Why I’m babysitting my weight loss…

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Everyone who knows me knows I’m constantly trying to slim down and get healthy. It’s become almost automatic for people to enquire as to the status of my weight loss almost like it’s my third child. How are the kids? They say. Quickly followed by; still at the ‘aul Slimming World malarkey?

And I answer that the kids are great and yes. Yes I am still dieting. And I’m not offended at all. Maybe I should be, some people might be but I don’t think it’s a shameful thing to say that you’re following a healthy eating regime and it isn’t shameful to admit that you sometimes…occasionally..(alright!) quite often fall off the wagon.

wp-image-1644968541jpg.jpgWhen you’re a teacher, the summer often feels like a free-for-all. Like you’ve been given an invisible licence to eat, drink and be merry.  Rather like Christmas, but more with barbecues and less with turkey and gravy.  Although boozing does seem to feature heavily in both!

All teachers know the secret joy of a Sunday night tipple when there’s no school to get up for. It’s a small but important thrill.

This summer, unlike previous years, I HAVEN’T jumped off the wagon the moment school ended and sprinted straight into KFC. (Although to be fair that’s probably the only time you’d see me run anywhere.) I’ll admit, my weight loss has somewhat stalled but I’ve kind of done it on purpose. *Cue the gasps*

But its okay. Because I know I will kick back into gear in September and I’ve managed to get to grips with the right way to eat and the right way to treat. See what I did there…? Well, at least I make myself laugh.

I’m enjoying the summer. I’m enjoying eating out with the family but choosing the better option in the menu. I’m cooking slimming world friendly meals from scratch but not at the weekends.wp-image-1053743508jpg.jpg

I made a lovely Jamie Oliver recipe recently that I adapted to make into a slimming world one and it was gorgeous. I will share it soon. I’m eating healthily but having treats when I really really want one. I’m not losing weight but I’m not gaining it either. Once I get to my target weight this kind of set up will do me nicely, thank you very much.

Because I will let you in on a little secret. I get it now. I finally get it. ‘Not following the plan’ or ‘being off the wagon’ doesn’t actually mean ‘go ahead and eat a whole pizza followed by dessert then a family size bag of crisps‘. Plus the slice of bread and peanut butter. And the leftover curry. And the cheese. And four chocolate digestives. (That’s an edited version.)

20160802_123551It means eat fresh, sensible food. It means don’t lie to yourself that you’re going to lose weight this way, but if you want to enjoy a holiday or a break from work or a family event then it’s okay. Just don’t go overboard.

I’ve two weeks left of the summer. I’m going to enjoy them. So I’m going to keep babysitting my weight loss. After all, 1st 5lbs isn’t a bad bit of progress – I’m almost halfway there!

Over and out. 🙂

Summer Crochet how I love thee…

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Sometimes I put my crochet projects in a bag and literally look at them each day as I busy myself about the house and have that longing feeling – my fingers itch to get to work on them. And usually by the time my little monsters have been tucked up in bed, I’m simply too tired to even pick up my hook – which makes me a little sad and a tad guilty. Especially when I have projects piling up.

But the joy of being a teacher is that summer time means its a little easier to get time to crochet and I have several projects on the go at the moment.

Rainbow dashI’m currently working on my very first graphghan. Graphghan, I hear you say? Yes. Weird word. But words like that pop up so frequently in crochet you become used to it. Basically its an afghan (large blanket) which is crocheted using a graph of an image. Think cross stitch block pattern. There are some amazing patterns online that you can buy in various places and I decided to do one for Amelia as her baby blanket is too little now. I tried to find the link to the Etsy seller page that I bought it from but it doesn’t seem to be there anymore. There are other versions but not the seller I bought it from so if I find it I will add it in. Of course it had to be  My Little Pony pattern and I’m currently up to my eyeballs in rainbow dash coloured yarn and trying (and often failing) to get my head around how many squares to count for each set of stitches.

Maths is NOT my strong point.

I’ve already learned some good lessons about what NOT to do when making an graphghan and I will hopefully write a little blog post on this once I finish the damn thing. It’s turning out to be absolutely huge. At least that means it will do her until she is an awkward teenager and will be too embarrassed to have a My Little Pony blanket.🙂

Another quick project was the old faithful Repeat Crafter Me owl hat. This has been such a quick go-to pattern and very easy to follow. A friend of mine just had her second baby boy, so I made one for him and a bigger one for his older brother. They were also good for using up left over yarn in a range of pretty blue/grey colours.

