Monday, 31 October 2016

Alexander, you are turning four

Alexander, you are turning four today. My little pumpkin born on Halloween, the very day we had joked about you being born on when we first found out my due date was the 1st of November. Four years ago we heard that first cry at 2.38pm and there you were all 7lb 13oz of you, my biggest bump turned out to be my smallest baby and we became a family of four. It's a cliché but those years have flown past and we are now a family of five.

It has been a big year for you, going from the baby of the family to a big brother and the middle child, we fretted over it but you have taken it in your stride. You make a fantastic big brother, forever checking on Barney and bringing him toys and wanting to hold him, it lovely to see you in a new role and you seemed to huge next to him when he was born.
You are my little whirlwind, you always have been. From the moment you wake up you are ready for the day and you don't stop until you drop into bed at night. You are still determined to be a fire engine driver when you grow up and have been dedicated to all things fireman for two years now, You are a lovely combination of a stereotypical boy who loves to play rough with your big brother but then you also love to be gentle and caring with your beloved toy babies, pushing them around, putting them to bed property, feeding them. I love to watch you play your imagination growing all the time, creating scenes and making up stories.

You are so excited about your birthday this year, counting down the days and making sure that I know you would like a Fireman Sam cake(don't worry I have it covered!). It shows how much you have grown in the last year, you are a little boy now instead of a toddler. You are so independent these days, defiant and you love to test the boundaries, but then at night you still like to sneak into our bed for a cuddle snuggling as close to me as it is possible to get and I drink in your smell, enjoying the moment, knowing that these days are numbered.

Happy 4th birthday Alex, I hope you enjoy your the pancakes pizza and of course the Fireman Sam cake you requested.

Our weekly meal plan 31/10

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone's had a lovely weekend. Today is Alexs 4th birthday, so we are having a day of food that he has picked, pancakes with chocolate spread and bananas for breakfast,  homemade pizza for lunch, a picky tea and of course a Fireman Sam cake!
We don't have too many plans set in place this week, I think we are going to a local farm one day and into Leeds another day so our meals may swap around depending how much time I have to cook. I am trying to use up what is in the freezer and cupboards over the next couple of weeks ready for Christmas.

Our weekly meal plan 31/10

Monday Birthday tea

Tuesday Chicken and sweet potato korma and rice

Wednesday Slow cooked sausage cassoulet with mash

Thursday Cheese, bacon and sweetcorn pasta

Friday Roast beef dinner

Saturday Cottage Pie

Sunday Fishcakes, chips and peas

If you like to meal plan, why not join in with the meal planning linky?

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Infacare Night Time Baby Bath

Until recently Barney has just had plain water to bathe in and coconut oil to moisturise. Babies skin is so precious I don't like to use many products on them too soon. Once weaning begins and things get a bit messy, it feels like the right time to introduce bath products.

Baby Infacare bubble bath

Barney tends to have a bath every couple of days before bed, and recently we have started using Infacare Night-time Baby Bath which is suitable to use from just 1 month old. This award winning ultra mild bubble bath is kind to babies sensitive skin and is gently fragranced to encourage your baby to relax making it ideal for use as part of your bedtime routine. I am really impressed with just how many long lasting bubbles are made from a small amount of the baby bath. Barney absolutely loves having a bath and he enjoys watching the bubbles, touching them and trying to eat them of course! The fragrance is soothing but not overpowering so ideal for babies. A bottle will last you for absolutely ages as you need just a tiny amount for each bath.

Of course Infacare isn't just for babies. Infacare Night-Time Baby Bath can also be used on older children and my big two are also enjoyeinh some very bubbly baths in this. I feel comfortable using InfaCare on Alex even though he is prone to dermatitis.

For more information pop over to the Infacare website.

Infacare nighttime baby bath, bubble bath

**We received a sample for the purpose of this post, all opinions expressed are my own**

Family Fever

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Monster Cookies

Sometimes the boys like to browse pinterest with me and recently they spotted some amazing monster eye cookies and wanted to bake some immediately. Of course I didn't have any edible eyeballs lying around the house so had to source some first and I managed to get get some from Hobbycraft.

Orange and purple monster cookies with eyes

Orange and purple monster cookies with eyes

The recipe in the original pin is American and calls for cake mix so instead I made them using our regular cookie recipe which is quick and really easy to adapt with flavourings. This makes 12 generous sized cookies.

