Thursday, 30 January 2014

Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers - The Day the Crayons Quit #Review

Why do I love 'The Day the Crayons Quit'?
Well, of course, it's because the children love it.
And, of course, it's because you know how much I love Oliver Jeffers.
But, more so, it's because I love my children.
And I love how much it makes me love them more.

How do my children love their crayons?
Let me show you how they love their paints:
I love that my children are unique.
I love that after reading 'The Day the Crayons Quit' I could recreate the same book for our paints.
I'd love to tell you whom was responsible for which picture.
You wouldn't believe me.
And because Seren 'gets' it, I love to read it with her.
I love to see her reaction to the wonderful illustrations.
And I love to watch her expressions as each of the crayons reveal their feelings.

And like all Oliver Jeffers books.
I love being able to read it for me.

Disclosure: We received a copy of 'The Day the Crayons Quit' for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Gallery- Rewind

It's been a long while since taking part in The Gallery.
I used to love looking back at old photos.
But lately, time just seems to escape me.
I scanned a lot of old photos when I was on maternity leave with Seren.
This was one of them.
Graduation Ball. Cardiff University. 1999.

Where are we now?
Unfortunately I've not really a clue.
The lovely girl I have my arm around.
Like me she's got two gorgeous little boys.
The remainder, despite best endeavours it was outta sight.

May 1999 I left Cardiff.
It may have taken twelve years.
But I'm so glad I returned.
Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tracking your dog's every step

When we lived in Yorkshire, we had all of our pets microchipped. It seemed a great idea.
It does however rely on someone finding your pet and them knowing the pet might be microchipped and getting it to a vet.
And whilst that's going on, you're the one left panicking, pacing, and searching.

We loved to take Miller out on the moors, and now we love to take him along the coast.
And, if you've been unfortunate enough to have had your dog run out of your sight on a walk, then you will understand how stressful the situation can be.
And, as is now the way, technology has caught on. And Retrieva, GPS specialists, have developed the Dog Tracker Plus collar, so you can let your dog roam wild whilst you relax, safe in the knowledge that you can monitor their movement on your smartphone.
Retrieva have made the collar durable, yet comfortable and packed with GPS technology that hooks up with your smartphone and offers more than GPS tracking alone. The collar enables augmented reality, meaning if your dog has gone out of your vision then you can point your phone to the surrounding area and see him or her in real-time moving in the landscape (even if they are obscured behind buildings, vehicles or trees).
Using the Dog Tracker Plus app you can set Geofences and alerts so you can be notified as soon as your dog has left the specified area.
The dog tracker plus collar does more than tracking your four-legged friend though, you can monitor your dog’s health and fitness. You can set goals to achieve regarding the level of exercise your dog is getting and their weight and monitor it on a daily basis using your smartphone app.

Pets Corner – one of the UK’s leading pet product suppliers, have made the product available on a hire or purchase basis, so you can test it out to see how it works for you before buying one.

I am bringing this post because I think it's a great idea, especially for all the dog walkers on the moors we met looking for their dogs!

Monday, 27 January 2014


When I think of a memory which really makes me smile I think of this:
When I'm in work and I want to take myself back to a positive mindset, I look at my wrist:
And, when I'm travelling, and I want to feel happy, well, listening these makes the world a better place.
This, the number 1 when Seren was born (she is so lucky to have such a good track!). I was Welsh living in Yorkshire. This will always make me happy.

And this, this I remember from 'Good Morning Vietnam'. It says everything about our lives. To me, it cannot fail to uplift.

And this, this doesn't fail to get me singing along:

And, if all else fails, I remember.
If this has injected even a teeny bit of happiness in your day, well, my work here is done!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Week 2, week 3 and week 4- 2014 #365

This is how bad it is, I am this far behind.
I also seem to have lost some days.

So, here's a load of photos which sum up January, so far...

Tuesday: (Yes, Sunday and Monday went awol, who can blame them?- for info, on the Sunday, it was my first time leading the older group at Sunday School, I have reframed my new favourite saying at work to meet the outcome "It was what it was". Monday, I had a fantastic day, my first flexi-day. It would seem I reinforced this by not taking photos). And so on Tuesday, I found a way to get names onto the badges I had made, and felt proud.
Wednesday also disappeared. To London. To inductions. I have three new team members, soon to be four. With the new year comes fresh starts.

