Saturday, 30 November 2013

The bottom lip

I have always said that who is my youngest child is a complete unknown, you know scientifically and all.
Ok, one of the boys happened to be born first, but it's not really conclusive in terms of conception and all.

But then at 18 months something happened.

Squeaks never did the "terrible two's", she never had tantrums.
If you ever saw her face down on the supermarket floor it was because she wanted a rest.

Admittedly at four she more than makes up for it in hissy fits as she tests boundaries.

And then there is my "officially" youngest child.

Who at 18 months caught me completely off guard as he began tantrums.
And now, at nearly three, we have a frequent imposter in our lives.
And it's the most comical imposter.
Because I know full well it's the most thoughtful, well intended, motivated addition to my son's "look".
And that it is a way of my son expressing himself.
For his parents, and those around him, to know understand his feelings.

And yet, of course, it is everything I can do to keep a straight face.
Because, to his mummy, he looks completely adorable.
Because, for a moment, I believe he's my youngest child.
And that this is how I would behave.

Then, as I cover my laughter, I remember the times when it's not so much fun.
When we're out walking.
And someone decides they will walk no more.
Because mummy has insisted on holding their hand.
Or their brother has overtaken them when they were leading.
Or because their sister has picked up the stone they really wanted.

And that we can't really go any further until the lip is forgotten and life can resume.

In fairness, there is humour on both sides.
As I encourage my child to let me know what he thinks as he is allowing his bottom lip to protrude.
So his tongue pokes out at me.
And I am a proud mummy...

Friday, 29 November 2013

Life without VHS

On Monday we were meant to be going on our holiday.
The car needed work, emergency work.
You know, taking it in for an MOT, and it needing a new exhaust.
The usual when you need the car to go on holiday.
So we had to wait for it to it be a done.

Mr J took the boys out and me and S were left to get everything piled up to load into the returning car.
Job done, S and I sat down with "mummy's big phone" (my tablet).
We started playing around on You Tube and for what ever reason I decided to put "Akuna Matata" on.
Gutted doesn't begin to cover it.
S knew all the characters.
She knew the way the story in the song unfolded.
As we played other clips she began telling me about them.
"Where did you see this?" I asked. "At school" she replied. I didn't believe her. Judging by her homework and everything she's learning they surely couldn't be cramming Disney in as well? As she started talking about Ariel I knew it to be true.
"When did you watch it?" I pleaded.  "On rainy days" came the reply.
I didn't think my daughter was ready for Disney.  Ready to keep still for an entire film.
And I am heartbroken I underestimated her.
And the school didn't.
And as I relayed the story to Mr J I knew he got it.
His knowing nod acknowledged he knew it was going to be expensive.

And then on holiday.
One night I was channel hopping and ended up watching an old Meg Ryan film, "When a Man Loves a Woman".
She's an alcoholic.  I couldn't watch it all.
Firstly, the memories of youth it brought back.
And now.
As a parent.
It more than broke my heart.
For all the problems I think I have.
For all my weaknesses as a parent.
For all the troubles in my relationship with Mr J.
Well we do have it easy. It's nothing that patience, though fullness and understanding can't put right.
I forget and through everything we have had each other.
And no matter how poor the children's behaviour might get, they've got us as parents to be accountable and see them through it to good behaviour.

And then to memories.
Of VHS
From the video shop.
The ultimate reward on the weekend.
Money and the video card.
To walk with friends to the shops.
To buy sweets and hire a video.

And even that makes me wonder.
With everything now being so accessible what will my daughter and sons perceive to be treats for good behaviour as they grow and become wise for to world?

And yes, for now I  will remain in the now and think about the order of which my children will be introduced to the best Disney films!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Christmas Traditions: A White Christmas... Guaranteed?

Every boy and girl, and probably even mum and dad too, dreams of a white Christmas, and if they come to Butlins this year, they’ll definitely get one! Families will love Butlins magical Skyline Snowstorm show that takes place in the heart of their resorts - the Skyline Pavilion.

Butlins have Christmas themed short breaks at all three of their resorts, in West Sussex (Bognor Regis), Somerset (Minehead) and Lincolnshire (Skegness) from 13 December.

