Author Archives: ainleys

Garden Day 1

I am off work for the next 2 weeks…hooray! As we are not travelling anywhere at the moment, with Guy in contract, I felt I needed some holiday from work – so booked 2 weeks off.  The first week Sophie is going to nursery her usual days and I am sorting the garden and preparing the groudworks and base ready for her little house to arrive (not yet built) on Thursday.  By Friday I aim to have the base built and ready to start building the house.  Week 2, Nanny and Grampy Fitzhugh are visting for summer fun so Sophie will have a weeks holiday with us at home.  Our local garden centre is packed with lovely plants so I’m sure we may have a mini mooch there, of course there’s the park, with it’s new cafe, to be visited and all sorts of other Sophie friendly things depending on weather.  Oooh, and there’s the gig that Guy and I are going to next Wednesday – Greenday if you please…in Manchester…how cool are we??? (thanks to Nanny and Grampy in advance for babysitting services).

So, I’ll be taking some pics throughout the week so you can see progress, or lack of it…

Summer Days, drifting away…

Well, we’ve had some summer. We’ve all been hot, apart from Sophie who at the slightest sight of water or sun throws all her clothes off and rushes around naked as the day she was born. Here are some photos of her enjoying the sunshine, Lunch at Grandma’s, having a nice nap and fully investigating a pot of purple paint…that’ll teach me to turn my back while she’s painting !

Some new photos – April / May

Not much writing but lots of photo’s this time. Bit under the weather here, so am laying low and Guys being a fab “looky after” husband.

Job situation not improved, need to decide whether to sit it out for some redundancy, which may appear in a timely fashion around Feb 2011…bit of cash might be nice for a big trip we’re planning… ;-)

Or, whether to get a new job now, but it’s not so easy as it will probably be Leeds, involve a commute and is not ideal – but is also not depressing on a daily basis. Probably a state of mind decision, may need to kick myself up the bum or just stick a HUUUGE pic of New Zealand on my desk to get me through it if I stay!!!

Garden is coming on very slowly, if you all fancy coming to stay for a few weeks just to give us a hand in the garden that would be just fab, thanks. Otherwise, it will continue at a snails pace.  Photo’s attached.

We have most of the tools and stuff to do the left hand side of the garden.  It’s clear of strawberries, we have weed suppressant, most big weeds out, plenty of cardboard to put down.  We need to order Sophie’s little house soon – I am off middle two weeks in June so it will be mini grand designs time!!!  Today, I potted two pots with dwarf sunflowers and french marigolds (multicoloured).  I bought some tumbling toms to go in the tall pots we have, probably with more marigolds to keep the bugs away.

Sophie is giving to gardening effort with one hand and taking with the other…In a moment of what can 0nly be called a school girl error, I asked her to help me to pick all the dandelions out of the lawn (in lieu of us doing a weed and feed on a rainy day). So, now she thinks that we have to pull flowers up each time we go out into the garden. I can’t even point out a flower before she’s stooped down and ripped it’s tiny head from it’s stalk – then gives it to me or just shreds it in front of me.  It’s almost as bad as having a cat that brings dead mice in as a surprise for you…sigh.

So, this year I’ll post pictures of flowers I plant and then please visualise them a day later bald and sad, denuded of their flowery tops :-(

I’m going to have to creep out in the dead of night to pick any veg we grow, otherwise she’ll be pulling stuff out by the roots.  Mind you, shouldn’t be surprised – last year Guys sister had the skelton of a tomato plant after Sophie picked all the tomatoes off it – green and red.  That reminds me, it’s not just flowers she’s eating. It appears she is related to Hugh Fearley Whittingstall.  She’s developed a nasty habit of eating random wild stuff too.  We thought we were over the eating things phase, having has some months without it.  Then, last week, she ate the tops off a bunch of dandelions. The next day she lay on the floor and chomped the top off a random weed in the field.  She was then surprised when I scooped her up and hooked it out of her mouth…I fear for the worms now – we’ve been watching Gruffalo (a lot) and there’s a frog that eats a big worm…you’s think we didn’t feed her!