Thursday: Mr J's birthday. Our meal out was gatecrashed. Their relationship perfectly unique.
 Friday: Ambition takes hold. She who can't draw decides to produce art work.
 Saturday: Which I happen to feel a little bit proud of.
 Sunday: My amazing, wonderful boys turned 3. And as I have dedicated two posts to the occasion, I decided to share this one. To show it's not just me who is this proud. Mr J, getting truly involved in ensuring the boys enjoy their day. Through balloon creations!
Monday: Seren, I suspect, has been thinking about this since last March, but with the boys party out of the way, now we are safe to begin planning hers. Numberjacks, meets dress up, meets rainbows.
Well, I found something to meet the first part of the brief!
Tuesday: We had painting time, with one of the boys' birthday presents.
I was amazed by how different the boys took to the task.
And was more amazed by whom painted which.
Thursday and Friday was spent in Birmingham. I sense I will be spending a lot more time in Birmingham. My team team are now located in: Leeds, Warrington, Warrington, Leicester, Birmingham, Bristol, and Exeter. With me in Cardiff it would seem Birmingham is going to be a far more convenient meeting point than London. Adjustment will need to occur.
Saturday: Mr J is joining is the Team Honk relay, so we were over the moon when Joker's Masquerade agreed to send an outfit for our week's activities!
Sunday: We all (eventually) managed to make our way to the park. And when I eventually turned up this is how the boys were enjoying their time. As I type this, I wonder how to describe who we bumped into, I would describe them as friends, which means I now have friends we've made as a result of being parents. I will have to think on that.
But anyway, two wonderful boys turned two a week before Tom & Seb's birthday. And they generously let Tom & Seb have the most fun on their birthday gift.
Monday: it seems was 'Bob the Builder' day. Bad mummy missed the memo. This is how they spent their afternoon, as they fixed anything (which they broke first). Lego is a safe option on these days I have learned.
Tuesday: for some reason the boys decided they wanted to become babies. And in ways I can't begin to comprehend this involved our blanket going on the floor, cushions from the settee, and then they wanted to be wrapped in a towel. Now, admittedly, this happened for the first two days of their life, but surely they can't regress this much?!
Wednesday: Open Day at Seren's school. I got to see Seren on her terms, and revel in all that she is learning during her time away from us.
Thursday: I made my tutu in anticipation of taking on the Team Honk Relay Baton from Sunday.
Friday, what can be said about Friday? I went to Reading. All was not what it seemed. We received good news. I traveled back to Cardiff. I had a detour to Starbucks to work through some work stuff. Frustrating work stuff which my weekend would not be able to begin until it was sorted.

Saturday, I went on a fantastic puppetry course (blog post to follow). I bonded with this puppet so she ended up becoming my newest baby. I need to decide on a name, I have one in mind but Seren wants to name her 'Isabella Grace'.
And I think, in the footsteps of my favourite story teller, she will be named Matilda.

Friday, 24 January 2014

How much advice does your dentist give you?

So, flexible working, compressed hours.
I'd love to say it's going well.
I've had three Mondays off so far (plus New Year's Day, but that doesn't count).

With afternoons committed to time with Tom & Seb.
My mornings started well.
I dropped the boys at playschool and went for coffee with one of my best friends.

My two mornings since have been spent at the dentist.

And yes, this truly is time spent on me.
I have to confess time spent on dental appointments has been sparse over the last five years.
I had root canal treatment after Seren was born, and it scarred me.

Finding a good dentist is so difficult, especially with NHS waiting lists.
The NHS dentist I found in Yorkshire, who gave the root canal treatment, put me off for life.
I'd never had a problem until then, but despite friends assuring me of the bad reputation of the dentist, it halted my prioritisation of dental treatment.

On moving to Wales I registered us at the dentist surgery I'd had as a child.
The children could register on the NHS although I had to register as private.
I was aghast by how much it cost, and as it wasn't really convenient, it motivated me to find a more local dentist.

