Toddler Tuesday | Crazy Cooking (messy play)

Tuesday is one of Mabel’s preschool days, and it’s really nice to have some quality time with Greta. She seems to respond really well to the calmer atmosphere. Mabel has just started doing full 6 hour days at preschool, rather than just afternoons, so it means that we now have more time to do some bigger activities. This morning, I wanted to use the builders tray because we haven’t got as much use out of it since I brought it as I thought we would. So, after I finished cleaning, I thought let’s make a load more mess. Why not, it’s what us mums live for isn’t it? So, inspired by the time Mabel emptied a whole bag of flour onto the kitchen floor and started making ‘snow angels’, I decided to set up some ‘crazy cooking’.

Crazy cooking - toddler messy sensory play activity

I gave her a selection of dry ingredients in different containers, a variety of baking molds, bowls and cups, three different spoons and a jug of water. I gave her warm water because I thought it might make the dry ingredients change more when she added it.

Then I sat down with a cup of tea and a pain au chocolate, to watch. I thought if nothing else, it’s going to be good entertainment. I’ve not really done anything like this with Greta for a long time, and I’ll be honest, I was expecting carnage. So I was quite surprised when she started quite sedately just mixing the oats and rice with a spoon, and I couldn’t work out if I was relieved or disappointed.

Before long though she discovered the flour, and things just got messier from here on in really. She did give me a few hesitant looks, to see if I was going to tell her to stop making a mess I think. You can tell she’s never been to nursery, where messy play is a daily occurrence! She even stopped to wash her hands in the middle of playing bless her.

Crazy cooking - toddler messy sensory play activity

This is such a great activity because you can just use whatever you happen to have in your kitchen cupboards, no planning required. It’s also great because it covers sensory exploration, fine motor skills, role play, space, shape and measure, problem solving, communication and language, basically everything.

Crazy cooking - toddler messy sensory play activity

Yes it’s a fairly big clean up, and I admit, I did kind of stand staring at it for a while not knowing where to start, but the tray makes it a lot easier than it could have been. I actually ended up just moving the tray somewhere out of reach and finishing cleaning it later because Ernie started crying. We don’t do this sort of thing every day, I’m not mad. But she did play quietly for 45 minutes and

I got to sit down and drink a hot cup of tea, and that is a definite win. In fact, she didn’t make a single demand of me for at least 45 minutes, I’m pretty sure that’s a record for the toddle-monster.

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Cuddle Fairy

Maverick Baking | Muffins for Brunch

I’ve always been a bit of a maverick baker. I’ll look up a recipe to get a general idea of what I’m supposed to do, but then I’ll just kind of wing it. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t always work out. But this time it did, and I was so shocked pleased, I thought I’d share the recipe.

We had some family coming round on Sunday morning for brunch, so I decided I would attempt some muffins. I found this recipe and decided to follow it loosely/largely ignore it. You don’t need a snot-faced little helper to make these muffins, but I can’t garuntee the same results if you try without.

 

blueberry muffins recipe

Note the blueberry chops!

So the first thing I did was decide that 9 muffins wasn’t nearly enough. When you’re having what is basically cake for breakfast, you may as well go big or go home. So I doubled the recipe.

  • So I beat 220g of butter in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for what seemed like forever, until it had gone pale and creamy. It’s supposed to look like mayonnaise, I’m not sure mine did, but my hand was shaking from holding the whisk, so I decided to call it a day.
  • Next I added 400g of granulated sugar and then beat some more. I don’t have Demerara sugar. Basically whenever a recipe calls for sugar of any kind, I just use granulated.
  • Then I did the same with 2 eggs.
  • Then I chucked in 240g of plain flour and 2tsp of baking powder and mixed in in with a wooden spoon. I don’t sieve things, it’s a pain in the arse. And also, my sieve was originally brought for my planned pool home birth that didn’t happen, so even though it was never used for that, I just think of fishing bits of poo and placenta out of a birthing pool whenever I see it.
  • Next I measured 240ml of milk and squirted a bit of lemon juice in and gave it a mix. I don’t know what buttermilk is, but I read somewhere once you can substitute this milky lemony mixture for it and it just seems a lot easier to me. I added that to the bowl and gave it another mix.
  • Then I basically did the same thing again, another 240g of flour and 2tsp of baking powder, and another 240ml of lemony milk in the bowl. I didn’t have bicarbonate of soda in the cupboard so just used all baking powder.
  • Of course I didn’t leave the mix to rest before I cooked it, nobody has that kind of patience do they?
  • I wanted blueberry muffins and carrot and raisin muffins, so I divided the mix into 2.
  • For the blueberry muffins I added 75g of frozen blueberries to the mixture and then divided it between the cake cases. I don’t think I divided the mixture very evenly because this batch only made 8. I skipped the mashed blueberries part of the recipe because I only had frozen blueberries and I haven’t got time in my life for defrosting blueberries. Before I put them in the oven, I popped 3 blueberries on the top of each muffin. At this point, the girls started eating the frozen blueberries. I don’t know if that’s something you should let your kids do, and I’m not going to say it’s the first time they’ve eaten frozen fruit either.
  • For the carrot muffins, I grated one large carrot into the mixture and also added a couple of handfuls of raisins.
  • I baked each batch separately, in a fan oven at 170C for 25 minutes.

