Thursday, 26 February 2015

Who is responsible for my childrens health and attitude towards food?!

Last night, when the majority of people were probably watching Madonna stack it at The Brits, I was watching a programme on Channel 4 entitled 'Junk Food Kids: Who's to blame?'

I was so shocked by this weeks (and last weeks) programme, that I felt compelled to put my feelings down. here on my blog.

If you are not aware of the programme, so far, it has been about children who have had to have their baby teeth pulled out because they have decayed so much its hurting them. Plus about childrens weight and how they have managed to put so much of it on.

Now, I think its fair if I start by saying, that since having my children, I am NOT normally a judgemental type of person. If I walked down the street and saw an overweight child, who am I to judge? That particular child may well have a disability, something medically wrong with them. But when the facts are laid out in front of you, like they were last night, I have every right to have an opinion.

Last weeks episode had me in tears 5 minutes in. There was a little boy no older than my children, having 12, yes 12 teeth pulled out. Under General Anaesthetic. It was traumatising to watch and then to see how upset and in pain he was when he came round was heartbreaking.

In that same episode a 4 year old who was fitting into aged 8-9 clothes had to have some teeth out as well. As the story unfolded it was very clear to see that the Mother had not made her child brush her teeth if she would rather watch TV instead! She admitted that she would rather have a quiet life and just give her Children what they wanted! Now don't get me wrong, we all would love for a quiet life, but when it comes to your childrens health, surely you need to look at the bigger picture. I mean, if I gave Millie what she wanted every day, she would look like a chocolate bar!

As a parent I believe that you have got to do the best you can for your child. Sometimes that means you have to be cruel to be kind, when I was doing my weekly shop a few weeks ago, Millie practically screamed the whole way round all because I would not let her have a cake! People were staring at me, it was awful, I wanted the ground to swallow me up. But did I give in? No. I ignored her screams and carried on with what was the worst shopping trip ever. Did she resent me for it 10 minutes after we left the supermarket? No. It was all forgotten about as soon as she found her lost dolly in the the car!

In this weeks episode, I felt really sorry for a 13 year old girl. Her parents had basically given in and let her have what she wanted when she was younger, and now she was faced with the possibility of surgery to reduce the size of her stomach. At age 13?! Again, as the story progressed it was clear that the Doctors were doing all they could to encourage the whole family to loose weight together, to help encourage the teenager. But the Parents were giving up at the first hurdle, and rather than help her loose some weight they were continually saying surgery would be the better option! How can surgery, so drastic, be better for the poor girl? If that was me, I know I would do everything I could to prevent that surgery. I know that dieting is hard, I am rubbish at it to be honest. But if your childs life depended on it, you would do it wouldn't you? You would get rid of all the unhealthy temptations in the house and you would do the best you could to help. I proved last week that eating fresh healthy meals doesn't cost a fortune, in fact it costs far more to eat junk all the time! At the end of the programme they said that the child had the onset of Diabetes, no one wants that for their child, surely?

But what struck a cord the most in last nights episode, was the parent who, when his child was faced with having his teeth taken out, said this... 'If your child is happy then who cares if he has to have a few teeth out'?! This was said in reference to feeding them sweets. I was so shocked I had to rewind it! Then I thought, maybe that parent doesn't have all the facts, maybe they do not know how precious teeth are. Or is it that they are choosing to ignore the facts? I couldn't decide, but seeing how scared that little boy was, again, was heartbreaking.

I appreciate that some parents do not seem to be as clued up on something I find so easy to understand (my childs health), and I do honestly think that those parents should be offered some form of education towards it. Maybe it should be compulsory for all parents to attend classes related to childrens health? I dont know?

But what I do know, in answer to my title question, is that I consider myself (and my husband) responsible for our childrens health and their attitude towards food.


We are the ones who feed them, watch over them brushing their teeth, give them opportunity to get outside and have some 'exercise' and also to educate them as to what a balanced diet is. My children have sweets, chocolate, ice creams, and even puddings on occasion. But they have things like fruit, vegetables and fresh meat daily. We, as parents, hold ourselves responsible for our childrens health, it is our job as parents to make sure we give our children the best start we can in life. We by no means have lots of money, but we still manage to feed our children a good balanced diet. We have a choice of what foods we can feed our children, I think its very important to make the right choices.

