Sunday, 31 August 2014

Puffin Virtually Live!

Getting every child to the theatre is something which in my heart should be a way of life.
Experiencing the escapism and the freedom of imagination that a stage offers should be open to all.

On Monday 15th September the  2014 Puffin Virtually Live: Roald Dahl Day will be streamed live from the London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, home of the brand new musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Last year 300,000 children watched the show live in classrooms around the world!

This year children will be able to celebrate 50 whipple-scrumptious years of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with PUFFIN VIRTUALLY LIVE: ROALD DAHL DAY!

Hosted by former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, there will be tremendous treats in store, including:
Roald Dahl’s legendary principal illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake, drawing and talking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka-inspired cookery feature starring Justin Gellatly, author of Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding
A live sing-along performance of Pure Imagination led by the cast of the gigantic new musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Together with Q&As and lots of mischievous surprises, such as exclusive new videos and Charlie Bucket Eye-Spy bingo cards, there’s plenty of fun to keep classes of boys and girls aged 7 - 12 entertained!

How much do I want to be there?!!?

You can prepare by downloading one (or more) of ten delicious Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lesson plans, created by the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre’s Education team. And you can also download the ‘Pure Imagination’ lyric sheets to start learning the words and warming your vocal chords before the big day!

So, whilst not everyone can be at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, you can be there at 2pm!

See you there.

The truth about blogs

As a writer of a blog.
I feel a fraud.
Writing that sentence.
I am not a writer.
I just have this page in cyberspace.
Where I am free to express myself.

But there are constraints.
There are boundaries.

And everyone's are different.

A blog is an insight into someone's life.
But I doubt it is the whole truth.

Some blogs are a contradiction.
From the person you meet to the person who writes.
From posts which bounce from circumstance to circumstance.

The truth is
A blog is like Facebook.
It reveals as much about a person as the person wishes to reveal.

With the online complexity.
To write online is to consider others.

If you have a niche.
It may be better.

If that niche is family.
Where do you start?
When behaviours are unacceptable.
When the people you love beyond all else are affected.
When advice is sought but cannot be requested.

A blog is a window onto an individual's life.
But it will only ever be one window.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Reflection, Change, Beginnings, Acceptance.

I started this blog in 2011. 
Whenever any blog post starts in this manner, you know there's going to be an element of naval gazing.
Let me start by reassuring you. 
This is complete naval gazing.

I started this blog prior to returning to work.
With three children. 
And a 22mth age difference.
Knowing that maternity leave wasn't a part of my future.

Mr J and I have once again had The Conversation.
Holidays and pregnancy announcements do it to me.
The perfect number.
I know our perfect number is three.
But to relive that period, to hold a babe in arms, as ours.
I will always miss that.

I know what we have it so much better.
These children, who astonish us.
I know I'm not meant to tell you this.
But we have a CD in the car.
The children define it as 'banging tunes'.
Each of us has our own track, which we share with our family.
We've had it for probably at least the last two months.
And I pretend, I think, the children are immune to swear words.
One of the tracks is Angels and Airways "It Hurts".
Ever since Seren interpreted 'bullsh*t' as 'blue shirt'...
"Was just a little blue shirt I saw through."
Until tonight.
When Seb, as loud and as clear as day.
"It so f*cking hurts".
Because of course we've been listening to the live version.
And despite hearing it a million times before.
Today was the day.

My children.
They make me amazingly happy.

Work wise.
This year I've written so much about work.
Everything changed with one... I was going to write one letter... but there is a reality... it was one person.
A person who has tested every moral fibre of my being.
For a number of years.
The choices that we make as individuals, to self destruct.
To involve others in our choices, which have the potential to impact in life changing ways.
I have learned in this process that forgiveness is the only thing that retains sanity.
And that regretting a previous forgiveness does not allow life to move on.
That some people will test, and challenge, and that, if in your eyes, there is no other route to the future but forgiveness, than forgiveness has to be the way forward.

