This weekend I have been in Manchester to do my SANDS befriender training (which I will share with you more once I have digested it), and whilst it was nice to do something for myself, it felt really weird not being with Nathan and the kids over the weekend. In hindsight it couldn’t have come at a better time as it fell right at the start of half term, and with the weight of the subject for 2 solid days, I couldn’t be happier for a break from school this coming week and an opportunity to chill out with my little family. Six days (plus the weekends) of no school runs, mad dashes, clock watching and wondering where the uniforms are – blissful!

Instead I get to have them with me, I get hang out with my oldest 2 and we can look forward to lots of fun together. Mr Smith is also on annual leave and so we have loads of outings and adventures planned and I don’t know about the kids, but after spending 2 days away from them, and never quite getting back into school life after Christmas, I just feel like its going to be great fun and I actually can’t wait!

Term time is hard for me sometimes. Not always, just sometimes. For starters I am rubbish with the whole school run thing and getting there in good time, (most days its with 30 seconds to spare or as the gate is closing) but more so I have realised since both Ethan and Megan started school that Sometimes I really do miss my kids. Its seems funny sharing this, but then I guess parenting is a funny thing isn’t it? You spend your days tearing your hair out and trying to get little people to cooperate with you (or each other) and some days it reduces you to tears – Other days the brink of insanity. You look forward to bedtime like its Christmas, a shower like its a holiday, and you just hope for a day you can go to the toilet with out an audience. Most days are spent wishing for a moments peace, a dinner whilst its still hot and dressing on some level that is remotely stylish (but you would just accept snot free)! Its harder than any other “job” and a break is what you crave, yet when it comes, you realise how much you have grown to love the noisy mad life you lead.

For me, I mostly miss our outings and adventures – the busy days we enjoyed together exploring that only seem to come now in the holidays and occasional weekend. And whilst I do really like peace and quiet in my life, I do miss their chatter, their funny little characters, their outlook on life, and generally just their company. Of course I have days like every other parent where we are almost running to school (not always because we are late), so I can have a breather and a few moments of peace and quiet, but once that is over, once I have cleaned up and got the house in some order, or had an hour or 2 at the shops, I realise I miss them and the fun they bring to my life. I realise it all feels a little lonesome without my sidekicks.

I noticed this loads on our recent trip to Hamburg and discussed it at lengths with Mr Smith. Whilst I had been uber excited for a romantic city break together, and really needed it too, I found myself more anxious than normal about being away from the kids. I worried about all that could go wrong and stop us returning to them, and I generally missed sharing that experience with them. I learnt that we don’t have to go far away to have a break as a couple now (its just as lovely in a local hotel), and realised how much I truly love to have my kids travel with us and relish the adventure. I missed sharing the experience with them and seeing their faces at new sites and things. I missed the wonder, the questions and telling them stories…I just missed us being together as a family, doing something different and out of the ordinary, and missed kissing them goodnight. We both agreed that that’s okay, it wasn’t the same without them and in future we will all go!

Having kids was an easy choice for me, but not so easy in reality. I do find it a challenge, extremely tiring and some days I just want to write off. I know I could be less snappy, more attentive some days and more interactive too, but despite these things, I really do love motherhood, being a stay at home mum and being around the people that made me a mummy.

I don’t know if it is as my kids get older and become more aware that we aren’t there, or the fact one of our children died and I couldn’t stop that, and couldn’t bare that happening again. Perhaps its that missing of her so much and the pain of loss that has made me feel like I need to have all my others close. Or maybe its that we see so much horror in the news and I just can’t bear the thought of them being told mummy and daddy aren’t coming home because something happened …I just know that I miss being away from my kids for too long now and need to cuddle them tightly. I know that I feel most happy and content when we are all together, when my little chicks are close and safe in the nest and where I can show and tell them how much I adore and love them. I feel joy when they are where we can make memories together.

Life and its adventures are certainly richer when they are present.

