High on any kid’s list of favourite pass-times are making a mess and stuffing their greedy little faces with junk. It goes without saying then that baking, an activity that combines both these things, is always a winner. While I do a lot of baking when I have the kitchen to myself, I rarely have the patience or inclination to allow my two little helpers in on the act ‘just for fun’. This recipe is my secret weapon for those times when I can no longer avoid the joy that is baking with children. It’s simple enough for the kids to get involved, quick, has 3 basic ingredients and best of all uses little equipment so you won’t be left with a mountain of washing up.
If you’ve attempted to bake with kids before you’ll already know that they have zero interest in measuring out the ingredients or lining baking trays. All this stuff is boring. They basically want to get their hands covered in goop and eat the end results as soon as possible even if it means first degree burns to the tongue. Just get everything prepped beforehand (it won’t take long in this instance) and I promise things will be 100% less painful.
Like most families our weeks seem to fly by from one to the next, a busy jumble of school runs, work, to-do lists, chores, after-school activities and emergency fish fingers sandwiches. Weekends are just as hectic to be honest, only with a lot more football and laundry involved. Which is why school holidays are such a relief when they do come along, a chance for all of us to take a break from the usual routine and spend some family time having fun. This half term coincided with a bank holiday which meant even Daddy got the chance to kick back for a few days!
After a rare family trip to the cinema we headed to Prezzo with our tummies rumbling (Italian is the ONLY option we can all agree on when eating out). The La Famiglia sharing dish was just what the doctor ordered, no fussing about what who was having what, just a huge bowl of spaghetti bolognaise delivered to our table pronto! There are 4 pasta dishes to choose from so something to suit every family. Dishing out for the family in a restaurant setting is a genius idea – everyone gets to enjoy a family style meal together just how they like it – from the spaghetti monster who always asks for extra pasta to the one who insists on having the sauce on the left, minus the cooking and washing up! Plus no food envy whinging (guilty!) and because everyone is served just the right amount, no wastage – ooh we like that a lot! Along with a couple of garlic flatbreads, we found the portion size perfect for 2 adults and 2 children, leaving just enough room for that all important dessert!
David Walliams, Frank Lampard, Ricky Gervais – to you and me well known names from the celebrity world but to my 8 year old son, authors of some of his favourite children’s books. Now you can add to the list of famouses-turned-author, funny man David Baddiel. In fact Baddiel has been writing for many years but has only ventured into children’s fiction more recently. Already a huge fan myself I need no convincing of his humour and brilliance but as we know, kids are the harshest critics and so on this occasion I’ve delegated the task of reviewing ‘AniMalcolm’ (Baddiel’s latest) to my own little bookwork, Spud.
At first he thought the book looked a bit big compared to his usual reads but inside the text and illustrations are well spaced out and make this an easy read for him- he flew through the pages chuckling away to himself! He really enjoyed it and especially loved the idea of the main character being turned into all the different animals and experiencing life from their point of view! Two big thumbs up from this little bookworm.
“I loved it when he was turned into different animals!” – Spud Brown, 8 years
If you saw my post back in February you’ll know that I was lucky enough to be offered a place to run Vitality London 10,000 for The Children’s Society. You’ll also know I am not a runner. Less than four months later it seems surreal for me to be sitting here writing a post about running 10k, but I did it! Yesterday along with 12,000 other runners (including Olympian Supermum Jo Pavey) I ran through the streets of London and it was one of the best experiences of my life. A highly emotional week for our country, those affected by the Manchester bombing were remembered in a minute silence as runners lined up in the Mall pre-race; with a reminder from Event Director Hugh Brasher that “above all, love overcomes hate.”
Every single participant had their own reason for running, their own experience of the race and their own story to tell, here’s mine.
When the opportunity arose for me to run 10k for The Children’s Society I’ll admit I had my reservations. Of course I wanted to do it but I had serious doubts that I would ever be able to achieve it. I’ve tried running in the past but for one reason or another never really stuck with it. I’d never even got to the 5k mark never mind 10k so I knew it would be something I would really have to work for.
