21 Dec 2018

Mia turns three!

Eats: All the snacks and not much else. You've gone through a really fussy stage and mainly eat pasta, sausages or wraps and then lots of fruit and snacks. You could graze all day long. Your favourite treats are ice-cream, jelly tots, Haribo, cheese strings and cookies. You're obsessed with packed lunches and love going for a picnic too.

Says: All the things! This year your talking has really taken off and now you can converse easily in sentences and you amaze us all the time with the little phrases you come out with. You're a really chatterbox in the morning and the rest of us are grumpy and quiet and you just chatter on and on. You get giddy and love to laugh and joke with everyone. We recently went Christmas shopping in Debenhams and you were charming all the elderly customers in the lift telling them all about your wet boots and how you brother Ellis was at school. My favourite misunderstandings of yours are when you call your high chair 'a cot' and hand soap 'ketchup!' When I ask if you need the toilet you say, 'no thank-you!' So polite! If we ever thank-you for anything you say, 'you're welcome!' 

Personality: You're very mischievous and cheeky and love to mess around with everyone. You like to wind up your big brother and recently you've been bickering with each other more . You're very enthusiastic and its so cute to see you get so excited about everything - especially your pink party! We've been planning it since July and you're always running through your guest list in the car. Your very bright and have a very good memory.

Playing: You love a good run around at the park or soft play and especially being pushed n the swings and going down the slide. You love to play with all the dollies and accessories - particularly bags which you stuff full of all the things and carry round everywhere with you. At Clare's you like pushing two single buggies together like its a double pram. You love playing in Clare's toy kitchen and making her 'wunch.' You're quite crafty and love making cards with mummy and baking. You love dancing along to music and often know the words to popular songs on the radio.

Funny memories: So many - you always brighten up our days with your funny little actions and personality. On your birthday we went to Five Guys and you just stood up in your chair and were grooving along with the music - not caring who was watching!
You also had your first run in with the law! We went to Bicester shopping outlet and you and Ellis joined Rara in a posh shop and he clearly wasn't being very vigilant. Next minute Mia came running out holding a box, followed closely by a young security guard asking you to 'stop' and trying to stop you without actually touching or restraining you. Next minute daddy joined the race! I couldn't stop laughing! It is everyone's favourite story! So cheeky! You also love your accessories and it was a £200 belt inside the box!

Favourite places: On your birthday I asked where you wanted to go and you said, 'supermarket.' You do love shopping and running errands with mummy and hate being left out of anything - hence why you come to karate with us every week, You love going to Bramble Bakehouse for cake and Goose for a play and cake and Temple Donut...do we see a pattern emerging here? We often go to the playbarn with your buddy Carmen on my days off. You're a real daddy's girl and love family days out on Saturdays. 

Ellis turns five!

Well, Ellis, it's been a fantastic year with so many achievements and adjustments that you've taken in your stride.

Favourite things to do... You're still a fan of trampoline parks and we recently discovered Jumperooz and you enjoyed it. You are obsessed with water parks and love the indoor one in Bruges (especially the rapids as they go really fast and the one in Furtuerventura - especially since they were very lax on the rules and let you go on all the big water slides!) You're really proud of learning to ride your bike without stabilisers and you whizz round Yeadon Tarn and Ilkley Park and love, love, love the skate ramps even though they make me extremely anxious! You love a cinema and cafe date as well - daddy sometimes takes you to see a Saturday morning show and mummy takes you to Morrisons cafe after school and you love cakes and treats as you chat to me about your day.

To celebrate any special occasion you always want a fancy meal at...Hotdonalds! You've progressed from fish fingers and chicken nuggets to cheese burgers and chocolate milkshakes. We asked you recently your favourite place in Yeadon and you said Morrisons as it's so big and has kinder eggs! We like to trawl the charity shops looking for new puzzles and DVDs - you can do 100 piece puzzles now and your favourite is your Scooby Doo one and you love your Minions, Sing and Scooby Doo DVDs.

Friends... Your friendship circle has really changed now you've started school. You have a good group of friends from your class: Lucas, Holly, James, Dougie, Thomas, Leo and Max. You're also friends with Owen and Oliver in blue class. You've enjoyed going on play dates and checking out everyone's toys! You and Mia generally get along really well too and she has definitely missed you now you're at school.

