Reaching out of my comfort zone…

I’ve been trying to decide what to do once this academic year has finished as my job is only temporary. H starts school in September and I want to be able to support him as best as I can through what will be a big transition. Lots of things have crossed my mind; I’ve been looking into retraining as an Early Years practitioner but I’ve struggled to find a night course that will fit around our life and I’ve been told I’m over qualified! As a PE teacher, I have a love for sports, and have previously trained as a Gym Instructor and Netball coach, so I’ve looked into training to become a Personal Trainer, but decided against this (for now anyway). BUT after having a conversation with my sister in law back in December, she said something that got my creative juices flowing and a few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge ! After some research into my options locally and further afield, I finally settled on the course I wanted.

19th February

After 1hour and 40 minutes, I arrived (late!) to Hick’s Lodge, Ashby-de-la-zouch for my course; a Level 3 Forest School Leader course! (Well there you have it)

Im really looking forward to getting suck in. It will open a lot of doors for me both as a teacher or possibly as my own business venture; anyway……

As with all courses, the first hour or so was spent getting to know the rest of the group, and wow, what a lovely group we are! Now, I love a bit of banter and thankfully Dave our trainer has truckloads (http://davechurchward.wixsite.com/littleacornsoutdoors), he made the minutes whizz by and the learning fun! On the first day, we learned how to build a fairy house, I say learned, it was all my childhood imagination brought out in 10 minutes.  I can also now use a bowsaw AND a pair of loppers (including tool talks, these are fun to say!), do a clove hitch knot and I created this beautiful star which is now firmly on our front door.

20th February

After being frazzled on day one, the fun was set to continue again. Today we started the day with woodland pictures after learning loads yesterday, such fun to get creative using the resources around us.  Today was BILLHOOKS and more knots.  Billhooks are initially a little bit terrifying as your partner is whacking a massive stick down onto the thin blade you’re holding, but we got the job done and managed another tool talk with minimal mistakes (I hope!). My knot repertoire is building: clove hitch, timber hitch, trucker hitch, alpine butterfly (although now renamed alpine bunny by the lovely Ruth!) and a quick release knot for putting up shelters.

21st February

Wednesday, hump day; the most exciting day so far: FIRE and KNIVES! The day started off recapping the high, low and kit shelters we almost managed yesterday, but as the group were so frazzled yesterday it was like flogging a dead horse for Dave (sorry!) So after shelters, we moved onto sheath knives.  Not as daunting as the billhooks, but fun none the less.  Another tool talk to master (although I think we’re all pro’s now!). After learning how to use the sheath knife and making my own tent peg, I can firmly say that whittling is just not for me! I tried, but I just don’t have the patience, I think its the sportsperson in me, I need instant results! After some foraging in the woods (who knew there was so much stuff to find!), we MADE FIRE.  I really enjoyed building up my little fire, and obviously starting it successfully was real good fun! I’m looking forward to getting my own fire starter and searching the woodland for materials (I’ve already spotted a bunch of silver birch trees with my name on!).

22nd February

We’ll just call this OVERLOAD day.  Lots of reflection and some overwhelmed ladies today, but cook out Thursday helped.  Ruth’s delicious sausages, Heather’s yummy cakes and some incredible looking chocolate orange brownies from Livi and Lucy, although foolishly I gave up all the good stuff for lent, so no cakes/chocolate for me today. Donna and Lois were the fire queens today manning the cooking almost all afternoon (thanks!). I attempted to make some pancakes, but didn’t quite manage it. Next time I’ll keep it simple.

Tonight I stayed in a local hotel as I was shattered from the long commute, unfortunately it wasn’t the idyllic evening I had planned, but I did manage to make a start on some work on the portfolio and sneak a wee 3 miler in as I need to get back on track with my challenges (see previous post here: Challenges).

23rd February

Our final day 🙁 we got the Kelly Kettle on for a cuppa (or now renamed BREW), I foraged for fire making materials, and then we had a wonderful reflection activity on how we’ve felt the week has gone, and how confident we felt when we were doing all the activities.  An interesting task, one I could see working really well with Year 7 and Year 11 students.

On the whole, I can honestly say that I haven’t done a course as tough as this one, nor have I done a course with such a lovely bunch of people.  I am really looking forward to completing the course especially as I know my other 12 lovely ladies (and Dave!) have got my back (Abi, Donna, Heather, Heidi, Jacqui, Jen, Livi, Lois, Lucy, Mandy, Ruth, and Sally). Looking forward to seeing you all again soon and if not, good luck with your portfolio and assessments. You can do it!

We are one!