And yet, there's more.
That fallout.
And the reflection.
And knowing, in all of this, you will never hear good about yourself.
But trusting, with reflection, that everyone has extenuating circumstances.

And that, what you did need, in a previous life, is not what you need now.
And what could have been, is not what will now work.
And no matter how difficult the next choices will be.
Whether there be more hurt or anxiety.
Your own fibre means people should only be set to succeed.

And then there's you.
A part of 'Transform'.
The organisation reform.
The organisation who has been integral to the past 13 years.
More hours of your 13 years than not.

The reflection.
To be or not to be.

The reality.
Not knowing.

Everything is off kilter.
To play a role.
Carpe Diem.

I do not know where the next six months in work will take me.
I know that the decisions the business takes will move the business forward.
With or without me.

Carpe Diem.
A new challenge.
A part of.
A new start.
The opportunity.

And with all the change and beginnings, and reflection.

I remember being back from maternity leave after the boys.

And commenting about how much a fraud I felt.
In South Wales.
200 miles from home.
With three children.
Blond with blue eyes.
Would someone challenge whether I was their mother.

I was offered assurance. Eye colour can change.

And today I took this picture.
Acceptance.

These blonde haired, blue eyes children are mine.
And this makes me happy.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Word of the Week #WotW

So, we got back from last week's camping trip to the Gower, and as the washing machine spun I was lucky enough to celebrate another birthday in the company of my wonderful family, before packing up the car again for a trip to West Wales.

I'll be honest.
The weather wasn't great.

I really wanted to spoil the little people with a trip to Caldey Island.
Due to the gale force winds forecast there were no boats leaving Tenby Harbour.

We made promises of a campfire and toasted marshmallows on our second night.
The downpour put heed to that plan.

And yet.
The honest truth.
We enjoyed fish and chips at Saunderfoot.
We trawled the beach for seashells at Tenby.
We made friends at Trevayne Farm.
And Mr J got to visit a few mid-week car-boot sales.

No-one (apart from me) really cared about the weather.
And it was only because of my stinking cold that I felt fed up.

We are spent.
We have two INSET days, and the disruption of the NATO summit next week to ensure we ease our way back into the school year at the pace which has become true of the holidays.

But for this week, we are thankful and already looking forward to our next.
Which obviously leaves our word of the week as:
Pop over to The Reading Residence and read others reflect on their week.
The Reading Residence

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Creating the perfect love

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
Nothing can prepare you for the love for a child.
No amount of reading, reflection, or counsel can prepare you for the moment the line appears on a stick, nor your baby being placed in your arms.
Choice upon choice becomes more relevant as a new parent, washing baby clothes ahead of arrival, deciding on pram systems, bouncers, moses baskets, bedding and  fabric conditioner become more than you have thought possible as an outsider looking in on parenting.

And yet, the moment you hold your newborn in your arms, you know there is no choice.
You can only do the right thing by your child.

A reliance on research when being made aware of the likelihood of prematurity in multiple births.
Wanting to do everything possible to nurture and protect a newborn baby.
Knowing you have to accept at times nature rather than nurture.
And remaining true to yourself in doing everything possible to ensure the health and wellbeing of your child.

As a parent, more than ever you become reflective of your own upbringing.
In my case, grateful, to my parents for the upbringing I received.
Little things to hone in on, rituals, routines, habits and morals.

Things that were enshrined within our childhood: family, smells and textures; Friday night fish 'n' chips, rain on pavements, crochet blankets, motorbikes and muddy fields, Persil and Comfort.

