Thursday, October 31

Wilf is 11 months

Dear Wilf,

You are swiftly changing from baby to toddler, with your big mop of hair and your expressive noises.
Although you can’t talk, you are really good at communicating with us. You have a noise for ‘Oo, what was that?” for when the phone rings, you have a noise for ‘Oh, look – a dog just came into the room’ and you have a noise for ‘Good morning – I’ve just woken up’.
You have eight teeth.

You are pulling yourself up to standing on anything you can get your hands on. Usually dangerous things, like the slippery side of the bath and the precariously balanced ‘art tower’ containing all your sisters’ art supplies.
Your mission is in life is to get your hands in the dog’s water bowl. When I put you down on the kitchen floor, you crawl full pelt towards it to try to get there before I pick it up.

You love the washing machine and tumble drier, and spend hours watching the clothes going round and round.

You like a bit of impromptu dancing to any sort of rhythm. This morning, you were groovin’ away to the beeps from my alarm clock.
If I ask for a kiss, you put your head towards me with a big open mouth. It’s adorable.
You get really excited about things and let out the most ear-piercing, high-pitched screech repeatedly – especially when we are all sitting down at the table to eat. It hurts our ears.

You are still rubbish at sleeping. We are still very tired.

Love, Mama

Thursday, October 10

38 Things

This year's birthday afternoon tea at Betty's Harlow Carr
It's my annual birthday list - about six weeks late, but that's just the way things roll around here at the moment. A combination of new things, things I didn't quite manage last year due to the arrival of the boy child, and things that I've been meaning to do for bloomin' ages.

1. Make bath bombs
2. Climb Pen-y-Fan
3. Do Race for Life with Gwen
4. Go sea kayaking
5. Project (Finish the) Garden
6. Sell all my baby stuff at a Kidsmarket (sob)
7. Have a monthly solo date with Gwen, then Molly
8. Lose my mum tum
9. Make scones and invite someone for tea
10. Have a bonfire party
11. Watch 10 foreign films
12. Make a book of my 365 instagram project
13. Read 10 prize winning novels
14. Knit scarves for the girls
15. Try the yoga class in the village hall
16. Take Gwen to see Wicked
17. See six plays DONE!
18. Discover 10 new albums
19. Take a creative writing course
20. Make myself a kitsch apron
21. Go to London with Dave
22. Shop local/independent more
23. Go camping
24. Go glamping
25. Work through the Keri Smith book with the girls
26. Declutter the entire house
27. Buy a big, floppy summer hat
28. Leave notes inside library books for the next reader
29. Take a day off work just for me
30. Make tote bags full of goodies for February half term holiday (stealing Gillian's idea)
31. Make a herb garden with the children
32. Make elderflower cordial
33. Do weekly craft and cooking sessions with the children
34. Have a minimalist Christmas DONE!
35. Sponsor a girl through Plan DONE!
36. Overpay £100 each month off our mortgage
37. Make ice cream cupcakes
38. Eat at The Clink

And obvs, finish all the things from 37 things, 36 things and 35 things.

Life is lovely. There is lots to look forward to. 

Sunday, October 6

40/52 Weekly Portraits

At the beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Despite this happy photo, Wilf swiftly went off the beach and was in a grump for the rest of the trip.

Molly gets so totally absorbed in her little world of play. 

Gwen looking so, so grown up - yikes!

Joining in with Che and Fidel.

Friday, October 4

September in Pictures

September was a big, big month for us all. Miss Molly started school (she settled straight in and loves it). The next day, I went back to work after 10 whole months off and an amazing summer - ouch. But, do you know what, it was fine. And even though I moan so much about being at a desk, for an office-based job, it the absolute best one I could hope for. In a creative environment, stress-free and involves writing and photography. I'm actually very lucky. And until I decide what I want to be when I grow up, it's great.

Wilf was faced with three days without The Mothership, which was problematic, as until the day I went back to work, he was not really eating solids and was refusing a bottle. But four weeks on, he's scoffing porridge, tomato soup and yoghurt like they're going out of fashion, and guzzles his milk down with gusto. Phew.