Your first year in school has been a success. You've loved your teacher Mrs Sharp as she is really fun and enthusiastic and has a little girl Olivia your age. She loves dressing up and the Disney film Moana - so you gave her the poster we got free in the cinema! You've enjoyed the routine and joining in with star moments and show and tell.

What's your name? Ellis at 5

How old are you? Five

When is your birthday? In July

How old is your mummy? Umm…I don't know

How old is your daddy? 100

What's your favourite colour? Green

What's your favourite food? Hot dogs

Who's your bestfriend? Lucas

What's your favourite tv programme? Yoki Watch

What's your favourite film? Minions 1

What's your favourite song? This is me (Greatest Showman)

What's your favourite animal? Guinea Pigs

What are you scared of? Monsters

What makes you happy? Mummy 

30 Aug 2018

Lets talk about reward charts....

Five weeks into the summer holidays with lots of long road trips and I was feeling a bit broken. Constant whining, squabbling, mess and refusal to follow instructions and I was done. So I decided to reinstate REWARD  CHARTS - can you tell I'm a teacher?

So I made a very basic chart and decided upon three 'targets' for Mia and four for Ellis (as he's older!) to address the behavior issues that were cropping up. His were about not hitting his sister, following instructions first time, no tantrums and to write three sentences a day (very reluctant writer over here!). Hers were no hitting her brother (do you see a pattern emerging here?), to not take her brothers' toys and to brush her teeth nicely. Teeth brushing was a particularly grueling and harrowing process of pinning her down and lots of screaming which we dreaded every evening. Each day they would get a tick if they achieved each target. Mia is only two and a half but she willingly let me brush her teeth for the first time ever in return for her tick - we were onto something here!

If they got the majority of ticks they got a smiley face for that day and if they got enough smiley faces they got a treat at the end of the week. On the whole it worked and Ellis was definitely more willing to write (he has a holiday scrapbook project which has been lingering all holidays) and the change in Mia's attitude to teeth brushing was remarkable. Although Mia did earn her reward quicker than Ellis as he had a few 'grumpy' days. 

In perfect timing for the reward I was sent some 'Ready 2 Robot' toys to review. Ellis was delighted with them as they involve three of his favourite things:-

1) Blind bags (thanks for this Youtube!)
2) Slime- it comes in a little capsule at the top of the plastic pod with the robot's head inside. Mia really enjoyed playing with this as you can see in the picture above.
3) Construction (as you have to build the robots)

Of course his favourite thing of all was the index showing all the different robots you could collect. He's already begging for another one so it could turn out to be an expensive 'freebie' for us! They are available to buy from Smyths and there are even some mystery ones - which Ellis is keen to get his hands on.

He has sat for hours building them and they accompany him in the car (not recommended with all the small parts), to soft play, to the farm and his karate teacher even got to hear about all the inner workings of his robots and which ones he hoped to get next time

What techniques and ideas do you employ to keep your kids from killing each other in the holidays?

* I was sent these to review but all opinions included are my own. * 

2 Dec 2017

Mia turns two!

Eats: Literally everything. Mia is never not asking for a snack or trying to eat something off someone else’s plate. Loves crisps, sweets, sausages, pasta and fruit. She's been obsessed with easy peelers since the festive season begun.

Loves: Snacks (did I already mention that?) Anything that her big brother has and she loves that she has free run of his toys whilst he's at school - currently his Hot Wheels and his Buzz Lightyear. She loves stealing Ellis' toys and putting them down the back of the sofa - often the crucial piece of the Lego set he's building. Walking everywhere and pushing her push chair round - sometimes with lazy big brother in it! Loves playing with her dolly's and pushing them round in their pushchair, putting their dummy in and feeding them milk from their bottle. Her friend Finn, 'Babel' in nursery,

Says: 'Bye bye', 'night night'. 'babies', 'Ellis', 'daddy', 'mummy', 'snack', 'netflicks', 'chips', 'juice', 'sweets', 'let me see', 'here it is', 'hiya'. She makes herself known through other ways!

