promises of spring

IMG_0805Yesterday it felt and looked like spring and we spent the afternoon tidying up the garden a little with the help of my sister.  I love the yellowness of spring flowers and the way it is so often paired with bright pink or purple in combinations I would never enjoy anywhere else. Look at the colours of this flowering currant!  And this forsythia.  (I must pick some and bring it inside – the bush is need of pruning anyway.)IMG_0802We have daffodils and primroses coming up, and the hundred tulips I planted in November (very late) have beautifully healthy looking leaves about 8cm tall.  I can’t wait to see the flowers.  Little E was out in our tent, exploring the leaves and grass and sticks – and anything else she could reach and get into her mouth.  D and E were running around in bare feet.IMG_0830Today is grey, again, and cold and wet.  Still, we have our promises of spring.  We can wait a little longer.

time off

IMG_4888I spent Saturday with one of my oldest, best and finest friends.  Here she is, a full five years ago but not a bit different from this weekend.  With only one child between us (instead of our usual seven), and that child being the baby we had a day together to do exactly what we liked. So we wandered, stopped for coffee and cake, ate lunch, shopped a little, had a mini-makeover, stopped for more cake and carried on talking.   I’ve known Sarah since university and our conversation always flows and eddies, drifts around all sorts of topics, celebrates our similarities and explores our differences.    We spoke a lot about our children (how to discipline them, how to make them feel loved, what to read them at bedtime); we discussed fashion and money and schools and our childhoods.  We compared notes on turning forty and how that makes us feel (our next birthday for both of us.)   At convenient points the baby slept.  The sun was shining.  What a lovely way to spend a day off.

half-term

IMG_0681So we are back into the school routine after five lovely long half-term days.  This is one thing that has changed now D is at school: holidays are looked forward to and specially enjoyed by us all.  I like having everyone at home; I like planning activities (without the panicked – what on earth are we going to entertain ourselves with feeling that I got only a year ago); K loves having D around to play with; D loves being at home to play with his toys; a trip to the shops or out for coffee has a fun, holiday feeling.  And, lest I forget, we have cheerios for breakfast.

We were home for Thursday, Saturday and Monday.  Daniel was at a friend’s birthday on Thursday afternoon and K had a friend to play (two three year old girls, two hours – eight different activities!  I counted: hide and seek; biscuit making; blowing bubbles in the garden; biscuit icing; snack time; dancing to music; face-painting… I’ve forgotten one).  We  did a treasure hunt for coloured objects … which led to an unprecedented piece of creative scribbling in the hall.  IMG_0669Days out on Friday and Sunday (lunch with friends) and friends here for lunch on Monday meant the days felt full without being overwhelming.  A little lesson learned for me: forward planning of holidays is essential.  Note to self: start thinking about Easter now.IMG_0687

Valentine’s 2014

Spending time with people you love, in a place you love, doing things you love:  thats a good enough way for me to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  This time last year we were in CapeTown and I cooked a Valentine’s lunch for eleven, including both great-grannies.  Here’s the table before we sat down to eat.  (I made the big hearts with paper and a stapler.  The little heart baskets are woven from two pieces of paper – I remember making them at primary school).IMG_0547

This year, we spent the day in Edinburgh: walking through the Botanic Gardens to lunch at Pizza Express in Stockbridge. IMG_0736

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The display of orchids in the RBG glass houses were stunning.  I love flowers and it is lovely to be given some.  Last year there were giant protea’s on the table.  This year, I am still enjoying a bunch of tulips R brought me.IMG_0724 Cards?  Of course there were cards.  I think I like them best of all: little messages saying the things we so often forget, reminders for this year, 2014, of the things that we have committed to, the things that really matter to us and to our family.  Valentine’s Day: a simple reminder to keep loving one another every single day.

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happy birthday, my love

Birthdays in our family all come in pairs (at least – we have four in one week in August).  So this weekend was Mr Mc’s birthday.  We celebrated with a bit of this and a bit of that.

A bit of this – card making was enthusiastically embraced by D and K.IMG_0664

A bit of this – lemon drizzle cake ( I love that it was after we started making it, R came in and declared that what he really wanted was… lemon drizzle cake).IMG_0657

A bit of this – a walk on my favourite beach on Sunday afternoon.  The camera batteries were flat, so this photo was actually from a visit four years ago. That little chap is D: how fast time is passing.  The beach was the same but, oh, how we all have changed.IMG_2645

And a bit of this.IMG_0661

I decided the best birthday present I could give R this year was time off: so he spent Saturday skiing with his brother in a blizzard at Glenshee.  There’s nothing like battling with the elements on the side of a Scottish mountain to make you feel really alive.  Happy Birthday, my love!

celebrating right now

As a family we seem to have rather more than usual to celebrate right now – mainly small things but worth celebrating.

