All posts by abelfastmum

Forts & Tents

As the school holidays draw to a close, here’s what the big one has been up to since she turned 4 – building tents and forts:

2015-08-26 13.23.52 2015-08-26 13.23.43 2015-08-26 13.23.57

This was her first effort using 4 of our sofa cushions.  She wanted a roof and a door, but the door kept falling off, so she reverted to the good old tent shape for her next build:

2015-08-26 13.40.16

These were declared too small though, so more sofa cushions were drafted in, and a whole new design was invented.  Tricky to build, but much larger, and with a handy peel back roof:

2015-08-26 13.50.03

She is actually in there.  With 4 princess dolls, her Woody doll, and a soft toy dog…

This kept her occupied for at least an hour, if not longer.  Which is a very long time for a young lady who normally changes activity every 15 minutes.  I think we might have a budding architect on our hands.

I remember doing this with my sister as a child, although we didn’t have nice plump cushions to work with.  We used to make a fort using two kitchen chairs and an old sheet or blanket.  We’d play in there for hours, or just escape the madness with a good book.  Later, when we were allowed to venture further than the front garden, we built amazing forts with neighbourhood kids in the middle of wild blackberry bushes, and had our own little wooden Wendy House in the back garden.  It’s a lovely feeling to see my own child using her imagination and ingenuity in the same way and I can’t wait until her sister is old enough to join in, to see what creations they come up with.  In the meantime, I might get her a tent to play with in the garden…

Many tries…

Little B is eating a bowl of ‘white pasta’ – plain pasta with a bit of butter stirred through it.  What she doesn’t know is that I also stirred through a little bit of chicken soup, (what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her), in a bid to widen her repertoire of dinners.  Feeling all proud of my sneaky ways when she polished off the bowl, I revealed the soupy addition, to which she said:

“Oh mummy, but I didn’t like it.”

“But you ate it all up, so you must have liked it!”

“No mummy, I just tried it a lot.”

A 4 year old’s logic just can’t be argued with…


Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans detail

Last night I left my baby…

So, yesterday, after 10 and a half long months of constant companionship, feeding, nappy-changing, singing, rocking, hugging, kissing, crying, and hard bloody work, I left my baby.   Overnight.  Actually, it was for more than 24 hours from the time I left until the time I returned.  This was very difficult for me because I’ve been off work and a full-time mum since she was born.  I’ve never been away from her for more than a couple of hours here and there.  Plus she’s been going through a phase recently where she’s become very attached to me, to the point where she will cry if I leave the room.  So you can imagine that I was full of trepidation yesterday as I lifted my overnight bag and prepared to leave the house.  I was expecting lots of crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Instead I got a wee pleasant smile and a slight headbutt.  She really didn’t care much that I was going.

The other one though, who I thought would be waving me off and shooing me out so that she could have fun times with daddy, bounced off the sofa, bounced onto the floor, grabbed me around the ankle and pleaded with me not to go. 2015-08-02 13.28.28

See, I have pictorial evidence of this rare show of daughterly love.  I think she just wanted a night away in a hotel, but still…

Once I extracted myself, (and having left outfits for the baby, meals for kids and husband, and reminder notes to buy milk), I set off into the unknown – a girlie night away in a posh hotel with two of my very best friends.  I don’t think we stopped talking for a minute.  We reminisced, we laughed, we listened to each other moan, and we gave, and got, good advice.  We ate lovely fluffy scones with cream and jam, then we ate some more nice food, retired to our room to talk more and eat chocolate.  Then we had an unbroken nights sleep during which no children cried for us, or climbed into bed with us, got up and had showers privately, on our own with no kids watching or joining in, before eating a hot breakfast that someone else had cooked for us.  We didn’t have to pick up a toy, kiss a sore knee, play princesses, shout, do any housework or shopping, or even tidy up after ourselves for a few short hours.  And you know what?  It was bliss.  I love my kids, but sometimes I need to be away from them.  I’m going to do it more often because I need nights like that, where I’m not just a mum or a wife.  I’m a person with a history, a present, and a future.  A person with memories, problems, and possibilities.

