Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013 has been incredibly busy with a lot of extended family, much different to our usual family of 6. We have fit in so much this year and had lots of family over and visited and I'm starting to feel pretty worn out. I love Christmas but with four children it's not without it's hard work and some patience, it's definitely not like the romantic movies. I've enjoyed it but I will be glad to put everything away and begin the New Year. Christmas is changing as the children get older and I think next year our Christmas needs a good shake up but we'll see what the coming year has to offer.....

We had a lovely Christmas Eve watching the second instalment of the Hobbit trilogy at the cinema and lunch out before coming home and having our Christmas curry. We had a family board game of the Logo game, which has been the saving grace of nearly every family gathering this Christmas so well worth the £2 charity shop fee.

Before we put out the reindeer food, Christmas mince pie and milk for Santa. Then it was time to get into new Christmas pjs and all were in bed for 9pm :)

We had a lovely Christmas Day but hubby hasn't been well bless him and so our much look-forwarded to Turkey was slightly over cooked :( a house full of Lego, Dolls house paraphnalia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Xbox games and chocolate.  I think the thing for us is that all the things that people think makes Christmas special-the together time, eating together, playing board games, going for walks etc we do everyday anyway! 

This year I'm thankful for the small things in my life, the food in my fridge, hubby being able to spend time with us and not having to work over Christmas for the first time in years, having a warm house to live in and being with my five favourite people in the world. 

I'm looking forward to seeing 2014 and seeing what it has to offer for us and our pesky little hobbits :)

Homemade Christmas Gifts

There is nothing quite like a handmade Christmas gift, I'd have one over a bought gift any day especially when it's made with so much love. Last year the children each painted a plate for grandparents, they were gorgeous and I think I ended up forgetting to blog about them even though our trip to the pottery shop was really lovely-must go again in 2014!

This year the girls wanted to make their Dad a stag head as he really loves them plus it means a good alternative to a real one..which given half a chance he would love to have! I am rubbish with papier mâché and hobbycraft had managed to sell out of theirs so I found a papier mâché stag head online and the girls picked out decoupage paper from hobbycraft. We didn't use the expensive decoupage glue but watered down PVA glue which worked really well and was a cheaper alternative.

It was really easy to do and very relaxing:

This is what it looked like all finished:

We just need to find some wall space to put it up now. Hubby loved it too :)

A couple of months ago Cordelia found this idea in an Usbourne book, it's quite a simple idea really: you shape kitchen foil into a bird shape and then cut up/rip tissue paper and glue it on to the bird with PVA glue for feathers. Cordelia made several different birds all in different colours and gave them to nannan's and great nannan's.

She put each bird in a box with some care instructions and wrapped the box with gold tissue paper and ribbon.

She has had the most wonderful compliments from everyone. Her great nannan said it made her cry she was so touched by the thoughtfulness of it. Such a simple idea that was very inexpensive but filled with love, care and attention. 

Ruben made this picture for his grandad who is a very keen fisherman. Again it was an idea from an Usbourne book, he first scrunched up a piece of blue paper then stuck it down on to a white piece of paper making the "sea". He then cut out different fish shapes from magazines and stick them down swimming in different directions, he cut out a boat shape and made a man sitting in the boat and then drew on a fishing rod. We had an old picture frame in the garage so it was given a new lease of life:

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Victorians, Sheffield Cholera Monument & Mr Thornton's Blue Plaque

Last night after I sat and read Tolkien's letters to Father Christmas to Ruben whilst he was in the bath, the girls, Hubby and I sat and watched a brilliant documentary on BBC4 "New Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home". We had seen the historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb on BBC Breakfast News and the show really caught our attention. Piper is a huge fan of the Victorians and I like most historical things so it was a good combination. Piper kept coming out with facts about the Victorians and statistics like the amount of Victorian children who didn't survive past the age of 12, watching this series you can see why. Treating "off" milk with Borax was one of the most shocking I think but also what chemicals were added to their basic foods such as bread was very scary. I think things have moved on quite a lot since the Victorian times. Cholera was mentioned as a big killer of the Victorian times and it reminded me there is a Cholera Monument in Sheffield, I'd never been or not that I can remember so I found out where it was and this morning we all got wrapped up and paid a visit.

