Thursday, 14 November 2013

My Hardest Year

NaBlaPoMo 14

I've been distracted this week, a visit from my sister and Dad and writing placecards for a dear friend's wedding has meant my blog has taken a back seat, but I really had to post for todays NaBloPoMo.

What was your hardest age?

Yesterday my Dad turned 75! My Dad is my hero, he has been a steadfast friend, confident, counsellor. In my hardest year he was my rock, it was the year after my 30th birthday, I thought my life had fallen apart. With his support, that of my family and friends I got through it, picked myself up and embraced life again

The year after I turned 30 was absolutely the hardest year of my life
But I found out how strong I am.
I discovered the true value of my friends and family
Who propped me up, believed in me and made me feel 
Loved and Worthy and Capable.
Even when inside I felt that I had not the heart to endure another day.

I learned that I could be independent and decisive.
I made emornous, life-changing decisions
For myself and my children.
I changed my career, stepped off the treadmill 
And put my little family first.

I started the very slow journey to complete my degree.
And I rediscovered my love for running.
I ran and ran, running was therapy.
Leaders of the Free World  was poetry for my soul.

At the end of the year I met the most charming man,
Who I wasn't looking for but who gently fixed me.
He opened my heart again.
He opened my eyes to the beauty of mountains
And taught me about trust and patience.

Turning 31 was OK. No regrets, life was not over 
In fact the best chapters hadn't been written.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Capturing Happy Memories

NaBloPoMo 8

So far I've managed to keep my pledge to post every day in November, thanks to Vonnie's prompts at  A Woman Wearing Many Hats for the inspiration.

'Tell us about your profile picture or a picture you use on your 'about' me page.

I used to hate having my photo taken and subsequently there are many gaps in my photograph album, I have only one photograph of me pregnant with my second child and hardly any photos of myself with my first two children. I deeply regret this now, there are lots of photographs of them obviously as I was always taking pictures but so few with me in them. 
Things are different now. After I hit 30 I became much more accepting of who I am and far less self conscious. I want to remember myself in the happy moments I document and I want my children to remember too. This photo was taken last week on a walk with my children. It was a very simple but wonderful day. My youngest was wearing his new and first pair of wellies too. You can read my post about it here.

Ten years ago yesterday my Mum lost her fight against breast cancer. She died just after my second child was born and I have only 2 photos of her with him. I am so glad that I have so many photos of my mum,  I didn't inherit my camera shyness from her thankfully. My children won't really remember Granny Annie but they'll see that she loved them and they will have a happy picture of her in their minds.

 Photographs are such a wonderful way of preserving memory. I remember reading about a couple who met and married  just before he was posted in WWII, it made me smile when I read that the woman was worried that she might not recognise her husband when he returned from war after 2 years, as she had no photo of him and they had not know each other for very long before! Of course she did recognise him but it's a good reminder to me of  how lucky we are now to be able to record all our memories so easily and I always give a big cheesy grin for the camera these days.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

An Autumn Den Under the Kitchen Table

An Autumn Den
woodland themed Autumn den

An afternoon stuck in the kitchen was on the cards today as I needed to bake and decorate a cake for my Dad's 75th birthday at the weekend. What better way to keep my toddler from emptying all my kitchen cupboards than an Autumn Den under the Kitchen table. It took about 10 minutes to put together while he was napping, when's a little older he can help build it.
So easy and hours of will be staying up until the others get home from school, you're never to old to appreciate a homemade den!

Hello! Is anyone in there?

'Reading' the Gruffalo, upside down of course

Sticks with leaves cut from felt attached

Curly Kale and gorgeous Barefoot Books owl puppet

A little aside here for my answer to today's NaBloPoMO  7 prompt in which Vonnie's asks;

 'Social media allows you to mask parts of your personality and show others. What percentage of yourself do you think you reveal of yourself online?'

