Monday, 30 April 2012

hours of fun with pasta

I recommend the following very simple and easy to set up activity if you have a toddler (so long as they are past that I-want-to-put-everything-in-my-mouth-stage).

All you need is a few dried goods - beans, pasta, rice etc all mixed up in a tray with a few spoons and bowls and voila - an entertained toddler!

I drew some squares on a piece of paper and showed her how to sort the ingredients into categories.

 I found that this was a great way to use lots of different description words - small, round, smooth, twisting, black, yellow (you get the idea).

Most of all she loved doing some imitation play by scooping the stuff into bowls and giving it to me to 'eat'.


I thought it was adorable when she went and got her doll from the toy chest and stuck it in the high chair so she could give her some 'food' too :)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bath time

Love these little cherubs ...

She was looking at herself in the mirror in this one :)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

quiet house

The house is completely silent. Just the tick tock from the clock in the kitchen. The washing up is done, laundry has been hung, the dry clothes folded. Both kiddies are sound asleep, looking like little angels. My eyes are starting to get heavy now, but I know I've still got a list of stuff I wanted to accomplish - a few more bits of house work, and a load of half finished projects I wanted to try and do more on.

Am just feeling a little bit lack lustre now. I got off the phone with Gareth a few moments ago, he's working away in Leeds for a couple of days. I always feel a little bit uncomfortable at night, when my mind starts playing tricks and I start hearing bump noises. You see, Gareth is one of those men who you always feel safe with. I know we're O.K when he's in the house. This was confirmed a few years ago when a drunk/drugged up man tried to break into our flat (I was 7 months pregnant at the time) and he chased the man and got into a bit of a tussle (to put it mildly) ensuring the man would not be returning in a hurry.

While I always seem to get way more jobs done when he's away, the house doesn't feel quite right. It was a bitter/sweet moment when at bath time Aniah was asking for her Daddy pointing to the office door (where Gareth will often be studying around bath time) and I had to try and explain Daddy was away. Then after her bath she went searching in our bedroom saying his name again.

Life often works that way doesn't it? It's only when something or someone we love is absent that we truly come to appreciate how much we miss it.

Needless to say I'm looking forward to having him home again.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Victorian style

Here are my favourites from the photos I took of Aniah at Attingham. I must say, I found it very difficult to chose my top five (to see all the photos click HERE)

Little miss muffet

Here is one of several photos I took of Aniah with her new little outfit at Attingham park. More photos to come when I've had time to edit.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mr Ruggers

I'm really proud of Gareth for his newest pursuit. He has loved watching rugby since before we got together, but it's something he's never actually tried playing himself. He is naturally very athletic and takes to any kind of sport like a duck to water. He doesn't really talk much about his achievements, which is one of the reasons I nominated him to be a torch bearer (read more about that HERE). I thought it was about time he had a little bit of attention for his amazing talents and achievements (can you tell I'm a proud wife?!)

So, a couple of months ago Gareth plucked up the courage to speak to the local rugby club and ask them if he could join in. I think he seems to think that because he reaches the big 3-0 this June, he's somehow terribly old or something. Many of our friends are in their 30's and from what I can tell it's just as good if not better than you're 20's!

As his wife, I was naturally quite worried about the state he'd be returning home in after each training session and match. I must say, the bruises he's come away with have resembled that of a rainbow at times, he's received a whip lash type injury, broken a rib, cut his ear, dislodged a knee and a few other things. But, despite all that he has a grin as big as the cheshire cat every time he comes home. He LOVES it! I can't really see the appeal... running around getting smashed to the ground every few minutes. But, it makes him happy, so who am I to argue? He's managed to score a try 3 out of 5 games, not bad for someone who's never played before! I am amazed at his ability to be good at any sport he tries. I do hope our children take after him in that area.

Unfortunately I was too far away to get any decent pictures of him in the game I saw him play...

 Runnnnn Gareth Runnnn. Actually, shortly after he caught this he shrugged off several tackles before being brought down :)

All muddied up after the game...

I kept the kids appeased the whole game by feeding them sesame sticks!

