We have lots of birthdays to celebrate in September and we are big fans of homemade cards. Now that MaxiMad is at school, time to make elaborate and complicated cards are a thing of the past. We needed a quick, all inclusive idea.
So we made ........................
Chicken cards, which are ever so easy and very effective.
All you do is take a piece of card and trace round a plate, cut it out with pinking scissors, add a few feathers, a foam beak and a googly eye.
The only part I do is the cutting, MaxiMad does the tracing and both the boys love gluing and sicking.
It makes for a home made with love and inexpensive card.
Anyone with anyother ideas for basic cards that can be done, easily and by littleones, please let me know.
Tesco has just launched a Greener Living website, which is aimed at assisting the "environmentally aware shopper make the right decisions"
The Green in me thinks that Tesco should concentrate on trying to make the ordinary shopper more environmentally aware. It should offer incentives for people to purchase green. Many of the suggestions include a link to a purchase from Tesco or Tesco direct and it comes across as somewhat of a marketing ploy aimed at making shoppers feel greener for shopping at Tesco.
I try to balance being environmentally friendly with cost, especially in today's climate, being frugal is a must. It allows me to spend time at home with my children. I have been known to shop at Tesco and I am not knocking them in particular, but supermarkets as a whole need to take a more hands on role in my humble opinion.
There are a few common sense, easy things we can do to be more green, which don't cost the earth (if you pardon the pun).
Turn down your thermostat by 1 degree
Use draught excluders at your back and front door - we also have a curtain at our front door too
Fit a in line draft exclude to the door from your integral garage (if you have one)
Share baths or take a shower
Teach your children to turn off the lights
Switch to energy saving bulbs
Leave large packaging at the supermarket - not only does this mean you don't have to recycle it, hopefully it will encourage the supermarket to think again on packaging
Buy second hand - thrifting is becoming hugely popular, charity shops are in vogue
Try and make a commitment to walk to school if possible or use public transport one day a week. The MiniMads love going on the bus or train and see it as a real treat!
Don't flush the loo every time or pop a brick in your cistern if it is an older toilet (this will reduce the amount of water it uses). In TheMadHouse the boys cant reach the flush anyway!!
Get a water butt, now is the time to buy one, as they are often less expensive as they are out of season. we got one at the beginning of the year and it has watered all our veggies (bar once) for the whole of the growing season.
Menu Plan again not only does this mean you only buy what you need, but you can also reduce waste and have a head start in the kitchen and I have found that the Mini's love the routine this affords.
Recycle, recycle, recycle, please don't take the attitude that if I don't use my green bins, then I force the council into a weekly rather than fortnightly collection.
Use reusable shopping bags
Use throws and blankets, it is lovely to snuggle under them as the cooler nights come in.
Get back to using a hot-water bottle in bed. I love this one from Etsy
Now we had to do a lot of these things last Autumn anyway, as TheMadHouse had major issues with its boiler and heating, so we purchased thermals to wear under our PJ's, hot water bottles, lovely throws, draught excluders and all went to bed earlier and snuggled and read books to the children of a night. Well the boys remember and out have come the hot water bottles, hot chocolate and bedtime stories in mummy daddy's bed and it is great.
So take a look at the Tesco Website, they have a trolley dash game on the site with the possibility to win a new washing machine. At least they are trying, even if it is just a money making scheme (after all that is what the shareholders want). Also come back to me with any great green tips that you have too.
Oh and just so you know I may or may not get a copy of Sarah Beeny's book "Green Your Home: The Complete Guide to Green Renovation and Repairs for blogging about this.
MaxiMad had to learn his address last week as homework, which was great as he knew all bat the postcode already!!
This was for his excursion this week to the sorting office to learn how letters are posted. He was asked to draw a picture of his family and this is what he did.
His teacher then filled in the address and they franked their letters and when to a post box and posted them. A friendly postman then collected their letters and the children started walking to the sorting office to see the next stage of the journey.
