Moving house: 10 resolutions

Moving house: 10 resolutions

Next week we are moving house. This time, we are just moving a couple of kilometres down the road; last year we moved country. So this should be a piece of cake, right?

My house is awash with boxes as well as small people. Full boxes; empty boxes; children playing boats in boxes; piles of things to be thrown away; piles of things to be packed; piles of pieces of paper which must never be lost; next to piles of colouring and kiddie art from the kitchen walls.

Moving house with little kids

I am sure if I was thinking straight, I could make a list of ’10 top tips for moving house with little kids’. You know: take the opportunity to sort out the kids’ clothes and toys, never try to pack your kitchen breakables while twin toddlers are marauding. But I am certain someone more organised than me has got this covered. I should have looked on Pinterest.

So, instead I have a different list ‘Moving house: 10 resolutions’. Because, of course, when I move house I will develop a whole new character and possess all good housekeeping habits. Right? Please say this is true.

In my new house I will:

  1. Always clean the hob at the end of the day
  2. Write thank you cards within a socially acceptable timescale
  3. Always put away clean laundry
  4. File every important piece of paper
  5. Reply to emails, texts and whatsapp within a socially acceptable timescale
  6. Bath my children more 
  7. Vacuum the carpet on the stairs
  8. Get out of bed and ready for the day before the kids wake up
  9. Drink more decaff
  10. Be more zen

Maybe I should add 11. Be a different person 😉 A verse from the Bible springs to mind: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. New house, same me, but same Lord. So that is a relief.

How little kids watch tv

I am missing the Olympics. I love every aspect of watching the Olympics: the drama, the humanity, the facts, the endurance, the tears, the mindless sport. We watched a lot of Rio 2016 in our household. So, I’ve been reflecting on how much fun it has been watching the Olympics with my just turned 5 year old. This was interactive kids tv at its best.

This is how my son watches the Olympics:

Rugby Sevens Watches for 5 minutes then runs outside to play ball

Football Watches for 5 minutes then runs outside to play ball

Hockey Watches for 5 minutes then runs outside to hit a ball with a stick

Diving Watches for 5 minutes then stands on the arm of the sofa, jumps, tucks his arms around his knees

Gymnastics Watches spellbound for 30 minutes and then whispers to me, how do they do that?!

One of his favourite sports to watch has been the kayaking, and he has turned an old cardboard box into a kayak, careering around the living room. It is so low budget and lots of fun. You get the idea.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how little kids watch tv. Our kids don’t usually watch tv and sport is one of our few exceptions. The Euros, Wimbledon etc. The Great British Bake Off is another exception – my eldest developed his love of baking from watching this on BBC iplayer while I was in my third trimester with twins…

So, they don’t watch a lot of tv and, of course, there is a bit of a novelty factor when it is on. But this summer I realised, it doesn’t follow that the kids are then glued to the screen any chance they get. It is as if the tv programme just acts as fuel for the real life stuff of playing. Watching a live tennis match for a few minutes shapes how my son spend hours in the garden perfecting his pretend serve, chucking lots of tennis balls over a ‘net’ marked out with chalk, and practising his OTT celebrations for his imaginary victory.

Kids tv in our house is not CBeebies – it is programmes about grown ups playing games. Then it’s time to get on with the real business of kids playing games.

4 month old baby: the good stuff about nursing

My baby girl is 4 months old. I can’t believe it. I’ve been wanting to write something about breastfeeding her, because it is such a big part of our relationship, but I have struggled to home in on a purpose for a post. Probably not enough to say, “I love feeding my 4 month old baby…” Hmm, not too informative. But really I just want to encourage you: if you are nursing a little one and it is tough going, it does get easier, it honestly does. Baby Girl is my 4th baby in 5 years, and when I look back over that breastfeeding learning curve, it is like the north face of the Eiger. I know that some days you just need a bit of a hug and some understanding.

When my first little man was born, it was like a textbook called ‘Bad Starts to Breastfeeding’. Milk slow to come in, huge weight loss (his not mine 😉 ), formula supplements, cracked nipples, mastitis, thrush… Ugh, so many lovely memories of hormone-induced sobbing at someone’s insensitive comments about how badly it was going. Anyway, we got through the messy start and it was worth it. And I don’t want to dwell on the negatives today, just to explain that I am appreciative of breastfeeding Baby Girl rather than smug or naive about how hard it can be.

So, here are some things I love about breastfeeding my 4 month old baby:

She has got the hang of it In my experience, it always takes some time for a baby to get into their breastfeeding groove. Those early weeks take sooo much patience on my part with latching, getting the pair of us as a comfortable as can be. I love that Baby Girl can now latch on by herself and only sometimes need a little bit of guidance.

