Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Potty Training - part one

Today marks a turning point in my Little Man's babyhood... Today we say 'So long' to nappies and begin toilet training. Eeeeek!

Now this isn't the first time we've tried, truth be known but this time it feels right. He is old enough to reason with, to ask questions and understand the answers. Plus he is now at nursery and a number of the other children in his group are already fully trained (so to speak) and I think he is noticing that he still has nappies like the babies. And the one thing he KEEPS telling me is 'I am not a baby, Mummy!'
We have decided to bypass the potty as he is already taller than average and was finding sitting down that low a bit uncomfortable so we have gone straight to the 'Big Toilet'. Well he's got to get used to it sooner or later!

We have a drawer full of new pants and a sticker reward chart. And the little man's desire to be a big boy now. I hope that is enough!

Potty training - day 1
So glad we have a washing machine...

#TheGallery - Green is the colour of my true love's eyes..

 Before my Other Half, before the Little Man, before debt, mortgage, business worries, responsibilities... Before all of this there was Saffy, my beautiful tortie cat.

 I got her, flea-ridden at 7 weeks old, and spent a good hour every day for a month, going through her fur with a fine comb to get rid of the little buggers! She has been with me for 16 years, through the good times and the rough times. We've moved house 5 times, she's said hello (and goodbye) to a number of boyfriends (no, I am not going into any more detail!!). She has allowed me to witness the birth of seven gorgeous kittens and for the last couple of years she has put up with almost constant attention from Riley...
I cannot imagine life without her.

Her eyes are the most stunning shade of jade green - no photograph I have taken does them justice but this one comes close - and when  look into her eyes I know that she 'knows'. No words are necessary.

For more shades of Green visit The Gallery

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Day out with Thomas the Tank Engine (and Mummy and Daddy and Nonny and Poppy)

Last weekend my MIL very kindly booked and paid for a family day out to one of our local tourist attractions, the Dean Forest Railway who were hosting a very special event - 'A Day Out with Thomas'.

As anyone with small boys (and girls) will know, Thomas the Tank Engine is still going strong and as popular as ever. You can now buy just about anything with the cheeky blue engine on it - Riley has clothes, books, toys, jigsaws, plates, bowls and cups all featuring Thomas and Friends. He even goes to sleep on a Thomas pillow, under a Thomas duvet!

So as you can imagine actually seeing Thomas in the 'flesh' (as it were) produced squeals of delight! In fact in the few days leading up to our 'Day Out' I really thought the poor lad might burst with excitement!

Look Daddy! It's Thomas!!!
All the train rides and sideshows are included in the ticket price so the first thing we did is hop on the little steam train to Lydney Junction (sadly not pulled by Thomas - he had to stay behind and entertain the new arrivals). Its a lovely ride, passing through the town, past the big recreation ground where I used to spend my school lunch breaks in the summer, stopping briefly at the quaintly named 'St Mary's Halt' for those who wish to take a stroll around St Mary's Church and Lydney Lake, before stopping finally at Lydney Junction where you can connect up to the mainline trains to Gloucester or Chepstow.

Changing ends at Lydney Junction
Back at Norchard we had some lunch in the not too overpriced cafe carriage (although they are quite amenable to visitors bringing picnic lunches and provide lots of tables on the platform for people to sit and eat) before a mini-drama erupted as naughty Diesel stole Thomas's trucks whilst he was snoozing! Thomas gave chase, followed by The Fat Controller (more politically correctly known as Sir Topham Hat) waving his brolly at the naughty engines accompanied by some very entertaining commentary by the Station Master.
Who stole Thomas' trucks?
Riley was completely enthralled by this little bit of Thomas 'in action' joining in the shouting at the right time and clapping and cheering Thomas when he reappeared with his trucks in tow...

A REAL steam train. In miniature!

