Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Young sir has been obsessed with road signs for a while. The latest particular fascination is speed limit signs - usually telling us to drive faster or slower. On Sunday we were crawling to a party in stop start traffic due to road closure and diversion to which he said: 'We are not going 50 mummy, it says we should go 50'...

Yesterday morning young sir decided that our household management needs a bit of an updating so whilst we were sipping our morning cup of tea he industriously filled the house with arrows and signs to help us navigate around.

On the stairs there were signs with arrows going both ways - indicating that the traffic can flow both up and down. In our bedroom he had a sign with mummy and daddy on and then arrows to show which side of the bed belonged to whom. In the bathroom the tap and the 'toilut' were pointed out in case someone was unaware of what they were.

It was very sweet to watch him potter about and make sure all the arrows were pointing int he right direction and that all the signs had the right text on. What was even sweeter was that he collected them away without being asked - he obviously didn't trust me to keep them safe whilst he was at school!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bunnylicious thoughts on creativity

Young sir is a typical little boy - fascinated with anything that moves, makes noise or generally looks like machinery. My sewing machine is no exception. Couple of weeks ago I was making a bunny (with the wonderful free pattern available from here) for a present and he wanted to help me. But what he really meant is that he wanted to use my sewing machine. 

I wasn't in a hurry so we found some more fabric and young sir picked the ones he liked and started to make a bunny of his own. Thankfully the bunny is quick to make and my patience and the sewing machine both remained intact.

Young sir drew the little nose and mouth and I stitched them and the eyes on for him but the rest he did himself. He discovered that the harder you hit the pedal, the faster the machine goes - hence his bunny has a slightly less round tummy with wonkiness in odd places.

I resisted the temptation to correct the wonkyness and the bunny is most definitely young sir's masterpiece that I helped him make rather than something he helped me to make. He was pleased with it, even though it did not look much like the original. It was wonky, not as pretty as it could have been, the ears were lined with odd fabric, the arms were different sizes...And I felt so proud of my boy - because he did it. 

Perfectionism kills creativity. So often we compare ourselves to others and don't even try because we are afraid of failing. Kids have no such fears. They think that everything they create is a masterpiece and deserves to be admired. Even a loo roll taped to a cereal box that you try to sneak to the recycling bin when he is asleep as you know he'll come home from school the next day with an equally amazing masterpiece! It is a masterpiece because they made it not because of what it looks like.

Young sir went to bed with Check the Bunny on the pillow next to him and a big smile on his face. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boaty bunting

When hubby's godson was born this summer I was looking for fun ideas for a bit different bunting for a baby boy. After trawling through mountains of pictures on pinterest with nothing to inspire me. I decided to create my own and boaty bunting was the result.

Once I knew what I was doing, they were quick and simple to make. If you fancy giving them ago - here's how:

1. Cut out the hulls and the sails

2. Embroider letters on if you fancy a name on your line of boats.

3. Sew the hulls and sails together. I made the boats fiddlier than I needed to by sewing the hulls first, turning them the right way out, pinning on the sails and sewing along the 'hem'. Then turning the sails over and zig-zagging on the mast. Next time I'll probably just pin the hull and sail part together, slightly overlapping and zig-zag along the outsides and the overlapping seem.

4. Sew on a button and a loop to hang the boat on the line. Or alternatively you can sew the boats directly onto the line.

And they are done :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple pie with hearts

Come in from a rainy walk in the woods and smell the wonderful combination of apple and cinnamon in the air would be my description of the perfect autumn smell. Leaves falling, evenings getting darker, rain, rain, rain and lots of yummy puddings.

One of my favourite things of the allotment is a mature cooking apple tree that we inherited with the plot. The first year it was laden with apples, they store relatively well so were eating them well into the new year. Last year was abysmal year for apples - too cold for the bumble bees to do their stuff! This year there is a good crop again so the men in the house are happy as it means plenty of crumbles and apple pies.

Last week after school Young sir and I made and apple pie. It's simple, it's quick and vaguely healthy too - apples are part of one of your five-a-day after all ;) And the beauty of using little hearts to cover it is that even with your handy helper laying them on in the most haphazard method possible - it still looks amazing!

I cheat when it comes to pastry - I hardly ever let it rest in the fridge for the recommended 'at least 30 minutes'. My secret trick is two pieces of cling film and a bit of flour. Place the pastry between the pieces of cling film and roll away until the pastry is the right size.  This also makes it wonderfully easy to lift the rolled out pastry to the pie dish, just take the top cling film off, lift the pastry into pie dish and peel of the remaining cling film.

And here's the recipe we used

150 gr   butter/margarine
1 tbsp    sugar
1            egg
1/2 tsp   baking powder
200 gr   plain flour


Peel & chop the apples, stew with some sugar, dash of water and cinnamon until softish.