Did you watch the programme, what are your thoughts?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Our day exploring and searching for The Gruffalo

Wow, half term is flying by isn't it? I have managed to keep my two entertained and so far the highlight has been our day out to Bedgebury Pinetum.


We woke up to beautiful sunshine on Tuesday, so I thought it was a great opportunity to get out and explore. A friend of mine had been to Bedgebury Pinetum the day before and looking at her pictures I could see that it was somewhere that we would all enjoy,

At the moment, until the 28th February, there is a Gruffalo trail so I really wanted to visit before that ended. Its about an hour away from us so we packed up a picnic and set off fairly early, but even so, the car park was fairly full when we got there. It is obviously a very popular place and after visiting I can see why!

We picked up our Gruffalo packs from the visitor centre and started our hunt for the Gruffalo.


The trail we took was just over a mile long, we were purely looking for the Gruffalo and reading the information boards. But I could see that there were plenty other paths and areas to explore too.

In the middle of the trail we found The Gruffalo!


We carried on searching for Gruffalo plaques hidden in the trees, because each one had a letter written on it, and at the end we were able to unscramble the letters to make a word. It was so much fun!


We then headed over to the play areas, I don't think I was quite expecting them to be so big. So much to climb and explore, the children were in their element! Water buckets to pull up and tip out, pirate ships to explore, swings to swing, beams to balance and trees to climb! We simply did not have time to do it all!




We had such a fantastic day out, there is no doubt that we will be returning again, next time I might even let the children bring their bikes and scooters!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Charlie Cook's favourite book: 10th Anniversary edition

Chester and Millie have been treated to yet another book from the award winning book duo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler!

This one is called Charlie Cook's favourite book and this year it is celebrating its 10th Anniversary!


It has been a bedtime favourite for the past few weeks with all 4 of us!

The story is about a boy called Charlie Cook, who sits down to read his favourite book. Its about a pirate captain who is reading a book about goldilocks, who is reading a book about Knights. You can imagine how the rest of the story goes. Its a very unique story and very fun to read! The way the words rhyme means that its easy for Craig and I to read to the children regardless of how tired we are!


Its no surprise to me that this book has sold over a million copies since its release 10 years ago. Its a very clever book! I absolutely love the detail in the illustrations, every time we have read it, we have discovered something new!



In this 10th Anniversary edition, you are treated to some of Axel Scheffler's early sketches and a shiny badge on the front cover. The book has an RRP of £8.85 and I would say that is a fantastic investment. I can see this book being a big hit with both children for a very long time!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Ways to entertain your children this half term.

As I am sitting here typing this half term is just about to begin.

It can be a stressful time, keeping the children entertained for the whole week. I mean, when they are at School their minds are occupied on their learning, but at home they easily become bored. February half term is always a tricky one, because most people are still recovering from the Christmas period financially. So I like to find ways to keep the children entertained on a budget for this first half term of the year.

I recently contributed a tip to the Attractiontix blog, for a post entitled Things to do with the Kids in the School holidays. It well worth a read as there are 24 tips from other lovely mums with ideas to keep you busy all week and beyond!

I wanted to write a post to elaborate on my tip, which was;  'Spend the morning writing/drawing up a countryside checklist, then spend the afternoon exploring a local park ticking off your checklist as you find the items!'

This is actually something we do quite a lot, and the children never get bored of it! As I have said many times before we love to be outside, so any excuse to explore the countryside and we are there!


In the past we have had lots of fun looking for the things on our lists. The things included can range from a tree or a flower to something a bit more obscure like a baby Panda! I bet you can guess who wants us to look for that one?!



The afternoon quite often ends in a bear hunt, especially if we are going to local woodland. Chester will recite his favourite story to us 'We're going on a bear hunt' whilst we carefully look behind logs and bushes for the elusive bear! Craig claims to have spotted him several times, but the children and I are yet to see him!

If the Weather is nice, we pack a picnic too. A picnic is the icing on the cake to the children as they love a bit of alfresco dining on a blanket! It all adds to the excitement of the day, which in turn leads to a much easier bed time!

