Thursday, 31 July 2014

Autumn is coming

Yes I know we are still in the middle of summer but over the last couple of weeks the Autumn collections have started to be released and much as I am loving the warm weather my mind is flitting ahead to leaf crunching and welly wearing. 

I have started building up the boys autumn wardrobes alreadyand this week i have added more to them by ordering this fab Nosh camera tee from Kyna Boutique and this Maxomorra vest and bag for Seb from Little Sunflowers.

I popped nto H&M yesterday and picked up these long sleeved striped tees for Seb and this sweatshirt for Alex. 
 Finally i picked up this denim jacket for Alex in the Tesco sale(£5!). We're going away to the coast in September so this will be idea to keep him snug by the sea.
I've seen a couple of tops in the Boden catalogue that i'd like for Alex and as always there is loads that i would like to get from Zara. My next big hunt is for Sebs winter coat(Alex already has one), i am so fussy so have started the hunt early.

Linking up with Alex and Trendy Thursday

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Colours and patterns with Elmer

Recently Elmer the elephant turned 25 and as we are big fans I printed out some elephant shapes for the boys to decorate with tissue paper squares. We have done this before and it's always enjoyed and is a great way of naturally introducing colours to toddlers.
For Seb I also cut out some felt squares and we used them to make patterns on Elmer when Alex napped. 
We started with simple 2 ,colour patterns and then got more creative with them as you can see. I was surprised to see how easy he found making more complex patterns. I love how he even made a pattern down the trunk :)
Recognising and creating patterns is a good base for future maths so it is a skill worth practising through play, there are loads of ways to easily introduce the idea.

Monday, 28 July 2014

This week

Well as it is Monday I guess it should be titled last week coming nevermind.
We've been enjoying the weather and had a pretty awesome week especially as it started with a baby rave and my weekly fruit box delivery! 
Wednesday was Phil's day off, we popped into town in the morning and spent the rest of the day out in the garden with the paddling pool and sprinkler on. Then after dinner we went to the pub where the boys had a great time on the play area and eating ice cream. 
Thursday was quiet, we stayed home as I had parcels coming so we spent the morning painting. 
I had loads of parcels come this week, new bras, boring essential toiletries, some foodie bits and new teas from Holland and Barrett and some fab kitchen bits. I love these lidded glass dishes.
On Friday the boys went out with Phil's parents and I spent literally the whole day cleaning the house. I find it so much easier to do when the boys aren't here!

On Sunday we walked down to our local wharf where there was a canal boat festival going on and with that there were lots of craft and charity stalls and a couple of kids rides too. There were also some owls there and Seb got to stroke a baby one(so sweet!). There is a really nice pub on the wharf with some nice outdoor play equipment so i expect we'll be going down again on another sunny day. We walked home down some back roads and found a new(to us) park so popped in there before heading up to our normal park for a bit.
What have you been up to? 

Friday, 25 July 2014

This weeks meal plan

This week we mainly stuck to our plan apart from one night which I am pretty happy with. We had another fruit box delivered this week plus I won an Iceland voucher on twitter so I popped there for a few bits. It's not somewhere I usually shopcto be honest but there are some bargains to be had. We stocked up on pizzas for lazy nights as they were only 89p. Our food shop is being delivered from Tesco today, because I am using the local man for fruit and butchers for meat our shopping g is only £35 this week including delivery!

Next week we are eating

Pulled Pork in buns with wedges and sweet corn
Sweet potato and coconut soup with savoury muffins
Fajitas and wedges
Mac n cheese
Slow cooked spag bol
Jacket potatoes
Bacon sandwiches!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Indian spice muffins

Savoury muffins are a favourite here, i love that can you can put pretty much anything in them and they are perfect picnic food. 
I like to try new flavours so when I saw the new Pilgrims Choice Indian Spice cheese in the supermarket I got some right away thinking it would make lovely tasting muffins. 
I made them with my little helper and we ate them for lunch. Even Phil who can be really fussy enjoyed them. This recipe made 6 good sized muffins.

125g, plain flour
120ml milk
2tsp baking powder
80g Indian Spice Cheese, grated
1tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp mixed herbs
pinch of salt
2tbsp oil
20g mozzarella, grated

Preheat your oven to 180°
Combine your dry ingredients(keep back a small amount of the cheese) in a large bowl and stir lightly.
 Then in a seperate bowl combine your wet ingredients before adding them into the dry ones. Lightly mix together so the dry mix is wet but the batter is still lumpy.
Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tray or muffin cases and then sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Baby Rave North

Yesterday Alex and I headed to The Orangery in Wakefield for our first ever baby rave. These raves are run by Baby Rave North across Yorkshire. 

