Tuesday, 30 April 2013

My space


I took this picture one morning just after getting up. And there, is my space, in between my two littlest! I thought it would be a good picture for this week's Gallery theme : Self-portrait.

I guess we're fairly different persons at different times of our lives. At the moment I am the person who occupies that space, the two youngest as close as they can, the two oldest just a little bit further being now more independent, becoming new persons themselves.
The fact that my self-portrait is an empty space represents another absence : my two little boys who couldn't stay with me.
Then there is O. , my husband, who is such a big part of me. He is very close too, the two of us temporary a bit lost in what can appear like an overcrowded space! But all so tightly bound together. Quicker than we realise the little ones will grow, stretching the bonds, eventually getting free of them, and it will be just us two again. I'll have to have a different self-portrait then! Who knows what we'll have achieved...

In the meantime this is what we've achieved, this is us, this is me!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Culture shock

When we were in Paris last Summer we took our children to see the 'Theatre de Guignol' in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

They love Punch and Judy here and we thought it would be interesting to see his French version.

Interesting it certainly was. I remember watching Guignol as a child. There was a tv programme and I might even have seen it in the same parisian park, but of course I didn't remember anything of the stories. I was quite surprised, when rediscovering it, by its moral message... Where the Bogeyman takes Punch to Hell to make him drink cold tea and eat lumpy porridge for ever after, Guignol tricks the Devil to take the Gendarme in order to save his drunkard, thieving friend Gnafron !

My daughters didn't get it...!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Stones and sewers


At the moment DS goes to preschool on 5 half days, including two mornings in a setting at the school where most of the children will go. It's great as they can get familiar with the surroundings before going into year R.

It's on these mornings, on the way from the school setting, that DS reads the street signs, plays hide and seek, pick flowers, etc.

For this week photo I chose another one of his preschool mornings little habits: picking up stones and throwing them in the sewer. 

All these things that make our trip back home twice longer (!) I think I'm going to miss them next year when he is at school...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

First 'class' picture

Yesterday DS had his first group picture at nursery school. Actually first and last as a pre-schooler! Next year it will be quite different, he will be in year R and it will be the first of many class photographs in his school uniform. So the one taken yesterday will be particularly treasured!

Anyway, while we're waiting to see the actual picture, this is how I imagine it...!

Linking up with Magic Moments

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A cheeky sparkle


I was picking up DD2 and one of her friends from a dance exam a few weeks ago and was standing by the car, waiting for them to come out.

DS then started to play with his baby sister. I whipped my mobile phone out and took snapshots of them, hopping to capture the love and delight on DB's face. This I didn't get but... I had the good surprise to find that little eye in the mirror, with such a mischievous and cheeky sparkle in it!

I played a bit with the focus and colour to make it stand out and give you my entry for this week's Gallery : Expressions!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Cabin fever

With the rubbish weather we've had for months now there has been an increasing feeling of cabin fever in our house at the week-ends. Tired and impatient parents, fractious children. 

I find that there is so much you can do to try and boost everyone's spirits. There comes a time of the year when you just need sunshine! 

Finally, finally, the sun came the week-end just past and it was brilliant. We went for a pub lunch, in the pub's garden, we had ice creams fromt he local deli, we went to the park, and back home the children spent more time outside in the garden.
DB has discovered a passion for our small sandpit and everything that's outside in general. Although it's time consuming to be in the garden overlooking her sand intake (!) it's also lovely to sit in the sunshine with a book and a cup of tea, and it makes such a difference in everyone's mood!

Friday, 19 April 2013


I was playing hide-and-seek with DS, crouching behind bushes, when I saw this 'Amour-en-cage' and thought it would be a nice subject for the Photo of the Week!

While looking for its English name (apparently groundcherry?), I discovered that it belongs to the family of tomatoes and is edible. The berries need to be ripe (they're toxic when green) and you can make jam out of them!

Here is the recipe :

For 3 jars
Groundcherry jam
1 lb of groundcherry berries
10 oz of caster sugar
1/2 a lemon

In a pan, mix the washed and drie off berries, the sugar and the grated lemon's peel.
Leave for 2 h at room temperature with no cover on.
Bring to a boil while stirring.
Simmer for 30 mn, still stirring and remove foam if needed.
Drain the berries and share equally between the sterilized jars.
Keep cooking the syrup until it thickens.
Pour on the fruits and close the jars.
Turn the jars upside down and leave to cool down.
Store in a cool and dark place.