I managed to find one.
And am now left thanking my lucky stars.
My first appointment. Three children and me.
Bedlam, chaos. She took it in her stride.
She encouraged the children to get involved (not withstanding Seren's strops).

And it encouraged me to return for treatment.

Three treatments in.
I have had a filling replaced, a new filling, and most amazingly, my 'yellow' tooth cleaned.
My 'yellow' tooth was born yellow. It's never known anything else.
All dentists in the past have accepted it.
I don't know what 'green cleaning gel' was used, but I love my new tooth.

I was asked if dentist's had ever shown me how to clean my teeth.
Truth be told, no.
Whilst I scored points for the use of an electric toothbrush, I had no clue how to best use it.
To position it at a 45 degree angle to get in to the nooks and crannies.
To use my toothbrush morning and night.
And to also use floss and interdental brushes at night.

I was shown how to floss.
I was introduced to interdental brushes.
And watched my gums bleed.
But within a week gum disease can reduce considerably.
I discovered my front teeth to have gaps between them.
Which plaque disguises.

And so, with toothbrush, floss, and interdental brushes in hand.
Fingers crossed my next check up in October results in another 6 month gap!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Speaking too soon, and trying not to be worried

So, yesterday the health visitor came for the three year check up.
And, as you'll know from my post, I was so proud of their behaviour, interaction, and how fortunate we've been to have such wonderful children.

Whilst she was here, I discussed the referral we had been given. For Tom to see a pediatrician.
I went to the GP before Christmas about a few 'niggles' I had about Tom. None affecting his health or well being, just niggles.
One resulted in a referral. As an extreme example, Spina Bifida was mentioned, as justifying the need for a pediatrician to be involved but nothing to worry about.
On Tuesday morning I had a phone call, an appointment had become free for today.

At 9am we were met by the most wonderful doctor. Who spent time getting to know Tom, exploring the medical and family history, and the reason for the appointment.
She examined Tom and they had lots of fun seeing what Tom could do physically.
Tom was in his element, I felt like I was at a children's party.
Whilst the doctor was content, we agreed, just to draw a line under it, an ultrasound would be scheduled and a follow up appointment to confirm what did or didn't need to happen.

As I went back to reception to sort the appointments, and my mum took Seb to the loo as they had been patiently waiting, I didn't really expect to see the doctor coming back to see me.

The long and short of it, would I mind taking Tom across for an ECG if time allowed.
When examining Tom she had heard a heart murmur which she'd like checked out.

That heart murmur.
I felt like a shite parent (I have never sworn on this blog but this was it).
Every time I've taken Tom to the doctor when ill they've detected the murmur.
"Bring him back when he's better so we can have another look."
Mr J did take him back, we were reassured it was fine.

I felt shite that I wasn't surprised.
The only, significant, difference was that at 100% healthy she'd heard it.

We went over to cardiology.
Fortunately we were at the hospital which, prior to retirement, my mum used to work.
She took Seb off to see 'the ladies' who the boys have met numerous time before over coffee.
We waited.
And Tom was an absolute star.

Tom was given his magic heart reading to take home.
I was given one to take back to the Children's Centre.
As I handed it over, I reassured myself that on both counts, the reason I thought we were there, and the reason we were still there, Tom is nothing other than a healthy, energetic child.

And yet, it's that horrible waiting.
For the cardiologist to get in touch.
For an ultrasound to be scheduled.

It was too many moons ago, but Tom's last ultrasound resulted in us immediately being admitted.
We've come so far.
But, my children, they're still my babies.

Proud Mamma- the 3 year check up

Yesterday saw my three children shine.
Reception classes at Seren's school held an open afternoon.
Tom & Seb had their 3-year assessment.

I have probably covered a lot of my parenting fails on this blog.
So I wanted to take this time to celebrate how far all three have come.

Tom & Seb's assessment is probably one of those things, the thing you'd rather do without.
I love my children, why do I need an assessment to say anything else.
And given how much we got on with our Yorkshire Health Visitor, how would we all get on with someone new.

As it was she was lovely, the boys went from shy to outgoing in seconds.
I initially discussed my concerns about their speech. Seb seems far more articulate, Tom seems to have more difficulty with certain sounds so whilst speaking 'fluently' sometimes is a little more difficult to understand.
And of course, acknowledging this is pretty much based on my insecurities of thinking there's a possibility of the boys inheriting my childhood learning difficulties.

