Snow Days

Over the past few days in the media, there have been some stunning photos taken in our county of the quintessential English snowy dream, picturesque villages and moody sea shots.  However, these images don’t convey the reality of living in this idyll in really poor weather.  Here is my guide of life in a rural setting in poor weather.

  1.  The first day of snow is magical.  It is so unexpected as little snow falls at the coast.  It is amazing to watch the flakes fall, the hills and fields surrounding the town become dusted white and the joy and excitement of the children captivates and delights all.  The children run home from school to make snowmen, throw snowballs in a blizzard of snow and simply squeal and dance in delight.  The photos taken from this afternoon will give you the feels for years to come, that look in the childrens’ faces of pure happiness is perfection. We love the snow.
  2. Later in the evening, the reality of the poor weather becomes clear.  We are so rural in a very large county that our roads, many minor or country roads have not been treated in advance.  Colleagues have had accidents on the way home from work in blizzard conditions.  Some have been sat in cars on country roads for 4 hours, others are in rescue centres, others have abandoned their cars and walked, whilst others have been able to turn around and return to work.  Suddenly snow is not quite so magical.
  3. The poor road conditions mean that our town is now completely cut off, the emergency services have closed the routes to  town due to serious accidents and incidents.  There is no chance of gritters tonight, they are focusing on the dual carriage ways which themselves are blocked with accidents, the county is in gridlock.  And then along with the snow, the freezing rain starts to fall making difficult conditions, lethal.  You are thankful to be safe and warm at home.
  4. A new snow day and whilst the scene looks beautiful and picture perfect the conditions are the worst you have ever seen.  The freezing rain and temperatures mean that every surface is now under at least two inches of thick, black ice. There are no vehicles on the roads and the very few people you see trying to gingerly walk along the road all fall.  We live on a steep hill and are now house bound, no fun walks for snow ball fights and sledging, we are stuck in our house.   Snow is beginning to lose its charm.
  5. Time for some community action, messages on social media ensure that the doctor has a volunteer driver in a 4×4 for urgent home visits, neighbours check on each other, those with the appropriate skills and equipment try to help others.  This is the feel good moment, when you are proud of living in a community.
  6. Its time for planning now and careful rationing of food.  You start to make calculations of how much milk and bread you can have per day and how to best use the food you have in the house.  We have been here before, 7 years ago, so we do have a carton of UHT milk in the cupboard and there is enough food in the fridge and cupboards to feed us comfortably for the days to follow.  There’s no panic buying here, simply because nobody can get to the supermarket and we’ll all survive!  In our house, we use the time to enjoy preparing warm, filling meals, a parsnip and apple soup, casserole with homemade dumplings.  At least the snow days have given us the time to employ a little hygge.
  7. At last, we have some gritters on our road, it is now Friday afternoon and the snow started on Tuesday.  Today’s heroes wear high viz vests.
  8. Cabin fever is apparent, Mr S catchphrase ‘Close the door, keep the heat in’ is said on repeat and we have exhausted our family favourite activities, craft, cooking, screen time, movie, table football etc.. The children desperately want to play outside as it looks so gorgeous yet we can’t even go down the steps outside the house because of the ice.  We reluctantly conclude that a snow day is only fun if you get to be in the snow. Our entertainment now is carefully watching the temperature slowly rise in percentage points on our thermometer.
  9. As we go to bed we open the back door and start to hear the crackling of the ice, the dripping of water, what a relief.  It looks like the forecast is correct and we may get grey, mild and wet weather tomorrow and we’ve never been happier for such a dismal forecast.

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A water party

My apologies if you’re reading this post about a hot, sunny day if its a cold and miserable Thursday afternoon and its been raining for days.  This is the random post which I write on the day after the birthday party but then post on an unrelated date so birth dates cannot be deduced.  These are some of the problems adoptive parents have online, its not just names and photos but key information such as dates of birth which need to remain secret.  This party was for my daughter’s birthday, we celebrated her birthday with a family treat at the weekend and then we held a tea party for 6 of her friends after school.