I've been blogging for 2 weeks so the short answer is I'm not sure yet. But social media should always be in part an edited version of your real self. The reason for this I believe is that our lives are so intrinsically connected with those of other people that we have to protect the anonymity and privacy of others when required or requested. That is not to say that what you reveal through social media should only be the edited highlights, we should strive to be as honest and authentic as possible. But bloggers are storytellers and even autobiographies will only ever be one person's version of a truth. I believe that social media can be an important platform for sharing experiences good and bad. I wouldn't want to intentionally 'mask parts of my personality' but by being selective about the experiences I blog about, the things I tweet or share and by respecting the privacy of others it will always be that I can't reveal myself entirely online.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Today I Started a Toddler Group and Reversed into My Neighbour's Car

Today's NaBloPoMO 6 is to blog about a time when everything fell into place. That happened to me today (sort of)!!

This Morning...

At 9.30am as I loaded up the car with toys, craft and cake, I felt pretty nervous. I had volunteered with a friend to help set up and run a local mother and toddler/baby group, I'm still new to the area where we live and I know how important these groups can be for parents, but I don't really know anyone and I did have a moment wondering to myself why I had agreed to it but it was too late to back out;

I'd sorted out a huge box of toys and books
Washed a big quilt for the babies to play on
Planned a craft activity ( Colourful Fish)
And I'd baked a cake
So I had to get on with it and just hope that Parents and Grandparents would come along and enjoy it! Thankfully they did, not loads but enough for us to get to know each other a little, share stories and local information and for our children to play together and do some craft making, it was lovely, coffee and cake and the possibility of new friendships for us and our babes.

And Then There Was This Afternoon...

When I very stupidly reversed into the side of my neighbours car. Which clearly was not part of the plan today. I knocked on his door with dread in order to apologise as it's dark I couldn't be sure what damage there was. I haven't actually met this neighbour yet so I'll be honest I was expecting rage (I hate confrontation) or at the very least annoyance and irritation when he came to look. But he was totally lovely (and no I wasn't crying!). He said 'Don't worry, it really doesn't matter, even if it's dented I'm not worried about it it's an old banger'. (it clearly isn't)...and then we introduced ourselves. So perhaps my day didn't entirely fall in to place in the end  but I've met some genuinely lovely people, which is more than I could have hoped for today so I'm happy with that.

And if you fancy a weaning friendly banana loaf which just might be my lucky charm, I'll be posting that later.

Perhaps I ought to give the leftovers to my neighbour!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

How I Remember the 5th of November

NaBloPoMO 5

Today in the UK it is Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night). Do you like this day? How do you feel about fireworks?

I have such mixed feelings about Bonfire Night. We will be going to a local fireworks display on  Friday but believe it or not in my life I've only ever been to 5 or 6 and we've never had fireworks in the garden either.
As a child I was never allowed to go to a firework display. We lived in a 1930's apartment block that overlooked the Town Moor in Newcastle and I would look longingly out the window at the silent magic that I saw in the night sky. We always were given some Lego on bonfire night as recompense for staying in and looking back I'm not sure whether it was my family's Catholic principles or my Mum's fear of fireworks causing accidents that was the real reason for not going to a display. Obviously lego is brilliant but I remember really feeling that we were missing something special out there.

Over the years that followed I never really thought about fireworks much, I went to the odd bonfire and had hot chocolate and baked potatoes but it wasn't until I was 21 that I saw my first real fireworks display. It was on Blackheath were I was living then, the display there at that time was the best in London and I was mesmerised and terrified in equal measure. Since then I've seen a few other displays, mostly in support of my children's PTA at their old school who organised a popular local event. I'm still a bit like a child about the whole thing, I am transfixed by the fireworks but I'm really not keen on  the noise!

What I don't like about Bonfire Night is the burning of effigies. There is something about it that makes me feel very uncomfortable. This year Edenbridge will be burning a giant effigy of Katie Hopkins, last year it was Lance Armstrong. There are many public figures that are difficult to like but there are far more sophisticated ways of poking fun at them I feel. 'Bah Humbug'...sorry !

