Is there anything more lovely than seeing kids enjoying their childhood and running wild? I just love it! I love to see my kids enjoying the outdoors, in the fresh air and running around, because not only is it a fantastic natural (and fun) form of exercise for them (and it’s free), but it makes me happy to see them letting off steam!

On the 24th of April 2018, children from across the Humber region will be getting together to participate in the Humber “GO Run For Fun” – A FREE event taking place at Hull Ionians Rugby Club, in partnership with Active Humber! It will span across 2 KM and is promised to be a fun free activity, where children can enjoy themselves and achieve something, all while taking part in physical exercise. The organisation is also providing a Health & Wellbeing Programme alongside the event to educate young children about the importance of diet and regular exercise, which I think is fantastic. 

With 21 schools taking part from across the region, including the run, a fun warm-up for the kids, and an appearance from the mascot, it looks like so much fun, and I kind of wish my kids were going to be there too (I know they would love it). 

GO Run For Fun is an organisation set up and committed to helping kids between 5 and 10 to get more active and healthy through their free running events. Their aim is that simple – get more kids running! And since starting in 2013, they have already welcomed over 200,000 young runners across their events in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Mexico and the USA.

Children’s health has been hitting UK headlines recently, with Public Health England suggesting 22.6 percent of children aged 4-5 and 34.3 percent of children aged 10-11 are overweight or obese. As a parent this is so troubling to me and we have always tried hard to help our kids be active and eat well to avoid the problems that come with kids being overweight. GO Run For Fun not only aims to deliver these fun, mass running events but, as mentioned, is also delivering a full Health & Wellbeing Programme to support the initiative. 

How we help our kids stay healthy …

We are quite an active family, who enjoy a lot of things outdoors, and so often our weekends will involve a walk of some description in nature! My kids, however have always been active and keep healthy by scootering or biking to and from school every day, by doing sporty extracurricular activities, and by us monitoring their snack/sugar intake.

We all enjoy a treat, but often at home we eat mainly vegetarian, and their main snacks after school is fruit, a wholemeal wrap with natural peanut butter, or raisins or something similar. We occasionally have crisps but I only ever buy enough that they would get them twice in the week maximum! All of our meals during the week though are fresh, cooked from scratch and mostly veggie. It’s something I really enjoy, and cooking for me is such an enjoyable thing, that we eat a wide range of foods and flavours! I find that this is not only a cheap way to eat when feeding the 5 of us, but I also find that the majority of things I make are also colourful and therefore have the healthy factor.

Just last night I made an insta-worthy dish that everyone thoroughly enjoyed (and lots of people asking for tips). It was honestly so quick, fresh, full of flavour, and healthy too, so I thought I would share it to give you a sense of some of the things we love – I present to you “Falafel with Giant couscous salad & Tzatziki sauce” – Yum!

Falafel & Giant CousCous Salad with Pitta & Tzatziki Sauce

You will need:

*Falafel (my falafel is shop bought from Tesco/Lidl and you can get them in all supermarkets. You can also step up the health factor by making your own, but my homemade ones have always been a little dry!)
*Giant Couscous
*Fresh Spinach
*Baby plum tomatoes (sliced)
*Feta
*Fresh Coriander
*2 Lemons
*Wholemeal Pitta
*Greek Yogurt, Cucumber, minced garlic, dill and lemon juice for the Tzatziki (or again buy it if it’s easier)! 

For the Salad – cook and cool the giant couscous, then add a couple of handfuls of shredded spinach leaves, sliced plum tomatoes, cubed feta, and chopped coriander

Pour over the juice of 2 lemons and mix it all up well

For the Sauce (If you are making it from scratch)

Combine chopped cucumber with 2 cups plain greek yogurt, 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1/3 cup chopped dill, 1/2 tsp salt (add more to taste) and 1/8 tsp black pepper

Then serve with warmed pitta and falafel (again cooked), and enjoy the deliciousness! 

Our Favourite Humberside spot to get some exercise…

Moving to a new area means you have both the privilege and challenge of finding new favourite spots to enjoy with the kids/as a family! Whilst we are fairly new to the East Riding/Humber region we both grew up here and have obviously visited family here too over the years. There are many places that are lovely to walk and cycle, and we especially love the coast. But one of our faves (not far from Hull City centre) would have to be The Humber Bridge Country Park!

