Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - random ramblings and a confession

After weeks of silence on Ten on Tuesday front, here is my offering of random ramblings. Also a warning for the faint hearted: this blogpost contains a graphic image of a rather poorly looking knee.

1. Young sir wrote a letter to Santa. It included many expected items like lego or a fast plane. And few unexpected items like huggable teddy and pair of glasses.

2. After being told that you only were glasses if you can't see properly he has been telling me daily that he can't see properly...bless

3. I am usually anti Nigella when looking for a recipe (far too extravagant and fancy ingredients being my main problem) however, I have found one where her extravagance has resulted in one of the yummiest cakes ever...hazelnut cake...8 egg whites, 280 grams of hazelnuts, orange and lemon zest, sugar, 00 flour and boy it tastes nice!

4. Owning an ice cream maker (and using it regularly) presents me with a problem of left over egg whites...which is not really a problem as I make meringues but now with the discovery of the hazelnut cake recipe I have a new way of disposing the unwanted egg whites

5. It snowed ever so slightly yesterday and young sir was straight outside playing in the snow, the excitement levels will be uncontainable when we get to Finland!

6. We are making or recycling Christmas presents with my siblings this year...brilliant idea but it takes surprisingly long time to make them!

7. Henrik has been making presents for his aunties too...I knew there was a reason why I brought dozen empty glass yogurt jars back from France...

8. Now that you know I have hobbyhorses, here's another one I would like to introduce...parents pushing a pram wearing hat and gloves whilst the baby sitting in the said implement has neither!

9. Hobbyhorses are dangerous. On the way back from school I came across a culprit that set me thinking about the above hobbyhorse and what a wonderful blog it would make (ie. give me an opportunity to rant) and before I knew it I had hit a patch of black ice and skated across the road on all fours! Got a rather gruesome graze as well...lots of tlc needed tonight.

10. As my poorly knee suggest, the old saying pride comes before the fall seems to be true so I truly apologise for yesterday's rant on people driving their darlings to school when the weather is bad. I now acknowledge that it can be dangerous at times...especially if you are not paying attention to where you are going! But still...

Here are other ten-on-tuesdayers who might have had time to rustle together a ten too HelenSarah, Lucy and Hannah.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Introducing a weather related hobbyhorse

I have a few hobbyhorses that I usually try to keep well reigned in and safely stabled. However every now and then one of them escapes which results in a rant usually patiently listened to by my long-suffering better half or Katie. 

Here are two of my 'milder' non-education related hobbyhorses: 
1. recipes using unsalted butter and then adding salt later on in the recipe...yes I know it is better quality but are you really going to taste the difference???
2. Unrefined sugar pains me to have to pay double the price for unrefined sugar which is less processed than the cheaper refined version - surely less processing = cheaper product!!!

Beyond these, I have quite a few education related hobbyhorses. My better half has semi-automatic reaction to switch off radio four in the morning if he hears one of the buzz words that he knows would set me off.

Now that I am doing the school run daily I think I am discovering a new hobbyhorse. The effects of weather on the likelihood of parents driving their little darlings to school. 

Coming from a country where you were allowed to stay inside at school break time if the temperature dropped below -17 celcius and where the school run is a non-existent concept as kids walk or cycle (or once you are a bit older and if you life in the countryside come on a moped or snowmobile) to school without parents might add to my bafflement. (Fyi - the school starting age is 7).

It is universally accepted truth that it rains a lot in England. A lot. However it appears that living in a country where it rains a lot does not mean that you are prepared for the rain. Hence kids do not play outside at school in break time when it rains. Neither do they walk or cycle to school when it rains. There is a direct correlation with the heaviness of rain and the decreasing number of bikes in the school bike shed.

If the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence wants to improve the rates of walking and cycling on short journeys I would suggest the first thing they need to do is to tell the general public that they are not made out of sugar...they will not melt if they come in contact with water. Also raising the awareness the existence of equipment such as waterproofs might help ;)

Walking or cycling to school no matter what did me no harm (or so I think). And young sir loves rainy mornings. He gets to cycle through puddles and splash to his heart content whilst singing 'sataa, sataa ropisee, pili pili pom' with me in Finnish. Usually there is no audience par the lollipop lady to this magnificent performance.

This morning there was a light dusting of snow and not surprisingly young sir's bike was the only one in the bike shed. As we cycled through the slush I was reminded of this brilliant road safety video from the 60s that my brother discovered somewhere. Enjoy:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gingerbread brownie - take 1

I loooooooove gingerbread and I looooooooove brownies. Which got me thinking - always a dangerous pastime - what gingerbread brownies would taste like? After a quick google I didn't find a good looking recipe (= there wasn't one on bbc good food/Delia's/Nigella's websites) so I decided to experiment. And it being Monday night I knew I had my willing group of guinea pigs volunteers waiting to devour whatever I make so there was no time to be wasted.

I had my handy helper ready and willing to be the first tester of anything so it was time to experiment...

