A blog recording our journey in parenting and family life

Going self hosted!

I have thought about this for a while but, a couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and bought my own domain and hosting. That bit was quite simple! I have played around with my new site and, although it isn’t quite there, I am happy enough with it. So.. I will continue to play but my blog now lives here!

I hope you will continue to read about our adventures, sign up for emails, follow us on facebook, twitter etc…

Look forward to sharing our lives with you and chatting our way through the highs and lows!

PS Any feedback on the new site and/or hints and tips on WordPress and its easy to use (I only want easy to use) plugins would be gratefully received!

Thank you for your support!



#silentsunday 06/05/12


How to make a sock monster!

This afternoon I started a course called “Story Bags” run by Surestart.

“Story bags” enrich a child’s experience of a book by featuring elements of the story in them eg a Gruffalo story may have a cuddly Gruffalo or mouse.

The course kicked off with, instead of basing our creativity around an existing book, creating a character to be the hero in our own story! We had two hours to do all this (the tutor thought we could manage it in less than an hour!). High expectations…

To make this character we started off with a sock, a needle and thread, some stuffing and a couple of buttons.

Having two small children who fight given any opportunity (and because I love a challenge!), I decided to be brave and make two! Twins! So took a pair of socks and double the work.

1. First take your sock and turn it inside out.


2. Cut off the toes. Put the “toes” to one side as these will be the monster’s arms.

The heel of the sock will be the monster’s nose!

3. Cut a “V” shape at the end (where the toes were). This will be the monster’s ears so could be pointed, round, thick or thin.


4. Stitch around the edge of the “ears” and turn the sock the right way around.

5. Take a handful of stuffing and push this into the ears. Keep filling up the monster until it is nice and fat, particuarly the nose!


6. When you are happy with the filling stitch a row of running stitch underneath the nose area to make the “neck” but pulling this tight and fastening off.


7. Cut a “V” to make the legs. Turn inside out and stitch around the feet and up the legs. Leave the crotch open to put the stuffing in then stitch this up.


8. Take the “toes”, turn inside out and stitch up the sides. Stuff and sew onto the body as arms.


9. Sew a couple of buttons on to the “face”.

10. Next week we are adding extra bits like hair and other “monster” accessories.


Look what I made this afternoon! #sockmonsters



Blog it for Babies, Community Spirit and Luminarium Windows!

Tomorrow (Thursday 4 May) the Blog it for Babies roadshow hits Nottingham! The very lovely Penny who blogs at The Alexander Residence, has arranged a wonderful opportunity for a group of East Midlands based bloggers to create one of the 12 large windows in EXXOPOLIS, the next Luminarium created by Architects of Air.

If you haven’t already seen a Luminarium, it is a large inflatable scutpture (actually it looks like a bouncy castle from a distance!) that you can go inside and explore! It will tour the world providing fun for families across the globe. Here is a picture of Noah exploring the Luminarium when we visited one earlier in the year.

The window will have it’s world premiere in Nottingham at the Wheee! Children’s theatre and dance festival at Lakeside Arts from 2-9th June. Wheee! culminates in a family weekend on the 9 and 10 June, with free craft, art, spontaneous performance and fun in the parkland around the arts centre, plus even more shows to choose from. Book shows now, the weekend attracted over 4,000 visitors last year!

I am very excited to be involved in this project! It will be the first regional meetup for the group and hopefully will help to create a community spirit we can build upon. Also involved are Becky, Amanda, Jen, Rosie and Ruth to name just a few East Midlands based bloggers.  We are meeting at Lakeside Arts for a day of lots of cutting and sticking fun!

Mamasaurus and the Blog it for Babies team are also joining as they raise money and awareness for a health care unit for babies in Bangladesh. This will help to save lives and improve services in the country. Did you know one in 19 children do not live to see their fifth birthday in Bangladesh – a situation unimaginable in the UK. We are incredibly fortunate to have medical professionals and reliable equipment to hand when we have our babies.

