Thursday, 31 December 2009

Today has been a nice day. A quiet peaceful (mostly!) end to the year.

It has been quite a year. A lot of the year was overshadowed by my Father-in-Law's battle against cancer, which he tragically lost in July. He passed away at the age of 64,never having got to enjoy his retirement. It has been a huge blow to Overflowing Dad and his family.

In spite of it all though you have to carry on. With 6 children there is little choice! Life at times this year has at times been wonderful; and at times very hard. We havelaughed, we have cried, we have smiled and we have shouted. But whatever we have done it has been done togaether as a family. And no doubt 2010 will be much the same. At times hard , at times great, but always together and always overflowing to bursting!

I am determined this year to let my frustrated inner creative self out! I am going to make more time for the things that I love doing: gardening, photography, and baking. I am going to embrace new skills : sewing and knitting. I am going to try to be more organised (as always LOL)yet am going to be more forgiving of myself when things aren't perfect!

And with all that in mind I have finished my first my craft project for 2010- a little hand knitted bag for little O's 4th birthday in 2 weeks.

And......we received some unexpected money from my Mother-in-Law for Christmas 2 days ago...and I ordered myself a very exciting Christmas present (after much deliberation!) It arrived today...I havent opened it yet ...can you guess what it is????

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Enjoying a little post Christmas calm....

Well we have survived it for another year..... Christmas.

We have all had so much fun over the last week.

The night before Christmas Eve we went out to watch Father Christmas drive through the village on his sleigh. It was freezing cold, and snowing, but that didnt bother the children and they all had fun playing in the snow. The looks on the little ones faces when they saw Santa was well worth braving the cold!

On Christmas Eve we all went out for lunch at a local Chinese Eat-all-you can type place.We dont all eat out very often. Mostly because for 8 people it is too costly,and also
because our 20 month old doesn't really cope well with sitting still LOL, but we all had a great time. It was really relaxed,the food was lovely and everyone had agood laugh and lots to eat!

When we got home the children had their Christmas Eve gift bags with new Christmas PJs, slippers, mugs for hot chocolate,and Christams story books.We then had a lovely afternoon snuggled up reading Christmas stories. Then it was time to leave out Santa's milk and mince pies and scatter reindeer food (kindly sent to us from The Mad House) and off to bed.

The girls tried to get up from 1am onwards , and we finally gave in at 5.30 and all 6 kids piled onto our bed to open their stockings. Then downstairs for all the wonderful things Santa had left under the tree.A bit of persuasion to get them all dressed and ready and then out to Church.

The rest of the day was a happy muddle of eating and playing and bit of Christmas fizz!

Christmas was lovely, but it has still left me totally exhusted.The following 3 day visit to my parents was also quite a challenge....

....and now that things have calmed down a bit I am enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet!

We had a lovely time, but next year Iam going to tweak a few things, scale down a bit,and try to not become quite so worn out!

I am now looking forward to the start of a new year. New ideas, new ways to try some things,lots more happy family times to enjoy.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Eve of Christmas Eve.....

So here we are ..... the Eve of Christmas Eve as my girls keep telling me! It has been a busy month. Try as I might to not get drawn into all the over-commercialised Christmas hype, December is still hectic. A lot of it is filled with lovely things, like Nativities and Christmas crafts,and reading our little books about the Christmas story from our Advent Calendar. Some of it though is stressful, like trying to juggle our limited budget to be able to afford presents for 6 children. Some of it is fun, yet also time consuming like baking and sewing and making up hampers of homemade and bargain gifts for my sister and other family members!

A hamper of all things pink and girly for my 4 year old niece!

A hamper of pampering goodies for my sister

7 hand sewn sock monkeys! These have taken me ages, but I am pleased with how they have turned out - considering I am a novice with a needle!

Painting our salt dough decorations!
I always set out with such good intentions of all the wonderful things I will do. Then a lot of it falls by the wayside and I feel guilty, like a failure of mother.But I shouldn't. I do my best. It isn't easy, I have 6 children,including three 5 and under. I need to accept that I do my best and that is good enough!At this time of year more than any other I NEED to let go of my perfectionism, and accept that things may go wrong- but that is OK. The children just want a happy stress free Mum for Christmas- not perfectly co-ordinated decorations,or perfect homemade stuffing. We have done lots. We have had fun. That's what matters!