As a teenager I often spent a lot of time around this area of Sheffield as two of my best friends lived right near it and I still couldn't remember visiting! When I was looking more into the history of the monument I also stumbled on to another history website where I found that the founder of Thornton's Chocolates lived in Sheffield and the first Thornton's shop was opened in Sheffield in 1911. Seems appropriate given we have bought several boxes of Thornton's recently and Piper was tucking into a big box for her birthday. I have fond memories of Thornton's as my Aunt worked there when I was about 5 or 6 years old and whenever we went to say hello she would let me pick several chocolates out of the glass cabinet all for myself. The shop was underground too, as Sheffield used to have a huge roundabout which locally was called the "hole in the road" and there were lots of shops in the subway parts. As it was only 2 minutes from the monument we paid a visit to the house to see the blue plaque.

Then we walked along the rows of Victorian terraced/semi-detached houses to Clay Wood where the monument is. In Sheffield 402 people died of Cholera in the 1832 epidemic and the monument was erected in 1835,  the victims were buried in a mass grave on this spot. The Master Cutler at the time John Blake also died in the Cholera Epidemic and has a special grave near the monument. We talked about the causes of Cholera and how there hasn't been a case recorded in the UK since 1893 because of the improvements in sanitation and hygiene.

It is a stunning viewpoint for views of the city, and we spent a while discussing the buildings we could see like Hallam University, Sheffield Cathedral, Odeon Cinema..

Sheffield United football ground in the distance:

Master Cutler's John Blake's gravestone.

Sheffield is famous for its cutlery and steel and a Master Cutler has been in place since 1624, a Master Cutler is elected every year and doesn't have to have anything to do with cutlery or steel. There is also a Cutler's Hall in Sheffield so we might have to pay a visit there in the near future.

We came back home for lunch before popping out to Chesterfield for some Christmas pyjamas, and a few more bits plus a quick trip into the central library for some new books for the girls and Ruben. I sat and read "T'was the Night Before Christmas" to Ruben whilst we were in the library too, I've never read it before. Bailey went into the shop and painted some Warhammer figures whilst hubby and I went to pick up our new glasses from the optician. Things seem a lot clearer this evening...

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Building Dolls' Houses!

Piper was excited to get started on her dolls house today now it has all dried, so she set about painting the front of the house. It was much quicker than she had expected so she got through all the front and then began on the actual house. 

She has picked a really lovely green colour, Grandad was right the acrylic worked really well, left a smooth finish and dried really fast too.

Here it is unpainted:

After Piper had painted all of her house she had a break to help Cordelia with a Christmas present for Dad, it's looking lovely and I can't wait to post a photo of it up but can't spoil the surprise! 

Hubby, Ruben and I took Tallulah for a little walk to get some fresh air and spotted this tree branch which had come down presumably last week in the heavy gales :(

You can see where it should have been:

And where it landed:

We were super lucky to spot a rare cuddly Armadillo on the branch though :)

We also saw some lovely Llamas on our walk and the farmer rounding up his sheep and geese which was rather funny!
Back home and we put our favourite Christmas film on -Elf and made snowflakes and paper chains to decorate the hallway-they look pretty cool :)

Cordelia's lips are much better today thankfully but she's still feeling a bit tired. She has had a chilled out day reading Harry Potter, playing Sims on the Xbox and making dads Christmas present. Bailey has done all of this weeks maths work, he scored an A on his weekly test and has spent this afternoon prepping for tonight's controlled assignment which he has to go into college for. He was a bit nervous before he left but I think he will be fine once he gets there.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Piper is a teenager!!!!