What are your plans for this half term?

Win a pair of tickets to the new BBC Good Food Eat Well Show



The exciting new BBC Good Food Eat Well Show (sponsored by Lexus) will premier on 27th February 2015 at Olympia West in Kensington! This new event, part of the BBC Good Food Show portfolio, is dedicated to showcasing healthy food brands, products and producers, and will demonstrate to visitors how they can achieve a balance between living a  healthy lifestyle and maintaining a passion for good food.Celebrity chef demonstrations, live dietary consultations, superfoods and more.

One of the highlights of the show is the Healthy Kitchen which will host an impressive line-up of celebrities, chefs and professionals demonstrating how easy it is to prepare healthy and good food.


The schedule includes personalities such as Davina McCall, Lorraine Pascale, Hemsley + Hemsley, Marcus Bean and Jenni Falconer. Another feature, the Eat Well Forum is dedicated to key diet and lifestyle challenges, and will play host to a range of vibrant discussions and informative talks on the
relationship between food, health and wellbeing.

Visitors can also enjoy the Eat Well Interview Stage, where they can have their questions answered by dietary specialists such as Natasha Corrett, Renee Maguire, Dale Pinnock and Rachel De Thample.

Visitors will also be given the opportunity to have their books signed at the WHSmith
stand.

In addition to the interview stage, they're delighted to be hosting 1-2-1 sessions with qualified dieticians throughout the show. The sessions offer a range of different advice and guidance, and will be held in a private room on the show floor.

The three day event will run until 1 March 2015, and showcase 100 exhibitors selling their range of products, including superfoods and delicacies.

Sounds amazing doesn't it?! Well I have a pair of tickets to give away! All you need to do is fill in the gleam form below.

Good luck!

A pair of Tickets to the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show

SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

How we feed our family of 4 for around £40 per week!

After watching Eat Well For Less last night, and seeing that a family of 4 was spending over £300 per week, I have been involved in two separate discussions on social media about how much people spend a week on their shop. Its been an interesting discussion, some have admitted they spend quite a lot (although not quite £300) and others, like me can manage it on less than £100 per week no problems.

This subject always interests me, as we manage to spend around £40 a week. People often ask me how we do it and also assume that we don't eat well, but in fact since being more savvy with our weekly shop we have eaten much better than we used too, all our meat is fresh and the majority of our meals are home cooked from scratch.

My secret....

Aldi!

At this point I think its worth me mentioning that Aldi have not asked me to write this post, I am merely giving you an insight into our Family life and how we shop.

3 years ago, when Millie was a baby, a friend advised me on the quality and value of the Aldi Nappies. I went in to grab a pack and came out with a trolley full of food. I have never looked back! Of course I would be lying if I said I only shop at Aldi, because on occasion I shop elsewhere, like us all, if I see a good deal I will be inclined to make an extra trip to another shop to purchase it.

But how do you manage to spend just £40 I hear you say?! Well let me explain....

This is this weeks shop, it came to £40.45p


I scour my cupboards, fridge and freezer before I go shopping and utilize what I already have to make meals and save on food waste (something you would never of heard me saying before the kids). This week I already had a pack of mince in my freezer and a Chicken and Asparagus pie, so this was the base part of 2 meals already. I then noticed that we still had some frozen veg left, plus store cupboard essentials such as crisps, porridge, pasta, tinned tomatoes, fruit, beans and some packet sauces/marinades. I also had 1 pepper, 3 onions, new potatoes, white potatoes, blueberries, 3 oranges and 5 apples as well.

I went in with a list of what I already had and a rough list of meal ideas (depending on meat offers and availability).

With what I brought, our meals this week will be...

Friday: (Children at a party) so Chicken and Asparagus pie with mash and fresh greens for Craig and I.

Saturday: Valentines day meal for Craig and I (more on that later) Pizza movie night tea for the kids.

Sunday: Toad in the hole with winter veg mix and sweet potato fries (homemade). Mixed Fruit Strudel.

Monday: Chicken Drumsticks and thighs marinated in BBQ marinade (or a lemon and herb one depending on my mood that day) with fresh greens and new potatoes.