I love the planning and preparation of a party but as the years have progressed the themes have become more difficult to think of as we have done each one, Hello Kitty, Princesses, Ballet, Butterflies, Mermaids just to name a few.  It was really difficult to think of an original plan this year, we’re reading Harry Potter but we were hoping to have a water party and it was difficult to link the two.  After much thought, I realised that every night after we’ve read our story together, Little Miss always takes a Beano annual or comic to bed and with a few pranks and water pistols I could entwine the two ideas.  I did wonder how the guests would enjoy the theme, it wasn’t a very pink party but they loved it and their party bags of tricks, a whoppee cushion, magic putty, water balloons, stretchy toys etc..  went down brilliantly.

For the invitations I produced a Minnie the Minx design and then laminated them.

img_6285 I was using primary colours as I didn’t want a red and black theme which features prominently in some of the party ware available.  I only used red and black stripy napkins and bunting and used the bright colours elsewhere.  The birthday cakes ( yep plural because they were a bit smaller than I anticipated) were iced white and then I decorated them with personalised cake toppers.

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I continued the Beano theme with a timetable of events to let everyone know what was happening.

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We started with cocktails on our return from school, I did two jugs one tropical and one summer berry, the girls loved the ice, fruit and decorations.  The nibbles were crisps, breadstick, crudites and dips, simple and tasty.  As it was a boiling hot day the girls were really keen to cool down in the pool and I let them just splash around for half an hour, I had a basket full of  water pistols, so they could all have a water fight.  After all cooling down we started some water games from ideas I had from Pinterest.  The first was the bucket game, the teams had to pass a cup of water over their heads down the line and place the water in a pail, the catch was there was a hole in each cup and they had to do it as quickly as possible, a fun game.  Next we played water balloon bullseye, I drew three circles within each other and put a score in each circle,  the girls had two balloons each and threw them to get their score.  The final game was a surprise hit, I placed marbles in a bowl of water and the girls needed to remove them from the bowl using their toes, feet fishing, the focus and concentration was intense and it was highly competitive against the clock.   After the games the girls played in the pool again whilst I prepared tea.

I wanted to enjoy the party so kept the food very simple, an assortment of pizzas and a salad bar which they could help themselves to.  We were able to sit on the grass and enjoy the food.  The make your own ice cream sundae was great, my ingredients included mini meringues, marshmallows, berries, strawberry sauce and there were lots of second helpings.  As well as the birthday cake I also added our family tradition of top hats, they are marshmallows, topped with melted chocolate and a smartie and have been a feature of every party menu since I was a little girl, its not a party without a top hat!

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After the food, we relaxed with a party playlist and the girls danced in and around the pool, impressing me with their singing and dancing, it was lovely to see and showed the rites of passage that we’ve all gone through.  The party then came to an end as parents arrived for 6pm.

I think this has been one of my favourite parties to organise and host, the Beano theme was fun and it was a brightly decorated party.  The water games were perfect on such a hot and sunny day and the mix of structured games and play worked well, the time flew by.

9 Little Things … in Little Man’s bedroom

Little Man has the smallest bedroom in the house and the most toys too, so to solve this conundrum many of his toys especially his Lego City and Star Wars models are in the playroom.  Above is a flavour of what can be found in his bedroom, Little Man is happiest playing with his toys and I’ve never known a child so creative in playing, he finds a joy in every single toy he has.  It is never a problem deciding what gift to buy for him, he will love everything and just in case you’re stuck he always has a long list of things he would like, he studies the window in our local toy shop intently.

  1. Little Man has always loved our emergency services and has a wide variety of vehicles in his collection.  However the fire service has always been a favourite and he has always had many fire engines in his toy collection, he has grown out of Fireman Sam but still loves this engine, kindly donated by a neighbour.
  2. This is a picture of Little Man’s Zombling collection, he will collect anything, his current collections include Sainsburys’ Lego cards, Match Attax cards and Spy cards. He loves his collections and will behave so well on shopping trips to get a reward.
  3. These are Little Man’s favourite soft toys, Rainbow from the Skyline gang at Butlins and Colin the (Spanish ) Minion.  Both were bought with holiday pocket money and guard a sleeping Little Man in his bed.
  4. Little Man loves listening to his radio, he falls asleep listening to it and he switches it on as soon as he wakes up.  Interestingly his radio station of choice is Gold with all the music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.  He loves a little groove too.
  5. This is only a small selection of Little Man’s Star Wars toys, he reads his books avidly and studies all the vehicles and characters.  He has lots of Lego Star Wars models in the playroom but the instruction books are in his bedroom for him to look through at bedtime.
  6. Little Man has an impressive talent and interest in jigsaws, he has an eye for shapes and how they fit together and will happily do one with daddy ( jigsaws are one activity I delegate!)
  7. This is one of Little Man’s book boxes.  He and daddy are working their way through this Roald Dahl book set.  Little Man’s night routine of shower, teeth, pyjamas and reading is boy time with daddy and a special time for them both.
  8. Little Man only has this Lego box in his bedroom and figurines from Lego mini collections, however it is enough to create models and stories for the figurines. The other Lego is in the playroom where he and his sister have created an amazing Lego City, taking inspiration from the Lego shop’s stunning displays.
  9. The final picture is Little Man’s wooden castle and soldiers, another example of his wide and varied interests. We live near a castle which we often visit and where he has taken part in children’s activities, dressing up, learning moves with a sword and shield plenty to feed his imaginative play.

