Sunday, 27 October 2013

Miss C's Generosity

Miss C is a very generous soul - she gets this from her father mostly.  She also adores Mr M - "I love him!" said with great gusto as she hugs him to her as if he were a teddy bear.

This morning she requested a banana to eat.  These days she rarely finishes a banana herself, but the chickens gain from her lack of appetite so I don't mind that much.  (Chickens adore banana.  If you want to see what a set of raptors would have looked like eating their lunch in Prehistoric times, just throw a banana to a small flock of hens and you'll have a pretty good picture, I think.)

Today, however, there was an extra beneficiary to her largess...

Of course, the Chickens didn't miss out...  There was still a third of a banana beautifully squished for them to enjoy.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

#R2BC - Many joys

This week I have so many great moments to celebrate.

Friday was a lovely day - but I wrote about that already on my Of Horses and Haircuts and Leaves and Chickens post...

Saturday was Miss I's birthday.  We'd been fairly nervous about the whole enterprise since we were holding it at home and the original six guests had grown to ten, which was rather daunting.  However, it was a wonderful time - I think I enjoyed it as much as the children did.  We put a film on in the conservatory (after a lot of work blocking out the light and praying for dark clouds - sorry anyone who lives locally!) and then sent a steady stream of snacks in to be consumed - we didn't get round to the sweets and chocolate mini rolls, so that was a bonus.  After the film I set the girls up with card making while Husband supervised a couple of games of Twister and fielded questions about Mr M (note to self, always include a small baby in a Birthday Party to entertain the guests).  We just managed to fit in a game of pass the parcel and cut the birthday cake - made by me with a little help from those all in one mixes and some sugar roses - before the parents arrived.

Sunday was a lovely day of rest.  Enough said. ;)

Monday night was a Speaker and Supper event in the village.  There is something so special about the community getting together to eat together.  The food was fabulous - a seriously tasty chilli followed by a series of gorgeous puddings, all provided for free by our neighbours.  The speaker was also excellent - and as this ties in with my #R2BC last week, I was delighted to hear her speaking again, seeing the passion and heart that she has...  Sorry, folks, unless you were there, you're still staying in the dark!!!

Tuesday we got the photos back that were taken by the school photographer.  I'd managed to get all five of mine to pose together - even Mr M who was screaming his little heart out.  A quick finger in the mouth (very Princess Di, I know), swiftly whipped out of sight and we got a lovely picture.  I think we've got a nicer one taken by Aunty G from a few months ago, but it's certainly worth getting.

Wednesday was the School Assembly I wrote about yesterday.  The morning also involved a bit of retail therapy in Homebase using my Love2Shop vouchers, and I was really chuffed to find a recipe book holder as my special treat as well as a 50 piece drill bit set - I know, the glamour...  (For those who were advising me to squander my winnings on handbags and the like, you'll be pleased to know I'd already picked up what the Husband calls my Chav Bag in the sales).  And, having carefully avoided all references to the GBBO final, I was able to sit down in the evening and enjoy one of my TV indulgences on the iplayer.  I really think the best person won... but I won't spoil it if you've not watched yet.

So, it has been all together a really quite wonderful week for me.  What are your Reasons to Be Cheerful today?  It's great to celebrate when life is good, and it's even better to look for things to celebrate when it's not so good.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

School Assembly

Today was School Assembly day for Mr J and Miss A - one of the times it's very useful having them in the same class.  It was also lovely that Grandma is visiting so was able to see it too.

First I was very proud of Mr J, who being the eldest boy in the class had the job of introducing the assembly along with another little girl, explaining that they had been learning about bread.  There was general amusement at the brief pause in which Mr J whispered the next part to his companion, who shook her head.  With a shrug he proceeded to tell us in a beautifully clear voice that they were going to perform the story of the Little Red Hen.  (I discovered later this hurried consultation was because one of his friends was ill, so he had to take her part too).  I have never seen him speak so clearly and without any prompting.  It was lovely to see his confidence.  He must have done a lot of practise at school.  He wouldn't practise with me because he wanted it to be a surprise.