The above postcard arrived in the post the following day and I couldn't stop laughing, as the bit about Mr Smudge is just so like MaxiMad (in case you can not see it, is says "an outline of the cat, as the cat is white and you cant see it on white paper"). Oh I want to be four again.
My baby is grown up. MiniMad his first time at preschool today without me. It was so hard leaving him there, but he was really happy until 4 minutes before I collected him, when he wanted to come home. They think that was because he was asked to tidy up.
I am so proud of him, he looked like a little man. What is it about putting a uniform on children that all of a sudden makes them look at least a year older than they are.
He loves his "work" outfit, as he calls it, although it makes it harder for me in the park after school now, as I have two in red in a sea of many others, at least when he was in his own clothes I could always spot him!!
It is strange not having a child at home with me and it is the first time that this is going to have happened and also the first time in nearly five years that I will have consistent time on my own.
What this means for me is that I will have to crack on with the paid work now!!
I hope that tomorrow goes as smoothly as today did. The seasons they are a changing.
It seems apt to me that it is Autumn, it is a season of change, a season of colour and a season of harvest. I love Autumn and Spring the most. I love crisp days walking through leaves, hearing them crisp underfoot. I love hats and scarfs, I love hot chocolate when you get in to warm up. I love watching the ever changing landscape around us. I love berry picking and eating! I love the closing in of the evenings and closing the curtains. I love that I can peek into other peoples houses when I pass. But what I am trying to say is it just seems right, for us as a family to be where we are now.......
Change - there is lots of change going on in TheMadHouse this month and also there will be even more in the coming months. MiniMad has his first afternoon at Preschool today (well if he is feeling well enough, we have been vomit city, but that is enough of that). MaxiMad is settling in well to school, enjoying his new challenges, his new responsibilities and getting to know his new classmates.
I am going to be working from home part time doing some accountancy work, which will enable me to take and collect the boys from preschool and school and be there for them at all times.
We are trying to sort out the clutter we have accumulated, both times we moved I have been pregnant or just given birth, so we didn't clear anything and although it is not evident on the surface, the garage and loft are full of "stuff". So we are busy ebaying and sorting through it all with the intention of doing a few car boot sales and recycling the remainder.
Colour - we have just decorated the study/sewing/ironing room a lovely silver and pale grey colour and added burgundy curtains. We are also planning on painting both the sitting room and dinning room before Christmas. I have just changed my cushion covers for lovely orange ones and brought out our winter throw, a huge red and orange checked one. For me these are the colours of autumn and make me feel warmer.
Harvest - we are just enjoying the fruits of MadDad's labour in the garden. We have harvested our pumpkins, onions, carrots, marrows and squash and are contemplating what to plant next. The MiniMads are also so aware of harvest due to my MIL being a farmer and MadDad growing up on a farm.
That is enough comtemplation for now, safe to say we are busy, busy, busy and I am also nesting and planning, as my next operation will be on Monday 3 November.
Mini and Maxi Mad both love helping out in the kitchen, but I am as guilty as others of often not letting them get stuck in due to time constraints or only allowing planned projects.
Today we had no such time issues, so me and MiniMad weighted out the ingredients for a basic pizza dough and popped it in the bread machine:
540g of strong white flour - Lidl do a really reasonably priced one
1 sachet of yeast
1 tablespoon on oil
1 tablespoon of honey
pinch of salt (you can leave this out, but it helps it prove)
350ml of warm tap water.
Maxi Mad then pretty much did the rest. He rolled the dough out and then made the garlic butter for the garlic pizza bread. Rather than use the garlic press, I offered him the pestle and mortar and he had so much fun mashing the garlic and butter together.
I let him make the decision on what toppings we should have, out of what was in the fridge and store cupboard and he picked one with ham and sweet peppers and one plain cheese and tomato. So I chopped the ham and peppers and grated the cheese.
I also opened the box of passata, but he added the herbs and spices to the bowl and took great pleasure in tasting it and adding a little more back pepper!!
