My mum and my niece on her christeningThis week I have been acutely aware of missing my mum. There has been a mum shaped hole in my days. This is my third Mothers Day without her and although she was not one for the soppy sentiments in Mothers Day cards, it still makes me aware of her absence. But more than my pain and the pain of my children, I hate the fact that my wonderful sister in law now has to go though Mothers Day without her mum. Her wonderful mum died on Friday night. I hate that I am welcoming her in to a club that I do not want to be part of. That I can not take away her pain and also that I know how much heartache she is going through. I read this post by Becky and so want to echo the sentiment. Family is not something, family is everything. To all the motherless on Mothers day
I was playing football in the playground and scored a goal. I went to get the ball from the back of the net when someone shouted my name. I turned round to see the scout from Middlesbrough Football club. He asked me to go and have trials to play for their junior team. I went home and told my mum and dad and we all went in the car to Riverside Park and I got to go in the changing rooms and change in to my football kit. I walked on to the pitch and my family all cheered as a played football with other children. They really liked my tricks and skills. So they asked me to become part of the team.He told me the story was about his journey to becoming a football player! Further information of the competition can be found on the Al Fresco Kidz blog.
2013, the year of "Choosing Joy", but also the year of learning. This is the year that I start to take time out for me and put these grey cells in my brain in to some use. Where I try to see if an old dog can learn new tricks!
I am doing this in a couple of ways, firstly I am trying to improve my photography by taking a Capturing Childhood course. I have started on the Collect the Moments e-course. It is challenging me to think differently and I am learning lots of new things about my six year old camera. I have even ordered a remote control so I can "be in the picture" more often. The Kats' are helpful, insightful and full of useful information and I am really enjoying the community feel of the course, plus the ability to take things at my own pace. Plus I got a positive comment on the photo's I take on the blog last week for the first time ever and I was beaming.
I am also looking forward to a day course on learning to use my camera better that I am going on with Cass from The Dairy of a Frugal Family.
Secondly I am taking regular lessons in handicrafts. I have book on to a two hourly weekly lesson on a Tuesday morning and over the last four weeks I have nearly completed a quilt for Mini. I have cut the fabric (cutting I have discovered is my kryptonite), sewed the quilt top, basted it, quilted it and made the binding for it and today I am learning how to put that binding on it. It is wonderful to see something I have made come together and to have the support of a tutor that is there to support me when I need it.
I have also taken a couple of day courses, one on making a stacked coin quilt and one on making a zipped bag. Neither projects are finished yet, but they are well on the way to getting completed. There is such joy in learning a new skill and being able to do so with like minded people is even better. Yes I am the youngest in all the lessons by a generation (two in some cases), bit boy do these ladies have tales to tell and it is great to see them making the most of their free time.
I have also set two on making 2013 the year that I keep up with the cleaning and clutter within the house, as a tidyish house means that for some reason my brain is much less cluttered or that it at least has more room to concentrate on the things that matter and not stress or fret over the state of the house. This month on A Thrifty Mum I am getting in to the habit of a cleaning routine and continuing on my declutter, which I started in January.
Maxi's floor by his bedMini - Six
What would be your top tip or do you think there is such a thing as blogging etiquette in 2013.
We’ve teamed up with the friendly people at Thorntons to giveaway a delicious ‘I Love Chocolate Hamper’! Thorntons sell yummy personalised chocolates, toffees, fudges and also some delicious looking hampers like this one we’re about to giveaway. Everyday there is a reason to make someone smile, whether it's to say 'I Love you' or just to say 'thinking of you', why not lift and brighten up someone's day by buying them a box of chocolates from Thorntons to create those smiles To enter answer the question below via the rafflecopter mechanism: Who opened Thorntons’ very first shop 100 years ago? a) Harry Steven Thornton b) Joseph William Thornton c) Andrew Thomas Thornton a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Post cycle drinkSo the boys got new bikes for Christmas. Mountain bikes with gears and mud guards and MadDad got a bike carrier for the car. We live in a beautiful part of the world, but with hills each side of the house, there is no way that I am capable (yet) of riding very far from the house, so the bike carrier was essential. Our plan is to use our family discovery pass for Dalby Forrest and get cycling followed by a BBQ. Our discovery pass was gifted to us by the Forestry Commission and would be an annual cost of £42, which is super value as Dalby is peppered with bike paths suitable for all levels. Plus Dalby is a fantastic place to explore, play and just relax. It is somewhere that we love to visit as a family, as you can BBQ in designated areas and is just a wonderful relaxing place. By taking the boys to Dalby I can ride as far as I can and then return and cook us all a treat. I am hoping that by doing something together, it keeps is all together and helps me get fitter. I plan to update you on our progress each quarter and hopefiully we will all see some benefit from getting out and about together as a family.
Does your school let you film the Nativity? Ours does, but this year neither of the boys have done a nativity, however, this morning there is a service at the local church and Maxi has a solo singing part of we three kings.
Panasonic sent me this fab guide to filming a nativity, so I decided to share it with you. I will be enjoying the singing in the church and coming back to a warm mince pie. I do hope this helps you.Panasonic V700 camcorder – means a wide aperture and more light. 4) Get the sound right - Trying to record little voices from across a large echoing hall may well be your toughest challenge. If they are using a speaker system, position yourself near enough the speakers so the camera can record the sound. Alternatively, look out for camcorders with a “zoom mic” function – this feature focuses the sound recording in the direction you are facing, so you hear more of the play, and less of the chatting in the audience around you. 5) Keep it steady - Finally, whatever you film, remember to keep movements smooth, and the zooms slow. It will be much easier on the eye when you watch it back. Consider using a tripod – even just a cheap mini tripod – so you can leave the camcorder to do its thing and enjoy the play rather than spending the entire time staring at a small screen!
We had a great time making it and started with the largest hands at the bottom and then did each line with smaller ones. Even the star at the top is the boys fingers. Once the tree was dry we added a fingerprint garland and I used brown paint to add the date as the trunk of the tree.
- Make seasonal potpori
- Fill a jar with them for a table center peice
- use them to decoprate wrapped presents
- Make bunting by adding to popcorn and cranberry strings (great for outdoor trees)
- Thread through florists wire to make a wreath
- Use to decorate napkin rings
Perfect for children of any age. My boys love watching it spring itsr way down the stairs! Size 75mm
Notebooks by Jennie Maizels £3.99We are huge fans of Jennie in the Mad House. Mini is a big fan of her London range and her notebooks are fab. Great quality and super designs, plus free postage in the UK. Speed Racer Sets - !1.49 Yellow Moon Hexbug Warriors £7.99
Wappy Dog is a game for the Nintendo DS and it has been a huge hit with Mini. Our Wappy Dog is called Ninja, which is a much better name, as I keep calling it yappy dog! So what is it. Well it is an interactive game with its own character dog. You feed it, pet, it, look after it, but you also play games with it. For a family without a dog it is great as it doesn't cost anything once bought and it doesn't need feeding with real food or taking for walks in the dark weather! Mini specifically loves playing rock, paper, scissors and fruit catch with his Wappy Dog.
Angry birds are taking over the world or so it seems. This is the perfect game for maxi, who has loved it. It is such a simple concept but captures his imagination and he just loves it as will many children of his age. Oh and Maddad has been know to play on it when he is in bed! It has Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio, it didn't take long for Maxi and MadDad to be hooked on the straightforward yet satisfying game lay that defines Angry Birds. There are 19 episodes, each with an exclusive new level that will keep you interested and ready for more.
What is it about boys and torches? These have been a MASSIVE hit in The Mad House. They are ingenious and for two Star Wars and LEGO mad boys these are great presents. They have been left on a lot and we are still on our original set of batteries after 4 weeks, but you do have to buy your own as they do not come with them. Darth Vader's light saber is removable and also lights up perfect for role play with evil Jedi teddies!Microscooter MX Trixx Stunt Scooter (£119.99) This has been a HUGE hit in The Mad House. Both the boys have started to want to go to the skate park with Master Frugal and any mum will know that you have to have a skate scooter for that (I didn't)! This scooter is awesome (Some of the other children where overheard chatting about it my Cass from A Frugal Family). We are lovers of all things Microscooter in the Mad House. As far as prices go for stunt scooters this is a real bargain and is "mint" according to the boys and all of their friends. LeapPad 2 (around £70) We reviewed the LeapPad 1 back in 2011 and were really impressed with it and Leapfrog have really listened to customers with the new version. At seven Maxi is a little advanced for it, but Mini loved it. He adored the camera function and was pleased that it had both a front and rear camera. As a parent I have to say that we love Leapfrog for the educational aspect and the fact that you can track your children's progress online. You can also get education apps online for the LeapPad2. It also has video recorders, 4GB of memory, a faster processor and a library of 150+ game cartridges and downloadable apps. Sports Stars Pitch and Play set (£20) Maxi and Mini have both loved this play set and we have had hours of fun challenging each other with our own cup competitions. It is great as it packs up relatively small and is easy to play. Mini has had hours of fun just role playing with the characters and I have proven that I can beat both the boys at football! This is a great gift for any football made boy or girl and a really great value gift.
On the Wish List
This year the boys have also asked for the following for Christmas:
Skylander Giants for Wii
New Bikes (20 inch as both of them has grown so much)
Jaffa Cakes - Mini!
Disclosure: I have been paid to tell you about this competition
NaBloPoMo - what do those innocent looking letters mean?NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month. National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo, is a month long writing exercise intended to occur annually in November. The first NaBloPoMo occurred in November of 2006, and was the brainchild of an American blogger. It was inspired by National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which also happens every November. Now I have no issue with NaNoWriMo which was founded in 1999 by authors in the San Francisco Bay Area who wanted to motivate themselves into producing more written work. This challenge requires authors to produce a 50,000 word novel within one month. But writing a blog, is not writing a novel. I have to say for me blogging is about quality not quantity and I often find myself just bypassing blogs that I normally enjoy on a regular basis during the month of November. A large part of me feels that if you do not have something to say on every other day of the year what makes November special? It is a dark, dank and often dismal month in the UK and I look forward to reading blogs filled with all sorts of inspirational writing, making, baking and tales of everyday life. Please don't get me started on writing prompts. Who need a daily prompt of what to write about? Get a journal people and spare the readers. Oh and yes, before anyone says it is a free world and I don;t have to read if I don't want to, well I know that and I won't be.
Photo credit DairyleaStop the clocks, for now is the perfect time. A time I want to capture and put in a bottle. There is nothing out of the ordinary about now. The boys are not being perfectly behaved. The sun isn't shining. The rain isn't falling. The house isnt particularly clean. There is a pile of clothes than need ironing that is two weeks high. There are books and magazines unread. I am many a stone heavier than I wish to be. However, there is fresh bedding on the beds. The sound of boys playing outside, they are playing football against the garage door. "GOAL" There is food in the slow cooker. A husband on his way home. Veg growing in the riased beds and seedlings sprouting in the plastic greenhouse. Cut flowers in vases. Radio 2 is playing Roy Orbison in the background. Stop the clocks, for now is the perfect time.
As you can see from above, they have worn them on numerous occasions and they are brilliant. We received some colourful denims in blue, which both the boys have worn. They have an adjustable waist and look great rolled up on Mini or full length on Maxi. Mini is seen wearing a block stripe top , what I like about this is it washes and dries really well without pulling out of shape and it made from the softest cotton. Maxi is seen in the PO.P stripe top, which is currently in the sale at £11. This is made from organic cotton and Maxi loves it. It has become his go to top. He has issues with sensitivity and this top does not itch, scratch or rub in any way. We were so impressed with the clothes that I have even ordered some more in the mid season sale, which just shows that the boys love them.
"There is no one way to be the perfect Mother, but there are millions of ways to be a good one!" - Jill Churchill "Being Happy doesn't mean everything's perfect, It means that you have decided to look beyond the imperfections" - Gerard WaySo on those days when I am screaming like a fishwife at my boys or wondering how to find the words to tell them about challenges that life may throw at them, I hope that I can remember that it is OK to be an imperfect parent in an imperfect world and give myself a break, for this parenting lark is the hardest, unceasing, but most rewarding job I have ever done or will ever do. I have also vowed to be in the picture more, this was something that I did a lot more after my mastectomy. So I will be passing the camera to other people more often and instead of being the one behind it taking the pictures, I will be the one in THAT picture with my family.
