Tuesday, 28 February 2012

green tea book corner : a library haul

Lila and I went to the library last week. I like to take Ollie once a month, but usually those trips are a little more smash and grab and this time round I wanted to browse.

And browse we did. Lila hung out on the beanbags and smiled all over the place and I came away with a great stash of books for us all to enjoy over the next few weeks.

So, in place of the usual green tea book corner review, I bring you the best of the library haul.

The Runaway Hug : a gorgeous story of a little girl who ‘borrows’ her Mum’s last hug then loses it just before bedtime. I love the illustrator, Freya Blackwood, (she’s illustrated a couple of books by my course tutor) her images are so real. In this book I love how the Mum is doing the laundry in her knickers!

Zoe & Beans and the magic hoop : I love this one, it's simple but so cleverly written. A funny tale about cheeky Zoe who gets her lazy dog, Beans, to jump through a magic hoop by giving him some ‘choccy bears’. You’ll never guess what happens next…

Sylvia & Bird : a touching story about a lonely dragon who makes a friend in Bird. Quite sad in parts, (well, for a children's book!) this is one of those moral stories with a lovely ending. Beautiful illustrations too.

Who’s Driving : Ollie's favourite, surprise surprise. This isn’t a story book as such, but with great illustrations and interesting characters there is plenty to talk about.

Green Light for the Little Red Train : we love the Little Red Train books and this one is no exception. Duffy Driver gets lost and ends up driving his train through various different European countries. The detailed illustrations provide a great talking point.

Told you we picked some good ones! The only thing I hate about library books is that you have to give them back. I end up getting too attached and then have to go and buy the ones Oliver / I really like!

Off to Amazon I go…

Do you have any of these at home? What are your kids reading right now? 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Toddler Entertaining 101

Oliver had a sleepover this weekend. His little bestie came to stay and they had an absolute ball. It's so cute watching the two of them. They played beautifully, there were no arguments, sharing toys just happened and they chatted and laughed together pretty much non-stop. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it was almost easier with the two of them entertaining each other than it is sometimes with just Ollie. 

Luckily though, when I do end up having one of 'those weeks' and toddler entertaining is proving difficult, Paul and I have a few little tricks up our sleeve that are always guaranteed to work: 

: Take him to Bunnings and let him play with the lawnmowers. The staff don’t mind. In fact, they gave this to him.

: Go for a babycino at our local café that has a copy of Top Gear magazine and sport on the TV.

: Give him a bucket of water and a cloth and ask him to clean your blinds. Apparently this is fun.

: Go for a walk and find a stick. 

And there you have it. 

Hope everyone has a good week ahead. For me, I'm planning to dedicate a bit of time to finishing my 12x12 February picture book. This month has been so quick and I've been procrastinating slightly because I'm finding the ending of this particular story a bit of a challenge. Hoping to get it completed in time though. Wish me luck!  

Until then... how was your weekend? Do you have any more toddler entertaining tips to share? 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Making Memories

Earlier this week, Melissa left this comment on my post:

“Kids just love the moments with their parents doing *memory making* stuff don’t they?’

So very true, and I found her words really resonated with me this week. As Oliver gets older I’ve become much more aware that we’re entering the real ‘memory’ phase of his childhood. It’s a really exciting time.

Photo taken for #janphotoaday

My Mum and Dad were/are awesome parents. Our (my brother and I) childhood was filled with fun, laughter and a billion and one wonderful times to look back on. We were lucky enough to enjoy some fantastic holidays and day outs to various zoos, museums and the like. But as I sit here and think back, I find it’s the little things that stick in my mind the most. Those times where Mum and Dad let go of the boundaries, let us break the rules and just have complete and utter fun. And for those times, I am truly grateful.