So today I am stopping! I am not doing anymore rushing round. I have a few bits still to do - they may or may not happen. But for now am going to chill with my family and work on being a calm relaxed Mummy for Christmas!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Today we made our first batch of Christmas biscuits. They are really simple gingerbread biscuits,with a splodge of white icing,and whatever decorations we have on hand!It was fun,and Christmassy.....or at least on the most part. I do find it stressful when all the little ones join in.I feel it becomes more like a free for all with me trying-and failing-to keep a vague sense of order. I probably need to loosen up more. I need to loose my sense of what the finished item "should" look like and let them do it their way. I need to learn to turn a blind eye to all the mess and chaos. It is hard though,at the end of the day when I am already exhausted and know that it is me that will have to clean up...sigh...But I will try! I so want them to enjoy all the things we do together,and not to look back and remember a grumpy Mommy nagging them about the mess.

Still, the biscuits were nice,and were enjoyed by all with hot chocolate whilst listening to songs from The Polar Express. Lovely!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Birthdays, Christmas and random ramblings!

Today my baby girl , our eldest daughter is 10. 10...gosh how did that happen! I remember her being bron so clearly. She was almost 2 weeks late. She only just arrived hours before I was due to be admitted to be induced.I remeber taking her to a wedding when she was just 5 days old, dressed in the sweetest burgundy velvet little dress. And now she is 10! Her Birthday celebrations went well. She had 2 friends over,they went to the cinema, ate pizza and had a girly sleepover - which required a fair ammount of musical beds amongst everyone but it all worked out fine. In fact it was all quite civilised. They were asleep by 11, which was a vast improvement on last years 1am pillow fight. The birthday cake - a homemade chocolate fudge cake which they request every year- was declared the best cake in the world once again ! The presents proved to be a hit -much to my relief, so on the whole I think we can declare it a successful birthday.

So now all my attention can be focussed on Christmas! I have more or less now finished buying the children's presents.This is has been such a challenge this year. Ihave had to budget so carefully,and have shopped around endlessly for bargains and reductions. There are things that the older children would love but are simply beyond what we can afford right now. Sometimes this makes me feel sad and a little bit of a failure. Other times I feel it is important for them to learn that they cant always have everything they want.

I explain to the older ones about the choices we have made as a family for me to stay at home,and therefore to live on one salary for the time being. I hope it will at least inform them a little bit about some of the realities of life and give them experiences and knowledge to fall back on when they come to make decisions as adults themselves. I was never exposed to any such issues as a child, and as an adult I have learned a lot about life and its harsh realities the hard way,and with alot of mistakes,and decisions I would make differentlygiven the choice. It is hard,because I want to sheild my children fromall harm and unpleasentness,yet at the same time there are somethings that I feel can be shared with the older children in a sensitive way - suh as the reality of the fact that we just can't afford a wii or holidays right now!

But still, when all the financial hassle and trivia of the festive season is pushed aside I remember that I actually have so much to be thankful for. In Jul of this year my father-in-law passed away. He was only 64, and he died after a 10 month battle with a malignant brain tumour. He raised 7 children with my mother-in-law and worked hard all his life. He never even got a chance to enjoy his retirement. My mother-in-law is coming to stay for a few days this week with my sister-in-law and 2 nephews. The Overflowing Household may be in danger of bursting at the seems, but I want to do all I can to make this an enjoyable vivit for them all, at a time which must be so difficult for my lovely mother-in-law. He is greatly missed by so many poeple.
This photo always reminds me of him. It is the sunset over the sea near his home. He loved photography and was always offering me tips.This was my first attempt at capturing this scene and I took it just before Overflowing dad and I met up with him for a drink in his local.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The lovely smells of Christmas baking...

Christmas is fast approaching-there is definitely no denying it! I want this year to be about having lots of fun together and not so much stessful last minute running round as last year. With this in mind we made our first batch of mince pies today! I made the pastry this morning with little O,then this evening little O,and bigger A both wanted to help bake so we turned out 3 dozen mince pies!They may not be the prettiest mince pies ever...but they taste good! The girls love baking and we had great fun, even if we did all get very floury!

Poor Bella,our little black doggy came to sit by the table to see what was going on and also ended up with a dusting of flour and a sort of reverse dalmation look!

