Two and A Half Stone…over halfway there.

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I shared recently on social media that I had achieved my 2 and a half stone award with Slimming World. I’m so proud of this and really feel it has been relatively easy. I really don’t mean to sound like a know-it-all or the kind of person that you want to slap, (I promise!) but when I say relatively easy I mean that I’ve got the right attitude in place for the first time ever. It doesn’t mean I lose pounds and pounds every week. Some weeks it is only a half a pound, some weeks I stay the same, and other more satisfying weeks I do lose 2 or 3lbs.

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But its easy because it has become a way of life for me. I’m not on a diet. I’m following a healthy eating plan, yes. I’m watching my intake of sugar and fat and carbohydrate, yes. I’m trying to eat plenty of good protein. But I’m not labouring every meal, every weigh-in, every snack. I’m just living my life and making the plan fit around it. If I want to stay on track when the rest of the family are treating themselves to a massive chicken pie with chips – well, I just have an Iceland SW meal, or plan ahead to have my own SW friendly recipe.

I’m seeing other, non-scale victories too. I’m down two sizes. I am fitting into clothes that had been relegated to the back of the cupboard. I’m feeling lighter on my feet and much healthier. I’m actually looking forward to my work Christmas do this year, because I had actual choice in the shops as to what outfit I could buy – I wasn’t destined to only go to one or two shops because they do ‘big sizes’.

It feels really good.

And for those reading this that don’t personally know me…all four of you (hi, Mum!) I have to explain that I really am a normal woman who has a massive appetite, eats too much junk, is too fond of takeaways and has been known in the past to order nachos with cheese and extra-cheese-on-top-of-the-cheese-please in the cinema. And yet, I’m on my way to my target weight. Over halfway, actually.

And yes, Christmas will be a stumbling block. But a delightful one. I’m not going to torture myself. If I gain a few pounds, so what? That’s normal! I will attend my meetings as usual and I will try to be on plan for as often as I can. That’s what I’ve realised. One small gain or one difficult weigh-in shouldn’t ruin the whole process for you. Chalk it up and move on. If I had given up inthe summer when I gained 9lbs, I wouldnt be another stone and a half lighter now…would I?

I saw this meme today posted by a target member in our group – he has lost stones and stones and is a great inspiration to us – and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

 

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Merry Christmas everyone.

Go on…enjoy the turkey.

🙂

Christmas Stocking Ideas for toddler boys

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Last year, I didn’t have to trouble myself too much with planning a Christmas stocking for Adam because he wasn’t quite old enough to really understand or even care what Santa brought on Christmas Eve. This year, however, its a whole new box of frogs – he is extremely vocal about Christmas in general and I know will be very excited to find his stocking hanging on the end of the bed so I’m almost as excited to get planning what is going to be inside it.

I had to think carefully as I’m starting to realise that boys are definitely harder to buy for than girls – not that presents should be gender specific, but I find that there seems to be a wider choice of little token gifts that are suitable for a ‘girl’s’ stocking, than for a ‘boys’ – so I decided to meet the challenge head on and come up with a list of items that I could include for him and I thought I’d share it here so maybe other parents could steal some ideas…so feel free.

Stocking fillers for my 2 year old boy are…

  • Crayons
  • Light up bouncy ball
  • Tub of bubbles
  • A novelty drinking straw
  • A novelty noise tube (not sure if they have an official name, but they make an animal noise when tipped from side to side)
  • Mini football and cones
  • Thomas and Friends pants
  • Blaze and the Monster Machine socks
  • Mickey mouse plasters
  • A slinky
  • Pez with sweets
  • Mandarin orange
  • Mini Toy torch
  • Bath toys
  • A sensitive skin-friendly bath bomb
  • Chocolate
  • Stickers
  • A minions flannel
  • Toy car

Most of these items I got in bargain shops, pound shops and discounted in bigger retail stores throughout the year so it’s worth keeping an eye out as none of these gifts are expensive, nor should they be!

