P for Park here

P for Park here

Elliot observing a sign in the car park today:

“Mummy, you parked in a space for Pilifers (my name is Philippa, this is how he pronounces it) look!!!”
He pointed to the sign.
“It has a P for Pilifer”
“Well done mummy!”

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Incidentally, we also got a reprise of the joke from the other day, this time slightly better remembered:

“what has legs but can’t walk?
A table!”

And

“How do snowmen get around?
By icicle bicycle!”

I’m so proud 🙂

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Alexander at 6 weeks

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It’s true, time really does fly when you’re having fun. And also when there’s a newborn around.

I can’t believe a little over six weeks ago I looked like this:

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Not my best photo ever!

And now here we are with a six week old baby. Madness!

So Alexander, you are now 6 weeks old and have been working really hard at gaining weight. You were 7lbs 5 at birth, and now weigh a whopping 11lb 9! Those night feeds are all worth it.

You’ve been a very easy baby this far, sleeping lots, feeding well and you hardly ever cry.

Things you love:
– stretching! You are a BIG fan of a stretch, and perform several each nappy change. You also do the cute back curl one when picked up.
– Elliot. And he loves you too. He’s told everyone at nursery that you’re a “happy baby” and he loves brining you toys and rocking you in your bouncy chair. In turn, I think you’re really starting to notice him and your eyes fix on him whenever he’s near.
– cuddles. You like to be held close and rocked. You’d happily sleep on a willing shoulder at any opportunity.
– your bouncy chair. I think you like this as it means you can be more upright, and therefore a bit less sicky, as flat positions don’t help with the little bit of reflux you seem to have at the moment. It’s also a good vantage point for observing what’s going on around you.

Thank you for being an easy baby. You’ve made our little family complete and we all adore you.

Lots of love,
Mummy xxx

Overheard: Everything is special

Overheard: Everything is special

This evening, on the way home from nursery, Elliot had lots of things to tell us:

What do you call a boy who can’t walk who is stuck in the road?
A table

?!?
Followed, moments later by:
Mummy I want you to have blond hair not black hair because I like blond hair.

Last night, just before bed:
Mummy, you are special. I am special too, and daddy and Alexander.
(Pause)
My chair is special, and my bed. My books are special and my jigsaws are special. My muslins are special too.

Ah, will we ever understand what goes on in a three year old’s brain?

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An Elliot selfie

Pappardelle with butternut squash, blue cheese, chilli and thyme

Pappardelle with butternut squash, blue cheese, chilli and thyme

Earlier this week I could have sworn I saw a tweet on my feed that mentioned a butternut squash pasta dish with blue cheese, chilli and thyme, however I can’t now find it again and have had butternut squash cravings ever since.
Not only could I not find the recipe on my twitter feed, I also trawled the internet for a recipe with all four ingredients and returned zero results.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is a truly original recipe made up on the spot on a random Thursday in January. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
A handful of thyme sprigs
St Agur blue cheese (or similar, I’m sure Gorgonzola would work)
1 red chilli, chopped
Olive oil
Pappardelle pasta – I used fresh as that’s what Waitrose had, but any pasta would work I think.

Method:
1. Put the chopped squash, onion, thyme, garlic and chilli in a roasting tray. Toss with olive oil and put in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) for 40 mins or until soft.
2. Cook the pasta according to instructions and drain
3. Heat some oil in a deep frying pan or wok. Fry the squash mixture for a few minutes and then add the pasta. 4. Allow the pasta to fry for a couple of minutes to add flavour.
5. Crumble in the blue cheese and as soon as it starts to melt, serve in warm bowls.

Post-dinner note: We enjoyed this meal, but think next time we’d add some pine nuts for added texture, and would also put the finished pasta in an oven proof dish with a covering of Parmesan and grill/bake for a while.

If you try this, please leave a comment below to let me know if you think of any improvements to make 🙂

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Sliding doors – a day with a three year old

Sliding doors – a day with a three year old

Does anyone remember the film Sliding Doors where Gwyneth Paltrow runs to catch a train and we follow two 'futures' that are determined on whether she managed to board the train or not? I loved the film back in my teens, and often think of my own “sliding doors” moments. We experienced one of these a week ago.

A bit of background first (think of this as the voice over at the beginning of a film, while on screen you see some beautiful scenes of my family growing and new babies coming along – obviously my character is played by someone really beautiful with no lanky unwashed hair or dark circles under her eyes!)