My Petit Canard
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As I write this I cannot quite believe the vast difference in weather from earlier in the week. (Well I can, we are in the UK, but still)… it’s hard to believe that we are having flurries of snow here in Yorkshire when on Monday and Tuesday Spring felt right around the corner. It was Sunny and the weather mild, I left my coat at home and the lighter evenings beckoned us back to the park after school, which we embraced. Ethan and Megan very much enjoyed climbing, sliding and swinging about, whilst Alice had her first taste of the swings! It all made me feel both excited and happy to be there with them and to have been able to offer them a spontaneous trip to the park – it really felt long overdue.

Now that we are in Winter, we are usually seen running home to get in  from the cold after school, in a hope to thaw out as soon as possible. When in the Spring and Summer months, snacks and hanging out after school at our local Park were just what we did – it was our ordinary. I forget with each changing season those things that were an ordinary and much loved activity in our lives, we kind of just bend to something new and it just becomes another memory of Summer.  I forgot with the busyness of a new baby and the icy weather of Winter how much we enjoyed heading to the park after school and how lovely those moments between School and dinner had become to us.

Megan reminded me how we would enjoy ice creams and play all evening, how we would have an adventure everyday and how much fun it was. It really was an almost daily occurrence and it enriched our lives.

What wasn’t our ordinary though was having Alice in our lives. At that stage (last Summer), we were still very much in the anticipation and very much hopeful stage that she would arrive safely into our family and thankfully she did. Now after 6 months of hibernation, and the glimmer of Spring on the horizon, she too has had the joy of seeing what the park is all about. As we headed down there to revive what once was, she was seen for the first time sat in a swing…she saw the world and life in a new light and loved it.

This Park has seen each one of my babies take their first swing. It has seen the apprehension in their little faces as we have sat them in the orange seats, and It has heard the little squeals and seen the awe as their tummy jumps to their throats. It has watched them grow to climbing in to the swings them selves and asking for a push from mummy and daddy, and it has patiently waited for them to tackle reaching the top of the “spiders web”. It has seen spontaneous meet ups with friends, games and laughter and witnessed accidents, monkey bar successes and failures and of course dropped ice creams and tears. Above all it has seen them have fun together and become to us a place we treasure. I love that ordinary moment in a child’s life where they first get into a swing, because it is the start of a wonderful journey of falling in love with the adventure of parks.

 

The Ordinary Moments
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I have loved that the majority of this week has been a sunny one, and Alice has been loads better. Whilst I haven’t done a whole lot of gallivanting, the combination has certainly made for a happy week. I had a lovely afternoon out on Tuesday with Naths Mum to Ikea and Homesense, where I helped her (unsuccessfully) look for a specific sized baskets and accompanied her in finding other additions for her home. It was great to chat and catch up, have a brief lunch and talk about some of our plans. Whilst I didn’t really need anything, I always love an opportunity to browse both Ikea and Homesense. On this occasion I actually came home with a few more flamingo glasses (50p each) and a couple of light shades that were a bargain down to £2.50 in Ikea. Homesense is usually more of a inspiring/wish list kind of visit and was just as lovely!

In other news Ethan received a rather forward Valentines card yesterday from one of the gorgeous girlies in his class…it had me both laughing and in shock, but hello, is he 6 or 16? I honestly always thought it was the girls we would have to watch, but apparently not!

Other than mild shock from that, my life has been simple (busy but simple), and my thriftiness has unintentionally all been targeted in the food department.

Fruit Bargains

Our local fruit shop is fantastic for some bargainous fruit and veg offers. I have learnt to go with no expectations, therefore being surprised by whatever they have in the moment. This visit found my leaving with 2 tubs of blueberries for £1, A bag of pink lady apples for £1 and a punnet of mixed seedless grapes for £1.25! The kids have loved having blueberry pancakes for breakfast this week, along with some healthy, tasty snacks!

Chicken Curry with leftover roast

Making a curry from the leftovers on a Sunday has become one of my new faves! I am really getting into experimenting with so many spices and flavours at this point in life, and chicken curry is easily one of the kids faves too (win win). What I love about this meal is that it is never the same, because the ingredients are dependent upon whats left on a Sunday night! Its quite an intense prospect…what will I make tomorrow from Sunday leftovers?! I especially love it when we have carrots and mash left as these thicken the sauce and add some extra goodness.