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It was a friend’s 30th birthday recently and I got her a gorgeous bottle of champagne – yes20160728_170252 the real stuff – was quite tempted to keep it for myself but I resisted! I didn’t have a bottle gift bag so I decided to crochet a little flower for round the neck so she would remember the gift long after the bubbles had been popped.

I’m also waiting to start making a blanket from scraps of yarn for the relaxation room in my school and another project staring at me from the corner of my room is the Attic24 Cupcake Stripe Blanket which I’ve bought the yarn and pattern for as I’m making it for a friend’s baby due in the winter. I’d really better get started – on all these projects!

I never knew a fun hobby could be so stressful…

Oh wait, yes I did – I did musical theatre for years!

I will update soon on my progress as long as my hands don’t fall off while I’m making this mammoth blanket.

Happy hooking!😉

The Charm of Carlingford

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So it’s been quiet on my little blog page recently. No real reason, just life getting in the way….from work to exam marking to holidays and trying (and currently failing) to potty train a toddler, time just passes by so fast. But I’m back and want to share about our recent family holiday. Every year, we pick a place on our little Emerald Isle and pack ourselves off with our extended family and enjoy a week of rest and fun. Ireland has so many wonderful places to offer families, and I’m not sold on karting the kids on flights to sunnier climes until they are old enough to really appreciate it so for now,  holidays close to home are fine by us.

This year, my only stipulation about where we went was that it wasn’t more than two hours drive away because last year our drive was about 5 hours and Adam did not manage the lengthy journey well….he just refused to nap and wailed the whole way. We opted for Carlingford in County Louth, just over an hour’s drive from Belfast but it genuinely feels like you’re ‘getting away’. It’s a little gem of a medieval village with lots of accommodation, interesting restaurants and of course some great pubs. There’s plenty for little ones too with outdoor pursuit centre, fairy cave tours, a local swimming pool, play park and it isn’t too far a drive from lots of other great attractions.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never been to Carlingford, I’d definitely recommend it. The accommodation we chose was called The Anchorage. A listed building, one time owned by the church and apparently the Bishops’ ‘summer residence’ this house was perfect for us. Great sized rooms, a garden for the kids to play in, and literally a one minute walk from the centre of the village. Oh, and the best thing….? A Jacuzzi bath. *sighs*

 

Other highlights of our week in Carlingford was getting a pass to the Four Seasons Hotel pool – when the weather typically did the usual Irish Weather antics – we took the kids off to the pool and they just loved it. The G Man and I were given a night off – the excitement was almost too much – and we booked a meal in a gorgeous restaurant called Magees Bistro, where we enjoyed some wine, beautiful food and a fantastic atmosphere. We forced ourselves to NOT talk about the kids. We didn’t last long, of course. We also enjoyed a gorgeous lunch in the famous PJ O’Hares – of course it was a half pint of the black stuff and some locally caught mussels for me. Delicious.

 

What is great about Carlingford is how close it is to so many other areas and attractions in Ireland. We took ourselves off to the well-known Tayto Park – people in the rest of the UK reading this will genuinely probably think its something crazy from Peppa Pig – but yes, we do have a theme park that is based on a brand of crisps (Tayto) and yes, the branding Carlingford 6and images are a man with a potato head. I’ll stop now. Only the Irish, eh? But we had an absolute ball there. The kids enjoyed the rides (there are many to choose from for all ages), ate candyfloss, visited the circus (Adam was actually spellbound) and even trekked round the zoo. We were there all day and didn’t even see everything. I will warn people in advance that it is pricier than I thought it would be. We paid in advance for our family ticket to physically get in the door, but had no idea that once you’re in, you then have to buy tokens or a wristband to pay for some (most of) the rides that aren’t included in your entrance fee. It was expensive but I think most people would say it was worth it.

Another gorgeous place within a 20 minute drive is the Ring of Gullion, and Slieve Gullion Park. We met up with Granny and Granda who drove down from Belfast with our niece, and we spent the day walking round the Giant’s Lair and seeing the little fairy houses. The kids enjoyed ice cream and playing in the outdoor adventure play park. It’s definitely worth a visit – and it’s free!

