Sunday, 30 June 2013

One Hundred and Nineteen Sleeps

What price, a better life?
One hundred and nineteen sleeps.
Too many hours to mention; too many minutes to count.
One hundred and nineteen nights alone.
A cold empty bed and sad, empty arms.
One hundred and nineteen days to fill.
In snow, wind, sun and rain.
Some that flew, others that crawled in heartbreaking silence.
One hundred and nineteen struggles, at least.
Arguments, upset, food refusals.
Temperatures and tummy aches.
One hundred and nineteen bedtime routines.
Bathtime toys and bedtime noise.
Books and cuddles and goodnight kisses.
One hundred and nineteen lonely evenings.
Sleeping children and meals for one.
No conversation nor caress.
One hundred and nineteen milestones missed.
More or less.
Inches grown and skills mastered.
One hundred and nineteen ways to miss you.
In beating heart, in each breath taken.
Seeing you in everything but hearing you never.
What price, a better life?
One hundred and nineteen sleeps.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

What is in a name?

July 7th 2008. A Monday, if memory serves. Following a positive test result, James and I talked and smiled about the life we had created. In the car, we spoke jovially of names.

"Imagine if we called it Lido!" I suggested.

"What about Pier?" James replied, equally mischievous.

This continued as we worked our way along the seafront. Everything we saw became hilarious inspiration.

Road! Sea! Sky! Church!

"Just imagine!" we laughed.

We reached his mother's house and ran inside to collect the dog we were due to walk. When we emerged, minutes later, the sky had clouded, broken and then cleared enough to throw sunlit paths across the sea.

We saw a rainbow.

For two quiet, blissful days, we secretly whispered our baby's existence to one another, naming it Rainbow. Then came a visit to the doctor, discovery of a 20 week foetus, and our cover was blown. No more secret, sparkling effervescence. Only reality.

Reality was not so kind to us, biting with a worrying scan result and a referral to Kings College Hospital some 60 miles away. At this stage, we, silently but together, realised we needed to know as much about our baby as possible. We asked about gender weekly, at every scan. They were never more than 70% sure that our our baby was a girl, but we took our chances.

We tried Willow for size, but it didn't quite sit right with the surname. Ella, though raising a brief smile for the same reason, followed suit. Then Jasmine popped up in conversation and never left our hearts.

Jen + James = Jasmine

Our baby contained us both and so it seemed only right that her name reflected this. We called her Jas thereafter. We spoke her name to all who would listen, willing her to be strong and pull through.

She did, of course.

A beautiful baby girl, born on a cold December morning.

Jasmine Elizabeth Patricia

This post is my entry into Edspire's competition to win a brand new MiaTui Matilda Mae bag. With proceeds being shared with the Lullaby Trust, there really are a million little reasons to purchase this beautiful bag, in memory of a beautiful baby.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

British Chesterfield Sofas

Behind every Chesterfield sofa from lies a rich history of quality British craftsmanship and, while traditionally they were bought by the likes of wealthy Lords, they are now loved by the mainstream public.  Often made of leather, a full set can take up to three weeks to complete due to the continued use of the original, tried, tested and trusted, techniques.  Each set is handmade by an upholsterer and is available in over 12 different materials including velvet and linen.  There are also a huge range of funky colours to choose from in each material, which adds to the customised feeling.  Every Chesterfield sofa really is unique as customers can also choose the exact dimensions of their sofa; no two sofas are the same! 

For further information, please visit the blog at
This is a sponsored post

Thursday, 20 June 2013


Thursday morning, 4am. Jasmine wakes me for cuddles after a bad dream. She settles quickly and we sleep until seven when we find Sonny curled up at our feet. It is hot but grey and foggy, we eat, they play. Untidily; there is always mess and no sign of clearing up afterwards. They bicker and make more mess; pots and tubs are emptied, their contents discarded.

Eventually, we make it out. There are bouts of listening but they are few and far between. I raise my voice, stressed and unhappy. Just listen, child. Back home, Sonny amuses himself with puzzles and Jasmine attempts to rectify the messy situation. She is resistant and demands assistance. Their aunties arrive and make them laugh. I realise we have not done much of that today.

Then they leave and there is immediate quiet. The television goes on to fill the aural void but the evening soon draws in and it is inescapable.

That I miss them.

I miss her cheeky smile. I miss her intelligent remarks and also I miss how she says "good after" instead of look after. I miss how, when the day is done and the house holds its breath in darkness, she asks me to lay down with her.

