, she's a working mummy, making and baking lovely things in south London.  And last week she was celebrating her blog's fourth birthday with a whole load of lovely birthday-related posts.  Including some fab cards, which I am totally going to be lifting sometime soon!!

So, it goes without saying that the things I am most proud of making are my children.  But after them, come a whole slew of beautiful and meaningful results of hard labour.  And today, I want to show you a project I finished months ago but that still brings me a little bit of happy every time I see it.
When we moved into our house, it was on the understanding that we were going to change pretty much everything about it.  We did an emergency, stop-gap bedroom makeover before we even moved our stuff in and the bathroom had a superficial facelift (ugh, carpet and wallpaper?!) but the biggest need was in the kitchen/diner.  It's a beautiful space, completely ruined by orange wallpaper, cabinets that were falling to pieces and a lop-sided sink.  In summer 2009, we pulled down a wall (only a little one), replaced the ceiling, re-tiled the floor, repainted the walls and fitted a beautiful new kitchen.  We added some custom cupboard innards and some display shelving.  Fast-forward to early autumn 2011 and we had gorgeous green glass splashbacks fitted.  And the only thing left to do is the windows.
(Forgive the random photo of hubby making pancakes, it shows of my lovely kitchen and the lack of window treatment perfectly!)

We found the perfect fabric while wandering through IKEa, literally, it was hanging next to the stairs.  This was ages ago, before the splashbacks were even conceived so the colour of the glass was actually pulled from the curtains.
And in February 2011, I made a pair of curtains to go across the patio doors.  Well, made might be overstating it slightly.  We'd bought a pair of 3m long curtains so I had plenty of material to work with.  I bought header tape and some plastic snap-rings online to change them to eyelet-topped curtains.  And I made a lovely wide hem, joining the linings at the top and the bottom, to avoid small people and small cats playing between them!! 
And I love these curtains!  It took most of a weekend, and an unintended victim of my labours was my HTC phone.  But it was so worth it (and the premature arrival of my iPhone wasn't bad either!).  All I have left to do now is turn the other pair of curtains into a Roman blind.  I have the fixings, I just need the time, but I'm determined to have it done before I go back to work!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

On the tenth of July

If this goes out on time, it will only be because I starting writing it on June 26th!  What a month!! What has Anna done this month? What hasn't she done?!
Our first witnessed rolls, right back around the beginning of June. The first one I saw actually made me weepy. And now she's rolling, she's had to move out of the Moses basket for fear it might topple over. So she's sleeping in a cot at the foot of our bed. We're still up twice most nights for feeds but wake-up seems to have moved back to about 7am instead of 5.30am, yeay!!  And then, in the last week, Anna has learned to crawl (in a fashion) and sit up on her own.  It's led to some amusing sleeping positions, including sideways in her cot with her bum in the air!  She still loves to stand and is starting to pull herself up on things.  

One of the most joyous milestones, for me anyway, has proved to be when my babies learned to reach out their arms for me to pick them up. Not just accepting my actions but welcoming them. Also this month we've seen a bit more stranger awareness; crying when held by someone she's not familiar with. And expressing a preference to come back to me from someone else's arms.  She's still shrieking and laughing; one of the greatest joys of having two children is watching them laugh at each other.  She's started to babble occasionally - dadadada mostly - and flaps her hands around at people, the beginning of a wave, maybe?
Anna loves to eat - her favourite foods are bread, cheese and cucumber.  She's got so efficient in the last few weeks, almost everything goes in her mouth, which makes cleaning up a lot quicker!!  We saw the health visitor this month and she's developing right on track.  She weighed 18lb 1 1/2oz, continuing her progress just below the 75th centile.  We moved on to size 4 nappies this month as the size 3s were getting more than a little snug!
We had Anna's dedication service at our church on 24th June.  After the service, we had a family lunch back home, though Anna slept through the afternoon festivities.  I made a pink and orange striped sponge cake, inspired by a friend's daughter's christening cake.  It was a great day and we were so happy that our families could join us to celebrate our beautiful daughter.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

On not getting what you wanted

***Little bloggy sidebar: I had a little twitter conversation over the weekend about the changing style of a friend's blogging and how it's come to reflect her life as a whole.  At one point, she described it as 'journalling before you make the scrapbook page'.  And a little while later, she tweeted a pic of her everyday jewellery.  These two random tweets, combined with my current approach to scrapbooking, made me realise I've never told this story...***

The only jewellery I wear every day are my wedding and engagement rings.  Necklaces and dangling earrings seem to be baby magnets so I tend not to wear anything more, either at home or at work.

We chose our wedding rings together in Lumbar's, an independent jewellers in Leicester.  Both are simple platinum bands, Andy's being about twice as wide as mine.

I had an image in my mind of what I wanted my engagement ring to look like; white gold band, three  oblong diamonds in a row, the middle one slightly larger.  Not that we ever discussed it or went looking at rings together.  We knew from the beginning that we were thinking of marriage; we wouldn't have risked our friendship over anything less.  So after a little more than 2 years, we knew we were getting married.  Neither of us wanted a long engagement, just enough to plan our wedding.  So we were waiting until I'd passed my final exams, avoiding distractions during what would be a stressful enough time.  Or so I thought.

Andy bought my engagement ring in the week before Christmas 2005, at the same shop where we got our wedding rings a few months later.  He planned to ask my father's permission to ask for me to marry him over the Christmas break.  As it happened, there wasn't a good time until they were packing our things into the car and found themselves alone outside the house.  Andy can't remember the details of the conversation, but apparently Dad said yes.  And we tootled off back to Leicester before continuing on to our holiday in Scotland over New Year.