 

Two other restaurants worth mentioning in Carlingford are The Wildwood Café (a healthful whole food cafe with amazing views) and an Indian called The Sitar. The whole family visited The Wildwood Café for lunch and the food was absolutely gorgeous – really Carlingford 2wholesome but with great flavour and no guilt about calorific content in your meal! And on the other side of the coin (calorie-wise) was the Sitar, so nice that we ate there twice, and it really was one of the tastiest Indian meals I’ve ever had.

Other highlights of the village include lots of historic plaques and buildings, and as you amble around you can read up on various details of the village, as well as checking out King John’s Castle, built by Hugh De Lacy – and King John was said to have stayed there in 1210AD. We had an amazing view of it from our house.

But the best part of all, of course, was making memories there with our two little ones – they just soaked up every experience, each moment of laughter and second of fun – whether it was being entertained by trapeze artists in the glamour of the circus tent, or just playing chalk games and hopscotch with Mummy and Daddy in the garden. They loved it all.

Roll on next year. Carlingford – I think you’ll see us again.

Brewer’s Fayre – A Family Favourite for Spring

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Now that Easter weekend is over and we’ve all probably stuffed our faces with chocolate, roast dinners, or in our case, BBQ’d lamb; you get to that stage where the kids are still off school or nursery and the week is stretching ahead with lots of possibilities. I don’t know about you, but I always try to fill my time off work with different family experiences and days out with the kids so that we can really enjoy each other’s company and it usually includes a nice lunch or dinner somewhere.

Eating out as a family can be a pricey affair, but going to somewhere like Brewer’s Fayre in Carrickfergus is quite kind to the purse strings, as it offers fantastic value for money. Yes, we do go into Belfast city centre with the kids, but sometimes it is nice to go somewhere different but relatively nearby – and Carrick is a perfect choice for us. Plus, its free parking!

This restaurant is a favourite of ours because it is so child-friendly. It’s spacious and has fantastic views of the historic Carrickfergus Castle and the harbour. I was invited along recently to sample their taster menu – a sneaky peak of thier new Spring Menu that is now available in the restaurant. We were made to feel very welcome by the friendly staff, as we always are when we are there – and were invited to partake of a complimentary glass of wine to begin our meal – well, why not? (Please God, I hope my Slimming World leader isn’t reading this! It was the start of a slippery slope!)

Crispy Potato Dippers Peri Peri Sauce and chicken wings

Then the food arrived – they gave us lots of ‘mini’ versions of the starters, mains and desserts – it was a great way to see what each dish was like and all of them were very very tasty. First, we had chicken wings with peri peri sauce – very spicy (which is just to my taste) and the batter was crispy and the chicken was really tender. We also had the red pepper and feta quiche which was gorgeous – as well as crispy potato skins with bacon and chili – right up my street.

 

Onto the mains – a cheese and mushroom burger was offered, as well as chilli beef with nacho crisps and fluffy, white rice – this was probably my favourite dish of them all – really smoky flavour and just the right amount of heat. We also had the chicken schnitzel which was incredibly tender and had a lovely breadcrumbed coating.

Finally – the dessert. I’m not normally a dessert person (stop laughing.) Seriously – I’m a starter, main and about 16 side orders type of gal. But these desserts (mini though they were) were tasty as hell. There was banoffee pie and chocolate cake. A. Maze. Ing. The sort of dessert you really kind of dream about. Soooooo chocolately – it was worth it.

Dessert

All in all the food was fantastic and so many choices on offer for all tastes and ages. I can’t wait to bring the kids back again…and to order a full plate of the chilli beef – it’s okay on Slimming World….right?

 

Easter Fun at Hillsborough Castle

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Did you know that Hillsborough Castle do event days for the family? No? Neither did I. This Easter, families are welcome to come and share fun and experiences together at this special venue, and the very talented Young At Art were there today, helping the little ones build cardboard castles, design sailing boats and generally keeping the Easter Sunday fun vibe going.

So this morning, after a typical Easter breakfast of, yes you guessed it – chocolate…we got ourselves together and headed off to Hillsborough. It’s such a gorgeous village, the sort of place I’d love to live (if I had the money!) and it always feels full of history and memories, so it was already a treat to bring the kids along for the first time.