Well I can’t actually believe that I started this ‘bit of fun’ almost a whole year ago! I’m still enjoying having a go at blogging, but I would really like to up my game for 2018.  Yes I know we are now (almost) in February, but here are some aims and desires for the blog for 2018. I would really love to:

  1. Increase my followers on Instagram to 200.
  2. Blog at least once a fortnight.
  3. Post twice a week on the Facebook / Instagram pages.
  4. Apply to become a QBlogger.
  5. Increase my followers on Facebook to 150.

This year I want to take more photos of us a family and I’m hoping to take part in the #meandmineproject each month (reminder to do it tonight!).  The ‘Me and Mine Project‘ is an incentive to do more family portraits, on the last day of each month you publish a family photo.  This is the one thing we are rubbish at, they’re always just of the children!  I have started to keep track of my reading challenge a bit more by using the hashtag #awooereads2018.  I really surprised myself last year with the number of books I read and I’m enjoying trying some new ones so far this year.  The fitness challenge is still going well-ish, so I am hopeful I will keep this one going for the year and when the nights start getting a bit lighter, it will be easier to motivate myself to get out running in the evenings!

Honestly, sometimes finding a. the content, and b. the time to post can be difficult but I do enjoy it, but the most nerve racking part of it all is knowing people might not like what I have written.  I am by no means a ‘writer’, I have a basic B in GCSE English, so I am definitely not the most eloquent blogger around, and the suspect the grammar police would have afield day on my ramblings; BUT I am passionate about what I write and it comes from the heart.  This sounds very cheesy, but when I receive comments on the website, Facebook page or Instagram page, they really do make me smile.

So……..watch the Facebook page and follow us on Instagram for an amazing collaborative giveaway coming up in February………!!

Bullet Journalling for 2018

I really want to utilise my bullet journal more this year.  Towards the end of 2017, I started to just fill bits in for the sake of it.  I wrote a post back in December (link here) about which pages I had enjoyed doing, what I’d like to take forward into 2018, and trying some new things.

I’ve started 2018 with a new lust for the ‘Bullet Journal’ and have found myself a quick weekly layout which I am trialling for this half term.  It takes about 20 minutes to draw it out which isn’t too long.  I’ve started adding my meal ideas to the weekly page, as well as trying to keep track of my fitness / exercise, and a fortnight in, I’m still keeping up!  I’m a firm believer that if you can sustain something for a month, it will usually stick! I often trawl Pinterest for ideas on how to jazz up my handwriting and titles as well as pretty doodles I can add.  If you want ideas, take a look back at my previous posts or the Hayley From Home has some lovely pages.

               

I’m a real list maker and find keeping a diary / to do list really helps me stay organised.  I’ve found the bullet journal really helpful in penning my desires for 2017 and 2018 for both our family, myself and this blog. One of my favourite things to refer to throughout the year is the ‘Bucket List’; sadly, we didn’t manage all the things on the list last year, not by a long shot, but it is good to have dreams, and some of those are back on the list for 2018. 

               

I started out my bullet journal with a plain notebook and some 99p fine liners from Wilkinson’s, after a few months, I upgraded and purchased myself a dotted Leuchtturm 1917 Journal and a pack of 20 Staedtler trip plus fine liners.  For a while, I’ve been lusting at some wash tape and a Faber Castell PITT artist pens, so I took the plunge last week! My Faber Castell pens arrived today as did my Washi tape.  I’m not sure what I’m going to use the Washi tape for yet, but it certainly looks pretty! A bruce bonus of stumping up £2.99 for my Faber Castell black pen, was they randomly sent me a packet of 10 instead, whoop!

For those who want to give Bullet Journalling a go, here are my top five buys:

  1. Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook – I prefer dotted as it gives more flexibility for drawing.
  2. Staedtler Tri plus fineliners – I have a pack of 20, I only bought these because they weren’t much more than the pack of 10!
  3. Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen – Black
  4. Pretty Washi tape – I think I might use mine to edge a couple of my well used pages.
  5. More pretty Washi Tape – Again, not sure where this is going to go!

HAPPY JOURNALLING!

New Year, New Me….

I don’t think I’ve ever made a new year’s resolution, so I don’t intend to start now; they feel a bit like I’m depriving myself something; BUT, I’ve decided to set myself some new year ‘challenges’. These challenges are for me and nobody else as to be quite honest, I’m quite happy with ‘me‘ right now. My mind is happy, we have a good life, I love my family and our time together.

