Thursday, 30 April 2015

Me & Mine 2015 - April

April. The month of Easter and lots of chocolate. Also the month for half term holidays and fun in the sun.

One thing we've been loving recently is getting in to our jammies, grabbing some sweets and crisps and cuddling up together on the couch to watch Britain's Got Talent on a Saturday night. It's a whole different way to spend a Saturday night compared with when we didn't have kids. I kind of prefer it really.

I've enjoyed having two weeks off college and placement. I really felt like I needed the break as the work has been constant and demanding. I've coped well with it but it was nice to have some time off and not have to worry about getting up early to do the school run and then get to college or placement. I loved taking Miss C to pony camp in the first week of the holidays. She was so excited every morning to get there.

Husband has been loving that Game of Thrones started back up this month. It's not my cup of tea but he loves it. He's also been enjoying a few poker nights at a local pub and has a big competition at the beginning of May where the prize is £4000! I'm hoping he wins it for the holiday fund!

Z enjoyed his two week break and probably needed it just as much as I did. He works so hard at school and the amount of homework he gets is unreal. He was so excited that they didn't have homework the week before or the week after the holidays. Z had Karate camp during the first week of the holidays and the second week was spent with his best friend. They went to the cinema and also enjoyed a few games of badminton.

Miss C was in her element during the holidays when she went to pony camp. I think she would have stayed there forever if she could. She wasn't afraid of getting dirty or helping with the horses. Her riding has come on so much. She managed to hold on very tight recently when a cheeky Jocky decided he'd had enough waiting around. She just needs to get a bit bigger so she is stronger with them.

May is an exciting month for us as Miss C turns 6! 

dear beautiful

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

What Miss C's Been Wearing #8

Miss C had a Frozen themed party to attend at the weekend at the local soft play. Miss C decided she wanted to be the girl in black which was fine cause she hadn't had the chance to wear the dress she picked out before.

Her pose made me laugh so much. She's a mini model in the making, especially with the dress up shoes on. She wanted to wear these out but I said no and she changed in to her black patent shoes from Clarks before we left. However it gave me a flash forward to the days when Miss C will want to have a pair of high heels to go out in. Scary!

Her dress, cardigan and tights are all from good old Next. They always have lovely party dresses ranging in price from around £12 right up to almost £50 depending what you are after. This little dress was bought in the Christmas sale so I think it cost me around £7 which was a bargain. It has lovely flowery detail on the front. 

The jacket Miss C is wearing is from the F&F clothing range available at Tesco. Would you believe that Miss C has had this jacket since she was 1 and a half? My friend bought it for her in an age 2-3 and it still fits her. She's a petite thing our Miss C. 

I came across Ainsley's Bowtique on Facebook and found lots and lots of gorgeous hair accessories and they were really reasonable too. Miss C doesn't always wear hair bands but I chose a few, including this one, to add to her collection. It's really pretty and broke up all the black Miss C was wearing. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

According to research from Nestle Cereals, 47% of children have munched on a creepy crawly at some point in their life and yet they still refuse to eat a plate of greens. Breakfast is the most important part of the day and my two will literally have 3 small bowls of cereal before they even think about getting dressed for school.

In ode to the massive cereal bug that has been created by Prudence Staite, made from a variety of Nestle cereals, we were sent some craft stuff and some Nestle cereal to make out own little creepy crawly creation.

We decided to go with one of our favourite books; The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He starts off by eating some rather yummy and very healthy fruits followed by a lot of junk that gave him a sore tummy.

First up we made a very hungry little caterpillar:

We used a green lolly stick for the body and stuck on the coloured pom-poms and a set of googly eyes using the glue. Isn't he cute?

He found three juicy plums! (Actually grapes cause I had no plums!) He gobbled them all up and then ate a full box of Nestle Golden Nuggets!

The empty box came in handy as we decided to use one side of the box to make some wings. Whilst we made those, the caterpillar went off to sleep in a cocoon. 