Anyway, off to upload photo’s.

Time off for…stuff and things

Apologies for the rather large break over the last 6 weeks. ‘Where have you been’, I hear you ask!  We’ve just been a bit out of kilter.  It seems we sometimes get those months where we just get up, go to nursery / work, come home, make tea, bath, read, soph to bed, wash up, do washing, check emails, watch 30 mins trash tv and go to bed…and on the weekends we have bits and bobs to do – keeping things spinning type stuff.

Earlier in the month I had to visit Bristol for 2 days for work, as this is where my new company has it’s IT and operations arm.  I didn’t dislike Bristol.  It was sunny and warm, we stayed on the Quay area in a clean comfortable hotel, there were pretty seaside like houses all scattered along a fairly dramatic gorge, a truly impressive bridge by anyones standards, nice new colleagues, dinner out at Los Iguanos – but Guy and Sophie were at home and instead of it being shiny and exciting it just felt a bit empty without them.  I also knew, in my heart of hearts, that at some point we’d be required to visit more often, and that would be the end of my little 3 day a week job just a mile from home.  I have to go again on Tuesday, for 2 full days – flying down this time.

Surely enough, not long after the visit we were told that we’d need to meet our team, face to face, every 2 to 3 weeks.  This means alternating travelling for 2 days at a time to Bristol or Edinburgh.  Lets just say the CV is being brushed off as we speak.

So, my lovely Guy has been holding the fort this month on the home front, and will return to nPower for another stint on April 1st, for a month initially, but fingers crossed for longer.

Luckily, to counter the job situation, Spring has sprung!

I am feeling rather smug, as I had 2 snowdrops come up from the batch of bulbs I planted in the winter.  2 might not sound much, but I’d prepared myself for dissapointment after Mummy Green Fingers said they are very tricky to grow from bulbs…so I was fit to burst when they popped up.  Since then, Grandpa Ainley has given me some more “in the green”, as those gardening types say, and I now have lots of snowdrops in my front garden.  Next years display will almost be impressive!

On the gardening front, I also planted some pretty Narcisus and Dwarf Tulips at the same time.  While popping the snowdrops in today, I noticed the other bulbs are all coming up!  Yippety skippety!

The back garden is looking a bit sad unfortunately, and we are missing the ready availability our Ground Force equivalents aka Auckland and North Walsham Fitzhughs.  I would like to create a lush green courtyard, but money, time (and more than a little fear) are preventing us getting started.  Maybe once the money is there we’ll get on with it. 

Guys big girl has accepted a place at Liverpool John Moores to do a Criminology and Psychology Joint Honours Degree.  We are very proud, Guy is worried she’s not going to eat properly, I’m worried she’ll spend all her student loan in freshers week, and she can’t beleive she’s leaving home and going to Uni so soon – but aside from that we’re all very excited – it’s an early start, 1st September.

Out little girl is turning into a big girl rapidly.  She now has a big girl duvet, is starting to want to use the potty and is doing very well walking further and further all the time.  We’re aiming to get rid of the push chair at the end of the summer, so her little legs are going to some walking over the next few months to train her up!  Language, as Stevie also described with Lucy, is an astounding process. She talks non stop, from the moment she gets up.  At nursery they must say ‘belly’ rather than tummy – but Sophie thinks they say “beverley” so she comes and shows us her tummy and says it’s her Beverley…which makes me laugh no end.  As with the Aucklanders, we have been drilling Ps & Qs into Sophie – the funny thing is that she says Please Mummy / Thankyou Daddy, but Please is always accompanied by the sign for please as well.  In fact, 2 signs are still with us. That used for “please” and the one used for “again”.  How strange that they are so deeply imbedded into her thought process, that she still uses them even though she can say the words.

