Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Bobchat - Dinner Story

Sat at the table looking at recipe books whilst Harry eats lunch.
H: Mummy, can you read me dinner story?
M: This? It's a recipe book to tell me what dinners to make.
H: Dinner story, read dinner story!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Bobchat - Phonics

Working with Harry on learning his sounds:
M: So, Harry, what sound does 'mouse' start with?
H: Squeak squeak!

Monday, 29 October 2012


Since the slightly disastrous attempts to get Harry into the water whilst on holiday, we decided that it was time we started taking him swimming more regularly. I do have him down on the waiting list for weekend swimming lessons, but with no family nearby to look after the baby I can't manage to take him to sessions during the week. We used to go to fabulous lessons when he was little, but sadly I went back to work on Wednesdays, which was when they were, so we had to stop. In the mean time Harry has developed a fervent dislike of water (whilst Archie ADORES it) so we thought it was time that we 'jumped in at the deep end' so to speak...

So, we headed off to one of the local pools on Sunday morning - with slight trepidation on my part at least. We split up - Daddy with Harry and Mummy with Archie and off we went. I kept my ears keenly trained for the squeals of a reluctant toddler - but heard nothing. When Archie and I were ready we ventured to the door leading from the male changing room (why they don't have family ones I don't know). I saw Harry who came running towards me - and promptly stacked it. I guess the 2 year old has not yet had it drummed into him that running on wet floors is a BAD idea!! Amazingly he didn't cry much. We sat on the edge with our toes in the water and then we were in!

Our aims of the session was to spend maybe 30-45 minutes in the water - hopefully without Harry either screaming/clinging to us for the whole time. We were so pleasantly surprised! Harry really enjoyed it! The pool was very warm, which was great, and he made some great progress during the seesion. He was wearing armbands and we even got to the point where we could let him go to float on his own for a few seconds. He wasn't terrified and we didn't force him to do anything. He spent most of the time laid flat supported by one or other of us kicking his feet and splashing his hands. He also learned how to 'spiderman' along the edge of the pool with no support at all. He wasn't too freaked out when he got his face wet, and we are working on blowing bubbles, but I really couldn't be prouder. What a super star! We are already planning to go next week (although we may still be in Cornwall) and hopefully to make it a weekly occurence.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hallow'een Party!

We had a brillinat time yesterday with our Hallow'een party. We invited Harry's NCT buddies(3 other children, J, E and A) and their parents. This included baby S who is only 7 days old today! So tiny, I can't even remember when my snuggly little bear was that tiny and it was only 5 months ago! We also invited our next door neighbour, G who is 16 months and came with his daddy.

The older toddlers had a grand old time playing with balloons and toys in the lounge, they were really good and as there were lots of adults we were able to take playing with them in turn. Meanwhile other adults chatted in the kitchen, eyeing up the buffet!

We decided not to do any organised games this year, as, in my opinion they are a little young at 2 1/2. We did, however, have sparklers (for the adults to hold) at the end of the evening and they enjoyed a run around the darkening garden.

On to the food...
I made spooky spider chocolate cupcakes with a minty buttercream icing:

Pumpkin cupcakes - these were supposed to be ACTUAL pumpkin cakes from the hummingbird recipe book, but I failed at making roast pumpkin puree so they were vanilla with orange glace icing and a small green buttuercream stalk.

Gingerbread skeletons - recipe courtesy of Mama Owl and including baby skeletons decorated by Ian!


Shaped sandwiches (ham bats, tuna spiders and cheese ghosts)

Sausage spiders - These are simply half a sausage taken out of its skin and rolled into a ball with half-twiglets for legs! I used to make these as a kid and they are really effective!

We also had spooky crisps and some un-spooky pizza, breadsticks and other bits and pieces.

The party was a great success, Harry was so excited to be dressed up, even though he is usually extremely reluctant to do anything like that. We bought some light up balloons and sent the children home with one each as well as some baked goods (I fear I made have over baked!) and it was great to catch up with all the NCT group. I was pleased that we didn't invite too many more people (although I would have loved my friend's lovely girls H and J to come - unfortunately they were away). I think the number we had was a great number for our house!