I say it but I still can't believe my baby girl is thirteen years old. Out of all my labour's Piper's is the one I have the nicest memories of, even though it was hands down the most painful labour. I remember the midwives being really relaxed and sat having cups of tea and eating our M & S Christmas biscuits! And I remember walking through the house and leaning on the kitchen side when there was a contraction, it was all so calm and I wonder if that's why Piper is so chilled. She arrived into such a warm, relaxed, happy home filled with lovely people and when I pulled her towards me after I'd delivered her head and shoulders she lay on my chest and blew bubbles at me and her daddy. She was perfect. I remember Bailey getting up really early, about 3 hours after she was born and coming in to see his new baby sister, he was so excited to meet her and he felt so big next to her even though he was only 2 and a half years old. Such wonderful memories that make me so emotional to think back to.....

Back to present day and we were up just before 7am, which is a lie in really as Piper had barely slept and was awake from 6am! This year she asked for a Dolls House Emporium Classical Dolls' House so that is what she got, she was very excited and over the moon with her house. She got a few small presents from friends and quite a bit of birthday money which she is rather sensibly saving until the time comes to furnish the dolls' house.

She requested a breakfast of Pop Tarts, which Hubby says has been the easiest birthday breakfast of the year haha! Then we had to get ready and take Cordelia to the doctors as she had really painful swollen lips and I was worried they might be infected. The Doctor gave us some cream with antibiotics in and hopefully it will help. Whilst Cordelia and I were in the doctors Hubby took Piper and Ruben to the local craft shop so Piper could choose some paint for her dolls house. My Father in Law gave her a tip when painting the dolls house-use acrylic paint not gloss and use a roller not a brush so they bought acrylic paint and a smaller roller.

Back home and Hubby helped Piper construct the house, was a little tricky but its gone together really quickly and will need about 24 hours to dry.

As Piper had already eaten most of her birthday cake on her party I set about making her a chocolate tart instead of another cake, she is mad about chocolate :)

Piper meanwhile sat and filled in one of her new Usbourne Sticker Books-the 1920's fashion one, she loves it. A very chilled out day for a birthday really. Hubby picked up the Logo Board Game from the Charity shop earlier when he went to the post office for a bargain £2! So after a birthday tea of homemade pizza by Hubby we all had a game.  Ended up being a bit of a crazy game as think everyone was too full of pizza to pay enough attention so ended up being a super silly game. Afterwards we sang Happy Birthday and had some chocolate tart, yum.

Piper and Cordelia went on the laptops for a bit, Ruben had an early night as he was so tired from our busy weekend. Piper and I then ended up watching the next installment of Tudor Farm Monastery, its the 4th one we've watched now and its been a great series. Then early nights all round as everyone was so tired, think everything is catching up with all of us and we are all a bit shattered.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Piper's Adventure Time Party!

Piper doesn't really do parties as such, she has always been quite shy in big groups and has only had a handful of parties but this is a special birthday and 13 definitely deserves a party. It was more like a small gathering than a party though as she only invited 4 of her friends and one of them couldn't come so it was just the 5 girls in the end. I think that was about perfect for Piper because she was very comfortable and could be herself.

Hubby planned several games for them all to play, and we had said to parents that it was 11-5-so quite a long time but the love just hanging out and chatting so we thought it was a good amount of time for them to do everything.

Piper had chosen the food which mainly consisted of sugar! She wanted bowls of skittles, haribo, strawberry laces, profiteroles, chocolate cookies, chocolate cupcakes, mini pork pies and sausage rolls. I did some sandwiches and bread sticks too so that they at least had some food as well as sweets!

When Piper's guests arrived they sat and made these printable adventure time paper characters, it was a nice starter game and you can find the link here if you want to have a go with them. I think they are ace and we are planing to do all of them over the coming week. Cordelia's Ice King has gone on the top of our tree now!

Once Hubby arrived back with Cordelia fresh from her riding lesson we began the games:

First game was "Pop the Lumps", we tied a purple balloon to each of the girls legs and they had to protect their "lumpy princess" from being stamped on, they had to try and pop their opponents balloon first, the winner was the person who's balloon survived. It was a very fun game!