Let me know if you try it!

Photo of the Week

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

"The golden locks of Youth" (Walter Scott)

I took this picture one day while we were going to the shops. We had stopped at the traffic lights and there was just such a perfect combination of shape and colour I HAD to take a picture of DS's curls!

Along with the quote from Walter Scott it seemed to be the ideal pic for this week's theme for the Gallery : Youth. 
My own hair is really passed its prime! It's lost its bounce and is, apart from the times where I was pregnant, quite dull... As for the dreaded grey hair! I have been dying it for a while but I have now decided to embrace my natural colour, or lack of.

What about you? Are/will you be natural, or dyed to retain "the golden locks of youth"?!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Handing over


'Holiday Camp'
You would think that, by child number four, I wouldn't have any more issues about handing them over into the care of someone else... 

Well, if anything it's yet the hardest with DB... Maybe it's because I know she will probably be my very last baby. Also she is the first one for whom I have had to find childcare before she goes into nursery school. I know it might sound pathetic but there it is! I haven't been a working mother and, as frustrating and infuriating as it can be at times to be a full time mum, going back to work is a big change.

I have now very nearly completed my breastfeeding counsellor training and I can't not put to good use all this hard work. I have found someone who will look after DB and with whom I feel 100% comfortable but still... 

Years ago when DD1 started Playgroup and I left her screaming "Mummy!!!", I was reduced to a blubbering mess outside. I phoned DH and, in between sobs, managed to say "I've left M. at Playgroup!" 
DH - he told me later - instantly imagined some sort of accident that had befallen our child, given my state. So he inquired "And...?"
To which I replied with renewd tears "That's all!!!"

Yes, that was all, just leaving my daughter in the care of strangers for the first time, so hard though...

And it doesn't get much easier, not with DD1 : first day at school, first residential trip away from home (last year), first sleepover, and probably soon first day at secondary school, then college, then university! Oh, the agony...! And not with DB with the first time I will have to leave her with her new nanny.

I must say that so far the feeling has been mutual. But maybe one day I will be that mother of a teenage daughter, embarrassingly and tearfully hugging her when she goes away :)

Friday, 12 April 2013


Last March a well known and much loved member of the blogging community lost her little Matilda from SIDS. Since then Jennie has been sharing in heart breaking honesty how much she loves and misses her baby.

Yesterday she wrote :

"I am really struggling to write tonight.
I wrote a lot over the last two days for The Lullaby Trust.
And then today, as a strange baby insisted on toddling towards me whilst out for lunch, I just broke down."

The Lullaby Trust of which Jennie talks was formerly known as FSID and is dedicated to supporting families who suffered the loss of a child and advancing the research to prevent SIDS.
Along with other bloggers I am writing this post to celebrate the Lullaby Trust's new identity and I wanted to share this beautiful lullaby written by Gilles Vigneault. I have tried to translate it, I just hope I haven't messed it up too much!

Berceuse pourJulie

Le nuage est au gré du vent
Et la feuille au gré du courant
Ton coeur parle du temps qui fuit
Sur les eaux de la nuit
Comme au gré de l’amour, l’Enfant
Le nuage est au gré du vent

Reste encore un peu dans mes bras
Quelqu’un vient qui t’éveillera
En parlant d’ailleurs et d’amour
Il est tout alentour
Dans ton coeur, c’est son pas qui bat
Reste encore un peu dans mes bras

Berce-moi dans ton rêve encore
Tes chemins sont tout près, dehors
Tes jouets garderont nos jeux
Je jouerai avec eux
Une étoile s’allume au nord
Berce-moi dans ton rêve encore

Le nuage est au gré du vent
Et la feuille au gré du courant
Ton coeur parle du temps qui fuit
Sur les eaux de la nuit
Comme au gré de l’amour, l’Enfant
Le nuage est au gré du vent.