I definitely hope to have another Hallow'een party next year! It is such a fun celebration to enjoy with your kids. Maybe I have posted this in time to be some inspiration for someone - have a great Hallow'een!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bob's Top 5... Toys

Harry is your typical 'boy' I suppose. He is completely vehicle crazy (cars in particular, but anything with wheels or wings will suffice) and spends every spare moment racing or playing with his cars. However, he does also enjoy his other toys - he loves pretend play and seems to concoct detailed scernarios every night at bed time with his 'animals' of which we hear snippets over the baby monitor. Sometimes he even seems to be doing it in his sleep!

So, here are Bob's top 5 toys of the moment:

1. Die-cast cars - he speicifically likes the ones that are definable makes and models. He dislikes others - dismissing them as 'just a toy car'. Top favourites at the moment are his Mercedes A Class and his new Ferrari. He has ALOT of these cars as he does get one every now and then for being a good boy during the weekly shop. I'd rather buy him a car for 67p than sweets or chocolate, so it works for me! The exception to the favourite makes and models of cars are his 'Cars' cars (are you keeping up with me here, lol!) - Lightning McQueen and friends. He loves to pretend play with them, talking, racing, playing hide and seek - you name it - these guys have all the fun! Sometimes I despair of his obsession with cars, but playing with them has taught him so much! First he learned colours, then numbers, then some letters. He now knows all the car logos and what they mean, so definitely understanding 'reading' - he knows lots of specific models, and remembers them - able to point them out in different colours and styles. He bamboozles me with his knowledge sometimes, able to name the old and new Nissan Micra for example. So, I guess his obsession has taught him a lot of useful and transferable skills!

2. Brio Train Set - Harry's love of his Brio train set is enduring! Some weeks it is all he wants to play with, and he asks for it first thing in the morning and plays with it all day - some days he plays with cars instead. I love the Brio trainset, although it can be quite tricky to understand the specific rules of whatever Harry has chosen to play on any given day. Daddy and I compete with making the best tracks, and it is a great toy to add to each birthday/Christmas. The train set will probably be making its way up to Harry's room when it is finally complete as it will probably be one of those toys that he won't appreciate Baby Archie playing with quite yet! The Brio set has really helped Harry's fine and gross motor skills what with the intricacies of fixing his tracks (which he has to do himself more often than not since Archie has come along) and the careful avoidance of breaking the tracks in the first place, which is no mean feat!

3. WOW Toys - These are another enduring favourite in our house. We were first introduced to them by my sister who bought a couple for Harry's first birthday. The men are a great size for small fingers, and are - in my opinion - a better size than Happyland/similar for little ones to play with. All our figures have names thanks to Harry - named after friends and family, and he always remembers which are which! We have a fair few now, and they are quite big toys, however, once again they are smaller than some of the other play systems so not quite as bulky to store. The larger toys are interactive - for example the rubbish truck has bins you can lever into the back, and the combine harvester feeds through hay bales. Most of the toys have a very satisfying 'driving' noise and they are of the push and go variety - some of the smaller ones, like the quad bikes and motorcyles don't. Harry will play for a long time with these and I feel that the inclusion of the 'men' is good for his imaginative play (although he does also have great conversations with his cars!)

4. Tom - Harry's favourite 'cuddly' for play time has to be 'Tom'. I looked everywhere for a little boy doll. I wanted more of a 'playmate' for Harry than a baby doll. I was remembering fondly the doll that my nieces and nephews used to have from Boots that had a rucksack, hat and removable clothes and was kind of like an explorer. However, I couldn't find anything similar in the shops (it was at least 15 years ago that I remember this doll, so I guess I will forgive them for not making it any more!) Then whilst in Spain in a shop called 'Imaginarium' we found Tom. Harry immediately took to him, although he was quite young at the time. It's only recently that he has become a real 'firm favourite'. Tom now shares Harry's bed with some other favourite cuddlies and we often take him out and about in the baby carrier (this is so cute!). Harry brings him downstairs each morning and I think it was a real comfort for him to take a friendly face on holiday.