The performance itself was a hoot!  All the children chanted the story together and did actions.  There was one line which amused me particularly "I'll do it myself, said the Little Red Hen, and so she did!" said with hands on hips with an extra wiggle by Miss A.  Then they sang their favourite "Big Red Combine-Harvester" song - which I'm starting to know very well and no doubt will be as jaded about in six years as one of the other mums I talked to.  This was followed by the Little Red Hen Rap which ended with the obligatory 'Yo!' shouted with great relish.

Of course, it was wonderful.  These things always are for parents - though Husband doesn't agree and avoids all such occasions if he can.  I love to go to every assembly and concert that my children are involved in, and it was especially lovely for me to see my two so happily part of their class when it was only October last year that we moved here.

The highlight, however, was typically Miss A.  The Head Teacher was saying how amazing it was that they had all learnt the story and actions.  "How did you manage to remember all those verses?" she asked.

Suddenly amid the quiet murmurs a little voice piped up very loudly and clearly.  "We did it a lot!"  There was Miss A, a little four year old, speaking out in front of the whole of the rest of the school and many parents with absolute confidence.  Last term I thought her self-assurance had been knocked by starting school.  It doesn't seem to be a problem any more.

I'm linking with Small Steps, Amazing Achievements at Ethan's Escapades.  Click the link to read some really inspiring stories.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Chocolate Stars

I have a small confession to make.  I'm afraid I am guilty of bribery and corruption in the raising of my children...

It seems to work though!

Each time we have approached potty training with our children we have used the Chocolate Button method: every time the potty is successfully used the child gets a chocolate button.  To add to the encouragement we have also given a chocolate button to the older children in celebration - which ensures that they are helpful and co-operative during what can be a trying time.

Miss C has been potty trained for a few months now, but still will occasionally ask for her chocolate button (or stars as they've been recently because they're on special at the supermarket).

Recently, to encourage her to stay in bed, we have agreed she can have an extra chocolate star in the morning if she hasn't got up in the night.  Again, it seems to be working - it certainly got us passed the very trying phase after we moved her out of her cot and into her own big bed.

This morning she came bounding in to the living room full of smiles and looked up at me sweetly.

"Mummy, please have chocolate star for stay in bed.  Please have chocolate star for wee-wee.  Me have two stars, please!"

How can I answer that except with a smile and production of two little chocolate stars?  Looks like the bribery has an extra benefit - she's learning to add...

Friday, 18 October 2013

Of Horses and Haircuts and Leaves and Chickens

I was struck today by the intriguing sequences of events in my life sometimes.  A completely ordinary day is filled with little moments of interest, things that make it stand out from the rest of the week.  You know, when you say 'That was the day that ... happened."  Not anything momentous, just little anecdotes of life.

Sheep not a horse, but you get the idea...
Today was the day there was a horse stopped outside our house with its shoe coming off.  I stepped outside to ask the rider if he needed any help.  "Um, well yes," he said, looking at me in an assessing way, clearly aware that I was not likely to be able to provide him with that help.  Fortunately Husband joined me to offer the use of a hammer which was gratefully received - along with assistance holding the horse still.  Foolishly I assumed the rider was going to hammer the shoe back on...  Hmmm.  No, he used the hammer to knock the shoe off the hoof.  It took quite some doing, but eventually the shoe came flying off.

Today was the day I got my haircut - and was pleased with it.  I got my haircut in the summer at a salon near my parents' house and was deeply disappointed.  The hairdresser completely failed to understand my hair and my needs.  That sounds overly dramatic, but I mean that she failed to recognise that my hair is fine and hangs limply if not cut in layers, she ignored my request for something that could just be 'wash and go' without styling - I probably only get my hairdryer out once every couple of months.  She cut it in a straight sleek bob that was long at the front - which was promptly stuck behind my ears because it kept falling in my face which I hate.  She also cut it just below the kink in my hair resulting in an always flicked out style if I didn't blow dry it and use hairspray - making me look about twelve.  Plus she charged me £45 for the privilege.  Do you see why I was disappointed?