I really enjoyed my (albeit slightly meagre) reading challenge last year so I’m going to do another one this year and I really want to get fitter similar to that of before I had my children, so I have THREE challenges this year:

1. READING – I set about trying to read 12 books last year and I surpassed that by eventually getting through 20 books. With that in mind, I’m aiming for 25 books this year which seems quite a tall order. I’m currently reading ‘Sue Perkins – Spectacles’ (sent to me by the lovely Hayley From Home), which is entertaining, but I think I prefer my romance novels and crime thrillers. My ‘to read’ list currently looks like this (in no particular order):

1. Eleanor Oliphant is Consistently Fine by Gail Honeyman

2. 16th Seduction by James Patterson

3. Cross the Line by James Patterson

4. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

5. Dummy by Matt Coyne (basically the make version of Sarah Turner aka the ‘Unmumsy Mum’)

6. My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

7. The Versions of Us – Laura Barnett

8. The Girl Friend – Michelle Francis

9. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

2. FITNESS – spurred on my friends and family who are getting back into running, I want to get out more. I enjoy running and love to see progress, but I often find myself lacking motivation to get out in the evenings once my husband is home and the children are bathed and in bed. People often say I must be ‘fit’ because of my job (I’m a PE teacher) and yes my job is ‘active’ but I don’t do much running or training at work, I’m just on my feet a lot doing what I call pottering about and sometimes after being out in the rain all day, I don’t fancy going out running in the rain too. So, my fitness challenge for 2018 is to run a sub 50min 10k. In fact, the race is in 10 weeks so I haven’t got long to get my butt in gear but I’m hoping the fact that BOTH my sister and brother are running it will spur me on. We all seem to be horrendously competitive so the race is on (literally!). And after banking a run this evening with a meagre 5:46m per km, I definitely need to get the miles in!

3. RUNNING – similar to my reading challenge, I want to try and run a certain number of miles before we see in 2019 (jeepers, that seems so far in the future!). I think with working part time, looking after the children, keeping up playing my netball that 500 miles for the year is a reasonable target. It works out at just less than 10 miles a week which I think is more than enough for me and it will be quite the challenge! To help me track my miles, I’ve set about using my trusty bullet journal to count the miles. 

 

Wish me luck!!

Balancing, Books and Bakes

It seems apt in the run up to Christmas that I spend some time to share with you what we’ve been up to lately and what I’m planning for 2018. I set myself a reading challenge at the beginning of 2017 and I want to try a new challenge or challenges for 2018! I think being a little competitive, I prefer a challenge. I like the idea of a bigger reading challenge as well as a fitness challenge.  Do you have any challenges/targets you’d like to set for 2018?

READING:

As I have already mentioned, I set myself a reading challenge for 2017, which was to read 12 books in 12 months.  Miraculously, I managed to hit the target and surpass it back in October, and I am current;y searching for book 18 to start. Despite having a large ‘to read’ pile and an uninspiring trip to the library this morning, I am still struggling to pick one. Naturally, suggestions are welcome! I have finished work for Christmas so I have a bit more time than usual to read, although the current 0530 starts from the children aren’t allowing much bedtime reading at the moment, Zzzzzz.  Here’s a list of my reads so far:

  1. Hurrah for Gin, Katie Kirby: a lighthearted book on the trials and tribulations of being a Mum.  I laughed out loud and really enjoyed this book.  If you’re after a giggle this Christmas, this could be a purchase for you, or wife/partner.
  2. Shopaholic to the Rescue, Sophie Kinsella: I’m a bit of a sucker for a Sophie Kinsella book and this one didn’t disappoint.  I’ve read all the books in the ‘Shopaholic’ series, and I would recommend you read them first as it sets the scene, although not essential.
  3. Hope to Die, James Patterson: Again I am an avid James Patterson reader, although I am way behind on the Women’s Murder Club series! I find the short and sweet chapters really easy to read and a fantastic help when I’m often forced to put down the book and pick back up another day.  Book three was a bit of struggle for me as it took a while to get through, in fact, I was already well into month four by the time I’d finished this.
  4. Scummy Mummies, Ellie Gibson & Helen Thorn: Yet another ‘Mum’ read, and again an easy read with yet more crazy tales from Motherhood.
  5. Cross Justice, James Patterson: Shock! Another JP book, similar to Book three, this one is part of the ‘Alex Cross’ collection which are wonderful.  They are up to the mid twenties and they’re all still amazing.  James Patterson really is a wonderful writer, well I think so anyway.
  6. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness: My tutor group at school (yes I take reading advice from 15 year olds!) suggested this one, and my two lovely friends Hayley (hayleyfromhome) and Kat (bookwormandtheatremouse) seemed to agree that Patrick Ness was a good read. It was a lovely book, but I was not prepared AT ALL for the tearjerker ending! (a little prep if you decide to read it, although might have just ruined it!).
  7. The One Plus One, Jojo Moyes: A Jojo convert after reading this book.  A really lovely tale, and although I could see how it might end, the story was beautifully written with some twists and turns along the way.
  8. One With You, Sylvia Day: Similar to  the Christian Grey stories, this one wasn’t the best book, but I got through it.
  9. The Queen of Wishful Thinking, Milly Johnson: I’ve never read a Milly Johnson book before and I don’t know what drew me to this book in my Amazon order.  I think its the colourful front cover, I know the saying, never judge a book by its cover, but I am a sucker for brightly coloured front cover; they always seem a bit more appealing. I’m trying to do better and read the back before I discount them now.  This was a beautiful and eloquently written story, a romance novel if you will.  I do love a good ‘boy meets girl’ story.
  10. The First Time Mums’ Club, Lucie Wheeler: I grabbed this off the ‘new books’ shelf at the library and after failing to get on with a few books, this one grabbed me.  Was a fun story about becoming a Mum for the first time.  No motherhood tales in this one, but just a lovely story about making new friends during pregnancy.   I am super lucky to have such wonderful friends, and amazingly we all have children the same age!
  11. Sunshine at Wildflower Cottage, Milly Johnson: I seem to be a creature of habit and often try and read books by the same author.  This was such an easy and enjoyable read.  I’m getting to the point where I feel like I should probably branch out and read something a little more thought provoking, but honestly, I don;t know if my brain can manage it!
  12. Paris for One, Jojo Moyes: I was right when I said I was a Jojo convert! This was a really short story, in fact only 100 pages, so I felt a bit of a fraud calling it my 12th book.  I think there is another version of this book which has other short stories in, so it would be nice to read the others.
  13. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes: This book is so good, it is now a motion picture, which i dutifully watched yesterday in my mammoth 2.5hr present wrapping session.  If you’ve not read this, I can absolutely recommend it.  I think I preferred reading the book first and watching the film second.  It really is a moving story.
  14. After You, Jojo Moyes: I won’t lie, I preferred the first story to this one, but none the less it was still good.  An interesting read: a love story, a broken heart and a grieving heart all wrapped up into one book.
  15. Triple Threat, James Patterson: Although I have many more James Patterson books on my Kindle, I found this one on the book shelf in our church whilst attending Community Cafe. It’s actually three short stories in one book.  The first and third stories were really good, but the middle one freaked me out a little. James Patterson has a similar longer story called Zoo which also freaked me out, so I’m not sure why I continued, but I did.
  16. Almost a Bride, Jo Watson: Another find from the ‘New Book’ shelf at the library. I’ve never heard of Jo Watson and upon starting this story, I discovered she is a South African writer (the story is set in South Africa).  Heartbroken and jobless, Annie is having a bit of a dilemma so books a holiday with her girlfriends as rehab, and the story goes from there.
  17. Talk to Me, Jules Wake: After I said I was trying to be good and read the back before discounting a book.  Well I actually didn’t look at the front, it was the red spine that attracted me to this one.  It was until I got it home, did I see the front cover and I thought I’d picked up something a bit more sultry than I had anticipated.  But, it was a gorgeous romance novel instead about a girl being in love with someone she couldn’t have.

A BALANCING ACT:

I have had two children for over two years now (I know, still can’t believe it myself!), but I still struggle with the balancing act, and I’m not sure I will ever be happy! I currently work 3 days a week, and have 2 days with the children. Although H goes to pre-school in our village on both days that I am off.  I’ve really enjoyed the difference compared to last years 5 days, but I still find myself pining to fit more in or do more with the children.  It does make me wonder if I will ever be content with my work:life balance. I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a SAHM Mum, but then I wonder if I will pine for the adult conversation, solo toilet trips and the buzz of using my brain I suppose. But then I long for a slower pace of life, and I find myself constantly trying to think of new and exciting ways to entertain H and L, and would they still be happy if we’re at home more.   Do you have the right balance? 

TERRIBLE TWOS AND TESTING THREES:

I think we have turned a corner with H these past few weeks were he is beginning to understand a bit more and accept reasoning, but I find all of that goes out the window if he is tired.  Honestly, you just can’t get any sense from him if he is overtired. He has started accepting that he has to say sorry and learn why he shouldn’t have done the things he’s done and just in the last week or so, he has finally become more engaged with sitting and doing something a bit academic.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’re at the MENSA or Nobel Prize winning stage yet, but this is a big leap forward.  He is now asking to draw, write his name and is enjoying doing some more thinking tasks.  I had been so worried about him not being able hold a pencil at school in September, let alone write his name, but I think I’m ok about it all now.