The finished results were wonderful, so tasty and they went down really well. In fact we are thinking of making this a weekly thing. I am so glad that I relaxed my attitude and allowed MaxiMad a bit more freedom in the kitchen. He is capable of much more than I give him credit. He is a wonderful cook and as MiniMad put it nothing like the angry cooks in Ratatouille!!
Every Saturday morning finds MaxiMad and MadDad at our local AFC doing Football practice. MaxiMad is in the tots group and spends a blissful hour come rain or shine learning new skills, enhancing the ones he already has, learning to play in a team and learning to take instruction. He really enjoys these Saturday mornings with his dad and the one on one time they get.
They play on what used to be the old senior school playing field and the council charges them £70.00 per week just to open the changing rooms and toilets in the community centre, which I think is rather excessive considering that our subscription is only £2.00 per week and that all the staff are volunteers, who give up their time and energy for free. Also all the staff are or are going through their FA couching certificates in their own time too.
No you will ask why they have to have toilets and changing rooms, well it is for girls as well as boys and therefore, a toilet and changing room have to be made available!
Anyway I will get down from by hobby horse for now and just cherise the fact that MaxiMad enjoys his time learning. He may not turn out to be a premiership footballer, but that is not why he goes, it is fun, exercise in the open air and a son and dad activity.
Oh and yes for those in the know that is a Portsmouth kit!! We took Maxi to the shop and let him choose his own kit (he liked the colours), he doesn't show any allegiance to a team yet, although he has plenty of choice, he was born in Reading, MadDad is an avid Leeds supporter, his Uncle holds a season ticket at Middlesbrough (who are our closest team), who are also supported by his Godparents, his other Uncle supports Everton and well me......... I like Liverpool!!!!
This wonderful post from Bad Penny at The Hen House made me think about our cat. He was one of a pair that we got many moons ago (14 years in fact) after I miscarried twins at 20 weeks. They were our first baby's and we love them dearly. We only have one left in our life now a wonderful OAP who goes by the title of Mr Smudge. It used to be just smudge, but so many people kept calling him a she that we didn't want he to get a complex so the Mr was introduced.
Now you wont find me saying this often, as I always though Mr Smudge aka TheCookingFat had a fine life here in TheMadHouse, well the truth be told he did, until the MiniMads came along.
BC (Before Children) he and his brother (Snowy) lived the life of Riley. They had the best food, were groomed every evening, where bought special milk, had suncream applied on their ears if they were going out in the sun and often shared a five star cattery when we went on holiday, in fact it was more of a hotel for cats, heated beds, a litter tray each and an open air walk in the courtyard each evening. They also were often given cat nip or "smacked up" as it was called in our house.
Since the children were born it has been another matter really, we introduced MaxiMad to the cat by leaving him in his car seat and letting them both have a sniff and the three of them cohabited very well until Maxi began to crawl and walk and then he would tend to coner them and try to pick them up. Both the cats behaved exemplary and never scratched, which was more than could be said of our first born.
Sadly we had to have Snowy put down just before MiniMad was born, so Mr Smudge was left to fend for himself, through many indignities, which have included being painted, picked up, dressed up, put in a dolls buggy and pushed around, tucked up in bed, but I think the final straw for Mr Smudge.
It was very cold in these parts yesterday and I had the tumble dryer on. Me and MiniMad had emptied it and folded the dry washing. I was just about to get the bedtime milk ready for the MiniMads, when I herd the following "come here Mr Smudge, I have a nice warm bed for you". It turns out that MiniMad had tucked Mr Smudge up in the tumble dryer. Good job I had turned it off at the wall!
I was going to post today of my great counselling session and my coming to terms with my post surgery body and all that, but I cant. "Why" I hear you ask, well my four year old has entered the magical, mythical and ah so dreaded world of mathematics.
We always knew that he was that way inclined, but up to now I have been able to keep up and MadDad has always been on hand, but today all that changed. I went to collect him from school to take home to the park and then for a friend to take him to swimming lesson, when his teacher pulled me to one side.
