Sunday, 31 October 2010

The National Railway Museum York

I have had a lovely day this week at the NRM in York with MadDad and the boys.  We were lucky enough to be able to meet up with Sandy and her boys too.

The NRM in York is a fantastic day out for anyone who has children, especially ones like me who have children that love trains.  As you would expect the museum is jam packed full of trains, but there is so much more to see and do, especially if it is raining.

The museum always make sure that half term and school holidays are jam packed with family events and we had great fun watching the turntable work and also listened to some great story telling too.  The boys and MadDad were looking forward to a ride on the restored replica of the Rocket, but it had broke down to had to settle to a ride on a diesel engine, but boys being boys they still enjoyed that too.

Mini was astounded that the Hogwards Express was at York too and was able to take a look in its cab, which as an avid Harry Potter fan really made his day.

Entrance to the Museum is Free and you can park all day in the car park for £7.00.  A road train runs every 30 minutes in to central York, but we spent all day in the museum on Tuesday.

There are plenty of tables for you, if you take a picnic (we always do) and a fine play area for the children outside on dryer days.  Not that the rain mattered to my boys, Mini was coming down the fireman's pole and relishing the puddle at the bottom! 

A great day out with something for everyone.


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Cooking with Children - Halloween Cakes and Biscuits

I love cooking and baking with the boys and for me the secret is letting go and dealing with the mess afterwards, plus good planning, making sure all the ingredients are out and the equipment etc.  I think that by empowering the boys to cook and bake it will stand them in good stead as they get older, plus they can start cooking dinner and feed me!

Also it might not look perfect, but I can assure you it tastes mighty fine.  So I bring you Maxi's chocolate cakes and biscuits.

Basic Biscuit Recipe

I use one without egg and it is fine if over handled, so perfect for children

175g/6oz Plain Flour
100g/4oz Butter or Margarine
50g/2oz Caster Sugar
Pre-heat oven to 180

Cream the butter or margarine and caster sugar
Stir in the flour and once mixed knead the dough together until it forms a ball
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick

Spooky Chocolate Web Cakes

6 oz margarine
6 oz caster sugar
5 oz self raising floor
1 oz coco powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
Icing Sugar
Hot water

Cream margarine and sugar
Add eggs, flour, coco powder and baking powder, then 2 tbls of milk
Cook for 15 minutes at 180 degrees.

To make the web, mix icing sugar and hot water and cover the cake.  Create a swirl in black icing (we used Silver Spoon Black Designer Icing kindly supplied by Silver Spoon) and then take a cocktail stick and drag the icing out towards the edge.

These cakes are all Maxi's own work and they looked fantastic and tasted even better!

I would like to say thank you to Silver Spoon for supplying me and the boys with some of their cake decorating goodies.

We are entering in the Big Autumn Bakeoff with this!


Friday, 29 October 2010

Build a Bear Workshop - A Boys Perspective

I think that I must have been living under a stone for the last 5 years, as I had never heard of build a bear workshop and I wasn't sure that it would be something that the boys would be interested in.  I couldn't have been more wrong.
We went to the Build a Bear Workshop at the Metro centre and I have to say I have not seen Mini as animated over something, as he was about building and making his own bear.
We were aided on our bear making quest by the wonderful Jade and she really did make the experience wonderful for the boys.  Not only was nothing too much trouble, but see made sure that she remembered the boys names and she got down to their level to talk with them.

Mini unsurprisingly chose a star wars bear and a Darth Vader outfit and was ever so serious about kissing his bears heart and making his wish (just take a look at the video)!  Maxi surprised me by choosing a lovely looking bear and dressing it in an outfit he chose too.

My Mum came with us too and she purchased a set of pajamas for each of the boys bears and they are both cuddling them in bed tonight.  We had a wonderful experience and I wold like to say thank you to Estelle at Publicasity for arranging for us to visit Build a Bear, you really did make the boys half term.