It got a little bit chaotic and they had too much room so we put them in the hallway to make it a bit easier

Second game was: "Lose Your Lumps" hubby had wrote Lumps on white stickers and gave the girls 10 stickers each, they had to try and get rid of their lump stickers on each other but if the other person catches you "lumpin" them then you get two lumps back! Was a lot of fun and lasted ages as we played it alongside the other games.

Third game was "Princess Charades" hubby had printed off lots of pictures from Adventure Time of different princesses and on the back of each one he had written 4 different charades the girls had to act out. They were incredibly random in Adventure Time style, things like brushing your teeth with a shoe, an owl eating a mouse or Winnie the Poo fighting Eeyore-harder than they sounds just with actions. Caused lots of giggles..

"Pin the Star on the Lumpy Space Princess" hubby had turned Piper's halloween costume int LSP's face and we used that to try and pin her star on. But it wasn't easy because they had a pillowcase over them and LSP is soo impatient that she moved round so the girls had to guide each other.

Finally they played "Stop the Zombies Potions" Hubby had created different potions on paper, they were all fast food related and he had printed off all the fast food signs/symbols. We stuck them with blue tack around the hallway and the girls had to wok in teams of two or more to collect them all in 30 seconds whilst the zombie (me in a halloween mask) tried to distract them. They then got to have a chocolate each.

The girls played another game of charades as we had some leftover and also watched Adventure Time episodes that we had recorded as not all of them were familiar with Adventure Time-think they might be now though :) They made another paper character each too. Then we sang Happy Lumpin' Birthday to the birthday girl before the girls disappeared upstairs to draw together-very sweet.

All in all I think Piper had a fantastic birthday party and the girls seemed to have fun. Tomorrow my baby girl is going be 13......

Family Christmas..and lots of baking

Yesterday we had a really busy day, I had lots of baking to do and we had some party games to organise for Piper's Adventure Time Party. I spent most of the morning making two layers of chocolate cake ready to turn into a Lumpy Space Princess and some chocolate cupcakes, Cordelia made a butch of her scrummy double choc chip cookies too so the kitchen was very hot and a bit manic! But it all came good in the end.

By the time I got round to having a shower and getting ready for a family party there was no hot water so I had to have a very cold shower:(

We got presents and cards ready to take over to my dads and then drove the 40 minutes over to their house. Was very busy with 12 adults and 6 children around but it was good fun. Ruben particularly enjoyed a family game of bingo where he was bingo caller. Cordelia and I fought over who got to give our new baby niece cuddles the most! She is so cute :) Before we knew it it was time to go, we had to drop Ruben off with his friends as he was off to see the circus again.

He was very excited and probably quite high on sugar and according to my friend had a whale of a time and managed to get himself on stage once again, my friend thinks he will have no confidence issues when he is older-fingers crossed! He got home just after 10 pm and after he had finished telling us all about it we all went to bed-it had been a long day and we had Piper's party to prepare for! Tired but happy children :)

Friday, 13 December 2013

A stitch in time....makes a princess

We've had a lovely walk around Rufford Country park today with friends, we stopped for hot chocolates and cookies halfway round. Much needed fresh air on our behalf after several home days. Rufford was looking pretty in anticipation of its aurora light show this weekend. Shame the playground was shut though.

Cordelia took this photos:

Back home via a cake shop to buy some more sugarpaste icing as the colour I ordered online was all wrong for a lumpy space princess cake. Couldn't resist buying sugarpaste gingerbread men, I can never resist gingerbread people! Need to think what to do with them now....

We popped into Sainsburys for the birthday girl to be's party food, it's a random assortment of her favourite foods so should be interesting! She's happy though and that's all that matters.

Back home and we watched Arthur Christmas for the second time, I introduced the kids to an old favourite with Tom Hanks "Big"-brilliant film. Hubby played Heroclicks again with the boys and Cordelia. They are loving it :) Piper and I made some felt lumpy space princess badges for her party guests-I'd like one for myself now their some flippin' awesome.

Usual Animal Jam after tea and Piper's daily blog post on behalf of Chubby the dog.