If you would like to donate to this worthwhile cause you can sponsor us for just £1 by texting XVRL71£1 to 70070

Blog it for Babies logo

A Mother’s work – A Meme

The meme was started by and I have been tagged by the fabulous Catherine at Making It As A Mum.

It’s a opportunity for women to give their personal perspective and experience on modern motherhood.

The rules are as follows:

Post the Rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on MotherWifeMe so we can keep track of the meme
Tag three people and link them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part using #amothersworkmeme
Here are the questions and the all important answers

Did you work before becoming a mum……………….

Yes, I worked most recently as an IT Project Manager for a law firm. I had been working in IT for about 10 years, and before that in various jobs whilst studying. I have hardly stopped working since turning 16! I enjoyed the job although it did require a lot of commitment in terms of travelling about the country, to the different offices, and obviously wasn’t something I could do part time. Before becoming a mum I didn’t really think about how I would juggle this with a baby (or two!)!

What is your current situation………….

Pretty much since I found out I was pregnant with my second child I have not worked (in paid employment!) so that is around three and a half years.

My hubbie works full time in a demanding job and commutes over 60 miles a day so it would have been impossible for us both to have continued with our careers. We have no close family who live near to us so the bulk of childcare is my responsibility. I probably knew this would be the case but the reality of it is pretty demanding.

I have looked for work that would give me a break from the routine and some extra cash but good part time jobs and flexible employers are hard to come by. When it came down to it, it was never worth the hassle of rushing about and expense in childcare that would result. I wonder sometimes how I would take to working for someone else (who isn’t under 5!) now I have been away from the system for so long.

Our eldest child is now at full time school and the younger one goes to nursery for a couple of half days (which we pay for). It is really nice having some time to myself and helps me do jobs that I find difficult to do with the little one about. I can then plan our activities so I devote my time to him when we are together. He starts going more in September when we get the funding and I know I will miss him then!

Freestyle your chance to put your own view across on the subject…………….

I totally agree that society does not value motherhood. Good quality childcare is expensive and flexible working isn’t freely available for parents. It is hard for parents to get the balance right and I feel like my husband misses out on a lot of things.

I do miss working or at least having some balance of work and home but overall I like the fact that I have stayed at home with my children when they have been little, although being a full time mother is not something I would have envisaged doing. It is really hard work at times but when I think about being back at work, I know I have got the more fun option and I do feel very lucky for that as it isn’t an option everyone has. We have definitely missed the extra income (and I have missed having my own money) but as your lifestyle changes when you have children we have made adjustments. I am constantly on the lookout for good buys  and menu plan to avoid food wastage.

Being at home has given me the chance to explore other avenues that I may not have thought about or had the opportunity to try. I have done lots of courses (with childcare included!) through Surestart and now volunteer at their breastfeeding group as a peer support. I have also learnt more about nail art, sugarcraft, making jewellery with wire, crocheting, photoshop and fancy dress! I also have a network of fab, local mums who have become great friends. Blogging has also come a big part of my life and I’ve met a whole community of lovely bloggers through social media. We keep very busy and are never bored!

I would like to return to paid employment at some point although it would ideally have to fit in around school hours and holidays *puts creative head on…. My family will always be my top priority!

Ok so that is me, I would like to tag.. Clare, Peggy and Susan.

Thought of the day …………….. A mothers work is never done!


#silentsunday 29/04/12


Mocha Beanie Mummys Silent Sunday on LAB


The Gallery – Week 99 – Action

Action shots are tricky to capture as usually with my two they are off doing the next thing before I have got my phone or camera out ready to snap. This picture was taken on a sunny (dry!!) day at Wheelgate Park where they have lots of great play areas and open space for children to run wild.

I love the way  captures his face and the fun he is having.

