Friday, 29 March 2013

Daily 'commute', well... school run!

Inspired by my hubby's new blog and the photo report of his daily commuting (that you can see here), I give you my own daily travels, namely the school run...

This is the start of  'the hill'. It's not much when you just have to walk up it but add pushing a buggy with one hand and dragging a child with the other and it's just a bit more tricky. And when I was pregnant with DD3... Well I'd tried  to convince myself it was good exercise to be ready to give birth.


When I'm not dragging him behind DS is often to be found at some distance... That day he was playing at letting me walk from him and running to catch up.





 

 He often 'hides'...



Or reads the street signs.


 And sometimes I find myself going on the school run with a Super.


It's always an adventure as I never know when I will finally be home...!

I'm linking up with the Monday Club (yes, I know, it's not Monday...).



The Walking Wonder!


 I think it was fate that this week's theme for the Gallery should be Walks as P. just started walking this week!!!

She  was quite happy up until now to do her very own version of bottom-shuffling, one leg dragging on the floor, one foot and one hand (on the same side)  achieving the propulsion - you can tell her dad is an engineer!
But lately she might have realised it wasn't quite cutting it if she wanted to be 'there' with the big ones. Maybe she also considered that she was soon going to be 18 months and had a mid-toddlerhood existencial crisis? So she tried a few steps with Mummy right in front of her, just in case, or she would try when nobody was watching, or she would ask for an audience and make a show of it. Then she went onto the 'crossing the room' level. I had taken another picture, the day before this one, where she had her back to me and was laughing like a maniac. When she knows we are watching her she does this funny thing of flapping her arms to get cheers and applause, in the same fashion almost as performers gesture to their public to cheer and clap louder.

So... Another big step, litteraly and figuratively, in my 'baby's' life. Next it will be the little bag/harness and walks outside! And more pictures probably (:

I'm linking up with the Gallery.

How can you sleep like this?!



I was sitting on the sofa when my youngest came next to me and 'helped herself' to some milk in that funny (and not looking very comfortable) position! Then she fell asleep and I thought it was well worth a picture.

:)

I'm linking up with Photo of the Week. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Rain drops


We had a mini thunderstorm on Monday. This is the rain on my kitchen window just after it had passed :)

I'm linking up with Photo of the Week.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Snap Happy: Sea!

A year ago for my birthday DH booked a long week end on the Isle of Wight, with this view from or bedroom... *sigh*

Monday, 18 March 2013

Community




Today I wanted to write down some words I have been meaning to share for a while, about the amazing community of our Hampshire village.

DH and I moved here from Germany 12 years ago. We only planned to stay 3 or 5 years but Life had other ideas! And in these 12 years we have truly made our home here.

I got pregnant not long after we'd moved in the village. I didn't know anything about NCT or toddler groups so I didn't really socialised much with anyone. We were also planning our wedding in France and were at first going back quite often at the week-end.
The first contacts we made were through church. We are both Catholic and discovered (after a few months!) that there were Catholic services every week in the village, in the local church (kindly shared by the Church of England). It so happened that one of our neighbours attended the same church and we became friends with her over the weeks, sharing a  cup of tea with her almost every Sunday morning.
When we lost our baby boy at 32 weeks the people from church were the ones who supported us and grieved with us. The first time we went back to church, our priest, who had come to see us and the baby in hospital, had shared our sad news with everyone. There were arms to hug me, for which I was very grateful. A lovely couple also took me under their wings and they remained close friends, acting later as surrogate grand parents for all our children!

But away from the comforting Sundays, the days of the week were really hard. I barely dared to go to the shops - I actually didn't go to the closest convenience store for weeks - afraid that somebody who had seen me pregnant would enquire after the baby. Just walking outside made me feel painfully self-conscious, with my flat belly that said that the baby was born but no baby to present to well-meaning strangers... Or worse, a flat belly and empty arms that said that I was not a mother yet, when I felt very much that I was one.
But as time passed and a we actively tried to be included in the village life I discovered that a lot of people actually knew about my baby. We live in a village after all, and as a newly arrived French couple we were naturally the subject of talks! And it was actually really nice when, out of the blue, someone would mention our son, just to say sorry...

When we were expecting our second baby our friends from church were expecting with us. We realised it when she was born and had the surprise of a welcome party one Sunday after church, and more hugs!