I pretty much stood at the oven door with my mouth open for the entire 25 minutes, just watching them rise. They even had a crack across the top like a proper muffin! Yep, I was pathetically proud of my creations. They went down well though.

sunday brunch muffins

We had them with a fruit salad, greek yoghurt, summer berries compote, melon slices and lots of coffee

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Blueberry muffin recipe

More ‘it-could-have-gone-horribly-wrong-but-somehow-it-turned-out-really-good’ recipes soon.

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Mummascribbles

Drawing Flowers | The Ordinary Moments

Its Saturday morning, and Carl has taken Greta to her first football class. Ernie is asleep in the wrap on me, and Mabel and I are both still in our PJs having a lazy morning. I’ve been writing lists in a notepad, one of my favourite activities. Actually doing the things I’ve written down is unimportant by the way, it’s making the list that counts don’t you know? Mabel had been having a bit of ipad time, one of her favourite activities. Just a typical weekend morning when we don’t have anywhere particular to be.

‘Mummy, can I do some drawing in your book?’ Mabel asks. She has lots of paper that she could draw on, but drawing in Mummy’s special book, now that is the most exciting thing possible. ‘Sure’ I reply, mostly because it’s a good opportunity to get the ipad off of her without a fight and then hide it somewhere. ‘I’m going to draw some flowers’ she informs me. ‘Ok’ I mutter whilst sneaking the ipad behind my back and quietly shoving it into a drawer behind me. By the time I look back she has drawn 2 lovely flowers with long stalks, a circle at the top and petals all around it. I’m amazed at her pen control, she’s not a child that sits down to draw very often, so I don’t really get to see what she can do, especially not all by herself with no direction. One of my favourite things about being a mum is when your child surprises you by doing something new. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of shocked pride.

I quickly grab my camera to snap some pictures while Mabel draws some more ‘You wanna see how I do it Mummy, see, I just draw a line like this, and then some circles, see……? I’m drawing it for Greta for when she gets home. Are Greta and Daddy going to be home soon?’. Before long the front door opens, in bursts Greta, and Mabel goes running off to thrust her picture into her little sisters hands.

This is why I blog. These are the moments I want to remember, the boring, every day, mundane, ordinary moments, that otherwise would be completely forgotten by the time we went to bed tonight, but instead will be captured, for us to reminisce about and enjoy in years to come.

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Happy Days #1 | Pre-school boosters, pooh sticks and a petition

I love the idea behind the Happy Days linky. I think it’s a great idea to take a moment at the end of the week to think about all the things that have made you happy. Now I’m not one to pretend that life is all sunshine and roses all of the time, but a little bit of positivity is never a bad thing. So I’m going to join in, and hope I can think of at least a couple of things!

Here is my first ever happy list for this week

  • The meningitis B vaccine petition is the most signed petition ever on the government website!! If you don’t know what I’m talking about (where have you been?) look here (and sign immediately). What an amazing legacy for Faye and I hope it can bring her family some small comfort. If you’ve already signed the petition (thank you) and you want to do more, you could write a letter to your MP asking for their support when it is debated in parliament.
  • Talking of vaccines, as well as Ernie having his first set this week, Mabel had her pre-school boosters. She sat on my lap and we prepared her for a bit of a sting in each of her arms. She sat so nicely for the nurse and didn’t make a sound, I was so proud of how brave she was, and really glad that I didn’t have a sad girl on my hands to cheer up.
  • On Thursday we spent the day with my mum, my sister and my little nephew. We had a good old natter, the kids played really nicely together (mostly) and my nephew showed us his walking which he has just started doing. We walked down to soft play past the river with the sun shining and played pooh sticks on the bridge. It was a really lovely day.
  • Carl came home with take away on Friday and then tidied up all the kids mess once they were asleep (there was a lot…Cheerios all over the floor amongst other things. A lot of things happened on Friday, most of which do not belong on this list). Oh and he brought me my favourite chocolate. I quite honestly don’t deserve him.
  • Today I made some muffins and I’m really pleased with them, they actually look like muffins! If I sound surprised it’s because I am. I might even blog the recipe so watch this space.
What Katy Said