Personality: Really cheerful, cheeky and mischievous. A real people person who loves to make eye contact and give big smiles to everyone she meets. She is determined, sassy and loves charging round everywhere. She is a great mix of tomboy and girly girl - always wearing mummy's shoes and carrying bags around like diva but also loves jumping in muddy puddles and wrestling with daddy and Ellis. Although she's not saying as much as some two year old she 'chats' all the time and seems to understand everything we say. She's often trying to encourage big brother into his school uniform and shoes for the school run. 

Playing: She loves colouring or at least getting all of the felt tips out and throwing them on the floor! She likes transporting toys from one container to another and loves 'helping' to unpack the groceries or washing machine! Enjoys joining in tig and hide and seek with the older kids and charging round the corridors after church. Also a wonderer, like big brother, with a habit of running off in public places.

Funny memories: We were in Boots recently and I was trying foundations on the back of my hand and when I looked over she was copying me exactly and had all these patches of orange all over the back of her hand! When she poses and say 'cheese' whenever I have my phone out - in fact she's often blabbering away on the remote control thinking she's chatting on her mobile. 

Favourite places: We're all big fans of Oxygen trampoline park and Rosie's Diner for brunch. She loves a good run around at soft play and we often go to the Play Barn, Wacky or Tumble Town. She's very daring and terrifies me constantly! She loves feeding the ducks 'quack, quack' at the park and going on the swing and the zip line - again no fear! 

25 Jul 2017

Ellis turns Four - look out world!

I started the year thinking that you were no-where near school ready. I couldn't imagine you sat listening and joining in discussions when you could barely sit still for five minutes - unless you were watching a cartoon! However, in the last six months your speech, your attention span and your interest in learning has developed so rapidly that there is no denying you are school ready. You had a few taster sessions and met your teacher - who you said is kind and very beautiful! She reported that you were answering all the questions and it was so cute to see you sat cross legged on the carpet like a real school boy.

This has been a great age and you are such good company now that I will really miss you in September. You've mastered potty training, dressing yourself (you're still slow and reluctant though), learning to write and recognise your name, counting to twenty and recognising numbers and putting on your own coat and shoes. You love reading and looking at all your books and we play a game at night where you lay loads of books out and we chose one using the rhyme 'ibble obble chocolate bubble'- funnily enough it always seems to land on your favourite book. You love all the Julia Donaldson books and anything to do with pirates or monsters.

Some of your favourite things to do:-

  • role play with your legos and Minions toys.
  • scoot to the retail park near our house and pull the basket along in Poundland and throw all the essentials in - shampoo, bubble bath, sweets, crisps, toys...
  • go to the cinema with daddy - your favourites so far have been Boss Baby, Cars 3, Despicable Me Three and the Batman Lego movie - you both love scoffing popcorn.
  • meet your friends at the park for a playdate. You love slides - the higher and faster the better - St.Ives and Ilkley park are particular favs.
  • build huge Hot Wheels tracks with daddy and race your cars.
  • at Clare's you like role playing super heroes and you are always Spider Man.
  • at pre-school your best friend is Zachary and you like putting crates on your heads and pretending to be robots.
  • in Belgium you like going to the huge water park and going down the big slides and rapids. You're quite the dare devil. You also like exploring in Oma's garden - you tell us she lives in the forest.
  • when we visit granny and Rara you like being chased by granny, 'helping' Rara in the garden and going to the ice-cream farm.
  • go exploring in the woods. You love the outdoors and finding secret passages and hiding and giving mummy a scare.

At home you love receiving your 'making box' in the post which has crafty and baking activities in little coloured bags. You like eating hulk pasta (pasta pesto), carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, apple slices and egg mayo sandwiches. You have a sweet tooth and love ice-cream, haribos, fruit pastilles and milkshakes. Once too often we have caught you climbing the kitchen cupboards to get to the treat cupboard - you definitely love snacking!

Overall you're very sociable, confident, adaptable and happy most of the time. You can be a grump and are quite stubborn and very determined at times - time out has been your friend this year! You don't like being the centre of attention - like dadddy - and were hiding when it was time to blow the candles out on your birthday cake. You were so excited to have a 'minosaur' party this year and it was lovely to see all your friends from pre-school, church and Clare's together to celebrate with you.

Quiz your toddlers: Ellis at 4

What's your name? Ellis

How old are you? Four

When is your birthday? Three

How old is your mummy? Umm…three

How old is your daddy? Three

What's your favourite colour? Blue

What's your favourite food? Hotdonalds - fish fingers, chips, orange juice and a toy (we really aren't regulars!)