I love that it is right on the edge of a city and yet once in there you feel worlds away! It is a nature reserve and a place where you can walk and relax together, have a picnic, play at the park, and the kids can run free or take their bikes and scooters. I also love that because it is next to the Humber Bridge, if the weather is nice you can also factor in the option of a walk or bike ride together across and back – covering an easy and fascinating 2 miles!

Helping kids to stay healthy can be such a natural and fun thing. I love to see my kids being active and enjoying the outdoors. We all love a treat, but I love that this is in moderation and they appreciate the taste and benefits of fruit and vegetables. They are always willing to try new foods, new experiences and as a result are finding things they enjoy whilst staying active and healthy!

Check out the GO Run For Fun mission statement and see if there are any areas you might be able to improve on in helping your kids and family be a little more healthy this Spring/Summer!

Ready, Steady, GO! – Run each day of the week

Bin the Sugar, Win with Water – Drink 8 glasses of water a day

Eating the Rainbow – Eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day

Keeping Going and Not Giving Up – Use the word Yet when you can’t do something, be resilient, not giving up

Team Spirit – Be a team player

Improving Fitness – Be active for 60 minutes during the day

 

*In collaboration with GO Run For Fun

 

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It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote an Ordinary Moments post. Remember my weekly blogs that talk in more depth about those little regular and ordinary moments in our lives that make life what it is? The moments that make you smile, and the moments you notice your children grow, achieve and change. The milestones and the traditions, the little habits of the family unit and our little ordinary love’s that day in day out all seem just that – so ordinary. But when focused on and remembered, accumulate to become the grand picture of life together!

We have had a rather extraordinary few weeks, and I suppose when you are busy packing for a holiday, and travelling, life is far from the ordinary and as a result those things are just taken for granted or overlooked. Life is dominated by the new, and the exciting and the ordinary moments just go with the flow. It’s only now as I look back on these weeks and adventures that I see that there was one obvious and constant ordinary moment that couldn’t be overlooked. There was one particular thing that throughout all of the new, all of the excitement and long drives from state to state that was ever present, and it was the thing that everyone noticed and commented on (aside from our English accents), and that was our little Daddy’s girl – Miss Alice!

I often joke with people that once I finished breastfeeding her at 9 months, that she deemed me as useless to her and began to gravitate towards Nath. But seriously, I swear she just tolerates me during the day til he comes in from work, and will often squirm when I pick her up or just scowl at me and toddle off!

We of course have lovely moments during the day; our silly mad moments of laughter and play, and we take wanderings around the village and adventures on the train. We have little dance sessions in the kitchen or lounge, and fun with snacks and games. But it is plain to see that despite these moments, she would much prefer to have her Daddy rather than Mummy, and that is just the way it is!

When she’s sad it’s always “Dada” first before me, and when he leaves the room she chases after him in a mad panic.

She cries when he goes to the bathroom (and waits outside if she can), and is heartbroken when he goes out to work.

She repeatedly kicks me out of the way if he brings her into our bed for snuggles, and dhe literally sprints to the door when she hears him return from work or a trip just to the car.

Alice will follow her daddy with her eyes around the room whilst he goes about his business and soon as he makes a wrong move, she jumps down to investigate where he went.

She is always watching, always wondering, and always following after her Daddy!

As soon as Nathan is in the room she lights up and a huge grin spreads across her face. If she is able to then she will run to him, and if not she whines with outstretched arms and wriggly legs; beckoning to him to come get her! When he picks her up to his 6ft 3 height, she nestles on his chest and looks so smug  snug!

She wants to be by his side always, or up on his shoulders, or just sat on his lap. She yearns to have him hold her in his arms and whatever he is doing she just wants to be a part of it.

She is allowed to play with his watch, his phone, and whatever she wants really. All she has to do is look at him with her pouty lips and big blue eyes, and much to her siblings dismay, will usually get her own way because she’s just “so cute”!

At bedtime she will lay in her cot crying “a-dada….dadaaaaa” until he comes and reassures her. If I go into her she is more sad, and then points at the door asking where “a-dada” is?!

She misses him when he’s out of sight, and adores to have him near when he’s home. She is the ultimate Daddy’s girl and is most content when by his side – it has been a dream for her to have him “home” for the last 2 weeks!