Tuesday: Pancake day! My homemade savoury minced beef pancakes, followed by sweet pancakes.

Wednesday: Pork steaks with mixed veg and mashed potato.

Thursday: Beef Fajitas, served with white rice and mixed veg.

Obviously apart from Valentines day and Pancake day these meal days can be swapped around to suit our schedule. I have also brought enough for breakfast, snacks and lunches.

Of course shopping is not just about food, once or twice a month we need things like dishwasher tablets, shampoo, shower gel, toilet roll, cleaning products etc. I normally spread them out across the month, this week I have brought pack of 9 luxury toilet roll for £2.69 and Anti bac spray for 49p.

I didn't buy milk today as I tend to buy this from a local shop when we need it and I am almost certain we will need an extra loaf of bread by the end of the week because its half term!

This week is slightly different due to it being valentines day tomorrow. So I bought this for Craig and I's 3 course home cooked meal. I cost me just £8.65!


I pulled out my receipts from the last month, the total spend including the valentines meal was £149.85 which averages £37.46 per week!


For 4 of us I think thats amazing! Of course, I will admit that we have grabbed a chocolate bar or two when we are out, or treated ourselves to lunch whilst on a family day out. But when we are spending such a little amount on our weekly shop we can afford the odd luxury or too!

How do you do your weekly shop? Are you careful like me or do you just buy what takes your fancy that day?





Thursday, 12 February 2015

Chester - Showing his softer side

I think as a mother you instinctively know what peoples perception of your child is. I know that Chester can be a handful, he is a very active, typical rough and tumble boy. But as his Mother I know that there is a different side to Chester, a side that sometimes, people are not prepared to look for. If you take the time to scratch the surface you will see that Chester is actually a very kind hearted and caring little boy.

Today has been a fine example of Chester showing his softer side.

Chester requested to make his girlfriends a Valentines card each (yes, apparently he has two girlfriends at the age of 6!). I was more than happy to let him do this, I got all of the relevant craft materials out and let him decide what he was going to do. He needed a little help drawing the vase and a heart but it was all his own ideas and after I had drawn what I needed to, I left him to it! He spent so much time making sure they were just right, and made sure that they were personal to each girl.



Here are the finished cards...


and this is what he wrote inside...



He is so excited about giving them to the two lucky girls tomorrow, and I am really pleased for him. Such a sweet and thoughtful thing for him to do!

Anyone else's children been busy making cards for their loved ones?!



Tales from Acorn Wood: Fox's Socks 15th Anniversary edition.

I don't need to tell you how much we love Julia Donaldson books, or even books in general. We talk about them lots. Thats because we read lots of books!



One of the books Millie enjoys is 'Fox's Socks' by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Its a lift flap board book, and is the perfect size for little hands like Millie's. We can often hear her 'read' books to her dollies after lights out, and this one is one that can be heard often.

Its a story about a Fox who has lost his socks, he goes around the house looking for them. With the help of the lift flap's you are able to help him find them (as well as his other clothes) in the most unlikeliest of places!



It is a lovely and easy to read rhyming story, which this year is celebrating its 15th Birthday along with the other books in the range. The book has been released with a new cover to celebrate this milestone, and what a milestone it is, being popular with young Children for 15 years!

It certainly is a lovely book to add to your bookcase, we are yet to read the 3 other books in the range. Postman Bear, Hide and Seek Pig, Rabbits Nap. But they are certainly on our list of books we want to read!

I would say the book suits Children under the age of 4 the best, and with an RRP of £5.99 it makes for a lovely gift or even a pocket money book!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Kurio Tab - A family friendly Tablet

Before Christmas you may remember me writing about our initial thoughts on the Kurio Tab. Well we have had it for almost 3 months now, meaning we have had lots of time to give it a really good play with. So I thought it was about time I gave you another update!

The Kurio Tab is labelled a 'Family Tablet' and I was very keen to explore the benefits of a tablet suitable for all the family. Chester and Millie have certainly been very busy helping us to test out the Kurio Tab. They both have very different ways in which they like to 'play' on it.

