31 Aug 2014

Lately...


Another action packed week - although tinged with sadness as its the last week of the holidays.
We've had a fab time all together and we'll miss Ellis and our family days out now.
I am feeling anxious as he wasn't very happy at his second settling in session at the new childminder and am hoping he will adjust quickly. She is a stranger and I am sure he was a bit grizzly at his settling in sessions with his old childminder too
We went for a walk on Otley Chevin and I was amazed that the Baby walked most of the way on his own. He was charming all the ladies we passed and admiring the dogs too - he just doesn't like it when the dogs bark! We were faffing about trying to set the phone up for a family selfie, when a passing dog walker offered to do the honours. I am quite impressed with her skills...


Next day not so fun at the Baby had to get his jabs. There were three of them in his poor little thigh! He was very brave and only cried a bit and so we got him a slinky as a treat. Best 25p I ever spent!


Then we headed into Leeds for a family day out. They are doing a free beach in Millenium Square for the summer and so he enjoyed pottering round there and I couldn't resist this photo op.


He loved watching all of the rides and I am looking forward to him being older so I can take him on them as the Belgian is a bit of a wimp when it comes to rides. We also stopped in to the Leeds museum as they have an amazing section for under 5s which simulates Leeds and there are houses, costumes to try on and tunnels to crawl through. It is even better than soft play and we had it all to ourselves - no nasty big kids beating him up in the ball pool.
Mummy and daddy had a treat by trying the new burger bar to open in Leeds - Almost Famous. I will review it on here soon.


Friday we went to the Yorkshire Dales ice-cream farm. It is the best place to go with kids as it has a really fun outdoor and indoor play area. The outdoor play equipment is all made from wood and imported from America. The Baby loved the little train and steering the wheel. I had a delicious hot dog with all the trimmings, a snickers milkshakes and we shared a huge portion of skin on fries. Seriously tasty American food.


The Baby has been obsessed with putting underwear on his head and in this picture I dub him Captain Underpants!

His new favourite thing to do is to clap and I have a proud mumma moment when I sing the first line of "If you're happy and you know it" and he automatically claps his hands.


Yesterday we went on a picnic to Ilkley river and the boys all got carried away and decided to go for a swim in the icy lake. The Baby followed suit and just went straight in in his clothes and guess who had to wade in and fetch him? Yes, mothers have all the fun!


Back to school on Tuesday and so we have one more day of fun in the sun! 
What have you been up to this week?






30 Aug 2014

Let's talk about standards...



So it's confession time from the Brit in my whole five years of marriage I have never...ironed. Well probably only a handful of my clothes as I used to have a certain shirt for work which looked awful unless it was pressed. Suffice to say I never purchased one of those again. It was agreed early on in our marriage that I wouldn't be ironing his shirts. I feel this is fair considering the fact we both work(ed) full time and he is old enough to do it himself. 

In fact, whilst we're on confessions, I have never really relished housework. The thing i enjoy most about being a 'housewife' is baking and even then I like to leave an icing sugar explosion all over the work surfaces - to the degree that the Belgian begins to wonder if the muffins are really worth it. 



So, sometimes cleaning has been a bone of contention in our household as The Belgian seems to have exacting standards - but not always the desire to carry these out. In my back to work post I aired my concerns about returning to work and the fact that during maternity leave the Belgian had started to do less and less around the house. Don't get me wrong he is a really hands on dad but laundry, cooking and cleaning seemed to come under my remit since I suddenly had so much time on my hands. *Ahem* Some of you reached out to me on social media offering advice and presenting the idea of needs/must and discovering the things you really couldn't put up with versus what you reasonable had time to do around the house.