Today the hairdresser was lovely - a local salon I thought I'd try out while I have Grandma here to babysit.  She looked at my hair, could see I needed layers, accepted the need not have to fuss over it.  The cut is lovely, makes my hair thicker and it falls in a way that makes me feel a bit more dignified - a mother of five really should look older than twelve.  Of course, the proof will be if it still looks nice after I've washed it, but I'm feeling hopeful.  At only £25 it was definitely a bargain.

Today was the day we helped clear our neighbour's yard area of leaves.  I'd visited her earlier in the day for a chat and Miss C and I had played in the piles of leaves the wind had created.  She remarked that she couldn't be bothered to gather all the leaves up, but she really should before they got too wet.  I told her I'd bring Mr J and maybe the girls over after school to do it.  She thought I was joking...

When I picked the children up from the bus, I told them to get changed quickly and we would go down to clear the leaves.  Bags and rakes in hand we made our way down the lane, across the little bridge and into the yard.  She was very surprised to see us, but quite pleased, I think.  We set to with a will, as they say, and soon had filled three bags which we emptied on the verge next to the stream and headed back to fill some more.  The wind blew the leaves, the children raked and swept and we all had a wonderful time.  We must have filled those three bags six times each before most of the leaves were cleared.  A definite achievement.

And finally, Today was the day that all the chickens went to bed by themselves instead of roosting on top of the coop and needing to be prised from their perch and placed inside the coop so that they are safe.  I think it must be too windy for them to be outside - I hold out no hope that they've finally decided to be sensible and will always go into their coop as the sunsets from now on.

Today was the day that was good.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Something new... #R2BC

Ever had one of those moments when you suddenly realise you're the person who needs to step up to the plate and take a swing to get something moving?  A moment of revelation?

Tuesday night I went to a meeting with a friend - I won't say about what, although if things go to plan I'm sure you'll all be hearing about it in the not too distant future.  I wasn't really sure why, but I'd felt I should go, so I did.

As I listened to the other women talking, I was analysing and thinking of solutions and options for what they were saying.  I'd decided to keep my mouth shut and just listen because I didn't feel I had much to contribute.  Anyone who knows me will know it's not an easy thing for me to do...  And it didn't last long.  I found myself making suggestions out loud, trying to clarify some points that I felt were getting confused and generally getting involved.  All the while I felt God tapping me on the shoulder - This is something you could help with, I felt him say.  No matter how much I tried to dismiss the thought - I'm the least qualified, I'm too busy, I don't have the contacts needed, I'm not sure why I'm here anyway - I grew more and more certain.

Then, one of the ladies said: "I'm very interested to know who is the person who is going to take this forward."  She glanced around the room with a smile and looked at me.  "Nicola." she said.  It wasn't a question.

She had no reason to suggest me.  She didn't know me at all.  She didn't know what was going through my mind.

I laughed.  It was the final connection for me at that moment, like the final connector in a circuit that makes the light come on.  I'm still praying about it, still wondering if this is really something for me to get involved with.  But I'm pretty sure it is.

It could be the beginning of a very interesting new time in my life.  That's a very good Reason to Be Cheerful.

When I got home it was very late.  I headed pretty much straight to bed after a quick explanation and a quick kiss to Husband who was watching a film.  I wasn't going to sleep though, I sat down with Bible and note book and pencil and started making some notes.

A short while later Husband came up to bed.  He looked at me with an affectionate smile.  "What?" I asked.  "Nothing," he said, still smiling.  After a bit of pressing, he said.  "It just reminds me of when I first met you," he said.  "It's what I fell in love with."

And that's another very good Reason to Be Cheerful!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Teeth, Gums and Me...

I have a terrible confession to make.  I haven't been to the dentist in well over a year - seriously, you can't take a toddler to the dentist with you, it just doesn't work.  I usually only go to the dentist when I'm pregnant or have a small child - which lets face it, has been most of the last nine years.  The reason I go to the dentist then is not just because it's free - although that's a major reason - it's because I always get bleeding gums when I'm pregnant and I always grind my teeth when I have a small baby in the house.

