Friday, 9 December 2011

It's the weekend

Jump up, it's the weekend everybody! I love the weekends. I love family time with all three of my boys. I love going to fun places together and relaxing and playing as a family.

I don't much love having to cram a week's worth of housework into a weekend and having very limited space to put all our many, many mountains of crap to stop it spreading across the floor like some the pink slime in ghostbusters. I swear our crap has a life of its own!

This week, after all of us getting a tummy bug that's still haunting the children, the floor has had more than its fair share of *actual* crap, too. Which was nice.

I feel like I haven't slept in an eternity and when I get chance I can't turn off my head.

A few months ago I would have been lying awake with dark thoughts spinning around in my head about all the bad things that could happen. Now it's different, now I'm lying awake with all my plans and hopes for our future.

My little family is in a good place right now. We're on our way up out of a hole we didn't know how to climb out of a while ago.

Holding together and knowing when to take a step back got us through. Gritting our teeth and knowing the hard times were temporary wasn't always easy but we got from there to here, whole and together - and now things look so positive and exciting and it feels like we're finally getting towards the life we hoped for.

We have less time together as a family now - so I love the weekends. I love being able to get up slowly and not have to rush the boys out the door, being able to enjoy playing with them on the living room floor in our jimmy jams rather than trying to rush around transforming myself into Working Mum and just being Mummy.

I love putting on their coats and shows and heading out somewhere and knowing we can spend the whole day together doing whatever we want!

Now all I want for Christmas, to make this life perfect, is a house with a garden and a garage to dump all the crap into. A dishwasher. A cleaner. A magic tumble drier that irons clothes. Someone who puts all the clothes away. For my temporary contract to be made permanent. For the quails to start laying eggs. Oh, and Grey's Anatomy box sets and a grey felt cloche.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Silent Owl

I just posted the review of the first of our two new books from Top That Publishing here but we were lucky enough to receive two new story books - so here is the second review!

"The Silent Owl" is illustrated by Sam McPhillips and written by Clemency Pearce.

The story is of a little owl who doesn't speak, and all the other animals trying to get him to! 

Of all the books we've received from Top That Publishing this is second on my favourites list - trumped only by "When I dream of ABC" which is my best children's book of ALL TIME. 

"The Silent Owl" is just lovely - again the just excellent quality of the book makes it a pleasure to sit and hold and read, and again the artwork is just gorgeous. 

The story is sweet and heartwarming, emotive. The pictures, with their scrapbook feel and distinctive style, are enchanting. 

The one thing I would change, if I could, is that on the pages with the mice and the pages with the squirrel the writing is pretty hard to read in a dim room by lamp light - black ink on a dark blue page is a bit of a struggle - and we love books at bedtime in this house. 

As you progress through the story the night sky gets darker which is a lovely touch - and after a few pages the writing is printed on a light block within the picture, but those two pages still have the writing printed in the sky and it's just a little bit difficult to pick the words out without good lighting.

That's the only thing that holds this book back from trumping "When I dream of ABC" to the top spot in my soft spot list! 

If you would like to get a copy of this really gorgeous story book for yourself (or your kids, but you deserve it, right!) you can get hold of it here at a reduced promotional price - and you really, really should! 

[disclaimer - Top That Publishing sent this book for free to review; all opinions are my own, and honest]

Only Nooglebooglers glow in the dark

Last Friday I took a day off work to spend looking after a poorly Jellybean after the scary night when he got the terrible rash/reaction and I wasn't sure how I was going to entertain two over tired, grumpy and, in his case, quite unwell small people.

A quick trip to the doctor and a walk to the pharmacy and a little walk in the fresh air was good for them both - but once back home I didn't know what to do to keep them happy because they were both finding the day more than a little difficult!

Lucky for us that just happened to be the day that the latest parcel from Top That Publishing arrived!

As always we were absolutely thrilled to receive new books - Jellybean and Midget Gem are both MASSIVE fans of stories and snuggles and entertaining books - so it was just what the doctor ordered! (Well, actually, the doctor ordered calpol, cool baths and piriton - but you know what I mean!) 