First up was the castle building workshop. An absolutely great idea and a real chance for the kids to be creative. Amelia set to work designing her ‘Cookie Castle’ (a girl after my own heart) and we drew on bricks, windows, cut out a door and added ‘turrets’ to the top – with the occasional involvement from the wee man; he preferred to rip things apart and hide inside other children’s castles. He loved the mischief and freedom of it.

After this, we headed to the cafe and chill out area where Amelia designed her sailboat and crafted it out of sticks, elastics and corks (simple but effective, and definitely easy for all ages and abilities) and we had a quick snack and the G Man enjoyed an ENORMOUS scone as I glowered in envy and wondered how many calories were in it. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and they made a lovely cup of tea – much needed as the weather was on the nippy side!

Then we headed off for a bit of exploration. The grounds are absolutetly beautiful and have been developed since the 1780s. I’ve been to many parks, historic houses and grand gardens and the 98 acres at Hillsborough are some of the most special I’ve seen. They have a unique charm, an almost magical feel – lots of nooks and crannys and various out-of-the-way places where (if the weather was good) you’d happily spread out a picnic blanket and while away the hours. We are most definitely going back with that in mind over the summer.

croquet

There were also some creative little touches to make the walk fun for the kids including lawn games like croquet, and a giant snakes and ladders game also. What I really liked (maybe its the drama queen in me) was the charming picture frame set up at the fountain with a selection of hats, props, crowns and so forth for people to wear and pose for a picture; it really gave the experience an other-worldly Alice in Wonderland type atmosphere.

black and white parasol

After our walk we headed back to collect Amelia’s boat to join some other families for the epic finale – the boat race. Oxford and Cambridge wouldn’t be in it. The kids just loved dropping thier creations into the water and shouted with delight as they made thier way along the little stream…and guess whose boat came second? She was so chuffed.

All in all, we had a fantastic day and we will most definitely be going back soon. The event is running into Easter Monday and Tuesday and you can get tickets here – there is going to be a larger selection of activites then too – storytelling and sing-a-longs etc – really worth going to if you need something to keep the little ones occupied this Easter holiday.

Thanks for a great day, Hillsborough Castle – we will most definitely be back soon!

 

**Our complimentary tickets were provided by Young At Art – all opinions are my own**

 

Easter Feasts with Lynas Food

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Once again, I’m talking about food. So, sue me. We all know our lives revolve around it and I’m lucky enough to be married to a pretty decent cook (don’t tell him I said that) and it is also true that at certain times of the year, food plays an important role in different types of family gatherings and celebrations. Easter of course, being no exception.

Lynas food were kind enough to invite us back again recently to try out some of their Easter meat packs carefully and kindly put together by thier resident butcher. We had the pleasure of trying out some of their food before, which you can read about in this post. I saw the G Man’s eyes literally light up at the idea of getting his hands on an entire leg of lamb for our Easter Sunday dinner. Then he started talking about the fact that the weather ‘has been a bit warmer recently’ and before I knew it, yes, he was talking about barbequing said leg of lamb.

Yes, you heard me right. Barbecue.

First BBQ of the year. In March. Whatever keeps him happy. I just checked the weather forecast and let’s just say it isn’t looking great.

To be fair, we aren’t going to actually eat the BBQ outside, but he always uses any excuse to fire up his fancy BBQ (a 40th birthday present) and stand outside – regardless of the weather – with a pint in hand, carefully tending to the food.

So this Easter, thanks to Lynas Food Outlet we’ve decided on a lamb feast with a twist. We do enjoy a traditional roast, but just to liven things up we’re going to try a Moroccan flavour for our lamb – and I thought I’d share the recipe here, as I’m really looking forward to it. It’s also diet friendly as I’m watching the calories (again!) at the moment.

 

Lynas have some fantastic offers on at the moment in thier Belfast outlet on Montgomery Road. Everything from a 1.28kg box of frozen breaded chicken fillets for £4.95 to a HUGE 5kg bag of basmati rice for £6.95 can be bought in this great food outlet – it is definitely worth getting down thier for your Easter shop! Our leg of lamb costs £12.95 and its bloody well big (Only 50p per 100g)! The pork and leek sausages (again really great portions) are £3.05 for 1kg pack. Bargains, indeed. I’d recommend anyone who is getting organised for Easter Sunday Dinner to get down there, sharpish!