We discussed why this might be, does Seb do the talking for Tom.
I explained that Tom and Seb are always chattering, that I don't have a clue what they're saying but they 'get it'.
That Seren and Seb are closer in humour and temperament, and I think this is more likely a factor.

But of course, there was nothing to worry about.
From the moment the Bookstart bags were revealed, and 'We're Going On a Bear Hunt' unveiled, the boys were off.
Colour matching, drawing, singing, talking, using the potty... they were an absolute dream.

As I talked through their diet, their eating habits, their sleep routine, giving up dummies, dental health and general health. I realised how fortunate we are.

I was reassured over their potty training progress, their speech.
And the health visitor generously listened to my concerns about Seren (definitely another post, not to rain on this one, but I am now learning all about melatonin).

And then came the height and weight check.

My tiny Tom, who as a baby loved life on the 2nd centile is now showing off at the 80th for weight and 72nd (ish!) for height.
And Seb, who is the whole of 2mm taller, 90th for weight and 75th for height.

I am going to end up with three children just like daddy- tall, fair and blue eyes.

So, I guess I shouldn't get too worried that this has been their chosen attire this week.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Creating a birthday cake fit for three year old twins

Did I mention I was proud of this?
I just thought I'd get it in up front.

I've always kept my cakes behind closed doors until now.
Loved by my family.
Birthday cakes. On display. Always made by experts.

And then, in the run up to Christmas, my fairy godmothers (aka Helen and Jenny) waved their magic wand.... and look what (thanks to the Great Bloggers Bake Off) appeared in my kitchen:
And yes, I had been eyeing these up for some time.

And, suddenly I had no excuses.
Thanks to Lakeland and Renshaw Baking I got to practice over Christmas. Before my talents were put to the test (?!) courtesy of Tom & Seb's third party.

And so, I went for three tier madness.
And, tried to keep to the Knights & Princesses theme.

The bake went better this time.
I went with a sponge.
As always:
the weight of eggs= the weight of caster sugar= the weight of butter= the weight of self raising flour + vanilla essence.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one by one.
After two eggs are incorporated, alternate the remaining eggs with a tablespoon of flour.
Add the remaining flour and when well incorporated, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence per two eggs used.
My baking times vary depending on quantities. I start with 180 degrees for 25 minutes and assess from there on in.

As it was, six eggs for the largest base definitely wasn't enough.
The smallest base baked perfectly at four eggs.

And so, once baked and cooled I attempted to create what was in my head.
And, it would seem this was it:
What did I know? I know I wanted grass, a castle and sky.
I used the colours I had to change the colour of the icing (and realised how much more straight forward it was to buy ready-to-roll coloured icing).
I remembered the flowers I had bought from Kitchens which sorted out a tear in the icing.
I found the joins in tiers particularly difficult to accept, fortunately the idea to add the top of the castle around the top tier rather than around the top of the second tier helped me breathe easier.

Taking it out of the house wasn't so good.
By the time it reached the party venue it was sliding and cracking.
Many lessons have been learned (although please share yours, I am in need of many!).

And this was the reaction... albeit the party was getting the best of them!

For the record, this was last year's effort:
I think I get an award for most improved?

And, if in any doubt, I found this, to get me inspired for Seren's birthday in March!


Monday, 20 January 2014

In The Night Garden Live 2014

He was the first television character my daughter fell in love with.
And so in 2010 He was the star of my daughter's first trip to the 'theatre'.
'Theatre' is an understatement, the moment Seren stepped into the inflatable igloos the magic, as 'In the Night Garden' did from the moment it caught my daughter's attention, proved enchanting.
And, with 'In the Night Garden' still mesmerising babies and toddlers, I would definitely recommend the 2014 In the Night Garden Live tour.

Tickets will go on sale on 31st January.
Or you can pop onto Facebook for a pre-sale competition running to 27th January- with £2240 worth of tickets to be won!

Tickets go on sale to the general public for the 2014 tour of IN THE NIGHT GARDEN LIVE on Friday 31 January from 9 am, with a pre-sale for Facebook fans on Wednesday 29 January from 9 am. The tour dates and locations will be announced on Monday 27 January.