My experimental recipe was:

Dry mix
160 gr flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Wet mix
120ml sunflower oil
100gr brown sugar (not wet I know)
1 egg
90 gr golden syrup
50 ml milk

150 gr chopped dark chocolate
50 gr glace cherries

I mixed all the dry things together and all the wet things together, then quickly stirred dry mix into the wet and finally added chopped chocolate and cherries. Into a tin it went and I baked it for about 35 minutes at 170c.

The mixture came out quite runny, the picture above is just before I put the mixture in the oven. I'm guessing because of this the chocolate and cherries sank to the bottom and formed a sticky gooey layer at the base. Definitely the messy eating kind of a brownie!

They tasted yummee but I think the recipe could be improved...I'm thinking of leaving out the milk, maybe heating up the syrup and oil up together with the spices to infuse the flavour more and maybe substituting flour for ground this space!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rocket power

Women's breakfast at church equals boytime for young sir and daddy. Last Saturday I got woken up at 5am by rather excited young sir who wanted to know when I was going out so he could start building a rocket with daddy.

After an other four hours I finally left the house and the inventors were let loose. The plan was to build a water rocket. After a trial run that flew over the neighbours hedge they took the finished prototype to park and launched it. Very successfully.

When I got back few hours later, young sir wanted to immediately drag me to the park for a demonstration of this amazing contraption they had build so off we went. I was impressed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

So fragile and so strong

Life is a funny thing. I take it for granted yet I know it is limited. Only I forget. Often.

Last week we got news of a friend having cancer again. It is inoperable and terminal according to the doctors. In the midst of all the darkness of the news, the only glimmer of light is faith. 

I believe God can heal.

I believe in miracles. Even if I don't understand how, when or why they happen.

I believe in life after death even without the logic of Pascal's wager convincing me.

I believe my prayers can make a difference.

I believe the prayers of the church family will make a difference. 

I believe because I rather have the hope of life than the fear of death as my focus.

I believe God will heal Rebekah and bless her with long life so that she will see her children's children.

Monday, October 29, 2012

You need a twinkle in the eye

We had a little excursion yesterday to see some Nato warships that were moored up on the Tyne. Young sir was delighted. Climbing up and down gangways and ladders. Inspecting the guns of all sort. Ringing the ships bell. Five of the vessels were minehunters so they had all sort of little underwater vehicles with propellers, thrusters and buttons - made me think of Thunderball. And there were few young sailors in their uniforms about too ;)

On the side of one of the vessels was a picture of the unfortunate squirrel from the Ice Age films hugging a mine. Some would probably say you are making fun of a serious issue by having a picture like that.

I think not. Sense of humour and laughter is important. Being able to see the funny side in difficult and hard things that we are going through makes them more bearable. Research suggest that laughter can reduce blood pressure and stress. Having a silly picture on a side of the boat doesn't reduce the seriousness of the work they do but it does remind you that having a smile on your face makes your day and others much more enjoyable than a miserable frown.

So my mission for today is to look for things to smile about rather than frown about.

Happy smiley Monday to everyone :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crinkled love

The desk in the study is by a window commanding a view of our street and the pedestrian street opposite.  When I'm working from home, I feel like a nosy neighbour, sitting there, staring out of the window...waiting for the inspiration to come...or just trying to decide whether certain sentence would be better starting with however or furthermore - and usually coming to the conclusion that it is probably best without either!

 As I've spend a long time writing recently (thesis does that to you), I've also become expert about the comings and goings on the street. A little old lady who does a daily food shop at the same time every day, mums and toddlers wondering past on their way to the park, man taking his dog for a walk.

Today, I saw an old couple walking own the street. Holding hands. And it tugged the strings of my heart. There was something in the way they looked at each other smiling.

She wore black leather gloves. He was tall. Both of them still had a spring in their step that the drooping shoulders and greying hair had not banished.

They held hands. Not because they were old and crinkly and needed to lean on each other for support. But because they had love.

Even I, from my spy-spot could sense it. Theirs wasn't a youthful flirtation or passionate romance - the idea of love often sold to us in films. Theirs was love that had been tested through years and it had weathered the storms and grown stronger.

The years of companionships, sharing laughter and tears, the ups and downs of life and loving each other more than the day before. That is what makes love real. Love is not a glamourous couple falling in love on the screen. Love is an old couple walking down the street hand in hand.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Smiley sunflowers

Young sir has a great little book called Billy's sunflower that tells a story of little boy growing the tallest sunflower in the world. It is a sweet little story touching upon the cycle of life and seasons. Since Young sir planted sunflower seeds on the allotment, it has been read at regular intervals and he has been determined to grow the tallest sunflower in the world. As tall as daddy.

Last year, we went to RHS Wisley. It was teddy bear's picnic so the whole place was crawling with kids and their teddies. Young sir took his duck. We had a great day wondering around, admiring the gardens and eating our picnic of course. One of the things we saw was sunflowers that had some of the seeds removes to make smiley faces.Young sir loved them.