She has got quicker Baby Girl has found her groove and knows how to work that let down. Actually, I do love the early days of hours and hours of cuddling that sleepy feedy newborn, but there is also something wonderful about now being able to get a little bit more done around the home. Sometimes she just needs a quick drink and then back to playing, and I can get back to making a coffee/other important jobs.

She has started larking about  Oh, this is just about my favourite thing – the smiling, giggling, swatting at my face while breastfeeding…sooo cute.

She cuddles in for comfort Or maybe this is my favourite thing. When she’s tired or has been feeling a bit lonely, she snuggles in for a milky cuddle and gets herself really comfy. I love that I know this is so much more than the transfer of calories and nutrients. It is a sustaining, nourishing, precious mother/daughter bond.

She is chunking up Those thighs are squidgy and delicious; the tummy has sprawled. Some would say she has let herself go…

She travels light I think the 4 month old baby stage can be the most convenient time for getting out and about. She just nurses, but she knows what she’s doing; she doesn’t need any snacks in annoying tupperware; she doesn’t need a water bottle; she only poops every other day (yeah, sometimes I pop out without nappies and sometimes it backfires).

She is growing up  – but not too much  Baby Girl is loving life and growing up before my eyes but she is still really only a little bean. God willing, we have years of breastfeeding left to enjoy.


Ground Beef Recipes: I feel in need of a list

Ground Beef Recipes: I feel in need of a list

Ground beef recipes: I need ideas… Just before I head to bed at night, I sometimes remember to get some meat out of the freezer for the next day. And that is usually ground beef (where I come from, we call that ‘mince’).

Before Baby Bean was born 4 months ago, I was in quite a good groove of meal planning and shopping and being generally smug about it. That time has gone. So when I turn my mind to what our family will eat tomorrow, it usually means grabbing what is in the freezer, seeing what vegetables are in the fridge, and combining the two.

ground beef recipes

Yummmm…ground beef recipe I haven’t time to make

Ground Beef recipes… A bit of a grand title, but what I need is a list of meals using ground beef. They need to be family friendly, budget friendly, schedule friendly, and tasty. I’m gonna put in some links to recipes, but I have to be honest, I rarely follow recipes – I find them useful for the basic idea and then throw in what I already have. (Definitely room for improvement there, or maybe a What Mama Knows community project.)

  1. Tacos This is our family favourite at the moment. I usually leave out the spicy seasoning on the portions for kids, but your small people may love it. Mine love the Taco shells, or ‘cwips’ as they call them.
  2. Spaghetti Bolognese Usually I make this with carrots, onions and courgettes (do I mean zucchini?) and a jar of basic tomato pasta sauce.
  3. Burritos Ok, that sounds fancy but it is the same filling as my spaghetti bolognese (with a tin of beans) and wrapped in a tortilla with some grated cheese.
  4. Bolognese over baked potatoes or pasta You get the idea – the filling is getting a bit repetitive…
  5. Cottage pie with potato topping Ooh this makes me feel all positive about winter evenings and HP sauce.
  6. Cottage pie with sweet potato topping I love sweet potatoes but my kids do not – I do not understand why. Anyway, this topping seems to go under their sweet potato radar.
  7. Gravy and potatoes Now we really are going back to our childhood in cold parts of the UK.
  8. Lasagne One of our family favourites (who doesn’t like lasagne?) but I have been a bit time challenged since our fourth baby was born. But I want to get back to it soon. I generally make it in stages throughout the day (cook the ground beef in the morning; bechamel sauce after lunch; assemble and cook in the afternoon) so I need to be home and not be too frazzled.
  9. Enchiladas For me these are similar to lasagne – I make them in different stages throughout the day. Making me hungry just thinking about them.
  10. Homemade beef burgers I haven’t made these in a while, but they are so easy and tasty. I struggle to make them hold together as well as shop bought burgers, but I’ll do a bit more googling about it. At some point.
  11. Old style ‘mince pie’ This is what I mean: ground beef, onion, carrots, gravy, and covered in shortcrust pastry (‘half fat to flour; cold hands’ as my mum would say about making pastry). We always serve it with extra gravy as one of my sons is a bit addicted.

So what am I missing?? Is there more magic to be made from ground beef? Any ideas and favourite recipes welcome!

Having twins – should I buy two of everything?

Having twins is wonderful, amazing, crazy times, just awesome… When our first little man was 25 months old, our girl/boy twins were born, and we were blessed with three little people under three. There are so many things to say about that time in my life, but what I want to consider today is the physical stuff which comes with having twins.

For two years, our family of five lived in a 750 sq ft home. We were a family with three cot beds and not enough room to swing our neighbour’s cat (Richard – we never did this). So, when space as well as money is tight, it is a relevant question:

Does having twins mean you need to buy two of everything?

