Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Smiley children with Birds Eye's #Afterschoolchefs

Getting back into the school routine is one of the most difficult tasks, up there with the clocks changing.
Trying to make sure everyone's getting enough sleep, keeping a balanced diet, and getting homework done along with after school activities.

For us, eating at the dinner table is a must during the week- that can be the outside picnic table or in the kitchen, but the discipline of eating is the only way we can quickly guarantee empty plus.
(Plus, the appreciation of the 'reward' on a Saturday of eating tea on the sofa fills our home with happy vibes).

So, armed with some Birds Eye motivation, we set out in our mission to get empty plates:
I don't think there was any doubt in our home that space shapes would be anything other than a success. So with the mission of a 'tide them over' meal between school and their after school activity this was ready for the boys when they arrived home from school.
 And, of course, there were smiles all round:

 Then there are compromise days, when only Seren has an after school activity. And, of course the old faithful was offered to Seren, with the boys favourite of rice- teamed with lots of veg:
 What could ever beat a fish finger sandwich?
The rice was a complete hit for me and them- me, because it was so simple to prepare- them, because they love rice and vegetables (sometimes, I wonder where they get the taste from - I hate carrots!).
But by far, our biggest hit, was Thursday, with no after school clubs, and grandma & grampy away, we had the rare occasion of all three sitting down in the week together.

And we had lots of fun with our #Afterschoolchefs as they designed their own tea. I love the creativity. Especially sharing the extra waffle to create some arms!

And yes, the focus on after school meals has meant we've guaranteed empty plates! Long may our efforts and their appetites continue!

This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page.

Disclosure: We received Birds Eye vouchers for the purposes of writing this post. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Gallery: Family

Can you spy the exhaustion?
The dazed happiness of the early days- three children born within 22 months.
Stating the absolute obvious, and for all the change I had thought I had welcomed throughout my life, within a two year period our lives had welcomed every emotion possible.

And now,
Now, we are a fortnight away from having been in Wales for three years.
Not only through pregnancy and the early days were our lives changed.
But they also provided the motivation to move from his home of Yorkshire to mine.

And every day.
Every day these three little people enrich our lives.
Their thought processes.
Their need to give and receive love.
Their ability to see things in a different, new light.
Their erratic behaviour, from friend to foe, and back to friend within minutes.
Their contagious laughter.
Their appetite to learn.
Their joy in conversation.

For the past six months, through so much in work, I have turned my back on so much, but every day, every day these little people have made me smile and laugh. They have loved me immeasurably.

I have the privilege to be their mummy.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson & David Roberts #Review

Tom & Seb were fortunate enough not only to receive a copy of "The Flying Bath" to review, but also a gorgeous Julia Donaldson print.
Fortunately for me, the boys showed no interest in the print- diving straight into the book.
So my office is now brightened by a wonderful print.
And as for Tom & Seb...
Well, they couldn't wait for night to fall, and to get to enjoy their new book.
The joy of a new story, and even though the nights have not started drawing in, there is motivation to get to enjoy something which grabs their imagination.

The cover grabbed their attention.
Why wouldn't it?
Boys who love bathtime, aeroplanes, with a hint of their favourite summer book 'Elmer'.
Of course they didn't need mummy to help them!
And once it was handed over to mummy to help with the words.
The journey began.
Every moment was loved.
Their imaginations captured.
(Like every other Julia Donaldson book on their bookshelf).
They loved the idea of helping others.
And the animals animals captured their attention as they imagined their character.

So, of course, there is a new book on their shelf.
Separate from our downstairs book collection.
Those reserved for their bedtime story.
To travel around the world in the ten minutes for falling asleep.
What could be better?

Disclosure: We received a copy of the book and print for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.

Monday, 22 September 2014

60 Super-Speedy Recipes: On the Table in 30: One Pot #Review

Our latest Parragon Book Buddies book couldn't have arrived at a better time.
Getting back into the school routine, and trying to ensure the children are benefitting from the best of the home cooked meals is a priority.
The promise of 60 recipes, which would be on the table within 30 minutes is enticing.
I loved that the book is split into food which I can pitch to the children- they, like me, are always going through phases of food they will eat in overloads, and foods they will love one week and turn their notes up at the next.