       

His younger sister on the other hand is something else.  I joke to my Mum that she is a lost cause! I’m not sure if she’s stubborn, strong minded or just the devil child sometimes! Mum also offers zero advice, and just laughs as apparently I was like this as a child.  We have got to the stage where she will say ‘Sorry’ now but she is still a little monkey.  We still share a bed every night, which as much as it annoys me, I do love having a quick cuddle and a squeeze of squidgy thighs

FITNESS:

Ever since the clocks changed back in October I have really struggled to ‘train’.  This week I managed two days by myself without the children and I went for a run on both days, but when I’m at work or at home with the children, I have zero motivation.  Once my husband is home, and I’ve finished bath/bed time, its 7pm by which time I’m usually starving and going for a run is the last thing on the mind.  Most people say I’m fit anyway because of my job. My job is obviously active, but I’m not actually improving my fitness.  I think I need to enter a race to set myself a target to hit or even just something to train for.  I will have to set myself a challenge for 2018; a race or a number of sessions/miles per month perhaps.  What are your fitness aspirations for 2018?

BAKING:

Brownies: I’ve recently been experimenting with some new and slightly healthier recipes, which my work colleagues have been testing out, albeit sometimes begrudgingly! Perhaps the most popular of these new recipes was my dairy and sugar free Avocado Brownies. These have been a bit of trial and error really as the recipe uses coconut flour, after some research I discovered I could swap it out for a mixture of self-raising and plain flour as long as I added extra eggs to compensate as coconut flour is extraordinarily absorbent.  This is the recipe I followed (https://www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/08/healthy-avocado-brownies.html), but I had to adapt it slightly, so here are my ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup ( used a mixture of golden syrup and honey because I had no maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour

Add the wet ingredients to a food mixer, ensuring you blend after each addition.  The recipe states that you should transfer to a bowl before adding the eggs, but I’m a little lazy so I just mixed it all in the blender and it turned out ok.  Pour the mixture into a greased dish, I used a square one, and bake for 20-25 mins.  If you prefer them slightly gooey, check them after 20 minutes, if you prefer them more well done, leave them for longer.  I have a measuring jug with cups on, but if you don’t, here is a conversion website: (http://www.tuscanrecipes.com/cooking-tips/dry-liquid-measures.html).

Breakfast Bites: I tried this last week, and they got a mixed review at work; well actually only 1.5 out of 6 liked/tried them, so not a raging success.  Although my biggest critic when it comes to cake (my little H) enjoyed them! These can be used as a cake snack or as a breakfast on the go. The Mango Coconut Bites were quite tasty, if a little out there (I have officially been nicknamed ‘Mrs Cropley’ by my neighbours!).  These were super easy to make, and the children enjoyed helping me, even though they bickered about who was mixing!

  • 40g raisins
  • 1 ripe banana (mashed)
  • 195g oats
  • 33g of desiccated coconut
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 140g of frozen mango

Soak the raisins in boiling water. Add the coconut, oats, desiccated coconut and coconut milk to a large mixing bowl and combine. Now add the mango and stir, followed by the egg. Drain any remaining water off the raisins, and stir into the mixture. Pop into a tin and bake for 25-30mins at 190C. (https://www.healthylittlefoodies.com/coconut-mango-oat-breakfast-bites/)

Nutella Christmas Tree: Honestly, this isn’t healthy at all, but my word, it was soon good and easy to make.  Roll out a sheet of puff pastry, I then cut out a shape of a Christmas tree and used the cut off triangles as the top (you could use two separate sheets though).  Spread a good layer of nutella (or other chocolate based spread on the top and cover with the leftover triangles.  Cut slats all the way up both sides of the Christmas tree and then twist the ‘strands’ into a kind of plait.  Bake for about 20-25 mins, and then enjoy whilst warm.  I am planning this for Christmas Day breakfast! For a youtube tutorial, try this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7So4_MSdjpA.

 

What are your go to quick bakes or healthy treats? My secret santa bought me a Paul Hollywood cookbook for Christmas and the first recipe is for Churro’s which are high on my list of bakes over the festive period.