So as Paul and I start to build memories for our own little family, these are some of the things I hope we can one day recreate: 

: camping overnight in our back garden, complete with sleeping bags and midnight snacks

: early morning road trips to my grandparents, stopping off to cook bacon sandwiches on a camping stove en-route

: playing ‘weddings’ with Mum (I was the bride), parading up and down the hallway

: running around in the garden with my brother, completely starkers, in the middle of a torrential downpour

: reading magical Christmas letters from the man himself, written on tea-stained / burnt-edged paper in curly Father Christmas script

: sledging down the staircase in sleeping bags

: spontaneous camping trips in the snow in the middle of winter

: ‘sleepovers’ with Mum in the spare room, where we’d drink hot chocolate, eat biscuits, watch a girly movie and chat until the wee hours

: playing in the sprinkler in the garden during summer (yes, believe it or not, England does have summer days!) 

: building things out of paper-mache (is that how you spell it?!) and cardboard boxes, without a care about the mess

: dancing around in the living room to loud music (LPs!) and jumping all over the furniture

: finding little notes from Mum in my lunchbox (Sonia does this too!)

Writing this list makes me so excited for what we have to come. Having children allows you to be a big kid all over again. Brilliant!

What are the special moments from your childhood that stick in your mind? Do you try to 'make memories' for your kids? Do you like to break the rules? 

*I'll be linking-in later today with Maxabella Loves for 52 weeks of grateful

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A day in the life of me

I get asked a question a lot at the moment. How do you do it? You know, it. As in mumming, wifeing AND blogging. The answer is, it just kind of happens.

In the days BB (before blogging) I’d sit at the computer reading all these wonderful blogs, wondering how on earth these women did it. How did they find time to look after children, cook amazing meals, craft, bake and have a social life, not to mention keep up with all the blogging social media add-ons? Now I know, they just do.

However, in the interest of providing a proper answer to the ‘how do you do it?’ question, here’s a rundown of my day yesterday, to show you exactly how I attempt to fit it all in.

*Warning this post is long – and possibly highly dull, depending on how you look at it. It also contains numerous gratuitous shots of Lady Lila. 

6.05am : Lila wakes for a feed (she slept through, she slept through - woohoo!), so I hook her in to bed and promptly fall back to sleep.

7.20am : wake with cramp in my shoulder. Bless Paul for giving me a lie-in. Love it when he does that. 

7.22 : try to prise my arm out from under Lila’s head without waking her up. Almost works.

7.25 : reach for iPhone and check emails, facebook and Instagram. A bad habit I know, but I like to know what’s been going on overnight.

7.30 : Lila’s properly awake and beaming away at me in the half-dark. Concede it’s finally time to get up.

7.31 : big cuddles and a licky-tongue kiss from Oliver for both of us. Get Oliver fed, dressed and ready for daycare.

7.55 : food shopping arrives as the boys leave. Unpack and chat to Lila as she sits in her bumbo and watches. Have a sneaky check of Instagram and facebook on the iPad as I go.

8.15 : rush around tidying-up, look at the mountain of washing then decide to come back and tackle it later.  Have a slice of toast while Lila plays on her playmat.

8.30 : Lila seems hungry, so give her a milk top-up then dedicate a bit of time to her. Read her some books, sing a few songs, lots more chatting. All ends abruptly when I have her flying mid air and she vomits on my chest.

9.00 : Madam starts to get grizzly so put her to sleep, make a cuppa and hit the computer.

9.05 : interrupted by a text from Mum in England, so call her back and chat while I put on some washing, do the washing-up and feed the dog.

9.36 : finish talking to Mum and hit the computer again. I’m a bit behind on my blog reading, so spend a bit of time reading and commenting, find a couple of new blogs to follow while I’m at it. Check out Instagram and facebook again and look at my word prompt for #febphotoaday.

10.28 : Lila wakes up. Realise I'm still in my PJs. Oops. Get her dressed, then have a super-quick shower and get ready while Lila watches on.

10.56 : head out for a dogwalk, take a few photos and upload to Instagram as I go.

11.45 : back home. Give Lila her lunch (carrot, pumpkin and boob!).

12.05 : playtime for Lila, while I hang out the washing and put more on. Then more Lila time. Take a few photos of her for potential blog usage.