The whole family will enjoy everything on offer that's included in the price of their break, like an Ice Rink, the Winter Wonderland - where every child will get a free gift from Father Christmas, The Skyline Snowstorm - meaning that snow is guaranteed at Butlins, Christmas themed arts and crafts, and a traditional family pantomime.

Guests visiting over Christmas Day will be treated to a 5 course Christmas dinner, meaning that you won’t have to worry about cooking or washing up!

Families can also enjoy live entertainment from children’s favourite TV characters like Mike The Knight or Angelina Ballerina, make use of the indoor sub-tropical Splash Waterworld, or enjoy the traditional fairground. Guests visiting over New Year will enjoy a New Years Eve party for the whole family, with a spectacular fireworks display, and live entertainment throughout the break.

Christmas themed breaks start from only £41 per person, for a 3 night break. Book online or call 0845 070 4730. All breaks are priced per person and subject to availability. Entertainment may vary by break and resort and is subject to change.

Disclosure: I am sharing this information as a Butlin's Ambassador.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Our week that was: Week 47

This week was one of those weeks where I didn't come close of a photo a day.

Some of the moments in my mind are so perfect that I don't mind.

Sunday I already don't remember that much of. I took the boys to Church which is always exhausting. They are so excited about going, so I really should spend the time calming them down before we go in!

Monday: I managed to get some time to help out with sorting the costumes for the Nativity. Getting involved has really enthused me, especially as the team that organised last years were completely depleted by it. I'm hoping that learning from their experience, along with naive enthusiasm will make this year a rewarding time.
And then as a massive bonus I finished work on time, which meant we all got to take Squeaks to her swimming lesson and have some family time in the pool.

Tuesday: I have no idea, but at 9pm it was decided I would be going to London the following morning 'til Friday. It is times like this I am so grateful to my family, for understanding me and making our life possible.

Wednesday: After leaving the house at 5am that evening I said to Mr J "It's lucky I'm staying overnight because if I was home there's no way I'd be getting on the train in the morning.". I do hate my job some times. I am a realist. I know I have to do it. I know it's easier to do it when I enjoy it. But some people, some people just defy this ambition. I wonder. I reverse roles. I think about oblivion. I think about whether it's me. I give up. I sleep. And I wake in a better mood.
Thursday: My morning call from Cheeky and Tiny put the world to rights and set me off in a good mood, made even better for having time to myself for a coffee before work. Thursday was the day. The day of 'the' meeting, it went better than everyone expected. But still I was left deflated. I went back to the apartment to do a lot of to-do lists. Planning the following week with nothing more to plan than enjoying family time.
Friday: Knowing it was 'going home' day and the last day before a week off made things a lot easier. Getting delayed on the train and then working till late finishing up wasn't so great. But reciting "It's holiday time" definitely improved things.

Saturday: I woke up with a really bad throat, and the car needed to go in for it's MOT and service. After confirming with Mr J that everyone felt the same, we decided on a lazy day. Given the naps that everyone succumbed to throughout the day it was definitely the right choice. The bad news about how much work is needed on the car was not appreciated.

But still, it is now a week of family.
A week of swimming, riding bikes, and escaping the working life.
Woohoo!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christmas Traditions: The Christmas Pudding

New research reveals that Brits have lost touch with the centuries-old tradition of making and enjoying the classic Christmas pudding. Three quarters (75 per cent) of Brits admit they have never made their own Christmas Pudding, half (49 per cent) don’t even eat the festive dessert on Christmas Day and more than three quarters (78 per cent) don’t know what ‘Stir Up Sunday’ is (the last Sunday before Advent when traditionally the whole family gathers in the kitchen to stir the Christmas pudding mixture and make a wish).

To reignite budding bakers’ passion for this dying tradition, the nation’s favourite golden syrup, Lyle’s® has launched a countrywide campaign – Bake, Eat and Be Mary - and has recruited an army of Mary Christmases from the length and breadth of the British Isles to share their traditional Christmas pudding recipes.

The campaign launched all ready for Stir Up Sunday (today) with recipes from 100 Mary's from John O’Groats to Land’s End, each an expert in the art of making Christmas pudding and with a trusted family recipe to ignite a whole new generation’s interest in this centuries-old national tradition.