Then we made many friends in the following years. And when we lost our fourth baby it was almost the whole village, our community, who knew and grieved with us. When I came back from hospital this time I didn't feel afraid to go outside. I had my closest friends all around me to support me. Everyone knew I was a mother and everyone knew my girls had had a new baby brother who had left us far too soon.
For weeks after he was born, it wasn't just on one occasion that people hugged and comforted me, but on a regular basis! I have often said that, in the first days, I couldn't go 10 paces without somebody hugging me and it's hardly exaggerated. It was truly amazing to feel all this love and support. 
The outside world wasn't anymore outside of the house but outside of our village. I remember two occasions in particular where I found distressing to have left, although very temporarily, the village.

One was going to church around our baby's anniversary. By then we didn't have services in the village anymore and had to go to the main parish church. As the priest said the usual words about remembering those whose anniversary occurs around this time it dawned on me that nobody in this church remembered my baby... 

Another one, much earlier, quite soon actually after we'd lost him, was a simple shopping trip in town, DH, me and the two girls. For a reason I don't remember DH and I went back to the car by separate ways, the children being with me. I took the wrong exit from the shopping mall and into the car park and could not find the car. It was easy enough to go back in and out again through the right exit but I couldn't do it. I felt completely and utterly lost, probably in more than one way. In the end I had to call DH to have him tell me where to exit the mall.

How insanely happy I felt that day to be back in our village, our haven.

I'm linking up with Sarah Miles' Monday Club.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Duck - Photo of the Week


I was going to take a picture of a snoozing duck on the other side of the bridge when this one came to see me :) I didn't even realise at the time that DB would be in the background!

I'm linking up with Louise Lloyd's Photo of the Week.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Mothers' Day breakfast at Fawlty Towers...!


I don't know where it came from but DD1 and DD2 have this idea that a birthday or celebration day for me or DH consists mainly of them serving the recipiendaire breakfast in bed.

Of course we all know how that ends up : little people jumping on the bed and spilling/breaking as many things as possible, cold beverage/cooked breakfast (if that's the case), different debris and crumbs in your bed, sheets and covers to put in the washing machine...

Yesterday though DH convinced the Froggies junior that breakfast was best served on the table. So instead I had the 'treat' of a breakfast to hotel standards , DD2 being the waitress and DD1 the cook.

At 6.50 they were raring to go. DD2 kept coming in our bedroom while I was trying to sleep a bit longer, asking what I wanted for breakfast while DD1 was going ahead and toasting me a muffin anyway.

When I came downstairs, having given up hope to have a lie in, they had all but lost interest. Whatever I required from then on I was told I had to get myself and my muffin was cold.

So when DH said at some point "Welcome to Fawlty Towers" it was spot on : intrusive and rude staff, mediocre service and food, yes, that sums it up!

Bu hey! What a great memory! I will still laugh about it when I'm a hundred - if I make it - and I also got my lovely cards and cuddles full of love. What more could a mum ask ?!


I'm linking up with Sarah Miles' Monday Club

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Snap Happy: Mother!

When I was pregnant with DD3, about to become a mother for the 6th time...

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Snap Happy : Wedding pic

This picture always makes me smile. I was just standing up after kneeling down to talk to one of the little flower girls and DH... I don't know, maybe he had just remembered to breathe!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Snap Happy: Women


With my mum, one of my favourite pics of my wedding day!

A splash of joy




We've had some lovely sunny days this past week. I took some pictures at the park and in the garden, thinking there could be a nice post in there for the Photo of the Week. But in the end I couldn't resist choosing the rainy day one!
I thought that this shot of DS, with his bright raincoat and dinosaur umbrella, was such a joyful sight on an otherwise grey and miserable morning.

I reflected how it's often like that with children. It's not only their clothes and accessories that are so much more jolly than adults' but it's their whole attitude to life. Their sheer delight in everything, whether it's the rain, wind or sunshine, a trip on the bus or in the plane.
Everything has the power to bring them joy, and to us too if we stop and look at them and see things like them.

 I remember a day out with DD1 and DD2. It was a sunny, lovely bank holiday. We couldn't use the car and we had decided to go by bus to a local museum, situated in a leisure park, out of the town centre. But DD1 didn't like it (the museum runs over a sort of huge basement where all the exhibits are and it's quite dark) so we ended up killing the time in a deserted and grubby coffee shop, the girls having claimed they were hungry, waiting for the bus back home.
And DD2, who must have been around 3, exclaimed "This is a nice holiday!" And it was from that moment on, and it's a lovely memory.