Megan and Ethan didn’t particularly favour either one of us in such a fierce way as Alice does with her Daddy, and even now it’s whoever didn’t say no, or made them do a chore that is the fave (it changes hourly)! But Alice on the other hand is all about Nathan, all of the time and has been for a while. Everyone sees it and most people comment on her being “A daddy’s girl”! Even from being with us for even a short few hours (sometimes minutes) they start commenting on how Alice is “A daddy’s girl”, and we all laugh and nod along that she totally is.

To us it is ordinary now – she adores her daddy and wants to be with him always and he is often the answer to her tears and despair! He is way softer with her than he was with the others and will often give in quicker too. He panders to her more than we ever did with Ethan and Megan, and it’s plain to see that the tiniest member of the family has him round her finger and wrapped up in her heart!

I find it quite funny sometimes, but mostly I love the ordinary moments of seeing Nathan with his cheeky little “Daddy’s girl” by his side! Its really cute and beautiful and also is rather convenient at bedtime and when we are out as it means I am hands free!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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When I was younger I had dreams! Big dreams (and I still do). I wanted to be a teacher, a Lawyer, a medic, or something in the RAF (to name a few), and I swapped and changed each new term at school with ideas of what I one day might become “When I grow up”. But ultimately I always knew (and was firm in the dream of knowing) that one day I wanted to get married and have a family. I wanted to be a Mother.

I have said several times, and those who know me know, that I dreamed of being the mum in the “mini van” with at least 6 kids. I dreamed of having a big family and I guess that that immediately meant that I dreamed of being at home and raising that family. But with that dream I never imagined (not that I could have) what it would feel like to postpone other opportunities to make that dream my reality. I never realised how much I would need to change in myself and learn to be the mother I had seen in my future. I never realised how relentless, trying and intense the role of mother would be for me, or even how hard it would be to get all of those little ones I had imagined raising. I never thought I would face child loss or even feel on some days no value in what I was doing! I hoped I would be a mother to many, but underestimated what that meant to me!

Being a SAHM

 I am a mother to 4 children and at 33 I still kinda want a couple more even though it’s nuts! We started our family within a few months of being married (because that’s what felt right for us), and just less than 12 months before our first Anniversary (3 days before to be exact) Ethan was born, and I was a mother!

Being a first time mum I felt incredibly overwhelmed and rarely good enough at what I was doing, I adored him, and did my best, but It seemed to magnify my low self esteem and short comings! Having an emergency C-section, breastfeeding issues and then PND probably didn’t help any of this, but despite these initial struggles, in time (and with some therapy) I grew in confidence and 20 months later we had Megan! 19 Months later I was cooking little Poppy, who was then sadly diagnosed with CHD and Edwards syndrome, and subsequently still born at term. Grief plagued us all, and I was grateful to be able to be at home… whilst it was hard having 2 little ones and such a massive loss, and messy life, there was never any pressure for me to have to return to work. In time the fog lifted and we returned to a new normal – I was more broken and bruised but I was mostly fun mum again. Our family growth was halted for a while, but with time (22 Months after her passing) we welcomed Baby Alice.

7 Years on from becoming a mum and choosing to stay at home, I find my life to be a complete and utter mix bag of emotions. Some days I relish in all I do and feel so happy to have these days of freedom over my time, days to watch them grow and enjoy raising them. Days where I can pretty much insert whatever takes our fancy and go on adventures, play, read, and learn together. I enjoy being with my kids very much and catching every milestone and emotion of theirs has been a huge blessing. I love to see their excitement at the school gates every day I am there to collect them. I love our adventures and the opportunities to see friends and family, and I love to play, build dens and forts, make things, watch films and snuggle…yes on some days I look at our life and think I am truly 100% living the dream. I am so happy to be a stay at home mum that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else. This is my life and its great.

But then there are the days when I feel no fulfilment in at all. I look at my life or I am asked what I do and all I can answer is “I am JUST a mum” and feel a little unsuccessful in my life. Perhaps it’s because our society doesn’t value motherhood and bigger families so much these days. Perhaps it’s because I lack in confidence to own what I do and be okay with it, but either way, it’s on these days that I question if I am good enough!