My littlest daughter’s new ability to sit up all by herself.IMG_0548

Little K’s new skill on a trampoline: after six months of classes, she can now do a seat drop – again and again. Yeah!IMG_0643

First prize for reciting a poem in Scots for Big D: well done, my boy, you make your mama proud.IMG_0603

Sunshine in the kitchen and bulbs planted for me by Kate – signs of spring on the way and partly the result of the felling of two huge trees in our neighbour’s garden.IMG_0599

Washing hung outside to dry – a rare opportunity after these wet, wet weeks. IMG_0608

And birthdays – my sister this week: a nice excuse for us all to enjoy cake and ice-cream sundaes.  Happy Birthday, lovely lady.

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a weekend in Edinburgh

Here are some photos from a weekend we enjoyed in Edinburgh at the end of November.  We worked out the importance of camouflage for little fish at the National Museum of Scotland;IMG_0031

Walked through the Christmas festivities on Princes Street; stayed with my sister; met up with a brother and cousins; gate-crashed the National LIbrary of Scotland which was open to the public for Book Week Scotland; read and choose a children’s book to take away for free; IMG_0078Ate a winter picnic at Yellowcraigs beach; walked over the headland where Robert Louis Stevenson set the start of Treasure Island; drank hot chocolate in Gullane at the amazing Konditorei and Kaffeehaus Falko’s (well worth a visit for amazing cakes).IMG_0121We came home refreshed and exhausted by the pleasures of a weekend in the city.IMG_0008

Ah, Edinburgh, Edinburgh: never mine and mine forever.  Its good to have a few more memories to place on my own personal map of the city.

“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth…”
― Alexander McCall SmithLove Over Scotland

little K

IMG_1246Some how, in the new routine that our family life is falling into this January, I have had more moments of making things with my little K.  I realise with a new sense of clarity, just how much she loves creating, drawing, sticking, cutting and making.  Without a doubt its when I see her at her happiest: she laughs, smiles, chats and glows with pleasure.  She applies herself to these activities with a remarkable level of concentration, patience and care.IMG_0481

This is in total contrast to D: for him art (drawing, colouring, sticking, painting) has never been something he would choose to do.  I can count on the fingers of one hand the pieces of art he brought home from playgroup at the same stage.  In the past, I have been tempted to blame this difference on gender (girls like colouring, boys don’t) but I think it goes further than that with these two children of mine:  this is about recognising who they are individually, how they are function and what energises and excites them.IMG_0474

In the last couple of weeks, K and I have made stained glass windows with book film; used fabric paint to stamp designs onto white t-shirts; and painted pottery at Ferry Potty.  I am so grateful for this point of connection with my daughter and I am relishing the prospect of some lovely times with K where we can make, create and draw together.

made by me

I made a few gifts this Christmas and they all required a lot less time and skill than the ones I received.  Still, getting anything made this year was a challenge (I’ll blame it on the baby) so I was happy with the pleasure I got from producing one or two home made gifts.  IMG_0240This knitted corsage was the result of a craft morning at our church.  It was a pleasure to give it to my sister along with the instructions and materials so she can start to make her own.IMG_0255This idea, the instructions plus dry ingredients for making a cake in a mug in a microwave, come from katescreativespace as did the idea for making firelighters out of tea-lights and pinecones.  I love Kate’s ideas and the stylish way she presents everything.  I highly recommend her blog for clever ideas which always come with lovely helpful instructions.

IMG_0251IMG_0257Finally, I made a few Christmas cards from this pretty washi tape – I love the little birds in the Christmas tree.  So that was Christmas – doesn’t it seem like a long time ago already?

made for me

I was given some lovely Christmas presents this year and I want to take a moment to celebrate the hand made and home made that I received.  Firstly, this special bag of treats, all made by the amazing Chrissie and Jamie.  How good does this look?IMG_0267And hidden inside – jelly, tablet, elderberry juice, christmas tree oatcakes and glittery shortbread stars.  So beautiful and so delicious.IMG_0264Next up, three presents from the skilled fingers of my clever sister: a hand knitted wash cloth so delicate its too pretty for washing dishes; a cross stitch initial for baby E; and a jar of apple jelly – see how it glows!IMG_0428 IMG_0423 IMG_0437Last by not least, this jar of chutney came from my brother-in-law – its very good.  (He actually gave us two, but one has already been devoured.)  Present giving: what a great opportunity to celebrate creativity.  Thank you, all!IMG_0436