Persil and Comfort have been the things that whether we can afford them or not, my mum has kept clear in our priorities, popping to Asda to keep us stocked when she knows our car tax is due, checking our cupboard to make sure we are keeping our only using Persil Non-Bio, and smelling our laundry- because she can't stop herself- for hints of Comfort Pure.
I wish I could argue with her, to challenge the rationale.
But when you tuck yourself up in fresh bedding, which smells good, feels soft, and is gentle against your skin.
There is no discussion.
The family ethos remains the same, making sure my little people are cared for, that they are happy and healthy.
Chiming closer to home than ever is the support for #Mums4Tommys offered by Persil and Comfort. I have to put it into black and white, from August 23rd, in conjunction with Asda, Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure will donate a total of £100,000 to Tommy's to support research into the prevention of miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths.
If you pop into Asda you can pick up the Persil Non-Bio 25w and Comfort Pure 42w promoting Tommy's and after being invited by #CollectiveBias to pop into our local store, it was good to see the promotion in the laundry aisle.
Whilst for the majority of parents, fortunately, pregnancies will be risk assessed, there will be no need to check out the resources on the Tommy's website. There will be no need to become familiar with the terms which Tommy's has become attuned to as a part of the pregnancy or post natal process.

For us, the moment a multiple birth was mentioned, everything was on the table.
And due to fantastic research and medical support we managed to keep our little ones 'baking' for 36 weeks.
At that was with the knowledge, and associated monitoring of knowing twin 1 stopped growing at 30 weeks. Thanks to research and expertise, our medical team knew how to keep our pregnancy going, and how to deliver the tough love of when to stop pregnancy in favour of post-natal support.

Being prepared is all you can ever do as a parent, accepting what is in your control.
Being informed, using resources which Tommy's provides, was key to me.
To know, that I had the more relevant information to support my family.

And now, with a five year old and two 3 year-olds, we are fortunate. We find time to smell the flowers.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Building memories, creating friends #Review

How excited was I to receive an invitation to the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Cardiff.
I can't tell you how many times we have walked past. Never stepping inside.
Like Disneyland, I wanted to save this experience for when my little people would appreciate it most.

And when the invitation arrived, I knew it was the perfect timing to reinforce the end of our summer holidays.
To give them reassurance as we return to routine, and each need something to cuddle a little tighter at night.

As we entered the store, I knew I had make a slight error in surprising the children with the experience rather than explaining the process.
They were each overwhelmed.
This would be the place of their favourite dreams.
A teddy-bear workshop.
How could I have been so naive?

We were in luck.
Jon, a wonderfully attentive team member took the children under his wing.
Explaining everything.
Remaining patient when important decisions needed to be made.
I loved how involved the children were able to be.
The decisions they needed to make.
Choosing their bear.
Deciding on the perfect sound.
And the best place to squeeze to be soothed.
Filling their bear to the perfect cuddling capacity.
Choosing a heart and making it theirs.
With a rub, a kiss and a wish.
And once complete.
Bathed, and cleaned.
Becoming theirs.

Fortunately, Jon was there throughout, ensuring the little people understood why everything they did was so important to their bear.

Like many other team members in the workshop, creating so many perfect bears for children completely enthralled by the process.

And, by this stage, my children were finding their feet.
And with confidence there was no stopping these little people.
Fortunately the range of clothing met their current preferences.
Fireman and Mermaids were order of the day- as they have been our Summer break.

And with outfits chosen and bears dressed.
The most important step remained.
Choosing names.
Creating certificates.
(And it transpires, like our pets, 'microchips').
And so, 'Sparkles', 'Spiderman' and 'Spidey' came to be.
And with backpacks loaded, so my little people got to parade their bears through Cardiff.


And they have been the focus of attention since.
The backpacks are sleeping bags, ready for the next camping trip.
Thoughts of all the outfits have been discussed.
The need for pyjamas, and casual clothes.
The thoughts of counting pennies.
And special occasions.

And as mummy, I am overwhelmed.
The care and love shown through the creation process.
The ownership is more of affection than territory.
And this makes me so happy.