Fast track a year to last weekend. The weather was glorious so we spent all Saturday on the allotment, apart from quick lunchtime trip to the chippy. Completely out of blue, Young sir asked if he could give his sunflower a smiley face like the ones we had seen. More than a year ago...It took me quite a while to even realise what he was talking about! I'd forgotten completely.

On hearing yes, he created the cutest little smiley sunflower. He is a genius. And I am very biased :)

Happy smiley Wednesday one and all!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - bacon and logs

I will blog today, I will blog today...I will least I'll try. Maybe not all the way to ten but some is better than none! I've had lots of wonderful ideas for ten, only I have not written them down as I trusted my wonderful memory...

 1. For years I could not see the point of sausages or baked beans and merely tolerated bacon. However I have long since seen the error of my ways and now think all three are vital for happiness and general well-being especially as part of the culinary delight that is English breakfast.

2. On Saturday morning we did our duty and supported the local butcher by purchasing some bacon and sausages and had a proper breakfast. Even attempted making hash browns...Yummee.

 3. Fry up is a bit like fish pie, both taste absolutely delicious but sometimes you wonder if the number of pans you need to wash up afterwards is worth the effort...until you remember the existence of dishwasher and sun shines again ;)

 4. When I was growing up we had chores. The house was divided into different 'zones' and each one of us had a certain zone as their responsibility for that week. I think the washing up one was always my least favourite yet somehow filling the dishwasher was never as much chore as having to wash something up.

 5. The alarm is set to radio four but we usually turn it off very quickly (to stop me getting too excited about any of my education related hobby horses that early in the morning!) however young sir seems to think it is some sort of a morning treat to come and cuddle next to us, turn the radio back on and listen to it. He will have a shock the day he discovers other kids are allowed to watch ceebeebies...

 6. Punctuality is becoming my middle name. One month of school behind and we have been on time every morning. I wish my own teachers could see me now!

 7. We have a woodshed. Built by my amazing and ever so handy hubby.

8. We also have a cubic meter of logs to burn, stacked by my own fair hands yesterday. All 200 of them. And I only got two splinters in the process. There was a reason why the log delivery man had thick leather gloves on! My choice was between my cycling gloves (that arrived earlier that morning and were nice and shiny) or mittens. I went for the mittens...

9. Politicians tickle my sense of humour quite often (or annoy me immensely - it's either one or the other really, depending on what they are talking about!) Anyway, I found Ed Miliband's proposed vocational baccalaureate this morning quite amusing considering it was his party that was so keen for everyone to go to university to start with.

10. We are making Christmas presents for each other with my siblings this year. Wonderful idea.    Apart from I don't know what to make...ideas anyone?

Here are other ten-on-tuesdayers in case you need more reading HelenSarah, Lucy and Hannah.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Exploration into making rowan jelly

Every now and then I've attempted making jam with varying success. I started with strawberry jam about six or seven years ago. It was a complete failure as far as jam goes - it did not set. But it tasted delicious so I've persevered with jam making. 

Purchase of jam thermometer has meant that my results have been a bit more consistent since. Apart from raspberry and blackberry jam last summer, from the excess produce of allotment last year, which turned out the consistency of tar...very sticky...but again very tasty. The glut of Victoria plums got turned into jam very successfully and it is young sir's favourite.

Thankfully my sample audience is young sir and my amazing hubby rather than Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and their the response to even the worst kitchen disaster is very positive and encouraging. I am yet to burn anything beyond their ability to consume it.

The dreamer in me likes the idea of being self sufficient with home grown vegetables galore and few chickens wandering around in the garden etc. Since getting the allotment, the dreamer has come to the conclusion that self sufficiency would be far too much hard work (however much fun it looked like in the good life) and I am happy just pottering on and growing few vegetables for fun - which is just as well as my crop can be counted with the fingers of a single hand this year!

We went for a walk on Sunday and I spotted lots of lovely looking rowan berries. The dreamer in me resurfaced and thought how wonderful it would be to make rowan jelly. I've never made jelly in my life. I have never actually even tasted rowan jelly before. Undeterred I went back the following morning and picked a whole bag of rowan berries, came home, googled rowan jelly, found a recipe and gave it ago...

First I de-stalked the berries, put them in a sauce pan with (supposedly) same weight of apples (I didn't have enough so I cheated and added some shop bought pectin), just cover with water and simmer away for 20-30 minutes. 

The result is mushy berries that you leave to strain overnight (or at least four hours). All the recipes I saw forbid very explicitly trying to squeeze the juice out as it would make the jelly cloudy...

You measure out your liquid and for each pint (600ml) you use a pound of sugar (500gr)

Warm the sugar up in the oven at 110c for 10-15 minutes

Add the warmed sugar to the juice and stir on low heat until the sugar has all dissolved and then boil until setting point is reached, skim of any scum and put in sterilised jars.