Having been a party girl in my time the idea of a rave for babies really appealed to me so I was really excited to be going along, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

We arrived to a friendly greeting, I was given a wristband and Alex a glowstick bracelet and some lei to wear.
Inside was the rave room. A darkened room with music, a sensory lights, soft play and sit on toys. There were also some awesome giant balloons which me and Alex both loved. 
Outside was the chill out zone, lots of seating, blankets on the grass and a cafe serving refreshments. There was also some pretty amazing giant swings which are actually an art installation, these were a huge hit with the mums and babies, Alex loved these and spent ages swinging gently.
There was also a couple of local businesses there, one selling cupcakes, another children's wear and also a photography company.
The first part of the rave was spent playing and exploring, we spent most of this time out in the sunshine on the swings, then we were invited to sit inside and join in with some singing and dancing. Alex loved this part, clapping along and using his shaker. 
Towards the end we were invited outside to listen to some live music which was a lovely touch in the setting that we had especially as it was such a gorgeous day too. 

On the way out I stopped to buy a couple of bibs from one of the stalls. I was pretty excited to see that Slugs and Snails were also out on display. 

I really enjoyed the baby rave, it was something different to do and it had a really nice relaxed atmosphere. I loved that the rave was suitable right from very small babies and that older siblings were also welcome. I will definitely take Alex along again.

For more information and upcoming dates check out the Baby Rave North website, Facebook or Twitter.

**We were invited along to the rave by Baby Rave North to blog about our experience but all opinions are my own**

Monday, 21 July 2014

Using formula is not a crime

I would like to start this post by saying that I am a huge supporter of mums who choose to breastfeed. I think that it something to be celebrated and am well aware of the benefits.

I also support mums who choose to use formula and it really makes me cross when others try to put them down for it. I've seen it a lot, on blogs, social media and in real life. 

With both boys my intention was to feed until they self weaned,
unfortunately this didn't happen for me and I used formula. Perhaps some may think I didn't try hard enough but I did the best I could with the (minimal) support that I had and I will try again with any future children.

I read a blog post at the weekend where a commenter(anonymous of course) questioned why a new mum wasn't breastfeeding and after the mum replied they said that she had made a strange choice and that they felt sad for said mums babies.  This really wound me up. 
Firstly people shouldn't have to explain why they are using formula, some choose too use it, others have no choice but either way it really is none of your business. I see it happen time and time again where mums feel like they have to justify themselves and have done it myself, telling strangers that Alex lost a lot of weight as a newborn so we changed to formula. For some people it can be very difficult and upsetting to be questioned on this subject.
Secondly, why do you feel sad? The baby is being fed and is obviously thriving. Save your sadness for children who really need it, perhaps those who aren't being fed at all or those in war zones whose lives are in danger. 
Lastly I had to smile at the fact that the comment was made anonymously, seriously put a name to your comments if you feel so strongly, don't hide away.

I support all mums no matter how they choose to feed, being a mum is hard work without people putting their judgy pants on. Looking at my children today you wouldn't know how they were fed as babies, they're bright, healthy and happy the same as my niece and nephew of similar ages who were breastfed.

Normalising breastfeeding, promoting the benefits of it and offering support when needed is really important but comments like these do nothing for that at all. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

This week

This week has been a bit quiet to be honest. We started it being poorly and have had a couple of unsettled nights with the boys(I think it's the heat) so we've not been up to much. 

We started getting deliveries from our local fruit and veg man, I was mightily impressed with all this for £10 and have ordered another delivery for this week coming. I used some of the contents to make rainbow breakfasts. 
I have also had a couple of lovely parcels arrive. One from New Look with a new dress and sandals and another from This Modern Life with a couple of bits for Sebs room(more on that another day!).
My favourite buy of the week has to be these mason drinking jars. I've been wanting one for soad a couple fo long and I saw that Home Bargains were selling them for just 69p each so I got 4 of course!
Phil I have started watching Suits on Netflix, I'm enjoying it so far. I'm still waiting impatiently for the next series of Orange Is The New Black though(if you haven't seen it, you're missing out)

Of course we did our usual park trips and crafting too and my mum popped round for a cuppa and ended up taking Seb home with her for a sleepover.
What have you been up this week? 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

This weeks meal plan

I'm posting this a bit late this week. We totally stuck with last weeks meal plan(apart from having jacket potato instead of rice with our chilli). The jambalaya was lovely and we'll definitely be having it again.
 This week we're eating

Steak, sweet potato mash and onion/peppers
Slow cooked spag bol
Quiche, wedges and salad
Pasta pesto
Barbecue chicken and rice
Pepperoni pasta bake
Oven dinner

What are you eating this week?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Children and toy guns

This weekend when I went to my parents we popped into a shop to get a couple of new bits to play with in the garden. We grabbed a ball and bubbles and then my mum picked up some water pistols. Despite knowing that both boys would probably love them, I asked her not to buy them.