The grinding teeth started when my baby sister was born.  Thirteen years younger than me.  It was a bit of a shock to the system to have a small baby in the house.  I don't ever remember waking up in the night because of her crying, but every morning I woke up with an aching jaw.  After a few weeks my jaw began to stiffen until one day I woke up and I could only just pull my teeth apart about a finger height.  We went to the doctor who referred me to a Dental Surgeon.  He asked if there had been any big changes in my life recently.  Well, apart from a new baby sister...  It turned out that I had been grinding my teeth so much in the night that I had dislocated my jaw.  I was given a mouth guard to protect my teeth - I went through at least two to my memory before I stopped needing it.  I also remember having to cut up food pretty small for a week or so until my jaw loosened.

When I had my first daughter I began grinding my teeth again.  Once again the dentist gave me a mouth guard.  Since we were in Gibraltar when Mr J was born we didn't bother with the mouth guard - I had massages instead (much nicer idea) to ease the tension in my neck and jaw.  I've had the same problems with each of the others - all the tension of being alert to the cries of a small child go to my neck and jaw and I wake up gritting my teeth with a stiff neck.  It wasn't so bad with Miss A since she was such a good sleeper, but is back full force with Mr M...

The other problem I have always had since my first pregnancy is the 'Pink Toothbrush' syndrome - bleeding gums.  It only occurs during pregnancy and the first months after the baby is born for me, but it is so distressing.  When I was given the opportunity to try the Oral B Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste and review it for a competition with BritMums, I thought I'd give it a go.  I'll be honest and say since Mr M is now over six months the bleeding gums have pretty much cleared up already, but anything that can help get my gums healthy again has got to be worth a try.

So, here's a bit of a review:  First impressions, it tastes good.  This is a major bonus, since some toothpastes do really taste awful.  I'm also really pleased that it's for sensitivity as well, since I've always had sensitive teeth.  The third thing that surprised me is that it's been making my teeth whiter since I started using it.  I use a whitening toothpaste usually, but I have noticed a real difference in the last week or so - I really didn't expect that, it's not why I was using it.

As to gum health, I have no idea really if it's making a difference - sometimes you just have to trust that the experts really do know what they're talking about and it's not just clever marketing.  I can say I've had only very occasional signs of blood when brushing or flossing since I started - but as I say it's usually better around this point anyway.  I suspect that after five pregnancies it would be hard to tell.  Certainly I'm no longer really in a preventative position with my gums - the damage has already started.  I am keen, however, to minimise any further problems, and I'm hoping using a specialist toothpaste will be a start to that.

So, in conclusion, if you're worried about the health of your gums - and if you're pregnant you really should be thinking about it - it's worth giving the Oral B Pro-Expert a try.  What have you got to loose?  Well, hopefully not your teeth!

I'd also recommend checking out the advice on the BritMums Website - What you need to know about healthy gums  There are some really useful pointers.  I wasn't given any advice regarding gums or teeth when I was pregnant with my first child eight years ago, and I wish I had known more about it.  I'm so glad that the information is available to other new mothers.

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #ORALBLoveYourGums Challenge  sponsored by Oral-B, promoting healthy gums – something especially important for pregnant women. Get tips and advice on

Monday, 14 October 2013

Chess with Daddy

This weekend Miss I convinced Daddy to play chess with her.  They sat down with the little chess set (Daddy is on the edge of the shot because he's camera shy) and set about playing.  He was amused that Miss I's favourite first moves are always towards forming the Castle - moving her King and her Rook so they swap places.  This is a move I taught her from my rudimentary chess skills - which I learnt from him during our courtship.  From there in she was on her own and Daddy tried to go easy on her, but it wasn't long before quite a few of her pieces were stacked along the side.  Fortunately it is a game Miss I enjoys whether she's winning or not because, very occasionally, she has moments of brilliance like the below game played against a computer.

