Hello Autumn!

Well, it’s official, we are now well into September and Autumn has well and truly arrived. There’s lots I love about autumn but if I’m honest there are some things I don’t love about it too.

What I love

Every outing can turn into a nature trail

Monkey is constantly on the hunt for acorns at the moment and I have had to explain it is still a bit early for conkers. In addition to the usual sticks that come home with us even after the shortest walk, we now have leaves and acorns and all sorts of other bits entering the house on a daily basis. Hubs is less than impressed by this haha.photogrid_1473574575444

Blackberry picking!

We have already been blackberry picking 5 times locally and once when visiting Auntie mags. We’ve had 3 blackberry crumbles already and a freezer filled with blackberries. Always great fun foraging with the kiddies and yummy free food afterwards, win win!photogrid_1473575030571

Crisp air and sunny skies

I’ve always loved a fresh autumn day and though we aren’t quite there yet this year I am looking forward to those crisp mornings.

Puddle jumping

While I don’t exactly love the rain that autumn can bring, the kids do adore puddle splashing and we’ll I adore their happy faces. Thank goodness for waterproofs is all I can say!photogrid_1473575386322

Kicking up leaves

Always one of the best autumn activities and I am looking forward to kicking the leaves with both kiddies this year, especially LM as she is older and I think will appreciate it more this year.

What I don’t love

Big horrible spiders

Yes at this time of year the big beasties find their way inside. We’ve actually been really lucky since moving in here and haven’t had many… But already 2 this year so our luck ha changed. I’m less terrified of them than I used to be and really try and put a brave face on for the kids, but in truth they still scare the bejeesus out of me and make me feel quite nauseous. Eurgh definitely not something I like about this time of year.

A big beastie running across the floor the other night

A big beastie running across the floor the other night

Getting darker in the day

We often get out in the late afternoon with the kids and have lovely evening walks in the summer so I’m not looking forward to the darker evenings. Especially not in winter when it is dark around 4pm! Just not the same being outside in the dark. Also, since becoming a runner this will really test me, not so nice running through the local woods in the dark is it? So I guess I will be pounding pavements with street lighting instead through the winter!

Germs

With colder weather inevitably come germs too. One of my friends’ little boy has already come down with croup this year and I so hope neither of ours get it again this year! Absolutely terrifying when your little one is struggling to breathe in the early hours and just hope we are luckier this year! Even without croup though we are bound to get a heck of a lot of germs, especially with Monkey starting school. The coughing through the night and covering everyone with menthol rub and just generally feeling rubbish while trying to parent a poorly and ratty child. Yeah not looking forward to that aspect of the next few months.

We’ve had a really wonderful summer this year, so full of smiles. While there are definitely downsides to the colder months so far we are having a fun autumn (it helps that the weather has still been really good, on the whole) and will no doubt have tonnes of fun over the rest of autumn and winter. I just hope we aren’t too unlucky with all the germs this year!

What do you love and loathe about autumn? What’s your favourite time of year?

MummascribblesBest of WorstMonkey and Mouse

Baking with our new bowl from House of Fraser

With the recent start of the new GBBO series, baking season is in full swing. We love baking in our house and it’s great to be inspired watching the brilliant bakers… Even if that isn’t so great for our waistlines! The kids love baking too, especially Monkey, so it is often a family affair in our house. Which is why I was super excited to receive this gorgeous new bowl from House of Fraser recently and couldn’t wait to try it out. 20160826_092723

The design is gorgeous, with a real country kitchen feel. Apparently Hubs’ Nana had a similar one growing up, and I’m sure mine did too actually so it conjures up lots of memories of yummy smells and delicious food. I’m sure I saw a very similar one in the Bake Off tent recently too!