Sunday, 24 October 2010


Sometimes I feel as though I don't know quite where I fit in this universe.
Almost as though I am living in a dream or dreaming of the world I am living in.
I wake often unable to tell the difference from real life and the dreams I must have had.
Unable to find things, as I must have put them away on in dream state.
A sudden sense of deja vu overtakes a moment, haven't I done this before?
but where and when?
Am I just going through the motions?

How do I tell the difference between the actual and the perceived?
I want to wake up and make the most of the day.
To grasp the precious time with both hands and squeeze it dry.
To live a worthwhile life.
But how do I do this, what is goal, where is the end line?

I though once out of the monotony of dirty nappies and night feeds,
I would start to see the difference in the days.
But sometimes I feel that I am in a hamsters wheel,
forced to live out everyday again and again and again.
Maybe this is why I find some much joy in the changing seasons.
In the small things that fill my day.


Friday, 22 October 2010

Autumn Craft and Activity Ideas

With the weather getting colder, now is the time to make some plans about activities and crafts you can do on the darker evenings to keep your children occupied and keep.

My friend Becky at Baby Budgeting has produced her first ebook which is jam packed full of 50 ideas of things to do with under 5's in Autumn on a budget.  I have a copy and it is a great resource for when you are struggling for ideas.  Click here to get your copy best of all it is only £1.50.

You could also do some marble painting, which doesn't have to be messy.  Why not have a go at making your own wrapping paper or make a start on some Bonfire arts and crafts

Wax reilef panting is always good fun and you could leave some secret messages for your children to discover.   Have fun making Chicken cards with your children.

You can make Autumn collages either with collecting leaves or if it is too wet you can colour in some pre printed ones.  Use masking tape to make a boarder round your little ones paintings or drawings, it is remarkable effective.

So there are some ideas of things to do on this half term break and over Autumn, I would love for you to link your ideas too.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Gallery - Red, what every girl needs

When I am feeling down or low, I pop on a pair of red shoes (yes I have more than one pair) and they immediately brighten my day.

Do you have something that always make you feel better?


Sunday, 17 October 2010

11 Years ago Today

It was 6.30 am when the telephone rang, my first thought was who in earth could be calling at this time and punched MadDad to answer the phone (as it was on his side of the bed).

He did and then time just stood still. He turned to me as white as a sheet and with the words "there has been an accident, your Dad is in hospital. We need to leave now" the day stood still.

We lived in Berkshire at the time and my dad was in Middlesbrough General Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit over 320 miles away.  We got dressed, put the cats in their basket and drove stopping on the way to ring both works and explain that we were on the way to see my father.

We also had to make a call to The Mormon Temple at Preston as my brother was due to start his 2 year mission and we needed him to come and see dad too.

The journey home has never seemed so long and I have never ever played the CD again that played that day.

We got to the hospital before noon to find out that my mum had been with my father since the previous evening and that he was in an enforced coma, under heavy sedation and he had also been given drugs to paralyse him.

Everyday we went to the hospital to help with his care, hold his hand, read the paper to him and just chat.  I learned to shave him and got used to seeing him with all the wires and tubes and even the ventilator going in to his neck rather than his mouth.  I know what all the monitors meant and also what medication he was on.  We all waited with hope.

Until the morning of 4th November, when we made the heartbreaking decision to turn off the ventilator due to the consultants advice as my dad had sepsis. He never regained consciousness.    He died less than two minutes later in my mums, mine and MadDad's arms.  My brother couldn't watch and had just left the room.  

11 years ago today, I lost my father (rather than the day he died), the man I idolised and loved with every breath I took.  I miss him more every day.  I wish he could have met the boys, we named Maxi after him and I know he would love them just as much as I do.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Encouraging Children to be Walkers

In an homage blatant copying of Chris at Thinly Spread, I bring you our favorite weekend Autumn Walk.  Now I am pretty lucky in the once the boys get started on a walk they love them and often it is MadDad and I who start back first.

We live in a very beautiful part of the country and are blessed to have fantastic countryside on our doorstep.  We live 200 yards away from a wonderful wooded area which is on The Cleveland Way.