So if you’re looking for a last minute item or two, hopefully this little list will help you.

Merry Christmas

x

How to crochet a Mary Poppins hat

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poppinsRecently, for Halloween, I decided to dress up and have a Halloween party day with my pupils. I already had a costume organised for our family Halloween events, but in typcal Emma fashion, I couldn’t just do the easy thing and use the same costume twice, oh no! I had to come up with a totally separate costume just to test if I could make life even more difficult on myself.

But I wanted to do it with as little expense as possible and also to make a costume that was quick and easy. So I decided on Mary Poppins, because I think its a costume you can go as complex or as easy as you like with. I went for simple, of course…I’m not that crazy.

So I bought a black hat online, I think it was £7, and I felt it looked just enough like Mary’s plain black hat. And it was easy to get a white shirt and black skirt – I just borrowed of some lovely friends. Black boots and an updo and I’m done. The only thing that was missing was the signature and incredibly trademark cherries and daisies that adorn Mary’s hat. Where on earth was I going to get them? Then I realised I could probably try to crochet them. And I did! Some hot glue and a glue gun later and just call me Practically Perfect in Every Way!

So here is a very quick simple pattern for some crochet cherries and daisies if you wish to follow suit and become Mary Poppins for the day:

You will need:

4mm crochet hook

scissors

tapestry needle

red, yellow and white yarn (I used acrylic dk)

black pipe cleaners

glue gun and glue sticks

toy wadding/stuffing

First up, make your cherries as they are really quick. I made 4.

  • Make a magic loop using the RED yarn.
  1. 6 DC in the magic loop and tighten the loop to close (6)
  2. 6 DC increases around (12)
  3. DC around (12)
  4. Repeat round 3 (12)
  5. Fill the cherry with a little bit of toy stuffing before closing
  6. 6 DC decreases to close the ball (6)
  7. Slip stitch to finishe off and weave in the ends

Then make 4 daisies. These are really fun and quick to make.

Chain 2 in YELLOW yarn.

  1. 6 DC into 2nd CH from hook, sl st into first DC (6)
  2. 1 CH, 2 DC into next 6 DC, sl st into first DC (12)
  3. 1 CH, 1 DC into into each stitch, sl st into first DC (12)
  4. 1 CH, (1 DC into next 2 DC, DC2tog) 3 times, sl st into first DC (9

Change colour to WHITE

5. (6CH, sl st into 2nd CH from hook, 1 DC into next 2 CH, 1 HTR into next CH, 1 TR into next CH, sl st into next DC or DC2tog) 9 times.

Fasten off and Voila!

**You can’t see it in the picture, but the daisy that sticks upright from the hat, just use a black pipe cleaner and glue gun it to the band of the hat and then glue the daisy on the top end. You might need two pipe cleaners twisted around each other to keep it upright and strong enough to support the daisy.

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Blogger Toy Stories

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This week I’ve been featured over on Kids Parcel on their Blogger Toy Story Section.

If you would like to share your Blogger Toy Story like I did, then you can find out more by clicking here.

What was your favourite toys from your childhood and why?

My most favourite toy was my Petite Post Office. It was so much fun for an organised little bossy boots like me. It had lots of little sections for money, stamps and paperwork, and even a little hatch where you could ‘serve’ your customers. My heart broke a little the day my brother held it to ransom during an argument and then threw it down the stairs, smashing it horribly. I’ve never quite forgiven him for it!

What are your children’s favourite toys?

My 2 year old son just loves anything Thomas and Friends…in particular the mini trains that have magnets to connect them. He has lots of toy cars and a garage with ramps that he likes to let them roll down. My 4 year old daughter is getting into Barbie and also loves the creativity of Lego. She gets so excited to make her own little worlds with it. She also really likes board games like snakes and ladders and ludo. We like to keep thing traditional in our house, too.
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Which of your children’s toys do you really like?

