A step in the right direction!

Baby Sweetie is exactly one month old today, and this morning I put my pre-pregnancy jeans on for the first time! Hooray! Now, they are a bit tight, but at least my figure is heading the right way. And as soon as I finish the enormous chocolate cake that GG bought me for my birthday, I can start to think about making them a bit looser. So pass me a fork!

Contentment

Baby Sweetie sitting on my lap, two hours ago when I started writing this post. Things take longer nowadays with this little distraction around!

A year ago, if you had told me that I’d be sat here today with a beautiful four week old baby in my arms, I would have wanted to believe you but my levels of optimism were sadly lacking. A year ago it was just four weeks since we lost our baby and I was dreading my birthday the next day. You see, last year I had planned my birthday out months in advance. GG was taking the day off and we were going to do our first shopping for baby Trouble (Trouble was his bump name, meant in a tongue in cheek way as I went off chocolate early in that pregnancy and I said that any child that put me off chocolate must be troublesome, but I’ve felt guilty all year that he didn’t have a more loving name). We would have found out if he was a boy or a girl the week before my birthday and so would have been able to buy some boy or girl clothes and nursery equipment. Then we were going to go and have a nice lunch, celebrating my five and a half months pregnant appetite before going home and gazing at all the gorgeous baby things we’d bought.

It’s a tiring life being twenty nine days old and having a mummy, a daddy and two adoring big brothers to charm!

Obviously, my birthday didn’t go according to plan. I think I spent most of the day in tears, thinking about what might have been. So what a contrast with this year! Having a four week old baby has meant that I’ve made practically no plans; my Mum is making me an afternoon tea, but other than that it’ll be a quiet time. My day will revolve around Baby Sweetie, as have all of the last twenty nine days (and rightly so!). It’s the best birthday I can imagine. My husband and boys will be home, my baby will be right with me all the time so that I can gaze at her and tell her how beautiful she is and what a lucky Mama I am; who cares that it’s probably going to pour with rain all day!

Ceaseless motion!

I took this photo literally just now, wanting to demonstrate how much she has grown already. But I had to giggle when I saw the photo as the blurring shows just how active she is – I couldn’t catch her at a still moment to get a non-blurry photo! She’s still going now, as if she were training for a marathon! And despite the basket of nappy changing stuff in the foreground, I think I really like this picture because it seems to capture a bit of what she’s like as well as what she looks like. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the red cow is called Clover and the elephant (a present from a knitting friend of mine) is called Rainbow. They often watch over her whilst she has her nappy changed!

No knitting today (but it was a good day despite that!)

I had a lovely day today, spending time in Cardiff with my friend Ellie, visiting bead and button shops and drinking huge amounts of hot chocolate! We went to the museum but unfortunately some of the exhibits were off limits, so we’re hoping to make a return visit at Easter when everything should be open to the public.

Unfortunately there were no pancakes in my Shrove Tuesday. Instead there was birthday cake – it was my sister in law’s birthday today, and I’m pleased to report that she loved her presents. From Handsome she had jelly babies and chocolate toffee eclairs, and from Cheeky she received this;

A bracelet and earrings set that he designed himself and partially made – I just helped with bending the pins into loops at the ends, but other than that it was all his work! Well done Cheeky!

Catch up time starts now!

Oh my goodness, nearly three weeks have gone by since I last managed to write anything here, and so much has happened to write about! I think a few updates will be needed to get back up to date.

First then, my best friend, Maria, celebrated her 30th birthday earlier this month. She had a fairytale themed party, and we all dressed up.

Jen and Maria at party

Maria dressed up as the blue fairy from Pinocchio (I can’t remember her name, sorry!) and I was a princess. It was nice to wear a big posh dress for once – much swooshing was done by all the ladies!

Princesses

Almost everyone really got into the spirit of the themed evening – this is Maria with her mother and younger sister, all looking beautiful!

Maria’s mother put on a tremendous spread of food – many of us feasted for a few days after the party,as well as on the night itself! And a friend of the family made the birthday cake, which was tremendous;

Maria's cake

All but the bottom layer was gluten free, as of course Maria and her sister and mother have coeliac disease and can’t eat gluten. But look at the decoration and attention to detail – it’s the ultimate dream cake for so many little girls (and big ones – Maria was thrilled!).