There were plenty of other attractions to keep the little man amused - a mini merry-go-round, face painting, Punch and Judy show and this fab dinky steam train...
We had just enough time for a story time ride on Daisy through the the village of Whitecroft and the surrounding woodland to the pretty station at Parkend. Again you can alight here and visit one of the lovely pubs for a slap-up pub lunch if you wish or take a walk through the woods before riding the train back to Norchard.
We finished off our day by popping into the Dean Forest Railway shop that is packed to the gills with Thomas merchandise for a few trinkets to remember the day by, before heading home with one exhausted but extremely happy little boy...

'A Day Out with Thomas' can be found at Steam Centres around the country all through the year. It's an excellent day out for the whole family and will delight 'Thomas' fans young and not-so-young alike!  For the wheres, whens and booking info visit the Thomas the Tank Engine website.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I know it's here...somewhere...

I have a problem. I am not the world's tidiest person. I'm a lot better than I used to be - my mum doesn't shudder when walking through my front door anymore - but that is due to the fact that a: I am actually at home a lot more these days so I have TIME to tidy and b: I have a toddler and if I want to keep anything whole and usable I need to put it away before he tries to eat it. Or bury it in the garden.
To make matters worse I also have a memory like a sieve (I have a theory about that, but I'll save that for another time).

I lose my phone on a regular basis - it usually turns up down the side of the sofa although on one occasion I found it in the watering can in the garden... (Riley....?!). The OH suggested that I give it a designated spot on the book shelf so I know where to find it at all times, which is fine, until someones phones me or sends me a text and I take the phone into the kitchen, whilst I am making tea, and then the LM needs some attention and I put it down wherever I am etc etc...You see what's happening here?

Anyway my latest loss is quite a biggie. I have managed to lose a small piece of plastic about the size of a credit card that holds my camera's li-ion battery in the charger. It popped out when I fetched the battery to put it back in my camera the other day and I put it down, to sort said battery/camera, with the intention of popping it back in the charger when I was done. But the phone rang. Riley spilt water all over the kitchen floor, the post arrived, the load of washing in the machine finished so I hung it on the line... I completely forgot about that little bit of plastic. And now I can't find it!

It's here somewhere - I know it is. It really can't have gone far. I have to find it; the li-ion batteries last well but not THAT well and we have an Easter Egg Hunt to chronicle, a couple of new shops at the Old Shambles Village that need photographing and one of our biggest local events - The Coleford Carnival of Transport on Easter Monday.

The OH often tells me to slow down, do one job at a time, finish it before moving on to the next and then maybe things like this wouldn't happen. I wish it were that easy... 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#TheGallery My Blog

Well thanks Tara for giving us another toughie...

When I first set up my blog almost 2 years ago, I didn't really have any 'plan'. It was just a collection of random ramblings - you can read one of my first posts here. Over the next few months I grew more confident using digital photography and the Picasa editing programme and included more pictures to illustrate my stories. Linking up with other bloggers and actually gaining some followers (you are all fab btw) has spurred me on to blog more consistently and Twitter has proved to be a brilliant way to share my ramblings with the rest of cyber space!

To be fair I could probably wax lyrical about my blog for several well padded paragraphs but trying to pin down just exactly what it is all about and then translating that into a photograph...well...that's a little more tricky.

Not quite as hard as trying to get any blog posts written during the day with an inquisitive nearly-three year old wanting to type alphabet on 'mummy's little puter' but that's another story...

So here is my little man with my lovely camera. My blog would not exist without either of them.

The camera is an 8.2 MP super slimline pocket digi camera by a little known but long established Japanese company Yashica - my dad's old SLR (which I still have somewhere but could not find to photograph for this post) that he bought back in the 60's was a Yashica. I bought this one from my brother for £25 and it is quite possibly the best camera I have ever had! It has some great functions - probably more than I will ever use but I can't wait to try out the 'fireworks' setting :). The macro setting is fabulous, as you can see here.