I miss his silent, dream-like cuddles. The way he comes to find me when we have company; he wants no one but me. I miss his helpless chuckle and the way he seamlessly sneaks Thomas into every situation and every conversation.

I miss them the moment they are not with me, however difficult I sometimes find their behaviour.

I miss them when they sleepover.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Gallery: Dads

I have spoken rather a lot about James on the blog recently.  How much I love and miss him.  And if there is one person in the universe who loves (and misses) him more than I do, it is our little girl.  Despite all the bravado and fierce independence, if Daddy wants a cuddle, she is at the front of the queue.  She will lie down with him and listen intently to stories, she will chat and giggle and allow herself to be placated in a way that just doesn't happen with me.  She will even let him help her!
It is a beautiful sight to behold.  As has previously been mentioned, I had no relationship with my Dad and I always, always wanted more for my own children.  To see this relationship blossoming before me is just lovely.  I could watch them forever.

Bubbles for Baby Tilda

We have been going to the beach most days recently.  I find the fresh air and freedom to run around helps the children to settle at bedtime.  At the weekend, we took bubbles.  Jasmine immediately said that she would blow them up to Baby Tilda in the sky.
Sonny tried to do the same!

Then Jasmine said something that made me smile.  She pointed up and said, "Look!  I can see Baby Tilda for real life.  She is crawling towards our bubbles and bouncing up on the squishy cloud blanket.  I think she has come to see our bubbles, Mummy, isn't that lovely?"


I told Jasmine that I am sure Baby Tilda comes to see everyone who blows bubbles for her, and everyone who wears pink and purple in her memory.  To this, Jasmine took of her pink and purple shoes and lay them on the ground "to guide Matilda Mae all the way to England so she can be with her family."

She really is all around us, Jennie xxx

Monday, 17 June 2013

Six Years; Fourteen Nights

Six years ago, on the beach after midnight; the kiss that started it all.  Sixteen long months after we met!  I still remember the first time I saw him, as clear as though it were yesterday.  I thought about him all the way home.  To myself, I listed the things about him that were not "my type".  The blue eyes and dark hair; the smart shoes; the strong arms.  Yet, undeniably, they were some of the things I liked most.

For sixteen months, we travelled in circles, rarely progressing.  I never wavered and, eventually, there was a crack in his armour, quickly followed by an admission that perhaps we were on the same page after all.

It had felt like a lifetime of persuasion and convincing. 

"No, I'm not mad."  "Yes, my eyes are open."  "Of course I love you."

I had always loved him; despite my lifelong belief of love at first sight being a completely ludicrous notion, no other explanation sufficed.  More than anything, I contained a certainty that not only could we be together, but we really should be.

In the great scheme of things, it didn't take him long to figure it out; that I was right.  We were good for each other and we laughed a lot.  Often at some of his stories; I swear, this man has had some of the most bizarre accidents in history.  I loved to listen to him, to hear his tales of growing up, moving around, of all the places he had seen.  We talked for hours and it transpired, with every conversation, that we were both frighteningly similar and strikingly different.

A perfect balance, really.

At the time, at the age I was, it felt as though we had been together for years by the time Jasmine was conceived.  In truth, we discovered her existence on July 7th 2008, less than a year after we officially started dating.  Furthermore, she had already been silently present for 20 weeks by then.  I will never forget the look on his face as he held the positive result in his hands.  He looked as though he might burst with happiness and pride and love.

Progression thereafter was not smooth.  Apparent issues with size and fluid and blood flow meant frequent trips to King's College hospital in London.  And tests; so many tests.  He was at my side for every scan, for every test.  Held my hand as we watched our tiny daughter bob about on screens.  He always reassured me.  He must have been frightened, but he didn't let me see, he stayed strong and kept me positive.

All ended well.

He eyed our baby girl with the same happiness, pride and love that I had seen on his face that beautiful day in July.

21 months later, we added a boy to our family.

He told me afterwards how he had feared for both our lives that day; wondered whether he would leave the hospital alone.  Yet at the time, he was so calm.  Again, he held my hand and reassured me.  He told me everything was good and I believed him.

Days later, he proposed for the first time.  The following summer, he asked me again.

We will get round to the marriage thing at some point.  We have what is important, though.  The love, the trust.  I think the last 12 months have proven it, beyond doubt.  We would not have survived the year otherwise.