Chester is very much a know what he wants and goes straight for it kind of kid. So once I downloaded the games he wanted onto the Kurio, he was happy to just get on and play them. He has also explored the games that are preloaded onto the Kurio and worked out how to save his favourite ones to his favourites! The screen size is perfect for him and the size of the whole tablet is perfect too.


Chester finds the stand that was supplied with the Kurio (meant for the motion sensor games, more on those later) very handy. He uses it when he is watching youtube videos and needs to free his hands up to make the lego, or play the skylander level he is referring too on youtube.


Millie is a big fan of the Kurio games. You get over 50 already pre loaded with the tablet, and we have downloaded more, and deleted the ones that are not relevant to us to save on memory space. Most of the Kurio games are pretty educational and they are all fun. Take the Ice Cream game for example. You have to make the icecreams up in record time, but this requires quick thinking, we all really enjoy this one and the children have proved that their reaction times are much better than mine!


Of course it was only a matter of time before Millie found a panda game to play!


Another great feature to the Kurio Tab is that it has motion sensor games. The games are very easy for even young children to play,as it tracks your movement to play the game. The swimming motion game is a favourite here and although we are a very active family who enjoy lots of outdoors time, we really enjoyed that extra opportunity to get active on very rainy days! They are such fun games to play and certainly a great opportunity to get more active whilst using a tablet!



Its very easy for both children to get onto their profiles on the Kurio, they simply drag their avatar onto the lock sign and it opens up their profile. To get onto the adult profile we have selected to add a number password. Unfortunately Chester has already worked this out and we did have an incident where he managed to get onto his game in the adult profile and purchase £15.95 worth of gems from the play store. I could of cried that day! But I soon realised that even though he should not of gone on there in the first place, I had incorrectly set up the google play purchasing security. So really I only had myself to blame. On that note, a word of advice.. when you are setting up, make sure you go into your google play settings and tick the box to ALWAYS ask for a password before making a purchase!

The battery life seems to last through the day for us, perhaps we get such a good life out of it because we have set both children up with time control on the tablet, and Craig just uses the tablet in the evening when the children are in bed. I would suggest not using the tablet whilst it is on charge, we tend to charge ours at night time and I always take the tablet out of the case, just because I feel that the charge lead fits more securely without the case.

Whilst we are on the subject let me tell you a bit more about the time control we have been using for the children. It is another great plus for this tablet. In the parent settings you can set a time slot for each child to use the Kurio Tab. You can decided how much 'play time' they have per time, and during what hours they can have it. Meaning that if for some reason they managed to sneak the Tab into their room at bedtime they wouldn't be able to use it anyway! I have allowed for 1 hour per weekday each and 1.5 hours on the weekend. of course I am able to adjust this if need be. For us, this has been great. They seem to be more accepting when it comes to who's turn it is and it has caused less arguments between them. I think because that authority wasn't coming from Craig or I (technically it was, but we won't tell the children that, will we), it was coming from the Tab, they were happy to accept it and take turns nicely!



As a parent, I am very impressed with this tablet. You have the best of both worlds really, the children are happy that they can play games on a tablet and I am happy in the knowledge that it is safe for them to use. I know that they can not get onto the internet (unless I set it, or supervise it) and they will not spend their whole waking day glued to the screen because we have set up the time control option. What makes this a 'family tablet' is that everyone has their own profile, so although Chester and Millie may not have full use of the internet, on our parent profile we do. Meaning everyone can enjoy it! I am very impressed with the google play store, it seems to be very well supported and we have not had any problems downloading things that we have wanted too.

Chester is happy that on his profile it is purely his games, he hasn't had to put up with any 'girly princess things' as he calls them. Equally Millie hasn't had to put up with any 'scary dinosaur things' from Chester's profile.

In my opinion the Kurio Tab is a great investment, it is cost effective really as you only need to have one tablet rather than one for each family member. If you are looking for a tablet that everyone can use, this is certainly one to consider!

You can find out more about the Kurio Tab and other Kurio products on their website.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Making mealtimes fun!

Mealtimes can be tricky in our house. It really depends on the mood of the children as to whether they like the food I am serving them that day! If Chester has had a tiring day at School, or if Millie has had an unplanned afternoon nap, which has caused her to wake up grumpy, it can be a real challenge to get them to sit at the table and eat what I have cooked for them!