The kids and I put it to the test with a simple biscuit recipe from the Queen of Bake Off herself, Mary Berry. As LM is mainly in a play and explore mode she had her own little bowl of ingredients to,  erm,  have fun with, while Monkey and I got on with the serious baking in our gorgeous new bowl. PhotoGrid_1473080336913

The bowl was perfect and once the dough was ready I rolled it out and the kids helped make some biscuits in the shape of stars and, um, stormtroopers. Haha, probably not quite the shape Mary Berry had in mind when creating this recipe! PhotoGrid_1473080736068

Once they had baked it was time to decorate with simple water icing and sprinkles. I was pleasantly surprised how LM did with the sprinkles actually and some actually made their way into the biscuits! By this point Monkey was far more interested in eating the ingredients than helping any more!PhotoGrid_1473081094949

I love baking with the kids but it can seriously stress me out at times too trying to actually end up with something edible by the end haha. Hence keeping it simple with the recipe, but don’t be fooled by the seemingly perfect serene images, I was definitely irritable by the end. The clean up too, argh! 20160902_104008

One of my favourite things about our new bowl though is that it can be washed in the dishwasher! Hooray! That is such a must for me these days. Even though Monkey had basically licked it clean it went in the dishwasher with all the other bits meaning I could give the kitchen itself a good clean up without leaving the kids to their own devices for too long.

Thanks House of Fraser, our new bowl is the perfect addition to our kitchen!

Disclosure: we received this bowl foc in exchange for this review, however all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.

Monkey and his swimming, August 2016

I don’t know about you but since becoming a parent I worry all the time. Am I doing a good job? Is that the right decision? Am I doing something that will come back and bite me later? Swimming is something that has caused me a lot of worry over the past 4 years. I love swimming and I think it’s such an important life skill so I always thought I would get Monkey swimming early on.

But when Monkey was a baby I struggled so much with the day to day that swimming went to the back of my mind. With his colic and sleep troubles I couldn’t conceive it. Then we discovered that a routine worked so well for him and I didn’t want to do anything that mucked it up for him.

As he got older we checked out swimming lessons at a fabulous specialised pool near us, but they were so expensive! And I guess we were not convinced about the long term as it felt like once we started we would have to keep on going in order for him to keep the skills and that was looking like a phenomenal amount of money over the years. After our first holiday abroad where he loved the pool I was determined to start lessons. We found cheaper lessons at a local pool and hubs started taking him every Saturday… With varying degrees of success. To be honest sometimes it was a nightmare. The water in the pool wasn’t that warm and for the most part Monkey absolutely hated it and would scream for most of the session.

Loving swimming on our first holiday abroad

Loving swimming on our first holiday abroad

It was on a Saturday morning and it got to the point where every Saturday hubs would come home in such a foul frustrated mood with a tearful shattered Monkey and it was just not the way to start the weekend. So the lessons were shelved for a bit. On holiday last year I had hoped for a repeat of our previous holiday fun, but it was not to be as the pools there were so cold and Monkey absolutely refused to get in. LM loved it so at least that was something.

Very chilly Monkey after trying out the pool on holiday last year

Very chilly Monkey after trying out the pool on holiday last year

It may sound crazy but as honestly felt like we were failing Monkey. He needs to learn to swim and I want him to enjoy it but it just felt like noyhijg we did worked. I looked again at the expensive lessons but he is now too old to go to that pool. It didn’t help that in checking it out I saw them so proud of children Monkey’s age who were swimming 5 metres unaided etc. I felt like we had missed a window of opportunity.

Earlier this year we started taking the kids to a local baby pool a bit irregularly but on Sunday mornings. It is a love warm pool and I wrote how we were having a bit of success. Monkey was happy to go there for one thing and didn’t spend the whole time screaming. LM loved it too so it was lovely for all of us.

We have still been going, fairly intermittently but I have still been nagged by doubt and feeling we should do more. I have gone round and round in circles with it and felt like I was making both kids miss out by not taking them to lessons but felt I couldn’t take LM to lessons while Monkey was still not swimming. It just highlighted how little he could do.

Anyway, I am writing this having just come home from probably the best experience swimming with Monkey ever. He was kicking his legs and arms while we held him, and then instead of insisting on walking like a spaceman the rest of the time, he independently learned that he could float with his armbands on, and spent ages floating and kicking his legs and just having so much fun with it.20160726_131852

I’d also taken our swimfin along with us. After reading loads of great reviews last year I bought one, but other than once at home I have never been able to persuade him to put it on. It took some doing and LM had to wear it for a bit first, but we did get Monkey wearing it… And he swam! With the swim fun and arm bands he swam all by himself, a good doggy paddle and he just did it. Everything we have been saying to him and doing with him has clearly paid off.