For me I like clear, clutter free surfaces. Once the Baby is in bed I have to make the lounge resemble something more relaxing and so toys have to be stored in their boxes, but I can let vacuuming slide. So long as it looks clean and clear I am happy with this. Am I alone in this? Quite a few (read: most) of my work colleagues have cleaners and this used to be seen as an indulgence, many now view as a necessity. However, we can't afford this kind if indulgence on our already-tight-one-of-us-on-part-time measly budget. No matter how much I hate cleaning the bathroom. So in the mean time a slovenly wipe with the wet wipes will have to do. Please tell me I'm not alone in this? 


So back to the ironing confession...on our recent trip to Belgium the mother-in-law offered to do some of our laundry. And yes she ironed it. I was amazed at the difference!  How much more pristine the baby looked in our pressed clothes. How much nicer and cleaner the clothes looked. Have we all been going around looking like scruffs for the last five years? Was ironing something I could still push to the bottom of the pile - 'scuse the pun! 

So I returned with a new resolve. The Belgian almost fainted when I set the ironing board up in the lounge and got to work. Irons and baby's are not a great combo and so I waited for his nap time. I pressed our clothes to within an inch of their life and then tucked them away in their drawers or hung them up and for a few days we all looked smart and the Baby looked like a Baby Gap model or something similar. 

Next load? Same again except this time the Baby was napping and so I couldn't put it away so I just put my neat little pile of laundry on a chair and was horrified to return a few hours later and find it all flung across the room - with the Baby wearing a pair of pants as a fetching hat. All of my hard work was ruined as everything was creased, covered in fluff and in need of ironing AGAIN. Am I fighting a losing battle? Should I revert back to stretching and occasionally pressing with the hair straighteners? I know ironing is the bane to most women's life so can we just work the just-got-out-of-laundry-basket look a few more seasons?

Basically at the end of the day something's gotta give.

And it won't be my crafty time.

Or Nashville time.

Or pinterest time.

What are your cleanliness standards? Any quick fixes to make a working mum's life easier?

26 Aug 2014

Lately...


Okay, so since we were entertaining this bank holiday 'Me on a Monday' didn't happen but since we're still on summer hols it was a fun week and I'd like to record it for my Project Life - if nothing else! These pictures may make it look as if all we do is eat, but it has been an exceptional gastonomic week! Plus since we can't afford a week in the sun (which we're all desperate for) we decided this week would be a staycation for us. 

So it started with an epic meal at Five Guys at Manchester Trafford Centre. This was one of our fav places to eat when we road tripped in California, in our former life, and so it was a great trip down memory lane. At £20 for a burger, hot dog, large fries and a drink it is on the pricey end of burger joints, but it is a little bit special. I love that you can choose all of your toppings and so it seems more fresh than other fast food joints. 
 

Monday night we had a rare date night at The Light in Leeds. I was invited to a blogging event where you have a different course at three different restaurants. In began with drinks at Cafe Rouge, then starters at Miller and Carter. This is a steak house that we have never eaten at before, but we were very impressed. The stars of the show for me were the homemade tortilla chips, whilst The Belgian enjoyed the scallops.

Mains were at Frankie and Benny's and we were served hefty platters groaning with your Italians American favs like calzones, pasta and burgers.  I had a whole huge platter to myself, being a veggie, and I struggled to finish it all. My favourite dish was the spinach and ricotta cannelloni and The Belgian enjoyed the meatball calzones.
 

  Dessert was at Browns and they did not disappoint with the English classic Eton Mess. It was very instagram worthy - which pleased all the food bloggers in us! 


Some Project Lifing actually happened. The Babies' first birthday, which I still have to share with you all, was documented. I will share some layouts with you soon. 
 

Wednesday we brunched at the local Beefeater enticed by their kids eat free offer. There was a great choice for a cooked breakfast and for a continental breakfast. It wasn't the best breakfast I have ever had, but it was certainly filling and it hit the spot and we didn't need to eat again until tea time.