Mix butter and margarine. Add rest of the ingredients and work until pastry is well combined. If you got time let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins (makes it easier to roll)  Divide pastry in two, roll out a disk big enough for you pie dish and put it in so that it comes up to the edges. Fill with your lovely smelling stewed apple mixture. Roll out an other disk to cover the pie or cut out little hearts and cover the surface of the pie with them. Brush with egg or sugared water. Bake at 200c for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot or cold with custard, cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fridge revelations...

I have been challenged to show the contents of my fridge by my sister Eeva. My initial reaction was to wait a few days until I've been to supermarket and the shelves look less bare!  But then honesty or lazyness won so here is my fridge and everything in it was the day I was challenged to take part.

We have an undercounter fridge that is usually decorated with random assortment of magnets. The alphabets were a Christmas present for Young sir from grannie. Once in a blue moon he sits on the floor and tries to spell a work - fog was his latest attempt. On the fridge is also a picture of us taken last December by my talented photographer sister Hanna.  She recently photographed my second youngest sister Roosa's wedding so if you want to be nosy, there are some gorgeous photos of my sisters on Hanna's website.

Back to the fridge. Here it is in all it's glory. The vege draws are pretty empty as we've been eating veggies (read beans, tomatoes and carrots) from the allotment over the summer. Pick & eat on the same day, no need for fridge.  There were two rather sorry looking red chillies, bit of lettuce and some parsley (from the allotment again) in the draws which looked far too sorry to be photographed!

Let's tackle the door first. The standard items that we always have are are milk, squash and tonic water. On the whole we don't drink squash that much but when we do Rocks organic is our favourite. I like the blackcurrant (reminds me of juice my grannie used to make when I was little) and hubby likes the orange. Young sir likes both - it's his weekend treat with splash of tonic day he'll discover that other kids drink pop ;)

On the next shelf up, I've got one of my favourite standby items creamed coconut (condensed solidified coconut milk?). We cook curries quite often and creamed coconut is handy as it lasts for ages (way beyond the 'once opened please use within 4 weeks') and you can just chop of however much you want and add it to your concoction. Next to it is pesto, the stable for quick after school meals. Hiding behind the coconut is sweet cucumber pickle that was given to us. It's yummee on bread with some cheese or ham...mmmm....

The most prized possession of my fridge is liquorice ice cream sauce that my sister Hellu (fyi - for those wondering about the number of sisters - I have eight and half of them are mentioned in this blog post!) brought when she came for a visit in the summer. Liquorice ripple ice cream is one of my all time favourite ice creams. The closest I can get to it in England is squirting some of the sauce on vanilla ice cream and closing my eyes and imaging it's proper liquorice ripple ice cream. Behind the pesto is a packet of sweetcorn seeds. Seeds store best when they are cool or so they say so I thought I'd give it ago as I only planted half of them this year.

Sharing honoured place along the same shelf with the liquorice sauce are mustards.  I love chicken pie. It's a great way of using up left over roast chicken and adding a big spoonful of wholegrain mustard makes it taste amazing. Likewise adding a small spoonful of english mustard to a stew adds nice flavour to the gravy. Nest to the mustards is a bag of maltesers. The only reason why they are still in the fridge and not in my tummy is that they belong to young sir.

Now for the main part of the fridge. I've got some coriander - again for curries. I've found it keeps longer when you stand it in some water. Hiding in the back there is a tub of houmous - the one of the few things I think tastes better when it's shop bought, I've tried couple of times to make my own and each time the result has not been worth the effort that I've put into making it! Another staple that I usually have in the fridge too is natural yogurt, I use it in cakes (instead of soured cream), quiches and curries. The out of the ordinary item in the fridge this time is a cartoon of mango and passion fruit smoothie, we usually buy apple or orange juice but the smoothies were on offer this time :)

 The top shelf is rather a mixed up lot. The cheese should be on the top compartment of the door but it was too big to fit in and is residing temporarily here until we've eaten enough for it to fit in its normal place. The grapes are in the fridge for safe keeping, if I put them in the fruit bowl young sir can demolish the lot in less than 10 minutes. So to make sure we all get to have some grapes they are rationed out. Next to the cheese is some egg whites. They keep for ages and you never know when you feel like whipping up a meringue. There's also a bottle of wine that we brought back from our holiday. We camped on a vineyard and bought some lovely Austrian wine from there to take home.

 And as my sister predicted we have some left over beans in the fridge. As I've come to learn baked beans are an essential part of the English diet.

For those carnivores who are worried over the lack of meat in the fridge...we are not vegeterians. We have lovely butchers around the corner and I usually go and get whatever meat I'm cooking from there on the day. But you don't need to worry over my legs getting tired from walking to the butchers either - we eat vegetarian meals during the week as hubby gets meaty lunch at work and young sir has meat with his school meals and have a meat feast at the weekends.