CHRISTMAS

I don’t think I could write this post without mentioning the ‘C’ word; I think I am ready.  I have bought and wrapped everything, we just have the small matter of building a play kitchen and dolls house, shall we wait until Christmas Eve…..? For children, Christmas is really all about the magic and of course the presents.  Our little H is just that bit older this year, and is beginning to get more excited, although I’m still not sure if he’s cottoned onto to everything yet, but he knows Father Christmas brings presents and he has to be on the good list, BUT, I really want to try and make it extra special for 2018.  I’m probably crazy for already looking to 2018 when most people still aren’t ready for Christmas 2017! But, I want to get H (and hopefully L) engaged into the meaning of Christmas a bit more.  We talk a lot about being on the good list or naughty list, but I want to get the children thinking about how important and special it is to spend time with our families.  My family live 150 miles away in the North West so we don’t get to see them that often, so it is always special when we see everyone as we’re not often together with my parents and siblings.  I have had a bit of an enlightening week were I am feeling very grateful indeed that we are able to share Christmas with my family and despite all the travelling and traffic, we are really very lucky. Some of us will be missing loved ones this Christmas, or not be able to all be together, so I am hoping to make next years’ festive period more about giving and family.  One of my old work colleagues has been telling me about the ‘Kindness Elves‘.  Although, not strictly just for Christmas, I really want to incorporate some of their ideas into our next Christmas, so I will researching that in the new year, but for now, I think we will go and pop some food donations into box in our Church.

Thanks for reading

C xxx

Bullet Journal; Part Two

Those of you who follow me will know I have attempted to dabble in a spot of bullet journaling this year. At school I always loved ensuring my work was neat and more often than not colourful. As a teacher, I have a ridiculous love for stationary (weird as I teach PE!), so keeping a bullet Journal was a great excuse to get some new pens and I picked the Stabilo fine tips which are great. As 2017 is fast coming to an end, I’m looking to utilise my journal a bit more in 2018 so I’m trying to plan various things, but I’m looking for help and/or inspiration on how to set it up:

 1. I’ve experimented with different monthly lay outs this year. Although I’m unsure if this is the best set up for me as I often don’t get time to sit and go through each month, but I could start using it more like a diary? How do you set your monthly layout or do you do a weekly layout?

2. I’ve really enjoyed my ‘memories’ page and I think I’d like to keep this up but perhaps a quarterly memory page. Do you record your memories?

3. I’m bypassing a traditional calendar this year where I usually plan my meals. I’ve gotten a bit lazy of late with my meal planning and want to bring it back for 2018. How can I pop it in the bullet journal?

Thoughts and suggestions as always, are most welcome, especially on ways to utilise the bullet journal more as well as keeping it exciting and fun!

Review: Wansford Country Lounge and Cafe Bar

“A cosy retreat for a quick bite and catch up”

The Wansford Country Lounge and Cafe Bar opened its door this weekend (4th November), we were lucky enough to get a table for Sunday lunch earlier in the week.  Initially, just the four of us, but we increased our booking to six (we took the Grandparents for back up!).

 

Our booking was 11.45am as we thought it would be best to have ordered by 12pm to make sure the children didn’t become to distracted.  On arrival, the staff were really accommodating, our table was laid out ready for us, complete with menus, they helped get us seated and came back to take our drinks order straight away. We ordered drinks for everyone and the children’s came in plastic cups (mine are 3 and 2, so this was ideal) and straws, and were immediately drunk! I requested a children’s menu, and to my surprise, it was really quite versatile (most children’s’ menu are usually the same things), and I thought everything was reasonably priced, ranging from £5-.00 – £6.95.  The menu included: sandwiches, pasta as well as the usual favourites of fish fingers, chicken nuggets, and chips etc.  All meals served with a scoop of ice cream for dessert.  Both of mine opted for ham sandwiches and chips.


Now for the adults, the starter menu looked very inviting indeed (prices ranging from £4.50 – p£7.95), but we opted just for a main course as it was still relatively early on.  My husband and mother-in-law both opted for the roast beef (£12.50); my father in law, the salmon with roasted cauliflower and quinoa (£10.95), and I chose the roast chicken (£10.95).  To my delight, they brought the children’s food out first so we were able to get them settled just before ours arrived.  The salmon looked divine, the roast beef delicious, and the chicken was really succulent and the accompanying seasonal vegetables were really scrummy! There were clear plates all round, unusually for our party, we declined the dessert menu (the children were beginning to lose interest in being out for lunch), but managed to reserve just enough enthusiasm for their desserts, 3 small scoops of vanilla with chocolate sauce.


Sadly, I didn’t get much chance to peruse the cakes, drinks and light bites menu, but that is most definitely an excuse for a return trip, which I’m most certain there will be! The staff were all really attentive and nothing was too much trouble. For those of you with smaller children, there are high chairs available, another big plus was the space at the tables.  I often take some activities for the children: cars, papers, pencils etc, and there was plenty of space for them to play at their seats.  During our visit, there was a steady stream of happy customers leaving, and I can’t wait to go back and sample a breakfast or a cuppa and cake or both!