You won't know that you did with yourself before they came along There is nothing quite like being a mother You will have so much respect for your mother once you are one They grow up so fast
We heard them all and so many more, but we didn't listen. We had waiting many a long year to have a child. We both longed for children, but had convinced ourselves and each other that we were fine as a couple and that we couldn't keep on trying and failing at being parents. Then one day we had a little boy and then 15 months later another new born. Those first years past by in a blur of nappies, exhaustion, feeding and joy, inescapable joy. I can not put into words how lucky we are to have two amazing, unique and challenging children.
Those children, that each night before bed we both go and watch sleep, just as we did from the first day we brought each of them home. It is part of our nighttime routine. MadDad goes to one door and I the other, then we pass on the landing as we swap. Then we move on to our room safe that we have breathed in a special piece of our family to infuse our sleep with. I like to use the excuse that I want to make sure they are tucked in and their lights are off and books off the bed, but in truth I want to just watch them and breathe in their smell.“This blog post has been written as an entry into the Tots100 competition in association with Boots Mother and Baby“
Both my boys have just been for their regular six monthly check up's at the dentists and I was devastated to discover that MIni is showing some signs of decay on one of his milk teeth. This means that we have been moved to three monthly check ups and also that I need to be more vigilant with their brushing.
Thankfully this has coincided with Aquafresh introducing the Aquafresh Club and producing a video about making brush time more pleasurable and easier.
They also have twenty top tips for encouraging brushing:
The video comes on the back of research that Aquafresh conducted of 1,500 mums of children aged 2-12 that reveals that more than one million under-fives in the UK have at least two fillings, as mums struggle to get kids to brush their teeth. Other findings from the research are:
• One in six (17 per cent) mums say their child has at least 3 fillings
• 13 per cent of mums have children who have at least one filling by the time they start school (aged 3)
• Almost one in four (24 per cent) mums say their children only brush their teeth once a day and one in fifty say they don’t brush at all
• The research showed that almost half (47 per cent) of kids under 12 have been told they have dental decay, one of the most preventable diseases in the UK
• Over half of mothers (53 per cent) admit to finding getting their kids to brush their teeth stressful – potentially leading to arguments in over 2.5 million families
• One in fifty mums even admitted that their kids never brush their teeth.
Picture Credit The Mad Blog Awards
Merry, pictured in the centre of the above picture was dressed by M&S and looked amazing, so when I was asked to blog about M&S dresses I was more than happy too, knowing just how wonderful the perfect dress could make someone feel.
secrets of a well mended wardrobe, which is great and after reading Miss Thrifty this week ordered Sew and Save and can not wait to read it more and teach the boys the art of looking after their clothes and making them last longer. I will be back with a full review once I have had time to look through it a little more.
- Layer shorts and short skits over leggings and tights
- Ads a long sleeved T-, vest or thermal top shirt and tights under dresses
- Encourage children to wear vests, either long, short or capped sleeves
- Add a plain long sleeved t shirt under a short sleeved one
- Zalando is the fresh style retailer and they have some great long sleeved vests that you can use under t-shirts to give that duel layer look
- Wear leggings under trousers when the weather gets cold
- Make sure any roll up trousers are warn unrolled
- When my boys were small I used to add long sleeved all in ones (the ones with poppers) under their tops
- Buy your children thermals to wear under the PJ's or clothes. You can get some really pretty girls ones and my boys are happy to wear sports underwear like footballers do!
- Buy thermal or boot socks, wellies can be very cold
- Take a walk in the woods with the boys at least once a week
- Get out my SAD Lamp, the nights drawing in means I need to make sure I get sufficient sun
- Pop blankets on the ends of each bed
- Make up a bottle of room spray(water and essential oils) I use this to dampen the air as central heating dries it out
- Make Mini's quilt. I have the fabric, but I still can not bring myself to actually cut the fabric!
- Buy some new socks
- Start baking again (I am getting an oven to review), which means this can start again!
- draw the curtains at dusk to keep the heat in and the cold out.
- Try and make a Christmas gift a week
- Find a course I want to go on for me
- Learn to crochet
- Go to the Park after school
- Make the most of the weekends and try and do something family oriented on a Saturday, as Sundays are taken over with football
- Put hot water bottles in the beds before we get in to them
- Buy new slipper
- Plant some spring bulbs and some bulbs in cups for Christmas presents
The boys went back to school this morning. Part of me feels as though you have ripped off a body part and that I am walking round with some part of me missing. I feel like this after every holiday. I always have so much fun with my children when they are off school. They are good company and we enjoy being a family and hope that long may it last and that they choose to spend time with me and their dad.
I often wish that we had more children. I know that my family doesn't feel as though it is complete, but I also know that these two amazing boys are the only children I am going to be blessed with. However, things could have been so different.
I am not one for dwelling on the past and the might have, could have or would have been, but times like this make me all melancholy and I remember the possibilities that never were and the children that were never born. It sweeps over me unexpectedly. Then to top it all off, I have just read a moving post by Muddling along mummy and it resonated within my soul.
You see, long before Maxi was born we experienced the horror of losing twins at 20 weeks pregnancy, a molar pregnancy and also the loss of a child at 16 weeks. We decided that we could cope with the fear, uncertainty and pain that came with children and just lived our lives to the full and then to our surprise many years later Maxi came along, followed fifteen months later by Mini. We were overjoyed and then I fell pregnant again when Mini was 3 months old, but this time we were not successful and at 13 weeks lost another possible child. This loss was devastating, I had been touched by the joy that was my children, I understood the potential in the life I had lost.
Then our life took a massive turn and we made the hard decision to have my ovaries removed, so that I could reduce the risk of contracting cancer. I signed the death warrant on any future children.
But I have learned over the years, that it is better to be here to look after and be with the two wonderful children I have than take a risk. I do not think I would be strong enough to go through the pain and heartache again.
So today I am thinking about the children that are not destined to be with me, but I am going to pick myself up, brush myself off and collect the two I have from school with a smile on my face, drinks in my pocket and then take them to the park to celebrate the end of the first day back at school.Tots100 Saying Goodbye heart prints carnival
We have found in the past that the larger and more trendy Clarks often employ people who have not got children of their own, so although they are qualified fitters, we have had to return on a number of times, especially with Mini and his wide, high feet. Both boys have come away with different style shoes, but with a protective rubber bumper at the front. My only gripe would be please stop making Jack Nano shoes. I do not want to purchase these for my children and I do not want to have to experience pester power over them. Thankfully the Manager understood this and they were not the best fit for my children, so they were not in the running. So thank you to Karen who fitted the boys, you made this the most pain free shoe shopping experience yet and thanks to Clarks for a £40 voucher towards the cost of the boys shoes.
- We booked our appointment online. No getting a ticket and waiting inline. Not for us, we jumped any queue with our pre-booked appointment - Whoop.
- We had an experienced fitting lady (she was the manager) and all the other staff were more mature and handled the boys perfectly.
- The plimsolls Mini needed were out of stock, but will be delivered FREE to my home address on Friday.
- Plimsolls in a range of width fittings and in half sizes, which is perfect for us as both boys are half sizes.
- Buy generic sweaters and find a local embroiderer who will put the school badge on them. Our village one charges £4 for a badge.
- Buy earlier as you can as lots of the shops have offers on.
- Don't buy shorts. Turn any trouser which are too small or have damaged knees in to shorts by cutting them and wonderwebing hems.
- Buy an elastic belt to help keep trousers up.
- Clothes Plasters are a great way of making trousers last longer.
- Buy short sleeved shirts. Schools are warm places and there is no need for long sleeves
- Do not shy away from buying online as you can always return to the local store if they are not the right size.
- Name the clothes not just on the label as sometimes people will just cut them out.
I often look at my children with awe and wonder. I made them. They were born from love, where hard come by. They fascinate me and fill me with joy and despair, sometimes within minutes of each other. Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done. It is very rarely one you are congratulated on and one that lots of other people are keen to tell you when you are not doing it right in their opinion.
This summer holidays it has often just been the boys and me, as MadDad has been very busy at work and also on an intensive FA coaching course. So we have made the most of our time together visiting blogging friends, going on adventures, including Chester Zoo and The Deep (review to follow - it is amazing).
There has also been firsts too. Our first visit to the Skate park with Frugal Family and the boys first visit to the high street on their own. It has been a veritable feast of emotions for all of us. I love my time with them. I love that they are fun to be with and that they enjoy spending time with me as much as I do with them. Long may it continue.
My boys love sport, they love watching, they adore competition and they like exhilaration of winning. There is nothing wrong with that in my eyes. Both of the boys have been brought up to understand that if you give 100% and then lose, then that is great. Winning is fantastic, but it is all about the effort you put in and about having fun.
Both of the boys are so inspired by the Olympics. I am swept up on the wave with them. We have medal charts and memory stones. We are busy making a scrap book. They play out with the other children and instead of being a famous footballer, they are Mo Farrar or Sir Chris Hoy. They are inspired and the Olympics have introduced them to some bloody fantastic role models. I know that the Paraolympics will do more of the same in spades.
Mini is currently sleeping with his Guinness Book of Records and wants one for the Olympics, so when I was offered a set of 3 Multimedia iBooks (books for iPads) from The Amazing People Club about The Olympics and London, Amazing Olympians Volume 1, Amazing Olympians Volume 2 and Amazing People of London I was delighted.
I also have a set of three books to give away to a reader of Mum in the Mad House.
To enter this fantastic competition and continue that Olympic magic with your children, please complete the Rafflecopter form below:a Rafflecopter giveaway
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
A Universal Picture © 2012 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.To celebrate the release of The Lorax, in cinemas now, Mum in the Madhouse is giving one lucky person the chance to win a HP Deskjet printer! Fill in the Rafflecopter Entry Form to be in with a chance of winning this great prize. a Rafflecopter giveaway For more information on The Lorax visit: http://www.facebook.com/theloraxuk For more information on HP visit: www.hp.com/uk/recycle/supplies
We are great lovers of Dinosaurs and this year Chester Zoo have a new exhibition featuring 19 amazing life-like robotic replicas of the creatures that roamed the earth 200 million years ago, including the giant Brachiosaurus, the iconic Stegosaurus and the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Dinosaurs bite back allows yout to roam round the fantastic exhibition at your own pace and there are superb Presenter-saurus (staff) who make the experience even better. Even better is that entry is included in your zoo admission price (£53 for a family ticket). We attended with Cara from Freckles Family, who's youngest son Hugo is obsessed with all things dinosaur and it was so much fun and he kept us all informed as to what dinosaur we were looking at and weather it was a herbivore or not.
Helen from Have a Lovely Time was also there with her two daughters and it goes to show how life like the dinosaurs were as her youngest daughter did scream at them on occasion.
We spent the whole day at Chester Zoo this week and had a brilliant time, even a bit of rain didn't spoil the day. Having not been before, I was really surprised at just how much we all enjoyed our zoo experience. I know that zoos are not always everyone's cup of tea, but they do play an important part in conservation nowadays and this was something we discussed as a family.
Both the boys would go back tomorrow if they could and loved every minute of it.
The dinosaurs are included in the price of your normal zoo ticket. You can win a year’s pass to the zoo by entering the competition here. I advise getting their early as no matter how much time you have, you never get round to seeing it all.
Disclosure: We were provided with our day out courtesy of the zoo and also received a junior animal adoption kit too.
Other prompts for this week include:
I hope you have as much fun as we are over the course of the Olympics and would love to know what activities you are doing.
- Be a reporter at your favorite event at the Olympic games. Try to encourage descriptive words and ask lots of questions, which should encourage this. Including What is the sport about? How is it played? What is the weather like? What is the atmosphere like? What is the score? Who wins and how do they do it?
- Pretend you have won a gold medal at the Olympics. How would you feel? Try writing a speech that you would give after winning a medal.