We were so proud! And relieved, as it feels like we are finally on our way. We will carry on with what we are doing and when he is much more confident in the water we will start normal swimming lessons. For now though it feels like we have overcome a major hurdle!

Ethans Escapades
Best of Worst

Siblings August 2016

I love the relationship between my little two. It’s everything a sibling relationship should be, in my mind. They have so much fun playing together, they mess with each other, wind each other up, drive each other crazy and love each other fiercely.

The big change this month though is how protective our Monkey has gotten over his little sister. Such a good big brother but I do wish he would worry less sometimes, as that’s our job. She’s at an age where she falls over a lot and seems to have constantly grazed knees, this doesn’t bother her for more than a few seconds each time, but he hates seeing her get hurt and constantly tries to prevent it. “don’t run! Mummy stop her running. Mummy you have to carry her so she doesn’t fall over!” He’s also her little defender “Mummy, you took that away from LM and that’s not fair!” Never mind the fact that she just whacked me with it or threw it!

LM is talking a bit more now (I will write a separate post about this) and Monkey loves it. He can’t wait for her talk and gets so excited and proud of her when she says something. He has also started initiating little conversations with her.
Monkey: “Ooh look LM I’ve got longer legs than you”
Me: “Yes you do have longer legs than LM”
Monkey: “Excuse me, I was talking to LM”

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They have so much fun together and I adore hearing the giggles as they play, and looking to see what they are up to and seeing their grins. But it also makes me chuckle when they wind each other up as actually for the most part they both find it funny when they do it to each other. But of course Monkey can annoy her by going too far, and vice versa.PhotoGrid_1471092104152

Still, all part of the sibling fun eh? We are actually very fortunate with how well they get on though,and they sre cute with each other far far more than anything else. We shall see how that changes as they grow and when she can answer him back haha.

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dear beautiful
Little Hearts, Big Love

Fun in the sun

Wow hasn’t it been a hot one this week? My social media feeds have been full of sunny scenes; blue skies, paddling pools, ice creams and lots of smiles. There has also been plenty of moaning about the heat which amuses me given that a week ago many of us were moaning about our lack of summer. But hey, we’re British and moaning about the weather is just what we do. Plus it has been seriously hot!

So what else to do than to try and find ways of keeping cool. Fans in bedrooms, ice on temples, ice lollies, oh and of course playing with water in the garden. I love our garden, we’ve put in a tonne of effort to get to this point and now it just such a lovely place to be. I also really love our gazebo as it provides us with some much needed shade on these hot hot days. Because pictures speak louder than words,  instead of rambling on, I will show you how much fun we’ve been having outside this week.PhotoGrid_1468993911685PhotoGrid_1468995883162PhotoGrid_1468994909082PhotoGrid_1468995676426

So at the end of a summers day this is what my garden should like. Covered in abandoned toys, with sand and water everywhere. Miscellaneous items of clothing and towels strewn across chairs to dry and just general detritus left about. Evidence of a lot of fun had outside, and evidence that I have enjoyed it as much as my kids have rather than constantly cleaning up after them.

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Are you enjoying our little heatwave?

Best of Worst
Monkey and Mouse

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monkey Says at age 4

I have been meaning to write a little compilation of the funny things Monkey says for a while but not got round to it, so I have loads noted down. I will try and limit this post to the best ones.

20160708_182108Starting with one of my faves from our funny boy. On a recent walk he said to Daddy “I need to whisper in your ear” Daddy bent down and Monkey said “wa wa wa waaaa”  (think sad trombone sound)  and ran off chuckling. Cheeky monkey!

One bathtime Daddy randomly started singing California Dreaming and Monkey was most confused by this
Daddy: All the leaves are brown
Monkey: All the leaves are brown?
Daddy: And the sky is grey
Monkey: the sky is grey?
Daddy: I went for a walk
Monkey: You went for a walk?
Daddy: On a winters day
Monkey: on a winters day?

His voice was getting more high pitched and he sounded more and more incredulous with each questions so by this point we were chuckling away!