I will really enjoy all the dazzling colours and sparkling lights when we go to see the fireworks on Friday but I will have earplugs in my bag for me and the children just in case.

Photos are republished with kind permission from Dan Phelps. Dan's photo blogging project LEGO365 is still available to view but  he now blogs about other stuff too at

Monday, 4 November 2013

Surprise, Surprise.....or not as the case may be!

NaBloPoMo 4

Am I easily tricked and do I fall for things?

That's a tricky one. I'm easy to surprise if that's the same thing. My family and friends organised a big surprise party for my 30th birthday and I never had a clue. My husband recently hand built a Touring Bike for me, it was custom painted and involved lots of secretive trips around the country for parts. Reassuringly this was incredibly stressful for him and he worried that I would be cross at how secretive he had been ! I wasn't the bike is beautiful and it means between us we can now carry enough clobber for the whole family to do some touring next year.

So I suppose I can be fairly easily tricked. But I'm no good at playing tricks and  I can't tell a lie (I go very, very pink). I hate the burden of a secret even a nice one. It's my worst nightmare when somebody says 'Can I tell you something? Promise not to tell anyone?.' It's not that I like to gossip or I can't be trusted or that I'm disloyal but the secret will hang over me and I'll be terrified of spilling the beans.

 This I think stems from a Christmas many many years ago when I was tasked with the job of getting my younger sister's Christmas present back from the shop and hidden before she got home. It was a pretty big present to hide (a small pool table) and the van driver and I had struggled to get into the garage and had only just managed it when my mum and sister came home.
My Mum asked, 'Is everything alright?',
I'm guessing she had given me a wink or 'a look' at this point that I missed because I went on to say;
 'Yes but you wouldn't believe the job we had getting that pool table into the garage!'
 Then the look on my Mum's face at that point was not so hard to read though, it took a moment for the penny to drop and for me to realise that, within a few moments of concealing the biggest surprise that Christmas I'd already let the cat out of the bag, my little sister was standing there - surprise ruined ! I was mortified and it took a while for my Mum to see the funny side!

I'm happy I think to stay on the receiving end.

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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Should I Jump in a Puddle or a Pile of Leaves? Can I Do Both Please?

NaBloPoMo Day 3

Which is better to jump in a leaf pile or a puddle?

This was today's prompt suggested by Vonnie for National Blog Post Month and I'm in such a dilema! This half term has been wonderful for getting outdoors, we've had lovely weather, lovely walks, leaf piles a plenty and 'The Big Storm' left lots of lovely puddles. Genuinely it's to hard to call. We finally found wellies small enough for my youngest, at 17 months he has tiny feet, size 3, and it took a long time to find some in his size. They arrived last weekend so this week we have been christening them over and over, on the beach, in puddles and in mud! We've so enjoyed walking in the woods kicking and playing in the fallen leaves, collecting acorns and leaves and sticks too.

enjoying the fallen leaves

muddy puddle before we tracked down some wellies

mission puddle jumping !

splash, splash, splash!!

new wellies

a walk in the woods

How funny, looking back at our half term snaps there is a favourite after all...........puddles, muddle puddles and paddling at the beach. We love to jump in a puddle especially with new wellies.

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Saturday, 2 November 2013

A taste of Autumn - Plum and Ginger Cobbler

NaBloPoMo 2

Autumn truly is a wonderful season, a close second to Winter in my opinion and only because of Christmas!
Autumn is a time to get outside and enjoy Nature's playground; there is so much to see and do. It's also a season to embrace the harvest and from that come all the delicious kitchen smells and flavors. There is not much that beats the smell of a stew slow cooking when you come home from a walk, or the taste of french bread, buttered and dipped in a warming vegetable broth. But in our house autumn means fruit pies, crumbles and cobblers, hot from the oven with ice cream, custard or cream.