Mary Greaves, part of the team of Marys spearheading Lyle’s® Christmas pudding movement said “It’s our mission to get people back into baking and the Christmas pudding is a fantastic place to start. The dish is a fascinating part of our national heritage, and we’re here to help people connect with their roots as well as preserving the practice for centuries to come.”

The ‘Mary Christmas’ army will be tasked with passing on their pudding prowess to Brits who have fallen out of love with the tradition as the research further revealed that many Brits are in the dark when it comes to the preparation method.

Under half (47 per cent) of Brits know that a Christmas Pudding needs to be steamed rather than baked, and just 60 per cent could identify the correct base ingredients which make the pudding. When presented with a list of possible ingredients for inclusion in the recipe the lack of knowledge surrounding the tradition was clear as one in ten (10 per cent) believed cocoa powder should be included in the traditional pudding mix.

More information about the Bake, Eat and Be Mary campaign, along with profiles and recipes from many of the Marys involved will be regularly posted throughout the Christmas period here.

And look out for Lyle’s limited edition ‘Bake, Eat & Be Merry’ Lyle’s Golden Syrup® festive tin in time for Christmas. The limited edition tins feature a Christmas pudding and a traditional six pence on the front.

The festive tins are supported online and in-store with recipes encouraging all the family to get involved - including gingerbread biscuits for Santa right through to little golden Christmas puddings to enjoy on Christmas day. The Christmas pack is available now in most national retailers’ as well as many local retailers across the country. The recommended retail price per 454g tin is £1.19.

The work update

It's probably not necessary.
But I look at my blog and I feel I'm neglecting it.
Investing enough time to keep it ticking.
But not investing enough of me.

It hasn't all been work.
I've had fun preparing for our Church Nativity, turning my hand to script writing.
Helping Squeaks with her reading and writing, and being astounded by her progress.
Getting to the swimming pool with all three to see confidences increase.
Making plans for a January birthday party as well as Christmas.

But.

I did my expenses claim last week.
For the first time in ages.
We get £5 for nights away to cover incidentals (phone calls home, toiletries, a newspaper... whatever).
As I haven't had chance to do a claim since July it was interesting to see the escalation. A few peaks. But basically since October things have been a bit mental.

We received news in September that we had won a new project.
And with that comes the work of contract negotiation.
And then for the craic someone decided to drop something into a conversation on my other project which meant a sudden focus and more work.
And then of my proper job, it was our Annual Awards last week (for which I delegated nearly everything [the ultimate stress]), it was at Birmingham NEC and a zillion times better than last year- lesson learned!
And then there's been the resignations, recruitment, financial forecasting, and the usual 'stuff'.

I have finished for a week's holiday.
So of course I worked till 1.30 on Friday/ Saturday.
And I've still got a bit more to do.
I am so excited to have a week with my family.
Of course I woke up on Saturday morning with a sore throat, because yes, the body packs in when it knows it's getting a break.

But in spite of all of this. I am happy.
I have been waiting eagerly for the post.
I am awaiting my new contract.

My new contract which says from January I am a four-day week-er.

I have exercised my right to apply for flexible working.

I am looking forward to having a choice.
To not filling the weekend with housework because I've been working away in the week.
To having an option of 'me' time whilst Squeaks is at school and the boys to mornings at playschool.
To being confident that I can do 'something' every Monday night in the knowledge I will not be working away.
To being able to have time with my two gorgeous boys before they turn four without me blinking.
To being able to pick Squeaks up from school and enjoy a leisurely walk home with her.

And never, ever, having that Monday morning feeling again.

I might be enjoying Winter.
And looking forward to Christmas.
But January, January will bring a new chapter, and I can't wait!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Making the indoors fun for toddlers

We love the Summer, Spring and Autumn.
Generally the doors from the lounge into the garden are unlocked, if not open. Five pairs of shoes can be found next to the door so everyone can come and go freely.

As Winter becomes real so the opportunities to escape are limited. Between the rain and the cold it is not so easy just to enjoy the fresh air. Between coats, wellies and waterproofs a little bit more planning goes into getting three little ones outdoors.

And between not getting enough fresh air, there's an even greater need to ensure a good diet as colds and germs creep into the home.