So that ends the contents of my fridge. There were bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise that didn't' get properly introduced to you. Neither did I show a close up of the tub containing left over pizza or bowl with left over crumble. You'll just have to imagine those. In the time before digital cameras, a tupperware tub full of 35mm slide film was a standard feature in our fridge - like seeds film keep best in the fridge too!

So now it is my turn to challenge someone else to reveal the contents of their fridge. Not sure if this is allowed in the rules of blog challenges but I would like to challenge to lovely ladies. One of them is my sister Hanna (yes, the one that takes photographs but she also bakes amazing cakes) and the other one is  MamaDeano whom I've never met but whose blog I found through a mutual friend and thoroughly enjoy reading.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Parenting advice from strangers

Rant warning!!! I was happily writing a nice little blog about Buddy when I felt like I needed to have a rant. I finished my post about Young sir's new friend and started a new post for the if you don't want to read my rant, please look at the cute pictures on the previous post about Buddy. If you are curious about the rant, please read on.

When Young sir was about two years old, he took a bunny with him to the supermarket. I was doing my shopping, he was doodling along dangling the bunny by a leg. Out of the blue, or rather down the flour and sugar isle, came a crinkled and grey old man. He took one look of Young sir and his favourite bunny, knelt down next to him and said "you should tell your mum, you are far too old to have a teddy". 

Young sir hadn't been listening so he never heard what the man said - and at age two probably didn't really understand what the man was saying even if he had. I replied rather indignantly that "you are never too old to have a teddy" and marched off with Young sir and bunny in my wake.

This "you need to tell your mummy" is the subtle rhetoric many completely random strangers use when they disagree with your parenting choices. "You should tell your mummy to put a sunhat on you", "you should tell your mummy to strap you in when you sit in a shopping trolley", "you should tell your mum to put a rain coat on you", "you should tell your mummy..."

It is amazing how many strangers feel compelled to give you advice on how to dress your children, how they should be walking in the street...the list goes on. They disagree with a choice that you have made as a parent and they feel that you ought to know that you are in the wrong. But rather than telling you face to face, they use the indirect approach. An other favourite used by random strangers is "if I was your mother..."

So dear stranger, if I meet you in a street/supermarket/playground and you disagree with my parenting choices, and if you absolutely have to share your views please talk to ME - not to my child. And even better, please just hold your tongue. There is nothing more helpful than having constructive feedback from people who know you and know your child and that I welcome with open arms - we all need help from friends and people around us to do the best we can with what we've got. But seriously - a two second judgement of a behaviour of a child you are passing and commenting upon it, what good can that do?

Phew...rant over.

PS. I also think it is rather ironic too that children are discouraged from talking to strangers but perfect strangers feel that they are allowed to and have the right (usually given to them by grey hair, number of children they have brought up and looked after) to talk to children they've never met before!

Young sir and Buddy

We have had a new member in our family since July. Buddy, a brown build-a-bear dog, was given to Young sir on the last day of the school by his year six buddy James who was leaving for high school. Since then Young sir and Buddy have been inseparable. Buddy gets strapped into a spare car set when we are driving somehwere. He has breakfast with Young sir. He voices 'his' opinions accompanied with loud woofs. 

Most importantly, Buddy came on holiday. Young sir was slightly concerned as Buddy had "never been on a ferry before" but our canine friend survived the calm crossing from North Shields to Amsterdam. Buddy visited the medieval town of Krems and more importantly the outdoor pool there. He came along to heurigen (wine and cold meat sandwiches served by local vineyards in little wine cellars) in Rohrendorf. Went up a mountain in a cable car in Galtur. Came down a mountain in Young sir's rucksack. And each night he snuggled next to Young sir in his sleeping bag. Very sweet!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Being a grown up(ish)

Being 30+, is kind of a grown up age, yet I don't really think myself as a grown up. Let alone feel like a grown up. Even if having a kid in school, PhD and a mortgage are convincing evidence that I must appear as a grown up...I still think myself as being young. And relatively speaking I guess I am - especially as some* suggest that middle age begins at 55 now.

However it is slowly dawning on me that I am much more grown up than I think. Young sir often reminds me of how busy and boring (=grown up) I've become. Rushing to school on a busy morning, my focus is on getting out of the house fed and clothed in a minimum amount of time whilst his focus is on the most amazing lego contraption that he just built. Or when cycling to school on a rainy day, his focus is on pedaling through as many puddles as possible and as fast as possible whilst I am concerned about how wet his shoes are getting.