- Write a biography of your favorite Olympian. Use the internet to find out information and write about your favorite Olympian. How old are they? What sport do they do? You could even draw a picture of them.
- Design a poster for your favorite Olympic sport.
I am something of a pushy mum when it comes to sun cream and therefore love these wet suits from Simply Swim. We have had full neoprene shorty wet suits for the boys in the past and they are hard to put on and the boys would whinge at wearing them, but they are great for staying warmer and more covers in the north sea and sun.
These wet suits are different in that they have the neoprene, but also have Lycra inserts, making them really easy for the boys to put on themselves and they both love them.
I was starting to despair that we would have no sun this summer to be able to review these for you. but finally the sun has come out and so have our supersoakers!
These shorty wet suits are £18.50 each and will see them throughout the summer. The service we received was suburb as the first ones they sent were the wrong ones, so we received a paid return label and the replacements by return. They are much less restrictive that the full neoprene ones, so your children will be more comfortable in them and I like how they cover more of them up than just trunks or swim shorts. Yes they will keep them warm in the sea (not as warm as traditional wet suits), but they are also easy to rinse out.
They certainly didn't slow them down with the supersoakers. Now I must get a water pistol for myself!
We wote the event and date on one side and then they boys drew an image to represent the time on the other. This is Maxi's airplane. We used Glotto Metallic Pens, which we received from YellowMoon. They are brilliant on the stones and really stand out. We are keeping our stones in a kilner jar, one for each of the boys and I hope to have two full jars at the end of the holidays, so I can varnish them and place them in the garden.
- A variety of writing papers, including note books, lined paper, their own letterhead and comic strips
- Post cards
- Address labels
- Pens and pencils
- An alphabet chart for younger learners
With the Olympics coming, we are very exciting in The Mad House. Both my boys love sport and we are going to be glue to the TV. We are also using it to learn lots about other counties that are taking part. P&G asked me to share how I am helping my boys achieve their dreams. This really got me thinking. When you ask my boys what there dreams are, at six and seven, they are very short term. Neither of them knows what they want to be when they grow up and I am keen not to impose my thoughts and dreams on to them. The one thing I want for my children is to be happy and healthy.
But then it came to me. Both my boys are very academic and sporty and excel in these areas. However, Maxi is a pretty sensitive young man and although he is more than happy to get up and speak in front of an audience, he finds dressing up and expressing himself challenging. This year he was asked if he would like to be part of a drama group(for shy children and children who would benefit from being pushed a little) and even though it was way out of his comfort zone, he accepted and did an hour after school every week leading up to a show this week.
Both MadDad and My sister in law took the time off to come and see the show we me. We didn't know a lot about it as Maxi had kept us in the dark, all we knew was it was Joseph and His Technicolor Dream-coat and that he had a solo in it. What can I say, my boy astounded me and left his Daddy speechless. He was amazing., He stepped out of his comfort zone and put his whole heart in to his performance. He smiled through the play. He sang with gusto and his solo brought a tear to my eye. But the best thing about it was that he enjoyed the whole experiance.
I also realised that both MadDad and I want our children to enjoy life without too many pressures and when MadDad found out that the Under 7's football team was oversubscribed which meant that Mini might not get to play, he volunteered to manage and coach another team. This means a lot of sacrifice for my husband. He has to go on an intensive coaching course and also leave work early every week and commit to games on a weekend. However, this means an additional eight 6 and 7 year olds get to play football each week. Now he just has to find sponsorship for the football kits! But we both believe that having a father that is present in the boys life is very important.
Finally the one thing I hope that I am and will instill in my children is that no matter what they do, weather it comes easy or hard to them, that they always give 100% effort.
I watched this video of Chris Hoy's Mum, Carol and you know what, I so understand how she feels. My son might not have won a gold medal with his performance, but it was a personal challenge for him and he overcame his own hurdles to do it and I was and am so proud.
Disclosure: I was send a goody bag by P&G which included a video camera (which I used to record Maxi)
You can print off the bored jar list of over 80 activities and use them yourself. Some of the activities might not be possible due to the weather, but we have a summer planner so it is OK for them to pick a day and add tape it to it so that we do it on that specific day. This is a small glimps in to Frugal and Fun, surviving the school holidays the thrifty way. The e book, which I have produced with Cass from Frugal Family and Becky from Baby Budgeting is filled with ideas for frugal and fun ideas to make sure you get the most out of this year’s Summer Holidays without having to spend a fortune. The book contains over 150 pages of ideas and activities to help you make sure that this year’s Summer Holidays are frugal and fun. There’s a planning week filled with things for you to do in advance of the holidays to get yourself prepared and the rest of the ideas are split into different themed weeks, with each week having five indoor activities, five outdoor activities and five recipes for you to cook with you children.
- Go for a bike ride
- read a book for 30 minutes
- Vacuum the stairs
- Make fairy cakes
What did you do this weekend?
- Early morning fun with cushions and pillows
- Going up the cliff on the funicular
- Jack Daniels and Flat Frank (helping with the toothache)
- A fab buy from the Love of Vintage fair
- Fish, chips and tartar sauce on the seafront.
- A day by the shore
- Ice creams (not for me, see earlier note about toothache)
- Tea and cake
- A jumping praying mantis
- Sign this petition before tomorrow’s summit (why not do it NOW)
- Tweet David Cameron and Number 10 directly with this: All women should have power to decide when & how many children they have. @number10gov pls #givegirlspower at #fpsummit Lives depend on it.
- We are hoping to whip up a twitter storm at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning for ten minutes because, as Save the Children found with the #passiton campaign last year, government ministers sit up and take notice when lots of people shout at the same time. So if you could make sure you tweet then it would be fab, you could always schedule one if you are not around.
- Retweet any blog posts you see with the #givegirlspower hashtag.
- Plain bags (Mine we 99p from Hobbycraft)
- Fabric paints (mine were from a set from Yellow Moon, which I have had for seven years)
- Paper plates
- paint brush
- Fabric pain pens (again from Yellow Moon)
- A3 paper or card
- Cut the apple in half and dry with kitchen roll.
- Place a piece of paper or card in the bag to prevent the print going through.
- Pop a blob of paint on to a paper plate (one for each color of paint) and squish the apple in to it and then press on to the bag
- Allow to dry
- Take a fabric pen and add a stalk and leave if required to your apples.
- Allow to dry
- Once dry iron the bags which sets the fabric paint allowing the bag to be washed.
Six things about my six year old:
Mr Men Sports Day - We love, love , love this book. Go buy it now, it is only £2.99 - Review based on a free sample
Huntfun - Looking to turn a walk in to an adventure, then look no further. Huntfun produce treasure hunts, including the one we reviewed on A Thrifty Mum - Review based on a free sample
London Globee - We were sent the London Globee from Find me a gift.com. We were sent the larger one, which retails at £30 and as you can see from Mini's face above, he loved it. It has pride of place in his London themed Bedroom and he was delighted to see it had the Olympic stadium on it. I have to say I was really impressed with Find me a gift. They have a great selection of gifts at very reasonable prices and there delivery was prompt too - review based on free sample
Whilst we are on bedrooms, Then please take a look at Maxi's patriotic bedroom, which is courtesy of Dunelm Mill. What I can say is we have had these products for a couple of months now and the duvets wash really well and the rug is wonderful, bright and spills clean off really well - review from free samples
Look What We Found - Normally I do not approve of ready meals, but these are wonderful, no additives, no preservatives and they taste great too. They got us though my no cooking time with the broken arm - review based on a free sample
Ribena Plus - Like Ribena, but with added goodies. The boys seemed to enjoy it and have asked for more - review based on a free sample
Return my Ted - A perfect gift for a new baby, full review is on the Great Toy Guide - We were sent a sample, but sent it on to the NSPCC
Journey 2 - What with all this rain, this movie has not been off the TV. Guess that speaks pretty much for itself! My full review can be found on The Great Toy Guide - review based on a free sample
I have always said that I am not keen on a lot of the boys clothes out there, but we loved out selection from Verbaudet this month. Fantastic three in one trousers, which have washed well and the boys love. We also reviewed swimming trunks and they have adjustable waists making them perfect for skinny minnies like Maxi - review from free sample
My Brother, Mum, Me and Dad on my Wedding Day 18 March 1995I think that my Father and Grandfather both effected my choice in men, when it came to MadDad I fell hook line and sinker for a man with echo's of the other great men in my life. A better husband I could not have and I have had the pleasure of watching him become a great Father over these last seven years. I should have known he would do it well, as he injected me in y butt three times a day for the whole of my pregnancies and was just amazing. Watching him grow and develop with our boys has touched my heart. He makes me proud every single day and they both love him and choose to spend time with him. He is a great Father. But my Father's legacy doesn't end with my boys, oh no you only have to take a look at my younger brother and the way he is with his children. He is a wonderful father to Chuky, ever the child himself. His nephews adore spending time with him and he is a good honest man. He adores his step grandchildren and is starting to look more and more like my Dad. I am so lucky to have so many great men in my life. Happy Fathers day, to those living and to those who's echos live on.
The focus of the Tots 100 Home Club this month is storage and I am ashamed to say that I have more fabric that is decent. It was just shoved in to every spare space in the study/craft room. I often bought new fabric for specific tasks as I couldn't find what I was looking for, so decided that I HAD to organise my fabric first and foremost.
I decided that the easiest way to store it would be to fold it all the same size and store in some new baskets which I purchased from Homebase for this specific task. They were £14.99 each and should last for a long time. But how best to fold it all? I remember seeing on Sew Justine Sew last year that see stored her larger fabric on comic boards, but most of my fabric are smaller pieces and I didn't have enough storage to hold it all on comic sized sheets. So I decided to re purpose something we already had, a ream of printer card.
I then placed the fabric in the baskets and on to an existing wrack that we already have. I used some hampers to store quilt filling and stuffed toy filling on top of the unit. I like using the hampers as you can squash it all in and then fasten it!
I would love to know how you store your fabric and other items for crafting.
This weekend like many other people in the UK, we have been celebrating the Diamond Jubilee. We have had a weekend filled with family and food. It has been a joy to spend quality time with my family without the need to be somewhere or really achieve anything. It has been bliss.
I hope everyone else has had a great long weekend too.
· Peppers (Red) - chopped
· Small tin of sweetcorn
· Sugar snap peas
· Dressing of your choice (Nasi Goreng)
· Poached egg to top (Optional)Method
1. Cook and cool the rice according to the packet instructions. When cooling rice I tend to add to ice water and then drain.
2. Cook the sugar snap peas and garden peas and cool (again I add to iced water).
3. Add all the ingredients to the rice and mix.
4. I finish off with a poached egg on top and serve, but this is optional and the salad can be prepared the morning of an event and popped in the fridge until required.Apetina recipe in their summer salad challenge and would love for you to vote for me on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/apetina. Visitors who like the Facebook page and vote for their favourite salad will be entered into a prize draw, for a picnic hamper (basket, with salad bowl and servers, plus dressing bottle) and in the final week prize will be a BBQ. Sponsored Post
One week ago today (May 25) , 49 innocent children were killed and who knows how many more injured during an attack on the Syrian town of Houla.
Today my children walk to school and will spend the day celebrating the queens 60 year on the the throne. I wasn't going to post about the atrocity that happened to those children in Syria, but my boys thought that I should. We talked about what happened and tried to decide why such things happen and why all these years after the second world war, do we allow children to suffer like this. My boys only know the News Round version of events, but even then it is horrifying. The BBC website pulls no punches in detailing how the deaths occurred and it makes terrifying reading.
So whilst my children are celebrating this wonderful country we live in, take two minutes out of your day to sign Save the Children's petition to Stop the Killing, which call for world leaders to put in place an immediate and legally binding "Resolution to Protect Children" that carries the full force of international law on those attacking children and other civilians.
For lots more printing ideas why not take a look at Kodak's Big App website.
- Union Jack Bunting
- Union Jack flag
- Crown, I have made these for the boys, all you need is a printer and elastic.
- Cake decorations - I used these to make my bunting on my Jubilee layer cake
- Party hats
- Name cards
Disclosure: I received a Kodak Office Hero 6.1 Printer to produce my Jubilee printables on.