My tummy did a flip, oh no he has been overenthusiastic I thought, but no, she said "I have been discussing polygons with MaxiMad today and would like you to continue with him tonight". My mind was in a whirl, what the heck was a polygon. I knew it had something to do with maths and my dim and distant schooling, but couldn't quite grasp the concept there and then. So I smiled and replied "Sure thing", knowing that I had 45 minutes to get googling and sort this out in my mind before he was dropped back home after his swimming lesson.
This conundrum did at least spare me the worry of his first swimming lesson without mummy to help with clothes, armbands and drying.
Polygons, I googled and looked at the wikipedia entry, which left me more confused than I was to begin with and then I had a lightbulb moment. Hexagons, octagons and the likes. I had cracked it.
So when Maxi came home and whilst dinner was being prepared we did some join the dots, where by he then wrote the number of sides in. we discussed how to remember the shapes names and also that they had to have sides of equal length.
Then MadDad came home and we had a yummy home made sweet and sour with noodles and started to discuss our days. All was fine until Maxi decided to bring back up the topic of polygons and they started to try and name all the large ones, well my mind was reeling. But you know what I now know a twelve sided polygon is a dodecagon, such a nice word, kind of flows off the tongue. But it is not as though a dodecagon is going to get me a cup of tea in the morning.
So pray tell, why do we need to know about Polygons and what do they do for us? I NEED to know, no really I do because Maxi is bound to ask and I want to be able to answer him.
I have prepared a craft activity for him before school though. I have cut out a hexagon, octagon and pentagon from sponge and we can do some stamping and tessellation (another great word)!
I am proud of him and do want to encourage his inquisitive mind, but surely they should cover more of this with him at school. I already get a book an day to read with him, plus a project to do over the weekend on a Thursday and this is in addition to all the reading we do at home anyway.
Anyway, I am now off to try and rid my mind of numbers and shapes by filling it with Amada Soule's Handmade home instead - Oh and I might have a small sherry too.
Well my minimad, my littlest munchkin will be starting preschool next Wednesday afternoon.
He had his home visit this afternoon and kept telling the head of preschool that he was starting tomorrow!!!
I have a few forms to fill in and return and some preparation work to do with him. He has already tried on his uniform, which he calls he work clothes and is definitely ready for a little more interaction and play with more children his age.
He will be doing an hour on the first afternoon and I will remain there, behind the scenes so to speak and then he will go 2 hours per afternoon. He is overjoyed, he was informing his teacher what he will be doing, playing with blocks, cars and making everything colourful. He told them that he will bring his music if theirs is not "suitable for bopping too".
I think they have already gathered that he is as much of a whirlwind as his older brother and just as headstrong. He is going to have the same key worker that MaxiMad had, which I think is great as she had such a raport with him, she also knew which buttons to push and he adored her. It also makes me more secure knowing her too and how much she understands and acknowledges that this is a big step for MiniMad and for me too. I am entrusting him in their care, something which I have not done with him before and as I did with his brother before him.
So here's to the change and all that it will bring. Things are definitely feeling more autumnal here, the weather took a distinct turn yesterday and it is nippy today, cardigan weather.
Anyway we are now off to walk to the school to collect MaxiMad and be regaled about his day. It was wonderful to hear how happy he seems and the fact that he clears his plate each lunchtime. He had lunch today with one of the nursery staff and she was telling me that he had a great big salad and jacket potato and went back for more peppers!!!!
Every moment presents a wonderful new opportunity to become more of who I am.
I flow with life easily and effortlessly.
This is true for me and many other mothers of children this week, as it will have been the first week of school for many and the return to school for others.
it is also particularly applicable as MiniMad has his home visit from the head of Preschool amd one of the other teachers tomorrow afternoon.
I had been looking to keep him with me for as long as I could, what with him being my last baby and also the experience he had when I was in hospital, but have come to realise since his big brother went into reception that this would be very cruel and selfish. He wants to spent more time away from mummy, he wants to go to school, he wants to be a little more independent, so I am letting go and trying to embrace the change.