But survive it we have and, two weeks today, we will be together again.  I am so happy and excited about this.  Fourteen nights; fourteen short sleeps!  I cannot wait.

I still love those blue eyes, the dark hair and strong arms.  I love him completely, and more so every day.  Happy anniversary (of sorts), Hubby.  Happy Father's Day.  Thank you for being everything I could ever wish a husband, partner, lover, friend and soul mate to be.  Thank you for being such a wonderful father to our children.  Thank you for being you.  Just thank you.

Here's to another six years, and another, and another...  I wonder what the future will bring?

I am linking this post to Magic Moments because, well, it contains lots of magic moments for me!


Friday, 14 June 2013

Homemade chocolate plaque

With Father's Day fast approaching, the littles have been asking what they can buy for Daddy.  We saw many ideas in shops and online but eventually opted for chocolate because, let's face it, everyone loves chocolate!  However, instead of heading to Hotel Chocolat and choosing a gift, I invited the children to get creative and make their very own Father's Day chocolate plaque for their very special Daddy.

We each chose our favourite chocolate and something we thought would go nicely with it.  Jasmine chose a lovely big slab of Milkybar, some edible butterflies and a packet of popping candy, Sonny chose Ivorian 70% cocoa dark chocolate (I know, I was surprised too) and a bag of marshmallows and, for me, it could only be Dairy Milk and vanilla fudge.  Heaven.

To make our chocolate placque, we used 200g of each chocolate, which we then melted in the microwave; stirring after every 30 second burst.  Jasmine also grated a small amount of her white chocolate, "for decoration".

I lined an old baking dish with greaseproof paper and asked the children to choose three pastry cutters - one to represent each of us.  After a small argument over what the word "represent" actually means, they chose a small circle for Sonny, a slightly larger one for Jasmine and a star for me.  I was quite chuffed by this until Jasmine pointed out that the only reason they had gone for the star was because "the huge circle didn't fit in the dish".  Excellent.

Next up, we filled our shapes with our chosen melted chocolate.  Jasmine and I used spoons, but I gave Sonny an icing piping bag containing his chocolate as I figured this would make slightly less mess.  Then we decorated our little chocolate islands before emptying the remainder of the chocolate into the dish and watching it surround our shapes.

"This bit represents Daddy," said Jasmine.

We left the dish in the fridge to chill for a couple of ours before removing the pastry cutters and returning to said fridge.  This is what the finished product looks like:

And this is what Jasmine and Sonny looked like when I left them alone with the chocolate for two minutes:

Little monsters!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Jasmine's Chunky and Cheesy Lasagne

For my lasagne, we used one red pepper, one courgette, one packet of white sauce, lots of cheese, which was already grated, lasagne pastry... was it pastry?  No.  Pasta!  We used tomato sauce and I think that is all, really.
The first thing I did was pop the pepper to get the seeds out so we can eat it.

Then we scraped all the seeds out of the pepper and put them in the bin.

Then we cut the pepper into mini bear size (I have no idea!) and put it in the bowl.

Then we cut and put the courgette in the bowl with the pepper.

Then we put the sauce in the bowl.

We put the courgette and pepper on top of the sauce to make the first layer.

Then we put the pasta on top.  We had to tear it into strips because it was too big to just plump in the bowl.

Next, we did do putting the cheese on top.  This was my favourite bit but I forgot the white sauce, which Mummy made lumpy anyway.

Then we did more layers of the pasta and the sauce and the pepper and the courgette and....what else?  More pasta!  And lots more yummy cheese and some lumpy sauce.

Then it was finished.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Messy letters

This morning, with Sonny still in his pyjamas, we made a start on letter recognition.

In 2011, for Sonny's 1st birthday party, I wanted to make his name in cake, which I did (after a fashion).

Of course, much hilarity ensued when everyone discovered that I had bought two letter N moulds, forgetting that one would indeed have sufficed.

However, I eventually had the last laugh today, when the moulds made another appearance, this time on to the Tuff spot.

Sonny immediately recognised his name and began to paint the letters.  I talked him through each one and found that he alreay knew the S and O sounds.  He asked me to draw him a J for Jasmine and also a 6 and a 2.

We printed letters straight on to the Tuff spot and also used this session to review what has been learnt about colours (names and mixing), shapes and numbers.

We also just made lots of mess!

I intend to made tactile alphabet and number cards with the children soon, to aid number and letter recognition and to give us a theme for a weekly alphabet session.

Experimenting with homemade lava

Now we just need to build a volcano...