And finally look at your pretty jars and feel very content with your efforts.

Young sir scraped the bowl when he got home from school and loved it. He wants it with his toast in the morning. Who am I to tell him that it is supposed to be eaten with game and most people consider it too sour to have for breakfast ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - cake, canines and cat

1. Young sir turned five on Friday. I know it is a cliche but time has flown! I am sure it was only a moment ago he was a teeny, tiny baby...

2. Young sir requested fish and chips, donuts and cheese for his birthday supper. I love fish chips so I obliged very happily :)

3. For months Young sir has been telling that he would like to have a spiderman cake for his birthday. I was dreading making it but I'd done my research and googled spiderman cake images, picked one that didn't look too complicated that I'd attempt to make. Alas on Thursday night he spotted some Lighting McQueen sugar figures in the supermarket and changed his mind. The end result was a racing track with luminous green grass (desiccated coconut turned green with some food colouring) on the sides.

4. On Saturday Young Sir had his first proper(ish) birthday party. So far we've had a little party at home with a few of his friends but being at school nursery last year introduced him to a whole new way of celebrating (=a soft play full of screaming kids). The church has bouncy castle and lots of space to run around so we had his party there. The plan was some bouncing, food and games led by amazing Jackie. And it went well - so well that Young sir wants to do the same next year.

5. David's mum came up over the weekend. She had been to a dog show in Ripon and came to visit us after which was lovely.

6. The cat did not agree. At all. One look of her canine friends and she scampered. Very fast. And was not seen for 48 hours!

7. The dogs were very keen to make friends with the C-A-T and kept considerable amount of time staring out to the corner of the garden where they had last seen the puss.

8. On her return the cat was very pleased to see even Young sir with whom she usually has a hate-hate relationship. He gave her a nice long cuddle and she did not try to escape.

9. I like writing my blog but I am very bad at reading blogs (apart from those written by people I know and especially my sisters). I do try every now and then but usually fail because the posts are a) too long, b) not funny, c) too serious all the time*, d) all of the above. There are two exceptions: Adventures of a Middle-Aged Matron (whose post on parenting last month I loved) and Jamie, the very worst missionary.

9.5 My posts probably fall to the all of the above category too often but thankfully I have lots of sisters who will read my posts regardless of me boring their pants off. I love my sisters!

10. One of the most listened albums in our house at the moment is On the Shores (by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser) and this is one of my favourite songs from it

As usual -here are links to other lovely ladies who've hopefully had time to sit down and write a Ten on Tuesday: HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah.

*occasional seriousness is good - like all things, it needs to be in moderation!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten on Tuesday...time flies

Serious omission in blogging over the last 'few' weeks so I am determined not to make it a month without blogging and I'll scrape together a hasty ten. It won't be as touching and thoughtful as Helen's post last week which left me wishing I could write like her and be as honest and vulnerable as she is!

Much has happened so here's not very deep whirlwind tour of things since the last post.

1. We went to the zoo. It was bank holiday weekend so we queued for about 75 minutes to get in. But it was sunny and we had uncle Mark and lovely Jen to keep us company so all was well.

2. Since the zoo visit the most requested bedtime story has been Topsy and Tim go to the zoo!

3. Whilst at Mark&Jen's young sir came up with a corker announcing that 'if you have short hair, you are smart'. A fair conclusion to make as people usually say to him after a hair cut (i.e. when your hair is short) 'don't you look smart!' I love hte way how his little mind connects things at times.

4. Young sir started school last week. So far so good. He loves wearing his uniform and he looks pretty cute in it.

5. I have to confess to posting the obligatory first day in uniform picture on Facebook - but how could I resist??? Especially as we never had school uniforms in Finland so they are 'exotic and exciting' - or so I think until next year when I need to start ironing the proper shirt that he'll have to wear in year one. I wonder what age you are allowed to teach kids to iron...

6. V*-day came and went and I passed with minor corrections. I surprisingly did actually enjoy the viva even though they didn't ask any of the questions that I'd expected!

7. The first swimming lesson of the new term took place on Friday. Young sir is in group of seven little lads, all wanting to be first at everything!

8. The excitement this week has been school lunches. I am not actually sure what he had yesterday. He had sweetcorn and carrots and a yogurt but not sure what the main part of the meal was!

9. Being a boring mum concerned with good manners and with words of affirmation as one of my main love languages I asked him if he said thank you to the dinner ladies to which he replied that he'd forgotten to take his 'thank yous' with him, he'd left them in his bedroom, as you do. Today when we were walking towards his classroom he happily told me that he'd got the 'thank yous' with him today.

10. It is my first week post viva and I haven't got the list of recommended corrections through yet so I am enjoying being lady of leisure for the time being - it is weird getting up in the morning and not spending the day studying!

As usual - other lovely ladies who've hopefully had time to sit down and write a ten on tuesday are HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah.