Change is all around us at this time of year and becomes ever more noticeable as the weeks pass that autumn is upon us. The nights are drawing in, the mornings are colder, the berries are ripe for picking, the apples on the trees are heavy, The onions are ready for pulling and the leaves are starting to turn slowly brown.
For me autumn and spring are real landmarks in the calender, they bring both joy and sorrow, joy in remembrance of a fantastic summer time with my children and sorrow in the passing of the light. However, this year I am going to embrace the changes, recognise them and try and find the best in them all. Anyone care to join me?
We are very lucky and we live 5 minutes away from this wonderful beach. MadDad is not a fan of the beach, but I on the other hand grew up 2 mins from the sea (you could see it from my bedroom window and out of the sitting room window of our first flat) and love it, as do the minimads.
The weather today has been wonderful, not a cloud in the sky, so we waited until after lunch and decided to have an afternoon at the beach. we quickly packed a few things together (I keep wet suits and towel ponchos in the car anyway) and departed for an afternoon of......
Today was in inset day (teacher training) at MaxiMads school, so MadDad took the day off and we exchanged some Tesco Club Card points for vouchers and decided to go Flamingo Land for the day, hoping that the fact that the children were all back at school and that it wasn't a weekend would mean shorter queues.
We woke up and the sun was shinning, so I packed a picnic, towel and a spare set of clothes for the minimads and we set off. We arrived at 10am and were only about the 40 car in the car park. The boys were very excited and jumped on to the first ride they saw, the balloon ride.
The beauty of Flamingo Land is that is it compact, has lots of rides suitable of little ones and has a zoo too. we spent the morning exploring the park and going on lots of rides, including the monorail, bumper cars and carousel. We then stopped to have a picnic lunch and a walk round the animals.
We really enjoyed the fact the park was quiet, it made for such a relaxing day, the children were always in sight, they got to see all the animals and we didn't have to queue at any rides. We watched the sea lion show and the boys were in awe at the beauty and grace of them.
We then took them to the splash park area, which they truly adored. Both the boys are complete and utter water babes and they loved jumping in and out of the fountains of water, shooting each other from the pirate ship and generally letting of steam. They played there until their lips were blue and couldn't speak for shivering. it was then time for a warm drink and a change of clothes and some more rides.
We left the park at closing time, 5pm and we hadn't traveled 3 minutes before both boys were fast asleep in the car and they slept the whole 50 minutes home.
It was a lovely day out and a pleasant family time out and more than made up for yesterdays episode, in fact I was very proud of both boys with their thank yous to the attendants at the rides and also by MaxiMads statement when we got in the car "it has been a good day today, thank you for bring us and I love you 1006 much".
I have been expecting it, waiting for it and hoping it wasn't going to happen, but KAPOW - it happened today, in public and it happened bad.
I have been taking the boys to the park after school (next door to the school) to blow off some energy after MaxiMad had been in school all day. I have made sure that I have had healthy snacks and a drink on hand in the hope that they would help any sugar dip.
But today it all went pear shaped - Maximad decided he was going to have a slide on the skateboard half pipe, which he was doing really well, but he couldn't make it to the top. I told him to keep practicing and then he would be able too. I also was trying to keep an eye on MiniMad too, as he was bounding about, fearless as usual with children older than his mere 3 years chattering away. I was fine with MaxiMad on the half pipe until he went to take off his shoes and socks. I had told him No earlier and explained that there was glass on the floor and he might hurt himself. Did he listen, did he heck.
So I had to leave MiniMad with a friend and go and get MaxiMad out of the skate park area. He would not come when he was told to, in fact he was being truly obnoxious and obstreperous. I was seething. I did not want to chase after him, as he had no shoes on and would think that it was a game, but in the end I had to. I was hot, red faces and blowing out steam. I made him put on his shoes and held his hand out of the park.
But it wasn't going to stop there was it? No he had not embarrassed mummy enough or made a big enough scene already. He refused to get in the car. I had to let go of his hand to get my car keys, so again, no option but to chase and physically put him in the car. Well restraining him was a different matter, he kept undoing the seat belt on his high back booster seat, so I thought right, I will put you in MiniMads 5 point harness car seat (he is just within the weight and height limit). After struggling to get him in as he was arching his back in the way that children do when they don't want to get in, I fastened the catch and went to start the car. But guess what - Yes he undid it. How I managed not to hit him I will never know. I was by this point blowing steam out of my nose and ears.