So I thought for day 2 of NaBloPoMo I would share with you my recipe for Plum and Ginger Cobbler.

Plum and Ginger Cobbler

Plum and  Ginger where's the custard?

Prep Time:  15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Serves :  4 hungry people and one little person in our house!


1 kg plums
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 inch fresh grated ginger


75 g cold butter, unsalted
175 g self raising flour
60 g soft brown sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
100 ml whole milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
  2. Wash the plums, then halve and stone them. Place in your dish and scatter the grated ginger over the plums, drizzle with honey and sprinkle cinnamon evenly over.
  3. Time to make the topping; cube the butter and rub in the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4.  Mix in the sugar and add the milk and egg, stir gently until you have a soft dough. Spoon the dough onto the fruit, it doesn't have to be in a smooth layer and if you have bits of fruit showing through don't worry as the dough will spread when cooking.
  5. Brush lightly with milk and scatter over a little sugar. Place the cobbler in the middle part of the oven and bake for 25 - 30 mins.
  6. The cobbler should be a lovely golden brown colour. Serve warm with cream or custard. 

Substitute the plums for apples and blackberries or rhubarb and pears.

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Friday, 1 November 2013

NaBloPoMo and a few things that you may not know about me.

I started my blog  a week ago and there's a load of stuff that I still don't understand, like what's an RSS feed and do I have one? What's tumblr ? How do I a make my blog look the way I want it to and add labels? But the reason I started my blog was to write, something I've always wanted to do but didn't know where to start. A gentle prod from another blogger was what I needed to start my own blog and here I am!
 I discovered NaBloPoMo (National Blog post Month)  through  Vonnie at   and I will (really really try to)  post a blog every day this month.

 NaBloPoMo - November 1st

  • I have 4 bicycles. All but one were bought for me by my lovely husband, because one bike can not do all things (apparently).
  • My guilty pleasure is..............OK pleasures are...  Neil Diamond, Green and Blacks, sweet and salty popcorn and John Lewis Oxford Street (on my own no purchase necessary).  
  • I make my tea with 2 teabags...always.
  • I love to travel which is inhibited only by my fear of flying !!! I once flew to Italy and came back by train. It really does get in the way. I am desperate to go to Australia but fear we may have to emigrate!
  • I have still not watched series 1 of Homeland, we have the box set but we also have The Little Sleep Thief.
  • I used to think I was a morning person until my mornings started at 5am (see above).
  • I was born on Christmas Day which is quite often forgotten, only once by my own parents though ;)
  • I nearly lost my daughter to meningitis and my youngest when he was born. My children are  precious. 
  • This was my first post Time to send the change of address cards, we are no longer in a long distance marriage. Hooray !
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Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Night of Hope

We carved our pumpkin in the shape of a heart and it is lit in a symbol of hope for children living in fear.
click on the link to find out more, to read Sylvia's story and see what you can do to get involved.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Mummy v Iggle Piggle


