Our visit to St Mary’s Vale magical forest Abergavenny

After reading Abergavenny kids post on magical forests we decided to go on an adventure to the St Mary’s Vale forest at the foot of the Sugar Loaf mountain in Abergavenny. Please see Abergavenny kids blog post for directions and a map.
We drove to Crickhowell first to Askews bakery to get some rolls and cakes for a picnic. It all looked so yummy and they have so many cakes ! They even had a dairy free cake for Frankie.
It can be a bit tricky to find but there is a little car park and once you are there it’s really easy to find after that. Just take a left out of the car park. Stay on the left hand side and go down a little hill with a house on the right until you come to a big black gate which you open and go through.
You will then hear the stream and see it on the left. You then come to little stepping stone bridge which as you immediately cross there is a field on the left.  Climb over the stile and walk up the bank. We had our picnic here, it was so peaceful and loads of room for the kids to run around and pick flowers.
After the picnic we made our way back down to the stream which was quite shallow and safe enough for the tots to play in under supervision . Although it did go quite fast in places and I can imagine when it has rained it will be deeper.
The ankle biters played for a good hour in the stream with sticks and throwing rocks. They had the best time. On the way back to the car they found loads of thick mud to jump and play in which they loved!
        
They then found the mountains of leaves on the bank. There were loads still from the autumn fall , can’t imagine what it’s like in autumn. We spent around half an hour just playing in leaves and using our imaginations – it was fantastic !
We then made our way back to the car. The tots were exhausted so it was home for a midweek chicken roast , bath and bed. They were asleep practically as their heads hit the pillows. If you’re looking for a fab and free day out and love adventures this one is for you.

Young mum love – because you deserve it

I’m not a young Mum myself as I had our first Archie when I was 31. My Mum was a young Mum she had me at 19 and also my Nan had my Mum at 18. As a Mum you make so many sacrifices and put things on hold until your little ones grow up. My Mum was training to be a nurse when she fell pregnant with me but gave it up in a heartbeat to have me and be a stay at home Mum.

I’m writing this post as I’m seeing a lot of young Mum’s being stereotyped within the media with people mostly hating on them and using generalisations. I think they definitely deserve some love and respect.

Being a Mum is hard and the challenges we face can leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I get that feeling a lot if I’m having a bad day or week. I second guess myself and question everything I’m doing. Imagine having this feeling but also having other people also second guessing , questioning your Mummy skills and judging you.

I know a lot of young Mum’s doing an amazing job at bringing their little ones up and some at age 18/19 with two tots like me.  They are coping , bringing up amazing little beings and giving them the best start in life. Not out drinking every night , hanging around on street corners and neglecting their babies. This is what the media would have you sometimes believe or how some judgemental people imagine all young Mum’s are.

Being a young Mum does not automatically mean you are less capable than an older Mum. At the end of a day you are a Mum with the same motherly instincts and know the needs of your baby. A lot of young Mum’s I speak to have mentioned how they feel criticized for their decisions by family members and also complete strangers. This really does need to stop your baby your way no matter how old you are.

I think about what I would have had to give up at 18 to have a baby. University , nights out , festivals and my dream of being a teacher. I just don’t think I could have done that, on top of all the new things you have to learn and do as a parent. I would have been totally overwhelmed and completely crapping it. I could barely remember what time my lectures were and when my essays had to be handed in. I can’t imagine having to remember when my babies next feed was due , making decisions about where to send my toddler to nursery or managing my money for myself and a child.

I think back to my Mum being pregnant at 18 with me in the 60’s and fear of telling her parents , facing all the gossip over the fact she wasn’t married to my Dad , giving up her career and also not having a home of her own. My Mum with the support of my Dad faced all of these obstacles and created a family home for me and then my sister. She has done an amazing job as we have both turned out fab.  We are proof that being a young Mum isn’t always as the media would have you believe. I will always be eternally grateful for this.

To all the young Mum’s reading this I salute you and totally think you are rocking motherhood.

 

Our alternative Easter gift to the babies – their very own Star

I was over the moon to be offered to name a star from the Star Name Registry. I jumped at the chance as always been interested in doing this. I decided to name the star “siblinglove” to represent the ankle biters amazing bond.

You get to chose a special date so I went with the 13.1.14 this is Archie’s date of birth , I chose this to represent the day we first became parents. I chose Pegasus  for the constellation.