Who's your bestfriend? Annabel

What's your favourite tv programme? Most cartoons on Netflix - although he said Paw Patrol which he doesn't really watch anymore

What's your favourite film? Minions and Boss Baby

What's your favourite song? Wise Man and the Foolish Man

What's your favourite animal? Cows

What are you scared of? Losing! (Mummy's choice!)

What makes you happy? People making me laugh like Annabel

We have no doubt in our minds that four will be a great year for you full of such exciting adventures and we are preparing ourselves for the fact that many of them you will be facing alone. 

3 Nov 2016

Review of Easiyo

Are your kids crazy about yogurt? Both of mine love a yogurt for dessert and some shop brought brands are full of sugar and so when we got sent an Easiyo machine to review I was keen to try a more homemade version. I was especially excited to get our hands on the limited edition pink one - hello!

There are lots of yummy flavours available - our favourite was the greek style yogurt with honey - it was so yummy we ate it all and forgot to take any pictures. The vanilla was less sweet but was really nice with cut up fruit and granola for breakfast.

As the name suggests it really took five minutes to mix the sachet with tepid water and then you fill the machine with boiling water and leave it for at least eight hours and then chill overnight. My toddler really enjoyed helping with the shaking and then licking the container clean! As you can see my baby girl was very attracted to the candy pink colour of the machine.

 We can't wait to try some of the other flavours. Will keep you updated on our future favourites - to see some the process of making the yogurt check out my instagram stories and twitter.

23 Oct 2016

Num noms Wacky Baker

So I've already blogged and vlogged before about our love of the cute Num Noms. My Toddler still plays with them all the time and the Baby still enjoys chewing on them! We had a play date last week, with older girls, and they really enjoyed stacking them up, lining them up and playing games with them.

Since Autumn brings new changes and a certain television show encourages everyone to try baking we decided to copy some of the Num Nom flavours and make a good after school healthy treat. We made banana, stawberry and blackberry smoothies. We used frozen fruit (that we make into smoothie bags in the freezer ready to go) and natural yogurt and orange juice. He enjoyed it but was distracted by the Num Noms in these pictures.

What flavour smoothies do you like to make?

29 Sep 2016

Farewell to the summer...

September has brought some delightfully sunny days and so we have been making the most of it and spending lots of time in the park and in the garden. We were invited to a family blogging event in July by Cotton Traders but were on holiday and so they kindly sent us a box of goodies to play with.
Ellis enjoyed playing with the beach ball and even sitting on it.

Mia liked the blow up fish too - it has been a summer of obsessing over Finding Dory. 
We also got paints to decorate a kite and of course had to go with a Batman theme. Ellis was so excited to get a new kite; our last one got stuck in a tree and even though it was months ago he still talks about it to this day.

One of our favourite things to do on a sunny day is to have a bowl picnic. We chose a different snack to go in each bowl - grapes, crisps, wraps, raisins - and then we all dig in. Admittedly some bowls are more popular than others - I'll leave you to guess which ones. 

Look at that cheeky grin!

And then the best part of a busy day in the sun - a big bubble bath!

What do you like to do with your family on a sunny day?

14 Sep 2016

Me and Mine: August 2016

Thought I'd jot down a few memories from Summer 2016 before Autumn takes over...

Daddy - has been getting really excited about starting his teacher training. He got a bike from his grandparents and has been taking it on some trial runs. Ellis thinks that he is going to 'Monster's University' which is really cute! He enjoyed his time in Belgium and spending some quality family time before he starts an intense year of study.

Mummy - enjoyed spending time in the sunshine with her family. Although sometimes wishing that she had a few more hours in the day to spend time creating. I'm loving making videos and getting to grips with using our go-pro and video editing.

Ellis - this has been the summer of the zip line! You are so adventurous and have no fear when it comes to new adventures. We have started on the rocky road of potty training and are having a mixture of success' and failures! You enjoyed spending time at Rara's (grandad's) house and Oma's house and both times got very upset when you got back to mummy's house - apparently there are monsters in mummy's house. You are fun, lively, charismatic, loving and adorable and a bit stubborn and frustrating at times but our lives would not be the same without you.