The first book that we opened was "Only Nooglebooglers glow in the dark" - illustrated by Mark Chambers, written by James McKnight.

As always the book is superb quality - it's the thick, quality paper, lovely feel and chunky square shape we've come to associate with Top That Publishing products. 

It has, again as always with their books, really wonderful artwork inside - the illustrations are detailed, atmospheric and charming. The colours are vibrant and even without being able to read, Jellybean can look through this book and tell me stories on every page - which is, to me, the sign of a good book right now! 

I enjoyed the story - it's very silly, and makes us laugh (particularly because we get to say "Smelly Poo" which never fails to make ME giggle, though Daddytwo frowns and calls me childish!) 

I wasn't very keen on the first pages, 'McDoogle's Monster Farm Field Guide' which describes the characters, plants and monsters on the farm and in the books (this book is one of, so far, two - I hope that there will be more - in the series). To me there was too much information, and too many words, for one double page spread. Jellybean was getting bored as I went through it all - and the monsters all have very long names - 4/5 syllables of nonsense sounds that are designed, I'm sure, to make children giggle - but which are actually, because they're made up and entirely unfamiliar, quite difficult to say at first and too difficult for young children to say. For older children I'm sure it won't be a problem and they'll like that factor - but for us it was a little bit much to read and pronounce. Toddlers have a short attention span, poorly ones even more so!

Beyond that, though, we all enjoyed the book. The story, of the monsters and farm hand saving the party when it all goes wrong, is utterly charming and silly, funny and sweet. The monsters are cute and the expressions on the faces of all the characters throughout made me smile. Jellybean was asking me questions and talking to me about each page, so was fully engaged with the story, and Midget Gem was bashing at the pages and chattering at me too! 

All in all this book is a hit - we've read it at least twice a day since it arrived - which considering we're all out of the house between 8am and 6pm at the moment is quite a feat! We just skip the first couple of pages! 

If you want to get your paws on a copy of this book you can find it here, currently on offer for just £5.39 and such great quality - that's good value for a book your children will love that can take a bit of abuse from small hands!

[disclaimer - Top That Publishing sent us this book for free to review - all opinions are my own and honest]

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sharing my babies.

I find it really hard to share my babies. I find being away from them difficult, but love my job and know that our lives will benefit from my working. (Because I'm happier and because I have an income which has utterly changed our day to day living).

But I find it hard to share my babies.

When I'm at work they're cared for by other people. Nice people, friendly, loving, fun and gentle people that my boys love being around and who look after them well - but they aren't me.

I was expecting to miss some of the big things. New words. New songs. New games and activities. I had anticipated that I might miss some of their big "firsts".

I hadn't expected to be so upset about missing out on little things. Big loves doing crafts and it's lovely to come home to some of his handiwork - but I feel so sad that it wasn't me who sat and did that with him.

He's learnt a new song and I have no idea at all of the situation that led to him learning it! No idea of the context, the location, who was there with him.

He talks about new friends - other children - that he spends his days with that I haven't met. He loves it and has fun with them - but it's hard to see him making these relationships with people so separate from me and from home.

I've never been good at sharing my boys. They've only spent one night away from us. That's enough for another couple of years I think.

Even at home I struggle to share them. If my husband is cuddling one of the boys and they fall asleep I feel jealous and want to take over. If they get hurt and he's comforting them I want to push him away and hold them myself. If they wake in the night I want it to be me they cry for. If they want a cuddle and a story I want it to be my knee they crawl onto.

I'm not good at sharing my babies, but to have the life they ought to I'm going to have to learn to pretend I am.

I miss my babies.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Christmas, according to Jellybean.

We aren't overly religious - but I think it's important that my children understand the reasons for our festivals and holidays, as a Christian country; they can make their own minds up about what they believe when they're older but I think it's important to give them the information.

On that note, I've been trying to educate Jellybean about Christmas recently - but when I asked him the story of Christmas this is what he said.

"Christmas is Cheesusisis birthday, and Cheesus he is a good boy and not a naughty boy, and so then Santa Christmas is give me presents HURRAH!"

I think it needs some work!