A purple lolly stick, some feathers, pink pipe cleaner and googly eyes later, a butterfly emerged from the cocoon and flew straight in to Miss C's hand. Isn't he a beautiful butterfly?

We received a box of goodies from Nestle for the purpose of this post. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Funny Things My Kids Say #37

My two are just a barrel of laughs at the moment, especially Miss C. She comes out with the most random things sometimes that have us all in fits of giggles.

On Saturday night, we like to cuddle together and watch Britain's Got Talent. The kids love it and it's really what Saturday nights as a family are all about; watching TV and eating some sweets. Miss C adores Simon Cowell. I don't know what it is about him that she likes but she must really like him as she turned to us all and said, "I wish Simon was my dad!"

On Sunday morning, I showed Miss C a video of some very cute puppies sleeping together. She watched and asked what breed they were and I told her they were bulldogs. "Bulldogs?! Where are their horns?!"

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Week That Was #17

Last Sunday, Husband got up with the kids which meant I was able to lie in bed and a enjoy a cup of tea. It was a beautiful morning but it was nice to just relax and take my time getting up. The kids and I headed to the park to meet a friend after lunch and then headed to swimming lessons. When we got home, Husband had cooked a roast pork dinner and assembled the new trampoline. The kids were really excited!

On Monday, it was back to reality. The school run followed by a day at college. It was a quick day for us all and I got home before 4pm which was good. The kids were playing on the trampoline, enjoying the sunshine.

On Tuesday, it was day two of college for me. It felt pretty long because it was a beautiful day outside and we were stuck inside for most of it. I picked the kids up from my friend's house and they were enjoying the sunshine by playing on the trampoline in my friend's garden. When we got home, they went on our trampoline and carried on until bedtime, only stopping for dinner. I love our trampoline!

On Wednesday, it was a beautiful day which meant I spent a lot of time outside at my placement. After school, the kids played on the trampoline and then spent some time building the Bandai Sprukits they received to review. Z helped Miss C build Batman and then moved on to building a Halo Master Chief. They are aimed at age 8 and over but Z found the instructions quite easy to follow and manage to build Batman within 5 minutes.

On Thursday, it was another beautiful day. I got my washing out before we left for school and placement and when I got back, it was all dry! The kids decided they wanted to chill out on the sofa after having crackers and cheese for snack. I think the better weather means they are outside at school more so they feel pretty tired when they get home.

On Friday, I dropped the kids off at school and headed to the shops for my food shop. I came home, put it all away and got on with my college work. I managed to write the last part of my graded unit and write up my activities before I had to get the kids from school. Miss C wanted to watch How to Train your Dragon 2 after dinner and Z went to his Friday club. I watched the Masterchef Final and was delighted to see Simon win. He was my favourite.

On Saturday, I took Z to Karate and Autoglass (finally) came to fix my windscreen. After lunch Miss C had a Frozen themed party to attend at the local soft play. She had a great time with the girls from her class. After dinner, we settled on the couch to watch Britain's Got Talent.

The Black and White Photo Project #41

My Sunday Photo 2015 #17


Saturday, 25 April 2015

365 Project 2015 Days 102 - 115

Day 102 - Miss C's bean plant from school which we've re-potted in a Lechuza planter
Day 103 - Z created his own Steve from Minecraft bookmark
Day 104 - A spot of shopping at Next
Day 105 - Garlic bread with dinner
Day 106 - Fun at the park in the sunshine
Day 107 - Fun at the park with not so much sunshine
Day 108 - A cuddle with a new Build-a-Bear friend and the original bear Ted

Day 109 - Fun at the park - it was a bit chilly though
Day 110 - The swans were off a wander round the park
Day 111 - Fun in the sun on the trampoline
Day 112 - More fun on the trampoline - a great investment
Day 113 - Cheese and crackers for snack
Day 114 - A handsome boy
Day 115 - A spot of Minecraft

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 23 April 2015

So That Was Easter 2015

It was back to school and college for us on Monday which, after 2 weeks off together, was rather depressing. It was really hard to get myself out of bed at 6.15am on Monday morning. Once I was up, I was fine but it did take a good 25 minutes to convince myself to leave my bed.