All in all, the party was excellent. The DJ, Jumpin’ James, was excellent. He did an hour’s entertainment for the children before the main disco started, and then played all the music that Maria and her sister had requested, together with impromptu requests from other guests. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the music at a disco so much. Usually I find that the music is far too cheesy, but Jumpin’ James played a great mixture of pop and more rock-y tunes like ‘Queen’. I don’t think I’ve been to a fancy dress party where people have made more effort than this one – the number of people who had dressed up far outnumbered those who hadn’t, and the standard of the costumes was very high. My younger son saved up all through the summer for his costume (he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear) so I think he deserves extra credit for that! The children thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, especially being allowed to stay up until past ten o’clock! Maria enjoyed it so much that she almost immediately started talking about a Hallowe’en party!

A lovely birthday present

With all the recent kerfuffle (to put it mildly) involving our neighbours, I’ve not been in the mood to post happy thoughts, or really, thoughts about anything else. This could be because I’m still seething about the whole affair, especially as our door has not yet been fixed, and since the door was broken, the lock has also, mysteriously, been damaged beyond repair.

Anyway, I need to move on, and try to ignore the annoyance I feel, and so I want to tell you about the lovely weekend away that GG and I had, courtesy of his family, as a birthday gift. When you live in a flat, there’s a limit to the number of actual objects that you can fit in. I think it’s safe to say that we have reached, or are incredibly close to reaching, that limit, and so this birthday present was especially welcome.

On my birthday, we were presented with a card containing details of Bridge House Hotel in Wilton near Ross On Wye where we would be staying on the last weekend in June, and also enjoying a lovely dinner. The gift also included free babysitting from my mother in law, so how could we refuse!

Ross On Wye sign

We were blessed with a very lovely weekend, weather wise, and enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Ross On Wye before, and I really liked it. I was surprised by the number of independent shops in the town centre, being accustomed as I am to Cardiff and it’s identikit city centre. We had a lovely cream tea in a little cafe/gallery, and also managed to buy a Christmas present while we were there – how efficient was that!

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After checking in to the restaurant’s bed and breakfast, we decided to go out rather than waste the rest of the afternoon by hanging around the local pubs, and so we went to Hereford, another place I’ve not been before. There was a fair on in the castle grounds which we visited. Lots of lovely examples of handmade items for sale, such as glassware, garments, woodwork and some hand made goats milk soaps. I bought a soap for my mother in law to say thank you for having the kids, and asked if I could take a photo of the stall as the detail in the decoration of the soaps was phenomenal, and I really wanted to share it with you all. The stall holder grudgingly allowed a picture to be taken, after I promised that I had no plans to copy her soap designs myself. After that, I didn’t feel that I could ask if I could share the picture on my blog, as she seemed very touchy about it. A shame, as it would have been some free advertising for her, and I don’t feel very inclined to return to buy any more. She has a website, and after looking at it, I’m surprised (given the visual attraction of her soaps) that she has no pictures on immediate view. However, that’s her business, and her loss.

Hereford bridge

We had a good wander around Hereford and then made our way back to the restaurant, where we enjoyed the most sumptuous dinner, mostly produced with local ingredients as well, which was a bonus. I’ll not describe each and every course, as I’d be here a while, but here’s a photo montage of the meal that I made earlier!

dinner montage

Yum yum!

After a truly scrummy breakfast on the Sunday morning, we were having too much fun to go straight home, so we decided to visit Hay on Wye. I’ve not been for a good few years, so it was lovely to go back. We made a few purchases; a haematite bracelet for me from Satori (to try to ease the pain and stiffness in my hands that the doctors can’t explain), GG bought the original, much scarier version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and we also bought a couple of things from the food festival with which we were lucky enough to have coincided our visit.

After this, it was time for home (with a slight detour en-route due to GG’s notorious lack of direction!) and we arrived just after the first drops of rain had begun to fall. A lovely time was had by both of us, and if my in-laws would like to repeat this present next year for our birthdays, it would be more than welcome!

Happy Birthday GG (a.k.a. Beethoven)

Today my most belovedest hubby joins me in his fourth decade. Yup, 30 today! Or, as one of GG’s cards said, 18 with 12 years experience. So I’ve decided to call him Beethoven (1812, geddit?).

I’m honoured and blessed to have such a wonderful, kind, caring and generous man as my soulmate and partner for life. Few can boast of such regular spoiling and pampering from their partner. But enough of the mushy stuff. He’s fab, you all know it, end of! Let’s get to the good stuff!

A while ago, I was chatting with a friend of his from work and may have mentioned that I could send him some pictures of GG as a child, if he would like. He did like, and so (with the gleeful connivance of his mother) I chose a few choice photos of my beloved, scanned them into my computer and e-mailed them to his office. I had a reasonably irate phone call from GG at 8.30 on Friday morning, informing me that his friend had printed a load of them out and had distributed them around his department. So, in a spirit of love (naturally) I decided that I should (lovingly) share them with you all too.