I fear that Iggle Piggle may be my toddler's new hero.
Long before we had the pleasure of a daily dose of In the Night Garden, Iggle Piggle had already made an impact on my youngest son. A friend had given him an Iggle Piggle figure that she always kept in her handbag in case we should need to distract my son long enough to finish our coffee, cake and chat, it was just the right size for his little hand and when we made the big move a couple of months  ago she gave him the figure as a parting gift lest I should ever forget our coffee and cake mornings.
Iggle Piggle then took residence in my handbag, at first coming out to play only when required; when we were stuck in traffic, in the supermarket etc but gradually he made it out of my handbag permanently and has unrivaled top toy status.
All of this is really not such a big deal, we all sit together and watch an episode of the slightly irritating but oddly hypnotic 'In the Night Garden' before our toddler goes to bed and we know almost all the names of the characters and it is actually the calmest time in the house, the only time that our a whirling dervish sits down for any length of time.
So what's the problem?
Our lovely little boy has lot of words, like most children his age he can say ; 'dog', 'duck', 'dadda', 'car', -perhaps quite unusually 'yellow car' (this doesn't actually mean 'yellow car' just means we're in the car and he's seen a car, copying a car game the others play) and 'all gone',  he can say, 'moo',' roar', 'ruff ruff' and a whole host of other animal and vehical noises and 'Iggle Piggle' but not mummy. or mama or mum (unless he's really crying and everything sounds like 'maaaamaaamaaaa'). If we point at a picture of me he says... nothing.... sometimes dada...but generally nothing. I don't have any great concerns about his language development but I would really like to hear him call me by name ! I've heard that toddlers don't know that we are entirely separate entities, which makes sense as we've only had one full day apart since he's been born, perhaps it's because I'm the one who's mostly with him so it's me doing the naming, though I do tend to refer to myself in the third person (obviously not in general, just in my toddler's company !!) and others have said that the /m/ sound can be a tricky to acquire. It will come I'm sure...I'm very impatient that's all and if I'm honest just a bit jealous of Iggle Piggle. What's he got that I haven't?
The fact is that I should be grateful to Iggle Piggle, My youngest is better known as The Little Sleep Thief, but last night he slept (almost) through the night, which is AMAZING. On Sunday we purchased a glow in the dark bedtime Iggle Piggle, who wears pyjamas and plays tunes and has yet to be thrown out of the cot (unlike EVERY other soft toy and comforter we've tried). We bought him in the desperate hope that with the company of Iggle Piggle through night, he might not need my company so much.  I can't be sure he's the reason for last night's sleep improvement but I won't be confiscating Iggle Piggle any time soon. I'll put my issues with the peculiar big blue teddy aside and I'll take a solid 8 hours sleep with gratitude and say a begrudging 'Thank you' Iggle Piggle.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Why I Love Half Term

Beautiful light on the river
At 2 am this morning I was so grateful that it was half term. I couldn't believe it was possible that our toddler's sleep could get even worse but since the clock change it has and he has taken to waking up and screaming at the top of his little lungs every hour of the night. But last night it wasn't a disaster as I knew that this morning we could stay in our pj's and do nothing but play and drink tea all day.....if we wanted to. As it was nobody did, it was the most amazing sunny autumnal  day and everyone wanted to go out and  pick pumpkins and have a walk so that's what we've done. It was the best morning I've had in a long time, the light was AMAZING and we had loads of fun.

Pumpkins picked at our local farm 
We all enjoyed choosing our pumpkins. We visited a local farm and they had hundreds to choose from, different varieties shapes and sizes. While the older two deliberated about the perfect size and shape of pumpkin required for their carved creations, my youngest enjoyed running around the barn chatting to the staff, the whole experience was great, we will always buy direct from the growers in future. We don't 'celebrate' Halloween but we do like carving pumpkins and I've chosen a crown variety myself this year as I'll be carving a pumpkin too in support of World Vision's charity campaign ''Every Child Free From Fear'' 

An unexpected geocache find under an oak tree

We then went for a walk at a nearby nature reserve. It is definitely jumper weather, but the sun was warm and the light was amazing. We hadn't planned to, but we decided to do a quick geocache search and we found one not to far away hidden under an oak tree.

I have a stick and  new wellies, will find mud!

Following the storm  it was pretty muddy in places which was great news for our youngest as he has just acquired new wellies. After a lot of searching I eventually found a pair in a tiny size 3 and we all wanted to see them christened today. Which they well and truly were. There were a few little falls too so it was not just the wellies that got muddy!

All in all a perfect half term day.

Happy children = happy Mummy

Oh and did I mention we went for cake and hot chocolate after
too? ........

Thursday, 24 October 2013

What Will Our Little Sleep Thief Make of the Clock Change on Sunday ? Any Tips?