I was really pleased to receive Growing Up Milk Info’s tips to make me aware of how we can choose to top-up Cheeky and Tiny's diet with vitamin D:

  • Play chef on a rainy day and design funny faces for Fisherman’s Jackets (jacket potato with tuna). Not only is this a fun activity for you and your little one to enjoy together, but the final product is also a good source of vitamin D.
  • Enjoy getting everyone together on a Sunday to cook this delicious pancake recipe.
  • Relax and curl up watching a movie, with a beaker of Growing Up Milk for your little one and a hot drink for mum. Just two 150ml beakers a day of Growing Up Milk provides 73% of toddlers’ daily dietary vitamin D recommendation.
  • Other sources of dietary vitamin D include fortified cereals, eggs and oily fish. The Department of Health also recommends that all children aged six months to five years receive vitamin D drops of at least 7mcg, in order to meet their daily requirement.

I absolutely love the idea of making the most of our indoor time and wonder how many we might make our way through this Winter... I definitely hope this year we have enough snow for Snow Angels!:
Disclosure: This post was brought to you as part as being a Growing Up Milk Mum.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Juice Bar by Sara Lewis #Review

Sometimes your OH can really make you laugh. You needn't point out how much they undermine their own argument.
They come home with a Juicer. A kitchen gadget.
Because it's been reinforced to you so many times about not needing that slow cooker/ bread maker/ waffle maker.
And yet.

And ok. He's been using it. But he's yet to make anything other than he will consume (that's stubbornness for you).
And then Parragon Books come to the rescue....
It's great to give Mr J a bit of direction, which is of course better deemed 'support'.
I love that the book is broken into how recipes can best help you.
Mr J plays Squash and goes swimming every day, so has been paying particular attention to the 'Energy' section.
And the reality is, as you flick through the pages, that the ingredients appeal, and I've loved the kick start session- given the reality is that I dislike mornings.

More fun is trying different fruits, and encouraging the children to get involved. They have staples where fruit is concerned (bananas, apples, strawberries, raspberries)- but new foods are instantly received with trepidation.
Whilst some of the recipes may be initially received with raised eyebrows, after creating them and cynicism is dispersed we've found winners.

And yes. I am of course using this experience to demonstrate to Mr J that more kitchen gadgets should be encouraged!

Disclosure: We received 'The Juice Bar' as a Parragon Book Buddy. All views and opinions contained are our own.




Monday, 18 November 2013

Making bathtime even more fun- Story time with Matey #review

I remember Matey's from my childhood, so was over the moon when my mum started reviisting the Christmas tradition of gifting my children with a bottle of bubblebath, in the unmistakable Matey style.

Bathtime is my last chance saloon, to rid the children of the last of their energies before bed, to have fun, laughter and splashing.
Bubbles play a massive part. Daddy is the master bubble creator, I cannot compete no matter how much bubble bath I use.

As babies bathtime was the thing I struggled with most. With my first born I was nervous of keeping her safe, after the boys I struggled with keeping all three either happy or warm- and so the importance of routine began.

And so like so many parents bathtime has become part of our routine. And fortunately it is the fun part. I am lucky enough to have three water babies.

We have lots of bath toys, some go in and out of favour, some come and immediately go, and others are passing fads. The children have always had two books- both about crocodiles, both arrived when Squeaks was six months old. So I was happy to bring something new to our routine.
 'Matey Bubble Fun' brought all our loves together- reading stories, making bubbles, storytime and pirates!
And we had great fun using bubbles as part of our story.
Making bathtime fun is so important.
At a time when stress levels are highest as tiredness is kicking in, as one of the last part of routines before relaxation can play a part for everyone.
Bathtime is important is improving confidence in the water, and for instilling the value of routine.
Our new book has played its role in making bathtime fun.

Disclosure: We received a copy of 'Matey Bubble Fun' for the purposes of this review. All opinions contained are our own.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Our week that was- November 2013

As November continues I guess the reason for not wanting to take daily photographs continues.
These photographs sum my week:

I tried to inject humour to the start of my week.
Having to explain the film reference more than once confirms my humour was lost.
I would guess with this in mind it probably just scared people. 
 