I looked into what would be a realistic time period for a beginner to progress to 10k and discovered that it was definitely achievable if I stuck to a training plan. I downloaded the C210K app and without boring you with the details huffed and puffed my way through the next 14 weeks training.
Signing up for an event and running for a charity means you are committed, failure is not an option and what better incentive than knowing you are running for a good cause? Had this not been the case I know for sure I would have given up.
It’s very easy to get carried away when it comes to running gear – it’s everywhere now and so pretty. Unfortunately it’s also so spendy! I had a few bits and pieces hiding at the back of the drawer under the bed (with all the other stuff that never gets used) which I knew would be fine for now but footwear needed some serious consideration. I had a fantastic gait analysis at Sweatshop Milton Keynes and the staff advised me on the best running shoes for me within my budget.
Obviously there are challenges along the way that can’t be ignored but they can be overcome. Strained muscles or blisters can be expected but shouldn’t be ignored. My initial fear was my knee (which I’ve previously had surgery on) letting me down. I researched ways of running that wouldn’t exacerbate the problem and ironically as I’ve progressed through the weeks my knee has greatly improved!
As with any new training it’s normal to have reservations/expectations about how this might affect you, both physically and mentally. Now this is a funny one for me to sum up because although I haven’t lost any weight and my bingo wings and tummy pooch remain unchanged I do feel much happier with myself physically than I did before I started running. Four months is a relatively short time period to expect to see any notable physical changes from a few runs a week but perhaps underneath this soft exterior a slightly more toned version is emerging. Mentally, running allows you lots of time to think without distractions, whether you like it or not! All I can say is I’ve never returned from a run without feeling energised and positive.
When race day finally arrived I was a bundle of nerves and excitement. Having never been to a running event even as a spectator I didn’t really know what to expect. However I’d done the training and once I’d dropped off my kit bag (and made that all important last minute trip to the portaloos), I knew all that was left to do now was enjoy it.
As I lined up with all the other runners I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Emotions were high and I wondered if I’d be able to make it round the course without crying the entire time.
I needn’t have worried. As soon as I stepped over the starting line all of that disappeared and I felt pure happiness the entire run. Himself and the kids came along to support me so I have a few action shots and I don’t think there is one photo of me running where I don’t look like the Cheshire Cat!
A mixture of adrenalin and excitement meant I didn’t even think about my legs aching or needing my inhaler (which I had with me in a running belt just in case). Despite the humid conditions it didn’t occur to me that I might be hot, or thirsty or…..anything. Just happy. I didn’t even need my emergency Haribo!
If you read other people’s experiences of running events they will almost certainly mention the positive effect the crowd have on you and they are not wrong! Oh my goodness the crowd are so supportive the whole way around they deserve a medal at the end too. Whether it be having your family and friends there to support you, your chosen charity cheering you on, the fantastic live music or just strangers along the route shouting the name on your vest THE CROWD WILL CARRY YOU ALONG!
Runners are grouped by ability so while some will be looking to break records or leave with a PB, others will be simply aiming to make it to the finish lined. Being in the latter group I decided I didn’t want to think about timings, just enjoy the experience and I’m really glad I did. I think it would have been very different if I’d been conscious of how fast/slow I was going and to be honest my group was so busy that it would only have stressed me out if I was trying to weave in and out of the crowds. The timing tag you are supplied with (to attach to your laces) will take readings when you pass the start, 5km and finish timing pads if you want to look up your details after the race.
As the finish line grew nearer I almost didn’t want it to end. During training I’d thought a lot about crossing the finish line and imagined I would be a blubbing mess, full of emotion, a mixture of joy and relief. Weirdly it wasn’t at all how I’d expected. The cheering crowds finish a couple of hundred meters before the end and the road suddenly becomes very quiet and sparse of runners. As I stepped over the line I felt the last thing I ever imagined, I felt like a runner.
With half term just around the corner now’s a good time for parent bloggers to think of ways to keep your blog active while you enjoy some family time. These suggestions will help you avoid the dreaded Blogger’s Guilt that we all feel from time to time whether it be due to family commitments, writer’s block or too few hours in the day.
