Skating fun – Living Arrows – 4/52

I’ve struggled with my photos this weekend, they looked great as I was taking them and I was really starting to feel like I’d started to get the hang of balancing the ISO and aperture, but when I came to view them on the big screen I was very disappointed.

These are the best of the bunch, but on the bright side I had a great time roller-skating with the kids. As it turns out Z is tough teacher, forcing me out from my safety net of the soft, cushioned park surface onto the tarmac, which on brand new, super slippy skates was pretty terrifying. Little H held my hand around the park, telling me to push, push, glide. I even got a Good Girl Mummy at the end.

The first two are a rare capture of Z and S having fun together, usually our house is very much split into boys and girls, but over the last few months I’ve started to notice the age gap seem to lessen as they’ve bonded over Match Attax football cards. Despite their differences over the years, I know they always look out for each other, I’ll never forget the time at soft play when a little S turned to a boy much taller then her who wasn’t being nice to Z and told him off, for such a tiny girl she can be very fierce when she wants to be.

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Finally, who doesn’t love a chicken hat?

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What have you been up to this week?

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Changes for a New Year

It’s taken me several weeks to get this post written which is perhaps indicative of my life right now. There is just not enough time! I have all these ideas literally buzzing around my head, bits of paper scattered around the house full of lists with things I want to do, things I need to do and things I’d just really should do but just can’t get my head around. I keep thinking life will calm down, once H starts school, after Christmas, when my course finishes, but it never does.

My hopes for the year again seem pretty simple, but will take a huge effort on my part to actually achieve. I want to take more time to myself, even if just 5 minutes a day to drink a cup of tea without working at the same time. I want to take better care of myself, I don’t mean wear more make up or do my nails ( although that would be nice ) but take the time to eat a little better, sleep more and drink less coffee.

I’d like to spend  few minutes a day playing the piano, and have set myself a challenge to be able to play this ( which I’ve had since being 15 ) by the end of the year.

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I want to take time out with each of the kids everyday, to take the time to enjoy their company rather than spend the time breaking up arguments or running from place to place, carrying one and chivvying the others along. Alongside that hope comes a need to be organised, to not be last minute with EVERYTHING, to not ALWAYS be in a huge rush to get somewhere. I want life to slow down a bit, I want to sit on the sofa and enjoy story time rather than wish the time away so I can get my dinner. I’m very conscious at the moment how fast everyone is growing up and I want to hold onto every special moment, every giggle and each hug and kiss. I want to enjoy the sounds of someone calling ‘Mummy’, not answer impatiently to the 50th request that day for a snack. [Read more…]

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Planting ‘Trees’ – Living Arrows – 3/52

I’ve managed to spend a bit of time this week actually trying to learn how my camera works rather than just snapping away and hoping for the best. Here are the results. They’re still not amazing, and unedited because I don’t really know what  to do make them better. How would you improve them?

The girls set about planting some ‘trees’ on our bike ride. First they buried a pinecone, then put some sticks on top. I’m not sure what they’re expecting to happen next, but I love their imagination. The pair of them make me smile so much when they play together. This weekend they’ve pretended to go to football club complete with big brother’s old football tops and bags packed with snacks and drinks. We’ve served lunch on trays school dinner style, made space rocket blaster packs, written stories and put a marching band together.

I do love my funny, ever so loving, little girlies.

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Albert Einstein

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What have you been up to this weekend?

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Preparing children for a digital world – Sponsored Video

In my former life, before children I was a computer programmer, in the 4 years I’ve had away from my career technology has moved on at an astoundingly fast pace. All of a sudden everyone has iPads, we can do more and more with our mobile phones, our world is becoming increasingly digital. I find myself torn between wanting my children to be children, to run around outside, play imaginative games and hold onto the time in their life when they can just ‘play’, and not wanting them to fall behind their peers because of a lack of exposure to social media, video games and so on.

Teaching children to code is now part of the National Curriculum, my 7 year old is doing an after school club where he will learn to create his own video game, and my girls write mini programmes using little bee bots that they control the direction of movement of. Coding is going to play a huge role in our children’s future and it’s important we encourage our children to develop the skills needed from a young age. I’ve got some ideas over on Science Sparks for games and activities to help young children develop logic and computational thinking skills and Barclays have developed their own Code Playground for older children ( around age 7 ) to learn to code. Coding might sound dull and boring, but actually it can inspire a lot of creativity.

Barclays invited Mumsnetters and their children to a special Code Playground session where the children learnt how to write their own programmes, helped by Barclays Digital Eagles, while the Mums asked questions about keeping their children safe online.

I’m definitely going to try Barclay’s Code Playground with my 7 year old and can’t wait to see how he gets on.

What sorts of things could Barclay’s Digital Eagles help you with? Do you think learning coding skills in important for children? Would you like to learn to code?

Barclays also supply some great Family Finance and Business Support advice on the Mumsnet Website.

For more information you can follow Barclays on Twitter and Facebook.

‘This post has been sponsored by Barclays, but all thoughts are our own

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Britax KIDFIX XP Review

Keeping my children safe in the car is hugely important to me, and has over the years required a lot of thought as we have three children so close in age. We’ve been lucky enough to test several Britax car seats and all have been fantastic. The Britax KIDFIX XP is no exception. The KIDFIX XP is a stage 2-3 , forward facing, high backed booster for children between 2 and 12 years old ( check weight restrictions ) with a belt harness pad.

Why we love the KIDFIX XP

The KIDFIX XP has full side wings giving optimum side impact protection along the whole seat, while the height adjustable headrest means it grows with your child, or in our case can be adjusted easily and quickly between the children.

