Sunday, 30 September 2012

Project #366 - Week 39

This week seems to have gone amazingly fast, probably because I've had ridiculous deadlines at work, and so not only has the working day sped by, but my time with the little people has been so much needed that it's also sped past.

Sunday: we carried on our holiday spirit by going out for lunch with my parents to the local carvery. I was surprised that the children managed to eat all the vegetables put in front of them without a second thought, and still had room for ice-cream.

Monday: I took this photo at 0650 at Cardiff Central, I was catching my 'usual' 0655 to London. It usually guarantees my attendance at a 0930 meeting in the office. The train I stepped onto got me into London at 1145- oh yes, 2 and 3/4 hours late following a 'stop' somewhere near Chipping Sodbury. Typical British weather!!

Tuesday: I got home having missed Monday's bedtime. It turns out it my absence Squeaks had taken responsibility for her friends being tucked up...

Wednesday: Squeaks got the good news that the grampy's cake baking competition had brought a reward- Squeaks had won the small cakes competition!

Thursday: Mr J decides he's fed up of me working so finds a book to distract me.

Saturday: Having been completely jealous of all the goings on at the Mad Blog Awards, I decided to make all those with hangovers soooo envious- by wrapping Christmas presents. In a more organised stance than usual, I decided rather than throwing all the presents into the attic to bring them back down to wrap, that they would go into the attic wrapped, so I get to enjoy the Christmas festivities this year.
Yes, I am in need of help.

And, this week's favourite:

Friday: it's a rubbish photo, but I love the "Am I in trouble?" expression from Tiny, as he attempts to help mummy meet her deadlines.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Pontin's- the good and the bad

I didn't know how to write this post. So, I figured you could might make your own initial assumptions.
We arrived at 10pm, after a stressful day.
We arrived at our chalet, and this was the first page of our 'welcome pack':

I don't know about you, I thought it sent a completely odd message, one of the sheep dipping type.

The background.
I am married to a Yorkshire man. And being completely stereotypical, he is a stereotypical Yorkshire man. Fab at negotiating, fab at finding a bargain.

And I felt the need to reciprocate, to prove I don't throw money away, that I can also sniff out a bargain.

And one of those discount email sites sent an email earlier in the year for a Monday-Friday break for 4 to Pontins. For £33.

So I phoned my parents to see if they wanted to join us- and have Squeaks in their accommodation. My mum thought it would be a great idea to invite my brother and his family.

So, six adults and five children later we are at Pontins at Brean Sands for the week.

What can I say, I didn't look at what I was booking!

It seems that all accommodation at Pontins is based on the double bed being a sofa-bed in the lounge/ kitchen.
Mr J accepted this, although my parents didn't.
I have been requested to leave the bargain hunting to Mr J.

The pluses of Pontins:
It was just like I imagine Hi-di-hi would have been (target reference!)
The chalets faced each other with grass inbetween, which the children loved playing on and it seemed ok to let them play 'out'.
The swimming pool was good, with vigilant lifeguards.
It had an amusement arcade full of 2p machines,


I admit to feeling like a snob on this holiday.
I was instantly put off by the 'welcome pack'.
Whilst it was great that there was the freedom to play outside the chalets there were too many cigarette butts laying around from previous holidaymakers.

I think we all treated this holiday as a trip down memory lane.

As the motivation maker (aka the booker of the holiday) we managed to make it a good one.
At such a reasonable price, we used the chalet as our base, and had some great trips.
In honesty, it wasn't great being on a sofa-bed, and worse still in the lounge/ kitchen.
For us, with the boys being ok sleepers it wasn't so bad.
For my brother, with early birds, I imagine it was worse.

At the end of this holiday, I felt relaxed, revigorated, and I felt that I had got to know my children that much better from having a week with them.

One of the most interesting things was seeing Squeaks in the amusement arcades.
Mr J, Squeaks and I went with a pound each in 2p's each night.
We were there, together, three nights.
Squeaks came home with over £10 in 2p's.

Squeaks refused to part with any of her money.
She spent her time collecting everyone else's winnings.