I’m going to make a list of baby stuff, and consider each item.

  1. Cot/crib  Yes, I did use two of these, but not for the first six months. My twins slept next to each other across a cot bed, and then top to tail at each end of the cot bed when they got a little bigger. I’ll try and put in a couple of photos.
  2. Baby wrap/carrier I did find it was useful to have two of these: when family visited, they carried one of the babies, and on the weekend my husband and I would both carry a baby, and still have our hands free for our older little man. But more of a nice-to-have rather than a necessity.
  3. Bouncy chair Again, I did love having two of these. It was somewhere the babies loved to sit and have a bit of entertainment while I was making lunch and so on. Some people swear by baby swings but we were tight on space, and so bouncy chairs was enough.
  4. Play gym Definitely only one of these: the twins (and older brother) loved to hangout here together.
  5. High chair Yes, I needed two of these. We were given two of the wonderful Ikea antelop chairs. The babies needed to have somewhere safe to sit while I got food/changed a nappy/made a cup of tea….etc. Not that they were left unattended…
  6. Carrycot attachment for stroller I only needed one of these; the twins shared when they were small babies, and after that they sat in the full size seats of the stroller. Or I carried one in a baby carrier, while two other children used the double stroller.
  7. Car seats Yep, you need two…
  8. Baby bath seat I didn’t buy any of these. In fact, I didn’t bath the twins at the same time for at least two years. One adult and two shivery wet babies = lots of crying.

As I think about it, having twins means you have to make safe places for the babies to hang out. You just have to pay a little more attention to it than with one baby. Because you may have to put a small baby down in a hurry, in order to deal with another equally small and vulnerable person.

When the babies become toddlers

Now, what about toddlerhood?  Our twins are about to turn 3, so this is the phase we have been living recently. Having twin toddlers is a whole other ball game (probably one to fill lots of posts). But just on the question of stuff, do you need two:

  1. Ride-on toys Well, we don’t have two of everything, but we have a bike, a trike and a ride-on car in our garden – enough comparable vehicles for taking turns and having races.
  2. Scooters Actually we don’t have these at all. Call me cruel, but the idea of my toddler twins scooting away from me at high speed, possibly in different directions, turns my stomach. Plus we live in a land of canals.
  3. Specific toys Dolly, cuddly monkey, rescue helicopter etc… This is trickier. We don’t have two of everything, but I notice that toys tend to start being matched together. This is what I mean: if one has dolly, the other gets monkey. If one has a pull along dog, the other finds a pull along elephant.
  4. General toys  Lego, boxes of train tracks, books etc….obviously the best kind of sharing toys.

But in answer to my original question, does having twins mean you need to buy two of everything? My instinctive answer to that is, no. After all, as life goes on there will not always be two of everything. Fast forward to when they are 17 and both want to borrow your car at the same time. What ya gonna do? Buy them both a car…? Nope. So I take it these are life lessons worth learning.

That being said, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge that being 2 years old is hard, and being a twin 2 year old is hard. There is always someone else there at each moment of your life, and although mostly that is fabulous, sometimes you want to be able to set down your favourite Lego plane in order to have a quick drink of water, and not be super anxious that someone is going to snaffle your favourite Lego plane the moment you lift your beaker to your mouth. You know what I mean?? So I guess what I’m saying is, sometimes you need to buy two.

A Rainy Day Activity with Toddlers

A Rainy Day Activity with Toddlers

So, today has been another rainy day. In August. Bleeugh. Me and the small beans (4 year old, 2 year old twins & 4 month old baby) have been stuck inside. Everyone we know seems to be on vacation… so we needed to make our own fun. Yeah, this day called for a Rainy Day Activity!!

I used to think of myself as one of those mamas unfazed by rainy days, but this year there have been a little too many. Often our toddlers just play together without a specific activity, but days with wall to wall rain can be tough. So today I pulled something out of the depths of my memory:

Masking Tape* Roads on the Living Room Floor

(*I think this also called Painters Tape)

I heard this idea from a friend of a friend and today was the first time I tried it. It is

  • quick to set up
  • easy on the budget
  • flexible for different ages playing together
  • replaceable if the game gets messed up
  • oh so easy to clear up when the sun finally comes out

Here is my very basic masking tape road, complete with toddlers and trucks:

Rainy Day Activity toddlers

The weather forecast isn’t so good for tomorrow either, so I’m leaving the road overnight. I’m thinking of adding a helipad.

In the interests of honesty, our rainy day also included

  • small people pushing each other too fast in the stroller in the garage
  • small people chasing each other with not many clothes on
  • small people and grown ups eating marshmallows

Please, share with me your go-to rainy day activities with toddlers. I have a feeling this summer has more rain to come…