So making the most of a dry day, we decided to set off on an adventure this afternoon.

I am not sure if it is a boy thing, but they always find something to do when we are in the woods, treed to play on and climb.

It is such a magical place and there is a beck that runs through the bottom of the valley, which the boys adore splashing in. 

They often wonder how the railway viaduct was build and how all the bricks got down to the valley bottom (by horseback).

With all the rain we have had the beck was rather fast flowing today, although neither of the boys fell in, which is a good result!

There has also been far too much rain to collect any of the leaves, they were very slippy underfoot.

There are lots of ways to encourage children to walk, but one of the boys favorites is to draw a map and follow it, alternatively you could also get a making tracks map, we have the North Yorkshire Moors set and they are excellent.
We try and always take out camera and also collect things too.  I came back with a pocket full of pine cones today.

Take inspiration to make an autumn tree, you done need to collect the leaves if they are wet as you can print some off and colour them in.

We have a great book all about trees and what type they are and the boys love looking at that too.

I would love to hear your ideas for encouraging your children to be walkers and enjoy the great outdoors.


Thursday, 14 October 2010

It would have never happened with a PFB (Precious First Born)

I have a confession to make, it is time to clean my soul.  Maxi loves Hot Chocolate and had fennel tea as a baby, well Mini he loves coffee, yes coffee.  Last year when Maxi started school Mini and I would visit a coffee shop once a week when we took my mum to hospital and our treat was a decaf latte and Mini would always love to drink my foam and finish the coffee and now you guessed it, decaf latte is his drink of choice!

So this got me thinking, what other things did I do differently with Mini, than I did with Maxi (15 months age gap).

Dummy - I always re sterilised Maxi's with Mini's if dropped I just popped it back in my mouth!
Secondhand - I soon learned second hand didn't mean second best!
Having a feeding chart - yes I had one for Maxi!
Thermometer in the nursery (didn't even have a nursery for Mini, he was in with us for 9 months whist we rented).
I strapped Maxi in to the swing with mini I just used to place him in it
I used to warm Maxi's milk in hot water, with Mini it was the microwave each and every time!
I had a separate kettle to boil the water for Maxi's bottle.
I used to make sure Maxi's bib matched his outfit.

The thing is a love him just as much, it is just I relaxed a little, plus I didn't have enough time to be as precocious as there is only 15 months between the boys.

So what are your parenting secrets?


Move along, nothing to see!



Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Gallary - My Current Favorite Photo

I love lots of photo's and favorite choice changes with my mood, the time of day and well the month, year and all that jazz too.

At the moment my favorite photo is not one I took, but one that Mrs W from Clinically fed Up took when we were at The Mad Awards.  I love it because it captures the whirlwinds that are my boys.

Then I have my second favorite one, why well this is because it captures all of us Mads, happy laughing and generally having fun.

And you see that is the beauty of an image, it is a snap shot, a trigger of a memory, a certain moment in time, which is precious for a certain reason and even more precious at certain times.  

For me at the moment, it is my boys, my family that is getting me through each day and night, so they are my favorite and my best (as Lola would say)!

See more favorites over at this weeks Gallery


Friday, 8 October 2010

What do you do when your children are bright?

All children are unique, they are wonderful souls and a joy to be around.  But what do you do when your children are bright?  Maxi and Mini are both above average when it comes to intelligence.  I say this not as a smug mum, but as a concerned mum.  My aim for my children is and always has been happiness, for them to take life in both hands and enjoy it.  But this last week I have experienced something I never have before, Maxi has not wanted to go to school, as it is boring.

So MadDad and I decided that it was time that I spoke to his new teacher and discussed what could we all do to help and an appointment was made.  I am lucky enough to have a couple of really great twitter friends who have been available to advise me on life with bright children, the wonderful Chris at Thinly Spread and also working with bright children, Julia from What will Julia Do Next?and The Heads Office.

