Thursday, 25 February 2010

Skywatch Friday - Look what's turned up.....

Finally we've had a little sunshine! (that's yet another canal bridge)
Yes, there was snow but ignore that look up and note the blue sky!
Everyone got very excited (no not by the black bridge of many previous posts - keep looking up)
A happy worn out family (the coats all came off just after this) - looking forward to being able to do this all the time once the fantastic summer we're going to get starts (a little bit of wishful thinking doesn't hurt!)

Fly all over the world to see hundreds of slices of sky at Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

It's a good job I'm a modern wife!

This American “marital rating scale” was used by marriage counsellors in 1939 to assess the performance of wives. The test was answered either by husbands or their wives themselves, and was meant to provide couples with feedback on the quality of their marriage, and point out where they might be going wrong.

Well I have various areas to work on, might start with the warming of feet one (the best reason to be married in my opinion).  With much cheating (I don't wear hoses, I thought they were for watering the garden) I scored -7, this means that I'm worse than a failure. There must be a worse wife than me out there? Please? Anyone?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

First date number 2

This weekend we've had a bit of a life (friends for tea and a night out for me!) so our date night was pushed back to Sunday. We had a Wii night, not just for children it's very good fun for grown ups too. I lost at almost everything, I blame it on a newly healed fractured wrist, being unbalanced (read clutz who falls over too often) and being plied by strong GnTs!

Anyway, despite the losing, it was a fun night and I'm looking forward to next week.  Talking of which:

What next? Thanks to Linnykins for her signpost to galadarling's list of 50 alternative date ideas to try. Some of them were very USAified and so couldn't do in a very English village, some of them would require a full time babysitter (not on hand I'm afraid) and some just wouldn't work (dye each other's hair? I like my house and want Tim to be able to keep paying the mortgage) - so with those stripped out, here is the list I'm planning to work from (TIM - if you're reading feel free to pinch some of these).

1. Wake up at 4am & watch the sunrise together
What could be better than sitting close on a rooftop somewhere, talking & laughing & watching the sun come up? Take a flask of hot coffee for extra points. More of a summer one - currently in for a long wait if getting up at 4am!
2. Go to an art gallery on a Saturday afternoon
You’ll learn a lot about the person you’re standing next to if you go & check out art together. Plus it gives you something so much more stimulating to talk about than the last episode of Lost. (Sorry, Lost fans…) Mmm - childcare issues with this one but I like the idea so it stays!
3. Mix CD trade
Are mix CDs antiquated? Maybe you could just make one another a playlist on your iPod or something… Either way, sharing & discussing music is one of the world’s great, little-known aphrodisiacs. Truth. (Unless all they listen to is Richard Marx. Damn.) AHHH - we used to do this eons ago.
4. Do something neither of you have done before
Pottery class? Swing dancing lessons? Hire a moped & drive out into the country? Who knows, but it’s nice to share an experience that is new to both of you! Research needed for this one - there are not rich pickings locally!
5. Random restaurant date
Flip open the yellow pages to ‘R’ for ‘Restaurants’, close your eyes & pick a place to eat at. You never know how it’ll go — it could be a hidden treasure or a total health hazard, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?! Love this one - how exciting!
6. Hot air ballooning
Not the cheapest date idea, I’ll admit, but certain to score you points & to impress your lover-to-be. Maybe if you’re dating an heiress? OK this one blows the 52 weeks budget but always wanted to do it (TIM this one can be your week!)
7. The Sunday New York Times crossword date
Bonus: intellectual stimulation, nerd points & you get to find out how clever they really are, all in one fell swoop. & wouldn’t it be great if you looked at them across the table, sunlight falling across their face, & they smiled at you & you thought, ‘I would like to spend every Sunday this way’? Yes. Yes it would. Well, obviously it would be impossible to get the actual Sunday New York Times but could make it more local - Staffordshire Newsletter crossword date?
8. Take a dog for a walk
They’re adorable &; fun & will give you something to talk about if you get stuck. Plus, people will come up to you & say, “Cute dog”, & you can beam at each other like proud parents. Another good summer one - getting a babysitter for a wet winter dark walk doesn't sound too much fun!
9. Collaborative art date
Get a canvas or even just a big piece of paper, some paint, pencils or pastels, & go nuts. Not sure but might be fun (think Ghost pottery here?)
10. Take cameras & explore an abandoned place
An excellent opportunity to be artsy-fartsy, or if you like to be on the other side of the camera, get them to take photos of you pulling your most beautifulest faces. Abandoned like a messy playroom or back garden?
11. “First date” night
This one works best if it’s not your actual first date. Like, for example, you’ve been together for 3 years & live in the same house. Get dressed separately, meet somewhere strange & a bit awkward, & pretend you don’t know one another. Start from scratch. Ask all those banal questions you’re supposed to ask (“So, what do you do?”). Then at the end of the night, rejoice that you’re in a relationship & not dating any more! Could be fun, could be corny. Frequently done on bad tv shows!
12. The generational date
Pretend you’re an age that you’re not, then act accordingly. A senior citizens date might involve going lawn bowling, making apple sauce & watching The Price Is Right. A teenager date might involve roller-skating, making out in public & drinking vodka in an alley-way. You get the idea. Think this would be very funny - would love to see grumpy husband dressed as a teenager on roller blades!
13. The silent date
In a loud, noisy, overstimulating world, it can be nice to unplug & escape. But it can be nice to do that with your new favourite person, too. Hold hands & read books on a wharf & occasionally look adoringly at one another. Cool. Silence is golden and unheard of in our house!
14. Make cupcakes together
You know you want to. That's the food sorted too!
15. Travel without going anywhere
The premise is simple. Have a normal date but speak with an accent. You both have to do it, by the way, or it doesn’t count. Choose something difficult for extra hilarity points, like Scottish or South African. Och aye! Completely can't do accents but would be very funny!
16. Jump on a trampoline
The hardest part will be finding one, but I have faith in you! A-ha this lady obviously doesn't have kids - one for the summer (but the kids are told one at a time - can I break my own rules?)
Project 52: Date Nights logo