Finding our new normal has been fun, with non-work mornings involving a long walk with Wilf napping, Blod scampering about and me pausing on benches with cake and a book.

It's still warm enough to be outside lots, and I've been loving a whole hour every lunchtime to just walk and walk in Bute Park, spotting signs of autumn as the green turns to gold.

And my highlight of the month? A grey Saturday morning with that misty, frizzy hair-type rain when the whole world was covered in sparkly spider webs - hundreds and hundreds of them as far as I could see, on hedges and in long grass, on fences and in trees. All covered in tiny droplets of silver. It was just so magical.

Wednesday, October 2


It's been a funny old few months. After an amazing summer of sunshine and day trips and holidays and eating way too much ice cream, September was all change. Moll started school, I went back to work, and Wilf was mother-less for three days a week. A new kind of crazy has ensued, with weekday evenings spent tidying up, getting clothes ready, making packed lunches, doing washing - and not a lot of time for blogging (or anything else for that matter).

But we're finding our new groove slowly, and October will be all about taking baby steps towards normality again, starting with dusting off my much-neglected camera and doing a bit of photographing, and writing my annual birthday list (even if it is two months late). And, of course, lots of getting out and about and soaking up autumn in all its orangey gorgeousness. Blod especially likes this time of year as they lift the dog beach ban on October 1st. Yay!

Wilf is 10 months

Dear Wilf,

You crawl! After a few weeks of dragging your legs behind you then giving up and sitting down again, you have finally got it. Nowadays, I can put you down in the lounge, and you end up by the back door in no time. Your favourite thing is to crawl out of the room and then peep back at us through the door frame.

You are developing a sense of humour. Your favourite game is to crawl across our bed right to the very edge, while I say "Where are you going?". You go right to the edge and stop dead, turn around and give a big cheeky grin until I grab you to save you from tumbling headfirst onto the floorboards. You think this is all very hilarious, so then you do it all again. And again. And then some more.

You have loads of teeth - six at the last count. They have all been accompanied by weeks of fretting and grumping and dribbling.

You are finally getting the whole food thing - after months of flinging everything overboard. You still love squidging things in your fingers then feeding them to Blod, but stuff is actually being digested these days too. Today, you devoured chunks of bread dipped in pumpkin soup. and you think yoghurt is the best thing ever. You also like eating peas one at a time using your newly-perfected pincer grip.

You copy sounds. Yesterday, I was pointing out a dog to you and you started saying "Duh, duh, duh". When Gwen practices her recorder, you make a 'Ba, ba, ba, ba, baaaaa' noise that copies the rhythm. How very clever.

When you're waiting for food or a toy to be passed to you, you do a very funny thing with your hands that looks as if you are revving up a motorbike.

You dance when you hear music. You like it when I blow on you with a straw. You like being flung up in the air. You have a beautiful guffawing laugh when you're being tickled.

You are a rubbish sleeper. We are all very tired. Good job you're so amazingly cute, funny and delightful.

Lots of love,

Sunday, September 1

35/52 Weekly Portraits

From our holiday in the Dales.

Gwen looking Medusa-like in the garden.

Wilf looking tiny at Fountains Abbey.

Molly looking a bit bonkers in the garden at Summerbridge. She's eating an apple in her sleeping bag den.

Monday, August 19

33/52 Weekly Portraits

On holiday in Tenby... Wilf spent a lot of time chasing an empty yoghurt carton around the flat.

Molly spent hours moving all the sea snails off rocks and into rock pools.

Gwen sat in rock pools with all her clothes on.

Joining in with Che and Fidel

Tuesday, August 6

Wilf is 8 months

Dear Wilf,
Here are eight facts about you at eight months old.

1. You have two teeth at the bottom (and some very bulgy gums at the top).

2. You can sit up all on your own and play with toys/ spoons/ bits of fluff off the carpet.

3. Sometimes, you move from sitting into a crawling position. But then you don't know what to do next and you collapse onto your tummy and get a bit cross.