Another bathtime conversation I overheard was Monkey asking what plastic was. I didn’t hear exactly but Daddy gave a detailed description and Monkey asked more and more questions, resulting in the wonderful question “What are atoms?” haha Daddy told him but I’m not sure he really understood.  In fact I think he lost him a lot earlier in the conversation with mention of hydrocarbons!

He’s ever so polite and says excuse me all the time…. Even when he is being rude.

“Excuse me you’re talking too fast and just going blah blah blah blah blah”

“You’re really old. ” Thanks Monkey

“Mummy look at your big fat tummy!” Thanks again haha. He does love us though.

“You’re all my best friends. I’m going to keep you.”

After being told he’s my bestest boy he tells me I am his bestest girl in the world too.

“Mummy, I need to whisper in you’re ear… I love you”

He loves his sister and really cares about her. Shes at an age where she has lots of bumps and scrapes and one day pronounced”Oh no look at your knee! ” to a bemused LM in the bath.

His drawings have come along so much lately and I do adore the descriptions he gives for them!20160629_074211

That’s the earth apparently and the little circle at the bottom is the “North pole” where father Christmas lives. The circles are our family and though you may think that the lines coming out the sides are arms, they are actually ears. Connecting ears to be precise and apparently Daddy has very big ears haha.

He also comes out with some really random phrases.

“I would like a salad. A teapot one. I think I need a dinosaur one actually.”

“Excuse me, in olden times that path used to be a road.” (It did not)

“Did the bear make it?” (About the maple syrup Daddy bought back from Canada)

Monkey: “It’s a ruin. It was a castle but the bad guys went in and made it into a ruin. It was a long time ago.”
Daddy: “It was before I was born”
Monkey: “And before Mummy and me and LM”
Daddy: “and Granny and Granddaddy”
Monkey: “Naaaoooo”  (disbelief)

He also had the occasional Pearl of wisdom, like this one about his school transition session.
“I cried at the beginning but I didn’t need to.” Very true little Monkey

He sings constantly and as he is currently reliving his Daddy’s childhood he now knows all the words to the theme from the original transformers cartoon and loves singing and dancing to that. Along with the spiderman theme tune bless him.

20160709_073729And finally, because toilet jokes and naughty humour are funny at all ages,  when holding up a long cardboard tube between his legs, and chuckling away to himself he announced “Look mummy I have a big willy” and burst into fits of giggles while I pretended not to find it funny too haha.

He says so many funny, lovely, cheeky, annoying things all the time and I wish I could remember all of them. I can’t of course but I love having these little records to look back on.

Little Hearts, Big Love

Ice Excavating with Monkey, age 4

Like many children his age, Monkey is constantly on the go and really interested in the world around him. The questions are endless and I am always trying to find new fun things to do with him, that he will be interested in. After seeing some programme about fossils on the tv I decided to have a go at an activity that has been on my to do list for ages, ice excavating!

It’s a dead simple activity and while I think most people excavate dinosaur toys out of the ice, we don’t actually have any so I just found some other rubbery toys that I thought would survive freezing, and a few jewels and set to work. In a big tupperware I popped a few toys in a bit of water and froze it for a few hours. Once that layer had frozen I added more water and more toys and then left the whole thing in the freezer overnight ready for Mummy & Monkey time.

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The next day Monkey and I set to work. We set up in the tuff spot inside as the weather outside wasn’t great, popped the ice block into a big roasting tin and set to work trying to melt the ice and free the toys using some jugs of water, a couple of teaspoons and some table salt.PhotoGrid_1468231854163

As you can see Monkey absolutely loved every minute. There was so much to talk about too which was great for his vocabulary.PhotoGrid_1468232031232

Definitely a lot of fun and will repeat it over the holidays if we have a warm day I think as then the ice will melt even faster! As it was this kept us going for about an hour and there was still ice left afterwards.

Have you tried ice excavating before?

#ToddlerApprovedTuesday

How to make a Go-Jetters style Jet Pack

Sometimes Monkey announces he wants to make something with me and after much head scratching I either a) give it a go and fail massively, producing something really rubbish, or b) persuade him that doing something else would actually much more fun and seriously hope he forgets his idea.