Last, but not least, I am officially a student again.  I applied to do a Post Natal Leader Diploma a while ago, and got offered 75% funding around December time.  The course is part time, part of a degree level course, takes approx 3 years and involves tutorials every 6 to 8 weeks.  The core is self directed study of parenting issues and includes some study weekends and running post natal courses.  It is assessed by exams, running courses and around 8 coursework  essays.  I am very excited to have found it as the subject is fascinating to me and I’ve always wanted to turn my facilitation experience into my work – but never knew what to focus on…apart from IT, which I didn’t want to focus on!  I attended a taster tutorial in Manchester in March, did some written work, got some references, had a successful interview and started the course last week with my first real tutorial.  The aim is to be licensed to practice by the time Sophie starts school, so that I can run mostly daytime, but some evening and weekend groups locally instead of running the corporate treadmill.  Hourly rates for a newly qualified practioner are the same as I get paid now but it’s unlikely I’ll work nearly as many hours, so I may need to combine it a while with my day job.  However, we are working hard in our branch to set up joint services with Calderdale NHS, so this should be more developed by the time I’ve qualified – so there would be the possibility of running groups for them too.

We are off to Norfolk for Easter, and taking wellies and kags for the beach. Cromer Crabs here we come!!!!!

Birthday Treat

Well, following on from the last blog update, spotty botty turned into nothing, but Sophie has continued to be under the weather.  She’s had a rubella like rash this week, but we think it was maybe just a random virus rather than the real thing – she’s had her MMR so unlikely to be the real deal.  Then, as those spots faded, more arrived of a larger and angrier nature – looking again like Chicken Pox but not turning into the typical blisters. Decided a docs visit was in order and saw a lovely chap who agreed prob just a viral rash / spots.  Poor lamb also had swollen lips and sore mouth as well, so has been a bit miserable.  We’re all very tired as she’s been disturbed by all this each night, probably for 3 or 4 weeks now – so a good sleep is needed by all!

Still, Sophie’s birthday arrived and we adopted some ”Dunkirk Spirit” for the day, determined to get out and keep to our plans as we had a rare day off as a family.  We dosed her up on medicine and set off to the Blue Planet, near Cheshire Oaks.  Sophie was so obviously excited when we got there, I cried and then that made Guy cry too! Our little scamp spends so much time tearing around when we go anywhere it was priceless to see her actually excited about the place we’d decided to take her.

On the way home we picked up an M&S valentines meal for Sunday for ourselves and headed home. Traffic wasn’t our friend and just as we rolled up to a traffic jam near Halifax, Sophie puked all over herself – probably more to do with self indulgence of mini jaffa cakes than anything serious! Anyway, we were glad to get home and she perked up no end once in the house.  The car seat covers washed ok ;-)

Pics of the day below, and some present un-wrapping.  Thankyou to everyone for cards and presents.  Sophie loves Croc – picks him up and says “Schnap Schnap”…doc kit and magic drawing are out everyday and today she met Buzzy Bee, a lovely painted pull along bee from our Kiwi counterparts.  Only just sent Christmas thank you notes, but hoping to get Birthday ones out rather more quickly!!!

More Lurgy?

Yes, we are having one of those months with baby lurgy. Just over a crappy cold, 3 new teeth arrived all at once over the weekend and now sent home from nursery today with suspected Chicken Pox…again.  She had it last year, I think just after the holiday, or just before. Anyway, apparently recent recearch has indicated 75% of children under 5 don’t get immunity from the first bout and can catch it twice (or more)…plus there may actually be more than one strain. Anyhow, she has a couple of chicken pox like spots on her bum and we are waiting to see if they’re pox or just spotty botty! The jury is out, we will see over the next 48 hrs. She won’t thank me for saying it, but her bum was a bit spotty anyway, so it’s hard to tell!!! (sorry Soph).

When not being unhappy with lurgy, Sophie’s language skills are amazing us every day.  She built a tall tower the other day, out of lego, and prounounced loudly and proudly “I did it”!  We went to a new toddler group and she was kind, confident, took turns and made a lovely finger paint picture – very proud.

She has an Usborne bedtime book and points at the people, saying ” a mummy”, “a daddy” etc… her sentances are now 3 and 4 words and we are simply amazed how much she learns every day – she is definately now a little information sponge!