The Gallery linky has been suspended this week unfortunately but you can see other entrant’s Action shots by searching on  #TheGallery hashtag on Twitter.


Blogcamp UK – 2012

Last Saturday (21 April) I joined 100 or so other bloggers at Blogcamp UK in Birmingham. This was the first full day, national event that has been held by the Tots 100 organisers and promised to be a fab day. Even better it was free! This is thanks to the generous sponsors – Skype and Cow and Gate growing up milk. Thanks guys!

I travelled down to the event with the lovely Sonia. We were both very excited about it, not least having a day off from the kids (just kidding!).

When we arrived we headed for coffee and it was fab to catch up with other bloggers who I have met before at previous events, spoken to on Twitter or be introduced to new blogs! Everyone was very friendly and it was a great, relaxed atmosphere.

The first session I went to was about Vlogging – using video in your blog! This is something I am quite interested in although I haven’t done any research into it. It turned out to really be a session on how to use Microsoft Movie Essentials which is a free downloadable package. It looks intuitive and easy to learn and I would love to take more videos of the boys and put together a mini movie of our days out etc. This is the kind of think I think I will only have time to do when I am retired but you never know!

Next I went to the session on making money from your blog which was run by, the incredibly inspirational Susannah Conway, a former journalist who turned to blogging when she suffered the loss of her partner. She has effectively turned her blog into a business running popular ecourses in photography and blogging. Whether it was the intention or not I left really wanting to try one if her courses!

The final session I went to was how to edit photographs taken on your camera with free tools online. It was focused around using the package picMonkey (which I haven’t come across before). It is  being free, intuitive and quick so I will definitely be using it in the future.

Much of the talk at Blogcamp was about changes Google has made essentially meaning bloggers who take sponsored posts and are asked to put in follow links by PR companies, will lose their page ranking. As I understand it this may be detrimental in the success of their blog at getting future sponsored posts. I haven’t done any sponsored posts so this isn’t relevant to me but it was interesting to hear what was happening! I would love to monetise my blog especially when my littlest starts preschool and I have more time on my hands.

It was a brilliant day and we all headed home tired but inspired by the fabulous supportive community that has been created.

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Tiddler and other terrific tales

We love Julia Donaldson books… like.. loads! From The Gruffalo to Zog we have most of the fab books she has written and they are read most evenings before bed. I think I could read Tiddler from heart now!

Anyway Scamp Theatre have put together an awesome performance of four of the books – Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, A Squash and a Squeeze and The Smartest Giant in Town. We bought tickets to see it at Mansfield Palace Theatre. The kids were very excited!

The stage is simply designed with two tall step ladders, lots of boxes and a backdrop of blue. The show opens with a cast of three. They introduce the idea of Tiddler with them dressed as fishermen but then launch into Monkey Puzzle.

The music and singing is really powerful and all the children in the theatre are enthralled by the performance. Noah immediately recognised the monkey and was watching animated at the different animals the butterfly thinks is his mum. He made me smile how at 2 years old he has no concept of being quiet in the theatre and was loudly asking questions about the show. Luckily our seats were right on the back row so he didn’t really bother anyone!

The show lasts around 50 minutes and there is no interval. They actually cleverly use the story of Monkey Puzzle to keep the children’s interest throughout the show by starting on this then breaking off to do another story, revisiting and breaking off again. As Noah was quite taken with the monkey this worked well to keep his attention. My personal favourite was A Squash and a Squeeze. The wise old man is great in this story! Gary’s was Tiddler as he thought it was particuarly inventive withh sound and lighting especially when he goes into the darker, unknown waters. The books are followed quite closely, which is good if your child is a stickler for the words being the same! Ethan actually surprised me a little as he noticed some parts were missing. He obviously is listening then! I explained they had to do four books in less than an hour so wouldn’t be able to do it all!

The cast are touring the country at the moment and if you manage to get tickets to see the performance and you are a fan of Julia Donalson’s books then you won’t regret it.