So I now have 2 dozen mince pies in the freezer,although our eldest son and biggest mince pie fan demanded I kept a dozen out to be eaten now - even though this goes against my "no mince pies till December" rule! Inspired by the lovely Christmassy aroma drifting from the Kitchen I have been through all my recipes and made shopping lists of the ingredients I need. I am planning on a lot of homemade treats to give to various people for Christmas this year I am going to busy in the kitchen over the next few weeks! I am also going to sort out some craft projects this weekend to do over the coming weeks ...hoping lots of baking and crafting will help us survive the horrible cold dark winter evenings

The fun of baking was a pleasent change from stress of the school bookfair after school.I hate it when the bookfair is on.I know it benefits the school,which I am all in favour of, but it still something that fills mewith dread! Last time we didn't go to it...but this time I relented.The trouble is all the books are so expensive,and often not the sort of books I would want to buy the children. They have endless Barbie sticker books and similar things and very few what I would consider decent chapter,story or picture books.Given that most of the books are around £6 each it makes buying for 6 children very pricey!

I did stand firm though this time,I refused to pay ridiculous ammounts for poor quality books...and so we bought one nice picture story book which was a surprise bargain at £1.99, and our elsdest daughter chose a nice chapter book/novel which will be part of her birthday presents. I did relent and let them all buy a sparkly pencil to alleviate some of the tantrums ...but we managed to escape spending just over £10,so not too bad!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

So much to do, so little time to do it!

Oh dear I have been so caught up in real life lately thet I have neglected my Blog. But I have been catching upon some very boring, but much needed housework and feel more in control as a result. I am trying really hard to be as prepared as possible for Christmas and all it entails ahead of time. We are always so busy in the last few weeks with Nativities, concerts,school parties and such like that I need to be organised to cope!

I have been inspired by some wonderful blogs and sites recently too, and am planning some lovely little creative presents for people.This of course helps the fact that money is severely limited this year,but also has made me think how much nicer a well thought out homemade present can be than something picked up last minute at the shops.

I am makingup little gift bags for my children for Christmas eve,with new snuggly PJs, slippers, christmas mugs and hot chocoalte and sock monkeys in. I am making the sock monkeys myslef. This is amazing for me because I am not naturally good at sewing,in fact the only thingIhave ever sewn before is a cushion at school,and an occasisonal button or hem since then! Despite that I am quite pleased with how they are going! I have done 2 so far,and hope to finish another one tonight.

I also came across this site last night A wonderful site that lets poeple send cards,letters and gifts to severely or chronically ill children. Reading through it made me cry. It also made me realise just how much I have to be thankful for. I am going to make up a Christmas parcel with my older children to send,as I often feel that getting them more involved in helping those less fortunate than themselves is a wonderfulthing to do.

I have managed to almost finish planting my spring bulbs too. I have found it hard to get motivated to get this job done as it seems a lot of effort for no instant reward! But that is my trouble a lot! I need to see the finished project at once....patience is definitely something I need to work on. But they are all almost planted now, and I am so happy because I know in the spring,the site of the first crocuses appearing, and then the bright daffodills and tulips will bring me many smiles after the long cold dark nights of winter.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Trees, grass, sticks and things!

Today has been a lovely day.We have all been out together as a family,something we haven't done in a while! Not having had a car large enough for us all to fit in for a couple of months has made it very hard for us all to get out together. Today we all ventured out together in our new car and it was wonderful.Yes it is hard work taking 6 children out together, yes it is hard finding outings that will keep them all happy from the 18 month old to the 11 year old. But today we all had such a nice time it reminded me of how wonderful it can be to all be out together. We went out to country park not far from us. We took a simple pic-nic, which always seems to add to the sense of adventure! We were lucky with the weather and had a gorgeous sunny day which was exceptionally mild for the time of year.

It always delights me to see how much fun the children derive from such simple things as a pile of sticks and some long grass. Den building remains a firm favourite with all our children. The place we stop in the park has a great area of woodland for den building. There are several dens under construction , all started by various groups of children and then added to by future visitors over time. Today our little construction workers collected lots of dry grass and were working on thatching projects!

After the exertions of den building there was time for some bouncing and swinging on a favourite tree, with more exploring of logs and trees by our smallest adventurer and his doggy partner in crime!