The package was delivered really quickly in fact it was the day after I was asked to review the star . It came in a lovely silver gift box with some pretty tissue paper and some lovely red roses. It was packaged really well and bubble wrapped to ensure that the frame did not get damaged.

I was sent the Extra Bright Star gift set , the package included –

  • Entry into the Registry
  • A4 Star Name Deed
  • The Sky Atlas star maps
  • Confirmation letter
  • Free Stelarium software download
  • Gift Explained Extra Bright Star
  • A4 Silver Certificate Frame with Deed

The gift set retails at £44.99 , there are various options on the website with a variety of prices.

The star deed tells you exactly where the star is located and you can go and check it out online. Archie and Frankie’s favourite nursery rhyme is twinkle twinkle little star. We often talk about and look at the stars. I cant wait to give them this as part of their Easter gift as they get far too much chocolate. We can then show them online exactly where the star is. It’s also amazing for them to keep for their memory boxes and to look back on whenever they want.

The sky atlas that comes with the gift set is a really handy go to guide to look at the constellations and learn a bit more about the stars.

If you are looking for a gift which is a bit different and has that wow factor then definitely go and check these out.

For a chance to win your own extra bright star worth 24.99 just enter here – leave a comment on the blog saying who you would give the star to and why. The competition closes at midnight on the 17.4.17.

I was sent the Extra Bright Star gift package in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

Cooking dairy free with Oatly and getting my sleep back

Frankie has cows milk protein allergy and she is also lactose intolerant so we cook dairy free and Frankie also has to have dairy free milk. Up until the age of two Frankie was prescribed Neocate milk. When Frankie was approaching two we had to make the decision of what milk to move her on to. There are so many alternatives soya , almond , oat milk the list is endless.

We decided to try her on Oatly which is an oat based milk. There are many varieties of the drink but we decided to go with the enriched with calcium and vitamins (D, Riboflavin, B12) one. It is free from lactose, milk protein and soya which is fab.

Frankie was never a good sleeper and still up until 20 months she was waking for milk in the night and she had only slept through a handful of times. She took to the Oatly really quickly it took two nights of fusing and refusing until she realised she did actually like the milk. I have tried it myself and it does taste like milk and has a really pleasant taste to it.

After about a week of having her sippy  cup of Oatly to take to bed Frankie started to sleep through and not wake for milk. After a few months of being on Oatly she now sleeps and I am eternally grateful to Oatly ! We sleep ! I think it may be the fact that it is Oat based and the relaxing nature of oats also maybe it fills her up more than the formula did. It has also given her a better appetite which I am thrilled with. When Frankie was on formula she would pick at her breakfast and lunch but now she is happy to have her breakfast when she wakes up and enjoys it.

There is so much you can do with Oatly , one of our favourite ways of using it in cooking it to make a fish pie. Here is the recipe for you to try.

Ingredients

  • 400ml of Oatly
  • 500g fish pie mix
  • 40g of Vitalite dairy free spread
  • 40g of plain flour
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g of grated Vio life cheese

For the topping

  • 800g of medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 40g of vitalite dairy free spread

Method

  • Arrange the fish and prawns in to an oven dish
  • To make the sauce for the pie melt the Vitalite in a pan then add the flour and whisk until it forms a paste , slowly add small amounts of Oatly bit by bit and keep stirring until a thick sauce forms. Add the Vio life to the sauce.

            

  • Pour the sauce over the fish in the oven dish add some salt and pepper.

  • To make the mash for the topping. Half fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
  • Drain the potatoes and put them back in to the pan. Mash with the Vitalite until a mash is formed.

  • Cook in a preheated on 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 25 mins until golden brown on top

There will be a competition live soon over at my facebook page with8 a chance to win some Oatly vouchers and start creating some yummy diary free creations.

 

 

How to make a complete easter tree for £10

I love Easter and the fact that all the shops are selling decorations and various Easter trees. The pastel colours are just amazing and look so pretty. I have fallen in love with the idea of the Easter tree but not the cost , some online shops were selling them for £30.

I had a look on google and Pinterest and saw that some people were making their own. I’m not amazing at crafts at all but thought I would give it a go. So this is what I did and what you will need to make a complete Easter tree for £10.