5. Doggy - OK, OK, toys that I have named for Harry show I am not very imaginative, I know! I have improved though - my own baby doll was called 'Lucy' because I couldn't think of any other name! Harry also has Donkey, Monkey and Mouse! Doggy is the first and favourite though. He has had him since he was born - another present from my sister Amy. He retains a cuddly milky smell from many baby cuddles. When we were going through hell and back trying to get Harry to sleep, Doggy was one of the sleep aids we tried. It never really worked for him as a little baby, but as he has grown older it is a definite comfort item. We said from the start that Doggy was to be a bedtime only toy. I didn't really want Harry to take his 'special' toy out and about where he could be lost. Doggy stays in Harry's bed all the time and has only ever been downstairs when he has been ill. I particularly love these Jellycat cuddlies, they are so so soft when new and are just the right level of snuggliness. Archie currently has one in his bed too which we are hoping will one day give him the same level of comfort.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Trying to get back to normal, but I am feeling a little lacking in inspiration this week. It's also time to start switching from lighter summer meals to scrummy warming winter meals - I don't think I am quite ready to crack out the slow cooker yet (especially as OH is tiling the kitchen this week!) but I'm getting there! Maybe next week - anyone have some good recipes I could try?

Monday Club Sandwiches and Chips
Tuesday Fish and Chips
Wednesday Chicken Kievs and Cous Cous
Thursday Bacon and Tomato Pasta with Garlic Bread
Friday Sausage and Mash
Saturday Hallow'een Party Food! Including: Spider Cupcakes, Spooky Gingerbread Men, Sausage Spiders, Bat Sandwiches and... some other stuff I've not thought up yet!
Sunday Roast courtesy of hubby.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Meal Planning Monday

So,we are back from our Spanish holiday, and settling back to home life. I have to admit that this week's meal plans are not the most frugal or healthy, as we took a bit of a trip down the prepared meal aisle to make things a little easier for my first week back as Mummy to the boys without Daddy's help. (Some of the choices might also be down to the fact that Daddy put together this week's meal plan!)

Monday Steak Pie with Garlic and Cheese Mashed Potato
Tuesday Chilli (made with leftover bolognese) and Nachos
Wednesday Fish and chips from the freezer
Thursday Hot dogs and homemade chips
Friday Chinese 'Takeaway' box meal from the supermarket
Saturday Burgers
Sunday Roast of some kind (up to daddy)

Looking forward to getting back into the swing of things next week - anyone got some tasty autumnal recipes for us to try?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Couch to 5k Week 8

I've got to week 8! Admittedly, it has taken me a few more weeks than that to do it... 11 weeks to be exact - I started the program on 'Super Saturday', the 4th of August. Not too bad considering I started when Archie was 2 months old and demand fed (well, he's still demnad fed, but goes a little longer between feeds now!), my nasty injury (at about 3 'weeks' if I remember rightly - my elbow is still not completely healed!) and the fact I've been on holiday for nearly 2 weeks (I managed to run twice whilst away, but also wanted to enjoy my holiday - plus it was super hot in naptime which is my main time to run!)

I'm pretty proud of myself, I am now running for 28 minutes at a time - last week in 24/26 degree heat! And today I was forced to run without the podcast as my ipod gave up the ghost 2 minutes in. I set a timer on my phone for halfway and then turned around for home.

I don't have a clue how far I am running. If I had an iphone I could download an app to track my run for me, but I don't, so... I might borrow my hubby's but in the meantime I am just focusing on completing the program. There are also some follow on podcasts to improve speed and stamina so I am planning on doing those afterwards before moving on to proper 5k runs! I've come so far already, but that's a bit scary...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

Hello everyone! I hope you are all well, can't wait to get into reading all your reasons to be cheerful today!

I have one major reason to be cheerful, we're HOME! I know I didn't put it on the blog yet, but things have been a bit quiet here - the reason is we've been on holiday to lovely sunny Spain. We had a fabulous time, which is another reason to be cheerful of course, but nothing beats sleeping in your own bed (although I did have to acclimatise to the cold, brr, and Archie decided that when we got home at 2.30 am it was time to play. Um, no. Not when you woke me at 3am the previous day and I've only had an hour's sleep since. Naughty baby!). Loving being home already, I'm even happy to see the rain! It's proper autumn weather, we need to get out and buy Harry some decent shoes today or tomorrow, as he only has summer doodles! Cant wait to crack out the wintery clothes.