* viva - oral examination for PhD

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - starring young sir as usual and few visitors

After few weeks of silence, I finally managed to get another ten together. I have been thinking about doing it, even had couple of semi-witty thoughts about what to write, alas I've forgotten them all so here is just a little update on the goings on of the Lindsey household instead.

1. I picked the right night to do a bedtime story over the weekend. I overheard young sir saying to daddy 'I am going to choose the longest book in the world'

2. The logic of young sir sometimes astounds me, I guess I should not really be surprised, especially when it comes to finishing his dinner...'Is there pudding mummy?' has a great impact on the likelihood of him cleaning his plate, at times he even weighs up the pudding on offer and the food on the plate and if the pudding is not attractive enough he chooses not to finish his food.

3. We've had busy week and a bit with family and friends visiting. It's been lovely and the house feels very empty with everyone gone!

4. Visitors mean outings so young sir and I had a very busy week with various excursions. Hadrian's wall, Durham cathedral, IKEA (=breakfast and ice cream), Allen Banks, beach...

Walking along Hadrian's wall

6. After the rains that we've had recently Allen Banks was quite muddy and young sir has an affinity to marching through mud, fine when you are wearing wellies - not so fine when you got doodles on! So to save the shoes (=reduce the time it would take me to clean them afterwards) I bribed offered a prize of sweeties if he walked to the car without getting his shoes any muddier. My brilliant idea backfired on me and he didn't want to go through the mud as he did not want to loose his bribe prize...

7. One of the mud patches we came across was enourmous. I think I got the short straw with the wriggling boy (who was worried that I would drop him in and he would loose his sugary reward) and the camera - at least I had my reefs on so I could go and rinse my muddy feet and be told by  young sir that I would not get a prize as I got muddy! 

8. I also filled my sisterly duty by introducing my oldest younger sister to Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (following our visit to Sycamore Gap) and Top Gun (how could she have lived without hearing the great 80s her difference, she was one when the film came out...)

9. Dilemma that I have with having eight younger sisters is how do I talk about them to people who don't know them. I usually opt out for 'one of my sisters' which implies that I have more than one but don't go into details - unless it's my youngest sister and then I usually say 'my youngest sister'. Is there some etiquette of how to refer to your siblings that I am not aware off?

10. With young sir starting school I am entering an alien territory of school uniforms (they do not exist in Finland). I am more than half way down the list with trousers (grey), polo shirts (white), jumpers (navy with school logo), school shoes (black or brown, young sir chose black), PE shoes (black) ticked off the list. I only have PE shorts (navy), socks (grey), gym bag (any colour you like) and wellies (again any colour you like) left to get. We had dress rehearsal for my sister and oh my, he was so grown up!

As per usual here are other possible ten-on-tuesdayers HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - the travellers are back

I have not been lazy (apart from last week) but we've been away in sunny France for couple of weeks hence no posts on the blog for a while. Up to few days before the holiday the plan was to go to the South West but the weather forecast looked unsettled and we decided to head for France instead. As nice as cream teas are you can't beat pan au chocolates for breakfast! So here are ten on tuesday strongly featuring the holiday.

1. Daddy is in at the moment in big style. In the mornings as we wave daddy off to work the whole street can hear young sir shouting: "I'm your best friend daddy!" Very sweet. Here's some daddy love from Arc the Triomphe.

2. We spent few days in Paris, they had been talking about France in nursery for the couple of weeks before we went away and young sir had become aware of such a thing as Eiffel tower existing so off we went to see it. made us feel old as the last time we were in Paris was 10 years ago when we were students...time flies...

3. After Paris we headed down to the Cevennes in Languedoc-Rousillon. On the way we crossed the Millau viaduct. Very impressive!

4. Whilst we were admiring Cirque de Navacelles, the largest canyon in Europe according to the leaflets from the tourist information, my little sister was on road trip across US admiring the Grand Canyon...

5. The campsite was by the river Herault so we spent a lot of time splashing in the river. It had some quite deep pools so you could dive in as well as shallower bits for the little ones.

6. Young sir was fascinated by the camera on a tripod and we had some fun taking 'potraits' of us with the timer and young sir pressing the button before dashing into the photo.

7. For young sir ice cream and swimming were the main things about the holiday. 

8. For the sun deprived parents the opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun was greatly appreciated.

9. Our lovely next door neighbours lent us their tomtom. When we got off the ferry in Dover it was nice to be able to ask for directions to 'home' knowing it would take us to within 5 metres of our front door :)

10. And last but not least the non-holiday related item. Young sir was hoovering his room yesterday (the prize for tidying up all the toys off the floors - long may it last) and I started wondering after a while why he was taking such a long time to do turns out he was trying to fill an empty balloon up with the hoover...'But this air is not working mummy!'

If you fancy more 'ten on tuesdays' try your luck with these ladies  HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - tonsillitis and phonics

1. I now know what are the symptoms of tonsillitis. I'd never had it so when young sir was complaining about sore throat, hurting neck, tummy pains and had temperature I was completely puzzled for the lack of runny nose and cough (which are essential parts of my standard diagnosis of cold). On day two of extremely poorly child I saw his swollen tonsils when he was talking to me and I had an 'aha' moment.