Siblings | February 2016

I always knew that I wanted to have a small age gap between my children, and it wasn’t long after Mabel was born in 2012 that I thought I’d better get on and give her a brother or sister before she got too used to the luxury of being an only child. When I found out that my second baby was going to be another girl I was overjoyed. I would have been pleased either way of course but a sister is such a special thing (I should know, I’ve got three!) and I was so happy that I could give her that partner in crime, an instant best friend for life, I hoped. Greta was born at the end of 2013 when Mabel was 20 months old and within weeks it was as if she’d always been here. The two little girls grew together and became as close as I’d dreamed. When Greta was a year old I began agonising over the next addition to our family. Life had got a bit easier again, should we add another little one into the mix? I felt like if we were going to do it we had to do it soon. The girls were so close, in age and in everything else, I was worried that a third sibling would be left out if I left it too long. Of course, I was never really going to stop at 2, and although it was a bit of a surprise at how quickly the news came, we soon found out we were expecting again, and this time it was a baby boy! Ernest arrived in December 2015 and his 2 big sisters were besotted with him straight away.

So here we are in February 2016, with three little siblings, 2 months into their adventure as a trio.

Mabel and Greta have a typical big/little sister relationship. Greta copies everything Mabel does, she is like a little parrot for the phrases that Mabel comes out with. It is like having an echo in the room sometimes. She follows her around like a little puppy half the time and I will often hear her saying ‘OK Mabel’ as her big sister gives her another instruction. She loves to be included in Mabel’s games and for the most part is a willing participant. But of course she is a toddler. So some days she likes to start fights for no reason, just because. And her obsession with her big sister is just as strong on those days. Anything that Mabel has, she wants. Anything that Mabel says, she argues with. Mabel could say ‘I’m a little green alien’ and Greta would scream ‘NO MY A LITTLE GREEN ALIEN!!!’ But that’s the fun of toddlers…. Mabel sometimes gets upset with her if she’s being really unreasonable but most of the time she tries to negotiate with her or she just giggles and says ‘she’s a silly little Gigi Mummy’. I think she understands that Greta is younger and she’s not being unpleasant on purpose. Not that Mabel doesn’t have her moments of course. Her new thing is to declare that she needs some alone time, when she wants to play with something without Greta interfering. A good idea in principal but Greta just can’t stand the idea of Mabel doing something without her. I have to do my best to distract her, any way I can, usually by doing something extra fun like putting loud music on to dance around the house like loons to, at which point Mabel decides that actually alone time is over rated and she wants to join in with what we’re doing.

Both girls are head over heels in love with their little brother. Mabel likes to be a mini Mummy to him so she’s always talking to him ‘do you want your Mabel to look after you Ern? Is that what you want?’ Luckily we’ve got passed the stage when we first brought him home when she picked him up out of his Moses basket and tried to walk off with him! She knows she needs an adult to help her now but she still likes to have him sit on her lap or lay on her tummy. Greta’s cuddles can be a bit over enthusiastic at times. More than once I’ve had to prise her hands away from round his neck, but I’m sure she’s doing it in a loving way. It’s very sweet when she gives him a kiss and says ‘love you little dude’. The only thing that I do wish they would stop sharing with him is their germs. For a 2 month old, Ernie has had a lot of colds bless him. But he loves his sisters and he’s smiling at them lots which they love to see. I can’t wait to see how he fits into their dynamic as he grows.

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The Me and Mine Project

The inequality of the Meningitis B vaccine program

This post is in memory of a little girl called Faye. I don’t know Faye, or her Mum Jenny, but we were both part of a Facebook group for babies due in December 2013, back when I was pregnant with Greta. I left the group fairly soon after the babies were born but I kept in contact with some of the mums on Facebook, and it was through them that I heard last week that Faye was in hospital with Meningitis and fighting for her life. It’s horrible to think of any child suffering, but knowing that Faye was almost exactly the same age as my Greta, made it feel all the more close to home. Sadly, on Sunday 14th February, Faye couldn’t fight any longer and passed away. I am devastated for her and her family and their inconceivable pain. You can read Faye’s story in her mum’s words here.