I have yet to manage to reconstruct the moves that led to this very swift Check Mate, despite several attempts.  Any Chess Geniuses out there who can explain how she did it?

Miss I, of course, has absolutely no idea how she managed it - in fact, the only reason I discovered she had was because she told me the computer was broken when she wasn't able to continue moving pieces.  Still, the knowledge that she has done this once has given her the confidence to persevere and try to learn the strategies that may one day help her to beat Daddy. Confidence, I believe, is the key to doing a lot of things.

I, currently, am only able to force him into a stalemate.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Whoops, Dinner Time...

Grandma has come for a visit.  I've had her room prepared for several days now.  The children have been getting more and more excited.

After lunch Husband and three girls headed off to collect her from the train station.  We'd had a brief discussion about what to have for dinner and I'd got out some sausages - you know those posh 'pork & apple' sausages that are always worth buying on 3for2 offers because they're so much nicer.  Plus the standard Richmond sausages that are the only ones the children will eat because any others produce a "They sting my mouth" whinge.

The boys and I made rock cakes - well, to be fair, Mr M just slept, but that's pretty helpful in my book.  Mr J enjoyed squishing the butter (which had been in the freezer so needed a bit of extra effort) into the flour and licking his fingers after we'd mixed everything together - I don't know how he could eat that raw mixture, it's really not nice.  Anyway, cakes baked.  Check.  Husband & girls return with Grandma, great enjoyment ensues with presents and sweets and games.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Husband noted that the sausages were still rock solid.  Whoops.  What shall we have for dinner now?  They'd just bought a joint of beef, but that would take hours to cook.  There are no takeaways near us (really, it's over ten miles to the nearest town) and I'd already started peeling the potatoes for mash to go with the sausages.

After a bit of mulling, Husband appears with three tins of stewing steak from our stores (see Winter's Coming.  Are you ready?) asking if I can make some shortcrust pastry.
"Let's just do Cottage Pie," I say.  "We'll mash the potatoes like we planned."
"But we don't have mince out," says he.
"They used chunks of beef or lamb in the Falklands." I remind him.  "The stewing steak will be fine."

So, here's my Whoops, Store Cupboard Dinner recipe.

Ingredients (For 3 adults)
Five large Maris Piper Potatoes, boiled and mashed with a huge chunk of still slightly frozen butter.
Three tins of Stewing Steak in Gravy.
One tin of mushrooms.

Boil the Stewing Steak in Gravy with the mushrooms while you boil and mash the potatoes.
Put in a casserole dish and cover with the mashed potatoes.
Cook in the oven at about 180C for about 20 minutes.

The result is surprisingly tasty considering the Stewing Steak smelled like dog food when the Husband opened the tins!  The children's sausages were defrosted, by the way, so they were happy.

These quick recipes are the ones that I find most useful in a busy family with five children.  I can't think how many times we've had to pull something together because I've forgotten to defrost something or we've run out of fresh.  Another option would have been Corned Beef Hash (there's always a couple of tins of corned beef somewhere in the house) - but there is a North/South divide over this in our family leading to misunderstandings when it is requested.  The North says it is a very runny corned beef in gravy with potato slices on top and baked in the oven; while the South maintains that it is corned beef mixed with mashed potato resulting in a lovely crisp texture after baking.  Which way do you think is best?

Now, hopefully, we'll be better organised for the rest of Grandma's visit.  I'm looking forward to a proper Sunday Roast with the Beef (with some lovely Roast Potatoes) today!

This post is an entry for #MarisPiperBritMums Linky Challenge ( sponsored by Potato Council for Potato Week 7 – 13 October, celebrating the varieties of potatoes and how we like to eat them. Learn more and find recipes at

Thursday, 10 October 2013

#R2BC Book Club

Last night was Book Club in the Village.  There is something wonderful about book clubs.  I'm sure there are groups out there which take them very seriously, where everyone religiously reads the book every time, where the discussions are long and literary.  I'm sure there are groups which don't begin with a standard acknowledgement that it's really not about the book and if we talk about it for more than ten minutes we're doing well.