I love how passionate Gareth is about the game and hope that the more he plays the hardier his body gets so there are less bruises and injuries to tend to!! 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Scrummy rolo cookie recipe

I've been looking for a decent cookie recipe for ages. For some reason the ones I have made in the past have been either too crunchy or too flat. Well, here is one Martha and I did for our bake day. It's one Martha found on pintrest. You can find the recipe HERE

They were pretty straight forward to make and tasted divine!!

Aniah enjoyed cleaning the bowl for me...

 These got eaten sooo quickly! The photos don't do them justice... they were yuuummyyy

Thursday, 19 April 2012

a bit of escapism

Today I had a couple of seriously good treats that I feel I should make a habit of repeating. Just a few short years ago, my idea of a treat differed somewhat to what today's treat entailed.

I love being a mother, but sometimes you do forget what it's like to have meditation and reflection time. I don't mean sit cross legged and hum or anything, I mean time where there is no sound, you can close your eyes and just think about nothing, then let thoughts slowly drift in and out of your consciousness... thoughts of the past, present and future.

Perhaps this kind of 'quiet time' wasn't really very high on my appreciation list before I had children. But now, it is a rare occasion that I get to be on my own, without needing to console an upset child or worry about the mounting laundry pile etc. I don't think it's something I need every day or anything, or something that I couldn't live without... but it seriously helps with renewing your energy and reviving sanity levels.

So the other week I decided to join the gym. I figured it was a good way to motivate me to get toned up for the family holiday (sooo excited about this!!). So far I've just been doing a few early morning sessions before the kids wake in the morning or taking the family for a swim.

The other day my (oh so kind and lovely) mother offered to watch the children so I could nip off and do a fitness class. It was called a balance class and I had no idea what to expect, other than perhaps having to stand in some twisted pose for 10 minutes trying to keep from toppling over. The class was filled with a range of people (mainly 40+ and a token overweight man), but I didn't care if I looked out of place, I was having a little 'me time'.

The class was really amazing. It combined yoga and pilates to form a very pleasant relaxation/muscle toning experience. I think the reason I loved it so much was because it made me use my limbs in ways similar to when I did dancing. As a teen, ballet was a huge part of my life. Art and dance were my 'thing'. It really was a form of escapism for me. I loved the way it taught me to control my body and allowed me to express creativity through movement. Anyway, I guess that's why this class was so therapeutic for me. There is something quite rejuvenating about having to be so aware of each part of your body. I know I sound a little bit airy fairy... but I recommend giving it a go!

After I got home I got back into Mummy mode and went about doing the house work, playing, cooking etc etc... then after both babies were asleep I treated myself to a really long bubble bath!!! I allowed myself to lay there for a good half an hour just enjoying the silence in the room. Then I got into my PJ's and painted my toe nails. To make the evening even peachier, Gareth and I ordered a take away, so we got to enjoy eating some yummy food and watching a good movie. Admittedly I did fall asleep for half of it, but that's a regular occurrence regardless of how good the film is!

Yes, I think I have hit something here... a bit of exercise + reflection time = a rejuvenated Hannah.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

2 steps back?

Gosh, just when I feel I'm getting to grips with this whole toddler behaviour thing, I have a day like today. The day started really well, I went to the gym at 6.45, had a swim, detoxed in the sauna. Got home, and even got a little bit of snuggle time with my two boys before Aniah woke up. Again, breakfast lulled me into thinking it was just an ordinary day with my two little lovelies. Then we got ready and went to the local soft play centre to meet up with my sister Esther and her toddler Celeste. That's when the over zealous (as polite as I can make it) Aniah kicked in. Within about 10 minutes I was tearing her away from a fellow screaming child who was declaring between sobs that a 'girl scratched me'.

The routine starts... 'Did you hit the little boy Aniah?' Innocent look around. 'Say sorry to the little boy'. Aniah waits a few seconds 'Aniah, say sorry to the little boy'. Said boy is sobbing hysterically. Aniah slowly signs a sorry with her closed fist. 'Good girl, now give him a hug'. Aniah gives her a hug whilst saying 'ahhhh'. Moment of slight relief takes over the feeling of frustration.