I am so proud!

Hand on heart, I can't see us returning to Pontins.

But, did we have a great holdiay- Yes!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What are you doing tomorrow? Wear a tea cosy!

Did you know that Thursday 27th September is the third annual National Wear a Tea Cosy on Your Head Day (NWATCOYHD)?
Organised by White Stuff, there will be a day of fundraising and exciting activities. White Stuff staff and customers will be asked to look daft for a day and don a tea cosy for charity.
Last year White Stuff raised over £30k for charity with lots of people getting involved and this year NWATCOYHD is aiming to be even bigger and better than before. 

There are lots of ways people can get involved to raise money and awareness for White Stuff’s charities including; buying one of the £3 tea cosies sold in store, attending one of White Stuff’s shop tea parties or knitting their own tea cosy.

Each of the White Stuff shops will be hosting a tea party on the day which will include fun activities (for kids too) and shop staff will be serving tea and cake. Customers can get involved by donning a cosy and taking a photo to raise awareness for NWATCOYHD. They can do this by tweeting their photo (mentioning #teacosy) or posting it on the White Stuff Facebook page.

White Stuff’s 85 local charities will be getting involved in fundraising too. Each of the White Stuff shops supports its own local charity, helping disadvantaged children and young people in the UK and all money raised on the day will go directly to these charities. The charities are supported by the White Stuff Foundation, which was set up in 2010.

I will be don-ing a tea cosy tomorrow. I figure, with this weather, it's a practical way of preventing the inevitable frizz! I just wonder whether it will catch on at work!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Speech development in twins

I must admit to taking a bit of a back seat with our second (and third) offspring.
Having been a completely 'by the book' mother with Squeaks, I hope, like all second-time mums there are things you ease the accelerator on, and are quite happy to just go with the pace of life.

As we were driving home from a family meal yesterday the OH remarked that he thought we blamed growth spurts on a lot of Squeaks' poor behaviour. We were returning from a meal where Cheeky had got agitated and needed some cwtches.
My response, I think we stopped blaming growth spurts on anything once the age 1 had dawned, that Squeaks wouldn't last 5 minutes in a high chair at any age, and the boys had done at least an hour, oh, and hmmmm, and this age (20 months) I was 28 weeks pregnant with the boys, and life was very different.

But, it got me to thinking, about Squeaks and her speech at the same age.

With Squeaks, well with my first pregnancy, one of questions they ask during pregnancy is about learning difficulties. I know I had learning difficulties (speech development and mirror writing) but am unsure on the detail, apart from I know I had speech therapy until I was about 10.
With Squeaks I was ultra vigilant, to the extent that I have a memory of taking all three children to a speech therapy appointment (so around the time she was 2) just to be certain that she was 'ok'.
Needless to say, that despite all of her late development on walking, etc, that her language development was at age 4 on some sounds, and there was very little to be paranoid about.

But with the boys, and on having this conversation with the OH, my paranoia has suddenly gone through the roof.
At 18 months, one of Squeaks' clearest phrases was 'oh dear'. The nursery she was attending at the time even documented it in her 'Learning Journey' as she intentionally used to drop things just to say her favourite phrase. And everyone got sick of hearing it in the end.

At 20 months the boys clearly say 'uh oh'.

And yes, this really does make me question the kind of parent I am.

I know at the best of times I wear rose tinted spectacles, but I am sure Squeaks speech development was a lot clearer and more developed by 20 months. I know the conversations we had whilst I was on maternity.

And I can't help but think I have reached the pitfall, that whilst I know and love every plus of twins, that the reality is, not just the lack of extra arms, but extra everything, I can't replicate the one-to-one time with the boys, the time simply doesn't exist. And the boys are completely different, different motivations, different attention spans. And I have pacified myself with how well they communicate with each other.
Until now.

Last night, Tiny was having 'needy' time, he had to be sat, cwtching mummy, and yet he knew Cheeky was creeping up on him (out of his line of sight) and started chuckling, and Cheeky crept back and forth, keeping the laughter going.
And I have no idea how this is possible, I just got the amazing benefit of being witness to this bond.