That isn't our group.  Our group is about a selection of like minded ladies, sharing a common love for reading itself - whatever form that may take - who gather together to chat about many things, one of which is books in general.  The others know each other very well.  Most have been neighbours for many years - neighbours in a village that is famed locally for its social activities.  As a fairly new member of the community I have felt incredibly welcomed by these ladies.  (I know I go on about it, but I do love living here).

For me, this group is an oasis of adult company in the midst of my child-centric life.  I have other regular evenings out to gather with Christian friends and pray, and this I love doing - but on one level, although wonderful and refreshing times for me personally, these are my working times, they are not purely for fun.  Book Club is something that is just for me, simply for the enjoyment of it.

Last night there were only a few of us.  We were there to discuss The Great Gatsby.  (See my Book Reviews Blog if you're interested in what I thought - Link above.)  We did talk about it quite alot, we also talked about other books we had enjoyed recently.  We talked about things that had happened in the village - sometimes quite a while ago.  We talked about films and TV programs.  We talked about schools and education.  We talked about children - small children, grown up children, grandchildren.

All in all it was a lovely time to chat and relax.  And this is my Reason to be Cheerful this week.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Big Bed Time...

Mr M is six and a half months old.  He has been sleeping in a Moses Basket next to our bed since he was born, and despite it becoming increasingly snug, I have been hesitant to move him into his big cot in his own room.  This is for several reasons - the key one being that I am just clinging onto my little boy, because he is our last little one.  (Yes, really!).  The more practical reason is that he has been waking up every couple of hours for a feed, and it is so much easier just to reach over and feed him.

For the last couple of nights, however, we've changed his bedtime routine - putting him up to bed when he falls asleep for the evening (any time from 6.30pm to 8.30pm) rather than keeping him downstairs with us in his day cot (a travel cot where I put him to keep him safe from the other four pestering him).  It has made an amazing difference to how settled he has been at night.  I shouldn't be surprised really - I know it's been a mistake to keep him with us and then wake him to take him to bed when we go up.

So, I decided to take the plunge.  I moved my nursing chair into his bedroom and set out his blankets in his cot.  Then, last night, I placed him in his cot just as he was starting to get sleepy.  I didn't want to put him down asleep, as in my experience waking up in a new place disturbs the children, so he was awake and grinned up at me as I put him in.  I think, even as young as he is, he is aware that this is a big boy bed - he loves to sit in his big brother's bed when we put Mr J to bed and always enjoyed lying in the cot with Miss C when it was hers.

He was very quiet when I left him, cried about ten minutes later for a very short while and then was quiet again.  A very good start.

He did wake a couple of times for a feed in the night - tired mummy - but when I went in to see him this morning he was cooing happily and grinned at me.  Clearly Mr M was quite ready for his own room and his own bed.  Mummy on the other hand could take a little while longer to adjust!

A small step for my baby...  A massive achievement for both of us!

Ethans Escapades

Monday, 7 October 2013

Winter's Coming! Are you prepared?

My husband is paranoid.  Ask him what's the worst thing that could happen and he'll have a lot of answers - one of which will be the death of all the worms...

With winter slowly but surely approaching, it's time for his paranoia to be put to good work.  Living over ten miles from the nearest town, the heavy snows of last year caused several logistical issues for our family - though not anywhere near the level of devastation and isolation some communities experienced.  Fortunately, due to his paranoia, we were pretty well prepared - as we intend to be this year too.

You may think it's too early to worry about the extremes of winter weather, but you can never start preparing too early!  Here's some top tips for surviving the Great Snow Fall!  Those of you in cities can sit back and smile indulgently at the concerns of the countryside, but there might be a few ideas you can use - especially if the transport systems grind to a halt again.

Husband's Top 10 Tips

1. Make sure your cellar (if you should be in possession of such a luxury) is mouse proof.

2. Start stocking up on basic supplies that can be stored long term.  This includes toilet rolls!

3. Think about food supplies that you might want to consider having on hand as winter closes in - soups, long life milk.... Don't bother with soya mince unless you're a Veggie, it's really not worth it, and make sure you like the soup flavours - for some reason we have supplies of mushroom soup which I hate.