12.38 : Missy's getting tired so off for another sleep. I clear-up, make lunch, more washing, then it's computer time. Upload my #febphotoaday to Instagram. Post Monday’s blog entry to twitter and Instagram (forgot to do it on the day!) and then try to ignore all other blogs while I sit and write this.

1.22 : check Instagram AGAIN. Like a few photos and respond to some comments.

1.33 : open my February 12x12 manuscript and try and get it finished. Get sidetracked by Instagram (yes, clearly it’s an addiction).

2.20 : madam is awake. She’s so smiley and her post-sleep ones are the best. Give her more milk, change nappy and indulge in baby cuddles. The best!

2.55 : it’s a beautiful day so head out to do a few errands. End up at the library and spend a while choosing some books for Oliver and lots for me to have a read through. I find it a great way to learn.

4.18 : go to pick-up Ollie from daycare.

4.45 : home. Straight into dinner routine while Ollie reads the new library books. Tonight he’s got homemade fish fingers and veggies. Read books at the table and chat about his day.

5.40 : Paul decides to come home early to be there for pancakes. Whip-up a quick batter and get cooking. Have a cheeky ice-cream one before dinner. Yum!

6.15 : bath, feed and put Lila to bed while the boys have a shower. Oliver’s favourite game at the moment is to take bowls of ice into the shower and watch it melt. Okay then.

6.59 : Lila asleep. Boys reading. Kiss goodnight for Ollie. Urgh. House is a mess again. Clear-up the kitchen. More friggin washing to hang out. Check iPad blog reader for new posts and read a great one by Eden about copycats.

7.16 : dinner prep. Tonight we’re having a babymac inspired dish. Lamb with haloumi, pea, mint and lemon salad. Delish! Check facebook and Instagram while I’m at it.

8.05 : settle in to finishing this post in front of the tele. Until Oliver randomly wakes (a nightmare I think). Gives us the run around for a while, although could have been worse.

8.48 : make pancakes for Paul and I while he clears up. It would be rude not to use up the batter now wouldn’t it?!

9.12 : finally finish this post. Upload iPhone pics to computer and get everything ready for posting tomorrow. Phew. Day is almost done. But not before we watch a wee bit of ultimate in crap TV.... Geordie Shore (I'm almost embarrassed to type that - so bad it's great). 

11.05 : give Lila a quick dream-feed. Fall in to bed, still laughing at Geordie Shore. One last quick look at Instagram. Lights out. 

So there we have it. A day in the life of me - and that's how I do it. Makes me exhausted just reading it back. And imagine when Oliver's in the mix too! 
How do you fit everything in to your day? Are you a serial multi-tasker? Do you do as much washing as me in a day?

*Linking in with Where's my glow? for FYBF

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The weekend and a little act of kindness, among other things

I had various plans for the posts I wanted to write this weekend. But quite frankly, it didn’t happen.

The weekend ended up being one of those super busy ones, but in a wow-that-was-really-enjoyable kind of way, rather than an oh-my-god-that-was-hectic kind of way. We’ve had dog walks, museum trips, a rooftop birthday party, swimming, coffee and shopping with friends and yesterday we hired one of those family push-bikes for a cycle around Centennial Park, complete with picnic lunch (Ollie ringing the bell at the front, Lila strapped to my chest and Paul doing all the leg-work!).

Like I said, busy. But thankfully there were no tantrums, lots of beautiful family moments and no schedule to stick to, so things just naturally unfolded. Perfect.

I also lost my phone. I left it in a shopping basket (yes, really stupid, I know). But do you know what? A few hours after losing it, I called my number and the lovely Aiden answered. He’d found it nestled amongst his shopping and took it home to wait for my call. How nice is that? Restores your faith in the human race when something like that happens. Good on you Aiden you little super star!

Now, I've decided to bring you a #febphotoaday update today (in no particular order). I'm still loving it. The community over there at Inst
agram is great. Keeps me entertained at all hours of the day and night and that’s for sure. Enjoy!

Until next time… was your weekend a busy one? Do you have any random acts of kindness stories to share?



Inside my closet


Something I hate


Makes me happy

Time (well, I ran out of it and this was taken when I remembered!)

