Monday, 19 January 2015

A Decade on...

This post is slightly late but I still wanted to get it up so that I could have a visual reminder of Jean's big day.

My first born turned 10 on 9th January. 10?! How and when did that happen? I seem to have the most vidid memories of Jean as a baby - more her than any of the other children. I think once I started having more children the whole baby brain set in and the memories I have seem to have fused in to one! I must say it feels like a massive milestone for both of us. I am now a decade in to my parenting journey and she is now a double digit - a huge deal! I knew it was a special number but I didn't think that it would give me such food for thought. If 10 years can go by this quickly I am petrified of missing a second of the next 10. I absolutely love being a mother and having Jean as my eldest makes my job (is that the right word) even more pleasurable. I honestly could not have asked for a more special little girl - she is kind, considerate, helpful and just beautiful!
The other children made an array of colourful handmade cards for their sisters big day and I chose, bought and wrapped a gift that they could each give to her. She got an iPod case, some earmuffs (from Tesco's), a new book (Awful Auntie), a book light and a Taylor Swift CD. Jean was delighted and so grateful for all of her gifts. We had family over later in the day and she received more gifts and money from all of them also!
The above picture is my new screensaver - I just think she looks adorable! Iris is most like Jean in both looks and personality. 
Jean received Awful Auntie by David Walliams (from Elsie) and the famous Raj did not feature. There was an option at the back of the book to go online and sign a petition to bring him back!!!
I spent the best part of the morning baking and decorating Jean's birthday cake. I always try to make a cake for each child's birthday - it started mainly because of food allergies but it has grown into a solid tradition that I love doing. The above was a white sponge with a cream cheese frosting to which I added a little red food colouring to make it pink. I didn't actually eat any of the cake as I was feeling particularly nauseous on this day, but Jean and her guests all sang its praises!
Overall I think my girl had a great day and I am looking forward to the year ahead with my 10 year old!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Food Friday - Typical day children's menu

Today I thought I would photograph everything that my children ate throughout the day and share it here. Obviously their menu changes daily but I thought it would be interesting to see what a typical day of eating looked like:
Breakfast:Elsie's breakfast - my reluctant cereal eater! Elsie had full-fat Rachel's organic Greek style set yoghurt with 1 chopped apple. She doesn't really like either porridge or wheetabix, although she would probably eat something chocolate and sugary if I let her! Haha What she does eat also tends to change, as something she enjoys one day turns into something she hates the next. Elsie is probably my most 'fussy' eater I suppose, but I don't make an issue out of it, I'm just happy that I can get a few "healthy" things into her along with the rest! 
Jean, Max and Iris eat the same breakfast EVERY day without fail - organic jumbo oats with organic full fat cows milk and 2 cubes of Green and Blacks dark chocolate. Iris has her chocolate mixed in to her porridge whilst Jean and Max prefer theirs sprinkled on top. 
Jude doesn't like porridge or yoghurt and will occasionally eat weetabix but today he asked for a pancake. I make the above by blending 2 whole eggs, 1 banana and 1/2 cup oats and cooking the batter in a frying pan on low until golden brown and cooked through. It is really yummy and super filling. 
Today I made some marmite on toast which I just put out on the table for all to share. I think they all had some of this.
Iris had a few strawberries - her absolute favourite fruit!
Jean and Max had a easy peel clementine (I like them all to eat a portion of fruit at breakfast).
Water is always on the side for the children to drink. Every time I allow drinks at the table we end up with a flood of toppled over cups so now I simply do not risk it! Haha

Jean made some loom band braclets for a friend and as a thank you was given a bag of Haribos. She shared them out between the 4 older children. It actually took her a really long time to do as first she sorted the sweets into their individual groups before splitting them 4 ways! She is a stickler for equal rights!
We walked into town to run a few errands and each child grabbed an apple apart from Jude and Elsie I think... Iris ate hers down to the little stalk, seeds and all!
The children were asking for all sorts by them time we reached town, so whilst I was in Holland and Barrett I picked up some rice cakes with yeast extract. They went down a treat! All children enjoyed them and the whole packet was gone within minutes! I always carry water bottles and they all needed a drink after munching on these!

By the time we had gotten home Iris had fallen asleep. I took advantage of her napping and made a cooked meal of chicken, broccoli and tomato pasta. She had woken up by the time it was ready. I served it with some garlic bread. 

Iris didn't eat much of her food (probably because she had only just woken up when I was serving it). She did however polish off these crisps! I know skips are not ideal but I believe in allowing my children every food in moderation. I don't make a fuss over foods and overall I know they are healthy in both mind and body. 
Next I made the children a green smoothie - this is something that features a lot in our house! I would say at least every other day I make some kind of smoothie. Today I added avocado, spinach, orange juice, lime, bananas, mango and water. Again Jude isn't a fan but he does finish it eventually (although there have been a few incidents of smoothie accidentally on purpose spilling on the floor)! 


Lastly I made some sandwiches which they ate with some kettle chips (not Iris). Jude, Elsie and Iris had marmite and cheese and Jean and Max had peanut butter. 

That's it! Looking back over these pics it's quite astounding how much such little children can eat! They are all under 10 years old yet they can put away mountains!!! Haha I enjoyed documenting this and if nothing else I have learnt that they eat probably far too much marmite!!!