Yes, I left my baby for a little while, but I have no doubt that for the next wee while at least, I’ll be a better mum to her for that.



(Thanks to the Roe Park Resort for the comfy beds, the yummy scones, and the warm welcome.  This post is in no way sponsored by the hotel, my party paid for our stay, but sometimes good service deserves to be shouted about and we had such a lovely time…  We’ll be back!

Thanks also to my lovely husband who told me I could stay another night if I wanted to.)


Adult colouring in

I’m not too sure how I feel about these new ‘adult’ colouring in books that seem to be everywhere.  I was in Sainsbury’s last night and they had a whole stand dedicated to them.  But it reminded me of one of the hilarious joke presents my husband got me last year for Christmas (which I actually loved.)  It was a One Direction colouring in book.  I especially like the fact it’s 100% unofficial.

2015-07-21 23.22.34

Well, I’d sort of forgotten about it to be honest, until today when my husband dug it out and let our eldest daughter (nearly 4) loose on it.  I’ve posted some of her artistic efforts on this site before, and in fact, the banner for the site is one of her masterpieces, so I’m sure you’re aware she’s a child genius. ; )  Anyway, first page is a close up of Harry Styles, and prepare yourselves for this work of art:

2015-07-21 23.22.47

The creativity.  The use of colour.  The staying within the lines (mostly).  The green neck and blue and orange face.  He’s truly a dreamboat.

Of course, being me, I had to get in on the action, so I helped her out with the next one.  I did the two on the left, she did the other three.

2015-07-21 23.22.57

Having not coloured in for a while, I can confirm it does have stress-relieving properties.  It’s also a real giggle, especially if you can colour boys in with green hair.  And an immense laugh if your innocent child names them, (from right to left), Smudgy, Cludgy, Poo-poo, Blackie, and… Cliffy.  Amazing.

Of course, I was in true silly mode by now, so the next colouring in project was a close up of Niall.  We decided it was a bit boring so we made him into a lady, complete with tattoos and jewellery.  She added the necklace, and the smudge of Ribena on his t-shirt:

2015-07-21 23.23.05

Then we found the stickers in the middle of the book, and added a couple of those, and then stuck the rest all over a picture of Zayn.  But he doesn’t deserve a photo here because he’s left the band, the traitor.

So yeah, adult colouring in gets the thumbs up from me, especially if you’ve got a hilarious pre-schooler helping.

Oliver Jeffers

Do you ever hear a piece of news about someone you admire but don’t know and you’re SO happy for them, like they’re your best mate or a family member?  Well, that just happened to me when I read the news that the artist and children’s book writer Oliver Jeffers and his wife Suzanne have just had a baby boy, called Harland.

This is a man who understands children.  His books are about friendships, loss, adventure, not being afraid to stand out, and the general ridiculousness of life.  His illustrations are beautiful, and instantly recognisable.  AND he grew up in Belfast. You can probably tell I’m a huge fan.  If you’re not reading his books to your wee ones, you should be.

That is one lucky kid right there – just imagine the bedtime stories he’s going to enjoy.

The best ever game of I Spy

I’m still laughing about this hours later…

So, we’re all coming home from a family trip to IKEA when Little B announces she wants to play I Spy.  And being nearly 4, she has to go first. Here’s how it went:

Little B – “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with G.”

Me and her Dad – “Grass. Gate. Green. Gable. Garage. ”

Her – “Nope. It’s a horse!”

Cue us nearly wetting ourselves laughing…  We’d forgotten she can’t spell. And on top of that, there was no horse.

I went next and decided to do it her way:

Me – I spy with my little eye something beginning with x.”

Little B – “Car. Doggy. Boy. House. Window. Door. Garden. Footpath. Road. Bicycle.” (She’s basically just doing a say-what-you-see.)

Me – “No, Caravan!”

Immense craic.