My view

*Linking in with Sonia at Life Love and Hiccups today for Wonderful Weekends

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Feeling grateful and the book every family should own

I had the perfect day with the kids on Wednesday. Well, I say kids, it’s really Oliver who dictates the mood of the day, and on Wednesday he was just perfect.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Oliver’s natural personality is pretty full on. He sure is a ‘spirited’ child and a proper boys boy at that. I love this about him, it’s who he is (also who I was at his age!), but when I’m blessed with a day where he’s calm from start to finish, I am most certainly grateful for all that it brings.

This particular day began with a haircut.

Then we went to a beautiful park, right on the harbour where we ate lunch and watched the seaplanes. Sydney dazzles in the sunshine. It also still blows my mind that I can have proper, lengthy conversations with this little man. When did that happen?

At home, Oliver spent the afternoon playing the most amazingly imaginative game. Cars were doing ‘jobs’, one went to get its haircut because ‘he was trendy’. Another went on holiday. Chopping boards were boats, my yoga mat the sea. Then Lightening Macqueen got stuck and the bouncy balls had to fix his tyres. I absolutely love watching Ollie play like this. It’s fascinating and incredible to see his mind at work and how creative he can be.

Finally, the afternoon ended with a big book sesh. A book that I truly believe every family should own. 

This particular book was bought for us by the wonderful Mrs A. Her expert present buying skills did it again and this has been a winner in our house for quite some time.

Now I don’t know about you, but I like to keep a few little tricks up my sleeve to whip out now and then for extreme toddler enjoyment. These books/toys/games seem to create so much more excitement than the usual ‘stuff’ on display. As a result, with this book, Oliver has been known to sit for hours going over and over each page.

Why? Well, it's filled with hundreds of animals. That’s it. Simple? Yes. But that’s the beauty of it. It generates so much discussion and encourages you to either make-up your own stories, talk about each animal individually or create little games on each page. For the child, they really get to flex those growing brains as there is so much to talk about. It's also really cute when your kid can tell the difference between a Wombat and a Woodchuck! 

Like I said, the perfect day that included a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Oh, by the way – did I mention I’m joining in with 52 weeks of grateful over at Maxabella loves today? This week the theme is nature. So on this Friday, I’m feeling grateful for Oliver and the nature of his wonderful personality, the natural beauty of this place we live and for all the animals that exist in this world that helped to make the best book ever!

What are you feeling grateful for this week? Do you own this book? Did you have one of those perfect days this week?  

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Is two company and three really a crowd?

Image by the very talented Jade at Newborn Photography by Jade

One of my very best friends had a baby a few short weeks ago (Eleanor Rose, how pretty is that?) and it made me re-live Lila’s birth all over again. It was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget – a three-hour natural delivery with NO drugs. I know!

Now seeing as I’m the person that cries at EVERY SINGLE birth on One Born Every Minute, just thinking about my friend and her new baby and those precious first minutes with my own baby girl was enough to bring on the tears. There’s simply nothing quite like a newborn baby and those amazing first days is there? I can’t wait to do it all over again.

Yes, that’s right. For Paul and I, neither of us can imagine Lila being the last baby in our lives and I can’t imagine that pregnancy and birth being the last time I bring a life into the world. 

Ahhh look. Lady Lila aged a few hours old. Does it get any better?

We’ve always been pretty open about the fact that we would like more than two children. It’s interesting when it comes up in conversation. Some people react with abject horror – why on earth would you want more? Some people say nothing, clearly thinking we’re mad. Others actually tell us we’re mad and a few will launch in to a debate about the expense of three children (they have a point) and how more than two kids will mean an end to all holidays, outings and clearly our lives in general. Each to their own. 

By wanting another child I’m not saying I’ll end up like the Aussie Chalk family or the (in)famous Duggars but I would like one more.

However all this baby talk has got me thinking. Paul and I both have one sister and brother respectively so don’t know what it’s like to have more siblings. Is there something we should know from those that do? Maybe there really something in the whole middle child syndrome. Is it mad to want more children if it means less to go round? Although my Mum’s one of eight and she turned out fine! 