I barely sit down and begin the conversation about houses with my sister before I hear another hysterical scream. I look around wildly to locate my daughter. She is in the climbing frame clawing at a little girl's face this time. I quickly rush over and pull her away. Aniah doesn't understand sharing. It's the egocentric stage of her development where the concept of someone else using the same toy/area as her is impossible. This time the girl's parent has come rushing over with a disgusted look at me and Aniah, rushed her child away. I try as calmly as possible to repeat the oft rehearsed phrase 'You need to be kind to other children. You must not hit Aniah'. I take her out of the play area and follow the crying sounds to find the mother cradling her daughter.

'I'm so so sorry. She's going through a bit of a phase at the moment' I say apologetically. 'I need her to say sorry to your daughter' As I ask Aniah repeatedly to say sorry, it is clear that this time she feels the situation does not require an apology and looks at the floor. 'You're going to need to go in time out if you can't say sorry Aniah'. Nothing.

I scoop her up and take her over to the corner of the building where there is the least distraction and plonk her on a little stool. 'You need to stay there for a few minutes'.

I walk away enough to show her she's on her own but close enough that I can pop her back on the stool if she tries to escape.

After a minute she says sorry to me and I tell her she needs to say sorry to the girl. At this point Aniah starts to sob, clearly fed up with the situation (that made two of us).  I take her to the girl and her mother. By this point it is clear that Aniah scratched her quite hard as there is a long red mark down her face. I try and get Aniah to say sorry again. No joy, she's crying too much. She just about manages a hug with some coercion.

After a few more attempts by Aniah to defend her chosen playing area, or just simply to grab at another child I decided it was home time.

I found it quite difficult because she hasn't really been grabbing much recently since we started doing the 'gently gently' approach. Essentially, if I could see her going up to Zak to try and interact with him with the intention of grabbing him, I'd get her to stroke his head saying 'ahhh... gently'. Which seemed to work a treat.

When we got home, the fizzy toddler theme continued as I attempted to prepare lunch. Pulling socks off her brother, pulling things from cupboards, tipping the bin over, grabbing the frying pan as I ran to get the phone, drawing on the wall. It actually amazed me how much she managed to achieve in a matter of minutes.

I have a sneaky suspicion she was over tired because after lunch I put her down for a nap and she was a lot calmer after sleeping for a couple of hours. Phiew! It really does amaze me how much she can get up to so quickly. As gutted as I am about Aniah's behavioural turn in the play pit, I need to remember to be consistent with her and look forward to this 'phase' being over.

Aniah is a sweet and caring little girl the majority of the time and I love her so much. I know she's going to be fine, today was just a little bump in the road.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A walk up the Wrekin

It's crazy to think Gareth and I have been living in Telford for nearly 2 years!! In that whole time we have never walked up 'The Wrekin' (the local hill with lovely views of Shropshire). So yesterday for family home evening we decided it was time we took a little walk up to the top with our little ones, we also invited the other local family we have living in Telford. We had been told it was fairly steep in places, but was possible to take a pushchair up. Luckily we just purchased one of those fab 3 wheelers that cope very well with rough terrain.

We all took it in turns pushing the kiddies up. I take my hat off to Adam who practically carried their push chair up most of the time!)

It was all going well, then we took a wrong turn (after deliberating which track would be the least troublesome with a pushchair). The route we took was really beautiful, I saw some great photography locations. But then the path started getting steeper...

 ... and steeper...

...and steeper, until they were practically clambering up on all fours!

Along the way we decided to take a quick stop to catch a breath and take some photos (Sam is looking into modelling, there are more photos on my photography blog)

This little man just makes me want to squeeze his chubby little cheeks...

 Here's my handsome man...

After a big detour up some very steep slopes we made it!!

The Polland family -

The Forsyth family

The Wilkins duo...

The walk back was much quicker once we were back on the right track!

Monday, 16 April 2012

wall word squares tutorial

I've seen so many great ideas for home made wall art and word blocks etc on pintrest that a few months ago I decided I'd give it a go. I looked for some cubes initially but ended up getting some interesting square bits of wood that my sister was going to throw away. 