  Friday we headed into Leeds and got the Baby some new clothes for autumn - which is sneaking up on us far too quickly. In fact was that one week of sunshine in July our summer? Really! 
Below the Baby is modelling his new mustard body warmer from Baby Gap - they have 30% off at the while so its a good time to stock up. He looks like a real little boy in this and it breaks my heart.


In the afternoon, whilst the Baby napped, I did some more Project Life and was particularly impressed with how quickly and easily this little layout came together.
 

  Saturday morning we set off early for Baildon Farmers market and stocked up on the delicious brownies from Yummy Yank and fresh sourdough bread for our lunch. We let the Baby have a run around in the community gardens too. 

 

Saturday afternoon the Baby and I attended a nineties themed birthday party. I wished I still had my Spice Girlesque platform trainers and Oasis tee. My team got 45/50 in the guess the intro quiz but were pipped to the post by half a point!

  Sunday my parents and older sister arrived and we went for a walk around Yeadon Tarn. Alli likes to push him in his pram and even offered to chase the Baby round in the park for a while. 


Monday we had a girls day out in Leeds which involved shopping, sushi and smoothies. 


My favourite picture is his expression when granny wanted a goodbye kiss!


______________________________________
Linking up with the lovely Hannah over at Make Do and Push 

20 Aug 2014

Musings on Motherhood: My baby is One! (and a bit now...)

 

 So since there was never an eleven month post I will combine eleven and twelve months . Did you miss it dear readers or was that just my sister?

An example of his climbing abilities
Suffice to say its been non-stop with the house move, his birthday party, work and finding a new childminder. Yes folks the very day of the house move my amazing childminder handed her notice in. Devastated was not the word. We felt like she was irreplaceable as he was so happy there with his little playmates and she did such great activities with them and I really felt like we were on the same page in terms of our philosophies on raising kids. So its been a stressful, as well as lovely, few months.


So the achievements and moments that I want to remember for eleven and twelve months are :-

  • saying 'Hiya' as he holds the remote control, my mobile phone, the landline, a mega block, or anything up to his ear
  • Fifth of June he took six steps in a row
  • 22nd June he stood up in the garden and just started taking some steps and there has been no stopping him since then. In a matter of weeks he went from crawling most of the time to walking all of the time.
  • he is still putting everything in his mouth - stones, shoes, toys, a cigarette butt (just the once at the park - gross!) and sand
  • he has finally started enjoying books - especially those with textures like the 'that's not my...' series
  • he is still really smiley and in one of his birthday cards my teacher friend wrote that he has a 'smile to light up cities.' Top marks for that simile Martha!
  • he has really good spacial awareness and can navigate different heights and surfaces expertly. He manages to climb down from sofas and beds with relative ease.

  • his sleeping regressed during the move and he was back to waking at 2.30 - 3 and only going back down with a bottle and we had a few hairy nights, but glad to report we have had four nights of 11/12 hour stretches...amazing!
  • he loves climbing up slides, onto sofas, the window sill, onto his sandpit, onto the telly and on top of boxes. We don't always like it so much.
  • he is very chatty and when he is in his cot in the morning he babbles away to himself. He must be speaking Flemmish as I don't understand a word.
  • he loves opening my kitchen cupboards and pulling all of my pans out. I don't love this one so much!
  • we celebrated his first Father's Day and he made a cute card with his finger prints on and we treated The Belgian to some nice goodies and even made him a soft drink cake - inspired by a nappy cake at a recent baby shower I attended.

  • he is such a character and we can already see how sociable and confident he will be. At the airport recently he just walked around from bench to bench stopping to chat to everyone, smile at them and touch their knees. He is very tactile and seems to have no sense of 'stranger danger' yet! 
  • he loves being outside and going to the park. He loves going really high on the swings and going head first down the slide

  • his eating habits can still be hit and miss as he is still wholly reliant on his milk. We have tried a few different things and have recently found yogurt drinks in his bottle a good way to get him eating more 'solids' whilst still having a suck! His fav foods are sausages, grapes, yogurt, crackers and raisins. He loves anything sweet like ice-cream, ice lollies and cake. Of course he only has these things as the occasional treat!
  • he got very involved in supporting Belgium in the World Cup and would sit in the chair next to dad swigging on his bottle and babbling about the off side rule and it was a really sweet snapshot of the future. 