This photo sums up my life. This is what happens if you think of leaving my children alone for more than one minute. But on reflection, I did encourage it, my laughter probably made it worse. 
 And then I got to spend some creative time with Squeaks.
On Saturday we held our second Awards event. This year it was a zillion times better than our 'attempt' last year. Whilst we had to persuade people it was a good thing to hold them on a non-working day we had an amazing turn-out. After our Chairman officially resigned last week the team also pulled all the stops out to celebrate his leadership over the past 5 years, it was a great send off. Now I just have to find someone take the baton!
And me, I celebrated by treating myself to magazine and getting hungry on the journey home!
And on the train home my mum phoned to suggest Mr J and I had a takeaway curry. Which turned into her ordering a takeaway for her, dad, Mr J and me, and me picking it up and paying for it- I am in awe of her delegation skills.

So I picked up the takeaway, swopped it for the boys, and on the drive home we made up a song:
"We love grandma and grampy,
We love grandma and grampy,
We love grandma and grampy,
We love playing at their house."

To which after the tenth time, Cheeky broke into his own version:
"Grampy loves watching the rugby,
Grampy loves watching the rugby,
Grampy loves watching the rugby,
And he likes playing rugby too."

And then there was laughter.

And that has been our week.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Creating Christmas Hampers and gifts for teachers

I have been making Christmas Crafts for a teacher's hamper as part of a sponsored post for Collective Bias®

For me this is a key time for my children to learn the importance of giving and receiving gifts at Christmas. Creating gifts is a fantastic way for children to understand the effort that creating thoughtful gifts take, and will hopefully help their appreciation of those presents they are fortunate enough to receive.

The other great thing about creating gifts is that it helps manage the build up to Christmas, that different elements can be created until the hamper can finally be assembled.

I took lots of inspiration from Pinterest and then spent ages reducing my wish list to things that would go together and fit the hamper idea.

Of course a trip to Hobbycraft was pivotal to our concept. Between getting involved with the #GreatBloggersBakeOff and enjoying craft time with the children a trip to Hobbycraft is turning into a weekly visit as it does seem to have everything under one roof.
The added bonus was on changing from Hallowe'en to Christmas they are focus areas aligned to different crafts- including creating hampers.
Hobbycraft also do great masterclasses and regularly have demonstrations. This is fantastic when you do have children who can be distracted whilst you get to grips with everything you need to tick off the list.

I had decided our hampers would be a mix of edible and decorative gifts. Deciding to include a bar of chocolate as my sure thing as homemade might not be everyone's cup of tea.

We started with blackberry jam. The blackberries came from a recent foraging trip and had been frozen. For a bit of certainty I relied on jam sugar. Hobbycraft stock lots of jam making equipment including the fab little Tala jars and ribbons. The covers were created with gingham fabric.
This was a little more difficult for the children to get involved given the temperatures. They were obviously the pickers of the blackberries and they did a great job cleaning them in water, but the rest was left to mummy.

Next on the list was a decorative element, I loved the Christmas decorations using buttons and with the children's help it meant they were able to get involved in sorting the colours and sizes as well as threading them.
I think they do look absolutely gorgeous and were so simple to make.


The second decoration I wanted to make used pom-poms and cardboard. The great thing about this idea was for the boys, at nearly three, we used the ready made pom poms which Hobbycraft stock in packs of Christmas colours. For Squeaks, at four, we went for a 'from scratch' version, using Hobbycraft's value wool and some pom-pom makers.
For both age groups there was lots of enjoyment- the boys loved sorting colours and playing with the pom poms. Squeaks needed more support but loved the reward of the completed pom pom being set free.



Whilst the boys' take on candy canes wasn't quite there I think their play school teachers will appreciate their wreaths.
And I adored Squeak's pom pom wreath which we assembled with a glue gun, I think we may have one in our home as well as gifting to her teachers.
Next on the list was our staple Christmas gift- Snowman Soup. Created with a cellophane cone, hot chocolate, chocolate buttons and marshmallows, this is a really simple, fun, gift.

From here we went on to make Squeaks' favourite thing- gingerbread. She's spent her first term learning nursery rhymes, of which 'Pat-a-cake' and "Run, Run, as fast as you can" seem to be her favourite.
With gingerbread she can get involved in all aspects- making the dough, cutting the dough and decorating the biscuits.

I also had a lot of fun this time, having seen upturned gingerbread men being used to create Rudolph's which I thought looked fantastic.
We created Christmas tags, using Christmas cutters along with tags, string and pens picked up from Hobbycraft. I think I just need to practice my Christmas handwriting!