Aviva are currently running a competition to win £5000. They want to know what you have done to make your home extraordinary. Now I could never live up to the two old chaps in the video below (please do watch it as it melted my heart a little and will hopefully make you smile too and is only a minute long). They are looking for people around Britain who have done something extraordinary to their homes. To enter all you have to do is post a short video clip or even just a photograph on their facebook page alongside a description of what you have done to your home and why. Find out more about Aviva Extraordinary Homes.
I wanted to show you something in my house which made an extrordinary differnce to my kitchen and to my time in it with my boys. Let me introduce you to our art corner.
I wanted to show you that something small could make a major difference to a home and the way it works. We have a witching hour in The Mad House. That time when I am making dinner and all the boys want is my attention. So I decided to move their tiny table (which is from Ikea and only cost 11.99) and coat the top with blackboard paint. In fact everything I used was from Ikea and cost next to nothing. The artwork is hung using a Dignitet tension wire (£8.99 each) and the rail and pots were from Ikea too.Sometimes extraordinary doesn't have to mean expensive or extreme. For me bringing the children in to the room I was in enabled me to get on with making the dinner, give them attention and also give the,m a place to be creative too. It was extraordinary for me as it worked.
One of the big things for me this last year has been making the right choices for me and my family. For actively choosing to be happy and spread happiness and live as much as possible in the here and now. I read a lot of blogs, they have replaced my magazine habit and are a lot cheaper and every now and then I come across a blog or a post that really touches me. Lil Blue Boo is one of those blogs. I have followed Ashley for over three years. I comment occasionally and have also been though a molar pregnancy and the subsequent issues that she is going through, but although this touched me, it is the phrase "Choose Joy" that really has reached out in to my soul and tattooed itself on to by brain.
When you have been though illness, challenges and life changing events like I have, it can be hard not to keep looking for the next big thing. The next issue that is going to come and kick your feet from under you and leave you firmly planted in the mire on your arse. I can tell you from experience this is no way to live. The anxiety that comes with daring not to enjoy the good times for the fear of what is round the corner, the concern that it is only pay off for the next debilitating event. Sometimes it seems that we are given with one hand and then taken from with the other.
There have been times when I have screamed at the top of my lungs to an empty beach "why me? What have we done to you? Why do I have to pout up with all this shit?". There have been times when I have had to lock myself in the loo to hide the tears from my boys, haven't they seen enough suffering in their short lives?
Then I read a blog like Ashley's and it reminds me that life is all about choices, not just the ones we actively chose to make, but the ones we chose to ignore too. It is my choice to make the most out of each and every day, to believe the universe will provide and that we live everyday, not survive it, but enjoy it. That I am going to chose joy. That I am going to embrace my family and journey with them ever forward and yes I might be scared, but I will always travel my path with dignity, my husband and boys by my side and a heart filled with optimism and love.
I am going to try and live in the here and now and watch my children with their joyous abandon and let its infectiousness rub off on me. I am going to make time for my husband and our marriage and I am going to enjoy reclaiming some me time and finding some inner peace amongst the white noise of everyday life. I am going to do one thing everyday and do it well.
I am choosing joy.
Maxi: Knock Knock Mini: Who's there? Maxi: Love Mini: Love who? Maxi: Love you tooThen they both kiss!
Mini: Knock, knock Maxi: Who's there? Mini: Atish Maxi: Atish who? Mini: Bless youAt this point they are laughing so much one of the boys has rolled off my bed, as they were telling jokes before bed, whilst I cleaned the bath.
Mini: Mummy, we have a joke for you! Knock, knock Me: Who's there Mini: Banana Me: Banana Who? Maxi: Banana Me: Banana who? Mini: BANANA Me: Staring to get exasperated now Banana Who? Maxi: Orange Me: Orange who? Mini: Orange you glad we didn't say banana again!
Image via A place of my own
Sheppard pies with golden pillows of potatoes topped with cheese and edges oozing with the delicious promise of what hides beneath. Simple delights of cauliflower cheese or braised steak and onion. The more complex flavours of lemon soul with fennel and potatoes. A seventies delight of a pineapple upside down cake.
The focus has always been what you contained. You were always been a vessel, serving us well. My mum would use you to serve up wholesome family food and when the boys were born and she was on her own, rather than have you languish in the cupboard unused, she passed you down to me.
Once again, you became well used. Perfect roast potatoes where held within glass walls, roast chicken, lasagna, macaroni cheese. You became my go to dish, the one I always picked up first. You were a doddle to clean going in the dishwasher and coming out as good as new.
Then last night the unthinkable happened, I dropped you. This time you did not bounce, you shattered and with you so did a small piece of me. You might only have been a Pyrex dish but you held so many memories for me. So much of my childhood is wrapped up in the delicious food that my mum cooked. I hold very fond memories of the time we spent in the kitchen. She was a superb cook and tried to make sure that I was involved in the preparation in the kitchen with her.
As I grew up and had a family of my own, my mum always encouraged me to cook and I realised that she had given me a firm foundation in the kitchen and love of seasonal produce. I know you are only a dish, but I cried a little last night for a woman that I miss so much and then when I saw you in the bin this morning I cried a little more for the time in my life you represent.
Yes, I know my mum would be saying "it is just a dish Jen" and indeed it is, but also a thousand memories were baking inside it and it will always hold a place in my heart.
There is nothing better than winning a medal, well perhaps winning a medal you have already made yourself. So we set about making own own set of Olympic medals.[gallery columns="2"]
To make our medals we pained or colored them in or covered them in silver foil and then drew our chosen design on them. To get some inspiration we took a look at the past Olympic medal designs and discussed the symbols and their meanings. I then punched out a hole in the top and threaded the ribbon through.
We also made some out of filmo and airdring clay. We rolled out the clay and then cut out a circle with a cookie cutter and made a hole at the top with a straw and drew on our designs. Dry or bake as per instructions and paint in the appropriate colour and allow to dry before threading your ribbon through.
Olympic Medal Facts
The silver used in the first and second place medals must be at least 92.5% pure. The "gold" medals must be gilded with at least six grams of pure gold. Medals also carry the name of the sport contested.
The front sides of the medals awarded at the Games of the Olympiads feature an image of a Hellenic goddess holding a laurel wreath with the Athens Colosseum in the background. Since 1972, local Olympic organising committees have been allowed to create a design for the back sides of the medals.
"We learned about Saint George Mummy. He is the patron saint of England" he happily told us "He was a Roman soldier who be came a crispy one"Well we couldnt stop laughing and then Maxi told him
"No Mini, he became a Christian, but it doesn't matter as it is a myth anyway"I am linking this to The Things they say and do at Thinly Spread
Romance, what is romance? I have to say I often feel the same, especially with two rather full on boys, however, since the transformation of Mini's bedtime, we have been having much more relaxed evenings and also making sure that we actually dedicate some time to ourselves and to each other.
BC (Before Children) we used to really enjoy going to the cinema, but since we do not have any one to baby sit we haven't been for loooooooooooooong time. However, Warner Bros sent us a care package after the Oscars, which included:
Over the last month we have made time to watch these films, not ones that we would have normally chosen ourselves, but ones that we have enjoyed, not only for the films, but for the company. We have made a real effort and off have gone the mobile phones and other electronic devises.
I have been amazed at how powerful, current and moving the older films are and even more amazed at the fact that I hadn't seen them before! Also they were easy watching, so we could chat during them and not lose the plot, which is an issue I have with a lot of films and programs these days!
But more than that, it reminded me why I married MadDad and just how much I enjoy his company and how much I relish time on my own with him. We have resolved to make more time for each other on an evening and also to try and arrange a couple of days or nights out just for us. For the last seven years our life has revolved around the boys and the time has come to reclaim a bit of couple time. We are not talking about a regular date night, just taking the time to chat and turn off all outside interruptions.
We have and are quite a tactile couple and hold and all that in front of the boys, but I have to admit to finding it hard to find enough hours in the day to get everything done. Something has had to give and it really has been our time together. I was finding once the boys were in bed and I had everything prepped for the following day all I wanted to so was veg on the sofa and go to bed. Finally now that Mini is going to bed like a good boy and Maxi is getting up and making his own breakfast I feel a little more human!
How do you make time for yourself and your partner?
I have two boys aged seven and very nearly six and I remember when they were very small having a conversation with MadDad about the fact that I wasn't going to allow toy guns in to my home. I was determined that they would grow up in an environment that didn't promote fighting, death, anger or shooting. For the first two years of Maxi's life, he didn't even know what a gun was, let alone how to use them. I would not let any program on the TV that had violence on it, no Ben10, no Power Ranger or such like. I was very clear and if he was ever bought a gun or such it went straight in the bin.
However, we got to a point where anything and every thing became a weapon. He would use sticks as arrows and swords, duplo was fashioned in to guns and imaginative play revolved around cops and robbers.
As time went on the boys toys included Playmobil knights, castles and dragons, LEGO police and Toy Story little green army men and I realised that I was trying to swim upstream against my refusal to have these thigs in our home. The final straw being when the boys were given Nerf guns and I realised that we all had a ball with them.
So we implemented a new plan. Guns would be allowed in to the house as long as when I was involved in the play they fired "love bullets" and I would smother the boys in kisses and tickles when I shot them. This has become a fun tradition when in our home.
I can not stop what happens when they are in school or at other peoples home, but I can in my house. I do not encourage guns and I refuse to let them have access to shooting and war games on the Xbox, Wii or any other electronic devise. As I believe that introducing them to active violence at this age is harmful and thankfully MadDad agrees. There is enough real violence and war in this world that I do not wish to trivialise it or normalise it in any way.
I am realistic. I know that they will role play cops and robbers, goodies and baddies and other role playing and I feel that this is an important aspect of their development, by playing it out they are actually reinforcing any learning about good and bad. I am a huge believer in the benefit of learning through play and both my boys have had kitchens, cleaning toys and a buggy and babies. There is nothing stronger in my opinion than learning in this safe environment. There is nothing Mini likes more than dressing up as a Knight and slaying dragons or saving the villagers! By not outlawing guns, I can start to influence my children's attitudes about them rather than just pretend that violence doesn't exist.
I would love to know your thoughts on guns and children, especially if they are a little older like my boys.
Chris at Thinly Spread and Kate at Kate takes 5 have teamed up to produce an idiots guide to gardening with children. Even though we have raised beds, I usually leave the gardening to MadDad and the boys, but this year these ladies have inspired me to take charge and join in.
The week before last me and the boys planted tomatoes, sunflowers, peas and beans and put them in a tiny plastic greenhouse that I purchased from Aldi.I am really amazed at just how well they have done. One thing I have to remember is being in the frozen north we have to plant a couple of weeks after Chris does. So I may need to pot on some of the beans. I have not been as successful with the kale I planted as none of the weeds have germinated. We also have planted onion sets and potatoes in two of the raised bed. So my action list for this week is as follows:
I'm linking this post up to the 'Come sow with me' meme which is being run to support @ONECampaign 'LetsThrive' campaign. For more information read this.
- Purchase some sweet pea seeds
- Purchase some more kale seeds
- Purchase some rainbow chard seed
At the moment Bacs the people behind Direct Debit are running a campaign for one special person to win £1,000 each month from February - October 2012 (nine prizes in total).
Do you know someone special who deserves a Big Break for one reason or another? Maybe they deserve to take a break and get away from it all, or to help them realise their dreams, or perhaps simply as a thank you. Why not nominate them to win their very own Big Break? Direct Debit has nine Big Breaks of £1,000 cash prizes to give away in 2012 - and every nomination will count towards a donation from Direct Debit to Marie Curie Cancer Care - so they get a Big Break too.
In order to nominate my sister in law Debbie I had to say in 100 words or less why I think she is deserving of a big break, so this is my nomination.
My sister in law Debbie works tirelessly for her local community Dormanstown, which is an extremely deprived area of Teesside. She is the founder of The Ladies of Steel a charitable group that focus on the local community including providing a youth club for 8 to 15 year olds, a youth dance troop, in addition to family galas and regular children's parties for Christmas and Easter. The ladies of Steel were awarded the honour of Voluntary group of the year 2010 by the Redcar & Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency. Debbie does all this whilst managing The corus sports & social centre.