So, 2 years old next week and we are planning a trip, just the 3 of us, to an aquarium as a birthday treat – sharks, Nemo, Dory and the Jellies are top priority.  No party planned, last years small party for her NCT baby friends was too much and our dining room is just not big enough!

Photo’s soon, Guy bought a new camera to replace the broken one.

Visit to Frystonites

This weekend we visited the Frystonites (aka Carson, Nicole, Aaron and Ethan). We were ill prepared, quite literally, as Soph has had a big snotty cold since Wednesday and had had us up every night, and we’d taken to just falling asleep on her floor when she needed us, we were that tired.  So, after consulting Dr Maddock (Carson), we were instructed to come anyway, safe in the knowledge that if she kept the whole house up all night we would not be struck off the christmas card list.  Carson was slightly worried about our coffee intact on arrival (probably cos he wanted to crack open a beer), but we eventually got the kids to bed and had a fab Lasagne cooked by Nicole and lashings of wine.  After choc tart and some good chat we retired to the living room and I was soon rumbled for falling asleep on the sofa… Guy and Carson saw in the next day with some game playing, al la the old days, although neither woke quite as fresh as they once might have done.  Sophie woke at 5.30 and was having none of the shussshing & gentle patting hand that appeared in her travel cot.  Even a snuggle in bed and Pingu on TV didn’t keep her from bouncing around like a loon, so we got up and started our day.  Carson cooked banana pancakes, and we had cheeky stuff like nutella on them…very yum.

Sophie’s early start caught up with her quite quickly and she needed a nap, so we bundled her into the car and said farewell and thankyou to our hosts.

Needless to say, she was asleep in minutes, snoring gently from the back of the car!

We had a few hours of quiet at home, and then it was off again to Noah and Eva’s birthday party at a soft play centre.  We ummed and arrred about going, as Soph was still full of cold, but we told her it was party time and she perked up, so off we went.  As it was late afternoon, we left early and let her nap, and when we arrived, she woke, looked around, grinned, clapped and off she went…our busy little bee.

We all slept very very well Sunday night!

Badgers Nadgers

This weekend was the penultimate in a line of busy weekend appointments.  With an attack of the January Blues, I got a bit carried away and filled up all our weekends with socializing – only to be knackered by week 3, and just wanted to go back to bed rather than be sociable. Nevertheless, we pulled up our socks this weekend and got organized.

Guy took Sophie to see Grandma and Grandpa Ainley while I set about the house, with a pair of rubber gloves with a cleaning mission in mind.  By the time Guy got home at 1pm I’d hoovered the entire house, including ALL the stairs, cleaned downstairs bathroom, cleaned kitchen and tidied the living room. Needless to say Guy was amazed and I was pooped!  We chilled out a bit in the afternoon and Sophie watched Bugs Life for the gazilianth time.  Then, after tea, Guy put Sophie to bed and I set off to our new Morrisons to do a “big shop”.

Our Morrisions is spanking new, but in an area as rough as a bears arse, so a Saturday night visit was a little daunting.  It was very quiet and I sped around, getting some good grub ready for our next batch of socializing.

Sunday morning I chopped root veg and seared a leg of lamb and wedged it all in the slow cooker.  By the time our friends Helen and Andy arrived with William (nearly 2) and little Ellie (2 months) the lamb was falling off the bone and the veg braised to perfection. We served it with a large salad, “made” by Sophie, crusty bread and small crispy cubes of roast potatoes.  The kids stuffed their faces and seconds were the order of the day.

I remembered to get the camera to take some snaps to show you all and to our dissapointment the screen had at some point been cracked and it no longer worked…so no photo’s for anyone! We got the camera on honeymoon when passing through Singapore and Guy thinks we should go back and get another ;-)

When I say Sophie “made” the salad – she emptied a bag of salad in a bowl, took bites out of half of the tomatoes and cucumber she was supposed to be putting in the bowl and then proceeded to put all the leaves back in the bag!!!  Still, it kept her busy, and she’s available to anyone who wants the seeds sucking out of their tomatoes before they go into the salad ;-)

This weekend we’re off to Carson and Nicoles for birthday celebrations and Sophie has a party on Sunday.  We haven’t sorted anything for Sophies birthday yet, but we have the day off so will probably go to an aquarium to see Nemo and Dory on the day and maybe do a soft play centre with a few of her small friends one weekend soon.