Monday, 22 February 2010

Half time

The week off from nagging and shouting to get out on time in the mornings has been enjoyed by everyone. The weather has meant that we've been stuck inside quite a lot (the kids have got to the point where they look out of the window in the morning and mutter "oh-more snow") but we did catch up with lots of friends and had a visit from Auntie Jax.

Euan managed yet another trip to the hairdressers without having a single hair cut. We are regularly getting the 'little girl' comments from various people and he is struggling to see through his fringe - but it can't be said that he doesn't know his own mind.
Well I got my own back on Euan by making him dress like this (I had to provide photos for future 18th birthdays and weddings!):
Quote of the week - "A long time ago forward" ~ Patrick talking about what he wants to do in the future.

Song of the week - "Just let the sunrise in dreamland, up in the sky. Please let the sun rise because I can't see." ~ Anya - romantic yet practical!

what I've learnt from the interweb

Chickens are very popular.
There are more people in the world that want to say nice things than be nasty (this is the best thing I've learnt), and in the land of blog people tend to click out rather than be nasty.
Americans are far more religious than British people (a fact that has managed to pass me by before reading blogs) - very few bloggers from UK mention religion, very few from USA don't.
Lots of people do crafts in private.
Cupcakes have more pages dedicated to them than they really deserve - yes cake is good, but really!
On facebook everyone in the world has Jonathan King as a friend.
Everybody is worried that no-one likes them or cares what they say.
The quietest people in real-life have the most to say.
Just like real life the people with the most clingers on (also known as facebook friends or blogger followers) are often dull.
There are really amazing photos of birds out there - I have developed bird photo envy, never even knew I liked birds!
I want to have another baby just so I can blog photos of a newborn - they are so cute!
Beagles are the same worldwide.
Computer time goes approximately 7 times faster than off-computer time. I've just spent 3 hours writing this post when I should be interacting with either my children or husband.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Skywatch Friday - The rare Stuffus Duckus

Today I was very lucky to catch the very rare and shy Stuffus Duckus on camera.  I had to be very quick but managed to get it in full flight. Not a very interesting sky behind but I don't think it matters on this occasion.

OK - caught me out. This is an exhibit at the Potteries Museum (not very convincing either!). We had planned to go to Alton Towers Theme Park but it's been snowing on and off again all day and didn't think it would be as much fun in the freezing cold. We hoped to see the Staffordshire Hoard of gold recently found but didn't fancy the 3 hours of queueing (Prince Charles is going tomorrow - he's getting a private viewing, not fair I think!).  After this winter everyone is wishing for a great summer.  Just so I'm not kicked out of SkyWatch here's the sky outside our back door 10 minutes ago.