Disclosure: We received three bears and their accessories as part of this review. All views and opinions are our own.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Capri Sun School Fun #BentoBabies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
Brechdanau (packed lunches) or Cinio (school dinners)? It's one of the first choices we have to make as parents to children in Reception class.
As parents we agreed to Seren's Friday treat being Cinio. But as parents it's difficult find motivation for lunchbox ideas and more so ensuring healthy lunchboxes.
Soon into her Reception year, Seren clicked, and suddenly we found we were paying for more and more school dinners, unsustainable with our three children being so close in age.
I discovered Bento and all things #BentoBabies and suddenly we were back in business, Seren began taking an active choice in planning her brechdanau- butterflies, flowers, teddy bears became order of the day.

As Summer turns to the thoughts of a new school term, so do thoughts of inspiring Seren's brechdanau.
I mill the aisles of Tesco looking for inspiring ideas, from cheese, to crackers, to 5-a-day and juice drinks.
My memories of #CapriSunSchool are of my own lunch box.
My memories of Seren's first few weeks in Reception are the same as her last. 
The weather was good.
And Capri-Sun are perfect for lunchboxes for the same reason they are for picnics and days out- put them in the freezer and they're defrosted in time for lunch.
In a lunch bag next to the lunch box, a frozen Capri-Sun ensures a school lunch is cool in warm weather. At 200mls with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, they are perfect not only for school lunch, but after school or when out and about.
Adding to the advantages of choosing Capri-Sun from the supermarket aisle.

And now, unlike my school days, there are 8 fruity flavours (Orange, Blackcurrant, Summer Berries, Apple, Tropical, Apple & Cherry, Mango, Safari):
Which for my #CollectiveBias experience offers me at least eight ways to inspire a lunch box:


And on days where all three of them need a packed lunch, the efficiencies of the bento style packed lunch are more evident than ever. Sharing packets of food you would otherwise land on one child, smaller portion sizes mean you can accommodate more variety, introducing new flavours and textures.
The accessories can be as much or as little as you want them to be; silicon cake cases, food picks and cake decorations all make easy additions.
Seeing lunch boxes emptied; new foods and flavours devoured; is more than worth any added effort in the creation process.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Tom

Last Summer I wrote a post about what Tom loved.
In so many ways nothing has changed.
Tom remains infatuated by fire engines. And I became the best mum ever when I took my little people to an open day at the local fire station this Summer.
Tom loves building with lego, upwards, to knock it down.
Tom loves eating, like all three of our children, we are now fortunate from a life where Tom & Seb both decided to refuse pureed food.

Whilst Tom's tastes have not changed.
It is true in all three of our children that their emotional intelligence has.
The boys remain Mummy's boys, Seren remains Daddy's girl.
And this only makes a difference when both parents are on the scene.

Seb and Seren have many similar characteristics.
Tom remains, to me, the most manipulative of our three, this is not said with malice, I think, already, Tom is the more intelligent of the three.
Reflected in school reports received, Tom is more adaptable, already focused on one-to-one and group time.
At his young age.

Tom is more attuned to people's feelings.
More likely to do things to make other people happy than himself.

I look at this picture.
And I wonder why, on this day, he chose to pay such close attention to this teddy.
And it was because someone (his mummy) told him not to.
My child already has that streak, which whilst similar to his siblings, "someone told me not to", is more attuned to caring.

Tom is factually my middle child.
I love there is doubt.
Because Tom has been the child which has caused me the most concern.
From not growing in pregnancy.
To pyloric stenosis.
And a heart murmur.

Tom at 3 and a half is a joyous child.
Adept at the most whining voice.
He gives the greatest love.
Shows the consideration and empathy of an adult.
And has the love for his siblings and family which cannot be measured.

Thomas.
Our son.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Word of the Week #WotW

We've done it!
This week saw me start at my favourite apartment in London.
That sounds terribly grand, but when you spend at least a night a week in London you develop preferences.

And it saw me end the week in a tent.
We did it.
Our first family camping trip.
I knew it was all dependent on me.
I haven't camped out for over six years.
I have left Mr J to it with all three little people in the back garden as I opted for a 'proper' bed.