PLAN AHEAD: The most obvious and effective way to keep things ticking along is to plan well in advance. Scheduling new posts, tweets, Facebook updates etc for the week ahead takes the pressure off trying to ‘fit it all in’. Your blog will continue to get views while you’re busy building sandcastles and finally making use of your National Trust membership.
BLOG-MIN: If (like me) you are nowhere near organised enough to plan posts in advance use this time to do all the other bloggy bits and bobs on your to-do list e.g:
Find and fix broken links
Contact a blogger you would like to guest-post for
Update your media-kit
Respond to/follow up on emails
Refresh and share an old post
Pin your posts to Pinterest
Update your editorial calendar
All are great ways of being productive when it’s not possible to work on new ideas. Personally I need total silence to be able to concentrate on writing a post but I could happily manage a bit of blog-min while the kids are busy watching a DVD.
You may have noticed the #rockingmotherhood tag popping up on your favourite blogs quite a lot recently. A list of 10 reasons why you’re acing it in the Mummy game followed by 5 nominees to join in. I’m all for encouraging us mamas to ditch the mum guilt and actually celebrate the positives of parenting so here goes…
1:EMBRACING NEW EXPERIENCES – Ha! Where to start with this one? Becoming a mother brings with it no end of new experiences and challenges. Some of these we may prefer to erase from our memory (Morning sickness? Episiotomy? Cracked Nipples? I could go on but I won’t!). Others open up a whole new world where we are forced to deal with things totally outside our comfort zone. From Great Aunt Aggie to Gina Ford (urgh) we’re bombarded and bamboozled with advice but ultimately the buck stops with Mama Bear and slowly you begin to grow in confidence, learning as you go. Every stage of parenting a small human throws up (!) weird and wonderful experiences. Eventually I realised that being a mother is a bit like being Charlie Bucket in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory; you know it’s a privilege not everyone gets, you spend most of it being slightly freaked out but ultimately you embrace it as one of the most amazing things you will ever experience.
As you might already know I’m running the Vitality London 10,000 at the end of May. Yep, that’s actually happening (well that’s the plan anyway!)
Not only will this be my first 10k race, it will be my first ever race. I’m part terrified, part excited, part terrified. Any previous attempts to run for more than 2 minutes have ended with me convincing myself I’m just not built for it, quickly returning to my comfort zone of long walks. After a knee operation and a long, boring wait for tendonitis to ease up I was happy just to be able to manage walking without pain. So there I remained, content with my daily mooch to the next village and back. A long enough walk to rack up a decent amount of steps and my daily therapy fix to boot- perfect.
This year however, when an opportunity came up for me to run as part of The Children’s Society team I knew it was just the motivation I needed to give running another try. It’s a wonderful charity that works with disadvantaged children dealing with a wide range of issues from child poverty to government policy, always working to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Being able to raise awareness for these guys through my blog while training for a 10k seemed like a no-brainer.
I thought I’d give you a little update on how it’s going so far. As the title of the post suggests, I’ve reached the halfway point of my training today *pats self on back* so I thought it might be useful for anyone considering the Couch – 5k to have a little insight of my experience.
I decided to train using the C25Kapp as it’s the most well known, tried and tested approach I’m aware of. It’s tailored to first time runners and seems to have a good success rate. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it or used it before it’s an 8 week running plan aimed to gradually build up your running to 5k through a combination of walking and running, until you are strong enough to run without stopping. Each training session lasts between 30-40 minutes including a warm-up and cool-down.
Each week has three workouts ideally with a rest day in between which works perfectly for me. I drop the kids to school and do the workout straight after on Mon/Wed/Fri meaning I don’t have to worry about fitting a session in over the weekend.
I would say that before starting C25K my level of fitness was average. I’m no gym bunny but I do try to make a bit of an effort to move my body and keep active. The very first day of training was this: 5min warm up then alternate 60sec jogging and 90sec walking for 20min. Pff, I mean how hard can that be? Turns out it can be quite hard. Hmmm….so at that point I may have had a mild panic about how the hell I was ever going to run 10k if I was struggling on Day 1!