4. You absolutely adore Blod, get really excited when she comes into the room, and even more excited if she comes within grabbing distance (this isn't often as she has learnt that you like to pull her ears).

5. You're not really into eating yet, but you do like to suck on an apple core, lick the butter off bread, and have a sip of water from my glass (and then blow bubbles in it). Apart from that, you are enjoying squishing avocado between your fingers, swiping peas off the edge of the high chair with one swoop of your hand, flinging bits of toast into Blod's waiting hungry jaws, and generally sitting in your high chair and shouting a lot. 

6. When one of us says 'No-no-no" you shake your head wildly from side to side.

7. When I sit you on my lap facing me, you automatically start rocking backwards and forwards to do 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'.

8. You do this funny 'excited' thing where you clench your fists, tense up your face, shake your head from side-to-side and let out an ear-piercing scream. It hurts our ears but it makes us all laugh a lot.

In fact, you make us all laugh a lot every single day, you delightful little person. We all love you so very much.

Love, Mama

Monday, August 5

31/52 Weekly Portraits

Molly likes putting raspberries on her fingers.

Gwen likes strawberry picking.

Wilf likes sheltering from rain showers under Daddy's coat.

Joining in with Che and Fidel.

Wednesday, July 31

30/52 Weekly Portraits

Since she's turned 4, Molly is a very reluctant photo subject.

 Wilf looking like a little lost elf in the woods.

I caught Gwen mid-jump.

Joining in with Jodi at Che and Fidel.

Friday, July 26

The Summer List

Last year, there was a summer list, and this year there is another summer list, and there will always, always be a summer list from now on. 

One week into the school holidays and we've already had oodles of adventures. We scootered from Penarth to Cardiff Bay then got the boat back, made zingy lemonade (the girls weren't that keen but I loved it), been swimming, visited Dare Valley Country Park, done lots of walks around the village and playing in streams and other wholesome-type activities, been to a circus cabaret and splashed about in the paddling pool at the pop-up beach

Four very hot and tired scooter girls waiting for the boat
I'm on a mission to spend as little cash as possible on outings this holidays. This week, I've spent £36.35 - most of which was today when I spent £14 on tickets for the circus show and a fiver on tea for the girls as we were out late, they were starving and we'd eaten all the picnic food I'd packed. I may also have treated myself to an almond latte, but hey, I have a teething baby, I had three hours sleep last night, and I had to look after three kiddos all day after a 5am start. Cripes.

Messing about in streams in the sunshine
More frugal fun next week, but as the weather is going to change, will the lure of over-priced soft play places be too much resist?

Thursday, July 25

A Tale of Three Parties

Phew, it's been a busy few months in Shepherd Towers, as we have not one, not two, but three - three! - birthdays within six weeks. This means that every spare minute seems to be taken up with party planning, and no time to blog about the lovely times we've had.

First up, Gwen turned six with a bouncy castle and a BBQ in our garden. Thank goodness the weather was on our side because we had 18 six-year-olds say 'Yes' to the invites (being the first Saturday of half term, we thought not many would come) and I didn't really have a contingency plan. There was face-painting, lots of bouncing, veggie hot dogs (converting the meat-eaters one sausage at a time - mwah, ha, ha) and ice creams with flakes, sprinkles and popping candy, a lollipop tree, and a Lego brick cake which was made at midnight the night before, involved a lot of swearing and was a bit wonky but Gwen seemed delighted with. The children on Class 4 were an absolutely delightful lot - what a lucky teacher hanging out with them all day.

Three weeks later, it was Miss Molly's turn with a wicked witch and wizard party. It was all indoors with lots of our favourite friends, and involved more face painting, a witchy chocolate cake and an epic game of pass the parcel. I also introduced some small children to Black Lace's kids party album (thank you, Spotify) with some kitchen disco dancing to Superman.

Three weeks later, another party as the mister turned 40. We had lots of friends over for afternoon tea with tea, scones and lots of cakes. It was hot, hot, hot and the adults chatted in the garden, while the tiniest tots played in the paddling pool and the bigger kids made dens upstairs. It was relaxed, informal and totally stress-free. It started at three and was still going on at 9pm so I guess people must have been enjoying themselves.