Mia - this has been the summer of putting everything in your mouth that should not go in your mouth: stones, sand, paper (a big favourite), toys, shoes and her clothes! You are hitting all your milestones like pulling up, standing alone and cruising a bit. Everyone who meets you adores you as you are so smiley and personable. Your smile is very endearing and are really comfortable around strangers. 

A lot of things are due to change in September with my return to work, the Belgian starting University, Mia going to the childminder for the first time and Ellis starting his new pre-school. It's been nice to savour these six weeks together before going back to the grind.

3 Aug 2016

London on a budget with kids: Blog and Vlog!

So as mentioned in the previous post 'vlogging' is my new passion. Well making videos. I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a vlogger when I have two subscribers on youtube! Haha! 

So The Belgian needed a new passport and they've upped the ante and so he has to go and have an interview with the Belgian embassy in London. It happened to coincide with two inset days at school and so, despite being broke on maternity leave, we decided to make a little mini break of it. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, We were on a strict budget and I did a lot of research before we left and so I thought that I'd put it into a blog post to share it in case it helps someone else planning a trip to London over the holidays. 

So here is the vlog with our new toy the go-pro and the details of our trip are below:-

Top five things to do in London with kids (on a budget):-

1) Natural History Museum - its free and there are big dinosaurs. I have read that there are huge queues on weekends and holidays and so we were really lucky to be able visit during term time. The queue was about fifteen minutes. The building is gorgeous and the facilities - baby changing, cafe, shop - are very family friendly. We only went into the dinosaur exhibit and the insects one briefly as dinosaurs are his main passion.

2) Science Museum - this is right next door to the Natural History Museum. We skipped the proper stuff and just headed straight for kids sensory play area in the basement. We probably spent an hour at the water play and I wish we could build one in our garden as it was so fun and interactive and right up The Toddlers' street. This is a must visit - they even provide you with water proof aprons so that the kids don't get soaked,

3) Queen Elizabeth Park - it was a gorgeous day and the views of the Olympic Park were amazing. This park is amazing and has loads of climbing walls, sandpits, bridges, slides and is above and beyond your average park. The splash pad was a five minute walk away and was so fun and we stayed for ages. We had brought a change of clothes, but the weather was so nice that he literally air dried and we just changed his shorts. The nearest tube stop is Stratford and it was just two stops away from our hotel. 

4) Hamleys - now you may be wondering how this fits in with a budget? Kids in toy stores can be particularly covetous, but it was The Toddlers birthday and so we had told him he could choose any toy for £25 or under. However, this place is magical and there are so many demonstrations and hands on toy tables that most children would be very happy. After exploring every floor he decided he wanted a £1.99 Cars grab bag so that was a result! 

5) Eating out - we opted for the buffet breakfast at our hotel (Travel Lodge, London Docklands) as kids eat free and we really loaded up for the day. These are links to sites telling you where kids can eat for free in London here, here and here. The Belgian got accepted onto a teaching training course and so we wanted to go somewhere nice to celebrate so we went to Bodeans. It is a BBQ smokehouse and offers kids meals free between 12-5 with a paying adult - extra tip get their free Q card from the website and you get a further 20% off. We had drinks and mains and desserts for the kids for three adults and two children and the bill was around £35 - which is a bargain I'd say.

All in all we had an amazing two days and are so glad to have all those happy memories without breaking the bank! 

31 Jul 2016

Mia's birth video

finally got round to editing Mia's birth and I love this video. I only wish we'd had one from our little boy but we only used our phones and so the footage isn't very good. Making videos is my new obsession as it really captures the moment in a way that still images can't always convey. Enjoy...

13 Jul 2016

Num Noms Series 2 Unboxing and Giveaway

I basically only became a teacher due to my love of stationary. In fact growing up my sisters and I all collected rubbers (erasers for my American readers). There was a cute little toy shop in our town called Lornas Toys and we used to literally race the half an hour journey to get there to see if they'd had a new shipment of scented rubbers. Do you remember them? One shaped liked a chocolate milkshake that smelt like it too? Bliss!

So when we received our parcel of Num Noms I don't know who was more excited - my Toddler or me. Check out our unboxing video below - let's just say we won't be going viral on youtube anytime soon! Haha!