But I still worry.
I think, in ,my rational moments, it is only natural that their speech is delayed, a month prem, boys, twins.
But I still worry.
As twins is their speech likely to be affected?
They may communicate well with each other, but it needs to be language others understand, and can be a part of.
I still don't know if my learning difficulties were genetic, but I know my brother and I had similar problems, and knowing that, and the bond the twins have... I worry.

And, when the health visitors came for the 18 month check up they said we wouldn't see them again.
But I'm sure Squeaks (in England) had a 2 year check up that led to the referral to the speech therapist.

Ahhhh, I'm sure it will all be ok.
Famous last words.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Project #366 - Week 38

It would be an understatement to say this has been an eventful week. But I am slowly growing to accept that I don't think our life will be anything but.
I am learning that as long as I get through the week with plenty of time with my little people and maybe a bit of quality time with the hubs, then this is all I need, anything more is a reason to do a little jump!

So, what did the week have in store?

Sunday: Nana Windows treats the children to their first pony (fortunately it is for her new pad).
Monday: Nana Windows completes. My playroom is once more- with the added bonus of a sofa.
Tuesday: A belated start to our holiday and Squeaks discovers the arcades (and not in a shopping sense!).

Wednesday: Child rebelling at Wookey Hole
Friday: Squeaks enjoying Tredegar Park
Saturday: A Pirates and Princesses Party for Squeaks

And another milestone,
Thursday: Squeaks rides a pony on Brean Beach

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Product review: Vitamin C Tablets

Just over a month ago I was given the opportunity to try out A. Vogel's Vitamin C tablets, vitamin tablets with natural vitamin C. Having recently taken time off work for being so run down, I have been determined to take better care of myself, this seemed a good starting point.

Vitamin C supports the immune system, as well as other body functions. Vitamin C helps protects body cells from the oxidative (chemical) stresses faced daily, reducing the feeling of tiredness.

A. Vogel's tablets are made with fruit extracts, rather than a synthetic supplement.

I didn't want to offer a review based on taste, etc, alone- I wanted to see whether my health was impacted by taking them.

The benefits of the tablets are:

  • Rich in naturally occurring vitamin C
  • Helps support immune system function
  • Made from extracts of a wide variety of fruit
  • Chewable tablet
I was surprised by the taste and texture of the tablets. I have terrible memories of vitamin supplements as a child. These were fine- better than fine. I was quite happy to take them twice a day, without an inward cringe. In my head the tablets tasted of peaches, although having looked at the wide variety of fruit juices used, peaches aren't listed- my taste buds are rubbish!

As suspected, the benefits weren't overnight. The headaches I was suffering did continue initially.
A couple of weeks in the headaches stopped, and a month on I'm feeling ok.

Vitamin tablets aren't a miracle cure, and can't be cited as the single reason I feel better.
But, I do feel better for taking the tablets. I know my lifestyle doesn't lead me to having the healthiest diet, consistently.
These tablets will go some way to making sure I have a fall back.

With children there's even more of an emphasis on looking after myself, making sure I have the energy to make the most of every moment.
These Vitamin C tablets will go some way to helping me achieve this.

Disclosure: I received Nature C tablets for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Loveliest Blogger in Town

So, I've been given the Loveliest Blogger in Town Award by Troubles Mum, I'm going to go with her rationale as to why I know she loves me best. However, I can only bow to her cynicism and irony, which I imagine having four children evokes.

So, all I have to do now is answer a few questions and tag some lovely people!

The rules (as lifted directly!)

  1. Answer the questions, if you like.
  2. Link back to the blogger that nominated you, if you have time.
  3. Nominate five more bloggers to receive this awesomeness, if you fancy.
  4. Drop me a link here in the comments, so I can come and have a nosey too, if it isn't too much trouble.
So, here goes...

1. If you could be any superhero who would you be and why?

For the oddest reason, he's been my superhero for so long, but there would be benefits to being Wolverine.
In a practical sense, for opening cardboard boxes with ridiculous amounts of tape, for opening cans, in the kitchen for just general chores. I'd be safe in the knowledge that knives and scissors will always be out of  the reach of the renegades.
And can you imagine the reaction of the person who asks "Are they twins?".