So I put it to you. How many children do you plan to have? Is three really a crowd? Do you cry every time someone mentions the word newborn?!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

10 things you probably didn’t know about me…

Image by benjiphig via Flickr

Sometimes co-incidence can be a funny old thing. There I was on Saturday, sending the ‘Kreativ blogging award’ over to Cherie at A baby called Max, and there she was on the exact same day, at pretty much the exact same time, tagging me in a blogging 10 questions game. Spooky.

The aim of this game is for bloggers to learn more about each other by answering 10 questions, then passing them on. Here are my answers:

Describe yourself in 7 words:
A friendly, caring, organised, sometimes-fiery, red-headed, daydreaming mother.

What keeps you up at night?
Lila. Good as gold in the day, with the most easy-going nature, this girl can go from sleeping through one minute to waking up three times a night the next. Recently she’s taken to waking at about 2am and kicking around in her cot, chatting and blowing raspberries for 2-3 hours at a time. Not fun.

Who would you like to be?  
Mostly just myself, but if I had to be like anyone else, I can only hope that I turn out like my Mum – an amazing woman in so many ways.

What are you wearing right now?
Undies and a singlet (or knickers and a vest-top if you’re in England!). My summer PJs! Who needs shorts when you’re at home?!

What scares you?
I know this is somewhat irrational because Oliver is only two-and-a-half, but after reading Peggy’s post last week, I’m totally petrified about his motorbike obsession. Think we need to move on from that quickly in case he wants one when he gets older. Totally. Isn’t. Happening.

As a Mum, after experiencing the ability to love as much as this, I’m so scared of losing it. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose a child and hope I never have to.

What are the best and worst things about blogging?  

Best: The fact that I’m ‘meeting’ so many wonderful people. I’m amazed at how friendly everyone is and I love the honesty and emotion that bloggers write with. Also, that my blog has done exactly what I wanted and got me back in to writing again. It’s great, and so much better than mooching around on the computer with no purpose.

Worst: Probably that because I’m enjoying blogging so much, I now go to bed soooo much later than I was before. And that coupled with Lila’s night-owl tendencies makes for a very tired Mummy. Need to be more disciplined to turn off the computer and hit the hay earlier – at least a few nights a week anyway.

Oh, and also feeling a little like the new-girl in school! It’s sometimes strange diving in to these blogs that have been around for years and who have obviously formed strong relationships with other bloggers/readers and being all ‘hi, here I am’! They don’t seem to mind so far though (hope not anyway!).

What was the last website you visited?
My online critique forum. I’m waiting for some feedback on a manuscript I posted up the other day and can’t wait to see what people have to say so I can get editing. It’s been an invaluable resource so far.

What is one thing you would like to change about yourself?
My skin. Totally, totally wrong for this hemisphere. The sun doesn’t like me at all.

Slankets – yes or no?
Oh yes. I love a good blanket on the sofa in winter, so what’s not to love about a slanket?!

Tell us something about the person who tagged you?
Cherie writes from the heart and her openness is infectious. I’ve said it before, but she definitely seems to be one of life’s beautiful people.

And who am I tagging?

Sonia at life love and hiccups – her posts never fail to make me laugh, so I’m sure her answers will too.

Shar at Mum on the Run – I bet her answers will be as sunny as her smile.

Kellie at 1000 homes of happiness – we only found each other recently, so I’d love to know more about her and her amazingly creative ‘1000 homes’ idea.

Dani at Danimezza – as a veteran blogger, I know her blogging answers will be inspiring.

Fi at My Mummy Daze – I don't know as much about Fi as I'd like, so now's my chance. Plus she has the best blog header. 

Now over to you… 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Happy Birthday to me (and I won an award!)

Image by mae.noelle via Flickr

green tea & toast turned one month old this week. Woohoo! Very exciting, even if I do say so myself. 

It's been a really great month. I've learnt loads about blogging, have been delighted that people actually seem to be reading my little site and more importantly, I'm really enjoying myself. So thank you to everyone who has stopped by to have a nosey around so far, I hope you'll keep coming back for more.