125g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
125g softened butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
Gel food colourings
Edible eyeballs

Preheat the oven to 180°C, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and both sugars together, add the egg and vanilla and combine. Add the flour to make a sticky dough.
Split the dough and add the colourings, mix through to get your desired colour. Place golf ball sized balls of dough on to the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Press the eyes into the cookies while still soft fromthe oven. Be careful not to burn your fingers! Leave to cool and enjoy.

Monster cookies

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Embracing Hygge

Have you ever heard of Hygge? I hadn't until i recently read an article about it in the Sainsburys magazine and it struck a cord with me. A Danish concept which has no literal translation into English, Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) is about making everything cosy, forgetting your worries and being kind to yourself. It is said to make people happier which sounds good to me.

Embracing Hygge,  candles and conkers, cosy

How many of us are guilty of sitting down in the evening once the kids are in bed and checking our social media, blogs and emails, I certainly am and while I love doing that sometimes it is nice to just switch off. Instead once or twice a week I am going to embrace Hygge, i will be turning my phone and tablet off, lighting oodles of candles and watching TV while snuggling under a soft blanket, taking time to myself to read a book, enjoying a hot chocolate and slice of cake with a loved one or any other number of Hygge things. I love that Hygge is accessible for everyone,  you can use your huge bag of bargain tealights from IKEA, a 35p sachet of hot chocolate,  a primark blanket or you can go the other way and invest in a Diptyque candle, some fancy hot chocolate and a cashmere blanket.

Although for the Danes Hygge is an all year round thing, I think Autumn and Winter are the perfect time to really embrace this idea, the season literally begs for us to get cosy. I am looking forward to scheduling some time to be kind to myself. I have found a lovely blog Hello Hygge to read, my chocolate fondue kit is out from hibernation and i might even invest in one of the many Hygge books due out this Autumn.

Have you heard of Hygge? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Our weekly meal plan 24/10

It's Monday! I am late posting today as yesterday and last night was spent in hospital with a poorly Alex. We are home now and sat watching endless Fireman Sam episodes with snacks and a cosy blanket. So this week my meal plan isn't the most imaginative today but I am exhausted!

Our weekly meal plan 24/10

Monday Minion Pasta shapes in a sauce(from this months Degustabox) for the boys, omlette for me

Tuesday Oven baked garlic chicken drumsticks with creamy mash and green beans

Wednesday Garlic parmesan pasta

Thursday Homemade turkey burgers with chips and peas

Friday Tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake

Saturday Hot Dogs and sides

Sunday Chicken Kievs and chips for me and Phil, pasta in

Why not check out previous weekly meals and if you blog about your own meal plans join in with the meal planning linky

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Morning Pops Subscription Box

The market for subscription boxes has exploded over the last few years and there seems to be a box to suit everyone. I am a big fan of them, particularly foodie boxes and today I am writing about the newest box on the block, Morning Pops Subscription Box.

Morning Pops,  cereal subscription box

Morning Pops deliver cereals from around the world to your doorstep each month. Each box contains 3 large servings of world cereals plus a large serving of an exclusive cereal created by the Morning Pops team, there is also a little treat in the box from a little something sweet to a collectible toy. If you are lucky you may even find a special troll inside.

Morning Pops, cereal subscription box

We were lucky enough to receive the first ever Morning Pops box to try for ourselves. It was such a treat!
Inside the box were generous portions of Fruit Loops, Hersheys Cookies n Creme, Chocapic Duo and the Morning Pops creation which was a yummy mixture of chocolate cereal and marshmallows. The portion was more than big enough for me, and I was able to share the Fruit Loops portion equally between Sebastian and Alexander.

Morning Pops cereal

Morning pops, fruit loops in a bowl

Hersheys Cookies n Creme cereal, morning pops

The cereals were lovely and it is always fun to try foods from around the world, things that aren't always easy to find in the UK. I love that if you enjoy a particular cereal they are available to purchase on the Morning Pops.  We really enjoyed this box, it would make a fantastic gift idea for a foodie or someone who is simply hard to buy for!

Morning Pops Subscription Box is priced at £8.95 a month. Why not sign up and try for yourself.

**We received this for the purpose of the post, all opinions expressed here are my own**

Friday, 21 October 2016

Cheesy Fish Pie

Fish pie is a classic family meal that always guarantees empty plates in this house. I have been meaning to post my cheesy fish pie recipe for a while now and a recent delivery of yummy Wyke cheese gave me the chance to make this family favourite.