So, this is what we’re planning to have on Easter Sunday – I will make sure to instagram some delicious snaps – that’s if it stays long enough on my plate!

Moroccan Spiced Leg of Lamb with Cous Cous

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 (3lb) Leg of Lamb, butterflied and excess fat trimmed off

3oz chopped onion

tbsp grated lemon rind

4tbsp fresh lemon juice

3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1.5 tsp of crushed red chilli flakes

1tsp ground coriander

1tsp ground cumin

tsp ground paprika

tsp ground ginger

tsp sea salt

For the Cous Cous

500g dry cous cous

Chicken Stock cube

juice of 1 lemon

Finely chopped mint and parsley

2 large sweet (loose skinned) mandarin oranges, peeled and chopped

Salt and black pepper

Method: Prepare the cous cous according to the packet instructions, using chicken stock as the liquid. Once prepared, squeeze in the lemon juice and season with black pepper and salt. Add the chopped mint and parsely into the couscous and then add in the mandarin segments. Mix gently and serve.

For the Lamb:

Method: Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend to make a smooth paste. Put the lamb in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out and seal tightly. Turn the bag around a few times to distrubute the marinade. Refrigerate for at least an hour – although we tend to leave ours overnight for extra flavour.

When you’re ready to cook, remove from the fridge and allow the lamb to stand at room temperature for at least 30 mins before placing on the bbq. Remove the lamb from the bag, letting the marinade cling to the lamb. Grill the lamb over direct high heat for about 6 minues with the lid closed as much as possible but turning once until it is browned on both sides. Then slide the lamb over onto indirect heat and cook with the lid closed to your own preferance (15-20 minutes for medium rare is a good guide).

Remove the lamb from the bbq and allow to rest for about 5 mins before carving. Cut it across the grain into thin diagonal slices. Serve immediately with the cous cous.

The kids have never had lamb before, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they like in on Easter Sunday. For breakfast on Easter Sunday, we’re hoping to prepare some lovely pork and leek sausages from Lynas Food. Getting the kids involved is a great idea, and we’re going to pass down the recipe for ‘Auntie Nanny’s Sausages’ to Amelia. My Mum said that her Auntie Nanny used to prepare sausages this way, and when my Mum cooks them even now, it brings all of us back to our childhood. For some reason, they’re just so tasty!

Auntie Nanny’s Sausages – simple but tasty!

sausages

Ingredients:

1 packet of sausages (ours were a lovely port and leek provided by Lynas)

1/2 cup of plain flour

Olive oil

Method: Put your flour on a plate with a generous sprinkling of black pepper and salt. One by one, roll each sausage in the flour mixture until they are evenly coated. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the sausages, sealing and browning them. Then turn the pan down and fry until fully cooked. The flour coating allows the sausages to crisp up and become really delicious. Serve with other cooked breakfast foods or in a sandwich smothered in red or brown sauce.

Yum.

Happy Easter Everyone!

 

 

 

Baby Rave at Belfast Children’s Festival

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I said to my Mum last week; “We’re off to a Baby Rave on Sunday.”

Her reply was; “What the hell is a baby rave when it’s at home, then?”

As I opened my mouth to answer her I realized I wasn’t quite sure. I knew it was going to involve music and dancing, but aside from that, I wasn’t any more clued up than she was. Once we got there, however, it soon became clear that it was going to be a really pleasant and memorable experience for the little ones and the adults too!

Young at Art have just finished another successful run of the Belfast Children’s Festival, and there was so much happening across the city, it was wonderful to see. We were invited along by the organizers last Sunday, which also happened to be Mother’s Day and also happened to be the G Man’s weekend off work – so I was well chuffed for all four of us to be going along together.

So you’re probably still wondering, what exactly is a Baby Rave? Some of you might have been to one before but I’m sure there are many people reading this post that are as uninformed as I was.

Well, we arrived at the MAC Theatre in the heart of Belfast and were greeted by loads of other Mums, Dads, Grannies, Granddads, babies and toddlers, all waiting for the experience to begin. Very shortly, we were brought into the main auditorium, where the seating had been pushed back and there was lots of free space for everyone. The lights were low, but there were a great many disco lights in bright colours, flashing on and off to the music. Coloured banners and streamers hung from the ceiling and lively pictures of dancers were projected on the walls.