And then mummy had lots of fun trying to create Christmas cards after seeing another fab Pinterest inspired idea.
I was pleased for my first attempt.... although I definitely need practice!
I am pleased as anything with the final protype- having put them together in their baskets.
I hope the children's teachers will enjoy them as much as we are enjoying creating them!


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

On a rant #parenting #feminism

This week I've seen so much on social media about parenting and feminism.
I've read more than a few posts about Blogfest and I've watched an extract from This Morning.
I don't want to link up. The cynic in me wonders how much is done for publicity.

I have toothache. I had a replacement filling today. So I know I'm not at my best.

But.

Last week I saw this from the wonderful Multiple Mamma and it just said everything that needed to be said:
I will advocate drug-free natural births.
But I will not doubt that my best friend should have been given a Cesarean the moment she asked.

I will support every breast feeding mum. And envy that best friend who has successfully breast fed her two sons, and is coping amazingly with severe reflux.
But I am as happy as I possibly can be in my decision to stop breast feeding at 6 weeks and 1 week. I will not feel guilt from anyone other than me.

I will support co-sleeping. Because I know it may be the only course of action to have sleep and know how in-sync my baby is with me.
But I completely understand why people do not co-sleep.

I will support controlled crying because I know how near I got to depression with tandem feeding and having no sleep.
I support parents who sooth babies when they cry, and this is an area of parenting my husband and I will disagree on always.

I support baby wearing, but I will never trust my ability to tie knots.

I love my children.
I support anyone and everyone who has that love for their child which means they would do anything for their child.

I don't need to say any more?

And what of feminism?

What of people respecting each other?
Supporting each other to be the best that they can be?
Respecting each others weaknesses and strengths.
To give up a seat on public transport.
To appreciate insecurities.
To know that your insecurities may be the next persons strengths.
To know that your strengths are the next persons insecurities.
But to know it's better to have support than criticism.

I hate feeling rubbish.
I hate feeling that I'm not the best person I can be.
I hate feeling that I'm not giving my all.

But I need support to change.
Not criticism.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Cinnamon Breadsticks with #GBBO

Thanks for Helen and Jenny the Great Bloggers Bake Off remains in full swing and with the #GBBO Masterclasses safely stored on my Sky+ box I couldn't wait to try some more bread (mainly because it's great therapy to throw it across the kitchen table for more time than is recommended.

Having found myself feeling the onset of winter last week I decided we needed the smells I love most during this time of year through the house.

So, whilst they may look a little 'darkened', my cinnamon breadsticks were caught just in time (Phew!) and the browning is the sugar, so it was all good!

Everyone loved them, I'd share a picture of the boys eating them, it wasn't their most elegant moment- basically they walked round for 15mins with their breadsticks in their mouths for fear of putting them down, or losing them to anyone else. They make the world a great place to be.

And for added brownie points, this was an attempt at cinnamon breadsticks of my own, taking little bits from lots of recipes, changing the quantities, and ingredients, and ending up with our version of Christmas. (Of course I know I'm not meant to use that word!).

Ingredients
300g Tesco Finest Very Strong Bread Flour
30g Tate & Lyle Dark Soft Brown Sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast
200mls warm water

Oil for proving

Extra flour for dusting

2 tsps cinnamon
20g Tate & Lyle Dark Soft Brown Sugar

150g chocolate
50g icing sugar
2tbs golden syrup

Method

  1. Mix the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the salt.
  3. Mix in the yeast.
  4. Create a well, and add the water, 100mls at a time to create a sticky, soft dough.
  5. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Place in a well oiled bowl and cover in oiled cling film. Place in an airing cupboard for an hour.
  7. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.
  8. Prepare 3 baking trays- either lined with parchment or silicone.
  9. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  10. Once doubled in size, dust the work surface and stretch/ roll into a rectangle.
  11. Sprinkle the cinnamon mix over the rectangle and gently roll over.
  12. Cut the dough into 3cm strips and twist. Place onto baking tray, spaced apart.
  13. Bake in the oven to 15-20mins.
  14. Cool on a wire rack.
  15. For a dipping sauce, we melted the chocolate, icing sugar and syrup together and served with warm bread sticks.
  16. Eat!
Disclosure: We received Tesco's Finest Strong Bread Flour and Tate & Lyle's Dark Soft Brown Sugar which we used for this recipe. All views and opinions contained are our own.
GreatBloggersBakeOff