Easy cheesy fish pie

When i make fish pie I do tend to buy the fresh fish pie mixes from supermarket, they tend to be the right portion size to make a fish pie for a family meal. I like to make a cheese sauce for our fish pie and making it always brings back memories of home economics at school.

Wyke Farms is the UK's largest independent cheese producer and their cheese is one you will pretty much always find in our fridge. They make various cheddars from mature to smoked. I am a cheese fiend and my boys are following in my footsteps, for us vintage cheddars are always a winner for both cooking and snacking.

Wyke farms cheese

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
25g butter
25g plain flour
300ml milk (plus extra for the mash)
150ml cream
100g cheddar cheese, grated (plus extra to top the pie)
Fish pie mix
2 handfuls of frozen peas

Preheat oven to 180°. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add your potatoes and leave to boil for around 20 minutes before draining get and mashing with a little milk.

In a separate pan melt the butter over a low heat before adding the flour and mixing the two into a paste. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to keep the sauce smooth. Once all the milk is in add the cream and keep stirring while adding the cheese. Increase the heat and bring to a gentle boil and turn back down to the lowest heat stirring until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and  add the fish pieces and the frozen peas to the sauce. Spoon the mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the mash and sprinkle over the extra cheese.

Bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes and serve. 

Cheesy fish pie

**PR Sample**

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Twistshake Baby Bottle

I have been admiring the Twistshake baby bottle for quite a while now and recently I was sent one to try out with Barney.  I am a sucker for funky design and was so excited to find that they are as awesome in real life as they are in the pictures I had seen.

Twistshake bottles come in 3 sizes and 10 amazing colours so there is something for everyone. I picked the yellow 9oz bottle and it is SO bright and vibrant and really stands out from the crowd. I absolutely love it.

Of course it needs to work well as a bottle too and I am pleased to say it does. The design is different to other bottles, you have the body of the bottle, with the screw on anti colic teat and the lid but there is also a mixer which sits in the bottle and prevents any lumps of formula or clogging. There is also a powder storage tub which can also be used as a snack tub. The whole design is really clever and unlike any other bottle I have seen and all parts are BPA  free. You can even buy a few colours and mix and match them.
Barney isn't fussy over bottles and took to this bottle happily enough. He happily guzzles his milk from it.

I just love these bottles. They are available at Twistshake where you can buy individual bottles or multipacks. I am keeping my eyes peeled for new products from this fab brand. If you fancy trying a Twistshake baby bottle you can save 20% on your order by using my discount code sebsmummy20 at the checkout.

**I received this bottle for the purpose of review, all opinions are my own**

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Making the World a Better Place #brightFuture

As parents we all want the world to be a better place for our children and make changes to our own lives to try and make that happen. Unilevers brightFuture initiative focuses on making small changes that can make big differences.

83% of British parents feel that having children made them want to change an aspect of their lives for the better and a whopping 9 out of 10 parents (along with 8 out of 10 children) agree that if everyone did something small to improve the environment the world could be a better place. So what can we do day to day in our family lives to make a difference?
There are various things we do as a family to help the environment, recycling is a simple and obvious one, even the children love to involved in making sure card and paper go into the correct bin and helping to wash out yogurt pots to be reused for glue and paints. We try to keep food waste to minimum by meal planning and using up any leftovers. We also have a huge stash of cloth nappies which of course reduces the amount of disposable nappies going to landfill. I also use public transport, we are fortunate to live in an area with good transport links. All of these things benefit the environment and as an added bonus our bank account too.

There are other ways to help ensure a brighter future for our children. Like most children my boys are little bundles of energy and we try to make sure they go outside for a good play every day. There are countless studies stating the long term benefits of outdoor play and it really does improve futures.
Of course that outdoor fun inevitably means we end up with wet muddy clothes from jumping in puddles, grass stains from hill rolling and pockets with leaves and other gifts from nature inside. Persil encourages all of this outdoor play and is suitable for washing those mucky clothes at 30°, which goes back to small steps for helping the environment, add to that a quick wash cycle and you are using less water, yet another small step to make the world a world a better place.

Unilever brightFuture, persil

Unilever are working to improve lives with the brightFuture initiative with its range of products. For example Domestos has commuted to helping 25 million people gain improved access to a toilet by 2020, that is pretty awesome., we take toilets so much for granted that it can be easy to forget those that don't have access. Persil has backed a global initiative 'Learning for Tomorrow' partnering with UNICEF to help children in some of the world's toughest areas the chance to access quality education. Again in the UK we take education for granted and have options available to us. And then there is the Dove Self-Esteem Project which many of us will have seen. Working with leading psychologists, academics and expert to create resources and materials to help young people develop a positive relationship with the way they look. This project has reached over 19 million young lives. Those are pretty amazing numbers.