Go to SkyWatch Friday to see some real skies from all around the world.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Love multiplied

Once again I'm a lady with two hands! My old blue friend has been cut away and I have been able to return to long soaks in the bath and effective cleaning of loos and kitchens. I've been left with a funny numb thumb thing, hoping this goes away as it is interfering with my mouse moving! Before it went I let the kids loose - they have been wanting to decorate it from the start.
I do feel like I should have my own labelled seat at the doctors as I seem to be there all the time. I'm definitely going to be marked as weird on my notes, as this week, I took Euan because he's sleeping too much. He is most people's idea of a dream child but he's not my idea of Euan. He's been sleeping loads since Christmas (Saturday's record was an hour in the afternoon followed by 5.15pm until 8am - that's just not right), he's also gone really quiet - as I said a dream child but not mine!  I got the "nonspecific-virus" line but have been referred to the hospital just in case.

Valentines Day was not very romantic (although I did get a quick kiss and a cuddle - Anya's suggested surprise present from Tim).  Anya and Patrick got swimming certificates - both were very proud of themselves. Then we went to see Noddy at the Theatre, it was shockingly bad but the kids loved it!

The arrival of a new member of the Aspinall clan (they will take over the world) has made me very very clucky.  My lovely cousin Sarah welcomed Alice Rose into her brood. I really don't want any more children, I'm normally found balancing on the edge of controlling the one's I've got.  But there's this chunk of my heart that feels really sad that we'll never again play spot the grainy scan baby, never disagree on names, never laugh about epidurals (?) and being a wuss, never spend hours just staring at a new familiar face, never watch the little bundle of snuffles unfurl into a person.  Then I see this photo, realise that I just couldn't cope with this reality and regain my sanity (until the next baby comes near).
Quotes of the week - "Can I got to pajama club?" ~ Patrick, after careful questioning about what people do at this club (running around and shouting it seems), I worked out it was drama club. He wasn't so interested in going to drama club!
"When I grow up I want to be an archaeologist because the get weekends off and it's important to have a break at the weekend" ~ the ever practical Anya
"I'll take you for lunch but have you got long sleeves?" ~ the always romantic, Tim after I'd had my plaster cast taken off (my arm was quite manky, but still!)

Valentines thought of the week - "Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart" ~ Jack Johnson

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Taking the pledge or 52 first dates

Last week I was avoiding housework by having a nose around the interworld.  At Secretmomthoughts were photos of her second 'first' date with her husband. Ahhhh - what a lovely idea I thought, we really should do something like that, as we tend to slump in front of Come Dine With Me and veg most nights. While this is very relaxing, it really isn't that good for finding out about what's currently making us tick and sometimes we can lose touch with each other.  I can remember my Mum and Dad sending us up stairs and having a steak night every Saturday when I lived at home, again nice but a bit predictable too.

Reading down I found that once again nothing in the world of blog is original and the cupid and saviour of marriages is simplymodernmom.  She's drawn up a pledge for couples to sign:
•Agree a date night (at least one hour, one night a week)
•The dates can be at home so don’t always need babysitters.
•Rotate being in charge of date nights.
•Can’t do the same thing twice in one month.
•No children allowed.
•Must create a date-like atmosphere. No frumpy clothes or pajamas. Make it a special event. Mind the details. But most of all, keep it simple.

I told Tim about this pledge, thinking he would laugh, but he agreed that it sounded like a good thing (he just thought I was sad for blogging about it! - but I see writing about it as a kick up the bum to do something and get us out of our TV-rut, it did work with getting a smaller sized bum of which to kick).

So here I am writing about our first date. We did cheat a bit as this was organised ages ago, but so what!  On Friday we went to see comedian Stewart Lee (he was supported by Simon Munnery - who I'd never heard of before but was brilliant - one of his quotes "A million monkeys were given a million typewriters. It's called the internet"), we were sat on the front row in the middle (bad move for a comedy show!). Stewart started the show by asking the lady next to me what her favourite coffee shop was.  This sent me into a panic for the next while and I lost the first 20 minutes (I don't like coffee and couldn't think of anywhere that sold it!) - after it became clear that he wasn't going to ask me anything, I really enjoyed myself.  The end came when he asked Tim what the time was (again a good move not going for me as I didn't have a watch on!). 

