Update on my word of the year – Nurture

We are now two weeks in to January and I thought I would update you on how I am getting on with my word of the year and my intentions for 2014. nurture 600 Over on A Thrifty Mum, I have been documenting my decluttering efforts, which are going really well and I am pleased to say that slowly but surely I am simplifying our home and belongings.  I am learning that I also need to nurture the environment we live in making life easier for all of us.  With this in mind I have decided to get our tumble dryer repaired.  I haven't used the dryer for over a year as it has been broken and have found drying the washing such a chore this winter. With regards to nurturing myself I have appointments with numerous specialists to discuss my condition and I am also having regular blood tests to ensure that things do not get to the stage they did before Christmas.  I understand that by keeping on top of it I can really make an impact on all of my family.  So this really is key for us all. Sewing lessons also start again next week and I am really looking forward to spending time with a fab group of ladies and my sewing machine.  I started on Capturing Childhood Manual Overdrive e course this week too. Each lunch time I take Alvin out for a walk and it is doing me the world of good to get out of the house and experience some sunshine. MadDad and I are also making time to have movie nights together and enjoying our evening time together.  We have plans to have more lunches together and spend quality time together. I am also learning to say "no" to things.  I ask myself the question "will this nurture me and my family?" It is early in the year, but things are going well at the moment and by having a word to focu on it is really making me think and evaluate what I am doing. 3.
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#ScreenFree Update and our perfect day

  screen free prompts The boys have had their first week back at school this week and one of the things we are trying to do is reduce their reliance on screens and technology.  I have not thrown out all screens or even banned their use, but I have insisted on at least one screen free activity a day from the above list of prompts. We find screen free time much harder in these dark and cold winter days.  In the summer the boys first reaction after school is to get changed and go out to play outside. This month as part of our ambassador program Center Parcs asked us to think about our perfect day.  So we all sat down at dinner and discussed what we would like out of a day at Center Parcs and not surprisingly the main thing that came out of the discussion was more family time outside. Both the boys would love to do something action and adventure like aerial tree trekking or a Quad Bike Safari.  I am looking forward to board games on an evening and cycling together during the days.  When the boys are not on an action and adventure kick I know we ill be in the pool and I will have to drag my water babies out as they love being in the water. I might even get time to read a book whilst they are all in the pool.  You never know! So what would be your perfect day? I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and will be visiting Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1gvBHBB
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Help me win some Winter Sun

The last time I visited the Canary Islands was in January 2001.  2000 had been a really bleak winter and my Father had died in an industrial accident and I really needed some winter sun, so Madad and I took a wonderful relaxing trip to the Canary Islands.

The Canary's really were the perfect place to capture some winter sun, make peace with the previous years happenings and reconnect with each other after a very stressful period.

Each January  Las Canteras Beach in the Canary Islands come alive with sand sculptures that reach 4 meters in height which are amazing and the 22 degree weather really makes looking at them just wonderful.

We enjoyed some amazing Canarian food when we last visited way before we had children and I remember spending plenty of time on the beach and around the pool reading (which isn't something that tends to happen now).

MaDad isn't really one for sitting and soaking up the sun, so we also hired a car to explore the Island and took a number of boat trips, in addition to jet skiing and parascending, yes we used to be pretty adventurous!

Well we have been given the chance to relive this holiday and you can help.  I have the opportunity to win a round trip ticket for 2 to Gran Canaria, accommodation at a 4 star hotel, and half board. I have shared the video on your Facebook page,  and I NEED YOU to share it with your followers.  I will only qualify once I  have reached 50 shares. The winner will be the contestant whose video has been shared the most by the 8th of January 2014 at 20.00GMT

So please go to my facebook page and share the video - Pretty please! 

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Fingerprint Thank you cards – Robins

We are working on reducing the boys reliance on technology and we decided to make fingerprint thank you cards for part of our #ScreenFree time. robin fingerprint cards I think that it is really important for the boys to say thank you for the gifts they receive and as a family we love to give and receive hand made cards.  I try to make sure that what we do is something that the boys can do all by themselves and they loved this activity. Materials
    1. Cardstock or blank white cards like these 100 Pack of White Square Card and Envelopes
    2. Paint (we used tempura, but any will do)
    3. Fine tip black pen
The boys turn white card in to cards by folding them in half. finger The they painted a finger with brown paint and made fingerprints on a card to represent the Robin's body. They washed their hands and by the time they returned to the table the brown paint was dry, so they painted the tip of the little finger red for the Robins red breasts. They then added the birds beaks and feet with a fine tipped pen. tongue of concentration Maxi wrote thank you on the front of his cards (note the tongue of concentration), whereas Mini wanted to have lots of Robins on the front of his cards. robin fingerprint card Do your children send thank you cards out after christmas or when they receive gifts?
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40 Things I have learned