Disclaimer: i have carried our the review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

Re-post – ‘Bad Mum-itis’


After what has felt like a bit of a car crash morning of seemingly constant fighting, an (over-tired) 2 year old who wants to wear pants, a brother who wants a snack 5 mins after just eating his previous snack, and goodness knows what else.  The little one is asleep, the big one is at pre-school, I’ve had a cuppa, and I’ve sat down to take stock, and it really wasn’t that bad a morning was it! Here’s a bit of a repost of something I wrote a few months ago.  I think we all need reminding once in a while that we are doing a good job, to relax, and go with the flow.

What is ”Bad Mum-itis’?

I think we all suffer from this at some point. I know I have and still have my moments! I suppose ‘Bad Mum-itis’ is your inner Mum conscience….

As Mums, we are constantly fighting a battle to be the elusive ‘Supermum’-  bake cakes, have a tidy house, make wholesome healthy meals every night or do something your friends did or just doing a better job. The fact remains; we are all GREAT Mums’ and we shouldn’t be second guessing ourselves or our ability. I think the very fact we do this to ourselves or strive for better makes us fantastic at what we do, because we care.  These are exactly the values I want to instill in my children; not the negativity, but the positive: that I care about doing better, having the resilience to forget despite a bad day.

Motherhood is a HUGE learning curve (a steep one too!) but that’s all part of the fun. I’m not ashamed to say I’m probably ‘winging it’ 99% of the time or take the easy route just for some peace and quiet (hence why my 2 year old still co sleeps with us because I actually get some sleep!).

I think we need to stop worrying about what you think you should be doing, what you aren’t doing and start celebrating what you ARE doing. Because believe it or not, these little humans will love you regardless. Live each day as it comes and cherish EVERY moment.

You’re doing a great job!

Review: West Lodge Rural Centre – fantastic family day out!

** “One of Northamptonshire’s premier family days’ out” **

My first visit to West Lodge was just over a year ago, and I was so impressed with it, I  became an annual membership holder before my next trip.  I have since visited many times, and my children (aged 3 and 2) really enjoy going back time and time again.

A little background on the farm: The Dee Family have been at the farm for over 50 years, spanning a total of three generations.  Today, the farm is run by Farmers’ Tony, Ed, Mo and Ryan.  Set in 540 acres of beautiful Northamptonshire countryside, there is more than plenty to explore!

This Saturday (14th October), we arrived at the farm at 9.25am (keen beans as it opens at 9.30am!) for the opening of the NEW ADVENTURE PLAY BARN.  I have been eagerly following the progress on both Instagram and Facebook for the past few months, and boy, it did not disappoint.  My two were off straight away exploring everything, and I’m not ashamed to say I happily joined them as well!  The centre of the play barn is a beautiful tree sculpture and everything joins to this point, its the heart of the barn.  It is clear that, A LOT of time, thought and heart has gone into the building of the adventure play barn, as it absolutely beautiful; the murals all over the walls are like being outside, but inside, everything is made of wood, and beautifully crafted, and it seamlessly joins with the feel of the rest of the farm.  All the equipment has been designed with both children and adults in mind as it is all capable of sustaining a grown adult, this really does put your mind at rest knowing it is safe to guide your children through.  An extra bonus of the barn is the newly fitted cafe offering a variety of packed sandwiches, delicious cakes, and hot and cold drinks.

And if the adventure barn isn’t enough, there is PLENTY more to see and do at the farm.  I’ve visited quite a few farms with my children, and West Lodge has the best ‘petting area’ I’ve come across.  The guinea pigs and rabbits are wonderfully tame, and the staff are both knowledgeable and friendly.  Animal feed for the goats and other animals is available in the reception area for 30p a bag.  My son is a big fan of feeding the goats, my daughter is slowly coming round to the idea, but enjoys watching her big brother do it.  And if feeding goats and petting small animals isn’t enough, there is always an opportunity to feed cade goats and lambs in the Spring as well as shearing in the Summer.

Another treat is the outdoor play area, or the ‘castle’ as we like to refer to it.  There is a sand-pit, pedal tractors, a castle, climbing frame, and swings.  We can easily spend more than hour pottering around the various apparatus on the play area.  The play area is well equipped with a number of picnic tables (as well as many others elsewhere on the farm), perfect for a sunny day picnic.  Although, if al fresco dining isn’t your thing, there is a fantastic restaurant on site with hot and cold food, delicious cakes and plenty of drinks.  After your play, and lunch, you can have a ride on the ‘barrel ride’, this is a free tractor ride around the play area, it is always popular, so beware, you may have to wait your turn.