First, I sanded down the wood to get rid of any excessive ragged edges.

I then painted them all in purple (using some left over paint we used on the feature wall in the living room)

Once it was dry I painted over the purple with two coats of 'Crown - Eggshell, old English white'.

I then used sand paper to distress the edges of the blocks so that the purple began to show through.

The writing part I can't take credit for as it was an idea I got from this superb blog. I love her stuff and want to try a few more bigger projects sometime.

All you do is print off the words you want onto regular paper then place some carbon paper between the word and the wood. I also taped it all down to prevent the word sliding. Then use a pen to trace over the words.

It's then as simple as painting between the lines. At this stage I probably could have benefited from spraying it with sealant (that's on my 'need to buy list)

So there you have it ... my little word blocks. What do you think?

Friday, 13 April 2012

Learning about the face

Over the last few weeks Aniah has gotten much better at pointing and identifying parts on her body, especially things around her face. To encourage her learning in this area I decided to make her a little velcro matching game with parts of the face she could take off and put back on...

As freaky as the face looks, Aniah does really enjoy pulling all the different parts off and putting them back on again, she even put the pictures to the sides of her face and was saying 'ear ear'

Since we started playing the game she'd started saying 'mouth' ... well it comes out sounding more like 'mou' ...

When Aniah got bored of it, it was time for Mummy to have some fun making a Picasso face :)

Any suggestions for new matching games??

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Pork, apple and pearl barley casserol

Almost every Monday I look in the fridge to find the same sort of ingredients ... a bit of left over meat, a few veggies that haven't quite been used up, and a few other condiments.

Monday is my online shop day, so usually I have to try and be imaginative with the meal situation. Sometimes I resort to beans on toast (if there is any bread left), or take-away if I'm not feeling very imaginative and can't conjure up a meal. From time to time I manage to come up with a really tasty meal from the left overs and food cupboard stuff (see my chicken risotto  recipe, I've done that loads of times since because the Gareth enjoyed it so much).

This week, we had roast pork left over from the Sunday roast. As I jumped from ideas of using it in a sandwich to putting it in a curry a few days had gone by and I realised it was getting closer to me having to throw it away because of my indecision! In the end I got out the slow cooker and muddled together some root veggies from the fridge and came up with this... and to my delight it tasted rather good, a nice hearty meal on a cold day. The following quantities are approximates as I didn't really measure anything and just hoped for the best. It yielded about 2 big portions or 3 medium sizes...


1 potato cubed
1 diced carrot
1/2 parsnip cubed
handful of diced suede
1 apple peeled, cored and cubed
1/2 onion finely chopped
1/2 leek roughly chopped
approx 1/2 cup of pearl barley
left over pork chopped/torn to your liking (1-2 cups)
1 vegetable stock cube
Approx  1 pint of boiling water (enough to cover ingredients in the slow cooker)
Approx 2 tbsp of veg gravy granules (enough to thicken the sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste ( I didn't actually use any as I found the salt in the stock cube and gravy granules was enough, but a bit of pepper would have given it a lovely kick)


Simple as you like ... bung all the ingredients in together except the gravy granules(taking care to dissolve the stock cube in the water first) then let it all simmer on a low setting till it looks done. I added the gravy granules right at the end to thicken it all up, but it would probably work just as well at the start.

We ate this with some lovely warm crunchy rolls... tasty tasty!

The great thing about the slow cooker recipes is that you can stick it all in before you go to work or if you're going out for the day and it's all ready and waiting for you as soon as you come in!!

It feels so good when you manage to make a nice meal from left over food!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Random creative play

Here are a few more creative play activities Aniah has been doing over the past few weeks that I forgot to put up...

Threading beads with palydough. This is an idea I got from another blog, but I've totally forgotten whose. But it's a great way to encourage hand eye co-ordination.  As you can see from the photos you can try this with beads, cheerios or anything that would fit over the stick!

Aniah loves bath time and getting messy... so what better than to combine the two and do a bit of bath tub painting with shaving foam...