25 Jan 2015

Our First Wacky Warehouse Party...

So a few weeks ago we received an invite to the Baby's first Wacky Warehouse birthday party. It's not the first birthday party that he's been invited to but this invite came from one of the little girl's who he is at the childminders with. A girl I have only met a few times and whose parents I have never met as we all pick up and drop off at different times.

I felt a bit anxious turning up to a party where I wouldn't know anyone. But I had to remind myself to get a grip as it wasn't even my party - and hopefully The Baby would recognise her and we wouldn't be gate crashing someone's party! Haha!

On the way to the party I realised I hadn't got the birthday girl a pressie. What does one even get a girl? Who may be turning two...or perhaps three? I quickly texted our lovely childminder asking for help. I should have guessed the reply really...Frozen! Or just generally Disney Princess'. So I got some tat at TKMaxx and brought a Frozen gift bag to 'wrap' it in. I avoided any of those number cards since we weren't too sure and when I asked the Baby he was very little help on the matter!  

I couldn't convince the Belgian to leave the sofa (and by extension his laptop and Championship Manager - 'you're not really a football manager dear!') and so we pulled up in the car park (next to an abandoned sofa - I kid you not!) flying solo. They took ages to buzz us in (as always) apparently having a child still makes you suspicious in these types of places. 

Once inside the Baby knows the drill and was straight into the ball pit and charging down the slide head first. I, luckily, recognised the birthday girl as she was in a flamboyant party dress. She also grabbed the present from me and had it open and was playing with it in about thirty seconds flat. (See picture above!) Perhaps this is the difference between girls and boys!

The babies were supposed to be playing in the under threes bit, but the Baby loves to break the rules. I had committed a mum fail as I wasn't wearing socks and so had to chase after him barefoot. We'd only been there ten minutes when he fell down a step and banged his head and was crying his eyes out. The other mum's were very sympathetic and perhaps were shocked by my blase he does it all the time attitude. But he really does. I was cursing the Belgian at this point. Clearly leading a third division team into victory was far more important. 

It was also apparent that most of the guests at the party were Polish and I felt silly for not realising that the names on the invite were Polish. Just as the tantruming tots and hollering hooligans reached a deafening pitch a siren sounded announcing "Will Anja's party please come to the party door?" It sounded very ominous. We were ushered upstairs and there was a huge horseshoe shaped table laid out with all the fried food a tot could dream of. The Baby was very close to meltdown and if it wasn't for that platter of lukewarm fries I doubt he would have stayed, quietly, in his seat.

The Baby was pretty shocked at the numbing vanilla ice-cream, but he came back for seconds only to go through the whole spectrum of emotions again. They were getting restless again - one of the tots shut his finger in the door, another was having a full on paddy as she wanted ketchup on her ice-cream and the birthday girl took a swat at the Baby. So he threw himself, rather dramatically, onto the floor. 

We were saved by the bell and they announced, "Anja's party back in the pool pond." Oh no! I'd had enough of chasing the Baby down rainbow slides and bumped heads and so we made our excuses and left with his first ever party bag and helium balloon. We were just out of the car park when I spotted this in my rear view mirror...

Clearly someone had had too much fun and he now has a bruise and a battered slice of birthday cake to show for it! 
Till next time hey...?

19 Jan 2015

Me on a Monday

It's been a high energy fun at the play barn, breakfasting at Spoony's, entertaining a Luxembourger, wrestling with the Baby in a sea of cushions, paying a babysitter with brownies and cold pizza whilst we gorged on a curry buffet, weather trying to snow, sipping on cold root beer, chicken in the slow cooker, old roomie over for Sunday lunch, napping after a really busy weekend, rudely awoken by a coughing baby, co-sleeping elbows and duvet hogging disaster, Peppa Pig at the crack of dawn, trying to engage disengaged Year 11s into discussions of hopes for a new born baby in the poem Born Yesterday, sixth form writing their own poems about food, bonkers meeting after school, car journey home with a grizzly Baby, exhausted on the sofa only to be involved in a rare drive by incident in my own front room! 