2. The on-call doctor made young sir's day by giving him a sweetie and prescribing ice cream and a 10 day course of not so nice tasting penicillin.

3. After few unsuccessful (=spat out) spoonfuls of the medicine we resorted to the method of holding his mouth open whilst tilting his head up so he can't spit it out. He now holds his head up with his little hands by himself. I could probably tell him that he doesn't need to do it if he is not planning to spit the medicine out but it looks rather sweet.

4. Young sir is fascinated by cameras and whilst he was off nursery with the tonsillitis he played around with the old little digital camera we have and here are few of his shots:

 Watching moomins

 Cat eating

 Daddy leaving for work

 Self portrait

Kitchen table

5. We were given the five love languages book when we got engaged and found it very helpful. David's house group spoke about them some time ago too. Since we've noticed hints of young sir's love language and the contenders are words of affirmation and physical touch.

6. In his swimming lessons on Friday, he kept turning around sticking his thumbs up every time he did something to check if I thought he had done ok and if I stuck my thumbs up, he did a little celebration waving both of his arms around madly. Definitely words (actions) of affirmation coming through there :)

7. Yesterday morning we woke up to a quite an interesting exchange on radio four about phonics. It had some class lines but the best one of them all was 'pro phonics only person' saying "Mary is confused at lots and lots of different levels" to a lady who had PhD in phonics and was actually agreeing with phonics but dared to suggest it being used in conjunction with other methods!

8. The excitement from the allotment this week - I found eight parsnip seedlings after I'd completely given up hope on them and was about to dig up the bed and plant something else instead - thankfully the weather has been miserable so I hadn't had time to do so yet!

9. Young sir saw the olympic 'lamp' on Friday, the route went behind the school so they all lined up on a little hill on the school grounds and waved and cheered as it went past. One of the torch bearers came into the classroom with the torch too but much to young sir's disappointment there was no flame.

10. Some of you may have seen this picture of a little lamb being rescued on facebook. Three friends were out testing a new camera when they noticed a lamb in the water being tossed by waves amongst the rocks. Needless to say, the new camera got tested with these images of the rescue that have gone around the world! If you know Norwegian you can read of the rescue attempt here (or use google translate). There is something very touching about the images, just reminds me that we all need a helping hand or two at times!

Photos by Vetle Farstad

Here's other Ten on Tuesdayers:  HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah if you want to see what they've got up to this week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mary's Meals

Little things make a big difference. Martha Payne, a school girl from Scotland, started a blog about her school lunches which became an internet sensation. She had a link to a charity giving page for charity called Mary's Meals and has raised over £2000 - wow! Not bad for taking pictures of your school meal :)

The charity she supports is pretty amazing too. Young sirs school lunches will cost us £9.75 per week (I don't trust my ability to keep lunch boxes interesting so it will be school lunches all the way until his old enough to make his own lunch). But only for £10.70 you will feed a child for a whole school year in the developing country!

There idea is simple, partner with school to provide a hot meal for the kids. School admissions go up as coming to school means getting a meal. Education levels go up and the benefit ends up being far wider than just feeding a hungry child. They change the whole community.

For the cost of less than most of us spend on mobile phone bills a month you can make a difference too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - introducing pedalling Speedy Gonzalez

Last week the combination of Jubilee bank holidays, half term and laziness lead to no Ten on Tuesday but this week I have no excuse so here we go:

1. The most exciting news is that young sir has learnt to cycle without stabilisers. He was fast before, now there is no stopping him! I can just imagine him repeating to himself 'I am speed, I am speed' a'la Lighting McQueen as he pedals along.

2. I heard something interesting on radio four this morning and thought it would make a nice sophisticated point for the blog - only I've forgotten what it was...oh'll just need to take my word for it being something fascinating and interesting that I thought you'd enjoy reading...6.30am is too early anyway to retain any information.

3. I have made my second Herman the German. The first time we thought it was nice but not worth the ten days of feeding and stirring. The second time the verdict was still the same. Nice but nothing special.

4. My last years Californian poppies are putting on an amazing display on the allotment - just as well as nothing else seems to be growing this year.

5. Correction to the above: the retired old boys who spend all their days on the allotment have plenty of things growing but without greenhouse to nurse the seedlings and only limited time at hand the only thing that is doing well is potatoes.

6. The potatoes are doing so well in fact that we are tempted to plant an other bed of them...roasted tatters...mmmm...if there is one thing the English should be given credit for is the creation of roast potato...just the thought of crispy golden potatoes with lashings of gravy gets me salivating...

7. I love quirky stories in the news. This morning my eye was caught by this story of a vicar who is walking from Surrey to Holy Island to raise money for the modernisation of his church. You can follow his progress here.