We have a good bedtime routine, a well loved (by me), 'Ewan the Dream Sheep', blankies and an impressive assortment of cuddly toys, not to mention our fair share of well thumbed baby sleep guides. We've been referred to a sleep clinic in the past and we have spent months getting our youngest to sleep better without letting him cry. These days at nearly 17 months old his sleep is much improved but he still wakes 2/3 times a night, not ideal but tolerable at least, I no longer feel like my head is full of cotton wool, we have not been late for school so far this term (this is a great achievement believe me) and I can generally hold an adult conversation without forgetting what I'm going to say mid-sentence. I am also no longer entirely dependent on coffee to get through the each day.

Then I was reminded that the clocks go back this weekend and in my experience this is never great news for baby and toddler bedtimes. However I was reassured to hear that babies sleep better in the winter months as the light levels are more conducive to natural sleep rhythms.  There is hope then that Our Little Sleep Thief may take this on board and start sleeping even better........Like I say there is hope!!

I discovered 'the gro company' have some great tips for preparing your child for when the clocks go back. But sadly I fear I may have discovered these a little late as they advise starting  two weeks prior to the clock change, by making your child's bedtime later by 10 minutes every other night. That way when the clocks do go back they are already going to bed an hour later. Sorted!

I have only two nights left now before the change, so I'll experiment and make bedtime half an hour later each night and see if that works. It's worth a try.

They also recommend that you have a an active day on the Saturday before and the Sunday after.......not such great news for us again. We have a 4 hour car journey this Saturday, an overnight in a hotel and a 4 hour journey back on Sunday which means disrupted naps, disrupted bedtimes and potential cabin (or car) fever! All in all I think we may not have planned very well for this potential disruption to our fragile sleep situation.

Remember the days when the clocks going back was just brilliant news because you got that extra delicious hour in bed? It's a vague and distant memory here. I've said before that both of my sons are reliably early risers, 6 am is a lie in, 5 am is the common start time to our day..........sinking feeling.......this potentially means that over the next week I may be doing some gentle persuasion that 4 am really is not time to get up, 'IT'S STILL THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!'

Thankfully the Australian Parenting site Kidspot have reassuring news: 'Generally it takes about a week after the clocks have changed for everyone, no matter what age, to be in a new sleeping pattern so try to have patience if you have a tired and grumpy child on your hands in the days after the time change.' So after 17 months of sleep deprivation and 10 years of 5 am starts I am sure we will survive one week of adjustment. As my husband is at home after years of working away during the week, at least we can share the early mornings and the distracting of 'tired grumpy' children. Next year I will plan it better too!

What about you? Have you prepared your baby or toddler for the clock change this weekend? Have you any hints and tips for me and other parents? I'd love to hear your thoughts about changing to and from daylight saving time. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?

Rainy Day Walks and Connecting with Nature.

collecting acorns

It really is time to get children to turn off the TV set and get outside this autumn. Last week the RSPB published findings from their three year research project which showed an alarming disconnect between children and nature. This has implications for both childhood and for the future of nature. I love to get outdoors with my children, but really I have my husband to thank for that. As a child I didn't have many opportunities to connect with nature and explore the great outdoors, it's something I've grown to enjoy as an adult through a love of running, cycling and walking. If I'm honest I'm still a bit risk averse and would rather be the parent at the bottom of the tree that half way up it, but I love our outdoor adventures and I love that my children do too.

