Monday, 25 July 2016

Keeping Our Kids Fit and Active

I'm a huge believer in the power of fresh air and exercise for the well being of our kids, emotionally physically and for the sake of sleep too, everything feels better with a clear head after a bit of fresh air and exercise and the health benefits of moving more have been proven over and over. but with over 1000 children in the UK being seen by medical professionals as a result of obesity and OFSTED reports showing  'great disappointment at PE provisions within some schools' I believe it is time to really understand the importance of outdoor activity. I'm pleased that we attend a school who believe the same,  we have a great fundraising programme and we have managed to purchase some fab out door activity equipment and are saving for more, but we are some of the lucky ones. Some schools don't yet have this type of provision available to their children.

AF040 - EY Traverse Wall copy

SW-MUSIC04 - Switch - Rain Wheel copy


Manufacturers of outdoor equipment for school ESP want to see more schools committing to helping combat the worrying obesity statistics in the UK by encouraging more activity in schools. 

ESP commissioned research into the impact of the installations of their Multi-skills Zone and the professional development training of staff in schools, the report showed ....

  • 7.5% increase in observed physical activity levels.

  • Physical activity levels continued to increase throughout the research period.

  • Increase of 4.9 minutes of Moderate to Vigourous Physical Activity per day per child post intervention.

  • Approximately 70% of those children recorded using accelerometers increased their activity levels.

  • There was a surprising 7% decrease in physical activity levels in the control school (where no markings/training took place).

  • Initially the playground had more impact on the activity levels of boys, but over time the girls increased their activity levels more (8.6% v 6.9%).

  • 39% increase in the number of adults supporting physical activity during the observations.

  • Most staff identified the benefits of the playground markings and playground equipment.

All schools in the UK can access funding by way of the PE and Sport premium which can be used for equiptment and staff development to improve PE and sport within the school, so if your school is lacking in outdoor equipment or PE and Sport facilities, it may be worth showing them this report and asking if they have accessed the funding yet. We all have to work together to keep our kids fit and healthy.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Natwest T20 Blast and Family Day at Durham Cricket Club

In the days pre children the man and I would happily spend a sunny day sat at Durham CC watching the T20 matches, they are short snappy one dayers and if you enjoy problem solving they are also cool for figuring out who needs what in how many remaining overs to win. Yes I'm a bit of a T20 geek! But we haven't taken the kids as it's never felt like a kids place to be. So when Durham CC asked if we would like to go along to a family day we jumped at the chance.

We arrived at the club around 1pm  and the family day had started at 12.30. We got parked fairly easily, parking is reasonably priced at less than £5. Then we were scanned into the gates by friendly stewards who searched every bag going in to ensure there were no glass bottles or alcohol or anything else unpleasant. We were offered some funny hats and cricket bat noise makers to take into the grounds.

There was a small fairground and bouncy castle alongside food and drink stalls. We don't do bouncy castles so I didn't notice what price the attractions were but the food was priced as you would expect at a large event a bit more than your average burger van but not so expensive it would put you off, gourmet burgers and hot sandwiches around £5, beer is priced at £4 but you have to buy your cup for £1 which you can have back if you hand it in at the end and sweets on sale at the candy van were £1.50 per 100g. 







We found the lovely staff from Digger Land offering free turns so we queued for that, but the mascot race was starting so we had to rush away quickly so as not to miss it. The game was quick moving and fun with lots of chance to cheer and bang our bats, we also got some foam hands from The Natwest stand as we are Natwest customers. So there was a change to point people out, hold up our score cards and even get our pictures on the big screen by tweeting #DurhamJets!


One thing that marred the afternoon was that some non family spectators were unhappy (quite obviously and vocally) with the number of kids  in the crowd, we actually moved at half time after witnessing an argument because someone was unhappy with children standing and cheering too loudly.  Now I get that it's annoying having other people's kids disturb your peace but if you are coming to family day you need different expectations.



We had a great afternoon and would definitely go back we did however miss out on some activities as we just didn't know they were there, apparently we could have tried some cricket, there was soft play and crafting, face painting and cricket coaching on offer! I'd definitely advise you be sure to arrive early enough to really walk around the whole club so you don't miss out like we did.