Every day from 14 – 27 January, Facebook fans can win Premium family tickets worth £160. To sign up for the pre-sale Facebook users must visit

Competition entrants earn points by sharing Facebook posts, playing games and inviting friends. There’s a daily ticket prize for the top scorers and the more they play the further ahead in the queue they get to book tickets in the pre-sale.

Over 440,000 people to date have seen the world’s only live production of the CBeebies top-rated show. This will be the fifth consecutive tour of this delightful children’s summer classic, which takes place in its own family-friendly Showdome. IN THE NIGHT GARDEN LIVE is an amazing musical theatre experience for all the family. Children’s favourite CBeebies’ stars - Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka and friends - are all brought beautifully to life on stage using full-size costumes, magical puppets, enchanting music and breath-taking projections.
IN THE NIGHT GARDEN LIVE is written by celebrated creator and composer of In the Night Garden, Andrew Davenport, and directed by acclaimed Royal Ballet choreographer and director, Will Tuckett. It is produced by Minor Entertainment under licence from DHX-RD Worldwide Limited.

Disclosure: This post is brought as a recommendation from me, on great toddler for theatre.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The potty training update

I thought I'd write an update.
I've fallen into a trap of rose tinted spectacles with Seren.

I remember we started potty training when she turned 3 in the March.
I remember never taking her potty to playschool, because she went straight to the toilet.
I remember never having her second set of clothes used.

I remember she did have an accident when we went on holiday to Center Parcs in the July.
And me completely kicking myself because I had forgotten (over what was a long period of time) to check whether she needed the toilet.

The boys are a story of patience.
Which started on December 28th.
Whilst I thought we might be training one at a time, the usual "if he's doing it, I have to" kicked in.
And whilst they are fantastic at running around without any bottoms on, and have had minimal accidents.
We're going for the slow but steady journey.
On January 6th they went back to playschool, and on the basis that we had had a few 'nearly there' experiences, I packed them off with their potties, and two changes of clothes.
They came home in the second change.
And when Mr J dropped them off on the Tuesday he reported a visible sense of relief when the news was received.
My optimism of putting my holiday to good use did not come to fruition.

And so a new routine has begun.
The slow and steady.
Nappies for playschool and out 'n' about, and slow progress to wearing clothes at home.
We're now at the stage that their both wearing 'big boy pants' at home.
But there have been some accidents, so I am reluctant to progress to fully clothed.

And then this week, the letter arrived.
Only one.
Seb's been accepted into our first choice school nursery for April.
One phone call, and a returned phone call later, the Council have sorted it with the school, and Tom can start as well.
No pressure or anything.
Small text- an error had occurred, we had only one place- they sorted it within the hour. But, they can't start if they are not toilet trained.

So, slow and steady.
As focus changes to the February half term.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

My water babies

This week Tom & Seb started swimming lessons.
You might think they're too young. But they're so confident in the pool, they need to learn the discipline of swimming.
And they came home on such a high.

Seren started her swimming lessons just over a year ago. And it is the hobby she enjoys.
Although she is a lazy swimmer.
There have been many Monday evenings where she just simply does not want to go to her lesson.
Any other day, ask her when she gets home from school what she wants to do.
She wants to go swimming.
Or more specifically, to the swimming pool. To mess about.
Lessons rely on discipline. Enough said.

Tom & Seb now have their swimming lessons at the same time. So, we have a temporary reprieve with the excitement of them all getting ready together.

It's amazing to think that we didn't go swimming before we moved to Wales.
We took Seren in the pool most days when we went to Kos.
It was a love/ hate relationship. Some days she'd scream down the place, other days she was happy.
And we took the boys swimming for the first time when they were 6mths old at Center Parcs.
When we moved here we found a pool which would allow us to take the three children in the pool with two adults.
And so now we try and go as a family as much as possible.
The boys go with Mr J on a Saturday morning, and maybe one evening.
And the same is true for Seren.
And then there is the fun of taking Seren with one of the boys and seeing a whole different dynamic.