Unilever products

Have you taken any small steps to help make a #brightFuture?

This post is an entry for BritMums #brightFuture Challenge, sponsored by Unilever

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Am I a horrible person? Gender Disapointment

I am proud mum to three beautiful, happy, healthy boys and right now, i can't imagine my life any other way. However I have been open on here about gender disappointment in the past, I wrote a post on the eve of my gender scan with Barney about my feelings.

Gender disappointment is far more common than people like to admit. As soon as I announced my pregnancy, there were comments about hoping for a girl after two boys. When Barney was born and we were out and about, people even total strangers asked if we would be trying again for a girl. I have had people tell me that they have two children of the same gender and didn't want to try again in case they had a third girl or boy. Online birth groups are full of people sharing scan pictures and desperately looking up theories to find out which gender they are carrying. Gender seems to matter to an awful lot of people.

Gender dissapointment, brothers

When we had our gender scan at 16 weeks I was so excited to be seeing my baby and knowing all was well, I was also nervous, I always get nervous for scans, more with each baby. We had booked the scan for several reasons, Phil wasn't able to come to our 20 week scan, we wanted to take the boys with us to see the baby and of course we wanted to find out the gender.
As i laid there and our baby appeared on the screen, the boys were so excited to see the baby moving around and the sonographer said he couldn't be more sure that it was a boy. I am going to be honest and say I felt numb at this point, we finished up the scan collected our pictures and headed to the car and I was quiet, listening to the boys chattering excitedly about what they had seen. I cried in the car, my tears were a combination of sadness and guilt. We had planned to go shopping after our scan to buy the baby a little something but I didn't want to go. I just wanted go home.

No mum wants to feel this way, I didn't know how I would react. All I knew was that I had always imagined having a little girl and now that would never happen and so I was sad to be saying goodbye to what I had always imagined. That's why I was crying. Underneath that I was still excited to be carrying a healthy baby boy and loved him fiercely already. Being disappointed doesn't mean you love your baby any less. Feelings are complex, we can feel more than one emotion at a time. My sadness lasted a few days and passed, I was lucky, for some it does carry on longer.
I don't know why I imagined having a girl, I love having little boys and I am not the type to bow down to traditional gender stereotypes. For me a daughter wouldn't have meant pink clothes and toys or princesses just as having boys doesn't mean life is all cars and trains and baby blue.

Am I horrible person? I know some will probably think that i am, they cant understand it, they will say I should have been grateful for what I was given, that some people sadly struggle to have children or suffer loss.
But no i don't think I am, I love my boys, am incredibly grateful for them. I just had a feeling, something I couldn't control at that moment. Gender disappointment is now recognised as a real issue and it is being talked about more, it can happen to anybody no matter if it is your first baby, if you have suffered loss or struggled to conceive.

Babycentre now have a group for people feeling gender disappointment where you are able to talk about your feelings anonymously. If you have found my post because you feel this way, please click on the link and talk to others in the same situation ir feel free to leave me a comment or email me.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Our weekly meal plan 17/10

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a lovely week and ate lots of yummy food we stuck to our meal plan, hurrah!
This week my slow cooker is getting some action, I love having it cooking away in Autumn, the whole house smells lovely and it makes for a relaxed evening meal. My shopping came thus morning, I am still using Ocado as I have a free delivery pass, their offers on meat are so good and the meal deals are fab too.

Our weekly meal plan

Monday Slow cooked gammon with pineapple and wedges

Tuesday Creamy gammon pasta

Wednesday Pizza and garlic and herb tear and share bread

Thursday Slow cooked sausage casserole with mash

Friday Pasta and slow cooked meatballs

Saturday Italian Chicken with rice

Sunday Chicken and sweet potato korma with naan bread

Why not link up with our weekly meal plan linky? 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Autumn Walk at Newmillerdam

I always say how spoilt we are for having so many beautiful places to visit nearby. We recently went for an Autumn walk at Newmillerdam country park which is just outside of Wakefield and I thought I would share some photos I took as we walked around.