If I’d had the chance to play with any of my kids toys when I was little, it would have to be their scooters. My daughter has a flickr one that is amazing and it’s a fun way to keep them outdoors getting exercise. I wish I’d had one as a child.
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Are there any of your children’s toys that you don’t like?

Kinetic sand. I really don’t get it. Apart from burying toys in it and pretending to dig them out like archaeologists, I never know what else to do with the damn stuff. Plus it gets EVERYWHERE!

If you were a child now, what toy would you be asking for?

It would be Frozen stuff. I don’t think I’d ever get sick of it. Anything with sparkles or Elsa on it and I’d be hooked. I think I’d also really be just to My Little Pony toys too. And aqua beads or hama beads.  They’re a lot of fun and you get to be creative without the mess!

As well as Emma’s Amelia’s Mum blog, you can also find her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

I’ve got my 2 stone award, and yes I’m feeling proud of it!

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So after having a great summer and enjoying a little of what I liked every now and again…and babysitting my weight etc, I’m now fully back on track. I’ve finally achieved that oh-so-elusive but attractive 2 stone award. I even got the Slimmer of the Week AND Slimmer of the Month award at the weigh-in a couple of weeks ago. I was genuinely shocked but chuffed.

I can see it my final goal now, I’m more than halfway there. It’s just ahead and my sweaty little hands are going to grab it very soon.

You know how I know? Because last Saturday, I sat in a certain well-known fried chicken restaurant and ate a takeaway sushi pack from a supermarket.

Oh, how times have changed.

And I didn’t even mind. Normally in the past I would have sat there, glowering at everyone while the juicy gravy covered chips were shovelled into thier mouths, wishing all the time that I could sink my teeth into a spicy chicken burger and feel that tingle of lemonade bubbles slide down my throat.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Not anymore.

I’m not a saint, of course. I’m having plenty of treats and I count my syns very carefully, allowing myself a little tipple at the weekend if I fancy it. And it’s working. I’ve also enjoyed cooking and eating a range of slimming world recipes over the last while, as well as making sure that my lunch and snacks in work are all healthy options. I really enjoy making myself and the kids the sw carbonara recipe (I add some mushrooms in) and we’ve also enjoyed the beef stuffed sweet roast potato recipe. another favourite is actually a Lorraine Pascale recipe of Honey and Mustard spatchcock chicken which is only about 6 syns for the entire chicken (no skin, of course!) and I’ve had that with beans, broccoli and boiled potatoes. And always a favourite is the slimming world Tikka Masala ready meal, which I have at the weekend when the G Man is ordering his typical chinese takeaway. I’m just trying really hard to make the right choices.

So far, so good. It’s less than 10 weeks until Christmas, so another pound a week would be slow but steady progress.

Can I do it? Let’s just wait and see.

My Dear Son…

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My dear son,

I’m writing this to you on your second birthday. Yes, you’re two whole years old. I can’t believe how quickly you’ve gone from a little, squishy faced cherub to a long legged toddler, demanding toast and cereal and episodes of Blaze and the Monster Machines.

God, you’re obsessed with that programme. I’m dreaming about it, it’s on so often!

This morning, before I left for work, you broke the television. You didn’t smash it over on the floor or chuck it out the window, rock-star-style, but you pressed the on/off button so many times that the old set simply gave up the ghost, made a fizzing sound and popped loudly, scaring the bejesus out of us all. Then there was the unmistakable smell of burning plastic.

Boys, eh?

You kept handing me different remote controls, saying ‘I fix it, I fix it, Mummy’ in your earnest little voice. I simply couldn’t be angry with you.

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Because you’re still learning.

You’re learning to talk, learning to sing, learning to kick a ball.

You’ve learned how to hug, smile and giggle.

You’ve even learned how to use an iPad quicker than your Nana. (Athough that wouldn’t be hard.)

But I’m looking forward to how much more you’re going to learn. I hope you discover so much more about your potential and talents. I want you to understand yourself, know that you are your own man – that someday (hopefully not too soon) you will be someone’s husband and someone’s Dad.