2. Marmite on toast. Match made in Heaven or Hell?
Heaven, I've no idea why, fortunately the family agree.

3. Boris Johnson. Discuss.
Fantastic. It is just a never ending discussion, because I feel the need to discuss the credibility of other politicians. Needless to say, at least with Boris you know what you're getting.

And then, for the moments of inspiration. "Boris Island". And in the same way he managed to become Mayor of London, I suspect he may also get his runway.

And I did enjoy those episodes of #HIGNFY

4. Full-fat, semi-skimmed or skimmed?
For sheer laziness- full fat. I can't be bothered buying semi-skimmed just for coffee. So, until the children move onto semi-skimmed it's just the way it goes.

5. Bum exercises. Squats, lunges or sofa?
Sofa. Best endeavours and all.

And, so on to tag the loveliest bloggers: Boo, Roo and Tigger too, You're not from round here, This is me... Sarah mum of three, Jennifer's Little World and Mari's World.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Win a family ticket to see Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom Live on Stage


In a share the love competition, I was so excited to win tickets for Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom Live on Stage, and now offer the chance for another family to win tickets.

From the makers of Peppa Pig and the producers of the two hugely successful Peppa Pig theatre tours comes the first ever stage version of the BAFTA award-winning TV animation, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. And we have tickets to give away!

The Little Kingdom – where everyone is very, very small – is home to Princess Holly and her best friend Ben Elf. Holly is a young fairy princess who is still learning how to do magic properly and sometimes her spells don’t work out quite right. Ben is an Elf. Elves don’t do magic but they are very good at making things. Ben doesn’t have wings like Holly but he flies on the back of Gaston the Ladybird.

In this exciting new musical adventure, Ben and Holly have fun and games helping Gaston clean up his messy cave; they go on a trip to The Big World with tooth-fairy Nanny Plum; and still have time to plan a surprise for King Elf’s birthday party, complete with an unplanned jelly flood.

Packed full of games, songs and laughter, this is an enchanting and magical visit to the Little Kingdom, live on stage for the very first time. This beautiful story of elves, princesses and childhood innocence will delight all the family.

This brand new UK tour is on the road from 26 October until July 2013 and we have 1 family ticket up for grabs at the venue of your choice, subject to availability. A family ticket is for 4 people, minimum 1 adult. The tickets are non-transferable. No cash alternatives, accommodation or travel are provided in this competition. For further show information and tour dates:

To enter please use the Rafflecopter to answer the question below and get some additional entries!

 Q: What is Gaston?
A.      a.Caterpillar
B.      b. Ladybird
C.      c. Snail

Follow @benandhollylive

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Monday, 17 September 2012

Total Greek Yoghurt and Salmon Fishcakes

This weekend we decided to make fishcakes from scratch.
Unlike Squeaks, the boys are massive fans of fish, so the opportunity to use Total Greek Yoghurt to make fishcakes from scratch was much welcomed by Squeaks- queen of our kitchen!

So, the ingredients for our fishcakes were:

50g greek yoghurt
400g mash potatoes
1 tsp chopped dill
200g cooked flaked salmon
50g flour
1 egg (we used 2)
100g breadcrumbs
100ml vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:
250g greek yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp dill, chopped

The full recipe, along with 999 other recipes, can be found on the Total Greek Yoghurt site

We started by making the dressing. This was really straightforward. Squeaks helped to measure and then mix all the ingredients together. We used the other half of the lemon as a garnish.

To prepare the fishcakes:
1. Mix the mashed potato, dill, Total Greek Yoghurt and cooked salmon.
2. Season to taste and divide into six balls (I made more than this so the boys could have little toddler size cakes, which make explain the extra egg).

3. Form into fishcakes then pass through the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs (I found this was something I got better at!). Chill for two hours.
4. For the dressing, mis all of the ingredients together and chill (as above).
5. To serve, shallow fry the fishcakes until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and place on place with a large dollop of dressing.