4. If you only have electric in your house, think about alternative sources of heat and light.  If you have a gas hob can it be ignited without electricity?  Remember the freezer can stay cold for many hours if you don't open it and if you have the space popping in a few 2L pop bottles part filled with water will help keep it colder longer.  Power cuts are probably one of the simplest consequences of bad weather to prepare for!

 5. Ensure the oil tank is topped up & fire wood ready - anyone would think we lived in the middle of nowhere!  Its cheaper to buy it now than to wait until it gets cold and the law of supply and demand kicks in.

6. Place snow shovels and grit where they are easily accessible - Last year husband woke up early most mornings and could be found out on the lane shovelling snow and gritting our lane, much to the amusement and gratitude of the neighbours.

7. Check all fluid levels in your car, and buy up extra screen wash (with anti-freeze!) while it's cheapYou may also want to brush up on the basics of how to drive in slippery conditions.  I remember one year in London watching a Jag struggle up a hill only to slide back down it again moments later.  It's also a great time to go to the local Land Rover dealership and ask to test drive a Land Rover Defender - It's great fun!

8. Keep blanket(s), a torch, some snacks, bottled water in your car in case you get stuck - oh, and some kitty litter.  Apparently this serves the dual purpose of providing grit / traction should you need it and is useful should you require the necessary; personally I'd keep one of those little Potette potties too...

9. Make sure you have yourself a hat... Doesn't have to be a woolly one, in fact a brim is useful in the snow.

10. Waterproof gloves or over mittens are very useful for snowman building activities - especially if the kids are off school on a Snow Day.  Don't just get some for the kids, chances are you'll be helping.  A set of salopettes and thick socks (a size too large to fit over a second inner set) for welly boots also won't go amiss.

Of course, a lot of this assumes you have room for extra quantities of supplies and equipment, but how can we moan that the council haven't stored enough grit supplies if we aren't taking some precautions ourselves?

How did you fair last winter?  Do you have any other suggestions for surviving the extreme weather, or for those in London an inch of snow, and the resulting halt of all civilisation in the UK?


The house is silent - apart from the tapping of the computer keys.  Miss I and Mr M are fast asleep, Husband is back to work after a week off being underfoot (I love you really...) and the older three are at school.  I don't think I have had silence in the house for... no, I can't remember the last time the house was silent.

I know I should be doing so many things... there are rooms to be tidied and jobs to be done.  I even have some things I want to watch on the iplayer.  But right now, I am going to step outside into the garden and do something I so rarely get to do... Sit down in silence and enjoy it.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

#R2BC Eggs & Friendship

This week various things have made me appreciate how much I love living where we are now.  Often before in my life I have been looking forward to the next adventure - enjoying the now, yes, but always with an eye to where it was leading me.  There has always been an inherent insecurity to our lifestyle, the knowledge that we are only in that place for a season - since I left school the longest I have lived in any one place is three years.

This time is different - although there is still the potential of moving on.  This time I feel rooted.  Maybe it's because we bought a house this time - my dream house.  Maybe it's because, although my husband's work brought us here, it is my 'work' that is the reason for us remaining here.  Deep thoughts.

In the midst of my enjoyment of our lives at the moment two things stand out for me today.

The first is friendship.  Wherever we have gone we have made true friends - many of you are reading this blog.  I am so grateful for your friendship, though we are, for the most part, far away from each other now.  I value the season we had together in our journey, and the brief moments of connection we still have.  I value knowing that - even with the distance, the abscence from each other's lives - the things that made us friends when we were near are still true and keep my affection for you very strong so that as and when we meet again we'll have a fab time together!  In this new place we have made many new friends, and though some are moving away - you know who you are! - my experience over all these years shows me that our friendship will survive the distance and that makes me truly happy.