Yesterday was a really autumnal, grey day here - with everything being enveloped in a cloud of mist. Here and there beautiful strings of watery beads highlighted the delicate and carefully spun structure of a spiders web. I was not too hurried to admire the dew drops creations in the back garden on the way to get bikes out of the shed for the school run...Only to be taken back by young sir's excited comment: "Mummy, Spiderman has been here!"

The comment challenged me. As a grown up - we too often take things at the face value rather than seeing beyond the obvious. I saw a dewy web -it was beautiful but it was just a dewy web. Young sir saw a trail mark left by a superhero.

One of my many favourite books is Saariston lapset (Vi på Saltkråkan/Children of the archipelago) by Astrid Lindgren. A piece of advice that Pampula, a jolly little girl in the book gives is to cheer up because "life is not an island of sorrows". There are things to be smile about even in the most miserable day and you don't have to be Pollyanna to see them.

Maybe a little bit of imagination alongside the stalwart grown up quality of common sense wouldn't do me any harm. Carpe Diem - one of the very few things I remember from Latin at school (alongside In vino veritas). How many times have I missed an opportunity for a giggle or an invitation to an adventure because I was being 'sensible'.

So my challenge to myself is to try to find the childlike joy and excitement in things that I can so easily miss because of this, that and the other. And the honest truth is that 'this, that and the other' rarely are as important as we make them out to be!

*a rather dubious selective piece of research online-survey marketing

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Young sir turns six

It is a cliche but it only seems such a short time ago since young sir was born. He was little and cute. Very cute. Now he is six. Everyone tells you that they grow up so fast and you nod and smile disbelievingly until one day you realise how right they were.

He still is cute but there is definitely nothing little about him. He is tall. He is fast. He is loud. He is very much a boy. He likes cars, rockets, bikes, planes, puddles, mud, water, sticks...the list is endless! And boy, can he eat. I remember my dad always commenting that my brother ate more than all of us girls combined - if young sir keeps eating at the rate he does I am not at all surprised how big my brother's appetite used to be...

After a whole year of "I'll do this for my birthday" after every single party he went to, we made an overriding parental decision and he had an animal antics party shared with one of his school friends whose birthday was few days earlier than young sir's. 

The kids had fun stroking all sorts of weird and wonderful animals and some a bit more normal ones. My favourite was the pygmy hedgehog. Young sir liked the lizards and the rabbits. The tarantula and the snake got lots of admiration from the little boys...

Young sir loved opening presents and was very pleased with the quantity of lego he received. I think when you are six there is no such a thing as too much lego. With the help of grannie and grandpa we got him a new bike and that was a success too. I have a sneaky feeling that I will get fit on the school run - he is very speedy and if I want to keep up with him I'll have to pedal faster.

And before I know, a whole year has flown by and he will  be seven. But for now, he is still small enough to like mummy's cuddles and tons of bedtime stories. I'll savour the present whilst being excited about the amazing young man he is growing up to be - much, much faster than I expected.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer's gone

I just read my little sister's blog and noticed from her blog list that I hadn't blogged for three months...oh dear...

Time has flown and much has happened.

My thesis corrections were approved. I had my graduation and one of my sisters came over for it :) I am officially Dr now - weird!

Young sir finished reception (his first year at school). He got a lovely report from his fantastic teacher. It tickled my sense of humour that the areas where he was exceeding the expected learning outcomes were his understanding and awareness of the world (being bilingual and traveling to see family in a different country might have something to do with that) and his ability to answer question (he's been asking why long enough by now so I am pleased that he can answer questions, not just ask them!). His first summer holiday is nearly over - back to school next week.

Amazing husband has built a greenhouse for the allotment and it's full of tomato plants - lots of homegrown tomatoes to eat :)

Our family holiday has been and gone. Three weeks camping and visiting friends in Austria and Germany - we had fantastic time.

Now it's time to sort out young sir's school uniform and continue with the job hunting. And whilst I have no job I get to go and help in the Bay foodbank  with all the other lovely volunteers :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Little Miss Muffet

May has nearly flown by with no blog posts. Here's a rather belated news about this years scarecrow competition. Those on facebook would have seen the scarecrow weeks ago but if you want to humour me regardless of the fact that this is 'old news', please read on :)

I am sure most of you have heard about allotment committees and the politics of allotmenting - probably from the allotment film Grow Your Own few years back. No green houses. This colour sheds. No sheds. Our allotment society is rather tame as far as the rules go. No polytunnels over winter, sheds in muted tones etc. Nothing controversial really. However the highlight of the allotment year is definitely the annual scarecrow competition.

On our first year of allotmenting the theme was the Royal Wedding. We made a magnificent Prince Harry that brought us fame and glory and a commemorative royal wedding biscuit tin as the first prize.