My little man is a 2008 vintage. Didn't come with a manual so I am learning new functions everyday! Can be a bit temperamental (can't we all?) but nothing a big hug can't sort out. He is priceless.

Everyday he gives me a reason to get out and discover new things and find joy in the most mundane occurrences. You should have seen his face when I told him we would be going on the bus the other day! He takes an interest in everything I do and wants to be a part of it all and, yes, it can be a bit wearing at times but I recognise his insatiable need to 'know' things (well he must have got from one of us...). He has shown me that it's the little things that are important. And he has shown me that, invariably, a cardboard box has far more potential for imaginative play than whatever was inside it...
He is a constant source of inspiration :)

Now why not hop along to Sticky Fingers and discover a whole load of blogs and their inspiration.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the pictures for this post were actually taken on my phone (as someone else had the camera, obviously) which has a respectable 5MP camera and is perfect for those 'Oh I wish I had my camera' moments...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Look! I got an award!! :)

I have my first blog award!!
Many thanks to Anna at The Light Boat for nominating me for a Kreative Blogger award. This a lovely twist on the 'pay it forward' theme that's been featuring quite strongly in my universe lately. A great way to show your appreciation to the authors of blogs you enjoy reading, introduce them to your readers (that's you!) whilst at the same time reveal ten facts about yourself so your new readers can get to know you a bit better :)

so... Ten Things You Didn't Know About Me
  1. I am an archaeology geek with particular interest in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods of pre-history
  2. When I left school, I didn't go to college, I joined a band!
  3. I make amazing pastry - a skill inherited from my Grandma
  4. I lurve marmite (ok, I know I've possibly lost some of you with that one...)
  5. I haven't been to the dentist since I left school (oops...there go a couple more! )
  6. I have been working (on and off and on again) on two novels for best part of 20 years. They WILL get finished one day...
  7. I have a soft spot for Louis Theroux
  8. I have a green belt in Shaolin Kung Fu
  9. I love the films of Terry Gilliam
  10. I swear FAR too much

And the ten blogs I would like to nominate are:
They are all bloggers I know personally, or have got to know recently via the Bloggiverse and Twitter.

Silent Sunday - A confession...

I did not intend to mislead anyone (more a case of misdirection...) Part of the joy of Silent Sunday is that here are no words and you may draw your own conclusions about each submission. But, in the light of all the 'ooooo' type comments (thank you everyone :) ) on the picture I posted for yesterday's Silent Sunday I feel an explanation is in order...

Is it a Banksy? Well, to be honest, nobody knows for sure (such is the nature of his work). It appeared a couple of years ago in my home town of Cinderford - along with a couple of others and caused a minor flurry of press interest and a bit of a hoohah among the locals about how the graffiti lowered the tone of the town. (If you have ever visited Cinderford you will realise just how laughable that comment really is...*) The Mayor was quoted as saying he didn't believe it was a 'real Banksy' but a wannabe and the general consensus of opinion is that it is nothing more than a local (obviously pretty talented) grafitti artist trying to create some controversy...
Interestingly, the owner of the wall has yet to paint over it. Maybe he knows something we don't? Or perhaps he's leaving it there 'just in case'.

*I love my home, I really do but it would take more than a bit of graffiti to take it down any further (prepares for a flurry of complaints from fellow Cin City dwellers)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What's in my fridge...

Ok so I have seen this meme floating around blogland recently - one fridge of particular note can be seen here at The Blog Up North. I had hoped that, as I am relatively new in the Twitter/Blogging community I might escape unscathed, but alas I have been tagged... (Thanks Clare at Seasider in the City )