That’s the day my heart might break a little but when it happens, it will mean that I’ve taught you how to be a kind-hearted, loving man with integrity and decency – and that someone else will see the way I do, just how amazing and special you are.

I know I probably have a good few more years of broken things in my future with you…for now its the TV, but it might be a broken window or even a broken arm when you’ve climbed one too many trees – but I’m going to see the joy in every moment and remind myself that you won’t be a soft, cuddly little boy for long and I should soak up every minute until you become a huffy, grunting teenager.

And when that day comes, and you get a part-time job….I will hand you the bill for the broken TV.

With interest.

 

20 facts about me….

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I was nominated by the rather lovely Naomi from Not A Perfect Parent to give 20 facts about me. It’s been a while since I did one of these…they’re so much fun. Here goes…

  1. I once met Robert Carlisle the actor in Heathrow airport. He signed an autograph somewhat brusquely and then buggered off with my pen. He was somewhat short. In height and in manner.
  2. I have a tattoo on my ankle that I had done when I was 18. It’s completely daft and I wish I’d waited until I was older to decide if I’d really wanted one or not.
  3. I used to be terrified of butterflies until a psychic told me the my were a special omen for me. Now I feel reassured and safe when I see one. (Which happens spookily at times when I really ask for one.)
  4. I. Love. Sushi. Ohmigod. If it wasn’t so expensive I’d live on the stuff. It’s discouraged when pregnant so I had my brother bring me some takeaway sushi to the hospital after I’d given birth. Oh, how posh of me.
  5. I donate blood as often as I can. I’ve a universal blood type so they like to see me coming.  Get on the phone and book an appointment to donate, you’ll feel like a good human being.
  6. One of my favourite lazy things to do is whack on a box set of something totally uncool like Dr Who or Lark Rise to Candleford and not talk to anyone (unusual for me, I know) it’s geeky but it’s mine.
  7. I once pretended to be my husband and applied online on his behalf for Masterchef. The producers called him to an interview in London but he refused to go!
  8. I love anything sparkly. I don’t care that I’m 34 and that’s it’s considered the domain of 8 year old girls. I’ll be dead someday. And yes, my headstone will have glitter on it.
  9. I drive like a man…not sure that isn’t a sexist thing to say but I’m quite an aggressive driver. When I’m alone in the car I take the odd chance and definitely speed too much.
  10. I love musicals. Why can’t a person randomly burst into song in the middle of a day’s work? I do it frequently as my workmates will testify. And anyone who doesn’t like musicals hasn’t got a soul.
  11. I recite Cate Blanchett’s opening monologue along with her at the start of the Lord of the Rings. Word for word. Every time. If someone talks to me during it I will hold my hand up and keep going regardless.
  12. My favourite part of the day is getting in my car and going home, knowing I’m going to see two little happy, sticky faces at the window and get a massive cuddle from my little ones and hearing about their adventures that day.
  13. I really miss going on stage and doing shows. When the kids are bigger I can’t wait to get back to it. By God do I miss the backstage parties, too!
  14. I will pretty much eat ANYTHING except I don’t like the taste of ginger, which was horrendous when I was pregnant and had nausea because it was the only thing that made me feel better. It was torturous having to eat and drink ginger flavoured things.
  15. I cry at anything and everything, but hardly ever in front of people. Those who don’t know me well enough sometimes think I’m quite thick skinned, because I’m loud and a bit bossy (well, a lot bossy) but actually I’m a real softie.
  16. My guilty TV pleasure is watching ‘Hoarders – Buried Alive’ because it makes me feel better about my own cleaning routines!
  17. I’ve written a children’s story book. It might never see the light of day, or the desk of a real publisher. But at least I’ve written it down!
  18. I’m regarded in my family as being a terrible cook. I don’t know where this myth has come from, it’s just that everyone else thinks they are better at cooking, and quite frankly, I’d rather sit on my bum watching Strictly with a glass of wine while they slave at the coal face to make me a juicy fillet steak.
  19. I played the double bass in a youth concert orchestra for nearly 10 years. I never practiced enough or took it seriously and it’s a big regret – because I was told constantly by my tutors that I had ability and promise. I doubt I could even remember to play a note now.
  20. I categorically, completely and totally HATE smoking. Everything about it makes me want to vomit, and I make no secret of this – what’s to like? It drains your finances, makes you smell, people get aggressive when they can’t have one and it rules their lives. Oh, and not to mention the tiny fact that it KILLS THEM. Sorry for the mini-rant, just had to get that one in there!