Autumn is here, the weather is cooler and wetter and so begins the switch from days out to days in. But actually there's no more exciting time to tog up and get outdoors especially as colder months can be an expensive time with children. I'm all for an afternoon at a museum, swimming pool or soft play but why not explore what's on your doorstep for free? A few years ago on a winter walk my daughter said to me  'I always think I don't want to go for a walk when we're at home, but once we're out I love it'. So now I never doubt that they'll enjoy it even if there's a grumble or two before we leave the house. 

take a spotter's guide to identify trees, insects, birds and flowers
 As parents it is us that need to encourage children to spend time outdoors and the easiest way is to enjoy it with them.  Project Wild Thing, a campaign to get children off their sofas and out in 'the wild', has some great ideas if you're stuck for inspiration. It has activities that last from just 30 minutes to ones that will last a whole day and The British Heart Foundation  has a list of tips for getting active and keeping healthy through play too. Apart from the obvious benefits of adopting a healthier lifestyle and raising awareness of our natural environment, enjoying the great outdoors can have a positive impact on your family life and relationships. At a time when parents find it increasingly hard to engage in play at home, with all the many distractions of technology and the pressures of modern living, getting outdoors can be an opportunity to enjoy time together. It enables conversation and shared experiences and it could be a great way to get together with grandparents and friends and a good way to make happy childhood memories along the way.

tree's for mums and dads too!

Here are my easy tips for enjoying the great outdoors this Autumn

'There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing'.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
  • Wear the right clothes for the weather, then you can get wet and muddy and still have fun.
  • Take a drink, kid's camelbaks are great or take a flask of hot chocolate for you all to share.
  • Use a bucket or container to collect fallen conkers, leaves and acorns etc.
  • Print a map or draw a simple map for younger children and let them lead a walk. 
  • Make a sheet of things to spot, or take a spotter's guide from Usborne Books.
  • Take photographs of insects and plants and put them in a scrap book instead of picking them. 
  • Respect the countryside and others by following The Countryside Code.
  • Consider a back carrier, that way little legs can rest when the need to and you can stay out longer.
  • Take paper and crayons if it's dry for bark and leaf rubbings and drawings.
  • Be inspired and enjoy autumn craft activities and nature boxes at home.
  • Create a home for nature, follow tips from the RSPB.
  • Rainy day? Don't stay in, put your wellies on and splash in puddles and sing rainy day songs.
  • Keep children safe especially near water and carry a basic first aid kit.
  • If you're struggling to get children away from the gadgets take a GPS or try Geocaching.

happiest a muddy puddle!

Follow my blog for our half term crafts inspired by our autumn adventures.

Click on the link below for websites we love;   

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Autumn. Nature's Playground


craft supplies,,,conkers, pine cones, acorns, leaves and sticks

Autumn is well and truly upon us and I am looking for inspiration from our growing Autumn nature collection for craft ideas to keep the children busy during half term. Everywhere we go the children are picking up leaves and conkers and  Red Ted Art has some fabulous ideas as always but my three are all at very different levels in terms of their artist and creative abilities (ranging in age from 12 years old to 17months!) so my half term craft project will take a bit of planning this year. 
We need to go on a couple more nature walks to add to our collection of conkers, acorns leaves and pine cones so that there is a good supply. I absolutely love this time of year, the colours are beautiful. Autumn really is a season to be embraced because in my opinion it's all too quickly over. Nature really does provide opportunities for exploration and adventure and if you let them children will enthusiastically engage with their natural environment at  this time of year and with such exciting materials to be found the possibilities for craft are endless. Recent studies carried out by the RSPB and The National Trust show a worrying disconnect between children and  nature, highlighted by the BBC's Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath  this week. Perhaps this revelation will encourage parents and schools to allow children to explore, enjoy and learn from nature but we have to let them get out there and experience it.
This weekend we will be out in local woodland walking through the crispy leaves, getting muddy, building dens and collecting............I can't wait.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Time to send the change of address cards, we are no longer in a long distance marriage. Hooray !