So for your visual delight I fridge

In case you want to re-create this fridge at home you will need...
2 lt semi-skimmed milk, 3 lt orange juice, Tip Top squirty cream, pickled onions, balti paste, sundried tomatoes, olives,4 eggs (free range of course;) ) baking margerine, carrots, potatoes, onions, spinach, baby leaf salad, grapes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, small vacuum pack of cooked beetroots, cooking apples (I promised to make apple crumble this weekend), nearly empty tub of houmous, half a tin of Alphabetti, baked beans, jam, pickle, mayo (reduced fat - I am on a diet after all), lemon juice, Very Lazy Chopped Ginger, some homemade marmalade, cheese, Dairylea in all it's forms, kids yoghurts, low fat fruity yoghurts, fruity jelly pots and some buttery spread, something unidentifiable in a tub (which has been thrown away you will be relieved to hear!). Oh, and a cling wrapped lump of gingerbread biscuit dough...

There, I bet you're impressed! Thank God I cleaned it out and stocked it up this week. Had I been required to do this last week all you'd have seen was a tub of old beef stew, some squidgy veggies and half a tin of KiteKat...

Now I am supposed to pass it on. As I mentioned I am fairly new to all this so I hope the 'chosen ones' a: haven't already done this and b:don't mind getting tagged :)

Liz at Me and My Shadow
Julia at I Need Curtains for the Window...
Kelly at The Wonderful World of Kokokelli
Elaine at Fun as a Gran
The fab McCaskie Clan
Have fun with it all of you. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#TheGallery - Tomorrow

After last week's emotional tale I was hoping to give you something a bit lighter this week. But, well, you'll see...

This is a picture of my Grandad, taken at the party we had to celebrate his (and Grandma's obviously) Ruby Wedding Anniversary, about 24 years ago. The whole family gathered at our place including all 10 grandchildren. It's how I remember him best - laughing with us kids...

My Grandad was a real gentleman - the type who opened doors for people, stood on the bus to allow others to sit, always wore a hat when he went out. He adored kids and they adored him (and not just because he always had a bag of mint imperials in his pocket...) and he adored my Grandma, who was as scatty as they come and called everyone 'duckie'. He worked hard all his life - on the trains and buses and various other jobs. Even once he had 'retired' he did door-to-door sales for home ware companies, building up a loyal and supportive customer base thanks to his charm and open honesty. 
We all lived fairly close together so if we missed him one day it would be 'Don't worry, you'll see him tomorrow!' I used to stay for weekends fairly regularly and he would always treat me to Salt'n'Shake crisps when the ice-cream van stopped opposite the house of a summer evening. He would pick us up from school once or twice a week so mum didn't have to get the little ones loaded up into the pram and in the summer holidays he would take us down to London on the train for the day.

He was the best Grandad ever.

Which makes me feel even worse when I think about how I let him down...

We moved away not long after that picture was taken - to the other side of the country (felt like the other side of the world at the time) and our Grandad time became less and less... day trips every couple of months were all we could manage. I was growing up, turning into a stroppy and headstrong teen who didn't necessarily want to 'hang out with the family' when I had my own mates to hang out with. I left home, got a life, saw the Grandparents maybe once or twice a year and barely noticed how old they were getting, how frail they had become...

'We are going over to see them next week ' my mum would say, 'Do you want to come too?'  But there would be an excuse, a reason I couldn't make it. 'I'll come along next time..'

Then, suddenly it seemed, his health started to deteriorate. He was in and out of hospital, then in more than out... I finally managed to sort out some time off work to go over with my parents. It had been a good six months or so, maybe more since I had last hugged him and talked to him. I knew he was ill but I was really looking forward to talking with him again.

It didn't happen... he died 2 days before our visit. It seems we had run out of tomorrows. Over ten years on and I still beat myself up over it occasionally. I have few regrets but this is definitely one of them...

If there is anyone in your life you really want to see - don't wait till tomorrow to tell them you care, to show them you love them. Do it today...right now...coz one of the few certainties in life is that we all run out of tomorrows eventually...

ps - sorry for doing such a 'sad' post. I will try and be a bit more cheery next time, promise x

Monday, April 11, 2011

#MagpieMonday Lickle duckie...