My mum, holding my niece, MadDad and I and My Brother and Debbie on Maxi and my nieces Christening day
I am honored to have such a wonderful sister in law, she was a tower of strength to me when my mum died and is the hub of her family. At the moment she is trying to put on a special event for 120 local disadvantaged children for the Queens Jubilee and if anyone can help with things for the goodie bags or raffle prizes, then please do get in touch with me.
I have not been compensated for this post, I just think that she really deserves it.
Do bloggers need business cards? Many people will have their own opinion on this, but I know that I received a lovely hand made gift last week from Mummy Limited and it came with an adorable Moo Mini card that said a handmade & Homemade gift sent with love. It was a lovely touch and I have pinned said card on my notice board, so when Moo approached me to see if I would like to give away five set of 100 Mini cards I jumped at the chance.
Mini cards are half the size of standard business cards and can have coloured images on the front and back and what more you can have a different image on each and every one of them!
I am going to keep this very simple, all you need to do is leave me a comment below letting me know what colour you think my business cards will be.
For an additional entry, just tweet "I want to win one of five sets of Mini Moo cards from @overheardatmoo with @mum_themadhouse http://ow.ly/aphQM " and leave me an additional comment letting me know.
I will then use a random number generator to pick five comments as winners when the competition closes at 12 noon on Friday 27 April 2012
The winners will be selected at random from all correct entries received. The winner will be notified within 28 days of the closing date. The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available. This competition is open to UK entrants only.
So the winners are Hazel Parker, Rainie Bish, @gingerbread_mum, Sam and Kelly. Please get in touch with me, so I can organise your cards.
Spring has sprung and I have to admit that Spring makes my heart leap a little and me feel so much better. I adore Spring, there is something about this time of year, about the potential that Spring brings. Buds, just waiting to burst in to life, lambs about to be born and the clocks about to spring forward too. The air is filled with so much possibility.
Before I go in to my Spring Manifesto, I should review my Winter manifesto. Overall I have been pretty pleased with what I have accomplished making sure that we go to the park has been artificial for both the boys and me, they get to run off their energy and I get the sunlight that I so crave. The raised beds are all ready for planting, days out have been taken each weekend (health permitting) and we have even managed to paint the sitars and the crudy. We are still on the decluttering kick (these things always take longer than anticipated). I am backing up my data regularly (preen) and certainly getting my crafting back on.
I haven't managed to start Pilates yet, although I have found a class as there was no spaces, so here hoping this will happen in Spring, but I have taken up swimming when the boys have their lessons (I feel better and am not moaning about being (delete as appropriate) hot, board, melting, board, sick of swimming lessons.
Cherry tree that we bought after mum died
We have a fantastic art gallery near us called Arts Bank (yep it used to be a bank and now it is a gallery). It is somewhere both me and the boys love to go. They have five floors of artwork and also a fab cafe on the ground floor. We visited again recently and I was inspired by some patchwork that we saw to make Fabric Patchwork pots (we gave them to my MIL for Mothers Day, so I didn't want to spoil the surprise as she reads my blog)!. I am also on the lookout in the charity hops for some lampshades I can transform too. IMaterials
I love books........ a lot. I have a pile by my bedside, pile downstairs on the side table, in fact we have books in every room of the house. There are some that I keep coming back to and others that I only read once. Some that inspire me, some that evoke all sorts of emotions and some that take me places so exotic I can almost smell the frangipan.Last month as part of the Tots100 Book Club Becky from Baby Budgeting recommended The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud for me and I am really looking forward to reading it.
Sometimes you stumble on a book that you wouldn't normally read, but it comes at the right time and that is my book recommendation. A non-fiction
book that had a significant impact on me throughout 2011 (which was a hard year of firsts after the death of my mum). The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This is a thought provoking read, which helped me refocus on the things that matter and inspired me to try and find the small things that make me happy.
My well thumbed copy!It is much more than a self help book, it talked to me in a non flowery way. I stopped focusing on the negatives, leaving much more room for the positives. As someone who has suffered with depression in the past and been through cognitive behavioral therapy it really compounded previous learning and enabled me to make practical changes. I have learned that by doing good, you feel good. That small changes, make big difference and that it is my right to be happy.
Now I know that I am not supposed to love a vacuum cleaner, but this Supervac, 2-in-1 Cordless Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner has transformed the time I spend cleaning my hard floors downstairs. I am not a fan of cleaning, so anything that worls as well as this is fab in my book. I have reviewed it over on my other blog A Thrifty Mum.
I have a stationery fetish, I make do bones about this, nor do I hide the fact that I have an addiction to paper straws, beautiful masking tape or stamps. One of the best places to buy all of these items is Papermash, be still my beating heart. The service is superb and the delivery ultra speedy.
Maxi, Mini and my niece on a fairground rise at the club in November 2010Sometimes when the world seems to be spinning out of control When my head is full of thoughts, words and images When my heart feels heavy. I stop Breath deeply and remember to be thankful for the things that light up my life and for the people that make each day brighter.
Mini loves to write, to draw, to make his mark, so we enable him to do so and he has many a notebook or pad and I was putting one of them away one evening when I discovered a note that made my heart lurch.
Nobody likes me.
Now you might know that we have had ongoing issues with Mini about going to school since Preschool. He doesn't like school. He doesnt want to go and we have been trying to get to the bottom of this for a long, long time and finding something like this in your five year old's notebook, I can tell you is crushing.
I know that we can not always be happy all the time, but at five you should be happy most of the time and you should not be made to feel as though no body likes you. Initially when I tried to approach him about it, he just ripped the note up and started to cry. He explained that none of the boys in his class liked hm, but I was at a loss as how to handle it and make him feel better.
But thanks to my lovely online friends I was provided with practical advise that I could put in place and start to work on reframing the "nobody" part of the note. The wonderful Dawn aka The Moider had some excellent advise "Does nobody really like him, nobody at school? No cousins or kids of your friends. Help him focus in the people that do and those moments he enjoys. The things he does on his own or with his brother or you that are fun. It will help show him that the people who don't like him are a very small part of a big picture. It's worth a try. There is no point disagreeing with him and telling him he's wrong because it's his belief. Help him reframe that belief to see the positives".
The issue is still there, but we are working hard on making changes. It doesn't stop my heart from breaking when I think about it though.
Do you label your children. Do you always call one child noisy or clever? I remember reading something very early in pregnancy (sorry I do not know where) about the fact that you should never label the child just the action. For instance not saying naughty Mini, but that was a naughty thing to do Mini. This is something I have always tried to do with both the children, especially when it comes to actions and emotions.
However, I am finding myself slipping. I have been heard to say on many occasions that Maxi doesn't do dressing up. This is something that I have just got used to saying in a way to explain why he will not join in on world book day or for a fancy dress party. We have lots of dressing up outfits on the house, but he has never chosen to use them. It was only this Christmas that MadDad mentioned to me that I was stereotyping him and that I needed to be more careful about attaching this label to him.
So when I was offered a couple of childrens fancy dress outfits rather than just ask Mini to pick two I also asked Maxi what he would chose. I never in a million years thought that he would wear it, but as I am all about trying to make changes, I asked for the one he wanted.
Disclosure: We were sent two fancy dress outfits from www.megafancydress.co.uk
So I was really pleased when Argos wanted to tea up with The Mad House to bring you the chance to win a VTech Kidizoom Twist Kids Camera - Blue. Your children can enjoy taking photos and videos with this 2 mega pixel camera featuring a 4x digital zoom, built-in flash, colour screen, 5 great games and dual view finders. They can edit and enhance your photos with a variety of frames, stamps and wacky effects. There's a great voice recording function with 5 different voice changing effects; pitch up, pitch down, slow, robot and echo.(more…)
I love books, we have them everywhere all round the house. But often my most thumbed books end up beside my bed. The ones that I dip in and out of for inspiration, enlightenment and sometimes my general well being. These are the books that make me happy each and every day and night.
So it got me wondering if this was the same for the rest of you and decided being the nosy person I am , I would love to know what books you keep by your bedside
So what do I have?
Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much - Revised Edition - Anne Wilson Schaef
I first became aware of meditations and positive affirmations before I went for my double mastectomy. This is the last thing I read on a night and helps me focus. It is uplifting, insiring and thought provoking and not at all new agey!
I never thought I would like a kindle, but I love it. I have just finished reading The hunger Games Trilogy as recommended by Northern Mum. It has been a long time, since I devoured fiction lack I have this last weekend, I have carried my Kindle with me everywhere I have been and from room to room!
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy Sarah Ban Breathnach
Sometimes today's life can be filled with so many things going on. This book helps me put things in to perspective and learn to love the simple things in life.
The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder Through the Seasons - Amanda Blake Soule
I aspire to be Amanda. I want to live her life! I want to be able to listen to the rytham of my family and the world around us and be more intune with it. I like this book as it sparks ideas and makes me want to switch off for the very busy day to day life and take time out with my family.
For me reading and writing go hand in hand and I I want to be able to inspire and encourage my boys to do both to the best of my ability. This book is great as it gives practical and simple exercises that we can all do. This book gives me the tools to nurture my boys writing and mine too.
Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing - Karen Benke
Another inspirational book about creative writing filled with ideas, experiments and encouragement to get mine and the boys writing to flow.
Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder - Mariah Bruehl
I am a great believer in learning though play and this book explore this and gives suggestions of ways to do this for children ages 4 to 8. I use it as a resource for expanding on what the boys are engaged in at a particular time. Learning isn't a spectator sport and I love getting involved in my children journey and learning with them and love that I can do this by playing.
I want to create traditions and make memories with my family and these books are a great way to kick start ideas. These books encourage me to follow the seasons and the natural world and stop and look, listen and taste. They are linked to the Christian calender, but that is not an issue to me. This books are all about getting together and celebrating the natural world and it's changing seasons.
This book is a feast for the eyes. if you are looking for ways to be domestic then this book isn't for you, but if you love the fact that being domestic isn't a dirty word and delight in doing things well and the small things then you will love this book.
The Books by My Bedside Meme.
I would love some inspiration and am hoping to come out of this with a load of book recommendations. So here are the rules (do not worry there are not many). I am going to tag 8 people to do this meme and hope that they in turn will tag people. If you are tagged, I would love for you to come back and leave me a note in the comments with your post link, so I can come and have a read.
March 09 after my double mastectomy operation (still with drains in)MadDad and I received counselling from Macmillan even before we made the decision whether or not to have the test. We were really lucky in the care we received and we were also both of the same opinion, that finding out if I carried the spelling mistake would enable us to take proactive actions against any cancers. In all honesty I thought that I would be fine and to find out otherwise was a real punch in the solar plexus, but we decided that we would research all the options open to me and started meeting with consultants, cancer survivors, woman who had undergone mastectomies, nurses and anyone we could really. I had a mammogram, an MRI, a colonoscopy, a gasgoscopy and an ultrasound before we had come to any conclusion about what we would do. Initially I decided to have a hystoretomy. There were distinct advantages to having this operation prior to turning 35, both for the reduction in risk of ovarian cancer and also the fact that the changes in my hormones due to the operation would also reduce the breast cancer risk marginally. I underwent this initially operation in July 2008 when Maxi was 3 and Mini was 2. We both yearned for a larger family but decided on balance that it would be better to concentrate on the two we have rather than risk having anymore and subsequently developing ovarian cancer, especially as it is very hard to diagnose. It was a really easy recovery and I was very lucky indeed.