it's time to send my new address cards
It is now 8 weeks since we upped sticks and moved far far away from our lovely friends and lovely home, uprooted the children from their lovely schools and embarked on an adventure all together. It was a risk, it was a wrench, but it has paid off and I am very very relieved. So now I really MUST get on and send our change of address cards and it feels  like the perfect day to do it.
People move all the time they relocate for work, they emigrate for a better quality of life, they return to their roots to have the support of family nearby. We moved because quite frankly there was no way I could survive another year with my husband working away. Life was starting to feel like a bit of a slog. Sleep deprivation was taking its toll (my toddler is not a brilliant sleeper). I was really missing having my husband at home, his company, his help and the reassurance of another adult sharing the responsibility of day to day family life.
 Many families will understand the trials and tribulations that come when there are hundreds of miles between you and your partner, the dread of the Sunday goodbyes, the anticipation of the Friday homecoming and the immense pressure on the weekends to be perfect. Of course all of this is multiplied for those with longer periods of separation, and compounded even further for those who have to manage the additional stresses of having a partner working away where regular contact is not possible or the work is dangerous. I have the utmost admiration for those who weather such immense challenges to their family life and relationships.
For me at times it felt as though my husband was a weekend visitor, sometimes his overnight bag would never even make it out of the hall. Whilst I would love him coming home every Friday there would always be an adjustment period for us and by Saturday afternoon when we'd feel relaxed and a like family again, thoughts of Sunday would creep into my mind and I would start to dread the prospect of goodbye.
But happy days, we are together all week now, most mornings we manage breakfast together thanks to the fact that both the boys are reliably early risers and I have someone to cuddle up with on the sofa of an evening....if I wanted too. As yet we still only seem to be able to do that on a Saturday night (old habits die hard, our evenings are pretty hectic and we are both very used to our own space). It was a risk worth taking though, we survived many years living mostly apart and we love being together again at last.
 The children are enjoying their new school and are making friends, in fact they have already asked whether we might be able to stay here forever and I am making friends too, much sooner than I'd hoped. Although I miss my old friends I actually think it's much harder for the ones that stay. My brother in law and his wife and children moved to Australia last year and I felt utterly terrible for a while afterwards, they had left such a big hole in our lives. But Skype really is the most amazing invention, we can see them grow up from thousands of miles away. It was absolutely the right decision for their family too allowing a better lifestyle for their children and more time for them to be together as a family. 
It is very possible that at some time in the future work will dictate that we will need to live apart again. Of course if that time comes we will decide what is best for our family but for now we will treasure family life together and be thankful that our relationship survived the long distances for so many years. 

 Tips for Sharing Family life over Long Distances

  •  Call, email, Skype or text as much as possible. Keeping up to date with all the little day to day news is really important. Even if you can't speak daily, write a letter or send an email and include photos too, especially of children.
  •  Make each other feel special, cards, homemade Cd's, a message on a post it attached to a chocolate bar in the fridge (my favourite), flowers when it's been a tough week all make a big difference. Knowing that the other person is thinking of you even when you're apartand this works both ways.
  •  Plan ahead and make sure there are things in the calendar to look forward to. We found that having short term and long term plans make the separation feel manageable.
  • Keep busy; accept offers of help and offers of company. It can be hard not to wallow in self-pity but don't just say 'I'm fine', get to know your neighbours (most of mine were so kind) and invite friends over in the evenings (it really breaks the week up).
  •  Have lots of photos, my husband had photos of us on his desk and in his room and we had lots around the house. The baby would kiss a photo of his Daddy every night.
  • Don't forget important dates. Birthday's and anniversary's can be tough days when you're apart. Skyping during birthday tea was great for the children.
  • Wherever possible visit the work place and accomodation of the person working away. It makes it easier to  talk about daily life when you can picture where your partner is and you've met colleagues and friends there. It makes it easier for them too, having happy memories of your visits there. if that's not possible share plenty of photos.
  • Try and be positive, it can be tempting to just have a  good moan at the end of every day. Think of three good things that have happened in the day to talk about. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever share the negatives though, but it can make your partner feel helpless and guilty if that's all you talk about.
  • Try not to have BIG discussions or arguments or make important decisions over the phone or by email, if possible these should be done face to face.
  • Trust each other and remember to share time as a couple as well as a family.
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