Thanks for reading!

To follow on the linky, I’d like to tag:

Rachel at Coffee, Cake, Kids

Wendy at Castaway With Dreams

Madeleine at This Glorious Life

Karen at The Next Best Thing To Mummy

Vanessa at A Happy Healthy Mummy

 

It’s time for the #FloraLunchbox Challenge

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When the new term starts, many parents get the shock of realising that they now have to start preparing lunches. Everyone wants to make sure that thier children have enough fuel in thier little tummies to keep them active and concentrating throughout thier day of learning and fun. And to us, in this house, it’s all brand spanking new. Before now, I’d only ever had to pack a quick sandwich for my two when they went to the childminder. Now that Amelia has started school, well, the penny has dropped that I’ve got to be prepared.

There are so many rules now for lunches in school. Both put forward by school and self-inflicted ones. We were given a list practically on the first day of what is permitted in the lunch box and what isn’t. Kiwis and nuts aren’t allowed (I’m assuming someone is allergic) and certain fromage frais yoghurts aren’t allowed due to high sugar content. That’s grand. I can cope with that – I just have to make sure that I can pack things she will enjoy.

lunchbox-packHandily enough, Flora have begun the #FloraLunchbox Challenge, and it is all about packing delicious and healthy lunchboxes. Flora has created a meal planner to help you put together tasty and nutritious lunchbox combinations, and they want to hear about your lunchbox ideas and challenges! A Flora-commissioned University of Leeds study recently revealed that only 1.6% of children in England receive a packed lunch that meets the nutritional standards set for school meals, with just 17% of lunches containing any kind of vegetables or salad. (Shocking, right?) Flora wants to change that!

 

So, what is going to be our regular lunchbox routine? I’m a plan ahead type of gal…I literally get panicky sweats if I realise I haven’t organised things ahead of time. So as much as possible I’m going to have any fruit or vegetables pre-chopped and put in containers in the fridge, so I can quickly put my hand on them and assemble them in the lunch box.

I’m going to use the Flora Lunchbox Guide to help me include a mixture of a main, a snack and a fruit and veg from all the relevant food groups. This way, she will hopefully feel that she has an element of choice about what she is eating, while at the same time learning about healthy food. She loves cucumber, hummous, carrot sticks, so thankfully they are easy options. I’m hoping to introduce, olives, new types of cheese and cooked meats – not just crumbed ham!!

I fear the only real struggle I will have when getting to grips with this is the time factor. I don’t want it to become a ridiculously time consuming process. I mean, its a child’s lunch box, I’m not a personal trainer and chef, prepping her for a competition with special meals. It needs to be quick and easy to prepare. There are a couple of really tasty recipes with the #Floralunchbox challenge, I know Amelia with especially like the Moroccan Couscous Salad recipe. It’s really simple and quick to make.

Yes, I’ve got to get organised. I’ve got to build this into my current routine and make sure I’m prepared to have her lunchbox stacked with lots of tasty nibbles, and the ideas from Flora will certainly help. The bottom line is that Flora’s study shows, like I said that only 1.6% of children receive a packed lunch that meets nutritional standards set for school meals? I’m going to do my bit to improve that statistic.

This week, Amelia starts full time hours in school – we’ve tried out the Chicken TikkaWrapflora-wrap which she really likes, so I think this will be her first proper lunch. Watch this space for some more child-friendly lunchbox ideas, I’m definitely going to be getting some inspiration from Flora!