The second is eggs, well, and chickens.  The Chickens are a constant source of amusement and pleasure to me.  I love to watch them pottering about the garden (although I do get intensely irritated over the mess they make).  I love that they jump up on to the window sill of whichever room we are in.  Yesterday I was watching one of them chasing flies, that predatory stalking, the eyes fixed and then a quick dart forward.  One less fly in the world has got to be good news.  I love that they are useful pets - we're now on five eggs a day again and they are yummy eggs.  Miss C and I are currently enjoying them scrambled for lunch most days.  I love that they recognise me, come running when I step out into the garden, call to me when I park the car.  I know it's just cupboard love, but it's very sweet when they follow me around the garden in hopes that I'll be picking blackberries.

So those are my reasons for being cheerful this morning.  What are yours?

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

All About Me

Thanks Orli for tagging me in Gina's Meme...  Now I have to be witty and talk about myself.  Have you seen my About Me?  Deliberately obtuse!  However, although I thought this was going to be nigh impossible for me to complete, once I got into the swing of things I found it remarkably therapeutic.  I can't promise it's witty, friends.  But it is about me.

My favourite ever picture of me!

If you want to know more about the whys and whyfors of this or if you want to link up go to Cold Tea & Smelly Nappies. You'll also see a whole load of other All About Mes to investigate.  The questions are based on the kinds of questions given to small children at the start of term.

1) First off tell us your name and what you do...
My name is Nicola - "Nike" meaning Victory and Ola meaning People.  Victor of the People!  I like that.  What do I do?  Good question...  I juggle looking after five children with trying to run a book search website, keep the house in some kind of order, occasionally I try to write some fiction and for the last two months I've added writing a blog..  I also drink tea, eat biscuits, and I pray - for pretty much everything.
2) I live at home with…
The afore mentioned five children, one long suffering husband and six even more long suffering chickens.  And five Mutmuts (toy monkeys).
3) My favourite thing to do is…
Usually I'd say my favourite thing to do is read... and it certainly is the thing you'll find me doing most often, but I think my truly favourite thing is sitting down with a cup of tea in the silence of the garden and just being still.  I don't get to do it very often.
4) My favourite thing to eat is…
Chocolate.  I have to go with Orli here, although if I restricted myself to a meal that would be a decent steak in peppercorn sauce followed by a creamy cheesecake!
5) When I get cross I…
I have been known to stamp my feet when annoyed with the children and I slowly escalate to shouting and waving my arms around (co-incidentally my children have been known to do the same kinds of things - don't know where they get it from).  However, if I am cross with my husband I go and do the washing up, or if I'm really annoyed I will iron his shirts...  I will pause while you get your head round that.  (See below for an explanation)
6) Sometimes I worry because…
I forget that life is real sometimes.  I wander around in a bit of a dream and then suddenly it hits me.  It's real.  Yep, really it is.
7) My favourite book is…
As I said, I am most often to be found reading.  I'm the kind who always has a book open, ready to pick up when I get a spare moment.  I'm not sure I could choose just one book so I'm going to cheat and say my favourite authors instead...  In the SF genre my favourite author is Elizabeth Moon.  I also enjoy her Fantasy books immensely, but my favourite author in that genre is Jim Butcher.  My favourite Classics author is Jane Austen.  All of the books by these authors I have read more times than I can count.
8) My favourite toy is (easy now)
I suppose this is my ipod - my favourite game is Castle Story at the moment.  But I think in actual fact my favourite toy is my car - never had a car before and it's fab!
9) I dislike…
it when people don't take the time to understand one another or listen to other people's views.  In the same way I dislike it when people ridicule rather than debate honestly. 
10) When I grow up I want to be…
A champion of the world...  or at least the armour bearer of the Champion of the World.
NB: the reason I do the washing up or iron my husband's shirts is twofold: One, it gives me time and space to cool down and two, it gives me a feeling of moral superiority.

I'm not going to tag anyone, since I'm new to the blogging community and most of the people I feel I know well enough to tag are already tagged... But if you're reading this and feel like joining in, please do!

Okay, actually, I'm going to tag Krisha from Awkward Ancestors (you should be good at this as a teacher!)