8 weeks on, I have somehow managed to learn to run continuously for 5k! I just have to read that back because it seems unbelievable to me. I’ve never before managed anywhere near that and I know for a fact that the only reason I haven’t quit weeks ago is because I can’t. I’ve committed to running 10k and not doing so, well it just isn’t an option.
When the voice on the app tells me to run, I run and I keep running until she says I can stop. It’s that simple. I reckon Forest Gump had the right idea you know, just keep on runnin’.
Some days are harder than others. In fact most days are a little bit hard but I’d liken it to childbirth in that once it’s over you feel an overwhelming sense of joy and completely forget the horror you’ve just endured.
If you saw my last post (the one where I freak out a bit) you’ll know that I had the opportunity to return to work pretty much immediately and so had to decide quick sticks what I wanted to do.
It all came about because I’d been considering returning to work sometime this year, possibly after the school Summer holidays – emphasis on considering and possibly. While updating my CV for the first time in over ten years, and having a mooch around a few job sites I kind of applied for a job, not thinking I’d even get an interview never mind end up being offered the role. I’m still not entirely sure why I clicked ‘apply’, I obviously got carried away in a moment of madness.
I’m a SAHM of two, both of whom have been in full-time education for almost two years now.
I think once the youngest child starts school there can be an assumption by family/friends/society that Mummy will be returning to some form of employment now she has all that time on her hands. The reality of the situation is that jobs that fit nicely around school hours and holidays are rarer than steak tartare.
More likely the majority of roles on offer will require you to be available weekdays 9-5, oh and probably won’t be cool with you not working school holidays, inset days, kids-off-sick days, polling days or any days that don’t fall within the stipulated terms of your holiday entitlement. If you’re lucky you might be able to wangle the odd morning off for a nativity play, class assembly or sports day but probably not all of them and probably not for every kid, every time.
Yes of course there are breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and the option of holiday clubs. Planning and staggering annual leave a year in advance to cobble together a childcare solution that gets you through until the start of term. If you’re very lucky there may be family on hand to help on a regular basis. There are ways to make it work and families adapt and work within their own constraints to do so.
So the question is, how do you decide if you should go back to work?
So recently I’ve been contemplating going back to work sometime in the near future. Both the kids are in full time education and so the opportunity to return to the workplace is there if the right position were to come along.
Of course this would mean a real change to our current family dynamic and would bring with it a whole heap of challenges, childcare during holidays being the biggest and most obvious one.
In January I decided to dust off my CV have a tentative look to see what was out there (if anything) that would suit my requirements. I’m not really looking to get back on the career ladder as such, just something admin based that I can do well while still being around for the family as much as I can.
So here I am, noseying around on jobsites for something that might be remotely suitable when I spot an interesting little post that appears to tick a lot of boxes. On a whim I click the ‘Apply for this job’ button for the craic, my CV gets whizzed off through the interwebs and I crack on with life never giving it a second thought.
Until a few weeks later when I get a call from the company inviting me for an interview!! After a brief pause while I suddenly realised she hadn’t got the wrong number and that I had indeed applied for an actual job, I arrange an interview date.
Right, ok then. So that happened. I’m going for a job interview. For a job. A job that could actually be my job. It’s just an interview though, not an offer so no biggie right? If anything I should go purely because the last time I had a job interview I was a mere child, pre-marriage or parenthood, so I could really do with the practice.
Obviously I discussed it with Himself and he agreed that whatever the outcome I should go for the interview regardless.
Kirsty from Winnettes Parenting & Baking blog braves the SLH body confidence Q’s this week with a healthy dollop of balance and a slick of lippy, read on then go drool over her blog for some perfect half term baking inspo!
Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?
I love my hair. It is really thick and I like the length at the moment, although I am not against having it cut. I have had loads of highlights put in which I really really like. Fortunately I am lucky that I also really like my natural colour and so far…. There aren’t many greys.