The fresh air, freedom and sunshine really did seem to bring out the best in everyone and it was lovely to watch the older children playing with such gentleness and love with the smaller children and watching those closer in age getting on so well and sharing such happy moments together!

It is days like today that highlight for me all that is wonderful about having a large family!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A splash of Autumn sunshine.

So today was finally a gorgeous sunny Autumn day. As soon as I saw the blue skies this morning I knew we would go out and make the most of the sunshine. Overflowing Dad was on a mission today to go and sort us out a new car (after our old one blew up just a mile from Disney Land Paris in the summer...but that is another story!!) That left me alone with 5 children(one went with overflowing Dad) this afternoon, so it was just as well it was sunny!

The funny thing with the older children is that they always moan at the suggestion of going out in the fresh air, but they always have a great time once we get out! Today was no different. I had the usual moans to contend with as I attempted to locate 5 matching pairs of wellies in vaguely suitable sizes for the children! Eventually they were all booted up and overflowing mum, 5 children and the dog headed out into the afternoon sun! We are really lucky where we live as we have lots of nice places to explore within walking distance. In the past we have been guilty of not making the most of these lovely local spots , but more recently we have all been enjoying them more regularly and developing a greater appreciation for what we have on our doorstep. So this afternoon we went to the local Dyke. This is just 5 minutes walk from our house, and there is a lovely walk around the dyke, and the lots of lovely woodland to walk through and explore

The sunshine was gorgeous glinting off the water as walked along the path by the dyke and we were soon all feeling much cheerier! We paused to look at the lovely water and were rewarded by discovering two swans right by the edge which our youngest son loved as he thought they were very exciting "quack quacks"!

We then veered off the path and up into the woodland which the children love to explore. The floor was carpeted with gorgeous Autumnal coloured leaves which the youngest loved heaping into piles and kicking. There was lots of time for tree climbing and a spot of den building, always a favourite activity with all the children

It is always lovely to see the simple pleasure they all get from clambering about in trees without a care in the world!

They all had such fun, and it was totally free and we all got some fresh air and sunshine - it reminded me why I loved takingthem all to the woods.The dog of course was also in her element sniffing around the trees and playing with the children.She has so much energy and is such fun - we are so glad we added her to our family!

I had actually remembered to take my camera too, which was great! I love photography, and love takingpictures of the children especially , but I often get so caught up in the actually business of life I forget to take photos, which is a shame. I ogt to capture some nice shots of the children which I am sure I will be glad for in years to come!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Frilly ghosts and challenging toddlers!

Today is another dull day outside but the mood in the overflowing house has been fairly good! Lovely Overflowing Dad let me have a lie in today, and I even got coffee and toast in bed! I have managed to catch up on some boring, yet necessary household chores, so am feeling more in control of things again!
All the children seem to be settling into half term and have actually spent a lot of time playing quite nicely together in various groupings!
Little O , our super cute 3 year old drew me lots of lovely pictures this morning - they all basically featured lots of circles of various shapes as she just loves the letter "O" as it is the start of her name! She then posted them all under my bedroom door for me whilst I was having my lie in! She can be so sweet.
This afternoon we have been making Halloween ghosts out of paper doilys. This was a super simple activity that just involved using a bit of stuffing in the centre of the doily and then securing with a pipe cleaner to make a ghost shape before drawing on a face. Our eldest daughter thought they didn't really look too convincing, but the younger ones loved them!

We then decorated some plain white paper tablecloths with supposedly spooky pictures, although little O insisted on drawing flowers and rainbows , much to our older children's annoyance!
I did try and time our craft session for when our 18 month old "destructor boy" was napping, but he woke up before the end and so got to join in drawing on the tablecloths with felt pens which he thought was great!

Sometimes it is hard though trying to do things with the older ones with a small destructive toddler under foot (or climbing on the table as is his latest thing!) I think I am suffering a bit from "toddler fatigue" at the moment. Sometimes I look at our adorable little 18 month old and I feel that little tinge of sadness that he will be our last. Other times , when he is tearing the house apart every time I blink, I feel I am really ready to be done with toddlers! Our oldest is 11 1/2 and with the 6 of them all roughly 2 years apart I feel as if I have had a toddler around forever...and I must admit to secretly looking forward to getting passed that stair gate and book ripping phase at last - yet I know when we have no more toddlers in the house I will miss all their cute funny little ways so much!