On Monday our beloved hairy hound turns eight, but we'll keep the celebrations simple with the now traditional (and slightly gross) tuna, cheese, garlic and spaghetti cake with hot dog sausage candles.

And after all that lot, I am totally partied out.

Monday, July 15

Summer: A Manifesto

Just one week to go until the school summer holidays, where we get six whole weeks to fill with a mixture of magical adventures and chilling out. I can not wait.

So, inspired by fellow list-lover Hula Seventy, here's my summer manifesto.

I will pick strawberries (and sneakily eat a few along the way)

I will go on early morning walks with the dog

I will always say yes to a beach trip

I will take photos on colour themes - one colour every week

I will make lemonade

I will make a fairy garden with the girls

I will invent new flavours of ice lolly

I will drink my morning coffee in the garden

I will ride my lovely yellow bike

I will watch Tinkerbell films with Molly

I will read chapter books with Gwen

I will enjoy every minute of Wilf being a baby

I will have date nights in the garden with Dave, good food and Hoegaarden

I will swim in the sea as often as I can

I will spend as little money as I can

I will celebrate my Nan's 90th birthday

I will organise a neighbours day out

I will not cry every time I think about going back to work when the six weeks is over (sob)

Tuesday, July 2

June in Pictures

June started with a lovely short break visiting the in-laws in Harrogate - with a blissful morning in the Victorian Baths just for me. There were blue sky days with long evening dog walks and playing outside after school, a big massive Father's Day brunch, and a date with my big girl to watch Hairspray. One of my oldest friends got married and we spent a lovely morning eating croissants and making bouquets. And best of all was our trip to Legoland, which we all absolutely adored.

All images from my 365 project.

Sunday, June 30

26/52 Weekly Portraits

We had rare 'at home' day today, with nothing in particular to do and nowhere in particular to go. We seem to have spent a lot of time mucking about in the kitchen.

I took Gwen to see the musical Hairspray this week. Ever since, she has listened and danced to the soundtrack non-stop. 

Molly likes choosing her own crazily mismatched outfits and sitting on the kitchen counter.

Wilf still finds everything endlessly fascinating. Today he enjoyed chewing a toy car and looking at the bubbles.

Tuesday, June 25

May in Pictures (and a Catch Up)

Wah - where did the time go? Life has been so busy, what with Gwen's birthday, half term holidays, a little break in Yorkshire, photographing a wedding, Molly's birthday, a trip to Legoland... All that combined with Wilf being the world's worst sleeper means I have zero time for anything other than child-rearing and domestic goddessing. So I'm catching up. Here's all the loveliness that May had to offer.

There was lots of sunshine, lazy days around the village with Molly and Blod, half term
outings with friends, picking wild garlic and making pesto, my fabulush new yellow bike, a lollipop tree and a lego cake for Gwen's 6th birthday (and a lovely bouncy castle and BBQ party in the garden), picnic lunches, photography galore at the Diffusion festival (and I was asked to be a guest judge for Photomarathon - eek!).

Images from my Instagram 365 project.

Thursday, June 6

Wilf is 6 months (and a bit more)

Dear Wilf,
You're actually nearly seven months, but the nature of having three smalls means that everything in my life is just a teeny bit late at the moment.

You have changed so much lately. You shout really loudly. A lot. Not an unhappy shout. Not at all. Just a trying-out-your-voice-sort of a shout. Today, I went to a meeting for parents of new school starters for September. I took you along. You babbled and shouted throughout the head teacher's entire half-hour talk (then during a pause when it was all quiet, you did a very loud, explosive poo just to make sure everyone really knew you were there).

In the mornings, when you wake up (at 6am - could you try changing that to 7 please?), you shout really loudly and repeatedly until you have my full attention (no dozing allowed, mama). This morning, you were even sort of body slamming yourself into me and trying to eat my face in rhythm with your shouts. Who needs an alarm clock when you can wake up to a baby attack. 