It would be fab to see some things work differently if Durham want to encourage more generations to attend as families and to be more family friendly..
My recommendations would be 
  • It would be great if the club started publishing info to go out with tickets describing  what activities are where and any costs involved so you can plan in advance.
  • Maybe a dedicated family seating area so kids can be kids and stand and cheer freely or quiet stand so that those not wishing to be around excited kids can be clear on the best area for them.
  • Lost children stands and wristbands. We have been to lots of events where companies hand out one us paper bands that you can write contact details on in case kids get lost. Staff were in many different uniforms so it would be easy for a little person to be confused about who can help.
  • Kids packs, I think for family fun days there could be colouring in and information sheets offered to keep kids busy and engage them in the game 

We were sent.these tickets to be guest of the club but the cost would have only been £33 for all of us

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Peppa Pig Classic Toys

We are totally chuffed to have gotten a sneak peak of the new range of Peppa Pig toys from Character. Here is our unboxing video


And here is more from the range



      

We were sent ...
Air Peppa Jet: The Air Peppa Jet has everything little ones need to take Peppa on an imaginary adventure! The jet features pull down stairs, a rear storage compartment, and an openable cabin for children to move Peppa around the interior. A Peppa Pig figure comes with the set, and Miss Rabbit sits in the pilot seat. Peppa loves to fly too, so children can flip down Miss Rabbit to make space for Peppa in the cockpit. Also don’t miss Peppa’s luggage which is included in the box!

Home and Garden playset: The Home and Garden Playset is the iconic Peppa Pig home from the TV show. The house opens up to reveal four rooms and an attic with lots of accessories included for hours of imaginative play. The playset neatly folds shut and holds all the accessories within it for easy storage. There is also a carry handle for little ones to take their playset wherever they wish!

Retailing at 19.99 this comes under the category of bigger gift for us, but you are getting a classic toy that kids will rcognise from the Tv show and its easy to spark imaginations when everything is all connected recognisably so I think they are good value for money. The toys will be available in Argos and keep an eye out on our facebook page for details of the Twitter Frenzy on 20 July 

Monday, 11 July 2016

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Wagamama

Just recently we were invited to sample the new menu at Wagamama at Intu Metrocentre, you may remember we visited the Qube in May and sampled some of the Wagamama offerings there so we jumped at the chance to try more.


I'm a big Wagamama fan already because they are fab with allergies, have a full and comprehensive allergen list, they are happy to prepare stuff how you need it and are great at answering any questions. I will admit though that I'm a creature of habit and generally (well always) order Kare Lomen when I go.

We had an amazing time and tried so many dishes some of which I would never have ordered in a bazillion years like chilli squid, liquorice teas and Mochi! The Golden Child really loved hat they had decorated the table for him, and all the staff had signed a card too


Here's some video from our trip


OK First here are 10 things I didnt know before our visit to Wagamama
  1. Wagamama means Naughty Child
  2. 1-5 in Japanese is (phonetic spellings sorry) Itch, Knee, Sun , She, Go 
  3. Wagama practice the Kaizen approach of no boundary's, this is for staff and customers so the kitchens are open for customers to see, the staff can move between departments and locations its a very clear open philosophy
  4. Wagamama have just launched a new menu in Spring and alongside that have started publishing recipes on the table mats for you to take home and make your own yummy food
  5. If you have an allergy they know every bit of every bit of everything in the kitchen, this is because they produce their own sauces and base recipes and so tracing back the food supply is easy.
  6. the area on the left is the allergy station and the pans all have indicators on the hadles!
  7. They have separate pans and cooking and prep areas for allergy dishes to avoid any cross contamination
  8. Wagamama and Intu Metro Centre have a recycling programme for all of their glass paper plastic and even FOOD waste!
  9. Liquorice Tea tastes nothing like liquoirce and is so sweet and rich and lovely its well worth a try (thank you Sarah Ann)
  10. They have forks on the table! YOU DO NOT NEED TO USE THE CHOPSTICKS although I really like to, if you struggle you can cheat and use the kiddy ones which are more like tongs than sticks!
  11. You can just about ask any food or restaurant related question in Wagamama and there will be someone who knows the answer and is happy to chat with you. I like this, we have inquisitive children, I like them to learn things and they have!

Before I tell you all about the yummy food I want to tell you our thoughts on Wagamama, the restaurant is bright and spacious, it has booth seating (quite unusual for a Wagamama) and bench seating so at busy times you could be sat at a long bench near other parties, the thought of this used to bother me but actually its quite nice, you can neb at other peoples food choices, we have even shared tasters with a family before, and it all adds to the vibe of the place. The staff are efficient but friendly so if you are in a hurry and you need to be in and out that is fine, if you want to ask questions and get advice, that's cool too. I saw lots of examples of staff chatting and pointing out different things on the menu and helping people choose things they would like.

