The National Railway Museum York

I have had a lovely day this week at the NRM in York with MadDad and the boys.  We were lucky enough to be able to meet up with Sandy and her boys too.

The NRM in York is a fantastic day out for anyone who has children, especially ones like me who have children that love trains.  As you would expect the museum is jam packed full of trains, but there is so much more to see and do, especially if it is raining.

The museum always make sure that half term and school holidays are jam packed with family events and we had great fun watching the turntable work and also listened to some great story telling too.  The boys and MadDad were looking forward to a ride on the restored replica of the Rocket, but it had broke down to had to settle to a ride on a diesel engine, but boys being boys they still enjoyed that too.

Mini was astounded that the Hogwards Express was at York too and was able to take a look in its cab, which as an avid Harry Potter fan really made his day.


Entrance to the Museum is Free and you can park all day in the car park for £7.00.  A road train runs every 30 minutes in to central York, but we spent all day in the museum on Tuesday.

There are plenty of tables for you, if you take a picnic (we always do) and a fine play area for the children outside on dryer days.  Not that the rain mattered to my boys, Mini was coming down the fireman's pole and relishing the puddle at the bottom! 

A great day out with something for everyone.

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Cooking with Children – Halloween Cakes and Biscuits

I love cooking and baking with the boys and for me the secret is letting go and dealing with the mess afterwards, plus good planning, making sure all the ingredients are out and the equipment etc.  I think that by empowering the boys to cook and bake it will stand them in good stead as they get older, plus they can start cooking dinner and feed me!

Also it might not look perfect, but I can assure you it tastes mighty fine.  So I bring you Maxi's chocolate cakes and biscuits.

Basic Biscuit Recipe

I use one without egg and it is fine if over handled, so perfect for children

175g/6oz Plain Flour
100g/4oz Butter or Margarine
50g/2oz Caster Sugar
Pre-heat oven to 180

Cream the butter or margarine and caster sugar
Stir in the flour and once mixed knead the dough together until it forms a ball
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick

Spooky Chocolate Web Cakes

6 oz margarine
6 oz caster sugar
5 oz self raising floor
1 oz coco powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
Icing Sugar
Hot water

Cream margarine and sugar
Add eggs, flour, coco powder and baking powder, then 2 tbls of milk
Cook for 15 minutes at 180 degrees.

To make the web, mix icing sugar and hot water and cover the cake.  Create a swirl in black icing (we used Silver Spoon Black Designer Icing kindly supplied by Silver Spoon) and then take a cocktail stick and drag the icing out towards the edge.

These cakes are all Maxi's own work and they looked fantastic and tasted even better!

I would like to say thank you to Silver Spoon for supplying me and the boys with some of their cake decorating goodies.

We are entering in the Big Autumn Bakeoff with this!

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Sometimes I feel as though I don't know quite where I fit in this universe.
Almost as though I am living in a dream or dreaming of the world I am living in.
I wake often unable to tell the difference from real life and the dreams I must have had.
Unable to find things, as I must have put them away on in dream state.
A sudden sense of deja vu overtakes a moment, haven't I done this before?
but where and when?
Am I just going through the motions?

How do I tell the difference between the actual and the perceived?
I want to wake up and make the most of the day.
To grasp the precious time with both hands and squeeze it dry.
To live a worthwhile life.
But how do I do this, what is goal, where is the end line?

I though once out of the monotony of dirty nappies and night feeds,
I would start to see the difference in the days.
But sometimes I feel that I am in a hamsters wheel,
forced to live out everyday again and again and again.
Maybe this is why I find some much joy in the changing seasons.
In the small things that fill my day.

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Autumn Craft and Activity Ideas

With the weather getting colder, now is the time to make some plans about activities and crafts you can do on the darker evenings to keep your children occupied and keep.