 

 

 

“This post is an entry for the #FloraLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Flora. Check out their lunch planner and recipe ideas here <http://www.flora.com/article/category/1104207/healthy-kids >

No more ‘Cro’ crastination!

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I’m no longer crocrastinating*.

*Definition – The act of putting off lots of crochet projects and keep making up excuses why you haven’t started or completed them yet.

Progress is being made on several projects, although I have to admit I have parked the My Little Pony blanket AGAIN. I just realised if I didn’t get cracking on the Attic24 Cupcake blanket then my friend’s little baby would be arrived before it was ready to snuggle them in!

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So I got online and ordered the pack – it arrived and it is glorious. The colours in the pack alone make you want to get going straight away they are just so pretty. However I did hit a teeny snag. I, in my typical hasty fashion didn’t fully read the pattern before I started and got almost halfway through the project when I realised the blanket was rather too big for a baby blanket. Obviously this is because it isn’t a baby blanket – it makes up to the size of a single bed cover! D’oh!

By then, it was so far gone that I didn’t have it in my heart to frog it and start again so I parked that one ALSO, and re-ordered the same pack, and will make 2 baby blankets in slightly different dimensions but with the same pattern generally. I finished the first one last night and I am so pleased with it.

Now I just have to get back to the monstrously large one and complete that as a gift for my Mum as she is doing up a spare room and I know she’d love it to complete the look – she dropped enough hints when she saw me making it!

So, I’m on the case. Yes I’m thick and daft and shouldn’t rush into things but the silver lining is I will have 3 gorgeous blankets complete at the end of it – and then of course I will return to the dreaded graphghan!

 

Parenting badges…have you earned yours?

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So I finally earned that elusive badge.

The one all parents secretly yearn to achieve yet are repulsed by. I changed a child’s dirty nappy without them waking up.

You might not think that is a very big deal, but in the land of parentdom, it’s HUGE. Suddenly, things that we would have been disgusted by before having kids instantly become the height of success in the minefield of parenting.

I was SO proud of myself. My son is a notoriously bad sleeper so the fact that he didn’t wake up was like a double award for me.

It got me thinking how many seemingly silly and slightly disgusting yet strangely skilled tasks we find ourselves performing as parents of little ones. Like the time I fished a poo out of the bath. Tick for the ‘Fish a floater’ badge. The time I literally just held a child and voluntarily allowed them to vomit. On me. Twice. All hail the ‘Got boaked-on’ badge. Or the time I deftly held a child out vertically and the vomit missed me. There was my ‘you’ll never get the stain (or smell) out of the carpet’ badge. And there are countless others.

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Some not quite as disgusting, you’ll be pleased to hear. There’s the ‘piggy back’ badge, the ‘play doh’ badge and the ‘lego’ badge, all very pleasant badges to earn. The ‘just got them to giggle their little socks of badge’ is one I’m genuinely proud of – especially with the additional ‘Gave them the hiccups’ bonus badge.

There’s also some tricky ones, like the ‘got them to eat a teeny mouthful of broccoli’ badge sometimes swiftly followed by the ‘got broccoli spat out on my jeans’ badge. I’m also quite proud of my badge for ‘creeping out of the bedroom like a silent ninja’ badge at bed time.

Anyone out there received the ‘can’t believe I just said that to a doctor’ badge?

I did very recently. “Yes doctor, he and his sister thought it would be funny to pull a pink wooly bobble hat down on his eyes and run full pelt, giggling manically, into a wall. Yes I was there. He was just too fast for me.”

Don’t tell my husband but I’ve also been awarded the ‘I like the way you read stories better than daddy’ badge. But its okay because he won the ‘tickle them until they squeal’ badge ages ago.

I’m not fun enough for that one!

I genuinely think there should be a version of the scouts for parents so we can actually have meetings and receive our badges with pride and get a little round of applause.

Oh, and there should be wine.

How else could we get our ‘never drank this much until I had kids’ badge?

Dib dib.

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