Chris had two weeks' paternity leave in January (delayed from December) and we really wanted to do some fun things as a family. We planned our Fridays as family days, doing things that the boys like to do (well Elliot mainly, since Alexander is too small to have an opinion and let's face it asleep most of the time!)

For the first Family Friday I thought it would be nice to go to our local wildlife park. Elliot has been there many times before and really likes it. There's a little train to ride on, and a lovely adventure play area. I envisaged a happy family day, followed by snuggles on the sofa, maybe watching a film, with my three boys.

After a restful night with only minimal wake ups from the baby, we all got up, dressed without complaint, and had a lovely breakfast. So far so good. Elliot got excited about our trip and even helped to make his lunch, before we all bundled into the car. We were on our way.

We pulled in to waitrose to pick up extra picnic supplies, and Chris hopped out as both boys were a bit sleepy, so I stayed in the car with them.

Now, in the film, you may recall that Gwyneth gets a very handy hair cut quite early on so that the audience know exactly which 'future' they are watching at any point. For the purposes of today in this next bit, my ideal day is shown in normal font and what actually took place is in italics. Ok?

After picking up everything we needed and a couple of treats, Chris comes back to the car having bought delicious picnic food, and pulls out of the car park.
On pulling out of the car park, a random post appears as if from nowhere – even the man collecting trolleys seems surprised – and before anything can be done a lovely big dent has appeared in the side of our car. We decide to carry on regardless. Elliot wakes up and informs us he now doesn't want to see any animals –

Lunchtime! We arrive at the wildlife park, all very excited. We're given a discount on entry because they're feeling generous! How kind!
After a stressful drive, trying not to panic about the damaged car (and what this means for our current finances!), we arrive at the wildlife park still listening to Elliot saying he doesn't want to see animals, and he doesn't want the picnic he was so excited about only hours earlier. We pull up to buy tickets and learn that as Elliot is now 3 we have to pay an additional £9.50 for him on top of the £15 per adult. Ignoring the imaginary bank manager with rolling eyes in our heads, we hand over the money and find a space to park.

Happily bundled up in coats and scarves, we proceed to find the swings and slides which Elliot loves. This is followed by a lovely picnic lunch, which we are permitted to eat in a quiet corner of the cafe, as it's so cold outside.
Despite moans, Elliot seems excited about going on the swings and slides. “Horray!” we think, before we all realise just how cold it actually is. (It's at this point I start to think this was all a bad idea, yes I'm a bit slow!) A quick look at the swings and slides, we think we can rescue the day with food and start to think about the picnic. Upon investigation however there is nowhere inside to eat – the cafe has a sign forbidding people from eating anything but the chips they serve on the premises – so we perch on a picnic bench and eat as fast as we can to avoid getting frostbite. Alexander wakes up, clearly bemused as to why his family are so peculiar that they think it's appropriate to picnic in such cold conditions, so Chris ends up eating his picnic standing up and rocking the buggy back and forth. Peaceful and relaxing it is not. After eating so fast we all have indigestion we rush to the cafe to warm up.

Despite the cold, we have a fun time checking out the monkeys and the penguins before going on the train to see the bigger animals. Particular favourites are the giraffes and the wolves!
With the exception of the wolves (which despite all being asleep, make Elliot hide behind Chris as he's “scared” – cute!) the remaining hour we spend at the park is a complete nightmare. Elliot doesn't want to walk, and Alexander is occupying the only buggy we have with us, meaning Chris has to carry him, and his muddy shoes, which casually brush against the clean jeans he out on that morning, the rest of the way around the park. Exhausted and drained of all patience, we head back to the car after only a couple of hours, and missing out half the park. Within minutes of leaving, both boys are yet again asleep in the back of the car and our nerves are torn to shreds

Thankfully both my ideal day and the actual day ends well. No italics needed from here on.

Alexander wore his cute zebra socks to the wildlife park.
 

We get home and, refreshed after a sleep, Elliot is happy and excited again. We make biscuits and curl up on the sofa to watch Tangled. He goes to bed without issue and we flop onto the sofa with wine, plotting to ignore the car that needs fixing and what little remains of our belief in our ability to parent this child.

Having a three year old is exhausting. I'm trying to ignore the fact that in three years time we'll have another one!