This week I went out there and did it in the slow cooker so it was a little bit different to normal, but equally as tasty! It was simply the leftover chicken pieces, stock from boiling the bones, chopped tomatoes, an onion (diced), crushed garlic and turmeric, cumin, ground corriander and ginger. I then added a couple of cups of cooked rice and left it til dinner – Yum!

Some weeks I add coconut milk, spinach and chick peas too…

Left over chilli

On Wednesday night I made a gorgeous Beef chilli. Most of the time my chilli’s are made from quorn mince and beans but this week I fancied a little beef in there, so popped that all in the slow cooker for us to enjoy after dancing.

Whenever I make anything like this, I like to throw in a few extra tins of chopped tomatoes and mixed beans to bulk it out as for the sake of an extra 70p-£1 it can turn one meal into 2. I then will heat the remainder for jacket potatoes or burritos the next day. I love it.

 Linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

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We have been in the weaning phase now for a good few weeks and Alice has taken to it wonderfully. Like all of my children, she loves her food and knows exactly when it should be coming and is not shy about letting us know. I have found this step quite natural, fun for us all and it was no where near as scary as I had anticipated.

I have been exclusively breastfeeding her since birth, and took the plunge to officially wean onto food a week or so before she was 6 months. I had taken her to the baby clinic for a weigh in and as she had started to slip ever so slightly and so we were advised by the health visitor to maybe introduce a little baby rice before bed to start filling her up. A quick trip to Morrisons and a pack of Ella’s kitchen banana breakfast rice later, we were ready to roll.

She loved it. The kids loved it and there the journey of eating food had most certainly begun!

We since have progressed onto expanding flavours and 3 meals a day, with breast milk in between and before bed. Breakfast is still hit and miss, Lunch is a chilled affair as its just us, (she has that about 11.15am) and I then usually try to give her dinner about 4.45pm so that then we can sit down as a family just after 5 and all eat together whilst she smiles at us.

Sometimes on the menu it’s pureed (when I have time to sit and feed her), and sometimes we opt for the baby led approach (when we are on the go or I am busy)…neither I find is better or enjoyed anymore, to me it is more a matter of convenience. I am a busy mum of 3 and the main thing is that she is being fed, with varied foods and loves it (except eggs). The routine is working well, and when I remember (and if its appropriate), I portion off our dinner for the next few days for her.

Piccolo’s Workshop

Leading up to this moment, where we introduced those first few spoonfuls of baby rice, we had sneaked her the odd cucumber stick during dinner and weaning had very much being at the front of my mind.

Because I lost Poppy in 2014, it meant that it had been a whole 4 years since I weaned one of my babies and I just felt a little clueless this time round. I felt somewhat daunted by the prospect, and just for the life in me couldn’t remember where to start, what to start with and how to go about it.

During all of this worry, around when Alice was about 4.5 months old I went along to Asda in Hull with some other bloggers where we had the pleasure of meeting a couple of the lovely ladies from new baby food brand “Piccolo“. I was greatly impressed with their brand and outlook, and gained so much from it…mainly being confidence with weaning and the wide range/flexibility I could start her with. Here weaning became less of a hurdle, and more of an eagerly anticipated milestone. I had little expectations of it, as I knew initially it would be a slow process, but I was excited to introduce my baby to the wonderful flavours and textures of food.

What I love most about Piccolo foods are that their ingredients are heavily influenced by the Mediterranean, and I just loved that theses flavours and ingredients coincide with what we eat a lot of in our family meals. She eats pouches, finger foods and homemade concoctions, but has really seemed to love the Piccolo range too.

Weaning is messy, requires organisation, and can seem daunting – even if you have done it once or twice before. But I am really enjoying this stage; the opportunity to share our favourite foods with her and see her wonder and smiles as the flavours explode on her tongue. I love to see another baby face looking at me all messy with dinner, and her little foot hanging out of her seat whilst she taps her other foot in anticipation. I love how she takes so much interest in what we are eating and her eyes tell you she wouldn’t mind a sneaky try. But mostly I just love I have another baby to do all of this with again, and that I feel no pressure to feed her any other way than what works for us.

*This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to share my journey & how Piccolo had helped on that…along with how great I think their brand is for babies. 

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