Children’s Craft Showcase – Halloween is creeping up on us!

It has been a wet, wild and windy week in TheMadHouse and what with the dark nights and dark mornings we need something to look forward to, so we are going to start on our Halloween Preparations.


Last year we did lots of things and I thought I would do a nice review post for you here to get you in the mood for the spooky festivities.

I will also be holding a special Halloween Children's Craft Showcase on the Monday 25 October (start of half term) to collate everyone's ideas and to give you some more for the half term week.


Balloon Scary Faces


Paper Pumpkins


Salt Dough Decorations


Spooky secret drawings



Boo to you ghosts

Finally if you are looking for some food inspiration for the night look no further than my super dooper hairy hotdogs.



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Liz Earle – Review

ReviewBack when I was a DINKY (Duel Income No Kids Yet) Liz Earle was my beauty brand of choice for a number of reasons.  I hadd very sensitive skin (at least I did have till I was pregnant) and Liz Earle worked really well for me.  I really agreed with their philosophy and also the fact that they do not use parabens and that they use organic whenever possible.
Believe it or not Maxi was first washed in their orange flower botanical body wash.  I still use their Cleanes and Polish every day, although I can not afford much else nowadays and I rely on birthdays and Christmas to keep me in stock.
Liz Earle kindly sent me a set of their Cleanse and Polish, Instant Boost Skin Tonic and a Skin Repair Moisturiser to try.  It has been a revelation to be using the whole system again.  My skin has visibly improved, even MadDad has noticed the difference and it feels smother, more moisturized and an even texture.
Not only has it made a real difference to my skin, but it has also been a great pick me up too.  Liz Earle products smell divine and using them is a real treat and I have got back in to a really good morning and evening routine.
They also sent me some botanical shine shampoo and Botanical shine conditioner for dry hair.  I have been using this for the last three weeks and it is wonderful.  Firstly, the smell is divine, making it a real treat to use.  I have been conditioning my hair and then cupping my hands to breath in the wonderful uplifting scent.
But smell isn't everything and yes I have seen improvements in the condition of my hair too.  It is more manageable and less frizzy.  At £7.50 a tube it is pricey, but it seems to last well, it lathers very well and the shampoo has no SLS in (which is great as Maxi has issues with SLS).
So I have made a decision, I am going to save my money and rescue the number of things I buy, but I am going to be purchasing Liz Earle's cleanse and moisturising products and also the haircare products and keep on enjoying this wonderful routine I have been using.
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My Priorities – Should our children fit in?

Way back when I had pink hair and lived my life in the minute I never thought I would be conventional.  I left home at 16 due to me and mum clashing and not agreeing on my "lifestyle" choices!  Back then I wanted to be different, I didn't want to fit it, I didn't want to become another ant on a large planet of ants, I wanted to be someone and I was happy to stand out for all the wrong reasons.

I was never the easiest child or teenager, I would rebel against convention, against expectations and would be difficult for difficult's sake, I was the black sheep of the family.  I was the one pinching the home brew pina colada from the wardrobes in  the garage and drinking then under the cinema on the beech or at the park.  I wouldn't do any homework and I skived off senior school.  

Everything was boring or normal and I was sick of living a stepford life and felt constrained by living in the town I did with the friends I had and I wanted more.

Then I met MadDad and everything changed.  I didn't need the pink hair or the outrageous behaviour (which was always a front), as I had him.  We got married and relocated to Berkshire and we lived a great life.

We had fantastic holidays, worked hard and lived life to the full coping with the potholes in the road on our way (my Dad dying, the numerous miscarries and health issues) and I started to live a conventional life.

The the minimads came along and we decided that we wanted them to grow up back in the north east close to our family and the beautiful North Yorkshire coast and country side.  I have become Mrs Conventional, not that that is an issue, but I already see my boys struggling against convention.

I see Mini not wanting to wear a school uniform, both of them not wanting short hair like the other boys and start to wonder when they will start pulling against the boundaries of society.  How to I encourage them to have their own opinions in life and to be their own men.  School doesn't allow for children to be different and my children are different.

Maxi is mathematics mad, he is a natural leader and old beyond his years in some ways, but also he is a typical 5 year old boy in others.  He loves being boisterous, playing tig and building dens, but he also loves working out how things work and wants to know how many miles are there between each planet and how much hotter the planets closer to the sun are.

Mini is already realising that he is different to the children in his class, he is having to go and get his reading books from Maxi's class and spends time reading to the TA.  Yes he can read, but he can not write and shows no interest in learning yet.  Give the boy a chance he is only just 4.  

Maxi has been chosen to take part in a special project at school (funded due to the fact he was assessed for Speech Therapy) called Achievement for All.  Initially I didn't see how my son would fit in to this project as is aims are to raise the aspirations for children and a lot of the children on the project need their confidence raised.  So I went to meet this the team implementing the project to discuss their hopes for Maxi and also what and how their thought he would gain from the project.

It turns out that they have talked to Maxi teachers and think that the project will really help Maxi, that it will hone his natural leadership skills and that his educational outcomes will be based on that and also focusing on his writing, which could do with some improvement (It isn't bad for a five year old).

The first part of the project will be music based and I will have the opportunity to go in to school once a week (Wednesday afternoons) and share in his experiences and work alongside him.  The team feel that moving Maxi from the classroom, will keep him more challenged and also help him feel less different from the other children.  But he is different from the other children, all children are unique and I am not sure how I feel about this.  It has raised all sorts of issues and thoughts for me.

Yes my boys are clever, I have discussed this before, but for me it isn't everything.  They are 4 and 5 years old.  They need to be happy, yes part of that is keeping them challenged and inspired, but also isn't it about letting them know that it is OK to be different, to be unique. 