8. After nearly six years in the North East we finally managed to have a day out in Durham (=one of the things we thought would be lovely to do before we moved up). It rained, a lot. But never mind, the cathedral was still magnificent and Henrik had fun running around the cloisters.

9. The wet (un-summer like) weather we are having is putting a bit of a damper on our plans to go camping down in the South West for two weeks at the end of this month...plan b is under serious consideration!!!

10. One of the things that amused me endlessly when I first moved over to England was how it was generally considered almost criminal to have the heating on outside October-March/April period. I have to confess to committing the unpardonable sin of having the heating on in June, yes, in June! What can I say in my defence apart from...IT WAS FREEZING!!!

And on that cheerful note, it is time to finish. If you want to read more Ten on Tuesdays have a look of what HelenSarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah got to say for themselves.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Life is an adventure...

...only we grown ups often forget about that and make it all boring, sensible and serious. Young sir has daily encounters with monsters, pirates, imaginary friends and many other amazing creatures. My daily encounters are with the washing up and laundry - chores. He tidied up his room yesterday and even that was a big adventure, not a boring chore - the moment of greatest excitement was being allowed to hoover it all by himself (long may it last).

Kids don't dream of being mediocre, they dream big. Somewhere along the way most of us grown ups get trapped into the rut of doing the sensible thing, not what we dream or think would be exciting...the fear of failure gets too high and we end up not trying at all rather than trying, failing, trying, failing, trying, failing, trying and finally succeeding.

I watched young sir on his swimming lesson last week trying to pick up a ring from the bottom of the pool. The first time he did not get it regardless of his countless attempts. The second time at the end of the lesson when they did it again, he kept trying, again and again and again. He's inherited fair amount of determination from both of us and it was evident that the stubbornness genes kicked into play - he was going to get the ring no matter how long he had to keep trying. And when he finally got it after the nth time, the big beaming smile on his face was so touching and rewarding.

I often catch myself saying no to young sir, just because it is the sensible thing to do, not because there is any reason for it. Last weekend we went to the beach with some friends. The kids quickly discovered that the frisbee flies much further if you throw it down from the sand dune. And the sensible grown up in me was saying no (visualising all the possible scenarios such as a passer by being knocked out by this object hurdling down etc). Whilst the less grown up side of me was asking the question from Dr Pepper adverts 'what's the worst that  could happen?' The less grown up side won and the kids had marvellous time running up and down the dunes hurdling plastics discs down like missiles.

The challenge I am giving my self is stop and check whether I am saying no because it is one of those situations the standard grown up answer is no (or it causes too much mess for me to tidy up and I say no out of laziness) or whether I there is actually a real danger or serious consequences if I don't say no. More often and not I find myself saying no just because it seems to be the expected parenting response rather than for any real reason.

Life is an adventure but it is a choice whether you see it as one or not. Your situation will still be the same, it is your outlook that changes. Like Polyanna's rose tinted lenses, it is up to us how we see the world around us.

The older we get, the easier it is to select the 'sensible' option rather than dreaming big and taking the risk of facing failure before succeeding. Seeing things how they are rather than how they could be.

So here I am, at the start of another day. Choosing adventure - whilst doing the washing up. Choosing to keep dreaming - whilst hanging the laundry. And learning from young sir how it is done - whilst trying not to say no needlessly.

When you are four, life is not boring...each day is a new adventure...why should it be boring now?

(And yes, I know the house work still needs to be done, choosing adventure doesn't take away the washing up. It is all about the attitude you have, not what you do!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Rhubarb ice cream

There is only so much rhubarb cake you can eat and to have a bit of a change in our method of consuming the allotment grown rhubarb we have been experimenting with rhubarb ice cream. 

It is delicious, I would dare to suggest it to be even better than chocolate ice's definitely simpler to make than chocolate ice cream so it gets the points there! An other bonus of the rhubarb ice cream is that you can't buy it in the shops. It's always nice to make something when you know you can't buy a better tasting version from the supermarket for half the price the ingredients cost you. A lesson learnt from my sad attempt at making is the one thing that is guaranteed to be shop bought in this house every time!

To make rhubarb ice cream all you need is 4 stalks of rhubarb, 100 grams of sugar and 300ml double cream and you have yourself a yummee treat.

So here it goes:
1. chop up the rhubarb to chunks, sprinkle with little bit of the sugar, roast for 20 minutes (or until tender) in 180c

2. Let them cool down a bit and then pure, add sugar and cream and mix quickly

3. Put it in the ice cream maker and wait with a spoon in your hand for the pink creamy gorgeousness to be ready

We tucked in straight away so there is no beautiful picture of the finished product (hence the very elegant tupperware picture) so you just need to imagine a scoop of beautifully pink ice cream in a nice white bowl with strawberry on a side with maybe a mint leave or two to finish it all off. Maybe next time...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mummy, my tears are dropping

Young sir has a very sweet phrase that he uses when he is crying. 'My tears are dropping' he says, looking into your eyes with his little bottom lip wobbling and sure enough, tears falling down his cheek.