Swimming lessons are such a good think for all three.
Seren can now swim about 25m unaided.
And the boys, well, with the buoyancy vests on the pool is their domain.
Which means loosing the vests and a bit of their invisibility.
Although they were the ones showing the instructor how well they jump into the pool... without their vests.

I am so happy, that this is one after-school activity which is completely out of my comfort zone.
That before too long or three children will swim better than me.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Sport Relief - The Johnson's are joining Team Honk for the #TeamHonkRelay

I know, when did you ever think I'd write a post with 'sport' in the title.
It can mean only one thing.
It must be really important.

It is.
Over 200 wonderful people joining together to make something amazing happen.
This is Team Honk, 2014 styley.
Team Honk 2014 blogger Relay
Team Honk? You ask?
The Team Honk Blogger Relay started in Lands End on the 12th January 2014 and finishes in John O'Groats on the 23rd March 2014. Aiming to raise over £20,000 for Sport Relief, bloggers will travel the country by any mode of transport possible- pushchair pushes, roller blading across the Humber, boating round Bristol, #Honkopoly around London, fancy dress, onesies, bikes, scooters, planes, hiking, rafting and mountain climbing.
#teamhonkrelay involves over 200 bloggers, their friends and families in a route that zig zags up the UK taking in 38 regional teams.
Check out the route if you don't believe me!

Because, from three bloggers, to 200, it's quite a tale.

And yes, I get to be a small part of it.
I get to join the amazing team of Welsh bloggers to get our baton to join the English effort and progress from Lands End and Haverfordwest to John O'Groats.

And all part of Sport Relief.
The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.

And so the plan is:

On Sunday 19th January, Rebecca from Mum of Three Boys will be travelling 22.2 miles from Cardigan to Haverfordwest to pass the baton to Claire from Diary of the Evans-Crittens.
After running around Scolton Manor, Claire will get schools in Milford Haven involved with Sport Relif challenges.
On Sunday 26th January, Claire from Team Honk Pembrokeshire will transport the baton 80 miles in Fancy Dress to Margam Park where she will pass the baton to me! and with children on tow we'll take responsibility for the baton and getting more people involved with Sport Relief.
On Friday 31st January, the multiple take over will commence with Emily from Twin Mummy and Daddy, when two set of twins will engage in much merriment as they exchange the baton. Following on from this on Saturday 1st February, Emily will pass the baton onto Jo from Ojos World at Caerphilly Castle where running and pyjamas will rule the day. And from there the baton will travel all the way up to Wrexham where Cerys from Mascara & Mud and Claire from Six Degrees of Harmony will be in charge of getting the baton across the border to Team Honk England.

So, what would I really appreciate from you?
Well, I would be so grateful of your support!
If you're reading this and you're Welsh, and more specifically in South Wales from 27th-31st January, you'll notice that's when the baton is making it's way from Barry to North Cardiff.
If you're able to get involved, a sport club or group, an eager school, we'd love to hear from you.

At the moment, my plan is this.
26th January: an overly enthusiastic handover with Claire at Margam Park, afterall I am much excited with calories to burn.
For those who know me best, you know how much I like to delegate motivate others. And Mr J has agreed to cycle from Margam Park to Rhoose (26 miles!!). He's agreed to wear whatever can be worn with his cycle helmet and comfy pants.
So please! If you have a particularly fantastic outfit or, like me, you can't imagine cycling this far. Neither can he! It's been at least three years. Please sponsor him (and us!).

During the week, I am fortunate that Seren's school want to get involved, so expect much merriment from a primary school in South Wales.
And Tom and Seb have decided the baton must cross the Cardiff Bay Barrage, so the family cycle with five bicycles, as three year old twins and a four year old do their bit for Team Honk, with mummy probably wobbling the most.

And of course, the boys can't wait to pass the baton on to two beautiful girls as they meet Twin Mummy on the evening of the 31st.

So please!!
If you can please donate online or text HONK to 70005 and donate £5 to Sport Relief.

A Party fit for Knights and Princesses

When we lived in Yorkshire, Seren's birthday parties consisted of tea parties, and the most amazing friend- a stupendous baker- made her a cake.
When we moved to Wales we decided to have a 'big' 1st birthday party for the boys, finally being able to invite friends and family to share a day with us.
After that experience I decided a party every other year would be more than enough.