The holidays were amazing. I loved having the time off with the kids and with Husband, who enjoyed a 4 day weekend. It's so rare that he gets a full weekend off. We took advantage of an offer from my MIL to take the kids to her farm for a sleepover and an Easter egg hunt and headed out for a night out together with friends. It was so much fun!

Miss C absolutely loved going to horse camp during the first week of the holidays. She was supposed to go on the second week but they changed the dates for her as there were more kids on the first week. It was great for her as she got to meet lots of new children and made some new friends. She loved having Sonny the pony to look after. She enjoyed mucking him out, feeding him, grooming him and riding him for 2 hours a day. I thought she would be exhausted when she got home but she was still full of beans. She just slept really well at night!

Z enjoyed Karate camp in the first week of the holidays. It's a tough three hours for the kids but it's all good fun for them and they've all built up a good rapport. After Karate, we had Z's best friend over until his Mum finished work so the boys loved going down to the football pitch together with me hanging out the window to keep an eye on them. They also had a great time playing on the hay bales whenever we went to pick Miss C up.

The second week of the holidays were a bit quieter in terms of activities. We stayed at home some days, watched movies and played games. We took advantage of the sunny days and headed to the park. Z went out to the cinema with his best friend and then they played a few games of badminton. The kids also went to the clubs on at the local leisure centre for a few hours which meant I had a little time to myself to do the mundane jobs like cleaning the bathrooms and the ironing.

To finish off our two week break, we headed to a local shopping centre with the kids to choose some things for their birthdays and they got a treat from Build-a-Bear. We were really surprised that Z wanted to get a Toothless Build-a-Bear but he loves Toothless and he was delighted with him. He has him in his bed with him now.

It was a real reality check when my alarm went off on Monday morning but it isn't long until the big Summer holidays where I'll be off for a total of 10 weeks and the kids will be off for around 7 weeks. The countdown is on to make some more amazing memories and enjoy every day together.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Colour #TheGallery

Nothing says colour to me more than seeing Disneyland Paris at night, all lit up. It was so bright and everywhere you turned, there was colour filling the dark skies. This is a pretty special picture as it was Husband's favourite attraction in the park. If only the X-Wing alongside it had been lit up like Christmas.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Shared Parental Leave - All You Need To Know

When I came home from hospital after having Z and then again after having Miss C, I was so grateful of the paternity leave Husband was able to take. With Z, I was exhausted and overwhelmed and Husband was on hand to take Z for a bath or a cuddle so I could have a nap. He helped me with the housework, made cups of tea for the many visitors and made me my dinner. When Miss C came along, he was on hand to take Z for a bath, read him his story at bedtime, take him to the park to play and entertain Miss C for 5 minutes whilst I grabbed a shower.

The two weeks paternity leave flew by and whilst I was happy to get myself in to a routine and enjoy 9 months away from work to spend with my babies, I know that given the opportunity, Husband would have liked to take some more time off to bond with his children. 

On 5th of April 2015, new legislation came in to force around parental leave. This means that eligible parents can now split the parental leave where they can take time off together (more than the two weeks available for paternity leave) and enjoy the time as a family. Citrix GoToMeeting have produced a great infographic on how the changes with affect families which you can read on their blog. 

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Conditional Offer

Last year I made the decision to apply for a college course that I've been wanting to do for a long time. When I got an unconditional offer for a place on the HNC Early Education and Childcare course, I was really happy but very nervous as it meant leaving my job and returning to full time education. It was overwhelming at first but once I got in to the swing of it, I was way ahead of deadlines and submitting work that needed little or no re-mediation.

The thing I had been dreading most about my course was the graded unit which we started at the beginning of January. I knew what I wanted to do as my topic but I was really worried because it is the only thing on the course that is graded. The rest is a pass or a fail.