What did we think? Well, as you can see from the photos, don't underestimate the ability to keep a fishcake round as it passes through the flour, egg and breadcrumbs!
I think, after the sixth attempt (!), we got there.
We used an extra egg to get as many breadcrumbs on as possible, but this may be because we made a bigger quantity.
We will use more fish next time, there was a good balance between salmon and potato, but this is one of my biggest gripes with the majority of fishcakes, so just for personal preference I would use more fish.
The recipe says this will take 20 minutes prep and 20 minutes to cook, this is correct, but don't forget the two hours chill time!

This was our finished (grown up) meal. We included a side of mash (because I had it left over) and a salad.:

For the grown ups, I am pleased to say Mr J and his mum loved it, and I cleared my plate. Mr J enjoyed the lightness of the fishcakes and loved the dressing.
I think it will be  making this dressing, and tzatziki, in the future as something we always have in the fridge for snacks.
And as for the little people they. of course, loved our cooking (!), I am not sure if they could tell the difference with shop-bought fishcakes, but as all parents will appreciate, it does make the difference preparing a meal from scratch and knowing what ingredients have made up the meal.

We will definitely be using Total Greek Yoghurt to make dressings and dips in the future, and from time to time will use the recipe for our Saturday meals.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Project #366 Week 37

"Here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company!"
It's started to become part of the Sunday night routine now, spending an hour seeing how everyone else has found the week.
As difficult as it was to get into the habit of taking photos every day, now I don't know how it's possible to stop!

So, our week that was:

Sunday: Tiny decides he wants to help out with the hoovering.
Monday: Making cakes with Squeaks for a competition (oh yes, grampy entered Squeaks into a cake baking competition?!? As I was away Monday-Wednesday we had to make them before I left and hope they kept!).
Tuesday: Did I show you this photo of Mr J and his Nana!!
Wednesday: Mr J finds the best form of transport for the school run.
Thursday: I get the best company at work
Saturday: It seems walking up the slide is the way forward.

And my favourite photo for the week, and a milestone- Friday: Mummy and the boys walk to the park!

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Our little adventure!

Yesterday was a first.
I had a pants day at work (nothing new there).
Tony took Squeaks swimming (nothing new there).
I decided the boys deserved a trip to the park (nothing new there).
I thought we'd walk there (sharp intake of breath).

With a hint of seriousness, in the grown-up world, it's probably 30 steps away from our front door.
In toddler world, it involves grass, fences, lamp posts, a road, some bushes with lovely leaves, and a swinging gate to the park... do you get the drift?

Fortunately, we were in no hurry, it was a day for smelling the roses.
We had a lovely walk. I love the fact that, unlike their big sister, the boys love to hold my hand.
I love the fact that I cursed myself that I ever thought two toddlers would like to walk in the same direction (they do so much else the same why not walking?!!).

It turned out that when we got to the park, despite the eagerness to get on the swings...

... and that whilst they do love the swings:

The new sense of freedom was like a sense of invisibility:
It ended with a refusal to let go of the fence, a form of protest I'm sure!

I don't know about the boys but it did me the world of good.
There is nothing quite like the lack of pressure.
Letting the boys find their own way.

I think we'll go back after lunch!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 14 September 2012

Jingle Puzzles review

We were recently sent an 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm' Jingle Puzzle by Music Room to review.
Squeaks has loved jigsaw puzzles since her very first wooden shape boards, and this one, designed for 3-6 year olds, was well received.

The set contains a floor jigsaw puzzle (1000mm x 200mm), a sing-along sheet with activity ideas, a CD with 11 other animal rhymes, as well as a bonus story of 'The Three Little Pigs'. And for every child's amusement- the set also contained 24 peel-able stickers.

Squeaks absolutely loved the puzzle, she got stuck in straight away. I won't pretend she did it all on her own, she did have a little help from mummy, but she insisted it had to be her who put the last piece in play, with mummy as far away as possible!