Busy -but we wouldn't have it any other way! Big bubble bath and trashy mags in the bath to recover from it kind-of-a-weekend! 

(Linking up with the lovely Sian over here)

18 Jan 2015

Boxing Day and beyond...

You've all heard of When Harry Met Sally well what about when Ella met Ellis?
These two cousins have only met a few times and she was a bit small so I think he thought she was a doll. This time, however, they were little besties.
They played so sweetly together, ate together, bathed together and giggled together.
His favourite game is being chased hands down - hope this is not a sign of a future player! 
So someone (one of the many doting relatives!) would pick her up and chase him with her in their arms and he would kill himself laughing as she was squealing with delight. It was so cute!

Below are my two attempts at getting everyone in a picture and lets just say the Belgian was clearly having a bad photo day! It was great to have everyone together - if only for a few short days! We watched films, played board games and ate and just hung out. 

We also had both of the baby's first snowfall and that was really exciting. I didn't get the best pictures on my camera, He was so excited and was staring out of the window going 'wow!' and anytime someone left the door open he was out there like a shot. 
We had our first snowball fights, which he found hilarious and we even built a mini snowman.
Then the car was packed ready for Belgium for New Years...

16 Jan 2015

Let's talk about photography...

I read this post, a few weeks back, on the inspiring Jill Sprott's blog about how the way that we take photos has changed. I also love looking at old photos and that feeling of anticipation when getting photographs devloped and that sense of not knowing whether they would be good shots or not - and how that risk was all part of the suprprise. Often you were left with imperfect photos, but they told a story - instead of perfectly posed for instagram that has been shot ten times and edited with an app and then given a retro filter to make it look a bit more glam.

Jill linked to this amazing blog by Tara Whitney. She takes real photos and captures the essense of her subjects and her photos are authentic and they speak to the viewer. They are often unposed and natural shots, which made me think about how I take photos.

I am not a photographer in any sense of the world, but I am obsessed with taking photos, documenting and memories. A wallet of photos is like the results of a designer shopping spree or make-up haul for most ladies. I love to flick through them, to remember those precious moments and to plan how to use them and which products to co-ordinate them with.

In fact a lot of my Christmas presents this year were based on photos. I put together a photo album for the Belgian great-grandparents and for his Oma too. They had both been begging for copies of pictures for months and months, but I had an SLR cable issue. I also gave the Belgian's sister some instagram magnets of the Baby and her. They were very cute and I would definitely recommend the company - find them here.https://sticky9.com/ 

So whilst a lot of the time I feel like a fraud pulling out my ancient slr and using it on auto most of the time - I know that it takes better pictures than my iphone (which actually takes very poor photos, especially when you try to enlarge them!) 

What are your photography skills like? Are you a canon or Nikon girl? Or phone camera for the convenience?

15 Jan 2015

Memories of Christmas Day 2014

I thought that whilst they were still fresh in my mind I would jot down some Christmas Day memories:

  • The Baby was so besotted with his play kitchen from granny and grandad that he was not interested in opening any of his other presents - including his stocking. Then he discovered some random other toys that granny had acquired for his visit and he was too busy playing with those to open any presents. We really should not have worried...well to be fair we didn't really! Just a stocking with some fun bits and some mega blocks.
  • Do you see the candy striped pressies balanced on top of his kitchen? When granny gave it to him to open he took it back to the top of the kitchen. He's not usually so neat and tidy!
  • Mara gave dad a Beach Boys dvd (we're all big fans in our house - memories of summer road trips in France and dad making the car dance as we listened to the Beach Boy's cassette) and we all found their geeky appearance and 'dad' dancing hilarious. One of them was really going for it with moves from river dance one minute and twerking the next! We then introduced my dad to the fact you can find Beach Boys songs on youtube and we all had a sing along to some of the classics like 'Then I kissed her.' I've always been a fan of a song with a narrative.
  • Whilst we were browsing youtube we also played some guess the intro quizzes (where I beat everyone hands down) and some general knowledge quizzes.
  • The Baby kept tricking us by faking being tired and as a result he ended up being put down with a bottle FOUR times before he finally napped at 4 p.m! (His usual time is about midday!) Too much excitement and fun and second hand toys to play with clearly.
  • Mara and The Belgian were in the kitchen for most of the morning prepping the Christmas dinner. It meant we missed out on The Belgian's pancake breakfast and had to make do with Lindor truffles and chocolate bunnies. The Baby ate one of the truffles in a unique way by biting through the wrapper. But then chocolate for breakfast is a standard on Christmas day surely?
  •  Auntie Mara had brought The Baby a story book written in French and I read it in my best French accent (hamming it up as usual) and also gave my best rendition of the Queen's speech to mock mom's love of the royals.
  • Christmas dinner was served, uncharacteristically, at the early time of midday and most of us weren't dressed yet and so we don't have any family shots around the table as it wouldn't have been a pretty sight. The cracker jokes were as cheesy as usual and only some of our family got into the spirit and wore the party hats. The Baby enjoyed playing with his turkey dinner but I woudldn't day he consummed much of it.
  • The girls won the first film choice with Serendipity. Mum had requested it, but she was asleep after the first scene (as per usual!)
  • Boys won with the next choice and we ended up watching the controversial episode of Top Gear. Very festive!
  • We usually go on a Christmas day walk to burn off the stodgy and indulgent dinner, but this was a very lazy Christmas day and The Baby's awkward napping 'routine' meant that we missed the limited day light.

6 Jan 2015

Musings on Motherhood: My baby is a year and a half!

And the worst part is he is not a baby anymore. Perhaps I will have to rename my blog, but then surely he will always be my baby?

So what do I want to remember about him for the last few months?

I want to remember how sociable you are and how everywhere we go you charm everyone. You really do attract attention and will sometimes just toddle up to complete strangers and touch their knee and beam up at them. Very endearing and they can't help but smile back. You are very tactile. The childminder says you play really nicely with the other children she minds and are particularly chummy with Caleb, who is a month younger than you, she said babies your age don't usually play together but you two definitely do. In fact she said you both love her play kitchen and she spends the whole day restocking all of the plastic pots, pans and food as you both love throwing it everywhere, or transporting as she kindly calls it!

I want to remember your new words like 'buh bye' 'hiya' (a firm favourite accompanied by a wave) 'what's day' 'oh wow' 'uh-oh' 'dada' 'nana' and 'baby.' You first said 'wow' when daddy proudly showed you his carved out pumpkin glowing in the dark. You are saying around 12 words at the moment. You have also taken to pointing when you wants things, like your bottle or a toy, but it's sometimes difficult to work out what you want and this is why it can be a frustrating age and can end in tantrums. Luckily your tantrums just involve throwing yourself on the floor and are not accompanied by screams...yet.

I want to remember your boundless energy and how you fly from the sofa to the chair and climb right up onto our laps. Or how you climb all over us - not always welcomed when we are trying to chill out. You climb up the stairs no problem and have even managed to go back down them on your tummy - although we don't encourage this!

I want to remember how coordinated you are and how well you negotiate levels, steps and obstacles in your path. It is often commented on by others how advanced your physical development is. Your childminder is always commented on your strength, stamina and balance. You love doing the toddler squat as you play with all your toys.

I want to remember how you're finally interested in books and love to sit on the floor surrounded by all your board books and turn the pages. You have a lot of texture books and so you tend to swipe the surface of every page just in case. Your favourite bedtime book is 'Patch of Black' and you often want it read to you again again...perhaps you are just delaying bedtime! Recently you have enjoyed reading about Peppa Pigs Christmas and also Fancy Dress Christmas where each of the animals is dressed up and you have to turn the flaps - you love doing this over and over again and I often don't get to finish the page as your so keen to flip it over.