My topic is the benefits of outdoor play to children's development and I've really enjoyed researching the topic and carrying out activities and observations. I handed in the second part of my investigation on Monday and I now need to write my evaluation report. So far I'm on track for an A which is a great feeling, especially when I've been away from education for over 10 years and I'm a direct entrant to the course.

On June 19th, provided I pass the course, I will be a fully qualified Early Years Practitioner which means I can gain employment working with children including in a nursery or Early Childhood Centre. I want to work in an Early Childhood Centre which means I'd be working term time and have the same holidays as the kids when the schools break up. I've always wanted to work with children and this means I can fit my work around our childcare requirements.

At the moment, Early Years Practitioners can work in nursery or Early Childhood Centres with just a HNC qualification however the Senior Practitioners (the bosses) now need their BA and I think eventually they will want all Practitioners to have their BA. I have a few options to achieve my BA; go straight to University after I qualify at HNC level and study for two years or study for my HND in Childhood Practice for 1 year, gain employment for a few years and then apply to do my BA at night school over 2 years part time.

Last month I applied for my HND. It's the course that makes more sense for our family and childcare arrangements as I can study at the same college I've been in for the last 8 months. It will give me the same amount of credits as a year 2 degree would and it means I can do the BA in Childhood Practice in a few years part time when the kids are a bit older.

I received a letter to confirm I have been offered a place on the course provided I pass my HNC and achieve an A in the graded unit. By 25th of May I should know whether I've got my A or not and whether I'll be taking the next step towards achieving a degree. I'm scared but very excited too!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Me & You #16

We managed a rare night out this month to a charity night for a local children's charity. It was such a fun night. A bit of comedy from some really talented comedians and then a disco which meant plenty of dancing in to the early hours of the morning...well 12am.

The kids were picked up really early on the Saturday so we spent the day together. We went to view a house, bought some steak and scallops for dinner and got ready to go out whilst listening to some old school Ministry of Sound. The drinks were poured and we were ready to have a fun night out together as us. Not as Mum and Dad but as Laura and Husband.

It takes us back to the days before we had children where most of our weekend was spent in the pub. I think if we tried to do that now, we'd have a hangover for a month. But because we only do it now and again, it makes it even more special and we really enjoy the chance to let our hair down. And when we let our hair down, boy do we let our hair down. Husband was picked by one of the comedians to come on to the stage and do a catwalk and I was doing an Irish jig in my 5 inch heels. It was good people, it was good.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Week That Was #16

Last Sunday, we were up early for horse riding. Miss C was excited to get back on her favourite horse, Jocky. She did really well and I could see a huge improvement in her riding after her week at pony camp. The rest of the day was spent at home just chilling. I watched a few Friends re-runs whilst Husband took the kids to their swimming lessons.

On Monday, we started week two of our half term holidays. After breakfast and a shower, I helped Miss C tidy out her cupboards. We then sorted through some of her clothes that don't fit and put some stuff in her suitcase for our holiday to Florida. After lunch we played a few board games which was a lot of fun. The weather was pretty horrid all day! After dinner, the kids wanted to watch Planet 51 so we snuggled on the couch together to watch it.

On Tuesday, Z went off with his best friend for a day at the cinema and a badminton match whilst Miss C and I stayed at home and played a few Orchard Toys games. It was nice just to chill out at home and not have to do much. Z got home just in time for dinner. We had spaghetti bolognaise which is a firm favourite in our house. After a quick shower, we watched Wreck It Ralph, a film we haven't watched in ages. It's so good!

On Wednesday, I dropped the kids off at the local club for a few hours so that I could get on with some work. It's handy having these clubs running during the holidays and the kids really enjoy them. I picked them up at 3pm and they told me all about the activities they had done. Miss C loved the gymnastics and was keen to show me how well she can do the splits.

On Thursday, I dropped the kids off at their club for the day and headed home to get some housework done. It was a beautiful day. I took the kids to the park after picking them up from their club and they had a brilliant time playing on the zip slide.