What you will need

  • Some good sized twigs with branches

  • White acrylic paint – I got mine from Wilkos for £2

  • A long vase which will be big enough to fit the branches in – I got mine from Tiger for £4 they had three colours a pastel pink , clear and teal green

  • Some Easter decorations – a lot of shops are selling these at the moment , Home Bargains have an amazing range that are anywhere between 59p an £1 – I spent £4 in total on decorations

How I made the tree

  • I cut any odd ends off the branches and made sure they were all the same height

 

  • I then painted them with the acrylic paint in white but you could use any colour they have some lovely pastel lemon and pink colours. They only needed one coat which was fab. I left them outside to dry which didn’t take long in this glorious spring sunshine.

  • When dry I then used some leftover ribbon to tie all the twigs together and arranged them in the vase , this takes a bit of arranging until you are happy with them.

  • I then just hung the decorations on the branches was as simple as that. You could use some Easter shredded nest or paper in the vase for extra effect and to keep the twigs in place.

  • And there you have it a complete Easter tree for £10 – I really enjoyed making this and am really happy with the outcome.

Our last baby

We always said we only wanted two babies and we also wanted them close in age. So with 14 months age difference we now have our two babies , our family is complete. We still have no plans to have anymore.
 
I had a hard time enjoying the baby stage as much as I should have. This was due to both babies having horrendous milk allergies and all the symptoms that came with this. I really regret wishing the baby stage away. I just wanted my babies not to have to suffer and endure the pain they were going through.
 
Last week Frankie was two I can’t believe our last baby is no longer a baby. She came in to the world quite rapidly and we don’t seem to have slowed down since that day.
The time seems to have flown by and she seems so much more grown up than Archie was at that age. She learns so much from her big brother and really is advanced for her age. She’s fiercely independent and bossy. She doesn’t need me to do much for her as she wants to do it all herself. So confident and outgoing and fears nothing. This is good but also sometimes it terrifies me.
I am sad that this is our last baby and we will no longer go through all the baby phases again. Frankie’s last tooth is breaking through at the moment , this will be the last time we go through teething, the last time she will have those rosy red teething cheeks and the last time I rub teethig gel on her gums.  She’s outgrown all the baby grows that were handed down from Archie. This makes me a little bit sad that these will not be handed down to another baby.
Frankie used to love falling asleep on my chest cuddled up in a blanket. She doesn’t do this anymore and I can’t remember the exact day she last did this. I wish I had known it was the last time so I could truly cherish that moment.
Frankie doesn’t have bottles anymore and the side board in the kitchen is now empty where the steriliser and bottles used to sit. I didn’t know that day I fed her last bottle to her and rocked her to sleep was going to be the last day I did that. Frankie and Archie both love learning new nursery rhymes. The other day we were singing one of their favourites. I realised I will never teach another baby to wind the bobbin up or row row row the boat.
 
There are also completely unnecessary things you won’t do with your second /last. You won’t rush them through all the phases, won’t try to teach them to count at 9 months. You won’t mind if they take a little longer to crawl and walk. Also you are less precious a little bit of cake wont harm them.
We are happy with our decision and it works for us but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a slight sadness every time the next stage/phase is over. I also sometimes find myself getting curious and wonder what it would be like with a third child, who would they look like? who’s personality would they have ? The last baby does hold a very bittersweet feeling. All of her firsts and the stages she is going through are our lasts.  But our family is complete and we couldn’t be more blessed.

Easter bonnet fun

Easter is my favourite time of year I love the start of spring , daffodils , tulips and seeing the little lambs in the field.

Today we had a rainy afternoon so this was a perfect chance to try out the Easter crafts and make Archie’s bonnet for this parade at nursery next week.

There are some fab Easter bonnet craft bits out in the shops at the moment. We thought we would try the Works and Poundland’s ranges.

I love the fact they now sell boys style hats in either cowboy or trilby style. Archie chose a yellow cow boy hat and Frankie chose a pretty pink bonnet with lace detailing.

We bought a selection of decorations which included carrots , bunnies and chicks , sheep , feathers , eggs and ribbons and some felt bunnies and eggs- we also got some pva glue. There was so much choice we could have bought the whole shop.

We started by putting some feathers around the edge , I found the decorations stuck better to the feathers than they did the bonnet so they were a good base.

      

Archie and Frankie then had free reign of where they wanted to put their decorations. they both enjoyed this but Archie more so than Frankie as he is now three he has more attention to detail and really enjoys crafts. Where as Frankie has only just turned two she looses interest quickly and wants to know what’s next.

The ribbon was really useful to tie around the middle to hold the felt decorations in place , it looked pretty too.