  1. I am a the cat's pyjamas
  2. You can not have a champagne lifestyle on a larger income
  3. Less is more
  4. You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream - C.S Lewis
  5. Sew a little love into every stitch
  6. That life is not a one way journey, you can make turns and even go backwards if you chose.
  7. Being wonky is good
  8. The sum is greater than the parts
  9. Fairy lights are for all year round, not just christmas
  10. Family is EVERYTHING
  11. Most things can be healed by spending time with children
  12. That I am not the only person in the world to have a stationery and washi tape addiction
  13. Creativity is like a muscle
  14. Happiness is not perfection, it is learning to look past the imperfect
  15. That it is acceptable to get satisfaction from hanging washing on the line
  16. Not much beats slipping between freshly laundered better, other than being joined there by the ones you love.
  17. The secret to good Yorkshire puddings is an extra egg.
  18. That having gift vouchers means that there will be nothing you want from that shop and not having them means you are longing for something!
  19. I am not defined by my broad Northern accent.
  20. Being polite costs nothing and gives so much.  Always say please and thank you.
  21. My best has to be good enough
  22. In order to make life better for woman, I have to raise feminist boys.
  23. There is unbound joy in finding money in old bags and coat pockets
  24. A pot of tea solves a lot of life's woes
  25. Tea tastes better served in china cups
  26. I would rather spend more on paper straws then drink from plastic ones
  27. I have to be the person I want my children to become
  28. Kindness costs nothing, starts with me and needs to be an intention I make everyday and I should always give more than necessary
  29. That now is my happy ever after
  30. There is something wonderful to be found in a family button tin
  31. Life is too short and unpredictable to not live in the present. Yes life is a grind, but I am not being worn down, I am being polished!
  32. No balls in the house is a good rule
  33. Where there is love there is life
  34. That I light the way for my children by the bridges I burn
  35. Accidents happen
  36. Buy quality and only buy once
  37. Given enough glue sticks and glitter I could rule the world
  38. There is no way to be a perfect mother, but I am the right mum for my boys
  39. That if I can not change a situation then I have to change my thoughts about it.
  40. We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
Blatantly copied from Housewife Confidential and kept for my 40th Birthday, well actually I turned 40 on December 20th, but with illness and a superb family christmas I forgot to post this!
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A month of #ScreenFree prompts and activities

screenFreww If your children are anything like mine they might have slipped back in to the habit of reaching for screens first over this festive period.  Both the boys now have an Ipod, which seems permanently attached to their hands and I really have felt the need to look at ways to encourage them away from their reliance on technology.  I find that this is only really an issue over the dark winter months as during the lighter nights their first reaction is to play outside with their friends. So over January I am going to be giving you (and them) a screen free activity each day on The Mum in The Mad House facebook page.  Come and join us and let me know if the prompts are working fo0r you and your children. Yesterday we worked on our words for the year and Mini's was Harmony as he is going to look at improving his temper and to try and not fight with Maxi! harmony Maxi's word was Creative as he understands that he needs to be more creative in life and not look to technology all the time. creative Maxi initially had issues with doing this activity, but it seems he just has problems with failure to transition from one activity to another.  Once he started this task he really enjoyed it and had so much fun.  I am hoping by having a word to focus on we can light that spark of imagination again and be a little more #ScreenFree.    
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My word for 2014 – Nurture

My word for 2013 was Joy, or more specifically Choosing Joy.  I focused on looking past the negatives and choosing to find joy in all I see, do and make.  It wasn't always easy, but the more I did it, the easier it became and I actually found that I started to do it automatically without thinking about it.
We have been truly blessed in 2013 with some fantastic family experiences, but there has also been some real challenges.  I hope that I have dealt with them mostly with dignity and also learned from the experiences.  I have certainly learned who my true friends are, but I have also learned that I need to let go and just make the most of everyday.
This year I want to concentrate on Nurture.
verb: nurture; 3rd person present: nurtures; past tense: nurtured; past participle:nurtured; gerund or present participle: nurturing
  1. 1.
    care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing.
    "Jarrett was nurtured by his parents in a close-knit family"
    synonyms: bring up, care for, provide for, take care of, attend to, look after, rear,support, raise, foster, parent, mother, tend; More
    antonyms: neglect, hinder
    • help or encourage the development of.
      "my father nurtured my love of art"
    • cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition).
      "for a long time she had nurtured the dream of buying a shop"
noun: nurture
  1. 1.
    the action or process of nurturing someone or something.
    "the nurture of children"
    synonyms: encouragement, promotion, fostering, development, cultivation,boosting, furtherance, advancement More
    • upbringing, education, and environment, contrasted with inborn characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality.
      "we are all what nature and nurture have made us"
      synonyms: upbringing, bringing up, care, fostering, tending, rearing, raising,training, education More
      antonyms: nature, innate disposition, inherited characteristics
I need to nurture myself a little more and focus on finding answers to the ongoing health issues I suffer from and find ways that I can support my body and soul with my condition and be a little gentler on myself.  But I also want to extend this to all the other areas of my life too.
I am going to continue to learn new skills and keep up my sewing lessons on a weekly basis and also the Saturday workshops now and then.  I also want to work on my photography skills and have joined the Manual Overdrive course with Capturing Childhood.  I have found that learning new things nourishes me and enables me to be a better person and give more to my family.
I am going to spend time supporting my children, tending to their changing needs as they grow up. I want to find ways to encourage them to be less reliant on electronics and to nurture their other talents.  I want to make spending more time outside a priority and have fun as a family.  I want to nurture their life skills.  I want us to cook, bake, make and create together.
I am going to give more time to my marriage.  I have loved having MadDad around during this festive season and realise that we need to spend some more time with just the two of us.  We had lunch together on my birthday and it was a rare treat that we both loved and we decided that we are going to make more time for each other.  Maybe not date nights (as it is hard to get people to look after the boys), but why not meet for lunch more often or watch a movie together.  My marriage is important to me and worth spending time and energy on to nurture it.
I also want to nurture my career. More on this to come!
Finally, I am also going to nurture our Finance, but there is much more on this on A Thrifty Mum, where my word of the year financially is PRUDENCE.
So each quarter when I produce my seasonal manifesto's I will use Nurture to help me focus on my tasks, hopes and plans and update on the previous quarterly goals and aims.
I find that my having a one word that sums up my goals and plans for the year it makes me much more focused and I use it as a visual reminder.  I print it out to remind me of what I am looking to achieve.
Cass also told me that Ruth at Dorky Mum does a word of the year too and she is much more eloquent that I, so hop on over to read more about her word.  I also completed Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year workbook after reading about it on her blog and it really helped me reflect on 2013 and put 2014 in to perspective.
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Putting Christmas in to perspective