Last year I was busy finishing off my thesis, so no scarecrow but I do now have a bank card with Dr on it which just about outweighs the disappointment of not being able to defend my scarecrow title! The theme was red white and blue (Jubilee and Olympics). I thought about making Wonderwoman but decided that getting the thesis done on time was more important.

This year the theme was nursery rhymes or cartoon charachters. We made Little Miss Muffet and the spider. It was a rather democratic year in judging this year and apart from one overall winner everyone else become second. Young sir was delighted with the second prize of tin of sweets and few lollies.

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On blowing eggs

When I was growing up, we used to paint eggs that had been emptied for Easter decoration. During the weeks leading up to Easter my mum saved all the eggshells from baking. I remember watching in amazement as she made two little holes in either end of an egg and carefully blew into one of them and like magic the egg emerged from the other hole in a thin ribbon.

Then few days before Easter we would sit down and paint them to be hang on birch branches in a vase. I am sure it was lots more chaotic than my idyllic memory of carefully painting eggs and then watching in awe as my mum tied some thread on piece of match and slotted it inside the egg so that it could be hung up.

In Finland majority of eggs are white - nice for painting with watercolours as you get nice brilliant vivacious shades. In England eggs are brown apart from the extortionately priced pastelly colours that some supermarkets sell. Not so good for painting. I've tried watercolours few times but they just do not work. So after some experimenting I have decided that poster paints are the way forward. You don't get such a delicate results but then my master painter at the moment is five years old and delicacy is not high on his priority list when it comes to decorating eggs!

One of my childhood memories involves paitned eggs. I was about three or four. After Easter, my mum let me have the branches with eggs dangling from them as a decoration for the playhouse. I think I accidently dropped one of them on the floor and it shattered. It made such a nice noise that I ended up dropping all the dozen carefully painted eggs on the floor and jumping on them with a friend who thought it was equally amusing past time. Needless to say, my mum was not too pleased to clean the playhouse afterwards...

It is funny how something that we used to be amazed about and watch it in complete awe and wonder becomes commonplace after a while. I had completely forgotten the excitement and amazement I felt watching my mum blow the eggs until I heard young sir pipe up when I was blowing eggs: 'Mum, that's amazing!!! How did you do it???'

It is so easy to forget the wonder of growing up. Everything is new. Everything is exciting. Everything is amazing.

Everything...the way how the eggs drop on the floor and shatter to little pieces...or how half a bottle of mummy's shampoo makes lots of bubbles in the bath...or ringing the bike bell all the way to school just for the fun of it...or...the list is endless...

It is easy to be grown up and boring, the challenge is to remain childlike and enjoy the little things in life!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The boy and his dog

Young sir is enjoying having a canine visitor. He is absolutely delighted about holding the lead when we are out with the dog. He loves 'training' Iska. The dog takes it all in very good humour, being ordered around by a five year old. The numerous treats that she is rewarded for her obedience by the generous little trainer probably help too!

The dog has given an outlet for young sir's bossiness...Iska, sit! Iska, down! Iska, come! Iska, cage! He has perfected the commanding tone to the tee. And as long as there are treats around he has a faithful follower too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dear Spring...

Dear Spring,

Please come soon. I miss you. A lot.

This time last year, this was the birch tree in our garden. Tiny little leaves all over it. Today it is covered in frost and snow. I usually find the way people in England react to snow quite amusing but this is one of the rare occasions I have to say I agree with the general consensus 'No more snow please!'

March is usually a glorious month in England, even here up north. I love spring. The sun is warm. Crocuses, tulips and daffodils are blooming. The whole place is in stir with the excitement of warm spring days. Birds building nests and fruit trees blossoming.

Not this year. It is freezing. At least the high winds have calmed down so it is not as arctic as it was last weekend but still - I want to see the sun. Now.

One of the old boys in the allotment told my friend that the best thing to do is to sow everything in the first week of March and hope for the best. This year the ground has been pretty much frozen all March so there are no seeds in yet. This year I'll sow them when the sun comes out and hope for the best.

I want to see little seedlings growing on the allotment. I want to see the flurry of falling blossom rather than yet another snowflake.

So Spring, if you get my letter please hurry up!!!

Yours sincerely,

Monday, March 11, 2013

My film recommendation for the year

One of the definite signs of old age parenthood is that rather than looking forwards to the release date of a new film, you are actually counting the months until that film is finally released on DVD. And then you can sit on your sofa with a glass of wine in your hand and enjoy the film without having to worry about the length of the adverts like you do (or I do) in the cinema -as you don't want to be home too late for your babysitter!

I am praying for one of my sisters to marry a Geordie and move over here so I can have a babysitter around the corner*. Whilst waiting that to happen going to cinema is more like an annual event in the Lindsey household.