The jigsaw puzzle is great, it's a good size for a three year old, and Squeaks loved the fact it was of her favourite nursery rhyme. She loved identifying all the animals and features in the picture, and was also intrigued by the music scale, and loved singing along as mummy pointed to the words.

Squeaks was very proud showing it off to her little brothers, until they started taking it apart! Fortunately, the sing along sheet came into its own, and I was able to sit down with all three and have a go at the song and the animal noises!

The CD is a great addition, you could have it playing all the time, but my three get so easily distracted dancing, it's great to play early evening as I'm trying to drain them of their last remains of energy.

Jingle Puzzles are also available for 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star', 'The Wheels on the Bus' and 'Five Little Speckled Frogs'.
I think these would make ideal gifts due to their versatility.

Disclosure: We were sent a Jingle Puzzle for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Happy Birthday Roald Dahl!

I grew up surrounded by books, from a collection of Ladybird books, to the Mr Men, and onto Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton.

Who could possibly know what it is about Roald Dahl that makes his books completely amazing. Even now, I love reading his books to Squeaks and can't wait to read more of his books as she grows with him.

Today Roald Dahl would have turned 96! It's amazing to think the BFG is celebrating it's 30th year in print.
I have so many fantastic memories of each of Roald Dahl's books, I remember reading them over and over again.

I found a list of all of Roald Dahl's books on the Fans website. Even reading this list makes my mind go off on tangents as I remember my favourite moments, trying to decide which is my favourite book, and failing spectacularly!

Seren loves 'The Enormous Crocodile', this was her requested birthday present this year:
And I love reading his stories to her, she loves the Revolting Rhymes, especially when she can watch the animated clips on Youtube!

It's great to find out today that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is being brought to the stage at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London.
You will have to wait till September 2013, but in my head that means Squeaks might just be the perfect age! But if you and your little people can't wait that long, it's worth checking out the Page to Stage resource and competition.

If you do have chance, grab a hold of the Roald Dahl party packs at the Official Roald Dahl Day Website - we're off on a holiday next week and these look perfect for the bad weather I predict we're going to enjoy!!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Warren Mill Farm

This weekend we finally found Warren Mill Farm.

You see, Squeaks and I visited about three years with my parents. It was a bit of a bind to find. Squeaks had just started walking, and all I remember is how all these animals ran round her feet (very Mary Poppins-esque!) and spurred her on.
Unfortunately, we hadn't bought her any shoes yet, it started to rain, and to top things off I hadn't taken my camera.

So, with the boys gaining confidence in their walking, and us now home, I really wanted to take everyone.

We tried to find it a couple of weeks ago, got lost, went home.
We tried again this weekend, had to take two cars and I still couldn't find it.
I gave up to go home and as we driving back down the A48, there was a massive sign- it was just where it said it was. It's just a shame I hate country lanes as much as I do!

I have been fortunate, after completely over selling it to the OH, it was as I remembered it. With the added bonus of a gorgeous, sun filled day.

The farm is a visitor attraction, I am not sure it's a tourist destination- and this is what makes it so great.
The place is small and homely.
Overlooking a gorgeous lake- which was of much interest of the OH due to the number of anglers.

The farm boasts ducks and geese which roam freely, and happily so.
Peacocks, squirrels, chickens, rabbits and a tortoise as little, penned animals.
And then into the fields where you can befriend goats, ponies, sheep, miniature ponies, horses. And also, to me, the lesser seen llamas, emus and alpacas

There's a great children's park which the was great to burn off some energy whilst the OH and his mum enjoyed a sausage butty- both commended the quality, especially as they were cooked fresh. We all enjoyed a picnic with a hen as our guest.

The children all loved the small animals. The boys didn't mind the emus or sheep, but were petrified of the llama and miniature ponies.

But the animal which most made it for me is the American Prairie Dog. I didn't know they were called this, I have spent the last three years calling them gophers!

Prairie dogs are ground dwelling squirrels, and if they didn't live in a tunnelling system with little mounds of earth for them to perch on all over the place, I'd love some as pets!!

As hoped, the three little people were absolutely taken with them. And my day was complete!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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