Already on the look out for a bargain...

Car boot sales. Well what can I say - One man's trash is another man' also. Really not a huge amount of treasure to be found at our local - and very popular - car boot sale yesterday. The glorious weather brought the punters out in droves and I bet the ice-cream man made a killing!
I did manage to pick up a couple of bargains though. £3 for a car booster seat for the little man who is rapidly out growing his infant car seat and a couple of nice plants for the garden.

And then there was this little chappy - nestled in amongst some random plates and jars...

Looking a little forlorn and unloved - although judging by the state of him he had been well loved at some point. His paint is chipped but he is smooth to touch from years of little hands pushing him across the floor.  He is obviously old (they haven't made toys like this for a long time) but there are no clues to it's history. Riley wanted him. I wanted him. The owner was happy to part with him. And the price? I hear you say.... 30p.  Yup, you read that right. 30p!!!   That was pocket money when I was a kid, you can't even buy a packet of jelly tots for that now!

Riley's happy. I'm happy. And I think Lickle Duckie is happy too :)

Why not hop along to Liz's blog and check out all the other treasures found this week...
Me and My Shadow

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

If you want me, I'll be in the garden...

You may remember I blogged a few weeks back about having had enough of Winter.
Well, it would seem someone up there was listening (or it's just the natural turn of the seasons... take your pick ;) ) and today was the first day this year I have been able to properly spend in the garden.
Today we were tidying, pruning, moving things around, weeding and giving the lawn it's first mow of the season. It's lovely to see everything growing again. It's also nice to be able to stand in the bottom border and not lose my shoes in the sticky clay mud!

Tomorrow (perhaps as you are reading this even...) I shall be sitting here, enjoying the sunshine, drinking my coffee and dreaming of summer..

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Gallery - Mother Love

What does the phrase 'Mother Love' mean to you?
The special bond you have with your own mum, the woman who brought you into this world, who nurtured you and cared for you when you were unable to look after yourself. She who, if you are as blessed as I am, is there with a comforting hug when you need it. With whom, sometimes, no words are necessary...

When I saw this prompt I knew instantly what it meant to me.

Mother Love - the bond a mother has to her child - is like no other. Yes, I love my partner (despite everything ;) ) and my family and a fair few of my friends with all my heart. But my son, my little man - I would walk through fire for him. He has only been a part of my life for a short while but I simply cannot imagine what life would be like without him...
It will be his third birthday very soon but I still remember the first time we gazed into each other's eyes and the bond was cemented. He was 10 days past his due date when my blood pressure suddenly soared and I was rushed into hospital with suspected pre-eclampsia and told that I would have to be induced (bang went the relaxing music in the birthing pool I had been planning the past 9 months...)
After a long and exhausting labour he got into difficulties and had to be 'helped' out. When he finally arrived he wasn't breathing. For five minutes (that seemed like a lifetime) I had absolutely no idea what was happening. Was our baby ok? I didn't even know if we had a boy or a girl. Finally he was wrapped in blankets and I was allowed to hold him briefly before he was whisked away to intensive care...

An hour later we were allowed to go and see him.
'He's doing fine,' said the nurse. 'He's a proper little fighter that one' and she grinned. And I knew that everything was gonna be ok.

And here it is - taken on my mobile by his daddy - the very first moment we looked at each other.
My little soldier...

Monday, April 04, 2011

Magpie Monday - Nice Jug :)

I found this lovely jug in the Newent Association for the Disabled charity shop in Newent, Glos, and just had o share it with you. It cost me a whole £1! (Yes, I am feeling a bit smug...) The glaze is a bit crackled but there are no chips or cracks in the jug itself.

I love the clean simple lines of this gorgeous jug and I can't wait to fill it with some homemade lemonade in the summer although I reckon it would look fab filled with flowers from the garden too.

Click on the button below to check out some other lovely finds...
Me and My Shadow

Reuse, reclaim, recycle...
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