Monday, 9 June 2014

boys and fire

My mother recently introduced Jude to Ed Stafford on the discovery channel at her house. He has since been quite besotted, wanting to learn every survival method, identify food from poison, categorise bugs and of course build fires! He began yesterday, trying to build a fire with simply dry sticks. He actually stuck with it for a impressively long time. I am not sure how or where he was going wrong, (to be honest I just left him to his own devices, he was very engrossed and determined) however I suppose I didn't really think he would produce fire. Of course I knew that it was possible to create fire with these minimal supplies, but I have never tried or created it myself. Jude went on to talk about Mr Ed and how he made fire with just 2 pieces of wood and that he managed to keep it burning for 10 whole days. I love it when I see my children take on a interest all of their own. Not orchestrated or planted by me. The passion behind what he was explaining to me was real and all consuming - I loved that. So, although I couldn't help him create fire in the way he was hoping, today I did offer extra supplies of cotton wool, petroleum jelly and a spark. He was away.
All that was missing were some marshmallows and sausages! I vow to be able to create fire with just sticks with my son, within a year or two!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

this week in my garden

Ok, so the pumpkins are now growing nicely and have been planted out in the bed with the carrots. We had 1 failed seed, which I was actually pretty disappointed about, I'm not entirely sure why, probably my controlling side sliding forth! ;) Anyway, we still have 7 healthy plants and our fingers are crossed that these are going to give us the giant pumpkins we are hoping for this halloween!

2 sunflowers were big and hardy enough to be put in their reserved spots in the garden. Jude and Elsie's plants took quite a beating through both weather and bug attacks. They are both currently in the house where I am nursing them better. I think I brought them in just in time - thankfully they are already starting to perk up!

The strawberries are ripening beautifully to the excitement of ALL the children. It was nice to see just how happy a home grown ripening strawberry could make them. I think we all managed to eat one today and the decision was unanimous - they were truly amazing!

The blackberries are erupting (and soon to be taking over the garden), purple beans are in and my apple tree has 1 teeny tiny apple on it (very weird tree). Haha :)
Another week in our garden. See you next time. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

this week in my garden

It's been a while, but I am back! :) I am going to start posting pics and updates on our garden throughout the summer. I do also rent an allotment nearby but I can't take much credit for that as it is pretty much handled entirely by my dad - thanks! However, I did pop over there today to do some watering and took a snap (on my phone) of Max helping me out.

I am really hoping for some success this year and will be using all of the little tips and my (very little) experience and knowledge of trying to care for this garden over the past few years to help me out. I feel confident that things are looking good, so fingers crossed!

This year we have:
Little gem lettuces. One lettuce died after planting out which is why there is any empty space up in the top row. The rest have taken well and apart from a few minor slug attacks they are progressing nicely. 

A lone chilli plant - I can't remember the variety. We also have 8 seedlings grown from seeds given to me by my brother. There are 2 different varieties. - one which is supposed to have a super great flavour and the other which will apparently "blow my head off".  Haha :) We probably won't keep and plant out all 8. I will either give some away or pop them in at the allotment.

We have strawberries in abundance! To think this lot started with only 5 plants! We literally have hundreds and did so last year. This is the 3rd year for these particular plants and they are totally thriving. Apart from a good mulching I would say that strawberries are a particularly easy grow and very rewarding. I am compiling a list of exactly what yummy things I am going to do with these babies! 

This is my first time growing onions and I haven't started off particularly well! I used onions sets and planted them individually covering them as I went. Obviously this was a mistake as I often forgot where I had planted the last one and ended up putting in another too close! Now they have come up you can see that they haven't got a great deal of room to expand - oh well next time I will remember not to cover them over until they are all in and well spaced! This patch of earth is plagued by my old borage plants - they are sprouting daily! Although I love borage - not this year, not that spot, not right now... :)

Rhubarb is going strong - it grows, I cut it down, we eat it, it grows back and so on...

The carrots have taken well. Sorry for the stray clothes peg in the first pic - my children can't reach the line properly and just yank down the things they need/want leaving forgotten/broken pegs behind them! I can't wait to pull one of these up. Jude asks me daily if he can pull one now - I think he is as anxious as I am. Yummy!
The other side of the bed is waiting for some pumpkins that I'm currently growing from seed in the house. We are hoping to plant, grow, harvest and carve our very own pumpkins this year. I so hope that we are successful!

The 2 troughs are what Jean and Jude made at a B&Q workshop recently. They are growing a few different variety of flowers in them (I can't recall which ones but the are supposed to be 'great for kids' haha). A whole bunch of Jude's seedlings were eaten and we are none the wiser of the culprit. I have moved them up on top of one of the sheds for security measures and to hold up our ever growing sunflowers. We have 4 sunflowers this year, one for each of the older children. (Iris did have her own but we gave it to my dad for him to grow at his house.) My children are very competitive (mainly with each other) and when it comes to sunflower growth it can get pretty intense around here. The small one belongs to Elsie (so fitting really) and she is not HAPPY! I think it's sweet. We will be planting these in the ground shortly.  I'm excited to follow their progress!

We have 2 cherry tomato (my favourite ) plants sandwiched between some other plants that I do not know the name of! The children chose a plant each last year (which they planted themselves) and they have been going strong ever since! 

We have fennel, sage and lavender.

I was so happy to get this shot of the bee on our blackberry bush - which is totally out of control I might add! Complete mind of it's own! :)

 The bamboo is all ready to allow the beans to climb but I haven't managed to get these in just yet. I am really excited about watching these grow. The colour looks amazing - purple beans are served!

We also have a small apple tree (yielding approx 4/5 apples per year if we're lucky) and a patio cherry tree (again not much fruit, children eat them as they grow so nothing ever to harvest). I would love  a full size apple tree - I definitely think this is something that will be happening in my garden very soon. :)

My garden also consists of box beds, blankets of all varieties (wet, dry, muddy take your pic), hoola hoops and various other garden toys, chairs, a trampoline (with new net), a stilted play house, swings, bikes etc... and a selection of sheds! 

Now that I have shared what is going on and getting started, I am excited to see my garden progress and hopefully GROW over these next few months! I am hoping to upload each Sunday - see you next week!