And this recipe book doesn't just contain those meals which frequented your childhood, or the freezer section of a supermarket.
But meals you would be content to enjoy, at home or in a restaurant.
And this is where there is a slight 'heads up' needed.
This may or may not be the type of recipe book where you can rely on the contents of your cupboards.
For me, there was always a couple of ingredients we didn't just 'have' in the fridge.
These recipes go hand-in-hand with meal planning.
Which for us, was fortunate, as meal planning appears to go hand in hand with pennies saved.
(And the reward of complimenting a great meal with a delicious dessert seems a great compromise!)
The rewards reaped for great food are endless.
The children love food. And the empty plates from both meat and vegetables are a reward in itself.
Having Mr J appreciate that something prepared is to his taste first and foremost. Brownie points.

Which allows, every now and then, my favourite meal to be served up and enjoyed.
This book has lots of great ideas.
And, if you are able to commit to meal planning, and have the ingredients in your cupboard, there is reward.
Clean plates.
Knowing everyone will have their 5-a-day.
Knowing, without too much effort, your children are enjoying home-cooked meals.
And knowing that each of you will now have a favourite,
A meal of the week.

Disclosure: We are part of the Parragon #BookBuddies and recieved this book for the purposes of the review. All opinions and views contained are my own.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Fortunate. And crying about it.

I'm sat here crying.
I have sat here tonight.
And tried to write many of the posts on my 'to-do' list.

But a message received this evening.

It's turned everything on it's head.

A fortnight ago I was doing a puppet ministry.
Madness, rather than "Our House", "Our Church".
Our puppets were kitted out in the boys' sports shirts.
We bought trilby's and sunglasses.

Someone lent me a black tie.
I joked that we don't possess one.

That is the truth.
I know we are fortunate.

This evening.
Expletives want to be revealed.
Comprehension is full of them.

The last time I attended a funeral.
Coming up for two years ago.

A little boy.
The son of a college friend.
Two months younger than my boys.
Died at 22 months.
And of funerals before.
With due respect, of grandparents.
Where there is meant to be acceptance.
I attended Mr J's aunty's funeral.
And that was tough.
Before that.
It was of parents.
Parents of friends.
And that was *insert expletive*

One of which was the parent of the college friend.
Her father.

And today she has lost her mother.

Life moves on.
But distance doesn't.
I met her at the beginning of summer.
Ten years vanished in a conversation.

A baby had been born.
But a child is always remembered.
Three children.
Their family.

And to this evening.
A celebration.
Of the year since the day their third child was born.
To this evening.
The message.
A strong, courage, loving parent has passed.
I am so proud of the acceptance.
I am unsure I could be so.

And this evening.
It is about the things that matter.
Not the little botherations.
There are the things which will affect our everyday.
The things we are fortunate enough to overcome.
But they are not the things which affect our lifetime.

I know I cannot comprehend.
I am fortunate.
Today more than ever.

For today, and every day,
I will be grateful.
I will try to be compassionate, understanding, and
I will try to be the best person I can be.
Life is the best we can make it.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Word of the Week #WotW

This week I struggled with a word to define my week.
It has been such a diverse week, and every day has been an adventure- of learning and experience.

I have been surrounded by friendship.
Offering support and counsel.
Creating memories.
Invigorating enthusiasm and motivation.
Creating happiness.

There has been adventure.
New experiences.

There has been the kindness of strangers.

There has been understanding.
Of one and so many.

And as I looked through the photos of the week.
And found it difficult to narrow down one to use as my backdrop.

Searching through the adventures my lovely family has introduced to me.

I realised that all the words were possible because of one.

And so this is my word of the week.
Please visit The Reading Residence to see how others have summed their week:
The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Octonauts Live- Competition!

We were so excited to find our earlier this year that Octonauts was taking to the theatre.
Bringing the CBeebies' TV show to life, we are heading fast towards the production opening on 16th October at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford.

Touring into 2015, Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure sees the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid explorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. 