Last year we saw Skyfall, the year before The King's Speech and this year we have already used up our quota and seen Les Miserables. We saw a brilliant film called The Concert too not too long ago but not sure which year. The tagline in the advertisement was 'if you only see one film this year make sure it is this' - so we did and loved it. There might have been one or two more that we saw. I have a recollection of one of my sisters coming over (from Finland) to visit us and we went to cinema while she was here but can't remember which sister or which film so that doesn't count!

We have a lovely cinema in Newcastle with leather sofas and a bar so you can sit on the sofa there with a glass in your hand and worry about the length of the adverts, as you do when you have to be back on time for your babysitter...The building has well restored 1920s decor and reminds you about why you should go to cinema (if you had unlimited supply of babysitters).

Anyway, they have a lovely tearooms there too so when in town we quite often pop in there for a cuppa (and ice cream for young sir) and usually leaf through the brochure of films that are showing/coming soon. More than a year ago they were showing a film called Untouchable, a French film about disability based on a true story. And I really really really wanted to see it but didn't manage to do so.

Finally, it was out on DVD few weeks ago so we ordered it and watched it last weekend. It was brilliant. Definitely worth the wait. I have not laughed so much for years if ever when watching a film. It challenged the way we perceive disability but because it was true story it somehow made it feel right rather than provoking thoughts for the sake of it or poking fun. So if you only watch one film this year, my recommendation would be Untouchable (followed by the Concert).

*for the record, we do have couple of lovely babysitters who live around the corner and are very thankful for them but you can't really ask them to babysit as often as you could ask your sister!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The world book day is here...

My lovely sister-in-law made a comment last week that she was going to be Cat in the Hat for the World Book Day (WBD). And I thought nice idea. Monday came and and we got a weekly news letter home from school and that Thursday would be a dressy up day to celebrate the WBD. But somehow it didn't register in my brain that I needed to do something about this...

Not until last night about 10.30pm when I realised the dreaded WBD was here, few hours way and I had not even thought of a costume for young as well as I am not aspiring to be an alpha mum!

Good old google saved me. You get surprisingly long lists of ideas for costumes with both mumsnet and netmums having created their own advice sections dedicated to the delicate topic of WBD costume!

Before young sir started at nursery I had not even heard of the glorious event that is the WBD. In my defence, it was created way after I had left primary school ;) Last year I sent him in as a spiderman (the only costume he had) and my logic was that comics are a type of book so technically Spiderman is a book character.

After my extensive five minute googling my options were Mr Bump (blue clothes and bandages) or Wally of the Where's Wally fame (stripy top, hat and drawn on glasses). Young sir was not too enthused by my ideas when I presented them to him in the morning but opted for Mr Bump. He refused to have a bandage on his head and half way through dressing him up he asked if he could just go in his uniform...

Hey WBD in a dodgy costume probably doesn't change young sir's love affair with books...but it might make him wish that he's mother was slightly more forward planning on the costume front...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Random ramblings about cats and dogs

Life is finally calming down after few weeks of craziness in the life of the Lindsey's. With my better half flying off to the other side of the planet for ten days for work and driving up and down the A1 like a yo-yo, we had rather hectic three weeks but it seems that the usual lull of life is returning our way :)

I have thought a lot about writing a nice thoughtful blog but haven't got around to it so here are some random ramblings instead.

Puppies grow an awful lot in a week. The pups were just opening their eyes when I left to come back up north and when I returned a week later they were bumbling about making little barks. Very sweet!

Young sir loved the pups. Thankfully he hasn't got to a stage yet where he would like to keep one!

We are dog sitting Iska, 13 month old border collie, whilst my mother-in-law is getting back on her feet.  Since her arrival the house has split into two separate territories...the feline kingdom is upstairs and the canine habits the downstairs. When I am upstairs the cat follows me around like a shadow and equally when I am downstairs the dog follows me around...both love company and cuddles.

They do say the curiosity killed the cat and so far the cat is definitely the more curious one. She has ventured down the steps couple of times but has chickened out before she got all the way down. The dog spends much of its time staring at the back fence - the local cat highway. Sure enough, about once in an hour a cat walks along and creates uncontainable excitement in the dog! I am kind of thinking the two kingdoms in this house will never get to a point of peaceful co-existance.

I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Daddy's Turn

Last week I was trusted with the task of looking after myself and our son. My wife was away for the week helping out with a family crisis , she is after all the family angel! So I thought I would share some of the experience of a father and son week. If our son was older enough I am sure his side of the story would be fascinating.