These cute little scented mini foods that you can stack in loads of different combinations of flavours. For more detailed check out their website here. Series 2 has just been released and the flavours are almost good enough to eat! We got the Freezie Pop Deluxe Pack which contained 6 freezie pop Nums, 2 motorized Noms, 1 freezie pop container, 1 freezie pop accessory, and 1 collector's menu. My little boy loved the motorized noms the most and enjoyed raising them around on our wooden floor.

We also got a mystery pot which The Toddler loved as its like his favourite surprise eggs. Each pot contains a soft Num and then a Nom that is a stamp or lip gloss. Luckily ours was orange flavoured and was a cute little stamp which he loves to play with. 

I have one of these mystery pots to giveaway to a lucky reader. To be entered just comment below or on my twitter or instagram or facebook telling me what you collected as a child. 

I will announce the winner next Wednesday 20th July. 

Terms and conditions: Only open to UK 

11 Jul 2016

Let's talk about date night...

So we are almost approaching seven whole years of marriage. People talk about the seven year itch, but I think we had a one year inch and found that first year together really tough! Getting used to each others habits and quarrelling about really stupid things like Ikea flat pack and how to squeeze the toothpaste from the tube.

Although having kids together is amazing I find it crazy when people say they're having a baby to save their marriage. Babies and the subsequent lack of sleep is so challenging to any relationship - so you need a solid base in the first place. But it can be so hard not to let raising babies completely consume you and forget to find time for each other. 

So when we got invited to our lovely friend's wedding we decided we'd have a little weekend get-a-way and stay in a hotel. I will admit that at the thin end of the wedge maternity pay wise I was scouring the internet trying to find us a really budget deal. So I was all ready to book a travel lodge and get my 20% cashback via quidco; however when the Belgian googled the location and pointed out that it was in fact next to a service station on the motorway. Romantic! So we upgraded to the Village Hotel. Not a lay by or Little Chef in sight!

We were so glad we made the decision to ditch the kids with my parents and found that what we enjoyed most was that we could actually finish a conversation - a very underrated plus of attending a social event sans kids. Like big deep and meaningfuls, putting the world to rights without tantrums, tears and teething getting in the way. 

We were put on a table with a couple who were juggling a six week old baby and a very lively toddler. We kept catching each others eye as they said things in strained voices like, "its your turn to chase her" or "can I eat my food now?" You could say we were somewhat smug - well smug in the knowledge that we would have fallen out by that point if the kids were involved.

We got to slow dance and remember the 'good old days' together. Some ceroc dancing with the Belgian to cheesy love songs was good for the soul. Plus my outfit remained intact with no snail trails or grubby little fingerprints. Plus I had time to do my make-up and attempt a hair style.  

Back at the hotel room it was a luxuary to have a bath without sitting amongst smelly, mouldy bath toys. No errant bibs, Paw Patrol toys or half drunk baby bottles littering our room. No chores to do before bedtime. I was really looking forward to my lie in in the morning, but for some reason I was awake by seven thirty - typical hey? But at least it wasn't five am and I didn't have a toddler using my head as a bouncy castle.

Last, but least, hotel buffet breakfasts. Enough said.

On our drive back to reality the Belgian said he'd like to do it every month. The grandparents looked pretty exhausted when we got back so not too sure they'd be on board but I think every three months is reasonable - or at least a date night every month. 

And the smile on the Toddler's face when I got back - priceless!

30 Jun 2016

Wild Ones // Temple Newsam

In England you have to make the most of the sunny days and as so on Saturday as the sun shone we decided to head to Temple Newsam in Leeds. I used to go there in my student days and so it was a nice trip down memory lane and great to share it with my little family too. 

We had a picnic and the baby, whose recently been weaned, was hoovering up all the leftovers. Then we explored the gardens of the house and the Toddler enjoyed running around the maze. We even managed a really rare family shot with the self timer. I also love the pictures of the kids with their daddy. We love spending weekends together as a family. 

We got ice-cream as the Toddler is obsessed and always ends up covered in it. The grounds are massive and the Toddler did really well running everywhere and exploring it all, but ended up on daddy's shoulders as it was too much walking! I'm glad to have these photos as after this day out daddy took the Toddler to the hairdresser and cut all his golden locks off. Waaah!

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