Bernard Matthews recently gave me an idea that was sure to make our mealtimes more fun, and help to cheer those tired and grumpy children up!

They have been working with famous food artist Carl Warner to create an amazing food scene to help get children excited about meal times. We were then set a challenge to create our own scene, which we gladly accepted, and what fun we had....


Its very handy that Chester is currently into dinosaurs in a big way. Because the Bernard Matthews Turkey Dinosaurs were the base of our food art. Everything I created was around that theme.

I made our food art as a family platter, because as a family we are really into sharing platters and helping yourself at the table. But it could very easily be scaled down for individual plates if that works best for your family.

Our volcano was made out of Bernard Matthews Hamwiches and ketchup, I used green beans for the grass, Bernard Matthews Turkey Drummers and curly kale for the trees, mashed potato for the clouds and of course Turkey Dinosaurs to roam around!


It was very easy to make and very effective. The reaction from the children was fantastic they ate a bit of everything with no fuss, it was a great balanced meal!


If you like this idea, then do pop over to the Bernard Matthews website its had a revamp and they have lots of meal time inspiration, including ideas from lots of other lovely bloggers! You can even take part in a competition to win a fab prize by showing off your own Food Art!


Do you create food art for your children? I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

These precious moments..

Craig's day off was today. So he got up to do the School run. Surprisingly Millie woke up early and wanted to go on the School run too. She really loves to do everything her brother does!

When they came back, I was still in bed. Not asleep, just enjoying the lazy morning. I could hear Millie excitedly telling Craig all sorts of things, about dollies, and Nursery, and then requesting the playdoh box to come out.

She is such a chatty little girl, such a happy thing. Always has an air of excitement and fun in her voice.

Then I started thinking, this wont last forever. Her 'toddler' voice will soon be gone. Her pronunciation of words will start to sharpen up and she will not be saying 'my' meaning 'me' or calling her brother 'Sester' rather than 'Chester' for much longer.


I remembered back to the time when Chester was that age, and was saddened to realise that I actually do not remember what his little voice sounded like. Luckily the video camera will have caught it, so somewhere in our house we will have the recordings of this precious time.

Time goes so quickly and it is very easy to move onto the next 'phase'. I know that when Millie grows up a little bit more her little voice will change, it will sound more grown up. I am certain it will still have that air of excitement to it, but it won't be the same. I will miss it when its gone. Its just another reminder of how quickly my babies are growing up!

Hold on to these moments, and when you get annoyed that you have been asked the same question 100 times that day, remind yourself, that little voice will soon be gone. It will soon be replaced with a more grown up one and you won't be able to get it back. Cherish the little things.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

My 7 things....

Ok so if you are on facebook, you have probably seen the 7 things post. The one where you share 7 things about yourself that people are unlikely to know. I did mine the other day, and then thought well why not share it with you lovely lot?!

                                          


So, here are my 7 things people may not really know about me. Which, I might add,  has been really hard as I live my life on social media lol.... 

1) I have major number OCD, I have to have all numbers even. Millie was born on the 9th and if they had of had the correct number of consultants working that day she would have been born on the 8th. This freaks me out, everytime I think about it. 

2) I love all things Walt Disney World (as you all know) but I would really love to visit on my own one day, so that I could selfishly do everything I want to do, when I want to do it. 

3) I accepted a lift home from School from a friend, rather than catching a bus. This meant I missed (without me realising) visiting my Grandad. The next day he passed away unexpectedly. Ever since I have been extremely indecisive about every choice I make in life. 

4) I love Buddy Holly's music and have seen the musical more times than I can remember.

5) I still can't decide if we chose the right name for Millie, and I really regret not putting Millicent on the birth certificate 

6) History really interests me, but I never took it as a GCSE because I didn't like the teacher. 

7) I am extremely shy (who would have guessed it?!) It takes a lot for me chat to new people, to the point I feel sick. Once I get talking I am fine. But if someone says something bad/nasty/untrue about my children I will see red regardless of how well I know you. 

8) I know it's meant to be 7 but because I hate odd numbers.... I really want to visit Pompeii!

So there you go! Have you taken part in this?