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The ISOFIT System

The ISOFIT system makes installation simple, the seat connects to the car’s ISOFIX points, the installation indicators confirm the correct installation which is great for peace of mind. The seatbelt is clipped into the holders meaning it doesn’t slide out as we’ve found in previous booster seats ( not Britax ). The instructions are handily printed on the side of the seat, which is great for when you’re moving it from car to car.

For me ISOFIX is hugely important, we’ve had Stage 2/3 seats before that have noticeably moved when turning corners, but with ISOFIX they stay in place.

There is a great video on the Britax website to explain how to safely install the KIDFIX XP seat with both seatbelt and ISOFIX. [Read more…]

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Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Did you know last Monday was blue Monday, the day 43% of people are likely to have broken their New Year’s Resolutions, did you break yours? Did you set you yourself any?

A poll of 1,000 people by James Villas showed that out of the 58% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions, 80% expect to fail, with a staggering 5% not even lasting 24 hours. [Read more…]

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Do you have an irrational fear?

Do you have unusual fear? If so you’re not alone. Did you know that according to a survey run by Benenden, 61% of people have some kind of uncommon phobia or fear with a staggering 57% of people avoiding situations where they could have to face their fear.

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I wouldn’t say I have a fear as such, but I am very squeamish with necks. I can’t stand to have anyone touch or even worse squeeze the front of my neck. My lovely family once all put pegs on their neck in front of me and even the thought of that now, years later, makes me want to throw up. [Read more…]

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Slow Cooked Curry – Lamb, Spinach and Butternut Squash with Black Beans

I treated myself to a Sage MultiCooker™ over Christmas after seeing one in action at Mummy Barrow‘s house. First impressions are it’s pretty awesome.

Sage’s Multi Cooker™ is not your average slow cooker, it also makes amazing risotto, gorgeous fluffy rice and the best steamed veg I’ve ever tasted. I love that there aren’t too many bits and pieces so it’s super easy to clean and the non stick pan is a dream come true after my last slow cooker which always ended up with me scrubbing away at the pot for ages to get it clean.

I’m terrible for leaving pans on the hob cooking as I am so easily distracted so the fact that the Sage Multi Cooker™ turns itself off is another big benefit.

I also LOVE the  sauté/sear setting which you can see in action in my little video below.

This recipe isn’t the simplest, but does show what the Sage Multi Cooker™ is capable of.

Slow Cooked Curry – Lamb, Spinach and Butternut Squash with Black Beans

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Ingredients

1 butternut squash
700g diced lamb leg
1 green pepper
3 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 red chilles
thumbsize piece of ginger
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 tin of organic cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons balti curry paste
3 large ripe tomatoes
Handful of spinach
1 tin of Black Beans ( optional )

Instructions

Start by using the Multi Cooker on Saute mode and brown off the butternut squash (seasoned) in a some olive oil. Once they have coloured nicely transfer them to a bowl and then brown the lamb.

Again, transfer the browned lamb to a bowl and saute the onions, chillies and garlic.

After about 5 minutes add the ginger, some seasoning and the bay leaves, after a couple more minutes add the peppers.

After a further five minutes add the butternut squash and lamb back into the pot and switch to Slow Cook (FAST) mode.

Add the tin of organic cherry tomatoes and the curry paste and leave to cook for about 4hours which will make the lamb very tender.

About 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the tomato chunks, spinach and black beans.

We’re trying not to eat too much rice which is why we added the black beans.

I was so impressed with the Multi Cooker that I also bought a Sage kettle, which I love as well, it’s so quiet and the soft grip handle is lovely to hold. I’m now saving madly for one of their awesome looking coffee machines and maybe a waffle maker!

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First week back – Living Arrows – 2/52

This week has just flown by with school runs and generally trying to catch up ( unsuccessfully ) after Christmas, but everyone seemed happy to go back to school, if a little exhausted by Thursday, so it was a pretty successful, if unadventurous week.

I’ve have been feeling like I’m not doing enough fun suff with the kids at the moment, so this weekend I’ve tried to jam in as much as possible between birthday parties and sporting activities.

The girls have been making up lots of stories with their story stones, S made herself some skis while I tried to get her interested in number bonds. I failed miserably despite my best efforts and I thought genius idea of using cars and trains, but never mind, at least I can blog it later.

I’m very jealous of her ability to make anything she wants with cardboard, pipe cleaners and sellotape.

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[Read more…]

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A new washing machine from Servis

Every appliance in our house gets a LOT of use. Our dishwasher and washing machine are on at least once a day, sometimes more. Three small children generate a lot of dirty clothes, and when I say dirty, think mud splattered, food stained, hole in the knee type usage. Basically any washing machine we own has to be able to cope with a lot.

Just as our currant washing machine was about to collapse under the strain Servis offered us the opportunity to try their new HydroDrive 8kg capacity machine, it was perfect timing.

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Our first impressions were excellent. It fitted perfectly into our kitchen and the shiny black looked brilliant next to our white units. My husband fitted it easily with no issues.

The machine is super easy to use, with 15 different settings. I tend to use the synthetic, 40˚ programme the most as it’s quite short at only 88 minutes, and seems to give the clothes a really good wash. Some of the programmes seem a little long, for example to 90˚ night wash is 3 hours, but the HydroDrive uses 60% less electricity than standard machines, so even a long wash isn’t too uneconomical.  HydroDrive is based on a dual water injection system, with two nozzles which inject water and detergent into the wash load at the same time, resulting in more efficient washing over a shorter time period than ordinary washing machines; saving you energy, water, time and of course money. [Read more…]

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