It was so nice to be out that we drove back and managed to get last orders in the local pub. I accidentally drank too much wine (they were big glasses and I'm a cheap date!) so the walking home bit is slightly hazy, just like our real first date!

Looking forward to repeating the experience at least another 51 times, thanks simplymodernmom for creating the spark, and thanks for pointing us in the right direction Secretmom xo

Project 52: Date Nights logo

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Skywatch Friday - off-white sky with blue highlights

So, to continue my tour of farmyard animals of Great Britain - this week I've found a pony. Although Euan wouldn't have any of it, telling me that it was a sheep. It was short, round and woolly so I can see where he was coming from.
Have to play spot the sky (or reflection in some of these shots).  We went duck feeding, I think they were hungry as they got out of the water and chased us for the bread, the gulls try to steal some too. These are normally overfed and turn their noses beaks up at all but the best crusts, the weather must have kept people inside.  The box on the old tree is a bat box - not sure batman would be prepared to move out of the batcave!
After last week's rain, anything is an improvement, we've had another scattering of snow but mostly it's just been really cold and icy. I've taken to walking in a strange bottom out manner to prevent slips (a bit like a duck really) - I had my wrist out of it's cast today so I think I can be forgiven for being an ice wuss!
To avoid the ice and fly to somewhere warmer go and visit the lovely people at SkyWatch Friday.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Another dull week...

The highlight of this week was taking the boys to get their swine flu jabs (yes I realise that the whole thing has supposedly gone away and was never that bad in the first place but you never can tell!), it really has been a slow news week!

I'm very glad that when they invented February that they only put 28 days in it - it definitely feels like the longest month, you get a taster of longer days, the green shoots look like they are just dying to explode out, there is an odd corner of blue sky BUT.....then yet more snow is predicted, there's fog, it's still too cold to kick the kids out into the garden to play and if they did go out they would be up to their knees in mud! February is a tease.

Well on a positive note it's given me a chance to fiddle with Picasa (I love it! - Photoshop for Dummies), so here are some nice fiddled with photos and a collage of all my favourite family photos from 2009 (it's the front cover for our calendar for this year - normally a Christmas present but very belated this year!).

And this explains why the bird food disappears so quickly!

Thought of the week - "It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine" ~ Eeyore

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Skywatch Friday - nice weather for ducks

It was tricky to get shots of the sky, everytime I looked up the camera lens filled with water! Most of the photos were taken from underneath the black bridge. I ended up cutting my walk short as my coat had soaked through and I was worried I have to go to A&E to get my wrist re-set. Really grim weather but as my Mum says "it's why Britain is so green".

Virtually fly around the world to see some cloud free skies by clicking the button below.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

No longer sleeping like a baby

Its been a week of firsts and some proud Mummy times.  It started with Euan sleeping in a big boy bed for a whole night (6.30pm until 8.00am - so slightly more than a whole night, what a dream child!).  He is very pleased with himself and has since been asking to go to bed at all opportunities.  What can't be seen in the photo are his big boy pants worn over the top of his PJs and nappy (that's the next nut to crack - yippee!).

The next excitement was Sunday morning - Anya and Patrick had their first swimming lessons (Yes - I have eaten my words and given in to peer pressure, nagging children and the prospect of hanging around in a pool on my weekends). Anya has been dying to have lessons and jumped straight in - she used a float for the first couple of widths but was keen to show off her abilities and was soon going backwards and forwards under her own steam.  Patrick was a different story - he used the this isn't happening strategy (the same one he used on the first day of school). I managed to strip him and get him on the side of the pool and after 15 minutes of refusing to go in, I was about to give up when he suddenly announced that he would go in but wouldn't wear arm bands. As the pool was 2m deep this wasn't an option, but he again quickly gave in and jumped into the pool, started swimming and looking over giving us a smug smile.

Sunday afternoon (after yet another sprinkling of snow in the morning), brought the first sun we've seen for ages. We managed to get the bikes out for the first time this year - note Bucks new helmet, he has a huge head and has grown out of the children's ones, this one is an adult helmet.

Quote of the week - "Incey Wincey spider climbed up the spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out, ROARRRRR" ~ Euan's take on the popular nursery rhyme.

Thought of the week - "A good mother is a teacher, not a servant" ~ Anorak
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