There are days that are emotional for me – I am so pushed to my limit and often plagued with tiredness or grief that I feel like I can’t possibly be doing any good! These are the days that aren’t fun and games, or filled with adventures. They are days I don’t get dressed or am unable to do a whole lot in our home. These are the days of real life – the ones that seem to be so mundane, a little lonely and completely exhausting and relentless. They are the days that I wish I had more in life to my name and under my belt than just the label of motherhood. It’s those days, when I’ve lost my temper, when my house is in chaos, when the kids do my head in and I cry or feel like I am not enough, I look at myself and feel like I am failing as Mother and therefore at life. This is my life, so If I aren’t doing well at it, what else is there? It leads me to wonder if I am missing out on who I might have been if I hadn’t have given up on other pursuits, and simply put I forget who I am and what great joy and fulfilment there is in being a stay at home mum. I fail to see the positives and greatness because of a negative day, thought or defeating moment!

But the truth is (and what I am working on believing more deeply within myself) is that I am in fact right where I am meant to be. I am living the dream I dreamed, and I am a huge success! I hold them in my arms, have those sticky kisses and watch them play or see them trying to master new skills… I look upon their precious little faces and see how blessed I am. I remember that though this job/role/life plan at times takes it’s toll, and just because I find it a challenge and struggle some days, it doesn’t disregard all of the days we laugh, sing, dance and smile together. It doesn’t erase the days I am winning and feel like greatness for giving them life and helping them live it! And just because there are no qualifications and recognition attached to it, it certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t found success in my life. Far from it, I have grown 4 humans, I am raising the next generation, and I assure you – that is no small job!

I keep a (fairly) clean home and feed them – yes sometimes that’s from Subway, or McDonalds, but mostly its well planned, healthy, homemade food I buy, prepare and cook myself, and I love that! I play with them, and we go on lots of adventures. I read to and with them and we travel off to far away places in our imaginations. I comfort them when they are sad, correct them when they make a mistake, and teach them about the world around them. I help them problem solve, be confident and to believe in God. I teach them forgiveness, love and about being kind. I teach them to pray, to have goals, to be helpful, and I keep them clean and safe. I sing to them (even though they don’t always appreciate it) and I laugh with them daily.

I am a stay at home mum, and they are my life – my daily work, my challenges and ultimately my source of joy and success!

 

The choice to stay at Home

Choosing to stay at home isn’t any easy choice! Some days it is because I really do love it, but then some days it isn’t at all. I know for some that this isn’t even an option, and whilst for us this has meant great sacrifice, and some days I feel undervalued, I could never regret the choice to be at home and mother my kids full time. This post isn’t about me boasting of this privilege, and saying look at what I do, because some days (with finances and kids behaviours) it feels far from anything to be proud of, rather I guess I wanted to share with you the battles I feel within myself being a stay at home mum, and my journey of placing value on what I do, and how I survive get through each day.

I am often way too tough on myself and expect so much. I am an ambitious, passionate and imaginative person, which is brilliant as I always have goals and ideas, but these ideas and goals often lead to me feeling like I always want to be more and never feeling enough in the here and now. There are days when “Mary” is swallowed up in “mummy” and I cannot see a life outside of Nappies, laundry piles, dishes, and whining kids. It’s only since losing Poppy, and gaining Alice, that I have seen a huge need for self care. Its recognising that I need to have ambition and hobbies still to be a better, more balanced mother, but also it has taught me that I need to relax more and not put so much pressure on myself – just do my best in any given moment.

Nathan and I never sat down when we started our family and officially said “You will work, and I will stay home”! But these are the traditional roles we have fallen into. Not by accident, as we were both raised LDS this is something that we both saw and felt was important. Like I say it has required a heck of a lot of sacrifice, and it has meant that on some days I feel a little less than fulfilled, we have less money, but it works and I (mostly) love our life together.

I sometimes ask “Why continue to stay at home, if you find it so hard”, and ultimately it comes down to the fact that I feel I am doing the right thing by being at home with my kids full time and I mostly do love it. I feel no-one can replace “Mummy” and I am what my children need! It’s always been my dream to do this, and sometimes yes sometimes I need a good slap and reminding of that, but It’s okay that I find it hard, or feel inadequate – that’s life. And just because there are those hard “pull your hair out” days and seasons where I feel far from joyous about what I am doing, I choose each day to try again to be a better mother. I make the choice to stay at home and be there for them, and raise them the very best I can in a very troubled world!

We are almost done (in Nathan’s opinion “done” ) having our family, and I can now see that there is so much life ahead for me after kids. It’s strange because whilst I have a million things I want to do that will all make me feel a more accomplished and successful individual (and the stuff I have felt over the years I possibly missed out on), none are at the moment as great as raising our family. I wish on some days I had more self confidence to be content as a Stay at home mum, to always see the good and know I am in the right place and doing well in my life, but despite the negative, strenuous days of doubt, deep down I know that these are my little treasures and I am not “Just” a mum, but I am their mum and doing a great work.