This week we got to enjoy the Gower Peninsula.
As close as we live to a pebble beach, we got to live that close to a sandy beach.
And a proper sandy beach, where the sand runs through your toes.

It rained.
The sun shone.
And no matter what we laughed.
The little people did not want to come home.

And so, this is our Word of the Week:
Check out more at The Reading Residence.
The Reading Residence

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Camping Cookbook #Review

So, we're doing it.
As you read this we're on our first family camping holiday.
On the Gower Peninsula.
There's been trial runs.
In the back garden.
Admittedly, I stuck to the comfort of my own bed.

I have my non-negotiables.
We have to take a stove.
Compromises in life are many.
My morning's coffee is not one.

We've reminisced about camping lift pre-children.
Of the regrets of car boot sales where all camping equipment was sold.
Never sure of when a pregnant woman of twins, moving to Wales, would ever want to contemplate camping.

And yet, this time I get a reference book.
With our stove amongst the bootful of goodies which accompanies us everywhere.

What basics can I contemplate wanting to create.
In 'The Camping Cookbook' there were many options.
I've chosen the ones this 'returning to novice' camper can contemplate.
With a 5year old and two 3year olds as my audience.

And I'm so glad there were options from easy to more well prepared.
So this week, we'll be enjoying:


And, something tells me S'mores will also be on the menu!

I sense this book will be a part of our camping journey.
From 'Don't forget' check lists.
To an equipment list for cooking.
It is more than a book of recipes.

It is a Camping Cookbook.
And a relief.
And also available from good book retailers, such as Amazon.

Disclosure:; We received a copy of 'The Camping Cookbook' as part of our role as Parragon Book Buddies. All views and opinions contained are our own.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Learning to sing.... when it all goes down hill.

This summer Seren has become a complete diva when it comes to 'Let It Go'.
Amazingly confident in front of any audience, if she loses herself and forgets the words, she informs them she needs to start again from the beginning.
I am naive. I couldn't wait for my child to be able to sit down with me and watch a Disney film.
Mental images of hot chocolate, popcorn, blankets, a sofa and lazy Saturday afternoons.
The reality is somewhat different.

This summer, Seren phoned me on the way home from work.
This was my, rather public, response.

I was rather proud of my daughter.
As she interchanges between Blue October and Biffy Clyro.
As all three little people request "banging tunes" when we get into the car.

I can't help but feel I've lost her.
For at least ten years, before her rebellion kicks in.

So, of course I uploaded this video to the Virasoothe facebook page.
With not only the proud parent, Seren singing her favourite song and (fingers crossed) standing a chance of winning £500.

If you've got a video of your little one singing their favourite song, definitely pop along to Virasoothe and upload it!
It'll definitely capture your memories of Summer 2014.


Disclosure: This post is brought to you from the markettiers4dc Parenting Broadcast Bloggers Network.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

What we've been reading this summer #Review

We have our staples- 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'. 'The Gruffalo', 'Meg and Mog', 'The Gruffalo's Child', 'Room on a Broom' and the Ladybird Classics.

More than anything I love introducing the little ones to new books, to see how they absorb them, and respond. This summer, with time on our side, it's been fun to expand books throughout the day as well as at bedtime.

Introducing a new Oliver Jeffers book to the collection is a great idea at any time. Over the summer holidays when you want to show some commitment to learning, this is definitely the book.
Playing numbers is great for little children, and also means I get to enjoy the illustrations as much as them.
Showing a series of objects to help explain numbers, and bringing in subtraction too, I'm hoping Tom & Seb will have taken something away from this book, as well as the inevitable giggles.
'The Hueys & None the Number' is published by Harper Collins and is currently available at Waterstones for £9.79.
'Marshmallows for Martians' has fast became a competing favourite at bedtime. So much so, now Seren is confident reading books, it is one of those she enjoys reading to Tom & Seb.
With great illustrations, the theme of space, rockets, and aliens, and rhymes which keep the pages turning. The boys were immersed, and of course marshmallows and sweets ensured all three had an appetite for the book.
Published by Egmont, and now available at Amazon for £5.24, this is a must for anyone wanting to build a homemade rocket.