 

Strewn around the floor were exercise balls, silk scarves and soft cushions, and lots of volunteers were dotted around the room, creating beautiful shapes with their floating fabric as they swirled it through the air. The kids could swirl the scarves to the music and bounce to their hearts were content on the yoga balls. The music was fantastic; of the Bollywood variety – the kids loved it, and not just mine; every little face was amazed at the lights, colour and melodies that swirled around the room. They even had one of those massive circus tent circles that they were waving up and down – the kids loved running under and crawling around below it. We lost Adam a few times (he’s such an imp) but we knew we were in a child friendly space so it was really freeing and relaxing for parents too.

The kids danced. I danced. Even the G Man danced – although he did tell me later (somewhat mortifyingly) that he had kind of been expecting trance music and a totally dark room with some teenagers in baseball caps. I despair.

If you missed the festival this year, don’t leave it too late next time – I’m most definitely taking part again next year and I hope experiences like this are always on offer in our city – so special and memorable for all involved. Thanks, Young at Art!

I believe in fairies…

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One of the absolutely cool things about having kids is the fact that you can re-live some of the exciting, magical aspects of your own childhood with them. Christmas, the Easter Bunny and all those other unique, enchanting characters can come alive again as you see your kids really truly believe in them. Don’t even get me started on seeing thier faces as you read a story to them. Of course, its just a bit of fun and it never did me any harm – I wasn’t scarred for life when I discovered the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real – I think it’s important for parents to encourage imagination, pretend play and creativity in thier little ones – it leads to originality and enterprise in later life. They believe in the world. They believe in themselves.

This weekend, Amelia and I enjoyed exploring a new craft; polymer clay. For some reason, this activity passed me by as a youngster, so I was almost as excited as she was when our selection of brightly coloured clays and shaping tools arrived in the post.

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We had a look together at some ideas online, and found the notion of making a ‘fairy door’ rather charming. So we based our ideas on this one which I though was so pretty. I couldn’t imagine we could make one as beautifully detailed but it was great inspiration to get started.

fairy 3

We rolled, kneaded, shaped and squished. Amelia was very keen to use the cutters to make the teeny tiny buttons for the decorations and lo and behold – we managed it! I didn’t even burn it in the oven or anything. We cooked it at about 100 degrees celcius for about 20 minutes (it was still a little soft when it came out, but we rested it in the oven and just turned the oven off).

 

Now, it has pride of place on our (not as clean as it could be!) skirting board in the hall – all ready and waiting for the fairies to come and go as they please. She just loved hearing all about how the Tooth Fairy would come in some day and leave her shiny coins for her first tooth, and how Mummy hoped the Cleaning Fairies might come in and clean the skirting board!

Someone tell me – they’re real aren’t they?

 

Super Busy Mum

Our Half Term Bucket List

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Our Half Term copy

This was the first school holiday in ages that I really made the most of. Last Christmas, while it was nice to be off work, I got a terrible bout of tonislitis which meant I missed out on really being able to savour that family fun that we all so enjoy. The previous Halloween, although we did get to do some bits and bobs, Adam had been suffering from croup, so he was laid up then. Before that it was a summer that other family members got sick, and before that all I can recall is being enormously pregnant, sick, bloated and fed up! So this half-term I was very excited to plan some fun things for us all to do together. I wanted to do at least one new/interesting/fun thing each day with the kids – so I called it my Half Term Bucket List.

We enjoyed a great mixture of simple fun and a few special ‘days out’, Day one was an afternoon at the park, for the first time in what seemed like forever that we actually saw blue skies above us. It was FREEZING cold, but we wrapped up warm and the kids just loved getting out in the open after being cooped up all winter.

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They got thier wellies on and stomped thier way around the paths, meeting some gorgeous doggies and playing in the play area. Adam particularly liked outwitting me, and running off when I wasn’t looking – he’s a cute one and faster on his feet than me. (Well, it wouldn’t be hard!) We headed afterwards to our local frozen yoghurt/ice cream parlour, where we had some treats…well, I’m all for healthy eating but a treat is important for happy memories!