And what better way to celebrate my very first blog milestone than with the news that I've 'won' three awards! 

Through the 12x12 challenge I’ve met some really lovely people. And three of those really lovely people have awarded me two Liebster blog awards and the Kreativ blog award. Way to go me!

This is particularly lovely because a month ago I didn’t know these fantastic ladies and certainly didn’t know as much about picture book writing as I do now. I’m learning so much, so fast. So thank you to Kirsten, Margaret and Cathy.

As part of the awards, I have to share five things about myself, then pass the torches on to other worthy bloggers. So here goes:

1.   I am totally OCD when it comes to reading books. If you borrow a book from me, fold a corner at your peril.
2.   I’m a notepad and list-making junkie. And I hate writing in blue pen.
3.   My favourite colour is green (or black if we're talking pens).
4.   I love my kid’s middle names as much as I love their first names. In fact, maybe we should have hyphenated.
5.   I met Paul in a supermarket car park. True story. (It was a Sainsbury's, for the record).

The Liebster Award is designed to help drive traffic to blogs with fewer than 200 followers and the Kreativ Award is simply about celebrating great blogs. It's a tough decision with so many fabulous ones out there, but without further ado I’m awarding them to…

 Mama of 2 boys – blogging in its purest form. No facebook, no twitter, no pinterest, just lovely words about a lovely family.

Lemon Rhodes – we both have daughters named Lila and her blog is totally gorgeous. Plus she has a really cute new puppy.

Milk Please Mum – I only came across this one the other day (thanks to Lemon Rhodes), but I think I’m going to like it.

Imagine! Create! Write! – hats off to this 12x12er who is juggling seven kids, whilst writing 12 books. Impressive!

The Graceful Doe – Jo is part of one of my Critique groups and I’m learning a lot from her very informative blog.

My Shoebox Life – I'm loving Shelley’s musings about her 2012 year of consistency and impressive fitness regime.

Tiny Savages – we hooked up on Instagram recently and her blog is just as good as her pictures. Mrs Savage is one cool chick with interesting things to say. 

A baby called Max – not only is this blog about a really gorgeous little boy (can you guess his name?), but Cherie writes beautifully and seems to be one of life’s genuinely beautiful people.

Happy Birthday Author – I love the things Eric does with his kids. Go check it for craft inspiration and to follow his 12x12 journey.

Corey Schwartz – another fellow 12x12er, sharing some great writing tips for budding authors.

So there we have it.

Signing off with a big fat thank you to all the wonderful people I've met over the last month. Long may it continue.

What are you feeling grateful for this week? Do you use 'lovely', 'cute' and 'gorgeous' as much as me? What are your favourite blogs of the moment? 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Say it with words

I like Valentine’s Day. I know some people don’t, but I do. Particularly now, with kids in the equation (and young ones at that), there’s generally not much available space for quality couple time. So I like that Valentine’s Day gives us a good excuse to put the daily grind aside and get our romance on.

Paul and I don’t go overboard and this year won’t be any exception. We’ll probably have a nice meal at home, perhaps a little gift here and there, maybe even a bit of smooching on the sofa, if we don’t fall asleep first! One thing there definitely will be though, is cards. I love them. I love choosing them, writing them and sending them. Particularly the ones printed with lovely words that say the exact message you've been searching for. 

I remember being quite upset on the first birthday Paul and I ever spent together when he didn’t buy me a card (he must have thought I was mental!). Even though he bought me some lovely presents, it was the card and the meaningful words that mattered the most. He’s never made that mistake again and that’s for sure!

I've already got Paul's card ready to go, but there are so many lovely cards and typographic prints out there at the moment, I had to share some of my finds. So if you’re still looking for the perfect way to say ‘I love you’ this Valentine’s Day, check out these little gems from Etsy and Notonthehighst. So much nicer than a box of chocolates or a heart shaped balloon, don’t you think? 

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

What are your plans this Valentine's Day? Are you a sucker for a lovely card? Do you love Etsy and Notonthehighst as much as me?!
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