I would wish everyone's home be filled with Dr Seuss books. For us, 'Green Eggs and Ham' and 'The Lorax' are a staple, with 'The Cat in the Hat' being an intrinsic part of our family life- from Thing 1 and Thing 2, to letting imaginations loose as the rain pours.
'Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You?' is published by Harper Collins, and is a favourite for daytime reading. Because, like any Dr Seuss book it creates far too much merriment for getting little ones off to bed.
With lots of participation, and cause for conversation, this book is such an enjoyable read with little people.
As always wonderfully illustrated, and completed memorable, this book is a firm favourite in our book basket.
Available at £4.79 from Amazon, this would make a great first introduction for a toddler to Dr Seuss.
Now, if there's one book I would think every baby and toddler should have (plug for real life job) it's encouraging little ones that careers in construction can potentially be more long-term and better paid than most others in today's world. I half-thought Routes to Reading had researched my career when we received this book.
Causing much humour at home, it does fall under 0-3 years in recommended age, I think offering this to everyone working in construction who has a newborn should be a given!
Along with a thumbs up for Routes to Reading, I have been so impressed with the reading recommendations- this one obviously warranted a plug!
Now, admittedly this book comes in 'I Love My Mummy' as well as 'I Love My Daddy'.
But if you've met Seren.
And you know Mr J.
Well, there's nothing like motivating reading.
Seren loved this book, and reading it to her daddy. With added commentary.
Who's teaching who is definitely a cause of contention.
Typically 'Hello Kitty' and perfect for a young reader, whilst princesses and kings and dads in suits were a little much for me, finding daddy everywhere in Kitty's life works.
Published by Harper Collins, retailing at The Book People for £5.59.

Introducing 'Elmer' to the little ones this summer is something I kick myself for not doing sooner.
It's absolutely no wonder 25 years on he has encaptured my children as ever.
Published by Andersen Press, we have been reading 'Elmer' and 'Elmer and the Monster'.
Whilst I know the children are in love with the Elmer, the jungle and monsters, there is nothing better for this mummy than discussing diversity with my little people.
It already concerns me so much how much Seren is absorbing around the roles of women and men, boys and girls, that the opportunity to say 'it doesn't make a difference' is becoming common place.
Using an animal to discuss these themes means it's not as challenging and the little ones seem more acceptable.
'Elmer' and 'Elmer and the Monster' are available from Waterstones along with other Elmer related products.

And so, that is our reading list: without doubt Oliver Jeffers and Dr Seuss should feature on every child's bookcase. Elmer should remain a forever loved child- and any book that allows a parent to discuss roles in our world should be promoted.

Disclosure: We have received books to review and these are a selection of our favourites. All views and opinions contained are our own.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Life - August 2014

Some days, you sit and watch.
Some days, you are far away, and you kick yourself for not interacting when you had had the chance.
But they are so wonderful to witness when they are friends.
And you are flattered by being the one they run to when it goes wrong.

I love how life exists.
I may have my heart and mind focused on these three people.
But life outside of my bubble moves on.
Everything is moving around us, but we are a unit.
These little ones.
They are mine.
I am theirs.
In basic terms, I have borne them.
In life terms, I have loved them.
And fortunately, in turn, they have returned my love.
We are one.
Created.
Living.
Loving.

I live amazed.
Constantly making the mistake of under-estimating.
Overwhelmed by the forgiveness, the acceptance, and the logic.
Children.
Our commitment.
Our hope.
Our love.

For this post I'm linking up with Mummy, Daddy and Me's Ordinary Moments.
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