It’s a work that’s incredibly hard and I rely on Nathan, friends, family and ultimately God to help me do a good job of it. I pray every morning for the strength and ability to get through the day, to enjoy it and be what they need. And whilst some day’s I lose my temper, or I cry about being a rubbish mum…. whilst I whine about how tired I always am and how stretched I feel, whilst I at times want more and to be be more and can’t possibly be succeeding in my life, I do my best time and time again and I realise now that that makes me (and all of us mummy’s) great and successful in what we are doing!

Motherhood isn’t what I imagined, it’s far more, and makes me far more than any other job would!

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Hello and welcome back to another week of “MyHeartyLife” – an opportunity for us to share in the goodness and positive points of the previous week!

This week for us has been half term, and whilst I had great plans for a “No spend” week, confident in the fact I could muster up lots of free ideas and days out, by mid week we were headed to the cinema and I was more than ready to dish out the dough for some peace! I am not usually a parent to whine about the school holidays; I usually really love them and I love the bonus days we get to spend together again. But there has been something about this half term that has been incredibly hard and a real test of my patience!

The kids have spent a lot of time arguing and fighting with each other, nagging and making Alice cry! The weather was awful most days, and our washer broke, and so under the circumstances I have sadly been counting down the days until they are back to school, whilst clinging to the brief moments of peace and laughter!

Grateful For

Despite the rubbish weather, and contentious kiddies, I have been grateful for the lovely moments we have been able to enjoy together – The laughs when Ethan got soaked by a wave at the seaside on Tuesday, the lovely date at the Cinema to see Coco for Valentines… a great time walking in the muddy fields and puddles yesterday, and hanging with cousins on Wednesday.

Coco was such a brilliant film and I am grateful that we got to go and see it together. It was so thought provoking and touching, and I look forward to seeing again when it is released on DVD! Our tickets were only £4 each too, so I am grateful that it was cheap!

I am also grateful this week for the lovely day I had in London on Saturday with Ethan, and for my lovely husband and valentine – Nathan! I am grateful everyday for him and the love we share, but I am grateful to have a had a day to really stop and look at what has grown as a result of that love and express it a little more. We are not big celebrators of Valentines day, but we do have our little low key traditions that we enjoy. I love the reminder of how great it is to love and be loved in return and grateful for a bonus little date together!

Succeeded At 

My biggest success has been getting through this crazy hard half term without losing my mind completely!! I know I usually crack jokes with stuff like this, but nah – this is for real people. I feel it a great accomplishment, and I am hoping that the next school holidays are a lot smoother than this one has been!

Found Beauty In

The 2 most beautiful sights this week were on Tuesday and Yesterday. Both were outdoors and appreciative of nature!

On Tuesday we headed to the coast to collect rocks from the beach to paint, have some fresh air and a walk, and get a few things from the shops. Turns out the air was way more fresh than we anticipated and with a cold blustery day the waves were going nuts and with the added rain, we pretty much froze! It was however a beautiful sight as always to see the waves crashing against the harbour wall and rolling vigorously over the sand.

I loved watching the joy on Ethan’s face as he ran between waves to collect his much wanted rocks.

Yesterday I once again found beauty in our lovely village and surrounding countryside, when we decided to make the most of a lovely sunny day and go for a muddy walk. We did indeed have a muddy walk – after 3 days of heavy rain the fields were ridiculously muddy, yet having all of this beauty and space to breathe right on our doorstep, combined with blue skies and sunshine, and the kids enjoying themselves, was truly a beautiful thing indeed!

I am looking forward to a day in the city with the kids today and the fact that we have also booked a little night away for us all in a hotel (with pool). We all need to just unwind and regroup and so we are hoping for a lovely weekend and some lovely family moments!

#MyHeartyLife Rules

You can link up one post a week that fits into either or all of the “Prompts”, and I ask that you at least comment on mine and one or 2 others too. Kindness costs nothing and a comment on your blog feels amaze!

Please use the #MyHeartyLife on Social media whenever to share the goodness and cheerful moments in your life that day! It might also help when summing up the week into a blog post to link up!

 

The Hearty Life


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