Richard Lewis adapts and directs this new production for the stage, with new music from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson, and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.
We've thoroughly enjoyed his previous adapted and directed work, which includes the hugely popular three Peppa Pig stage shows and last year’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom tour.  
If Richard Lewis is anything to go by, we are very much looking forward to the production:
‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts Live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interactive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’

If you're intrigued and want to find out more, you can visit the website or facebook page.

And, if you're as excited as me about the thought of your children getting to be a part of this, well, I'm pleased to let you know that I've been given a family ticket to offer to one of you. All you have to do is follow the Rafflecopter instructions below- Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Siblings - September

"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date."
Siblings is so important to me.
Embracing my children's development.
And reflecting and loving their progress.
Day by Day; Month by Month; Year by Year.

And with the addition that this was the period which covered my ability to spend more time than ever with my little people.

And so I have a selection of moments.
Which have so many captured memories.
So here, I hope you can appreciate the moment captured.

And whilst this has been the first September we've captured all three ready for their first day.
This photo from our weekend camping has to be the one I love most of our month.
dear beautiful

Monday, 15 September 2014

Creating the perfect bike

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

When Collective Bias asked us to think about the Vitamin Water Build a Bike Competition it seemed a great opportunity to test the children on their creativity and think about what their idea of an upgrade might be.
Because, we're not sure why we did it, but Father Christmas brought the children bikes when they were two and four respectively.
They have loved them from the off:
Going out on bikes now they are three and five is almost a test of peripheral vision.
Saturday afternoons look like this:
With Vitamin Water offering a great opportunity not only to build and win a bike, but also to inspire a child, and see how they're growing, and where there pens would take them.
Our first chance to find a bottle of Vitamin Water and accept the challenge, was taken:
For the little people, we found templates on line, Tom decided to get inspired by his latest love- Ninjago- his artistic style is 'free':

Seren, at five, is more aware of what a bike needs to function- even after she thought she had finished, she went back and added the pedals. And for her, it seems as well as favourite colours- the bell is a priority.
She modestly, named hers the 'fantastic bike':
From Seb, I found my detail man.
In school, we've discovered if he gets bored, he just ups and leaves.
But this boy, and jigsaws, books and colouring in the lines- he's so your man!
 And, his attention means we'll be seeing this through all week!
As parents, our needs are pretty different, whilst I'd love my Vitamin Water inspired bike to look like this:
The need for my bike to cater for three is a priority:
I suspect in reality, my future holds 'Seb's colourful bike' in tandem formation!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Camping fun- Part 1

Over the summer, we grasped a new challenge.

Before babies, Mr J and I went camping often.
Up to Scotland and across to Anglesey.
I have one criteria, shower facilities.
I do not cope well without a shower and a coffee to revive me in the morning.

And with children.
Well, this was going to be a leap.

So, over the summer holidays,
Mr J took Seren camping to Talybont.
When our friends came to stay, all three children camped out with Mr J.

So there was no excuse when I had time off at the end of the holidays as to why we wouldn't go camping.

Not least because Mr J had decided to invest my 'stress less' thank you gift vouchers in a tent.

Because of course, what would make me stress less (??!),

So, research complete.
We were headed for The Gower.
I set off to book a campsite.
Completely forgetting how a Bank Holiday weekend might affect our ability to book.

As it was, we found a perfect campsite.
It was, honestly, very basic.
It reminded me of one of Mr J & my favourite campsites from life before children.
On the first day I got a great hot shower.
This turned out to be a really good thing as on the second day I left it later and didn't.
That could have changed our break some!
We stayed at Llanmadoc, a great price for the views and pitch, reflective of the facilities. But like our home, I'm a fan of staying somewhere for the view.

I made the mistake of asking the best way to the beach.
Over the dune, was the confused, obvious, answer.
It was wonderful being such a short walk (less than five minutes) from a sandy beach.
And having spotted a castle on the drive to the campsite, the children recreated Mike the Knight at Weobley Castle.

My intention had been to explore the Gower.
But with a fantastic beach on the doorstep and the Castle as a backdrop.
Seren's school mate joining us on the second night.
This was the perfect, three day break.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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