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GG as a happy, smiling toddler

GG nearly 30 years ago - cute!

GG nearly 30 years ago - cute!

And of course, I’ve saved the best for last;

GG, aged 7, livin' it large...in the living room!

GG, aged 7, livin' it large...in the living room!

Bless him! Wasn’t he cute?! And check out the boy tan lines on his legs and his neck! I love you, hubby of mine, and I only publish this post as I feel safe in the knowledge that your memory is atrocious and you’ll have forgotten that you want revenge by the time my next birthday comes round!

Twenty-ten today!

birthday badge

Today is my twenty-tenth birthday (I strongly discourage any use of the ‘th’ word in my presence, until I grow more accustomed to my new age)! So far, it has been absolutely fab. I had breakfast brought to me in bed by my boys. Handsome made me a cup of tea, and Cheeky presented me with a dinner plate, on which was placed a satsuma, a yoghurt and a tablespoon with which to eat the aforementioned yoghurt! My presents were likewise brought to me, and they are brilliant. I couldn’t have chosen better myself!

GG's presents

These presents were from my beloved husband, GG. I can now officially call myself ‘Lady Jen’, and expect to be addressed as such by all you lesser mortals, as I’m now a landowner in Scotland! Also, I had a Christmas decoration for my tree (he knows that I like to collect nice ones, and thought it would be funny to buy one for my June birthday!) and a gorgeous sapphire and diamond eternity ring.

Chris's presents

My friend Chris bought me this array of goodies, including a signed picture of the gorgeous Mr Tennant (I think there may be opposition to my plan to put this on my bedside table, by hey ho!), and a swiss army knife which he has had inscribed with his nickname for me – ‘Alcatraz Jen’! Fabulous!

cake

My friend Maria presented me with this cake when we went out for lunch on Sunday, along with the badge that I’m holding in the picture at the top and my balloon in the bottom picture. She took the photo on the cake on my 21st birthday, when we were sitting in the Foreigners’ Club in Sorrento, overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. What a wonderful holiday that was! Oh, and the cake was good too – chocolate sponge, mmm!

Angie's presentringboys' present

In these pictures are (from the left) the glass bangle from Angie, my gorgeous eternity ring from GG (didn’t he do well!) and my rose quartz heart pendant from my children (they did well as well!). I’m a very lucky girl to have such kind and generous friends and family! And my birthday’s not done yet – I’m seeing more people this evening, and I’m told that there are more presents to come! Yay! I love birthdays! (And I think I’ve been very restrained in my use of exclamation marks, given how excited I am this morning!)

Finally, the photo below is, I think, my official birthday portrait, captured (as was the first picture) by my eldest son. The first picture of Lady Alcatraz Jen after my appointment to the title! It shows the conflict in my mind between my real age (twenty ten) and my (optimistic) inner age (twenty one). I hope you all have a wonderful my-birthday today, and have a glass of wine and a piece of cake for me!

birthday

Nameless

This is to be such a ‘bits and pieces’ type post that I really couldn’t think of a name for it – hence the title!

I spent most of today in Cardiff city centre with my boys and mother in law, as she asked if she could buy them clothes for their birthday. It was like drawing teeth. Without anaesthetic! Neither child was really remotely interested in choosing clothes, but luckily remained polite for me. However, I ended up putting choices of clothes in front of them, and inviting them to pick their favourites. Cheeky got into it in the end, just as I was finishing the shopping, but never mind. We managed to get a couple of shirts and sweaters for them, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. And I bought a skirt for myself, which I absolutely love and changed into the second I got home. Yay, I can be a girl now and again!

Whilst shopping for shorts for Cheeky (for our holidays), he decided that he didn’t like any of the ones in the shops. He, happily conciding in opinion with me, dislikes the longer shorts that seem to be all that is on offer for boys at the moment. And so, in a spirit of frugality which is obviously being passed down through the generations, he and I decided that we will go through his clothes, find any trousers that are too short for him and we will then convert them into shorts – custom sewn to his preferred length! I love it! I’m happy because I get to reuse something rather than chucking out old clothes and buying new, and he’s happy because he gets the sort of  shorts he actually wants. Fabulous!