I love Little Man’s bedroom and how it reflects his interests and passions.  Its a small room with a cabin bed but the space underneath gives him a space which often becomes a den, he loves to play and have little adventures.

 

9 Little Things … in Little Miss’s Bedroom


Little Miss will be turning nine this year and she is caught in that tricky period between childhood and teenager. This is through her desire for independence yet her need for us to be close by, trying to be assertive but needing boundaries, experimenting with her look and her exasperation at our rules regarding crops tops and earrings, loving the company of  her older cousins and family friends but being brilliant with little friends too.  This week I did a bit of a spring clean in her room and noticed the different things she has in her room, I look at these and wonder if there are little clues to the young adult she will become, her hobbies, interests and possible career.

  1.  This delightful tin contains Little Miss’ craft projects. She prefers to personalise and interpret the projects herself rather than read and follow instructions!  Most are jewellery making tasks or simple sewing and she likes to make items for Doggy and baby Annabel.
  2. Here are Baby Annabel and Doggy, Little Miss’ favourite toys, wrapped up in the cot and bedding which Grandma and Granfer made for them.  Baby Annabel has been with Little Miss since her first Christmas, whilst Doggy is actually a pencil case I bought for her during introductions to hold her crayons.  He’s never been used for his original purpose but Little Miss loves to hide special things in him.  These are the two toys who always come with us on holiday and nights away and are inseparable from each other and Little Miss.
  3. The dolls house has been customised by Little Miss with fabric scraps used as curtains and carpets, she has dolls in the house but has also used small toy animals, so its full of kittens and puppies.  She still loves to act out little plays in the house.
  4. Music is big for Little Miss, her radio is tuned to Heart for the pop songs and she is always singing and dancing.  Her ipod is used for long journeys and I’ve made the playlists to avoid anything overtly sexy or adult themed.  Little Miss also plays guitar and music is very important to her, it helps her to relax and self regulate.
  5. Little Miss has the most beautiful natural rhythm and dance thanks to her ballet lessons, she loves to try all types of dance.  Her gymnastics also helps here.  She has her ballet medals and gymnastic awards proudly displayed in her room too.
  6. I’m not sure how we discovered this but Little Miss adores the Beano, we’re always in charity shops and second hand book stores looking for old annuals.  Each night we read a book together and then she settles with a Beano.  Little Miss is a very good reader but at home will never read at any other time of the day except bed time.
  7. Nail art console. Little Miss loves this nail art set and is always creating new nails and developing ideas, she is only allowed painted nails at weekends and holidays, never at school.  She is so alert and will always look at the style of older friends and pop / film / tv stars for inspiration.
  8. Make Up bag.  This bag is full of lip glosses, pale eye shadows etc..  I dislike children’s make up in its garish colours and artificial ingredients so we compromise by buying Little Miss quality products to be used sparingly.  She’s definitely become more skilled in her make up and does look sparkly with a little gloss and glitter.
  9. Little Miss has a strong interest in nature, we walk locally every week and she is always interested in the environment.  One of her favourite books is an encyclopaedia of animals and she is always telling us interesting facts.  Grandad is a keen bird watcher so she likes this poster to find out which birds are visiting the garden and then to tell him.

So these nine items from her bedroom are some which reflect Little Miss’ character and interests at present, she is a young girl who is creative, musical and curious. It’ll be interesting to see what items best reflect her lifestyle as she progresses to adolescence and adulthood.