Toy guns(and other weapons) have been around for a long time. Last year The Museum of Childhood actually had an exhibition exploring warfare in childrens play from 1800, so it has always been there. We all probably played with the in some form as children, water pistols being the perfect example and i certainly remember boys in our playground pretending sticks were guns or swords.

Seb isn't interested in playing with these toys yet, he knows what swords are but not guns(as far as I know) which made it easy to say no to my mum but I'm unsure what I will say when he(or Alex) actually becomes interested in playing with them.

On the one hand the idea of my innocent little boys playing with weapons is disturbing. Violence isn't something they've ever seen and I would like to shield them from it as long as possible. It is odd to think of your children playing in that kind of way.

But on the other hand if they want to play with guns or swords then they will find ways of doing it even if I said no, in fact it will probably make it more appealing. Sticks, hands and Lego can all easily be made into weapon shapes so they don't need to actually own toy weapons to play with them. It is a form of role play(pirates, cowboys, cops and robbers) which has so many positive points to it and nobody is actually getting hurt.
I personally don't think it increases the liklihood of a child become a violent adult, if that was the case then the majority of my peers(myself included) would be violent.

I'm still unsure how I will handle this when it comes up. I can't see myself buying toy guns but nor can I see myself putting a ban on them.

How do you feel about children playing with toy guns and other weapons?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Cloth nappy wishlist

I haven't been buying any new nappies since Cloth Nappy Week but the release of the Bumgenius Chaplin nappy has had me browsing again and making a nappy wish list.

First up of course is that Chaplin nappy. I love the print on this, but it looks like it will be hard to get hold of(especially over here in the UK). I have put myself on a list to buy fingers crossed I get lucky! 
Next is the new prints from Baba and Boo. I already have a fox nappy and find it works well for us. From the new collection I have my eye on the Seagull print and also the Crab print. Both perfect for some fluff flashing this summer.
I've read lots about gnappies but have never actually tried them for some reason. They sound interesting as the disposable insert makes them slightly different from other cloth nappies. I love this design and the bright rainbow coloured ones. 
We already own Tots Bots v2's, v3's, bamboozles and a couple of wraps but have yet to buy a v4. I like the Hickory Dickory Dock print in particular. 
So there you have it, my current nappy wish list.
What nappies are you lusting after? 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Oven baked doughnuts

I'm always looking for different things to bake with the boys and thought it would be fun to give doughnuts a try as I knew Seb would love to decorate them!

Of course doughnuts are usually fried which I didn't want to do, so I did a bit of research and found a recipe on Lakeland for oven baked doughnuts.
I ordered a mould from ebay, there's lots of choice on there and I opted for this silicone mould which makes 8 mini doughnuts (not as mini as the supermarket mini doughnuts). 
The recipe made exactly 8 doughnuts in this mould, because they are slightly bigger then the very mini doughnuts i adjusted the cooking time slightly from the original recipe, also Lakeland suggest using 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract in the recipe but I used some vanilla from my grinder instead. Either way is fine.

75g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
55g sugar
60ml milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp olive oil
sprinkle of vanilla

Milk chocolate(I used Green and Blacks)

Preheat oven to 160°.
Grease your mould either with a little oil or a cake release spray(I used a Dr Oetker one). Place is on a baking tray to keep it flat.
In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl combine the egg, milk, oil and vanilla before adding to the dry ingredients and mixing well.
Spoon your mix into the mould. I filled each cup to the top of the middle part to make sure I had holes in my doughnuts!
Bake for 10 minutes.
Leave to cool for a few minutes before popping out of the mould.
Once cool it's time to decorate. Melt your chocolate either in a ban marie or in the microwave. Once melted dip your doughnuts into the chocolate, coating half. Place on greaseproof paper and while wet decorate with your sprinkles. Pop into the fridge for the chocolate to set.

These taste good! Not quite the same as shop bought versions but still yummy. I only had one as I was being good but I can see us making these in various forms over the next few months. I best stock up on sprinkles!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Getting my body back

I don't post much about myself but at the moment I am trying to make a few changes. 