My friend Becky at Baby Budgeting has produced her first ebook which is jam packed full of 50 ideas of things to do with under 5's in Autumn on a budget.  I have a copy and it is a great resource for when you are struggling for ideas.  Click here to get your copy best of all it is only £1.50.

You could also do some marble painting, which doesn't have to be messy.  Why not have a go at making your own wrapping paper or make a start on some Bonfire arts and crafts. 

Wax reilef panting is always good fun and you could leave some secret messages for your children to discover.   Have fun making Chicken cards with your children.

You can make Autumn collages either with collecting leaves or if it is too wet you can colour in some pre printed ones.  Use masking tape to make a boarder round your little ones paintings or drawings, it is remarkable effective.

So there are some ideas of things to do on this half term break and over Autumn, I would love for you to link your ideas too.

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The Gallery – Red, what every girl needs

When I am feeling down or low, I pop on a pair of red shoes (yes I have more than one pair) and they immediately brighten my day.

Do you have something that always make you feel better?

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Spending cuts to hit the North Harder – but what will they mean for you?

The wonderful Baby Genies post about the upcoming spending cuts really resonated with me today.  I am starting to wonder what is coming to the world.  I have blogged about make take on politics, the election and what I wanted to see before and it seems to be as though none of the politico's were listening.

So what will this week bring?  It seems to be that the word of the month has been fairness, although I fail to see what is fair about taking child benefit from families where one parent is in the higher tax bracket, especially is like us, I am not working.

Nick Clegg also announced this week that 15 hours a week of  preschool education will be open to children living in deprived areas.  This really makes my blood boil.  I live in a deprived area, in fact it was number two in a recent BBC survey of the least resilient areas to be able to cope with the forth coming spending cuts and the neighbouring towns in the number one position.  

I have witnessed first hand the death of local mums and toddler groups, due to the way that surestart operates in the local area.  I have been to events, where the mums leave their children with the surestart employees and sit and chat rather than getting down and playing with the children and I for one am unsure what help there is in putting these children in to a nursery or preschool situation from 2 years old.  They are just babies at this stage and surely wouldn't the money be better spent educating the parents what the children need rather than getting someone else to look after their children.

I understand they are trying to break the chain of poverty, but I do not understand what is to be gained for society by putting these children in to an educational setting at such an early age.  Shouldn't parenting children be down to parents not teachers and preschool educators?

So what else will the spending cut review bring and what will it mean to families like mine, who are funded by one main breadwinner (MadDad) whilst I look after the children, act as a care to my mother and also try and regain my health?
I have to say I fear for the NHS, I am not too young to remember the terrible waiting lists and was myself a victim to them in my early years, so much so that I had to have my tonsils and adenoids removed privately at 4 years old.  Currently I need the NHS, I need them to be available to help me with my chronic condition and also long term with my reconstruction for my double mastectomy.

We pay for both our boys to attend swimming lessons, as they only get one term of lessons at school and we both feel that being able to swim well is of key importance in life.  If any cuts to education comes then those lessons will be the first things to disappear and we scrimp and save to be able to afford lessons (£80 per 10 weeks for the boys).  We are unable to be able to afford to go swimming at the weekends with the boys now that the free swimming for under 16's has been cancelled and on speaking to the leisure centre attendance is down.

What about our village library, will that be cut too?  The village school is one of the largest in the area and seems to have building works done every summer, but it is still too small and more houses are being built, so what will become of the school, will class sizes get larger, there is already 30 children in Mini's class and 90 in his year?

So what do you think this week will bring, do you think it is fair and what are your fears for the future?

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11 Years ago Today

It was 6.30 am when the telephone rang, my first thought was who in earth could be calling at this time and punched MadDad to answer the phone (as it was on his side of the bed).

He did and then time just stood still. He turned to me as white as a sheet and with the words "there has been an accident, your Dad is in hospital. We need to leave now" the day stood still.

We lived in Berkshire at the time and my dad was in Middlesbrough General Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit over 320 miles away.  We got dressed, put the cats in their basket and drove stopping on the way to ring both works and explain that we were on the way to see my father.