And so the boys turned 3 at the weekend.
I decided on a Knight's themed party. Admittedly not the boys first choice (that would of course be Fireman Sam) but Mike the Knight is a close second with lots of options for party fun.

A To-Do List when organising a party is a great place to start... along with Pinterest:
Community Centre booked, we could start with the invitations, we decided on scrolls.
I used parchment paper, a template created, and after they were printed I added names and stamped the seal.
This didn't last, I don't know how hands coped with wax seals, I gained so many burns I decided a tie was a much better idea.
We decided to hire a bouncy castle, provide lots of balloons, and play pass the parcel.
I like to think attending lots of parties means you get a good idea of what you can cope with.
There are so many parties you can choose: Loud DJ and party games, DJ, face painting, balloon modelling, lively host who gets involved, entertainers who cater for a designated number, hiring a soft play centre.
We knew we wanted to cater for anyone who wanted to celebrate the boys day, and across age ranges. 
We decided on what the boys most enjoyed and then added a craft table for older children.

Thanks to a friend, I discovered Baker Ross, with Knight Party Packs and Tiaras, I threw in some added bits and pieces to help decorate, and the table was set. It turned out that this table was constantly busy throughout the party, regardless of age, and definitely something I'd incorporate in future.

Mr J's input would turn out to be in balloon modelling. We agreed balloon swords would be a good idea... Mr J's skills developed throughout the party!
For the party food, I decided to focus on Knights, Dragons and Princesses.
After finding a great idea for Goblets, we went to Wilkinsons and the 99p store (another great tip off!):
For the goody bags I decided to create shield badges, to complement the invitations and theme.
I used Crayola air-dry clay as it is lighter than salt dough and I figured would work well for a badge.
I used our stamps to embed names as thought this would be safer than free hand (it transpired both are perfectly fine).
Used acrylic paint to create the shield.
And after a bit of trial and error used a white acrylic paint and pen nib to add names.
I had painted the backs yellow in advance, and used a glue gun to add a safety pin.
During the Christmas period I bought a large canvas from Home Bargains for about £2. I had planned a craft with never came to fruition.
Feeling inspired from a shield craft on Red Ted Art I decided to replicate the shield on a canvas.

And was really pleased with how this turned out.

Goody bags
I think goody bags are the most controversial of party items, they have gone from something quite trivial to what can be an expense of 'tat'. So many choices, plying children with sweets to go home, adding a small gift rather than sweets, and then there's trying to find a suitable goody bag for a theme you've managed to get hung up on. I decided on paper bags, originally after ones I could add a print to. I then acknowledged my limitations and just went with blue and pink paper bags.
I went for chocolate coins (treasure), balloons and bubbles (as chosen as must-have's by Tom and Seb) and of course... Cake.

 The cake
A seperate post will follow. Whilst the travel and warmth of the room did it no favours- I BAKED AND DECORATED A CAKE FOR A BIRTHDAY PARTY. For this I am most proud.

The party food
Realising we went very OTT for Seren's 4th birthday party (our first 'proper' party) we were more restricted with the volume and assortment of food for this party.
For savoury food, we went with:
Dragon Dinosaur sandwiches with jam, ham and cheese fillings. Sandwiches are the thing most frequently left at the parties Seren attends, so we hoped by making them fun it would appeal.
Dragon Dinosaur turkey in breadcrumbs nuggets- always a massive hit at parties, these more so because of their shape it seems.
Sausages on sword picks.
Dragon scales Tortillas.
For sweet, we went with treasure chests and gold coins.
Princess hat cupcakes.
Fairy cakes with rolled icing shields and castles.
Shield and castle biscuits using a fab receipe from Mummy Makes Cakes (I still think the biscuits should have been iced, Mr J recommended that something plain against so much decorated would be a good balance).
Dragon nests using Shreddies (never send a man out for shredded wheat), melted chocolate, golden syrup and marshmallows along with mini eggs).
And just for the purposes of ensuring we contributed to each child's 5-a-day, we did grapes and strawberries on swords.

My gorgeous boys.
They've turned three!
My heart runneth over.
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