In the end I strapped MiniMad in and told MaxiMad to get out, as I would leave him if he wasn't going to get in. It took another 8 minutes to get him in his seat and strapped in.
In total my humiliation lasted 49 minutes on what was the busiest day of the week at the park, as it has been a wonderful and sunny day and it didn't stop when we got home, oh no, he creamed the whole way home that he was allowed to take off his socks and shoes because other children did and then proceeded to blast our ears for another 13 minutes at home as I refused to carry him from the car to the door, as he had taken his shoes off in the car again. Ah the irony, happy to remove them in a park with glass on the floor, but not on his own swept drive.
He is currently laid on my unmade bed watching cbeebies, whilst I pound all my angst out on this keyboard before going and dishing up his dinner.
I have warned MadDad that he is taking over parenting as soon as he walks through the door tonight, as I will be walking out to clear my head!! Thank goodness I have a husband who can take do this. Hats off to all single parents out there.
As you may know I live by the Fly principal for all my cleaning and lots of other things. You may have fell into the trap of thinking that I enjoy cleaning or have a sparkling clean house and I felt the need to put you right.
I HATE cleaning and use this system to be able to get by and ensure that the house is in some semblance of order. After having two children in less than 15 months you can understand that cleaning was not anywhere near the top of my priority list, but then we moved house and I decided that I needed to do something out this.
So I stumbled along Fly and have found it works for me. I need to look past a lot of the schmaltz and self-loving stuff, but once I did it was a revelation. I did the baby-steps initially and that helped me clear a lot of my clutter and also develop a morning and evening routine, which works for me and my family.
What I love about it is there is minimal effort for maximum return. I am never hopping about trying to find something in the morning and guess what - It has made this first week of DS1 going to school so much easier.
We get out his uniform the night before and lay it out downstairs, so that he can pop it on after breakfast.
I am trying really hard to be accepting of MaxiMad starting school, but even though I know it is the right thing for him, it doesn't stop it being hard to leave him at the doorway.
I am so thankful that he is enjoying it, in fact he was in his uniform at 6am this morning when he came and woke MadDad. He runs into his classroom shouting "Bye Mum" and that is the last I see of him a blur in Red, which is great.
He regales me with tales of what he has done, read What Time is it Mr Wolf and then played the game, happy that he already know both the story and game.
I am happy that he is enjoying his lunches (I know, I know, early days yet). "I had pizza for lunch mum and it was the best pizza ever" he exclaimed on the way to swimming lesson this evening. "oh why is that?" I asked "it didn't have any veg on it was his reply". "I also had cheese and crackers and grapes mum, they don't make you have a desert. MaxiMad is not a desert boy.
I am trying to accept the change in my life and move forward. MiniMad, however, is struggling. He keeps asking what time it is and when are we going to get his big brother. He screams as we drop him off in the morning and sits by the door at home. He has enjoyed the summer with a his brother who he proclaims is his best friend too.
I am hoping that when mums and toddlers starts again next week and that swimming with him once a week and starting all our other routines, will keep him occupied. He is so keen to go to school like his big brother, so I am meeting with the head of preschool next week (she heard him this morning and asked if perhaps we should look at starting preschool). If he wants to try preschool then I am willing, it is only 2 hours per day and it doesn't have to be everyday, in fact she is willing to be flexible. She knows my medical history and it might be advisable to have him settled before my next operation in November.
Ultimately we are all a team my family and if the boys are happy and settled then it goes a long way to making me happy and settled too. Things change, seasons change, life would be a very dull place if all we ever experienced was summer. We need the contrasts in our life to make things seem sharper, brighter and more in focus. My summer is ending and I am going to tiptoe in to Autumn with trepidation and no expectations and see what joys and delights she has to offer.