It has been something of a challenging couple of weeks here in The Mad House.  I was not very well up on returning from our fantastic holiday in Florida (more on that to follow) and have had to spend some time in hospital.  Christmas and my 40th Birthday have really had to take a back seat to me getting to a stage where I could be at home. christmas tree Being in hospital at this time of year really got me thinking about all the families who spend the festive season apart for whatever reason and for all the fantastic NHS staff that work over this time of year. I have been so lucky that friends have been able to step in and collect the boys from school and feed them, enabling MadDad to visit me and ferry me around.  I am so grateful for the support I received online, in addition to a dear friend even coming in to our house and making sure it was all clean and tidy for my return.

Christmas is not about the presents, it is about the presence.

  It really is about the presence of people you love and care about.  People that make your life shine and fill it with joy. So I am not worrying about the reviews I need to write or other commitments I have, but I do want to say a few heartfelt thank you. So I hope that you all have a wonderful festive period and have some great times with your families.  I might be around over the holidays, but I am not sure.  So Merry Christmas to all.
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Day 12 of the Center Parcs #CPGift Christmas Competition

We are delighted to be Center Parcs family bloggers here at the Mad House and cannot wait to start planning our trip to Whinfell Forest and enjoy our first family Center Parcs holiday. Center Parcs are currently running a fantastic competition to win a stocking full of goodies OR a family break at Center Parcs. Below is the stocking full of goodies you have a chance of winning if you enter. Center Parcs Goodies Center Parcs are launching a brand new advert on Christmas day, so before it launches they are offering you the chance to guess some items which appear in their advert. Each day the mystery gifts are featured in a vine which Center Parcs will tweet here at midday or if you need an extra clue for today, check out the image below. The competition finishes today,  the 19th December, so make sure you keep an eye on their twitter feed . 12 Center Parcs Christmas Riddle Clues_ MumintheMadhouse Once you think you know what the item is, head over to the Center Parcs twitter page. RT the tweet containing the clue and use the hashtag #CPGift and don’t forget to add your guess. Make sure you are following @CenterParcsUK Check back the following day to see if you were lucky. View full terms and conditions here.  
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Our favorite Christmas Movies

throw We are an eclectic bunch in the Mad House, but one thing we all love is Christmas Movies and snuggling up on the couch watching them together.  Now thanks to Laura Ashley we have a new throw to snuggle under and watch our movies and the Tartan Cranberry Check Cotton Mix Throw is perfect in colour to match our traditional red and green decoration, so henceforth will become known "The Christmas Throw"! There is also lots of other things that can be done with a Laura Ashley throw, just take a look at this round up post where other bloggers show what they did with theirs. rug I would never attempt to wrap the presents without Elf on the screen and a Baileys in my glass!  Now bear in mind that Mini is seven and Maxi eight and me and MadDad a lot, lot older (in fact I have a significant birthday this Friday)! Our current favorites are: We have our Advent Box and it is filled with Christmas Books and films that we get our year after year and add to them too and the throw will be added to it this year when it goes away.  I so look forward to winter evenings with the boys after school once we have done a craft where we can shut the cold, dark world out and enjoy a film together.  We have had such joy introducing them to classics like Gremlins and Home Alone. I would love to know what movies I have missed and what would be on your list.  Disclosure: I was given a new throw and compensated for this post, plus it contains affiliate links too.
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