We were also discussing the possibility of breast cancer and also the diagnosis of this, which would hampered by the fact that I was a larger breasted lady (38GG), so after much consideration, deliberation and after taking as much advise as we could that I would have a bi-lateral prophylactic mastectomy with an immediate reconstruction. I also decided that initially I would have a reconstruction with implants, as this meant the recovery should be quicker and less traumatic for us as a family as a whole.Unfortunately this surgery was not easy in any way shape or form and although the initial operation went well, my body had a reaction to the implants and they had to be removed and then I developed a major infection and nearly died due to Sepsis. 3 years later, I am just getting used to the fact that I am covered in scars and still do not have any breasts. Knowing that I have this spelling mistake, also leaves me with the knowledge that I may have passed this “bad blood” on to my two wonderful boys. They will both be entitled to the genetic test at 18 should they wish and I will stand by whatever decision they make, but I also live in the hope that as they can now detect which gene the spelling mistake is in, that they make even be able to correct it by the time the boys are older. After seeing what people with cancer go through, the chemo, the radiotherapy, the long term drugs to hopefully prevent the cancer returning, we are in no doubt that we made the correct choice for our family. Yes what we have been through has been traumatic for the minimads, but the possibility of putting them through cancer and its treatment makes me feel physically sick. In doing what I have, I have not wiped out my all my changes of developing cancer, but I have reduced the lifetime possibility drastically. I understand that not everyone would have done what I did, but it was the right decision for me, I could not live year at a time just waiting for the cancer to show itself. I was lucky in that I could take preventative measures, which is not always possible. Does this make me a survivor? I will leave that decision to you. This post was written to promote and raise awareness of the CLIC Sargent Yummy Mummy Week – 10th to 18th March 2012 after being tagged by All baby Advise
MadDad's mum doesn't like mushrooms and tomatoes, neither does MadDad. When you ask him he puts it down to the fact that he had never tried them until he was older and he doesnt like the texture, he never learned to like them. In fact between me and MadDad we have quite a few food aversions, but we have always ensured that we try not to pass these on to our boys.
Growing up I didn't like turnip, but was made to have a tea spoon each Sunday on my dinner and told to mix it with my carrot or potato and I was expected to eat it. Guess what I actually like turnip now. With regards to veg, both the boys will happily eat their way though the garden, to which I am so thankful and I put down to the fact that we grow a selection in the garden.
One of our aims for our children was to try and eat our meals together and to not pass on our food aversions to the boys. I thought we were doing pretty well with this, until I was sent some Salmon as part of my relationship with Fish is the dish. I then realised that the boys had never ever had salmon.
Before Christmas we were sent a fantastic selection of Youngs Seafood products including some of the Jamie Oliver range, which included salmon and polock fishcakes. I have to say that I am really am a big fan of frozen fish products and tend to use them instead of fast food. I often will grab fish fingers or fishcakes and cook them for the boys and serve with garden peas and a jacket potato or oven chips, when I am short of time or inspiration and the boys think it is a real treat. Both Mini and Maxi loved these fishcakes and asked me to buy more and it really got me thinking that I need to try and ensure that I do not influence the boys food dislikes.
OK, so I am not going to be cooking them salmon fillets on a regular basis, but this doesn't mean that they will not be eating salmon every now and then.
I would love your hints and tips on how to stop this happening again and how you make sure that you do not pass on your food dislikes to your children.
You can never have enough school uniform when you have two boys that are as active as mine. We have to have a clean set for every day of the week otherwise the washing machine would be on all the time.
So when the nice people at Trutex sent me some of their uniform to review, I was secretly delighted as the boys had already managed to go though quite a lot of what I bought for them in september.
I was really impressed with the quality of the products they sent. The polo shirts and jumpers didn't shrink when washed and tumble dried like some can and the trousers were lovely and soft, but also very durable. Both the boys looked lovely in their uniforms and they have warn really well. I love the fact that the jumpers are a lovely bright red and that the shirts do not need an iron if you give them a shake when you get them ut of the tumble dryer. The whites have remained white and the collars on the polo shirts are the same colour as the rest of the shirt, which is great and haven't gone grey in the wash. In fact if you know Mini, he really is just noise with muck on, so his school clothes get a lot of wear and a lot of washing and the Trutex ones are standing up very well to it.
Yes the jumpers do not come with the school logo on, but our embroidery shop in the village can add a logo on for £2.50, so in future I will be getting this done rather than buying the expensive branded jumpers from the school.
Size wise they are pretty much spot on for my boys and consistent throughout the range and the only issue I had with them was the trousers do not come with adjustable waists so we have had to resort to snake belts. It is easy to find your nearest stockist on the Trutex web site.
What could be better for my train loving boys than a Harry potter themed half term at The National Railway Museum in York. We are regular visitors to both the York site and the Locomotion site at Shildon and love the specials that they put on over the holidays.
This half term is especially fun, as Mini loves Harry Potter and is a big fan and they have the Outon Hall, the steam train which was used in the Harry Potter filmns running for rides and we even cat in one of the carriages used in the film too.
The museum in the largest train museum in the word and is free to enter and is open from 9.30 to 6.pm daily and even without a special event running is a fab day out for all the family, with something for children of all ages and grown ups too.
We got there for opening time, as we prefer to when it is a little more peaceful and have always found this works well for us and headed for the steam ride first and Mini was dressed up as Harry. I have entered him in the best dressed wizard competition on the museums facebook page.Full Frame Events. It was excellent value and a 9 x 6 photograph was £7 or a 7 x 5 just £5. We had such a fun packed day that Mini fell asleep in the car on the way home, which is something he hasn't done for over two years!
When the chaps over at Morphy Richards Home Innovators asked me if I would like to review one of their products which they had launched in partnership with Age UK, I knew immediately who I would offer the review to. My Brother has fantastic in laws and his mother and farther in law are in their eighties, so would be the perfect people to give any product a test run. So I am going to hand you over to my Brother (who can be found tweeting @Boroyouths).
The Morphy Richards Never Loses Suction Lift Away Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner. Well, that's a mouthful of a name isnt it! Thankfully the vacuum is a lot more practical to use than it is to say its full name! Straight away it was easy to realise that it is a lot more powerful than it actually looks, the suction really is a plus point for the cleaner. Add to that the pivital floorhead and it becomes not only easy to use but quick to use as you don't need to go over the same spot time and again because the suction lifts first time. We liked how we could also see any potential blockages through the small plastic window in the floor head, the one touch emptying sytem also meant not only was it easy for myself to use, but also my 'want to help' 5 year old daughter and my aging mother in law also. With a simple button release the bottom of the collection devise opens up meaning you can just hold it over an open bin, press the button and within seconds its empty and ready to use again. Its noticeable that the vacuum keeps its suction when moving from a carpetted area to a hardwood or laminate flooring area, which is great as there is nothing worse than stopping, getting onto hands and knees to change tight switches when moving into different areas of the house. The mother in law who struggles to get around soon decided that of course I wasnt doing it right and needed to do it herself. She said she found it easier than expected to manouver about and the swivel head would take a little getting used to. It also was lighter than expected and the handle on the collection device is idea to use when carrying the vacuum upstairs. The Morphy Richards Never Loses Suction Lift Away Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner is priced at £199 and comes with a 2 year guarantee as standard, 5 year upon registration with Morphy Richards.Each of the items in the range of products come with up to a two year guarantee and a proportion of the sales (3%) go to Age UK, providing a vital source of income to help older people across the country, which is a great idea as I I believe older people need products to make everyday a little easier. I also loved the pictures of my sister in Law's mum with the vacuum. She doesn't look in her 80's does she.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a tea monster. I am obsessed with tea and all that comes with it, which means I have lots of teapots, as I use real tea a nd a lovely selection of mugs and cups. So I couldnt let this weeks listography pass me by.
Now I am rather lucky to be married to a fabulous man who brings me a cup of tea every morning in bed before he goes to work and as I am usually still asleep at 6.30am, he brings it in a travel mug, a) so it stays warm and b) so it doesn't spill if the boys knock it.
My next drink of the day is usually English Breakfast Tea (decaffeinated, as I am like the Duracell Bunny on E with caffeine now, I initially dropped caffeine to aid the absorption of iron). I always use tea leaves so make a pot and then drink it in this lovely extra large tea cup and saucer which was my mums.
After I eat I prefer to have a peppermint tea and love it made from fresh leaves or failing that teapigs lose leave peppermint and I make it in my fab boden cup, which not only has an infuser, but also is insulated to keep things warm whilst it infuses.
When I have tea in the afternoon and evening, I like it out of the Emma Bridgewater Mug that I decorated when visiting her factory on a blog trip a couple of years ago. We all decorated our own and they are in regular use each day.
Finally, I love a hot chocolate or a chai latte and the boys bought me a Big Love Emma Bridgewater Hot chocolate mug for my birthday and it is the perfect size for a large drink.
Mid January I blogged about Mini not going to bed and going to sleep and how it was really affecting our evenings and also making him really tired and grumpy in the morning. We were at a loss, especially as Maxi has always gone to bed like a dream. Well I thought it was time for an update and I am pleased to be able to tell you that our evenings have been transformed.
Mini tonight at 7.15pm
Mini now goes to bed between 7.00pm and 7.30pm and goes to sleep. He has even asked to go to bed and taken himself up at 6.45pm one evening. Even when were were moving his room he still went to bed and sleep in all the mess and chaos.
So how have we done it. Basically it has all been about consistency. We have established strict bedtime routine for both the boys. No screen time after 6pm, by this I mean computers and games consoles. I read somewhere that it takes the brain an hour to wind down after screen time, so I want to encourage this in the boys. We then try and keep to the same routine each evening of dinner, night clothes, books, cuddles, tooth brushing etc and bed (with a bath a couple of times a week).
We downloaded the Relax Kids Wizard Meditations on to am MP3 and he listens to it every night using ETY·Kids5 universal earphones, which he loves. He prefers to listen with the earphones and we have found that he concentrates more of the meditations that way blocking out external noise and influences. Plus we do not have to worry about the earphones being to loud as they have a noise level limiter and they must be comfortable as he has no problem with going to sleep with them in.
Initially we implemented a reward chart for going to bed successfully, but now he knows that it is expected that he goes to bed and that it is reward in itself as he is much less grumpy. Even Cass from Frugal Family has commented that his behavior is much improved in the last two weeks.
More than just making for a happier, well rest little boy, it has really made a big difference to mine and MadDad's evenings. No more snipping at each other as to who will put Mini back to bed. I no longer have a heavy feeling of anxiousness as bedtime approached. We are a much happier family. I am glad that we preserved over a few hard nights and approached the issue with consistency, a targeted approach and kept together on the same wave length.
I want to thank everyone for their support and suggestions and I am in no way smug, as I am sure we will soon be lurching to another parenting challenge!
Disclosure: We were sent a sample of the Etymotic’s ETY·Kids™ Safe-Listening Earphones
Maxi: Mummy where is heaven? Me: Where do you think it is Maxi? Maxi: Is it near Devon? Me: Erm........ Go and ask your Dad
Maxi as Samuel Peeps in his class assembly this weekMy stock response these days is to say "what do you think". Often it is sufficient to clarify the actual question, this time not so much. Normally I do not send him off to ask his Dad either, but I am really unsure about this whole Heaven thing, especially since losing my Mum. I am linking this to my friend Chris at Thinly Spread's regular Friday Things they say and do!
My paternal Gran died long before I was born, in fact she died long before my Dad and Mum got together and got married. However, she was always with us growing up. My paternal Granddad lived with my parents in the house that my Dad's wages had helped pay for when my Gran was ill. Her picture always stood in pride of place on the dresser top in the sitting room and the wedding picture of my Gran and Grandad hung next to the one of my mum and dad on the wall and it hangs next to it sill on my stairs.
My Grandad William and Gran Marjorie with my Dad in the car
My Grandad didn't talk a lot about his "Marge" without his eyes filling up with tears. But I remember sitting on his lap whilst he went though the boxes of slides and showed them to me. There were boxes and boxes of slides most of them with Gran in. They often had day trips and picnics out on the moors and my Granddad never went anywhere without his camera. She was a very stylish lady of Italian decent.
Gran was a nurse, specifically working with children who had kidney problems. She loved her job and was very good at it by all accounts and then she fell ill with kidney disease. She very quickly became incredibly sick and was advised that she needed to go on dialysis, which was very new in those days. But she refused, knowing that two children could have dialysis instead of her. She went on to die within six months of her diagnosis, leaving my Granddad heartbroken.