I have never been tiny. Pre children I was a size 12-14 and I was happy with that. I had big boobs, wide hips and a waist that goes in and being that size suited me, I was happy to show myself off in skimpy outfits on nights out and by posting regular outfit posts on my old blog. I was fairly fit, I walked to and from work and of course spent plenty of time on the dancefloor in nightclubs.
Pre children
Having two babies in less than two years along with a change in lifestyle has taken its toll on my body. 
When pregnant with Seb I mainly put weight on my bump and I was back in my old clothes pretty quickly although I did have the  dreaded c section stomach. I put weight on afterwards though through bad eating and less excercise and then when I got pregnant with Alex I put on weight all over, my bump was huge too. Another c section left my stomach in even worse condition. Since then i have stayed bigger then I would like and feel comfortable with and it has knocked my confidence and affected my clothing choices so I want to make some changes.

I'm not really a fan of 'diets' I know if I try and cut out chocolate completely I will cave one day and binge on it, but I have started to be a little more careful and cut down both on portion sizes and on snacking. We had also got into a habit of eating unhealthy late night snacks which wasn't doing me any good so I have cut those out. I have stopped drinking squash and gone back to drinking water which is what I had always drunk previously. I am counting calories using my fitness pal which I have found really helpful and motivating. If we eat out or have a treat I am just extra good the next day.
I'm not particularly unfit, we walk most places anyway but I have started doing a few YouTube dance workouts which i enjoy and Seb likes to join in and copy the ladies on TV. I would like to join a Zumba class or something but because Phil works different hours each week I couldn't commit to going to a class each week.

So there you have it a nice gentle start to being a healthier and getting back to a place I am happy in. Hopefully taking it slow and steady will result in longer term loss instead of the weight going back on in a few months time. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The taboo of gender disappointment

While doing a bit of online reading I came across this article in the problem page on the Guardian site. 
The title drew me in I've got two little boys and feel jealous of friends with baby girls. Of course I am a mum of 2 little boys and I have posted about gender disappointment in the past. It is a very real thing and people can be judgemental and dissmissive of it, making it almost taboo to admit it as some of the comments on that page show. 

When I was pregnant with Alex and we found out he was a boy, I did cry. Of course my main priority was that he was healthy and growing how he should but I would have loved to have a girl, my pregnancy had been very different to my first and I did think I was having a girl as did many people around me. That combined with those pesky pregnancy hormones left me teary and feeling terribly guilty. Of course once it had sunk in I was happy and excited. 

I have read so many times that you should be grateful for having a baby, that many couples are desperate for a baby and that it's selfish. I think we all know this that is why women(and men) feel so guilty over their feelings but the thing is feelings aren't rational, they don't work like that. It doesn't mean you aren't grateful or that you love your baby any less. In fact people who struggle to have children can have the exact same feelings when they do concieve and couples looking to adopt do sometimes have gender preferences. 

It seems from what I have read that the preference here is often for a girl. I'm not sure why. Do we all have visions of little fairy princesses dressed in pink and making daisy chains? Or is it the idea of having the mother/daughter bond? For me it is probably a bit of both, while I know that this is a stereotypical view which I hate(my boys are raised to like what ever they want to like and I can't see myself treating a girl any differently and I hate the trend for all toys coming in a pink version for girls). I do wonder if raising a girl would be different to a boy and if we would have a different bond especially in adulthood.

Interestingly my feelings have actually altered and although I still joke about trying for a girl; if and when we are blessed with another baby I would actually quite like a third boy to join our clan,(though I would of course be over the moon either way). 

This week: Dinosaurs, watermelon and a night out

It's Sunday morning and I am cuddled up with the boys on the sofa watching TV trying to keep my eyes open. 
All 3 of us are full of cold and we had a terrible nights sleep ending up with Seb in bed with me and Phil sleeping on the sofa with Alex. 

The week started off perfectly with our trip to Leeds to see the dinosaurs(I posted more about it earlier this week). While there we also popped into Zara to pick up the must have teepee trousers for Alex(and a few sale bargains) and treated Seb to a Happy Meal. 
As the weather stayed nice and warm(and sometimes sunny) this week, park trips have been essential along with lots of watermelon munching.
On Friday the boys spent the night at Phil's parents and for once me and Phil actually went out. It was lovely to wear heels, slap on some proper make up and have a dance. I had my first shots since before I was pregnant with Seb(over 4 years!) and didn't get to bed until 2.30am which is pretty late these days! It was really nice to get out, though I couldn't do it every weekend anymore!
The boys came home Saturday morning and about an hour later we headed off to my parents(well Phil went to work) and spent the day in their garden and cuddling the dogs. 
Back to today and my main plan is to stay on the sofa before a nice bath this evening and an early night. Fingers crossed for lots of sleep for us all!

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