Other times, he says he wants to make something, and a flash of inspiration strikes. Thankfully this is what happened when Monkey announced last week that he wanted to make a Go-jetters Jet Pack last week. Becuase the feedback on social media and here has been so positive about said jet-pack I thought I would share the very simple method of making it.

1. Raid your recycling bin/junk modelling supplies to find the following.

  • A large cereal box,
  • 2 empty pop bottles (2ltr) and lids
  • 2 toilet rolls
  • Duck Tape
  • PVA Glue
  • Paint
  • Stickers
  • Tissue Paper

2. Cut the tops off the bottles and the bottom from the cereal box. Insert into cereal box and affix as best you can with Duck tape. (Try not to get too annoyed with tape sticking everywhere but where you want it to).

20160607_0956443. Mix Paint with PVA glue to make it stick to the glossy cereal box and help your preschooler paint everything.

4.While the paint it still wet stick the toilet rolls onto the front of the box.

5.When the paint is dry stick stickers and the pop bottle lids on to the front as buttons.

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6. Try and make some kind of straps. I did this using another random bit of cardboard and loads of duck tape to widen the back as the cereal box was a bit narrow. Attach to this some long bits of paper and find something else in your to use to do up the straps. I randoml had some little velcro fasteners which work quite well. (I haven’t made too much about the straps as they are possibly the worst thought out part of our creation and advise you to try and find your own way of making the straps.)

7. Stuff some strips of red yellow and orange tissue paper inside the toilet rolls to be fire.

8. Watch your child blast around the garden so happy to be alive and wearing a jet pack and chuckle at their poses while they model it to perfection.

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TATBest of Worst

Focussing on Happy #1 “break”

I’ve been joining in with Jocelyn’s word of the week linky for a long time and I love using it as a way to sum up my week, though sometimes I struggle to choose one word that fits the whole week as a lot can happen in a week! Sometimes it is easy to focus on the negatives and for example this week I nearly chose overwhelmed or struggling or hectic… But when I look back at pictures from the week what I actually see is smiles and happiness. That doesn’t mean I haven’t felt overwhelmed at times but it pays to remember that the whole week hasn’t been negative.

I’ve seen many other bloggers joining in with the Happy Days linky and sharing what has made them happy that week and have loved the idea of that too so I decided I want to join in. From now on I will be combining the two. I will still pick a word that best sums up the week but I will also try and focus on the positives and what has made me happy.

So while I have still been struggling with the extra things that need doing while hubs is recovering from his op and have felt overwhelmed at times, to the point where my blog has had to go on the backburner… Overall it has been a happy week and my word of the week is “break” here is why.

Saturday I had a much needed break catching up with some friends in London for a birthday. Lots of fun and laughter, mooching round Camden which I haven’t done in years, drinking shots at 5pm and a very tipsy and bizarre first experience at mecca bingo! Very amusing and definitely a break from normality. Massive thanks to my little bro and sister in law for helping hubs with bath and bedtime so that I was able to go as I really needed it.PhotoGrid_1465473766517

Sunday dawned and it was a lovely sunny day so we popped over to my mama’s for the morning and it was lovely to feel warm and have a break from the chilly wet weather recently.PhotoGrid_1465474099322

In another break from normality we abandoned the meal plan that evening (I didn’t fancy cooking a casserole in the heat) and instead invited some friends over for a little bbq which was really really lovely and so much fun.PhotoGrid_1465473884817

Monday being the end of half term means Monkey being back at pre-school… Which as much as I love being with him… Means I also get a bit of a break from him and a bit of peace when LM naps in the afternoon, which I so need.

I’ve run out of “break” analogies now so here is a few other things that have made me happy this week.