Day Two it POURED from the heavens so we headed straight for our local soft play cafe; a great place for the kids to burn off some steam and for the grown ups to enjoy a decent coffee. Of course, due to the weather outside the place was packed to the rafters, and because Adam is too big for the ‘baby’ area, but not steady enough to go it alone in the bigger area, I had to brave it in there with him and literally follow him around like a bodyguard – I was hip deep in toddler soup and the noise was an insane babble of happy, boisterous kids. My two were happy and that’s all that mattered.

Day Three was our proper ‘day out’ to the local Wetlands Centre. I’d never been to Castle Espie before, and it’s only a half hour drive or so from where I live; so I was glad to get there to experience it with the kids for the first time.

Wetlands 1 copy

We donned our coats, hats and wellies (except for the G Man – he doesn’t own wellies and now has one less pair of loafers thanks to the mud from the rain the day before) and headed off for a day of bird spotting, lego animal exhibits, walking and exploring around the Castle Espie grounds. After a lovely lunch of locally caught fish and chips, the kids were mega excited to take part in the puddle jumping competition – and I was SO smug that I actually thought ahead and brought them a change of clothes. No rookie parenting mistakes for me anymore!

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Day Four was the wee man’s day that he normally spends with Granny and Granda, so they were kind enough to take him for a few hours while Amelia and I did a major spring clean of the house. We gutted drawers out, cleaned, polished and hoovered. I made it into a game for her, she got involved in writing her ‘list’ of jobs which we ticked off and she earned a few pennies here, fifty pence there, for her work. We played music on the iPad and sang at the tops of our voices. Didn’t cost a penny. Anyone who knows me knows that cleaning is actually listed as one of my hobbies on my CV. Not kidding. So we managed to ‘kill a few dead things’ as they say, before we headed to collect Adam from Granny’s house. Of course, within three minutes of him returning to the house you couldn’t tell that we’d accomplished anything! After we brought the wee man home, we watched ‘Calamity Jane’ for the first time. A movie that is close to my heart from my own childhood and I loved being able to share it with them. I wasn’t sure it would hold thier attention as they’re so used to those brightly coloured cartoons, but they were captivated by the songs and the antics of Calam and her pals. Amelia is still singing ‘Windy City’…

Day Five. Cinema. What else? The movie of Amelia’s choice was ‘Alvin and the ChickMunks’ – I didn’t want to correct her pronunciation, it’s too cute anyway. The G Man looked after Adam (who, afterwards I’d heard had a TWO HOUR nap) and Amelia and I took ourselves off to enjoy some popcorn, ice-cream and giggles as Alvin, Simon and Theodore entertained us. She really loved it.

Day Six was a packed day. Amelia has her drama class after lunch so when we collected her we headed off to the swimming pool, as we hadn’t been in ages. It doesn’t cost much for a family ticket and they both just loved the lazy river and the fountain, and splashing about with each other. Even Nana came along to watch and wave at them as they sploshed and swirled around in the water.

Day Seven was a birthday party for a girl in Amelia’s nursery class. Talking about ending our week of family fun with a bang! Even Queen Elsa was there to sing with the children and there was an unending amount of sweets and treats.

Great half-term. Next time we’re going to tackle the butterfly farm, ten pin bowling and the zoo. Can’t wait.

 

Super Busy Mum

Developing Life Linky

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Super Busy Mum
My first Linky! Thanks to Debs over at Super Busy Mum, I’ve finally got my head around the way Linkys work. I’m seriously dense about some aspects of blogging. (Please don’t tell anyone!) Of course it seems fitting that the Linky I’ve chosen to start with is a photography based one, as I’m never done snapping away at every opportunity – I always want to capture those memories and love looking back at them. Developing Life is a fantastic idea; and Deb’s photos on her blog are always so beautiful, so I aspire to try and make mine as beautiful.
So today, I’ve chosen a picture from the last week that really makes me smile. It captures a moment in the park when I allowed my son to run ahead on his own for the first time. Up until now its been strict hand holding and child harness (don’t judge, he’s a flight risk!) but I realised in this moment that he really isn’t a baby anymore. He’s a little person now, with his own opnions and choices. That thought made me a little sad, but happy too – seeing him grow and thrive is a wonderful experience.
Adam in the park
I’m really looking forward to sharing and linking up to @developing_life each week, and can’t wait to see what my fellow bloggers want to share, too!
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