Absolutely love the bonnets the tots made this afternoon.  Archie cant wait to show his off at the parade next week and Frankie hasn’t taken hers off yet. She went for the minimalist look with just feathers , that’s toddlers for you they know exactly what they want.

            

 

Fun with Schleich Dinosaurs

Archie and Frankie love dinosaurs so much and spend hours on end playing with the large collection they have. In fact one of Frankie first words was dinosaur. I love any toys that get their imagination going and love to see the role play element in action.
Today they have taken the dinosaurs on a journey “a long way away on an adventure to a dinosaur castle over a rainbow” in Archie’s words.
The ankle biters were thrilled to be sent Schleich’s new dinosaur collection they were sent the Feathered Raptor , T-Rex mini and the Utahraptor mini.
The Feathered Raptors are amazing and had so much detailing which included a feather effect. Archie and Frankie loved these as they haven’t got anything like this in their collection.
They also had movable arms and one of them had a moveable mouth. Archie fed them some bread sticks when they stopped for a snack on the way to the dinosaur castle.
The two mini dinosaurs were equally well made and realistic. Frankie called them the baby dinosaurs. She had fun putting them in her truck because they were tired.
I loved the way these toys sparked their imagination and how they used other toys alongside them to build on the imaginative play. Frankie took her pony on the adventure too.
I would definitely recommend these and will be going to the Schleich website to purchase some more of the dinosaur collection.  They have so much more detail than the ones we have bought in the past and they are really well made to last.
We were sent these in return for an honest review . all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Starting them young – Casdon Hetty mop and bucket set

Archie and Frankie are two and three but I believe in giving them little jobs to do and starting them young. They love to put their clothes away , help mummy dust and tidy.

We were recently sent the Casdon Hetty bucket and mop set , this was perfect for getting them involved with helping mummy.

Frankie was so excited to open this as she already has her own Casdon Henry Hoover like mummy which she adores.

This is aimed at age 36 months to 8 years . Frankie is two next week , this was perfect for her age as she loves helping and pottering around the house.

This is a fantastic product for promoting imaginative play – Frankie knew exactly what to do with it as she sees mummy mop the floor more than once a day ha ha.

She was thrilled that she could join in and even asked for some water in her bucket. Whenever She sees me get the mop and bucket she gets hers out and joins in.


This was such a fab addition to our Henry/ Hetty range and we will definitely be looking out for some more Henry/ Hetty products as they are always a massive hit with the ankle biters.

We were sent the Hetty mop and bucket in return for an honest review , all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I see you Daddy – an open letter to my love

To my love ,

I really could not have dreamt for a better Daddy to the ankle biters , nothing is too much for you. The phrase hands on Daddy was created for you.

Daddy I see you getting up at 3.46am to give our youngest a bottle even though your alarm is due to go off in 2 hours for a 12 hour shift , you don’t sigh or moan you just get on with it.

You can tell that mummy is frazzled when you get in so you take over the minute you walk through the door. You cook , tackle the washing mountain , entertain the ankle biters , bath them – whatever it takes for me to have that hour of relaxation.

I see you taking the tots to soft play for the afternoon so mummy can sleep , shop or just chill with my own thoughts. You get that I need this to keep a float and function.

When you come home and see we have had “one of those days” and you mutter those words “let’s go out for dinner” you will never know how grateful I am to not have to cook , then wash dishes. You give that break from routine that is oh so needed.

I see you calming me down and helping me rationalise thoughts and worries when my anxiety is high. You break down my thoughts , give me solutions and tell me it will be ok , it always is.

I see you working hard to provide for us and give us the best. You do a physical job , your out in all weathers. I never hear you moan you just get on with it. Without your strong work ethic I would not have been able to stay at home with our babies and watch every milestone as it happens.

I see you teaching the ankle biters about life and bringing them up to be the well-rounded happy tots they are. You don’t mind getting the craft box out and playing frozen or my little pony. I just know you love building pillow forts and rockets out of building blocks.

I see you always wanting the best for me. Whether its pushing me to make those plans with friends or encouraging me to go and treat myself to a haircut or outfit. You can see I’m burnt out and you want to help me re-charge.

I see how our babies absolutely adore and idolise you. They hang off your every word , the excitement on their faces when you get home from work is priceless.

I see you loving me even more than before the ankle biters despite all of my flaws and the changes that motherhood has brought.

Thank you my darling for being the man you are , I could not have chosen a better father for  our children.

All of my love

Lianne xx