1) Wrap up warm. I am always teasing my wife because whenever we leave the house, for a walk in the colder months for example, we cannot leave until our son is wrapped up so much it not only takes ages to leave the house. I wonder if he can move under all the cloths. So one morning last week we were off out to school, via a friend who was helping by taking Henrik to school. This particular morning it was rather chilly, a little snow on the ground, which had fallen during the night. We embarked on our journey on our bikes, but what made our journey particularly hard was not the snow, the freezing temperature, or the potential ice but the wind; it was blowing a gale. However, in my defence, our house is sheltered and I couldn't have known how cold and strong the wind would have been. But after about fifteen minutes Henrik started to show signs of the wind and cold getting the better of him. Actually I think the cold had got to his hands before this point. I had been told, under strict instructions that the super duper Finnish winter gloves weren't to go to school; Henrik had been caught wearing them out on walls etc at school. So this morning he was in the light weight gloves.

So the poor lad was freezing, he was pushing his bike, the wind was too much, and was close to tears with the whole experience. I tried offering comforting words like "we're nearly there" but they didn't seem to have much affect. But like two Arctic explorers battling the elements we made it to our destination. I was later told that half an hour of blanket and a hot chocolate helped warm him up.

2) Eat breakfast, brush teeth and then get dressed for school, the order is very important. Failure to complied may just result in toothpaste all down the school jumper, never a good start to the day. What would the teacher think, probably 'Dads turn'.

3) Don't forget the school bag or the snack. What with getting both of us dressed, in the right order, fed and out of the house, which all in all is quite an achievement, not to forget on time as well then there's the task of not forgetting the school bag and the snack. Day one I can safely say the snack went in the bag, result. But having just shut the front door and we're all ready to cycle off,  " Oh bother" forgot the bag. Not to worry, not a problem I'll just pop in and get it. Day two same deal but this time we're at the bottom of the street, not good. Back we go. Day three, I'm getting wise to this. I'll hang the bag on the front door. But also and what I found quite amusing is that our genius son says, just before we're about to leave, "Dad don't forget my bag". Day four and five we're on a roll, everything is working like a well oiled machine. The getting dressed procedure, the school bag, but both days I left without the snack, and I wasn't going back for that.

4) Keeping the house tidy. The number of times I have come home and it looks like my wife hasn't done any house work, well I shouldn't really admit that. But my goodness, I kept on top of the dishes but as to the rest of the house, oh my.

Towards the end of the week I had our church house group / mid week group. The babysitter came over, if your reading this
Thank you, but I do wonder what she thought. Four days and the house looks liked a bomb had hit the place. It was a bit like when your mum tells you to tidy your room when you were a kid.

Suffice to say we were both very happy to have Mummy back all safe and sound. And yes I did manage to tidy the house before she arrived, after all what are Saturday mornings for.

So Dads it's not as easy as it looks.

Continuing on the literature trajectory

Hobbyhorse warning...if you object to rants about random things please do not read any further!

I love story times with young sir. We usually have a bedtime story or two every night and a 'Jesus story'. Or if it has been a long day we just read a Jesus story.  He knows the drill and if you try to read just a story without a Jesus story he duly brings out the kids bible.

Couple of times a week we have a morning story too. As Mr L usually gets up early for work, young sir and I are awake hours before we need to leave for school and more often and not he climbs into our bed with an entourage of soft toys and few books under his arms. This morning the chosen reading was The Green Ship (absolutely love this book) and You choose (only I never get to choose what I would like to wear as young sir always chooses the most meringue like pink princess dress for me).

I have such wonderful memories of all of us snuggling together to read stories -usually fighting over who could be next to my mum (i.e. having the honoured task of turning over the page). Having such an age range of kids listening we usually had quite a few stories, both kiddy ones and ones without pictures for the older ones. Little house on the prerie and stories by James Herriot were my favourites as I got older. The advantage of having so many younger siblings is that I probably listened to bedtime stories for much longer than most of my other friends as there were always little ones wanting to hear a story :)

Now that's enough of reminiscing (plus I need to leave in ten minutes to pick young sir up from school). It's time for my hobby horse...children books that mix fiction and reality - to be more precise - books that have penguins and polar bears in the same story! I am all for fairy tales set in a magical wonderland where anything can happen.But for some reason every time I read a story set in a icy, snowy place that has penguins and polar bears together it makes me cringe and want to correct the writer.

And it is not limited to penguins. I once googled whether squirrels hibernate as one of young sir's library books suggested.(as they don't in my experience) but it turned out there were a type of squirrel that does hibernate.

So if you struggle to read books that mix the antarctic and arctic wildlife here are two to avoid: Malawa the seal pup and Penguin post. David Attenborough would not be happy reading them even though young sir seems to like them...but you have been warned ;)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The power of the written word

I have discovered a great truth this week. No matter how small you are, the published word carries an authority that your mother's voice doesn't.

Couple of years ago young sir got himself stuck in a pitch black toilet in a toddler group. Only for couple of minutes and after the tears had dried away he seemed quite happy. Perhaps unsurprisingly a few weeks after that he started wanting to have a light on at night time. No amount of assurance. kisses. cuddly toys or explaining would help. It didn't matter how many guardian angels I'd promise he'd have on his bedside - the light would have to be on. All night. If I sneaked in and turned it off (not that I would ever do such a thing...) it sure enough would be on when we woke up.