Hubs getting better and able to move more and more. We have been on some lovely short walks round the block with the kids or just with LM, helping him exercise. He has started driving short journeys again and can help me a bit more. He even did some hoovering!PhotoGrid_1465476204731

Watching LM explore the world around her as at the moment she is fascinated by everything.PhotoGrid_1465475938930

Making a go jetters jet pack with Monkey during Mummy and Monkey time on Tuesday. Even more I have enjoyed seeing how much he loves it and how he wants to wear it all the time. Cutie.PhotoGrid_1465474282255

Doing some painting in the garden with LM and her covering me in paint too. Cheeky girl haha.PhotoGrid_1465476835042

I’ve also had a bit of a break from blogging this week which means I have managed to get quite a few things done instead. I’ve planted a load of plants and sunflowers my stepdad and father in law kindly gave us, defrosted and cleaned out a freezer and deep cleaned the bathroom. So the house may still look tip but it hasn’t been a terrible week. Plus I feel a bit rejuvenated about blogging again which usually happens after a little break. How has your week been?

The Reading ResidenceWhat Katy SaidCountry Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Our busy half term week

Ooh where has the summer gone? It seems to have been raining forever. OK so it has only been raining for 2 days out of 7 but the sheer quantity of rain makes it seem much longer! Despite the rain though we have managed to have a good, fun, busy week for half term.

It’s been a bit of an odd week this week with hubs recovering from his operation and the wet weather and half term meaning we have spent more time at home than normal. On a normal bank holiday weekend we would have been out somewhere fun for at least one of the days, but not this time. While the kids and I popped out a bit we mainly stayed home and enjoyed visits from lovely friends and family. In fact the word for the weekend could have been lego, as Daddy and Monkey did loads of lego together and got lots of other family and friends involved with the lego fun too.PhotoGrid_1464893886427

We did get out once over the weekend, round the corner to hubs’ parents for Granddaddy’s birthday which was a very lovely family occasion.PhotoGrid_1464890254945

We had the odd bit of sun on Monday which allowed me to mow the lawns and have a little fun outside but then the rain really set in on Tuesday. LM went out with my parents for rhyme time while Monkey and I did some star wars baking, then in the afternoon we had some really lovely snuggle time watching films. It was so lovely and chilled and to be honest I am surprised both kids sat still and snuggled for as long as they did as they normally are desperate to be on the move!PhotoGrid_1464893323297

We had some indoor play making playdoh Monsters too and we did get out and about later that afternoon for some puddle splashing of course. I just hate staying in all day as it drives me stir crazy.PhotoGrid_1464893677564

Much as I love the extra time I am able to spend with Monkey over half term… I do find him exhausting. He is a lovely boy but honestly he never stops talking and just wants attention all of the time. Balancing the needs of him and his sister together can be seriously hard work. One salvation is that my parents have Monkey for a few hours every Wednesday, so even when his pre-school is on half term I have one day where things are just a bit more chilled with LM and I and of course she has a nap so I get a little bit of peace. Unfortunately on the recent half term, my step dad woke up terribly poorly on the Wednesday so Monkey couldn’t go round for the day.

My Mum suggested a trip to a local garden centre that morning instead so we headed there for tea and cake, and Hubs even came too. Garden centres can be a saviour for parents of little ones these days as they are not only for buying plants. Most of ours have other things to do and fab cafes for a sweet treat. So on that wet Wednesday morning we ended up playing crazy golf in the rain with Nanny while hubs watched and then the kids always adore seeing theanimals and fish so that kept them happy for a while at least!PhotoGrid_1464877032054

That afternoon we once again got out for some puddle splashing and then the kids and I had some really really lovely playtimes together.

Thursday I was so hoping that the rain would hold off, and thankfully it did so we headed to our local country park to meet with some lovely mummy friends and all the kiddies for some fun. It was windy and chilly but we had so much fun. The pictures say it all I think really but ooh I was shattered when we got home that afternoon!PhotoGrid_1464876581002

Its funny as I have said it was a busy week but actually in many ways it hasn’t been as we have been home a lot. I think it just feels massively busy to me because with hubs recovering from his op I have barely stopped all week. Hubs is getting better by the day and so feeling much less frustrated thankfully. He is also starting to be able to help around the house a bit too. Nothing crazy, he won’t be kneeling or carrying LM downstairs or pushing a hoover round just yet, but he has made breakfast and helped clean the kitchen which is at least a huge help after trying to do everything by myself for the past week!

Thanks to everyone for all the lovely kind comments on my post last week, I wish I had time to reply to comments as it really meant a lot to have all of your support as always xx