At six months, you are all grabby and bouncy and dribbly and wiggly. You can very almost sit up on your own. You have gummed a bit of cucumber and some crusts. You like looking at books (and either smacking the pictures or trying to eat the pages). The other night, you laughed in your sleep. I wonder what you were dreaming about? You are wearing 9-12 month clothes already and have an impressive set of squidgy thighs.

You love: a big loud boo (especially from Gwen), splashy baths, inspecting the bowl from the weighing scales in the kitchen, me copying your babbling, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (but not really any other songs), Blod, looking at trees.

You are not so keen on: car journeys in the late evening and sleeves. And that's about it. You are an incredibly happy little boy and we all love having you around so very much.

Love, Mama

Sunday, June 2

22/52 Weekly Portraits

Molly on the swing in Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Gwen taking off with a model aeroplane.

Wilf with his amazingly expressive eyebrows (from Daddy).

Tuesday, May 14

April in Pictures

I'm late with this as usual, but April was the month when Spring finally arrived, with blossom on the trees, daffodils in a vase and washing blowing in the sunny breeze. I paddled in streams with my wellies on, made my first ever coffee and walnut cake and had a lovely lunch date with my two boys. Oh, and there was lots of baby cwtching too.  

Images from my Instagram 365 Project.

Wednesday, May 8


May is all about the frugal, as my maternity pay has gone plummeting to peanuts. But I relish a budgeting-style challenge: I am the queen of picnics and entertaining kids for free, and as Wilf is point blank refusing to take a bottle, the cinema trips and dinners out I thought I'd be considering by now are a no-go.

The garden is a disgrace and needs sorting. I want to be like Alys Fowler, with a fabulously haphazard edible garden, but I'll probably just start with a few peas and courgettes for this year.

And at the end of the month, the Snail turns six with a bouncy castle and BBQ party in the garden (please come out sun, please). Then we are off to Harrogate for a bit in half term, where I'm definitely up for my al fresco Betty's tea and cake at Harlow Carr gardens, and a cheeky visit to the baths.

Monday, May 6

18/52 Weekly Portraits

Wilf having a nap under a shady tree.

Molly carrying a bucket of sea water to pour in a hole that she dug.

Gwen is never happier than when she is messing about on a beach.  

Joining in with Che and Fidel

A Very Welsh Weekend

We have had such a beautiful bank holiday weekend. Oh how much better everything is when the sun shines - especially here in Wales, where we do get our fair share of rain.

Not only have we had three days of glorious sun, I've also been staycationing at three of my very favourite places in Wales. 

My school friend H is getting married soon, so on Saturday I dropped in on her hen weekend (with a certain little baby who won't take a bottle in tow) at a beautiful old house in the Brecon Beacons. I caught up with some of my oldest friends (and met some new ones), drank lots of tea, had a lovely long walk down the Brecon canal, then a leisurely lunch in a pub. On the way home, I drove through the mountains in the sunshine with Wilf asleep in the back and Dermot O'Leary on the radio, and stopped off to take in one of my favourite views in the whole world.

On Sunday, we headed for the beach late afternoon - our favourite at Southerndown, where we had lemon drizzle cake and coffee in the walled gardens, then headed down to the sea to splash in the waves and build things out of sand until the sun went down. We put some very tired children to bed with tangly salt-water hair, sand in their toes and the smell of sunshine on their skin.

And today, off to visit my family and a trip to Dare Valley Country Park, a place that's really special to me. A place where I toddled around as a two-year-old, learnt to ride my bike, spent summer holidays by the lake, went on a camping trip with Girl Guides, did my first ever photography project... Now my children love this place too.

Sunshine + cake + beach + good friends + mountains + family = pretty much the most perfect of weekends. I'm off to bed with a few extra freckles and a big smile on my face.

Monday, April 29

17/52 Weekly Portraits

Wilf pulling a very funny and very cute face.

I had to bribe Gwen with a small chocolate to sit still for these. 

This is how I found Molly sitting yesterday evening - naked, wrapped in a blanket and sitting under an umberella. She did it again today.

Joining in with Che and Fidel.