Newmillerdam has a large lake with various walks around it, suited to different people. There is woodland alongside the lake to explore and wildlife to spot.  We saw squirrels and various birds, found a couple of dens and of course collected a big pile of leaves to bring home. It's a lovely place to visit if you fancy a nice walk in the Wakefield area. We also  took along a Autumn Hunt Checklist from Twinkl.

Autumn walk at Newmillerdam

Autumn hunt list

Ducks on Lake  autumn, Newmillerdam

Statue with binoculars,  Newmillerdam

Den in the woods, Newmillerdam

Tree roots, Newmillerdam

Bench, Newmillerdam

Autumn walk at Newmillerdam

Autumn walk at Newmillerdam

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Halloween Fun with Baker Ross

This week along with picking pumpkins we have been having some Halloween fun with Baker Ross. As Baker Ross bloggers we received a lovely box of crafts to use, my boys get so excited when we receive anything from Baker Ross, they love sitting down and getting creative, they currently have a great range of Halloween products available, perfect for spooky half term fun.

Halloween fun with Baker Ross

The first thing that caught our eye was the Halloween dotty art (pack of 8). The set contains sheets with Halloween images made up of dots and sticker sheets to fill in the dots. We spent absolutely ages doing these, they are fantastic kits for hand eye coordination and improving concentration and the boys really enjoyed them. As usual with Baker Ross there were plenty of spares in the kit which is great when both children want to use the same thing! I have already ordered some space themed ones to go with our new home ed topic.

Baker Ross, Halloween dotty art

Next up is a cute Halloween Pom Pom Decoration Kit (pack of 3),  the boys don't quite have the patience to make pompoms though we're keen to try and unfortunately we ended up with lots of knotted wool instead of beautiful pom poms. We did successfully make the pumpkin though!

Pom pom pumpkin, Baker Ross

We also received a pack of Day of the Dead mini gift bags( pack of 8) and some fibre tip pens to colour them in with. Colouring in is one of those activities that any age can enjoy and we all had a go at these. This would be a fab activity at a group or party and the bags could be filled with little gifts to take home.

Day of the dead mini gift bags

Baker Ross,  day of the dead gift bags

As well as the Halloween items there were also some autumn products included in our box.

Baker Ross,  woodland foam stickers

Baker Ross stickers are my favourites, they are so detailed and the packs include a huge variety of deigns plus they are really sturdy sticky so no falling off the paper five minutes later. I always keep a stock in my craft collection.  We received some Woodland Foam Stickers and the boys got busy making pictures on some plain paper with them. They love having free reign with the stickers so I try not to interfere with them!

Baker Ross,  autumn sand art

Baker Ross, autumn sand art

Baker Ross Autumn Sand art

After loving the sand art we tried back in summer, i was really pleased to see an Autumn Leaf Sand Art Kit (5 pack) in our box, they are easy to use and i think these look really beautiful and I love having them on display.

Baker Rossification,  jewelled owl decorations

Baker Ross,  Jewelled owl decorations

Hanging alongside the leaves are these sweet Jewelled Owl Decorations(4 pack). These were really easy to put together and each owl came individually wrapped with picture instructions, making them an ideal party bag filler or for a group activity.

Motivational bee badge kit, Baker ross

Motivational bee badge kit, Baker ross

Our final item was a Motivational Bee Badge Kit. The foam bees and their positive messages are very cute and very simple to put together. Unfortunately we did find that the badge part did not stick very well to the bees, I don't know if it was us being heavy handed or not but i have turned ours into magnets for the boys desk instead and I like the positive messages being there.

What Autumn and Halloween crafts are you enjoying? Why not head over to Baker Ross for some simple crafts kits.

**We received these items for the purpose of this post but all opinions are my own**

NUK First Choice+ Bottle Giveaway

At The Baby and Toddler Show last week we were given quite a few items at various stands and as part of goodie bags including a couple of baby bottles. Barney is quite happy with his current bottles so I have decided to hold a couple of giveaways for them.

NUK first choice bottle giveaway

Fill in the rafflecopter below for the chance to win one NUK First Choice+ Bottle 150ml RRP £4.99. Why not head over to enter my other current giveaways for a MAM Bottle and Soother and a Milton Solo Travel Steriliser.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1. Open to UK residents only.

2. Entrants must be over 18.

3. All entries will be checked.

4. Please make sure i have a way to contact you if you win.

5. Prize will be sent by myself. 

6. The prize is one NUK First Choice+  bottle in size 150ml. No cash alternative

7. If I am unable to make contact with the winner within a reasonable time a new winner will be drawn.

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