This cleverness is not something I discuss with many people in real life, as I don't want to Maxi to be labeled or for that matter be to be labeled as a smug, self centred mother who pushes her children, but it is becoming an issue.  The few parents who go into school and read with the children have already approached me about his reading skills and one mum asked me if he was a genius (erm no, he is a 5 year old)!  I have struggled to find an outlet for my fears and concerns as I don't want them to come across as a boasting or over proud mother, who can only define herself by her children's achievements or in the slight competitive about education, which I certainly am not.

But the fact of the matter is that Maxi not being challenged meant he was board and that mean he didn't want to go to school, which in turn meant he and I wasn't happy.  So I felt I had to take this in hand and deal with it and it that means Maxi being labeled as gifted and talented then so be it.  I am concerned for the here and now, we can deal with next years education when it comes around.  I need him to want to go to school now and moving him up a year is not the solution in my eyes.  He is 5 years old, he has the social skills of a five year old and he needs to learn to deal with his talents and also with his peers to become part of their group.

So it was with great trepidation I went to meet Mr P, Maxi's teacher.  I was keen for Maxi not to become know as the pushy mothers son and lots of other analogies, but truth is, he is clever and advanced in both mathematics and literacy.

I am pleased to say it was a great meeting and I was also delighted to realise that Maxi's talents had already been picked up on and that action was going to be taken to keep him more involved and challenged throughout the school year.  We agreed on an interim action plan for the next couple of weeks (until Parent Evening) and I came home with a new reading book for Maxi (bought by his wonderful teacher) and a much better feeling about sending my child off to school.

We also made the decision that Maxi was not going to remain in the AFA (Achievement For All) scheme and would rather be moved in to a special maths group with the older children, which will be finalised over the next couple of weeks.

We are lucky in that Maxi is great at sport and hope that he can use this as an outlet to help get through school without sticking out as the clever one or the nerd.  It was how MadDad managed his intelligence and maybe Maxi and one day Mini can do the same.

I feel so much more relieved know that we are putting a plan of action in play for Maxi.  For the next couple of weeks he will be focusing on his writing ability, to enable him to move and be taught with different classes as he needs to be.  He will be focusing on spellings of tricky words, rather than reading (which he is fine with) and also some of the mathematics from later in the year, until his teacher gets his personal learning plan in place in time for parents evening before the end of term.

I am happy to say that Mini's needs are being catered for as he has Maxi's teacher from last year, the delectable Mrs S and she is one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure to meet.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

I have moved!

Virtually that is, to

Please come and join me.

I would also love it if you could change my links in any blog rolls etc I have been lucky enough to be added to.

Thanks for taking this journey with me.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Finallaly getting a Diagnosis and learning to live with it

Over the last year or so I have been pretty under the weather.  I have been constantly shattered, had major issues with my bowels and been in and out of hospital for numerous tests including scans, x-rays, a barium follow through and blood transfusions.

Yesterday I was finally given a diagnosis.  I have Crohns Disease, which although isn't curable, but it is treatable and hopefully I will go into remission once the right treatment balance is reached.  The Crohns explains why I am anemic and also low in B12, so dependant on blood results I will have either an iron infusion or blood transfusion next week (hopefully) and also a B12 injection and we will see how I progress and my options going forward will be discussed with the consultant at my next visit in a month of so's time.

The crohns diagnosis explains most of my symptoms, but not he acute pain I have in my shoulder and chest at times and also the pretty constant feeling of nausea, however, we have also discovered I have giant para esophageal hernia (which in all likelihood has been with me since birth), but with pregnancies and my mastectomy surgery may have moved to create these symptoms.  This is going to require surgery, however, I need to have a much higher hemoglobin level before this can take place.

My illness has had a pretty big impact on family life, but now we know what it is, we can take steps to treat it and I am very relieved that it isn't bowel cancer (which due to the BRCA gene I have a higher risk of).  It will also mean postponing any reconstructive surgery until after my para esophageal hernia surgery, which is a little upsetting.

However, we have come though much worse than this and I will get though, no we will get through this as a family.

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