 

If all this isn’t enough to tempt you to visit West Lodge, do look at the their website as there is always a fantastic themed day in the pipeline! October is always Halloween themed with spooky tractor rides, witches houses and pumpkin carving.  November sees the big bonfire party. December is Santa’s grotto, Christmas card making and the Christmas experience.  Spring sees lambing, lamb feeding, the Easter bunny and egg hunts.  This list is just a snapshot of  the many things the farm has to offer throughout the year.

  

Still not worn out? There are plenty of tracks and trails around the farm taking in lots of animals on route, including pigs, sheep, cattle, horses (you can ride a pony for an extra charge), chickens, peacocks, ducks and more I have no doubt forgot to mention!

Overall, I would definitely recommend a visit to West lodge Rural Centre, they really have nailed a family day out come rain or shine. Make sure you book your tickets online to avoid disappointment!

http://www.westlodgeruralcentre.co.uk

Admission prices (on the day):

Adult – £7.45, Child – £7.45, under 2 – FREE.

Disclaimer: I have carried out this review independently, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thank you

AWOOE x

And just like that, you are two!


So today is the day that my darling baby girl turns two, I literally cannot believe she is actually two.  Two whole years!  All my friends seem to be popping out second siblings at the moment causing my uterus to weep for a third; although like my friend says, “I’ll have a third baby and be divorced in the same year!”. She still seems so baby like to me, I think because I treat her a bit like that (savouring the baby days) and her speech seems less developed than her brother’s was, so it makes her feel younger, although now I’ve written that her speech seems to be improving loads just this week.

You were a shock arrival at just under two weeks early and we were not prepared in any way! The car seat was still in the garage and the moses basket had been in the loft for well over a year! You were such a little dot too at just 5lb 8oz; you had these tiny little legs like a sparrow.  You were fussy to feed and struggled to gain weight in the beginning, but you wouldn’t think it to look at you now.


You are beginning to become such an independent little girl, I guess having an older brother does that.  I can sense potty training is just around the corner (although that would mean no more changing nappies in the day which would be great, but it also definitely signifies you’re a big girl!), you refuse to sit in a high chair anymore and we are constantly asking you to ‘sit down’ at the table, you won’t let me open your yoghurt anymore, you love playing with dolls as well as splashing in muddy puddles and you love watching Peppa Pig and your new favourite phrase is ‘No Mummy‘; usually said with a frown.

However, there are still some baby-ish ways you are accustomed to which I love.  You are a terrible sleeper (ok, I don’t love this trait!), a constant source of my moans and groans.  I think I could count on my hands the amount of times you’ve slept through in two years.   When I went back to work, we got into a bad habit of allowing you to come and cuddle in bed with us as we were exhausted constantly getting up.  I tried sleep training you in the summer holidays and it succeeded for about two weeks, but old habits have crept back in, and you are once again a ‘bed invader’.  Whilst it can be terribly annoying to co-sleep with a child (thankfully for me, my husband usually bares the brunt of the kicking!), I try (and I mean TRY) to take pleasure knowing she likes to be close to us and loves a cuddle, and you do love a cuddle or ‘TUDDLE” as you call it. You are still very much attached to your dummy, it’s essential for getting you to sleep so I don’t think it’ll be going anytime soon! I’m desperately trying to hold onto the baby days just that little bit longer and have recently bought you some more babygrows for bedtime, and boy do you look cute.


She is such a little dare devil: running around everywhere, jumping off anything and everything, climbing anything and everything.  I honestly need eyes in the back of head, and I thought mine were good being a teacher and all, but boy do they need honing to match little L. My Mum will laugh when she reads this, but L is most certainly a chip off the old block.  It is almost like she is ‘baby me’ reincarnated but with the tantrums multiplied ten fold.  She is such a headstrong little girl who knows what she wants, and will definitely sulk if she doesn’t get it.  Obviously, now you are two, we enter the realms of the ‘Terrible Two’s’, although we most certainly seem to have learned how to tantrum with the best of them already.  Jeepers, you can be difficult at times, and I can already see we will clash when you are older as we are so similar minded!

Sadly, she is yet to have a proper birthday party with her friends, but I have attempted to make her some Peppa Pig cupcakes for nursery. We have my parents here for the weekend so I am looking forward to enjoying some family time, more cake and lots of adventures!

I still can’t believe you are actually two, as I remember 2.42am on the 5th October 2015 like it was yesterday.  I hope you continue to be you with that cheeky grin and gorgeous smile as (and I think you know this) it melts my heart everytime.

You’re funny and frustrating, inquisitive and infuriating, caring and challenging, yet I can’t imagine a single day without seeing your infectious smile.

Happy birthday my sweet little baby girl

Love Mummy

x x x x