I’ve made a little progress on my works in progress, and I hope to carry on for half an hour once I’ve finished this post, although I’m very tempted to go to bed with the book I chose to follow on from ‘War and Peace’ – ‘Gone With The Wind’. I’m already a fair way through its 1050 pages, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It’s not a chore to read at all, which makes a pleasant change from my last choice!

I’m dying to cast on for my O W L S jumper, but I’m determined to finish my dishcloths and kitchen towel first. I think I’ll leave starting the hot pads for next week, because I don’t want to rush them. I’ve still got a couple of weeks until the deadline. I do have a mystery project to do before then though, which I had forgotten all about until today. More details at a later date!

I’m sure I had more to type, but my eyes are getting heavier and heavier so I think I’ll leave anything else until tomorrow.

A Handsome birthday

birthday badges

Yesterday was my oldest son, Handsome’s birthday. He was eight years old. Eight years! I don’t feel old enough to be the mother of an eight year old. Eight years ago today, I was trying to work out exactly how I was considered responsible enough to be handed this small person to bring up. It was an easy and quick birth, for which I will forever be thankful, but as a result he really wasn’t tired and so, while the other babies on our ward all slept through their first night in a pethidine induced haze, Handsome proceeded to scream and scream. In the end, the other mothers had us evicted from their ward! On the plus side, I then got a private room of my own for my remaining time in the hospital.

He was an incredibly hungry baby from almost the minute he was born, and I remember wrangling a bottle of formula milk from the midwives. I was going to breastfeed, but my milk had not yet come in and he was shouting to be fed, and driving me to distraction! In this and many other ways he deviated from what I had read about newborn babies. From birth he was able to support his own head, and, if we held him upright he could stand for short periods and support his own weight. In fact, his legs were so strong that I’m sure he played as much of a part in pushing himself out of my uterus as I did!

He first slept through the night at ten days old, started on solids at twelve weeks (told you he was a hungry baby!), started teething at three and a half months, walked before he was a year and said his first word at fourteen and a half months, on my 23rd birthday. Once again, none of your textbook rubbish about saying ‘Mamma’, or ‘Dada’ (he obviously hadn’t read the textbooks) – he said ‘apple’!

He was the first grandchild born to both our sets of parents, and equally doted upon by all. As a result he was a very smiley baby.

Eight years on, he is still very loved by all his family and adopted aunties and uncles for his kind and loving character. He is especially kind to younger children (occasionally not so kind to his brother, but I suppose that is always to be expected!) and has been a great source of help, comfort and cups of tea recently while his Dad and I have been fighting off all sorts of colds and assorted germs. He is always ready for a hug, especially if I combine it with a discussion about Ben 10 or the latest adventures of Doctor Who!

All in all, he is the very model of a perfect elder son, and I look forward (not too eagerly, as time is passing all too quickly) to watching him grow into the kind and generous hearted man I’m sure that he will become.

Saturday – birthday present shopping and Earth Hour

Yesterday was a wonderfully lazy sort of a day. I had a lovely long lie in, then Cheeky and I went to town, shopping for Handsome’s birthday present. We were successful, thankfully, in quite a short space of time, so we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon ambling happily around the shops that we wanted to go to instead. We went and looked at the pet stall in Cardiff Market, so that Cheeky could admire the gerbils, then we went to the food hall in Howells to buy some chocolate. Cheeky has a cold and was losing his voice yesterday so the chocolate was medicinal! We sat in the public gardens beside the old library for Cheeky to consume a medicinal Lindt bunny, where I noticed this rather magnificent magnolia tree;

St John's church and magnolia tree

It kind of puts our little tree in the front garden to shame!

After we had finished ambling around town, we went down to Cardiff Bay to meet my friend and Cheeky’s Godmother, Maria. On our way, we stopped to take a quick self portrait in the mirrored water tower (otherwise known as the Torchwood Hub) outside the Millennium Centre;

Jennie and Cheeky

We then went for a rejuvenating cup of hot chocolate and a piece of cake. Maria came home with us in the evening and we all observed Earth Hour together. We lit candles in the sitting room, and used our wind-up torch if we wanted to go to any different rooms. I did my best to talk about the reasons for Earth Hour with the children, but I think that they may have been too excited, having their Auntie visiting unexpectedly, to pay a great deal of attention! However, we let them stay up late to sit in the candlelight with us. We all found it very relaxing – Cheeky found it so relaxing, in fact, that he fell asleep on GG’s lap!

All in all, it was a lovely day, and one that I look forward to repeating, with minor variations, in a couple of weeks when I take Handsome shopping for Cheeky’s birthday presents. Having both birthdays in April was extremely bad planning!