We also had to make a call to The Mormon Temple at Preston as my brother was due to start his 2 year mission and we needed him to come and see dad too.

The journey home has never seemed so long and I have never ever played the CD again that played that day.

We got to the hospital before noon to find out that my mum had been with my father since the previous evening and that he was in an enforced coma, under heavy sedation and he had also been given drugs to paralyse him.

Everyday we went to the hospital to help with his care, hold his hand, read the paper to him and just chat.  I learned to shave him and got used to seeing him with all the wires and tubes and even the ventilator going in to his neck rather than his mouth.  I know what all the monitors meant and also what medication he was on.  We all waited with hope.

Until the morning of 4th November, when we made the heartbreaking decision to turn off the ventilator due to the consultants advice as my dad had sepsis. He never regained consciousness.    He died less than two minutes later in my mums, mine and MadDad's arms.  My brother couldn't watch and had just left the room.  

11 years ago today, I lost my father (rather than the day he died), the man I idolised and loved with every breath I took.  I miss him more every day.  I wish he could have met the boys, we named Maxi after him and I know he would love them just as much as I do.

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Encouraging Children to be Walkers

In an homage blatant copying of Chris at Thinly Spread, I bring you our favorite weekend Autumn Walk.  Now I am pretty lucky in the once the boys get started on a walk they love them and often it is MadDad and I who start back first.

We live in a very beautiful part of the country and are blessed to have fantastic countryside on our doorstep.  We live 200 yards away from a wonderful wooded area which is on The Cleveland Way.

So making the most of a dry day, we decided to set off on an adventure this afternoon.

I am not sure if it is a boy thing, but they always find something to do when we are in the woods, treed to play on and climb.

It is such a magical place and there is a beck that runs through the bottom of the valley, which the boys adore splashing in. 

They often wonder how the railway viaduct was build and how all the bricks got down to the valley bottom (by horseback).

With all the rain we have had the beck was rather fast flowing today, although neither of the boys fell in, which is a good result!

There has also been far too much rain to collect any of the leaves, they were very slippy underfoot.

There are lots of ways to encourage children to walk, but one of the boys favorites is to draw a map and follow it, alternatively you could also get a making tracks map, we have the North Yorkshire Moors set and they are excellent.
We try and always take out camera and also collect things too.  I came back with a pocket full of pine cones today.

Take inspiration to make an autumn tree, you done need to collect the leaves if they are wet as you can print some off and colour them in.

We have a great book all about trees and what type they are and the boys love looking at that too.

I would love to hear your ideas for encouraging your children to be walkers and enjoy the great outdoors.

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It would have never happened with a PFB (Precious First Born)

I have a confession to make, it is time to clean my soul.  Maxi loves Hot Chocolate and had fennel tea as a baby, well Mini he loves coffee, yes coffee.  Last year when Maxi started school Mini and I would visit a coffee shop once a week when we took my mum to hospital and our treat was a decaf latte and Mini would always love to drink my foam and finish the coffee and now you guessed it, decaf latte is his drink of choice!

So this got me thinking, what other things did I do differently with Mini, than I did with Maxi (15 months age gap).

Dummy - I always re sterilised Maxi's with Mini's if dropped I just popped it back in my mouth!
Secondhand - I soon learned second hand didn't mean second best!
Having a feeding chart - yes I had one for Maxi!
Thermometer in the nursery (didn't even have a nursery for Mini, he was in with us for 9 months whist we rented).
I strapped Maxi in to the swing with mini I just used to place him in it
I used to warm Maxi's milk in hot water, with Mini it was the microwave each and every time!
I had a separate kettle to boil the water for Maxi's bottle.
I used to make sure Maxi's bib matched his outfit.

The thing is a love him just as much, it is just I relaxed a little, plus I didn't have enough time to be as precocious as there is only 15 months between the boys.

So what are your parenting secrets?

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