Finally, young sir has graciously told me I am allowed to turn the light off. Not because he has listened to my wonderful reasoning on why the light should not be on at night but because of a book. Yes, a book! A book that tells him that leaving the night on over night will use the same amount of energy than warming up water for 100 cups of tea!

Maybe it was the enormousness of the number or the fact that he can relate to the action of making a cup of tea but he took the advice in. So from now on, young sir sleeps in the dark. To save energy. He even reminds me to turn the light off so I can make 100 cups of tea.

Not that I am particularly keen to make a hundred cups of tea, one will do just fine thank you. I am however wondering about finding out how much self publishing books costs as it might turn out to be a handy way of getting my message across to young sir in years to come if talking doesn't work ;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Burst of craftiness

I love wooden floors. I love rugs. I love rugs on wooden floors. Some time ago I found this lovely company that makes the most adorable braided rugs. I wanted one. I still want one or maybe two...

Meanwhile I decided to try to make one. In the summer cottage we have these little braided round rugs made out of old coffee bags of all things made lovingly long long time ago some unknown relative. So if someone could make a rug like that donkeys years ago without the help of a sewing machine or internet, I was determined that I could make one (with the help of the sewing machine and the internet).  

Step 1. Cutting up the yarn:
I discovered this tutorial from the wondrous world of pinterest on how to make yarn from old t-shirts
So step number one was to cut up lots (=5) of old t-shirts - one evening gone.

Step 2. Braiding:
Next I spent another jolly evening braiding them all together. I'd like to say that decided to have navy in all of the braids to give some uniformity to the rug but the truth is that I had two navy t-shirts and one of each beige, white and baby blue so having blue in all of the braids was a way of making sure I didn't get left with mountainous pile of blue yarn!

Step 3:
Sewing it all together. Pick the braid you want to start with and just go for it. Double over the tail of the braid, zigzag together on your widest zigzag and then just keep going around and around...for a long long time...

And voila - three evenings later you have a braided rug :) 

My tension is slightly wonky at places so the rug doesn't fly completely flat in the middle but I am guessing with few months of jumping on by young sir it will be nicely stretched and forever flat. It is about doormat size. I'd like to make a bigger one for the hall but not sure if I have enough rejected t-shirts to make one...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Patience is a virtue...

...or so the saying goes anyway. If that's the case, I have been suffering from bouts of virtueless recently! I used to think I was a patient person. I would have probably gone as far as saying being patient is one of my strengths...

...or was before young sir arrived. I am sure he thinks part of his mission on this earth is to test my patience. And more often than not I find myself falling short of what I would like to be. I can happily wait for a dough to rise for an hour but somehow doodling on the way to school for few minutes can drive me potty. The cold spell has not helped my lack of patience as there are many mounts of snow to be explored!

I am starting to think that patience is a virtue that grows by choices we make. In any situation we have the choice to be patient or impatient. We don't just miraculously become patient, we choose be patient and by the choices we make our patience grows or doesn't grow. I'm preaching to myself here ;)

Patience is a fruit of the spirit. So the logic follows if you have the spirit in you, you also have patience in you. Yet we also need to cultivate that fruit by the choices we make otherwise it stays as a seed with the potential of a fruit rather than actual fruit in our lives.

My challenge for the this month is to learn to be more patient. My plan of action so far is counting to ten rather than automatically shouting 'hop hop'* when young sir stops to examine the nth stick or rock on the way to school. Other suggestions on how to grow my patience are very gratefully received.

* hurry up

Thursday, January 10, 2013

To be a grown up or not...

We had a lovely visit to Finland before Christmas for my little sister's wedding. After the wedding we stayed with one of my other little sisters for few days. (Yes, I do probably hold the award for most little sisters anyone I know!) Hanna is super talented*, cooking, baking, photography, jewellery making - you name it, she can do it!

We'd thought for a while it would be nice to have some family photos taken so whilst staying with Hanna and her lovely husband we took advantage of her talent and had a little photo shoot in the snow.

Lovely idea wasn't it...only young sir was more interested in messing about in the snow than posing. So one of the pics out of the shoot was this one - where I look about ready to strangle young sir and he is completely oblivious to my frustration and just flashes the loveliest cheeky smile he can to the camera!

My sister got some lovely shots. Maybe I should have joined young sir in messing about in the snow rather than tried to be grown up and serious and focus on posing, not getting snow in my shoes etc...sometimes I forget so easily that in the end of the day most things don't matter, only I somehow end up thinking that they do!

*so are my other sisters, all eight of them - just for the record :)