On Friday, the kids and I took a trip to the park after lunch. We called in for one of Z's friends on the way to the park and ended up staying there for a few hours whilst the kids played. The park was busy as it was a lovely day. The boys played football and Miss C went on her favourite; the swings. We had a pizza for dinner followed by ice cream and a movie.

On Saturday, I took Z to karate in the morning and after lunch we headed to the shops to start getting some of their birthday presents. We then went to Build a Bear as I had some vouchers for Miss C to use and Z decided he quite liked the look of Toothless. They were both very happy with their new friends and brought them down for a cuddle whilst we watched Britain's Got Talent.

The Black and White Photo Project #40

My Sunday Photo 2015 #16


Friday, 17 April 2015

Happy Birthday: Turning Four

I still remember when my Sister told me she was pregnant back in 2010. I wasn't shocked but I think I was a bit surprised to find out my younger sister was pregnant. Of course I was pleased for her too. I knew she'd make a great mum.

I still remember the first visit to see my niece a few weeks after she was born. Miss C was the last baby I had held before I held Miss K. She was so tiny compared to Miss C, who was about to turn two and I really couldn't remember Miss C or Z being as small as her even though they were.

The last time we saw Miss K was when we were on holiday in Blackpool. My Sister and Miss K, along with Bella and Pops, came over for a day visit. The kids had a brilliant time playing together and going swimming. They laughed a lot, just like we did whenever we visited our cousins.

Today, Miss K turns 4. We don't see her often because they stay so far away but when we do see her, she's a hoot. Z thinks she is hilarious and I can see them being the ones to cause mischief on any holidays we do as they grow up.

Happy birthday Miss K! Hope you have a wonderful day! 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Fun Afternoon with Crafty Cooks

When the children were toddlers, I used to go to a few parent and toddler groups with them. It was an excuse to get out of the house and meet some new people. They were all very similar in that there were toys for the children to fight over play with followed by snacks, cups of tea and a few songs. I tried a few groups before settling with one we liked but I'd have loved to have been able to go to something like Crafty Cooks with the kids.

Crafty Cooks is all about cooking and baking with children from the age of 2 and a half using fun and easy to make recipes. It's a franchise that people can buy in to, allowing them to start up their own business by running classes or offering parties in their area. We went along to our local Crafty Cooks class for a taster recently as part of a magazine article I'm writing.

The kids have only ever been to one other cooking class which they went to on Christmas Eve to make goodies for Santa. They loved it! They love baking and helping me cook at home so I knew they'd enjoy the Crafty Cooks class. I knew I'd enjoy it as I wouldn't have any cleaning up to do afterwards.

The ingredients had all been set out when we arrived. Our hostess was lovely and very welcoming, especially since it was in her own kitchen! The kids popped on their aprons, washed their hands and took a seat at the table, ready to get started.

They made courgette cakes which is something I would never have thought of making but they were so good. The kids managed pretty well by themselves but the recipe was so easy to follow and fool proof so that even if a toddler threw all the ingredients in the mixing bowl at once, they would still turn out good.

Crafty Cooks provide their host with all of the recipe cards, utensils and bowls and because the classes are aimed at children, everything was easy for Z and Miss C to use. Z really enjoyed using the traditional scales to weigh his flour and he was very precise about it.

When the cakes were ready to go in the oven to bake, our hostess popped them in and then had a tasting session with the kids which I thought was a brilliant way to pass the baking time. The kids tried a few different fresh and dried fruits. Miss C wasn't keen on the dried fruits as she loves fresh fruit but Z surprised us by trying a little bit of everything and even eating a few grapes. He's a banana boy and won't eat any other fruit if he can help it.

When the cakes were ready to come out of the oven, our hostess let them cool and then we were able to try some. They were really good and Z said he was surprised because he couldn't taste the courgette at all.

We really enjoyed our Crafty Cook class and if you have one in your local area, it's definitely worth going along to the first class of the term to try it out. You can find out more about classes on the Crafty Cooks website.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Spring #TheGallery

Nothing says Spring like a field of bright yellow daffodils. I love them. They are like little sunshines popping up from the ground.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Sibling Moments #16

We're enjoying the second week of our half term holiday. Spending time with these two has been great. Before I stopped working, during a holiday I'd have to leave them in the morning and head to work or put them to bed and head to work. Either way, it was no fun. 