At this point, it's important to say that I love my engagement ring.  It's beautiful, elegant and different.  I've never seen another like it.  I love it because Andy chose it for me, looking carefully over all the rings in the shop until he found one he thought was just right.  I can't imagine any other ring on my hand, day in, day out.  And the ring I imagined, definitely wouldn't have been wearable for my career or the daily work that is raising children.

We had a lovely day on the Isle of Arran for New Year's Eve and dressed up for our evening meal in the hotel's restaurant.  The food was fantastic, the wine was good and the atmosphere was perfect.  So I gazed across the table, into Andy's eyes and said something romantic.  I can't remember what, it doesn't really matter now.  And he.... made a joke.  I huffed, said he couldn't ever say anything romantic to me, pouted.  He gathered his breath a couple of times, preparing himself and I laughed.  Then he got down on one knee and produced a ring box from his pocket.

Even writing this now, I get a little shiver in my tummy!  I love my husband so much, but we're not crazy in love people.  We joke that we slid into love, just turned around one day and realised we'd arrived.  There was no falling head-over-heels, more a practical realisation that we were meant to be together.  But, boy, he read the right books for this one!

He had to ask me twice; I was shaking so much, he couldn't tell I was nodding.  I kept asking if he was serious.  Really serious.  Did he mean it?  Was he sure?  He was grinnning, ear to ear, and saying yes.  He was serious, he was sure, he absolutely meant it.  I slipped the ring on straightaway, it was a little too large so I couldn't wear it all the time.  We finished our dinner and headed back to our room.  Stopping to tell the staff on the reception desk that we'd just got engaged - I had to tell someone!!

And I looked at that ring, that was so not what I wanted.  Not what I would have chosen.  And I'd be lying if there wasn't a little bit of me that was disappointed.

Then I looked at that man.  Who was so not what I expected.  Who I would never have picked out in a million years as the man I would spend my life with.  Who loved (and loves) me so much.  Who offered to change the ring, to get the one I really wanted, to make me happy.  And I realised. Sometimes we don't get what we wanted.  But sometimes we get something better.  More special, more beautiful, more perfect.  And the only reason we took the ring back to the shop?  To get it resized.

The only downside to the whole thing?  He asked just after our main courses had been cleared.  And I couldn't eat anything after that, not even my beautiful melting chocolate pudding!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

On yummy mummies

The lovely Leanne tagged me to answer these yummy mummy questions.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Since March I've been mindfully making my devotional reading the first thing I do on getting up.  I've made a deal with myself that I won't read anything else until I've read that day's devotions.  I follow a reading plan through the Bible app on my phone; they have loads to choose from and it's really helped me to finally get in the habit.  After that, I check my social media (I am such a geek!) and have shower.

Do you shower daily? Are you an early morning shower or evening bath type?

I shower every morning, and wash my hair.  I kept this up all the way through both my pregnancies, even though I was working full-time.  It wakes me up and gets me started for the day.

Do you wear make up daily?

Not usually.  I did at one stage, just powder, mascara and eye-shadow usually, but I just haven't got the time or inclination right now.  I'm quite comfortable with the way I look for day to day stuff.  I do put a face on for special occasions though as I have really obvious pores and a tendency to shiny-ness!

What's in your make up bag?

Ummm... *runs upstairs to check!* Max Factor Creme Puff powder, Rimmel eyeshadow in brown, Max Factor eyeshadow in aqua and plum, Max Factor Masterpiece mascara in rich black and brown/black, Max Factor Lipfinity lipstick in pink and L'Oreal Color Riche Star Secrets lipstick in Beige Aishwarya.  Plus a hand mirror, eyeshadow brush, nail scissors, nail clippers and tweezers.  Oh and half an emery board that my son has stolen, again! 

When you're having a slummy Mummy day what do you normally wear?
Actually, I'm usually dressed.  My day-to-day maternity leave uniform is jeans and a jersey top, though I'm trying to dress a bit less like a student and a bit more like a grown-up these days.  If I don't shower and dress, then I tend to feel a bit scummy (and a scummy mummy is not good!).  My slummy mummy days involve food out of the freezer and ignoring the housework!

Nails – how often do you get them done?

Once in a blue moon!  I think I've had 2 or 3 manicures in my life.  I do a mean french manicure for myself though, I even did my own nails for my wedding day.  My mum bought me some posh base and top coats for Christmas so I went out and bought some pretty sorbet colours for the summer.  I wore them for a couple of weeks but my fingernails starting peeling and cracking so I've been resting them.  I love to paint my toenails though, they're currently pink, having been coral last week.

Your top tip for tired eyes?
Get more sleep!!

How many children do you have/want & why?

We're so blessed to have 2 beautiful children, a boy and a girl.  Every time we've said, we'll have this one and then see what happens next.  I've always wanted 4 children; an even number (cos someone gets left out with 3) but more than 2.  Anna is nearly 8 months old, and I don't think I'm done yet...

Where is your favourite place to shop for babies/children’s clothes?

I either love or hate Next, depending on the collections they have in.  I really like M&S for basics (like babygros), smart outfits and pretty dresses.  I can usually find something nice in Mothercare, especially for my daughter.  In fact, my favourite item in her wardrobe at the moment came from there and was only £7!!

Flats or heels everyday shoes are?
Always flats at the moment.  I have a pair of really comfy brown Sketchers that I've had for about 6 years and I live in them in the winter.  When the sun comes out, I love my jewelled flip-flops.  For work, ballet slippers in pretty colours.  I do love my heels and have a small but beautiful collection that I wear on special occasions.