Archie has come on in leaps and bounds on holiday, he is such a gorgeous little thing. When I say little, I mean baby - he isn't really 'little' - cue lots and lots of surprised Spanish people when they asked old he is. He really is NOT the size of a usual baby at quattro meses! I would say his thighs are about the same size as Harry's! He is now sitting alone for a few minutes at a time and showing real interest in his toys. I would say 'I love this stage', but I've said that at every stage for both boys ever since Harry was born, so I can't really say that!

Hallow'een is nearly here, and we are planning a (very small) get together with a few of Harry's buddies. Can't wait to get baking/cooking - I will be putting some of Mama Owl's ideas to good use, I got some gingerbread man cutters for my birthday, so I need to put my piping skills to test! Need to put some serious thought into costumes, although I'm afraid I may have to succomb to shop bought again. We'll see!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bobcat - Opel

On arriving in Spain to pick up the car - an Opel Corsa. For those not in the know, Vauxhalls are called Opel in Spain and have a different logo.

H- looking at the badge on one of the wheels - What's that one, Daddy?
D - Opel
H - looks confused 
D - That badge means Opel, Harry.
H - No, that one's a Vauxhall! Walks around the front of the car to check.

Bear in mind it was dark and he saw only part of the car - my son is a crazy car genius!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Pizza Pinwheels

Ever since I saw Six Ways With Scones over at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families, I wanted to try my own pinwheel scones  and when I was wondering what to have for lunch: toast - boring, sandwiches - boring... I thought why not!

Scones are one of the easiest and quickest bakes ever - just flour, fat (could be butter, I use stork, mum uses oil) and milk to form a dough - great savoury or sweet, just vary what you add to the mix. Super quick to make and bakes in 10 minutes - what's not to like!

I didn't use the recipe from the website as I didn't have my computer to hand, so I used the trusty recipe from the Baby Led Weaning cookbook. I chucked in a few ounces of grated cheese and rolled out the dough nice and thin. I then spread with just a very thin layer of tomato puree and a dusting of dried basil before rolling it all up. I put it in a preheated over at 200 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Perfect toddler lunch when combined with a piece of sliced fruit! Next time I'm trying jam ones though. Yum!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Bobchat - water

After nap
M - Would you like something to eat or drink?
H - Just a piece of water please.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Busy Bees Benefits - Petition

Like many other working parents, I utilise the childcare vouchers scheme. It's great, it means I don't pay tax on that money and it can go straight to my childminder - easy and beneficial to everyone. I am reliably told that for those of us in the lower tax bracket this could be a saving of around £500 a year - more if you have two people who qualify for the vouchers.

However, what about single parents? They can only claim the maximum of £243 of childcare vouchers a month, no matter how much childcare they have to pay for or how many children they have. So where both my husband and I could claim, single parents wouldn't have that opportunity. Also, what if your childcare comes to more than double the allowed amount anyway? You pay for the rest yourself, obviously therefore taxed.

With the government apparently committed to a review of childcare, and improving options for parents, surely this would be a good place to start. Busy Bees have an online petition to raise the Childcare Voucher cap from £55 to £75 a week. To be honest, I'm not sure about the implications of this, and I haven't fully researched it myself. But I do think that the process should be up for some kind of review, the £243 cap seems quite abitrary, and doesn't seem to take into account individual situations which can be the difference in working or not for many parents.

If you want to sign, the link is here - remember to then open your email and click the link. 100,000 signatures will make this issue eligible for debate in the House of Commons.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Bobchat - cute

M - You are cute!
H - You are cute mummy?
M - Aw, is mummy cute?
H - Yes, mummy cute. Archie cute!
M - Yes Archie's cute!
H - How 'bout Daddy? Daddy cute?
M - Yes, Daddy's cute - Daddy's handsome.

I walk away to put stuff in the dishwasher. Harry looks at his bus who is 'watching' him eat breakfast.

H - How 'bout bus? Bus cute? Yes, bus cute.