During the first week of the holidays, the kids spent their days at their respective camps. Z had Karate camp and Miss C had pony camp. Z's camp was only on for three hours so it meant he was able to come along to pick Miss C up from pony camp where she spent 7 full hours at. 

Miss C loved showing her brother around the stables and introducing him to the horses. Z isn't too keen on them but he was a good sport and went in to the horse's stall to see him and clap him. He didn't stay in too long though as the smell was putting him off. I think Miss C is immune to it just as I am. 

When they came to this fence as we were leaving the school, Z climbed up and straight over it and Miss C followed suit. She is getting so brave, just like her big brother. 

dear beautiful

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Week That Was #15

Last Sunday, I woke up at 8.30am despite going to my bed at almost 2am. And I didn't have kids to get up to and yet I was wide awake. I got up, put a washing on and cleaned the floors. I did some ironing, Husband made me a bacon sandwich for lunch and I lay out in the sun. Husband had made plans to go out for a few games of snooker with his friends. The kids didn't get back until 3.30pm; just in time to leave for swimming lessons.

On Monday, it was the first day of pony camp for Miss C and she was up before 7am and she was dressed when she came through to wake me up. We had breakfast whilst Husband and Z were still in bed and then left for pony camp. I left her there and on the drive home, a stone hit my windscreen and cracked it. It was just a small crack but bigger than a 5p meaning Autoglass have to replace the full screen. First I was told they could come out that day and then 20 mins later they said they couldn't come out for another 2 weeks. Not great service! We enjoyed the sunshine and Z went outside to play with his football and ride his bike. I picked Miss C up at 4pm and she was having a great time with her pony, Sonny. She left his some water and his hay, ready for seeing him the next day.

On Tuesday, we dropped Miss C off at pony camp and then I dropped Z off at Karate camp. He was looking forward to a few hours of games and fun. I came home and got on with some jobs, had a coffee and had a chat with my Step-dad who is visiting at the moment. I picked Z up and we came home for his lunch. After lunch he asked if he could play his tablet for a little while so I agreed, given it is the holidays and all. We picked Miss C up at 4pm and she was covered in horse hair and sawdust shavings. She couldn't wait to show us how to groom Sonny.

On Wednesday, I dropped Miss C off at pony camp and dropped Z off at his friend's house so they could go to Karate camp together. When I came home, I decided to check over my college work and print it all off, ready to hand in when we go back on the 20th. I picked Z and his friend up after Karate and brought them home for lunch. They headed outside to play until we had to pick Miss C up from pony camp. They had fun climbing all the bales of hay which is something my cousins, sisters and I used to do on my Grandma's farm when we were younger.

On Thursday, after dropping the kids off at their respective camps, I headed home to do some cleaning. These holidays are really exciting for me! I picked Z and his friend up from Karate, they had lunch and then headed off to play football. I decided to tidy my front garden which didn't take too long as we have low maintenance gardens! We picked Miss C up from pony camp and she was having a great time in the hay bales again. She was also letting a horse give her a kiss on the head.

On Friday, it was the last day of pony camp for Miss C and the last day of Karate camp for Z. I dropped them off and then headed to the supermarket for my shopping. When I got home and put it all away, a cup of coffee and a croissant was in order. Z had another friend over to play after Karate. They played outside for a while and then decided it was time for some Minecraft. We picked Miss C up from pony camp. She had had another brilliant day. We had pizza for dinner and then watched a movie.

On Saturday, we were up early for Z's Karate class. He did a great job on his katas and was given a tab for his efforts. We spent the afternoon at a Crafty Cooks session for an article I'm writing for a local magazine. The kids had a great time making courgette cakes. We had our favourite meal of tarragon chicken for dinner and then watched Honey I Shrunk The Kids.

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