It seems to me as this is the start of what is to be a long road through their schooling and childhood.  How do other parents cope?




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The Gallery – An Apple Tree


This apple tree is 3 years old, we planted it after we moved in and started work on the garden.  It is small and only bore 6 fruits last year, but this year its branched are bowed under the weight of its fruit.

For me this feel like parenting, sometimes you feed the children, nurture and look after them and it feels like they are just ignoring your advice, but then it just happens.  It clicks and there is please and thank you without prompting.




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Frugalicious Food = Frugal + Delicious

Myself and Cass from Diary of a Frugal Family have decided to start up a food blog - Frugaliscious Food.


Frugal + Delicious = Frugalicious.

You can find us on twitter to @frugaliscious_
We are looking for guest posts too, so if you have a great receipe, then please let either one of us know.




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Cooking with Children – Lamb Stir-Fry


 We were given a some welsh lamb and the ingredients to make a welsh lamb stir fry from the Cool2Cook2 book which has been produced by Meat Promotion Wales (Hybu Cig Cymru) to help get kids cooking.


I love getting the boys in the kitchen, so we set about following the recipe on Saturday evening.  The boys chopped all the vegetables, whilst I did the ginger and MadDad prepared the lamb, which was welsh and organic.


I have to say that the recipe was really easy to follow and the boys did the majority of the work, with me and MadDad supervising.


We really enjoyed it and there was 4 empty bowls at the end of the evening.  In fact the boys enjoyed it so much that we made Lamb Kofta Kebabs out of the book for Sunday dinner.


They went down a treat.  If you can get hold of this cook book then I would, it has some very easy, well balanced recipes in it and the MiniMads want to try them all and I can see it being used time and time again, especially when they are a little older and I can get them to cook dinner for us all!


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Spiritual Sunday – Grateful

I am so grateful to Interflora who sent be a bouquet of flowers just because they like my blog.  They even matched them to the blog colours too.
I am grateful that it is my mums 67th Birthday today, after her hospitalisation and all that came with it earlier in the year, I didn't think we would get this far and we have and she is doing really well.  
I am grateful that she got on to a special COPD trial at the local hospital, even though it makes me taking her twice a week.
I am grateful that we have had a week of Mini going to school without any tears and tantrums.
I am grateful for heating on a cold Sunday morning.
I am grateful for the wonderful friends I have made blogging and on twitter for the support I have been given with Mini starting school.
I am grateful that my Brothers MIL may be released from hospital next week, she has made a miraculous recovery. 
What are you grateful for this week?
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Quality Time with Mini – Face Painting!

Mini and Maxi usually got to football practice on a Saturday morning, but mini has a bit of a cold after starting school, so we decided that we would spend the morning together and let MadDad and Maxi go off to Saturday Club together, whilst we had some quality time together.
So we got out the face paints we had been given as part of the TRU Toyologist programme and had a morning of painting and fun.
Mini decided that he wanted to try out some different ones for Halloween, so I give you the skeleton and vampire looks.
But before you think I got out of this scot free, just being the painter, then think again.  Mini decided that it was only fair that he have a go at painting mummy..............  So let me present Mrs Mad the wicked witch of the North.
The paints are so easy to use and watch off very easily and I removed Mini's first design with baby wipes.  We had such a fun morning.  Plus we are going to look really good at this years Halloween Party.
Review
We were provided with a set of boys Snazaroo Face Paints from Toys R Us which retail at  £9.99.  They are really easy to use and the accompanying booklet gives you loads of ideas for images which you can copy and step by step instructions.  The only issue is the booklet uses both the girl and boy pains which contain different colours and paints.
The pack comes with both a sponge applicator and also a brush and both are very easy tiouse, as you can see from the photo of me, which Mini did all my himself from the book.
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Mourning more than the children being at school

Since I am laying it all bare about how I feel about the boys being at school, it is only fare that I really admit as to why I feel so bad.



Back in July 2008 I had my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, an oophorectomy is the technical term.  As you may know I carry a genetic spelling mistake which makes me very high risk for a number of cancers.  My Aunt died from ovarian cancer and my other Aunt who had already had a hysterectomy had primary peritoneal cancer (she is currently in remission).  So my risk of ovarian cancer was over a 60% lifetime risk.

We talked to specialists, McMillan and my family and we knew that the risk of contracting ovarian caner increased if I still had my ovaries when I was over 35.  Also ovarian cancer is a silent killer.  Woman tend to be stage 4 before they are even diagnosed, as its symptoms are often just passed off as women's problems.   Also there is not an effective screening programme for it in the UK.

So we made the very hard decision for me to undergo surgery.  This decision was harder than the one to have the mastectomy.  My children were hard come by, I had numerous miscarriages and difficulties when pregnant with both the boys, but we always wanted more.  We discussed when we got married that we would love to have 4 children at least.  But we made the choice that it would be better to be alive for the children we already had rather than take a big risk and try for more children.

I though that I was happy with this decision and it is only since Mini has started school that I realise that I am mourning, not only by gorgeous handsome boys being at school, but I am also mourning the loss of future potential children that we might have had.  I am mourning the life I always thought I would have.



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The Gallery – A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you’re at home

I have said before that my main motivation for my boys is happiness, I think that if you are happy you can do anything, take on any challenge and be what ever you want to be.  

Also I find happiness infectious, a smile can light up a room, so for me picking out images that reflect this weeks Gallery was hard, not because I didn't have many to chose from, rather I have lots of images with smiles on.


So enter our world for a moment, Mini is using my hoodie to be Obi-Wan_Kenobi, who is is here (well after MadDad) and the other photo is one of a series of out takes on the first day of school, where the boys couldn't stop laughing!




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