Then, some other December 2013 Mums started sharing a petition around and asking for signatures. You see the part of this story that seems so tragically unfair, is that a vaccine exists for Meningitis B, and had Faye received it, she would still be here. Unfortunately, Faye was born 18 months too early to be eligible for the vaccine on the NHS. The reasons that the NHS are only routinely vaccinating babies born after June 2015 are described in this brilliant article by Jenny Rohn for The Gardian. But the short answer is money. The pharmaceutical company that developed the vaccine needs to cover its research costs, and the NHS needs to be cost-effective, which I think we can all understand. Except when it comes to our precious little people, can we really? Ask any parent and I’m sure they’d say they couldn’t put a price on their child’s health. No Mum or Dad sits around and works out whether something that could potentially save their child’s life is cost-effective, they just do it. In fact, the vaccine is available privately, and after hearing Faye’s story, I know a lot of parents who are now looking into getting it for their children, myself included. And that’s fine for those that can afford it. If I’m honest we barely can. But one look at the picture of poor beautiful Faye and I know that I would scrimp and save and go without anything to make sure my girls are protected from this horrific illness. Luckily Ernie was born after the vaccine was introduced and had his first injection today.

So what about the people who genuinely can’t afford private vaccinations for their children? What about people who even if they saved all year, couldn’t afford the roughly £300 cost? Is that fair that their children just have to take their chances? Not in my eyes, in my eyes that’s inequality. The petition, which you have probably seen being shared around social media, calls for the vaccine to be rolled out to all children up to at least age 11. While that would obviously be ideal, given the over stretched resources of the NHS, I’m not sure how realistic that is at this stage. But I think Jenny Rohn makes a good suggestion in the article above that low-income families could be offered the vaccination on the NHS for their pre-school children. Or how about some kind of subsidy for children who are too old to receive it for free, to make more within most parents reach to be able to afford it. It would at least be a start towards levelling the playing field.

When I sat down to write this post this evening, the petition had around 70,000 signatures. It is now at over 140,000 and increasing every minute. It has reached the amount of signatures it needs to be considered by parliament for a debate and that is brilliant. The more signatures we can get, the more seriously it will be considered and the more awareness that can be raised the better so please share the petition and share Faye’s story. Until I heard Faye’s story, the meningitis B vaccine was not even on my radar. We need to get the message out there at this vaccination exists and we need to get it into as many children as possible. I’m also asking you to sign the petition on behalf of all the parents and children who won’t be able to be vaccinated privately unless they get some help from the NHS.

Rest in peace little Faye

Mudpie Fridays

Something for me

Why on earth would I start a blog? I know, it seems like a bit of a strange thing to do. I’ve got 3 children under 4, haven’t I got enough to do? Well yes, I’ll be honest, I do collapse into bed every night with a fair portion of my to do list left unticked. The washing pile is so big that it contains things that haven’t fit the kids for several months, there’s still quite a few boxes waiting to be unpacked in the spare room (and we moved in three months ago) and I should probably just stop pretending to myself that I’m ever going to get a chance to iron the clean clothes (or let’s be honest, even put them away some weeks) before they end up back on our bodies. Life is busy. I’m busier than I’ve ever been, looking after my little brood. But I do think it’s important that I find the time to do something that I want to do, just for myself. More important than ironing anyway.

Until now I’ve used my evening down time mainly to have baths, read blogs and have a browse through Facebook and Instagram. But I thought why not do something a bit more constructive and give this blog thing a go myself. It’s mainly an attempt to use the creative part of my brain for something other than kids crafts (another bloody card, why are there so many ‘occasions’ on the calendar to make cards for?), or figuring out what to make for dinner from what’s left in the fridge, bonus points if everyone actually eats it for a change (bacon, pasta and carrots anyone?). I love learning new things and as much as the above are valuable skills, no doubt about that, I feel like I’m ready for a new challenge. I’m not a writer, or a photographer, and I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing, but I love reading other people’s blogs, and I thought I’d see if I can learn how to do it too. I’m going to try and use the DSLR camera a lot more and hopefully my pictures will get better as I get more practice. The same as any mother I’m sure, taking lots of pictures of my children will not be a problem! There are also going to be my normal standard of crappy iPhone pictures, because most of the time, you’ve just got to grab what’s nearest and snap a pic before the moment had gone. I really want to make sure I preserve these memories for me and my family, because it all seems to be whizzing past so quickly at the moment.

I feel quite strongly about recording the good, the bad and the ugly, because I want to remember this time as it really was, not an edited version. So this is going to be a really honest account of my experience of parenting 3 amazing little people who drive me crazy and fill me with so much love I feel like I could burst at the same time.

Me and my three at the end of a day of hard core mothering. Note my cheesy grin in gleeful anticipation of bedtime. That is a face that is just glad to have survived the day

Thankyou for reading! Come and find me on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, follow the blog by email if you want to make sure you never miss a post and if you like this post, I’d be absolutely made up if you shared it!