The cloud travels with the wind
And the leaf with the stream
Your heart talks of time fleeing
On the waters of night
As with love, the Child
The cloud travels with the wind

Stay in my arms a bit longer
Someone will come and wake you
Talking of somewhere else and of love
He is all around
In your heart it's his footstep beating
Stay in my arms a bit longer

Rock me to sleep in your dream again
Your path is close by, outside
Your toys will remember our games
I will play with them
A star shines North
Rock me to sleep in your dream again

The cloud travels with the wind
And the leaf with the stream
Your heart talks of time fleeing
On the waters of night
As with love, the Child
The cloud travels with the wind

Listen to it here.

Sea creature

In an effort to tear ourselves away from watching videos we went to Basildon Park yesterday. As we have a membership with the National Trust, it's quite a nice thing to do without having to spend too much on the day!

We brought a picnic that we ate in the car (one of the advantages of having a London Taxi, when we all seat at the back it's very cosy and convivial!). Then off we went on the trail!

The park at Basildon is lovely, with small woodland areas. There is even a hide under the trees and a Laurel maze, outside games and deck chairs to have a rest while gazing on the beautiful views.
I had taken my 'hip seat' to carry the baby more easily when visiting the house but if you don't have one the volunteers at Basildon, as in many of the National Trust properties, will lend you one.

Lots of chicks and Easter eggs were hidden in every room to interest the children in the visit (although too easy to find, we hardly spent even one minute in each room!!). And I must say that the room stewards were all engaging with the children, which was lovely, especially when you're visiting on your own with four kids!
I don't remember the kitchen being opened before (we hadn't been to Basildon for a while!) but it is now, with colouring and games of pick-up sticks and... two lovely ladies making drop scones! So cosy and home like to be treated with the lovely smell of baking and the tasting! (I had to make drop scones when we came back home)

DS made me laugh when he handed his trail sheet back. One of the ladies at the reception desk asked him what the mysterious word had been. He had no idea as I had been doing it for him, so he just opened his sheet and held up my writing for the lady to see! Priceless!!

The picture is of a fantastic tap in one of the bathrooms.

I'm linking up with Photo of the Week.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Happy baking

I don't do lots of activities with my children but there is at least one thing I do : baking!

As time goes we have acquired quite a variety of cookie cutters. We have a pig, a teddy bear, a butterfly, a chick, the road track and cars cutters and even the whole alphabet! (from when I was making letters biscuits to make DD2 practice her spelling).

When we do cakes the children do the whole thing, but for biscuits I generally make some dough, take the cutters out and let them roll and shape, intervening now and then to tell DD2 that no she can 't eat her remaining dough yet as she still has quite enough to make more biscuits.

Yesterday however I was a bit more involved as DD3, 18 months, joined in for the first time. She's very much into putting things in and out of containers at the moment. Sure enough she made little bits of dough and conscientiously put them in a cookie cutter and out again. It was so sweet!

There was the little incident of her 'finding' more dough and the mysterious disappearance of her brother's car biscuit, but all in all it was a success and such a good feeling to do something enjoyed by all from 18 months to 10 years!

Happy baking... :)

I'm linking up with the Gallery.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Photo of the week - On the way back

Yesterday was a bit of an adventure, driving to Winchester to take the train to Dorset with my four jolly travel companions!
Coming back to Hampshire at the end of the day we were greeted by a lovely sunshine, long shadows and reflections...
I chose that picture for my Photo of the Week as a nod to our lovely host Louise who shared some wonderful photos of reflected views in the past weeks  ;)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Spicy lamb stew with leftovers

Still having quite a bit of lamb left from our Easter roast I decided do to a sort of quick stew tonight, served with couscous. My children liked it so much that I thought I had to commit it to memory!

I tossed my pieces of lamb in a frying pan with a spoonful of olive oil and browned them for 5 mn.
I sprinkled with flour, then added just enough water to cover the meat. I flavoured with a cube of Oxo vegetable stock, two garlic cloves crushed with the flat of a knife, a thick slice of lemon, a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, some paprika, a dash of ketchup, salt.
I brought it to a boil and let it simmer for about 30-40 mn.

As I didn't plan to do a post about it I have no picture to show for it, just the empty pan, mark of its success!