Tears are funny things. You can not stop them and those of us with less thespian talents in us can't force them out. They just come.

Tears of joy...sadness...relief...pain...

When you are little the tears usually come because you have hurt yourself...grazed knees, bumped heads, cut fingers - and they are usually healed with the magic power of kiss and a plaster.

Couple of nights ago we read about Joseph and when his brothers sold him to slavery. One of the illustrations is his father holding the bloodied coat with tears in his eyes. Young sir was very upset about the 'daddy being sad' and had tears in his little eyes thinking of the 'daddy missing his son'.

It is the first time I've seen tears in his eyes because of someone else's pain - even if it was just an illustration - and it made me all squeezy in a good way and sad at the same time as I knew that this was his first introduction to pain that can not be healed with kiss and a plaster, pain that touches your heart. I still gave a kiss (it still is the universal mums' remedy for everything), assured him that the daddy would see his boy again and we prayed Jesus to make his heart happy again.

I have a vivid childhood memory of listening to Heidi on cd (long ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth and there were no dvds) and sobbing my little heart out when Heidi had to leave her grandfather and not knowing whether she'd be back. There is something quite powerful about words being able to impact you in a way that evokes emotions.

Anne of Green Gables was one of my favourite books when I was little. The last book in the series Rilla of Ingleside has a paragraph that always opens my tearducts. The book is set in the First World War and there is a faithful little dog called Dog Monday who has been waiting at the station for years for his master to return:

"A black-and-yellow streak shot past the station agent. Dog Monday stiff? Dog Monday rheumatic? Dog Monday old? Never believe it. Dog Monday was a young pup, gone clean mad with rejuvenating joy.

He flung himself against the tall soldier, with a bark that choked in his throat from sheer rapture. He flung himself on the ground and writhed in a frenzy of welcome. He tried to climb the soldier's khaki legs and slipped down and groveled in an ecstasy that seemed as if it must tear his little body in pieces. He licked his boots and when the lieutenant had, with laughter on his lips and tears in his eyes, succeeded in gathering the little creature up in his arms Dog Monday laid his head on the khaki shoulder and licked the sunburned neck, making queer sounds between barks and sobs.

The station agent had heard the story of Dog Monday. He knew now who the returned soldier was. Dog Monday's long vigil was ended. Jem Blythe had come home."

As parents we often want to shield our child(ren) from pain and there is a side to it that is good. But too much protection can give us unrealistic expectations of what life is like. It is important to learn that there is sadness as well as joy. Tears as well as laughter and sometimes there is tears and laughter mingled together. Keeping our heart soft enough to be able to empathise with the pain and joy of others is hard and you may get hurt in the process at times but it is still so much better than shutting your heart completely from pain as by doing that you are also reducing your ability to feel joy.

Laugh. Cry. Rejoice. Be sad. Live!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ten on Tuesday - sunshine and sand

1. Aaah...the is glorious while it lasts...which usually isn't long enough so we've learnt to make the most of it whilst it is here :)

2. Inspired by the hot weather and family visiting I made some rhubarb ice cream and strawberry ice cream over the weekend - just a thought of them makes me salivate...I love my ice cream maker

3. On Saturday we explored further north - only to Morpeth and Druridge Bay with our visitors and found a pub that had an amazingly varied menu and delicious food - the boys ate kangaroo (didn't write that in Henrik's home school diary)

4. Next to lovely ice cream, the best thing on a hot day is the beach and we are spoiled for nice beaches around here, Druridge Bay is one of our favourites, even on a busy day it was not crowded at all

5. Young sir collected some shells to bring home, they are nicely arranged on his shelves whilst there is mountain of sand on the floor where he emptied his shell container...

6. I had first Pimm's of the summer on Saturday, there is something special about the first one and it tasted just as good as I remembered

7.  I've enjoyed being lady of leisure but I am slowly starting the preparation for the viva and job hunting. There are few jobs that have looked quite interesting and some that are just not my cup of tea requiring 'a strong commitment to the study of human adenocarcinoma' or 'demonstrate experience with human or non-human behaviour and electrophysiology'.

8. We've been listening to cd with prayers for kids, I had enough of miss Polly had a Dolly and needed a change! We got the cd years ago when we were in the school of the heart in Toronto and it's finally come to use.

9. The only downside (if you can call it that) is the overwhelming amount of questions young sir has about the prayers...'what does amen mean', 'what is revelation', 'what is the truth'...if Socrates didn't know what truth is, how am I supposed to know it!!!

10. The cd has the Lord's prayer and young sir duly asked about 'why it says our father in heaven', I must have explained it somewhat satisfactorily but got stuck for what to say to the next question 'where is our heavenly mother then?' - I wonder how many years I have to wait before I can reply with 'ask Peter on Sunday'??? Soon hopefully

Here is Helen and the other lovely ten on tuesday ladies linked to her (Sarah, Jo, Lucy & Hannah)