We’ll take the big camera or use a phone camera to ensure we get a few good snaps!

Toddler Trouble

Monday morning, Sophie and I were getting dressed and we decided to have a race to see who could put their trousers on fastest.  Sophie ran off into the living room to shove her pj bottoms on and I speedily stuck my jeans on.  All of a sudden, I heard a bump and a cry and there was Sophie laying face down on the floor with both feet still wedged into one trouser leg, crying her eyes out.

From what I could see, she’d stumbled and tripped over her potty as well.  Poor little thing.

 She took longer than normal to stop crying and was unhappy about putting her foot down much, so I gave her some painkillers and we put a dvd on to see how she coped.  She was fine until the evening, when she stopped putting weight on her bad foot again.  We couldn’t see any bruising or marks and she went to bed quite happy.

Tuesday morning, work morning, Sophie once again won’t put her foot down properly even after painkillers. After talking to a nice out of hours nurse, we trooped off to the docs to put our minds at rest.  Soph pottered around the docs surgery only putting her heel down and not her whole foot so we were smartly sent to A&E for an x-ray.  Apparently “non weight bearing” in a child is an automatic reason for an x-ray.  There we spent the next 5.5 hours…

The upshot, a long long morning of constant mummy entertainment, reading, playing, waiting, and much more waiting, pacing with the pushchair, then an x-ray…She has no broken bones and has either bruised or sprained it – as I thought.  So, how do you keep a toddler still to heal a poorly foot…yes, thats right, you don’t…it may be a while more hobbling until it heals me thinks. On the upside, she was remarkably well behaved the whole time and I was all puffy proud of her for being a big brave girl.

Night out at the Harrimans

Yesterday we had an afternoon play / evening dinner date (and stay over) with the Harrimans – Helen, Paul, Charlotte and Olivia.

The day started slowly as unfortunately we didn’t have our streamlined and organised heads on, but instead our “everything takes twice as long as it should” heads on…so it was a challenge just getting going and getting out of the house.  Mind you, it’s usually because we leave packing up until the morning of going, then Sophie merrily unpacks everything as fast as we can pack it…then waits til we’ve got her fully dressed, with shoes and coat before she fills her nappy and requires everything taking off again.

Sophie napped on the way over and on arrival Paul wandered out to help carry baggage and food contributions into the house, while the girls and Helen waved us in from the living room windows.  Sophie decided Paul had come out to give her a royal welcome and sprung into his arms virtually from waking, which is virtually unheard of for Sophie, and Paul was chuffed to get a cuddle so soon.

The girls played together nicely all afternoon, and Helen made them an early tea of wedges and sausages.  Charlotte and Olivia were ready for bed by 6.30 as they’d not napped in the day, and Sophie followed at 7 (although it took Guy a while to get her off to sleep in a strange place (as usual).

Helen made a super tea of indian marinated lamb & chicken, rice and salad and we contributed chocolate fondue with strawbs and pineapple for afters – yummy!

After much chatting, red wine and a cheeky Vodka Martini (made by Guy for us ladies) we hit the sack and luckily the girls all slept til 7am (hooray!).

This morning we scoffed piles of toast and crumpets and ambled back via Brighouse - Sophie had an early nap and then instead of waking, opted to stay asleep snuggled up on me.  I was then FORCED to watch telly and do nothing else of course ;-) Such hardship.

After lunch, Sophie decided she wanted a mid afternoon bath and then wanted to do some potty practice, so she’s now playing lego in her vest and a pair of pull up pants.  Although she is showing some signs of wanting to use the potty, she’s not quite got the idea of sitting down on it for more than 3 seconds, so we’re just letting her practice until the warmer months arrive and she can run around sans nappy.

Eventually, we’ll have a couple of photo’s to follow, but they’re on Helen’s camera, so not available today.