We never fail to be thankful for the blessing that Ellis is in our lives and we cannot wait to see what the next year will hold for him. No doubt lots more action!

18 Aug 2014

Me on a Monday

So we have just returned from a week in Bruges with the in-laws. We have done some pancake and waffle scoffing, visited a cute little farm where the Baby was not a fan of the big pigs but enjoyed riding on the tractor, The Belgian enjoyed being reunited with his motorbike and took The Baby for a heart attack inducing spin on it, we wondered around the cobble street eating yummy ice-cream and lounged around in caf├ęs supping cool drinks and had our first family bike ride along the canal where The Baby shocked us by falling asleep in the Baby seat upright!
A lovely trip to my now second home.

6 Aug 2014

Catching up on a month of Project Life


As we are into those busy summer months are you finding yourself behind on your Project Life?
Is it now becoming a drag because your behind and want to catch up?
Are you struggling to motivate yourself?

This is the situation I was in and I was seriously behind as June was the house move and so all of my crafting supplies were packed up as we waited and waited for exchange and completion.

However I resolved to get July done in two days...yes that is right two days.
So during nap times and in the evenings I pulled my four boxes out and let it all spill out onto the lounge floor and I got to work. I found that I had to have a routine / process to get it done and so I thought I would share that with all of you. 

* Please excuse the poor quality photos - the big camera gave up the ghost and my mobile isn't that great, but I figured it was better than nothing right? *

1) It starts with the photos. I know this is for most of us the boring / time consuming task that holds it all up. For this month in two days I just ordered a whole wallet of pictures from the free prints app. They're free and so if I don't use them all it doesn't matter, but it gives me more choice. For the next month I have got organised and sat with post-its, a notebook and a tablet with all of my instagram pics in front of me to plan each layout. This is a better way to do it as you already know what photos you need and they can all be the right way up to fit in the wallets too. 


2) With my wallet of photos I spent an hour just trimming photos and filling the pockets for the month of July.


3) Add any bits and pieces that you have hoarded for this purpose. This has been my goal recently to use the little business cards and napkins that I keep - for me this is one of the main differences between Project Life and regular scrapbooking that you can include the little bits and pieces and not worry about it ruining your overall layout. For the above layout, which documents his first pair of shoes at Clarks, I included the receipt and the appointment card.


4) Limit your supplies. If your like me and you've accumulated quite a few sets of Project Life cards try to limit yourself to one of two collections. For this spread I used mostly Jade and some Studio Calico cards I had leftover from kits. This narrows down the time spent sifting through your collection. I go through and pick out about 10-20 which would match with the colour scheme (my colour scheme is usually determined by the colours in the photos) and then just pop them in the remaining pockets and try not to overthink it.


5) Journal it. This is when blogging regularly or tweeting / facebooking/ instagramming can help as you may already have captions and journalling available to you. I have just journalled on one of two cards and the other cards were chosen to make it pretty - like the floral card below.


6) Last step, and this is optional, but for me an essential as this is often the part that I appreciate and enjoy the most of the process - the embellishements. I did limit it with just a few stamps, letter stickers and bling. For the most part I tried to work with the cards and picked journalling cards with prompts, phrases and words which worked with the photos. For example in the third layout for the month it was all about our house move and so I used journalling cards with pictures of houses on them.


So quick recap...

1) Fill the pockets with photos....


2) Select suitable journalling cards... 


3) Journal and embellish your page in a simple fashion...


4) And repeat with remaining photos for the month...


Coming soon ideas on how to scrapbook / Project Life a big sporting event. Can you guess which two sporting events it might be?

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