I want to remember your love of sausages, pasta and anything sweet. More often than not your food is thrown in the floor when you've had a few bites, but the few times you get chocolate buttons or sweeties not one is wasted. In fact you tend to shove them all in five at a time and keep cramming more in. (We're working on your table manners.) You always preferred finger foods and I even make your porridge chunky so you can eat it with hands, however in the last few weeks you've been asking us to load up your fork and enjoyed feeding yourself. It takes twice as long and our dinner gets cold but hey ho! In Belgium you loved the frites and waffles and are showing your affinity to the culture through your sweet tooth! You love attacking the mound of whipped cream on top of the waffle too.

I want to remember how happy you are and how happy you make other people. Your smile is infectious and it lights up your whole face. You've started playing a lot more games with us and enjoy peek-a-boo, wrestling with daddy, feeding us your dinner and giving us kisses (only when you feel like it!)

Your favourite toys are definitely your cars and anything with wheels. Your building up quite a collection - especially after Christmas. You make 'brmm brmm' noises and run your cars along the carpet or up the sofas. You love opening the doors and putting cargo in the back of your trucks. You also like the brio set grandad glued onto a piece of wood and painted like grass. You most enjoy sitting on it as you play with it. You enjoy watching In the Night Garden, Peppa Pig and Baby Jake but recently have liked anything on the big screen! 

Being your mamma is exhausting and relentless, especially since your still not the best sleeper in the world and are a little bit too obsessed with your bottle for an eighteen month old. However there is never a dull moment and you enrich our lives so much.

(NB: These photos were taken between September - December 2014) 

3 Jan 2015

Hello 2015!

I thought that I would begin the New Year by reflecting on some of my goals from last year:
  • Blog twice a week at least - not far off, I blogged 94 times in 2014. I think my commitment to Blogvember helped this as I managed 22 days in a row and then life got busy! I have been pondering blogging and in December was toying with quitting. However during the holidays I looked back over some of my old posts and realised that even if I didn't have loads of followers or page views etc I have a loyal 'following' and I enjoy having the record for myself as I don't keep a diary anymore.
  • Take more videos of The Baby - I have taken more as he loves to watch himself!
  • Upgrade my SLR so that it has a video function - these two are linked really and I didn't upgrade my SLR yet as we're always a bit hesitant about big purchases and this year we made a big purchase (see below) so some things had to wait.
  •  Learn a new craft - not really. My friend started a sewing club in November but due to babysitting issues and parents evenings etc I haven't attended yet but this is my plan for the new year.
  • Start and complete Project Life for the year (yikes!) - this one is basically done just waiting for some more pictures to be delivered. I definitely have a lot of spreads for each month and I've kept fairly on top of it. I planned to share it more on the blog but found the project life posts don't get a lot of views or comments and so didn't bother. I am really proud of my album though and my December Daily is almost completed too.
  • Try to read a classic book every month - definitely failed with this one. Teaching really takes over your free time. I want to recommit to this one.
  • Buy our first home together - I am very proud that we achieved this one. All on our own as well. Turns out we're quite good at saving when we put our mind to it. The house is still in progress and this is why I've not shared many (any) pictures on the blog. Completing a few rooms is definitely on my 2015 to do list with the gallery wall a priority for January. 
  • Spend less time browsing online and more time socialising with friends and spending time with my lovely family - still a work in progress. I got an iphone so that pretty much ruined that goal.
  • Be more active - the Baby ensures I get the run around often but I've been pretty useless about joining a gym or a class and this is a top priority for 2015 too.
  • Eat healthier - I did well on Slimfast in July and was even able to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans for my works end of term do. I found it wasn't that sustainable and when summer came too many ice-creams and eating out undid some of my work. 
  • Take The Baby to Eurodisney (I know he's too young, but still!) - we did Bruges twice, had a day out to Whitby and lots of adventures around Yorkshire but didn't manage Disney. I think I was getting carried away after seeing someone's instagram pics and that actually he's too young at the moment. We saw a leaflet for Peppa Pig World, the other day, and that is a must-do for 2015.
5/11 ain't bad hey?
How did you do with your goals and resolutions?

In other news I just found this funny list of toddler resolutions on twitter, my Baby certainly needs to work on some of these - especially number 6 & 8!
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