Now, have you noticed how there are more and more places that are "for adults only"? I see them when I book holidays or outings for us. Restaurants, hotels, campsites, etc. On one hand I am thinking 'fair enough', and if that means there are less chance for me to spend time with my children surrounded by stuck up old bags, so be it!
But on the other hand I think that it's sad really, that these people can only see children as a nuisance and deny themselves a splash of joy in the greyness...


ps. No offence meant if you like Adult Only places! I know I'm generalising here and you could have very good reasons to go to these places, it's just for the sake of the argument.



I'm linking up with Louise LLoyd's Photo of the Week.



Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Far Breton and prunes memories...


This is one if my easy tea options : a vegetable soup and a Far Breton, plenty of nutrients and a sweet indulgence. Perfect! 

It's normally done with prunes. There always were prunes I'm my grand mother's house in Auch (the capital of Gers and home of Dartagnan). It went with this area of France, and the prunes were delicious, fresh, soft and juicy. When staying there we would have prunes and Armagnac ice cream (oh yes!), and a cake called Dame à l'Armagnac : a light génoise filled with a delicious prunes and Armagnac cream. The story of me dropping my slice of Dame à l'Armagnac on the floor one day is part of the family folklore! 
And around Christmas we had a delicious confiserie involving, if not prunes at least the shape of prunes, most certainly Armagnac and very possibly chocolate. I can't remember exactly what they were and couldn't find them on the Net but they might well have been something like this : 




But here in Hampshire I don't always have prunes in the house... So I do the Far with apples, raisins, banana, chunky chocolate chips or a mix! 
When asked by my daughters "What is it in English?" The closest I could come with was some sort of sweet Yorkshire pudding, with less flour and more eggs. But the consistency is close and the cooking also, with big chunks of butter placed on top of the mixture, forming pools of melted deliciousness surrounded by an amazingly raised pudding!

For 4 - 6 :
4 eggs
80g flour
60g cornflour
250g prunes
150g caster sugar
1/3 litre of milk
a pinch of salt
100g salted butter
1 tsp baking powder
vanilla

Soak the prunes in water for 2 hours (I rarely do that, if I do I rather soak them in rum or calvados!).
Generously butter an oven dish. Drain the prunes, remove the stones and place in the dish.
In a bowl mix the flour, cornflour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, salt, eggs and milk. Pour onto the prunes and scatter on top the remaining butter in  slices.
Cook in the oven for 12mn at 280 (th.10), 12mn at 220 (7) and 12mn at 180 (5).
Serve warm.
 


Monday, 4 March 2013

Kids and dogs - Monday Club


This dog/charity bucket has always been there as far as we're concerned and every single one of our children has in turn stroked, cuddled, patted, ridden, pretend walked, jumped on it and put a penny through its head for its trouble! 
It's quite amazing the fascination that animals in general and dogs in particular hold for little ones.
They also have all asked and are still asking to have a dog belonging to the family. DS had just joined the rank of the Can-we-have-a-dog beggars. 
Unfortunately, and although I appreciate all that having a dog can bring to children, I can't see it happening anytime soon. Our small 3 bed terraced is getting a bit cramped as it is for our family. Trying to house a dog as well would definitely set us on the path to being the real life characters of A Squash and a Squeeze (without the option to making everyone go live in the garden and realise that the house is not that small after all). 


Plus with DB still quite young and requiring a lot of my time I don't feel I could manage the extra work.

The funny thing is we had been thinking of getting a puppy. But then I got unexpectedly pregnant with DB, so we got a baby instead!


I'm linking up with Sarah Miles' Monday Club.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Prayer for our children





Lord, I place into Your hands the names of our children.
Carve them deeply into your heart so that nothing can take them away.
Protect them if I am forced to let go of their hand.
Be Your strength always greater than their weakness.
I am not asking that you spare them any sorrow,
But that you are their comfort if they feel alone or afraid.
Keep our children within Your Alliance
In Your name.
Never let them go too far away from You
At any time of their lives.
Lord, I place in Your hands the names of our children.

(by the ARNAUD family, translated from French)