It was only as I was going through some of the paperwork that I brought from Mum's that I discovered her death certificate and it reminded me of the story, which I often thought must have been exaggerated, as these things sometimes are, but no she died of renal failure on 1st October 1968 aged 43 years old. I also found her Anatomy & Physiology for Nurses book which was from 1941 and have added it to the books in my book shelf. I often wish I could have met her, she looks and sounds like an amazing lady.
Once a week we have a family film night in the Mad House. We all curl up on the sofa with our PJ's on and watch a family movie with popcorn and drinks. We even have special popcorn containers!
This week we watched Dolphin Tale. We never got the chance to see this at the local cinema, so it was new to us all and we loved it. It is the real life inspired story of Winter (the dolphin) who had to have her tale amputated due to infection after getting it caught in a crab trap. It features Harry Conick Jnr, which a lot of the ladies like, but I have to admit that it is Morgan Freeman that makes my heart miss a beat, however, it is Winter and the children who really steal the show.
We sat though the whole film and even had to pause it for comfort breaks, which doesn't normally happen. It is an engaging, thought provoking and uplifting film and it even had me shedding a tear near the end. Yes it is schmaltzy, but it is the perfect family feel good film.
I can tell when my boys have enjoyed a film as it gets put on time after time and since receiving this they have watched it at least three times and we now have the winter webcam saved on the computer under favorites!
I loved the fact that after the film both the boys were really interested in finding out more about dolphins and we learnt that they are not fish, but mammals and are very intelligent.
We really recommend this movie, a fab film for all ages. Dolphin Tale is available on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, digital download and DVD from February 13th 2012
Thank you to Warner Bros for sending it to us.
We are in the middle of a room reorgaisation here in The Mad House. We agreed that Mini would move rooms to the craft room/study as it is larger than his room. MadDad felt that this necessitated painting Mini's current room before doing the actually moving. Well he couldnt have picked a worse weekend for it.
As soon as we started moving things out of the room to make room to paint it Mini started to run a temperature and not a slight one, but a 40 degree delirious one, which meant that we had him in a tepid bath and stuck to me throughout the say, then to top it all off I started with sickness and diarrhea. However, we had got to the point of no return, so MadDad soldiered on.
by 7pm last night, we had Mini's bed in his new room and not much else done and we had to admit defeat and just pile everything up so that Maxi could get to bed and remove everything off our bed so that we could go to bed.
Not ideal, but life goes on and I am coping, but all the mess is making my skin itch!
If you had asked me BC (before children) what my favorite holiday was, it would be a lot different to my favorite holiday now we have children, so when the Tots100 was asking bloggers to post about their favorite holiday in order to win a summer holiday from Thomson Al Fresco. I decided to tell you a tale of two holidays.
South Africa 2003
|Before Children||With Children|
|Location||South Africa||Henley on Thames|
|Transport||Airplane||Car with car seats and sick bags|
|Luggage||A case and small bag||A car stuffed full to the gills|
|Breakfast||Leisurely and taken at hotel||Cooked on a BBQ at 7am|
|Must haves||Good books and sun cream||Baby wipes, games, sun cream and clean loos|
|Lunch||People watching in a café||Sandwiches or MacDonald’s|
|Dinner||Candlelit evening meal with husband accompanied with wine||Cooked on a camping stove and washed in a communal sink accompanied with lots of wine for the adults|
|Typical meal||Seafood with sublime wines||Sausages and Beans|
|Relaxation||Spa treatment or swimming in the pool||What!|
|Shopping||Markets and local delicatessens||With children, no way just the supermarket|
|Most eventful happening||Bring photographed with baby white Bengal tigers||The children actually sleeping though the night|
|Best part of the holiday||Being bought diamond earrings by MadDad||The open air and relaxed time with the family|
|Worst part of the holiday||Being seasick on the boat to Robben island||Child being sick all over car seat|
|Best day trip||A visit to the wine reagion||A visit to Legoland|
Hemley on Thames 2009This post is an entry to the Tots100/Al Fresco Holidays competition.
So you even know what it means? Well, have you ever left the house and had to return as you were worried that you had left the iron on or some other appliance? New Research by British Gas found that 30 million Britons suffer from ‘appliance anxiety’ and can worry for up to 80 minutes each week about leaving appliances – such as boilers, irons and hair strengtheners – switched on when they’ve left the house.
Now I am going to admit that I have been known to do this occasionally with the iron, in fact I have ruined a pretty new iron by leaving it on all day. But the average hosehold wastes £150 a year by leaving the boiler on and annually £740 million a year is lost due to applications being left on standby.
British Gas has introduced the Smart Meter in order to try and reduce the energy and money wasted by people leaving appliances on. The next generation smart meter from British Gas has a traffic light system that indicates when appliances are switched on.
So a quick check of the smart meter as you’re running out of the door in the morning is all it takes to see if everything is switched off, giving you back time spent worrying on the journey into work and saving you money to spend elsewhere.So British Gas have offered an auto shut off iron for one of my readers to win (worth over £80). a Rafflecopter giveaway
Earlier in the week I attended the funeral of a woman who inspired and nurtured me as a teen. She died on Christmas Eve, just like my mum last year and it was a pretty surreal experience. She had been ill for a short while, even so her death came as a complete shock to me, some people you think are just invincible.
I do not think that there are enough words in this world to describe the inspirational woman, who has left us all. There was not even standing room at the funeral and when the whole of the congregation stood to sing Don Williams, You're my best friend I could almost feel her stood smiling on insisting that we were not flat and to sign from our tummy. I managed to hold it together right until the end when Her husband Johnnie stood as they played Marty Robbins, My Woman, my Woman my Wife, everyone then clapped as they closed the curtains at the crematorium.
She was a special woman for many reasons to may people as she ran the local Junior Jazz Band when I was young, so there were lots of people there who I grew up with, but haven't seen in more that 20 years. It was really odd to not recognise these people, when everyone kept coming up to me and recognised me. I tried to explain that having relocated in my early 20's I really didn't recognise a lot of them, that they had changed through the years and that only the ones I kept in contact with where the ones that I recognised.
M took me under her wing when I left home at 16 and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, she provided me with council and guidance during some difficult teenage times and not once did she ever judge me. She welcomed me in to her family and her home and will always hold a huge place in my heart. Not only sis she provide me with a bed, she also provided me with the comfort and stability I needed during these times. She was one of the first people I took MadDad to meet after we got together. I remember walking round her garden in Spring 18 years ago whilst she quizzed him as only she could get away with and I remember her face beaming at me from the aisle in the Church when we got married.
She always lead by example and never did anything by half's and has left behind a loving family, who certainly did her proud. Her four daughters and two sons, stood up and sang loud and proud for their mum. So here to you, M. Your legacy will continue for a long, long time.
Ah that quote has stuck with me since Flash dance, which was all those years ago in 1983 and yes that is the original one! One of mine and MadDads biggest dreams has always been to own a second property, preferably in France. As we get older and realise that we are happy to try and live on one income that original dream of a second home in France is fast becoming a long distant dream. One we longed for when we were booking idyllic holidays abroad, when we had sufficient income to be looking for an investment property we were too busy and had no idea that we wouldn't always be living this way.
So does the fact that we have given up dreaming about seeking to buy overseas properties mean that we are old and withered before our time? I hope not. I hope that it means that we are flexible and that dreams are not static and can change along with our circumstances. When I look at the things I dream about now, I have to say that health and happiness come first and foremost, so I thought I would make a list of what my dreams are at this time in my life.
Sometimes it is nice not to have too much planned over a weekend, too be able to take time out and be a family. This weekend has been a lot like that. We have laughed, cried and walked together. Made dens, played games and cooked together. We have planned, partied (well the boys have) and just been together. I think I have been fortifying myself for the funeral tomorrow of someone who was very dear to me and influenced me as I grew up. However, it is to be a celebration and I am to wear something bright.
Christmas, a a special time for family and friends and this year one big part of our lives was missing. My mum died on Christmas Eve last year and was discovered on Christmas Day by my brother. This year was never going to be the easiest, however, we raised a glass to our missing loved ones and made the best of the day. Christmas Lunch was at The in laws and we came home and watched the Gruffalo's Child, Dr Who (which had me sobbing) and Strictly Come Dancing.Boxing day has been spend, lazing, playing games (our current favorite being Boggle Flash) and watching three generations build and part make a train set.
I have been far too tired on a evening after a full day with the boys to do a full post, but I thought I would give you a glimpse in to this week so far in Instagram. It was my birthday on Monday and it was filled, with love, surprises and a few tears.
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Who doesn't love a good smooch under the mistletoe? What with having to stay in for deliveries, being unwell and lots of school things to attend, I haven't been able to get out to buy any, so I searched the internet for a tutorial to make one with the small amount of green felt I had in my stash and came across the fantastic Stay at Home Artist blog and her 2010 tutorial for mistletoe. I didn't have any pearl establishments so used an assortment of buttons and I love the finished ornament. If I had more felt and buttons I would have made another.
The fab Coffee Lady also made mistletoe this week and can tell you why we kiss under it.
But the best thing is I have an excuse to have loads of smooches with my boys.
We really have taken a pause in advent this week. All the activities I had planned with the children and for myself, just haven't happened. I have found it incredibly hard just to hold it together, let alone do much more than has had to be done.
I did however, manage to get to the boys carol service at Church on Friday morning and found it one of the most moving and joyous experiences of the Christmas period so far. The church was packed to the rafters and was standing room only for parents and the signing was just out of this world.
We watched Strictly Come Dancing the final last night and that was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I lost it, I started to cry and couldn't stop. Strictly was one of my mums favorite programs, we had been to see the live show together and bought her a DVD of it for Christmas last year, which still remains unopened. She would have loved this years series and it was Mini commenting that Grandma had just given him a 10 for his show dance that set me off.
I am hoping that this coming week with the boys off school and no expectations can bring with it some peace.
We have made thumbprint cups before and they have always gone down a storm, this time we decided to do reindeer fingerprint mugs for the boys teachers and teaching assistants.
I try to make sure that I have baby wipes on hand or a bowl of soapy water, the paint hasnt ststained, but I dont want to take the chance!
Using a paintbrush apply a small coat of brown paint to your childs thumb, or if they are bigger they can do this themselves.
Then apply the thumb to the cup and cold and try to remove it without smudging (don't worry if you do get a smudge you can just wipe it off and start again).
Continue to do this around all the cups and then leave 30 minutes to allow to dry.
Using red paint apply a "nose" with a paintbrush to each reindeer and again allow to dry for 30 mins before adding the antler and eyes with the porcelain paint pen.
We then followed the instructions on the paint for baking the mugs so that they are dishwasher proof. We have mugs 5 years old that are still going strong.
As the boys are getting older they are able to add the detail themselves and yes they do not look perfect, but that is half of the charm of them.
We also decided to do some tiny ornaments too, next time I would do this with acrylic paint as it would stand out more and also with bigger ornaments, but I will be looking for more baubles in the sale. The matte ones are the most effective. I am also going to pop the year and initial on the underside and keep a couple of our tree, this would be a great thing to do each year.
Since when did you have to turn up 30 mins early to the nativity to endure that you get a seat? We have done two nativities this week, one for each of the boys and yes that was we. I made MadDad come with me as last year Mum did and I couldn't face the thought of going on my own this year.
So I dragged my husband out of work during his busiest time and even though we got there early we struggled to get a seat for Maxi's nativity on Tuesday. So we thought lets turn up even earlier for Mini's and we were still not the first people to turn up. In fact as soon as the doors opened there was a mad dash through the corridor to the lower school hall and people running for chairs as though they were sunbeds that some German tourist might claim and not content with one chair, oh no they claimed 3 or 4 for their friend who was just behind them - yeah right.
Anyhow whinge aside, it was wonderful to see my boys performing. Their nativities hold a special place in my heart as they were what kept me going when I had sepsis after the mastectomy. Yes I shed a tear, but more than that I loved every minute of them and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the day.
Maxi's (who still doesn't do dressing up) class, did a more traditional nativity with traditional songs and Mini's class (yes he loves dressing up) did The Snowman at Sunset. The one thing that is fantastic about the school though is they never ask parents to make costumes, they are all made by the children or the staff, which I appreciate must be hard for them, but makes my life so much easier at what is such a busy time of the year.