Monday, 11 November 2013

Corina Pavlova and the Lion's Roar at Sherman Cymru #Review


This Christmas Sherman Cymru has a production focused at 3-6 year olds- Corina Pavlova and the Lion's Roar.
This sort of thing cheers me up no end. I doubt my three would get through a pantomime yet there is something so enshrined in the lead up to Christmas in a trip to the theatre.
Last year Squeaks and I went to see 'The Snow Tiger' at the Sherman and it was fantastic. Just Christmassy enough but with a wonderful theme of friendship running through.

'Corina Pavlova and the Lion's Roar' features two of the actors from 'The Snow Tiger', and on similar footing follows the Christmas theme alongside that of family.
For one little girl in the audience the tale was of so much relevance, because Squeaks only wants one thing for Christmas- a kitten named Jewelie. And whilst when we walked into theatre all three decided they wanted to sit with me on the chairs, after a little while Squeaks took herself off for a front row view on the mats. Closely followed by the boys also deciding they wanted a better view.

Because that is the great way that the Sherman lends itself best to children's theatre. It pitches itself to a child's need. And as Corina went on her adventure so my children fell into the tale alongside their need to be more engaged. The theatre space means children can get as engaged as they wish.

And with the three amazing actors, who engaged everyone in the audience, there were songs, music, dance and humour- the time flew.
And then the best thing happened. Squeaks announced she wanted to meet Corina. I wondered how I was going to manage her disappointment. And as I put the boys reins on I turned and Squeaks had disappeared.
Cue the stomach lurch and increased heart rate.
As we hurried out of the theatre I figured what had happened.
The three actors were there saying goodbye to all of their guests.
I walked into the foyer to find a little girl on cloud nine.

My biggest disappointment was that I had left my phone (and camera) in the car. The Mummy Fail of not getting Squeaks a picture with her new friend Corina.
This is definitely one which will stay a part of the children's memory.
And as we chatted all the way home about the best bits, and who could roar the loudest (my poor head), I know I can thank Corina for managing our Christmas.
When asking the children what they want for Christmas, after discussing every animal (and dinosaur) which exists, it seems we are agreed. The children would like their family to be happy. Job done!

Corina Pavlova and the Lion's Roar is at the Sherman Theatre from the 9th December 2013 to 4th January 2014. Written for 3-6 years olds it is definitely a great way of finding Christmas spirit and enjoying theatre with children.

Disclosure: We received two complementary and two reduced price tickets for the performance. All views and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Our week that was - November 2013

So, as previously mentioned, I started the week recovering from my worst migraine to date.
What better way to recover than leading a Sunday School session! (Perhaps the afternoon involved a nap to recover).

After an early night Monday saw a trip to London, and a fantastic "hee" from Squeaks as I kissed her goodbye.

Tuesday saw me revert to the throes of work, and the decision to submit a request to work more flexibly. My mum popped round with a cake she made at her decorating class and the boys were suitably impressed.

Wednesday saw more work, and the boys continuing to amaze me with how well they can play together alongside Squeaks getting her first injury at school.

Thursday saw an early trip to London to firstly attempt to resuscitate the success of project 1, and then to try to convince everyone for optimism as we proceed with project 2. It also involved Mr J texting me a photo of my early Christmas present- control your jealousy!
Friday saw a return to Elephant & Castle, to prove that the overarching project is flexible enough to maintain success.
Friday evening saw me offering jobs, fortunately 2 of 3 were still about to answer their phone. There is nothing better than to start the weekend knowing that 2 people (if not three!) are joining the team, and things are really starting to come together.
Saturday was a great day. I managed to get up in a timely fashion which meant we arrived at Sherman Sherbets on time! I used the time to do lots of planning and felt calmer for doing so.

After heading to Hobbycraft to put the plans into action, we returned to the Sherman to see 'Corina Pavlova and the Lion's Roar', albeit I may have left my phone in the car so am lacking photos (that's what trying to bundle three children off to the theatre does for you!).

And yes, it was fantastic, and yes, everything has worked out ok, and I sense my blood pressure is back to a regular pulse.
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