My mum never did anything by half and Christmas was one of those things that was just magical in my home growing up. When I was younger the decorations and tree would always go up on 19th December, the day prior to my birthday and there would be crape streamers strung across the ceiling and paper bells and balls hanging from ceiling too. Everyone got involved in decorating, It was a real family affair.
Christmas decorating took a back seat after my Dad died, that is until the Grandchildren came along and then again, my mums house was a festive wonder filled with tacky decorations along side the more traditional. She might have complained about decorating, but once she made a start she wasn't content until the Lounge, Dinning Room and Hall were all festive.
Taking down those decorations last year broke my heart and I wouldn't have been able to manage without the help of my wonderful sister in law and even this year it is too raw to have all of them out (we split them between us), however, I do have some of them and these are the legacy that my mum leaves to me and that I will pass on to my children.
So My mum's legacy this year is the wonderful decorations above, which I have placed through out my home. The plastic Santa decorations, which are older than me, along with the small bears too. Her Angel on top of my tree and Disney Decorations she bought with my Brother every time they went to Disney Land. Each year we shall get out our decorations and think of her and maybe next year I will bring out more of her decorations and remember fondly the woman that shaped me and made me the mother I am today. I miss you Mum, I love you Mum and you will forever live in in my heart.
I was invited to the Spring Summer preview by Next as I am part of their Bloggers Network a couple of weeks ago. Before we went Next gave the boys £50 between them to buy an outfit, so off we headed to our nearest Next store. Now one of the things I used to have to do was make a beeline for any clothes that I didn't think appropriate. Now what do I mean by that? No slogans is the main issue for me. I do not like children in slogan clothing. So I was pleasurably surprised to find that there was nothing that I considered completely in appropriate and the boys both chose an outfit each. And yes I did have to add some pennies to it!
One of the reasons for attending was the fact that the buyers for Children's clothing were there and as a parent I could let them know my opinions of their clothes and I am not a shy and retiring person at all and really believe that changes will not be made unless we can provide constructive ideas and solutions to people. So what did I say:
We have a bunk bed buddy in natural finish in Mini's room for his mid sleeper bed and it has been a real revelation for him. Like all tidy books products, it is superbly well built and designed and the buddy is very lightweight, but perfect solid and strong at the same time. We live in a new house and the walls are made of plaster board so we have to be careful of what we put up, but this went up in seconds with the addition of some plasterboard screws and if you have brick walls then the appropriate fixings already come with the kit.
It is W53cm x H33cm x D13cm and comes already preassembled, so all you have to do is install it and it really did take less that 10 minutes, even with a handy helper! The design is elegant, but perfectly practicable too, with the lower shelf having a lip, so that nothing can slide off.
All in all this is a great addition to any bedroom and the perfect solution for any non standard height bed. I wish this had been around when I was in the top bunk as a child. We also reviewed the Tidy Books bookcase earlier in the year.
Now for the exciting bit - We have teamed up with tidy books to offer you one of their Bunk Bed Buddy Around the World Limited Edition (worth £54.95), which you can win in time for Christmas (we are relying on couriers to get it to you oin time for Christmas Day). (more…)
When I got to mums, she had managed to get downstairs and I made her a cup of tea and helped her with her medications. I got out her clothes and the tens machine and she was going to take a shower when the phone rang. It was MadDad to say that it had started to snow again and he was stranded at the GP's with both the boys, as in 10 minutes over an inch of snow had come down and it wasnt showing signs of stopping.
So mum being mum told me to go home and get back to my boys, that she would be fine, as she was going to my Brothers for Christmas Day and would see hoe she felt that evening and might even pop to the Club for Christmas Eve. So I did as I was told (if you knew my mum, you knew it was best to not argue). I gave her a big kiss and cuddle and told her we would see her on Boxing Day for our family time together and then again on the 27 for our family get together with my brother and his family.
It took me over an hour to do a 15 minute drive and when I next spoke to my mum at 2pm, she told me the tens machine wasn't working and that my Brother was popping in to Boots to pick her up a new one. She said she was feeling much better apart for some pain in her back.
I spoke to her at least two more times on Christmas Eve , once at 7pm when the boys rang her to say good night and then again at 9ish to say good night myself and wish her a good Christmas Eve. She told me she was going to make a cup of tea and go up to bed, as Chris was collecting her around 10ish on Christmas Day. So I said I would ring her in the morning, but if she didn't answer we would wait for her to call us.
We rang my mum at 9am on Christmas morning and left a message on her answering machine all singing we wish you a Merry Christmas and thought nothing of it and then received the call to say that he had found mum dead at 10am.
It is only now nearly a year later I can actually comprehend that my mum died alone in her home on Christmas Eve, probably just after speaking to me on the phone, as she was found in the kitchen with teabag in cup and milk on the side. She was making that cup of tea to take up to bed with herself. I can not imagine what she went though, but at the moment I am in pieces.
I WANT MY MUM
Growing up, I never had a stocking, oh no I had a pillowcase that we could hang downstairs for Father Christmas to leave our gifts in. Yes all our gifts pretty much fitted in to a pillowcase, except for the large ones, like my Sindy house (which was pre loved and already assembled and covered in a bed sheet. This was something that carried on for me until Maxi was born when I made a Christmas Stocking for him and the following year when I made one for Mini too
So when Idealo, a UK based price comparison website asked me what I would buy for one of the boys with £75 for their Christmas presents, it reminded me of my childhood growing up and I accepted the challenge.
Why £75? Well Idealo have discovered the average spend of parents on their children at the festive period is now £168, whilst in 1995 it was only £75.So they challenged me and other bloggers to put together our christmas list for one child for £75 and I decided to do one for Mini, so here is what I chose and why. Dragon Hama bead box set £8.95 Mini loves all things crafty, but to be honest Hama beads have passed us buy and I thought that this selection would really excite him as he loves Dragons. Merry from Craft Merrily suggest this as the perfect set for a 5 year old lad, plus they are great for improving manual dexterity and hand eye co-ordination. LEGO Creationary Game £22.40 We are huge LEGO fans and we have this on the Ipad and thought it would be fantastic to play together as a family. We hvae lots of LEGO games and find them to be perfectly suited to us and the boys. Plus we can always make up our own rules too. LEGO City Truck £19.97 Mini is particular loves LEGO City, he has great fun building it with MadDad, sometimes this can take a few nights, but then he really plays with the sets once they are constructed. We have the airport and I thought this would be the perfect companion. Wheres the Doctor book £4.49 Mini adores Wheres Wally and we have all the books and he loves Dr Who too, so this is pretty self explanitory really. Boys activity book £3.99 Dark nights over winter time often means books, puzzels and crafting for us, so I hoped that this would be really interesting for MIni. His reading skills are great and I wanted to keep him occupied. LEGO mini figures magnet kit £2.50 Can a boy ever have enough LEGO? Bike horn £3.00 Mini is now riding his bike pretty efficiently without staibilizers and loves these old fashioned horns, so I though this would be a perfect small gift for him. In total I spent just under £75.00 and I think that I got quite a large and varied selection for him, but I can see how parents would spend a lot more, especially when it comes to the cost of electronics and games. I tend to buy small things throughout the the year for the boys and I also ban TV with adverts during the build up to the festive period, as otherwise all I would hear is "Mummy, I want that". Did you have a stocking as a child? Do your children have one now?
Disclosure: Idealo purchased the items on my gift list for me for Christmas
I love advent and each year I also take part in a Pause for Advent with Floss I use it as a time to explain to the boys the fundementals about Christmas and also to make sure that we do not get lost in the excitement of the buildup to Christmas Day itself. For the last two years we have hung up the 24 small stockings that I made, each with a task for the day attached to them. I am hoping that by focusing on advent this year it will help me get through each day as it comes, rather than worrying about how I am feeling. I am trying very hard to live in the present and take each day as it comes.This is our list from last year Write and post your letter to Father Christmas Help ice the Christmas cake Make Christmas cards Make shapes with the cookie cutters and playdough Make Christmas shrinky dinks Make paper snowflakes Go to Carol Service Colour in some Christmas pictures Make some Christmas fairy cakes Make paper chains Collect Pinecones Start reading about the nativity Write your Christmas cards and deliver local ones Make salt dough ornaments String popcorn to go on the tree Make a bird feeder Sing and dance to Christmas songs Make some Christmas cookies Watch a Christmas movie Make reindeer food Read a Christmas Story Make up a Christmas story Take a walk in the dark to look at the Christmas lights Help trim the tree Make mince pies make spiced cider Find Mistletoe, hang it in our house and kiss under it. Make Thick Hot Chocolate and marshmallows Put up a wreath Decorate our gingerbread house Make a family traditional dessert In addition to this, we also have my old advent calender, which is 30 years old and I won from church, each day tells the Christmas story in a poem form. We also have two more calenders to add to that this year, both in the same format of 24 little books, one is the nutcracker and the other the Christmas Story, which I hope the boys will become attatched to in the same way as I am to my calender. Finally, as I am not really a scrooge the boys do both have a chocolate calender this year, which were given to them by Hotel Chocolat, who also do the most divine Christmas hampers too
One of the most effective ways to save money is to use an online cost comparison site such as Moneysupermarket.com These sites work by providing you with a list of quotes or prices based on the information you enter into them. They do not charge the user, but make their money from charging a commission on any products bought through them. They provide fast and current information in a timely manner, however, it can be daunting and also time consuming if you do not have all the information you need before you start.
So this week I want to talk about how to get the best out of a cost comparison site. You can find utilities deals, the best credit card deals, insurance quotes (home, car, travel, wedding, pet, life, dental and buildings and much more), find the best broadband deal, the best mobile phone deal for you and much much more.
Try and use the site a month before any of your renewals are sue, this will give you time to consider the offers and also read the small print and follow up any quotes on the telephone if you need to.
Have all your information to hand
If you are looking for quotes for your gas or electric, make sure you know your annual usage and have your previous bills to hand. If it is car insurance you will need to know details of any previous claims, no claims details and dates of any motoring offences.
Use more than one site
There are a number of sites avalable, so make sure you use more than one, or one that is specific to the information that you need.
Things to watch out for
If a site has teamed up with a company, this often means that they have a relationship with them and might not be independent. Also beware of hidden charges like delivery costs. You also need to make sure that you are comparing like for like a nd read the small print.
I am feeling miserable at the moment, down, blue, grumpy and just plain not happy. I feel as though I am being torn in two directions. I have the boys who are so happy that Christmas is coming and that Father Christmas will be on his way and the thing is as much as I love Christmas it currently fills me with a sense of dread and overwhelming grief for my mum.
I do not want Christmas to become a time of mourning for the boys, I want them to feel all the joy that Christmas brings to Children, but I also want to remember my mum and understand that I am still grieving for her.
I feel terribly conflicted and I do not know how to reconcile these feelings or even if I am supposed too.
I have made sure that I have most of the boys presents and have made a start on the advent activities that we will be doing in the hope that keeping busy helps. I always find that the boys are the best medicine a girl could hope for.
But I am also a little concerned over my health at the moment. For those of you that don't know I had an MRI scan on Saturday evening for some pain in my spine and I should find out the results in a couple of weeks time. So I would appreciate your prayers (if you are that way inclined) or just your thoughts if you are not.
You can not really have missed the fact that this Friday is Children in Need. Children in Need is one of the charities we support as a family and the boys are always keen to make their own contribution, as are we.
This year they will be showing their spots for Pudsey on Friday by wearing spots to school and taking in £1 each, plus we have been challenged by Baking Mad to bake for children in need and they will donate £10 to them in exchange for our bakes, so we will be doing this on Thursday for MadDad to take to work on Friday and sell.
Again this year Build a Bear has partnered with Children in Need and are donating £5 from each sale of their Pudsey or Blush bears to them. Last year they donated a staggering £135000 from the sale of their bears. The bears retail at £15 each and I have to say my boys still sleep with their original bears that they made this time last year at Build a Bear.
What are your plans for this years Children in Need?