Right, now back to the food Here is all the yummy scrummy food we had and what we thought

Sides
  • Ebi Katsu  - crispy fried prawns in panko breadcrumbs. served with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce. garnished with lime




 I'm totally not pals with prawns so I didn't try these but my Golden Child loved them so much he ate 2 portions!
  • Chilli Squid - crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi. served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce



squid would never ever be my menu choice but oh my! these were totally gorgeous not at all chewy or overly fishy and the chilli was just right the portion was huge and fed all of us easily


  • Wok Fried Greens - tender stem broccoli and bok choi, stir-fried in a garlic and soy sauce



another dish I wouldn't normally beat a path to order (seriously if I'm eating out it ain't greens that I'm after!) but this was truly lovely the broccoli was so succulent the veg had just the right crucnch and the dish had a lovely smokey flavour,


  • Steamed Gyoza - five tasty steamed chicken dumplings, served grilled and with a dipping sauce


this is one of my favourite sides, the dumplings are great for sharing and the dipping sauce is simple but really tasty


Mains


  • Yasai Surendra's Curry - a rich, hot and spicy green curry made with vegetables, jalapeƱo peppers, onion and ginger. topped with sweet potato straws and served with steamed rice


we were told this was the recipe of a Wagamama chef's mum which made its way onto the menu and I can see why, its packed full of flavour, not as hot as I had expected given that it has jalepenos, the sweet potato straws add a texture to the dish and it is tasty and filling as you can see the portion is huge.


  • Firecracker - a fiery mix of chicken, mangetout, red and green peppers, onions and hot red chillies. served with steamed rice, sesame seeds, shichimi and fresh lime

The Mr had this and he likes real spicy food so found himself a little disspointed that it wasn't as hot as he had expected, but he enjoyed the dish and said he would order it aain which basically is the highest praise he dishes out!

Kids

  • Mini Chicken Katsu - chicken breast deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs, served with sticky white rice, carrot, cucumber and sweetcorn. served with your choice of either katsu curry or amai sauce





this was the absolute favourite with the big kids its really simple, sticky rice with an almost chinese style curry sauce served seperately and breaded chicken slices which were demolished in seconds


  • Mini Chicken Cha Han stir-fried white rice with chicken, egg, sweetcorn, carrot, mangetout and amai sauce




another really simple but healthy dish that the kids love, it was packed full of chicken and a perfect balance of vegetables

  • noodles with fish (no soy sauce)

I'll be honest here, fish and noodles with no soy sauce or dressing did not appeal to my taste buds, I like a bit of flavour and kick to my noodles, but we do struggle to find dishes without soya or dairy and so Termite was happy and I was confident we weren't in for a poorly time, she ate all of it so it must have been tasty. I loved that this was no trouble to ask for or prepare, some places are not keen on dealing with allergies and Ive even heard stories of big chain restaurants making customers sign a waiver!!!!

Desserts


  • Fruit Ice Lollies - Perfect for Termite and her allergies

  • Mix it up Mochi - ice cream a combination of all three flavours of our mochi ice cream. little balls of ice cream wrapped in a layer of sticky rice, served with sauce

Possibly the strangest things ever in the world, these are ice cream balls coated in smushed sticky rice! I don't describe them accurately but imagine really thick flavoured rice paper wrapper around ice cream! The sesame ones were my favourite and the coconut were really good too. They have a strange texture but I can totally see the appeal and they are definitely worth a try and they go really well as a refreshing and light dessert with the style of food we had eaten




  • Mini Cakes - passion fruit cheesecake, white chocolate and ginger cheesecake or chocolate fudge cake


Now for me cakes just don't go with this style of food, but that is really personal choice. These cakes were tasty and rich and just the perfect size after such a lot of food and they certainly disappeared quickly with my family

  • Banana Katsu - banana in panko breadcrumbs with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream (please note this was demolished so quickly by the Monkeyfooted males that I didnt even manage a decent picture so this one is courtesy of Wagamama
Image result for wagamama banana katsu
These are a bit like banana fritters but not so greasy so for me really tasty (I can't stand the battered ones you get elsewhere) the portion was just enough and the salted caramel ice cream was so flavourful and creamy. I could have ate just a bowl of that!

Drinks

We tried a selection of fresh fruit juices, Peanut loved the 'tropical' which is mango apple and orange, I loved the 'clean green' which is celery (which i hate,) apple mint and lime we also tried the apple and orange juices and of course my biggest surprise, liquorice and peppermint tea which tasted nothing like the black sweetie liquorice that I hate but instead tasted rich sweet and warming (if that makes sense) it was so lovely I now drink it at home!






We loved our visit and we will definitely be back, thank you to Sarah Ann and her brilliant team of chefs and staff xx

Saturday, 9 July 2016

My 40 by 40 Bucket List

Today I turned 39, and it dawned on my that I have been planning my 'things to do in my 40th lead up' for almost 2 years, since before my last birthday in fact,  thinking all the while that I had loads of time! Well now I'm in that year here is my final (or maybe nearly final) Bucket list for the next 365 days.....
  1. Wing walk
  2. Do something amazing for charity
  3. Visit St Marys Light House
  4. See the wildlife at The Farne Islands 
  5. Visit somewhere I've never been abroad
  6. Visit somewhere I've never been in the UK
  7. Camp out 
  8. Try a new food
  9. Organise a blog conference
  10. Become a size 14 
  11. complete couch to 5k
  12. Run a great North run
  13. Swim in an open water swim
  14. Carry out 40 random acts of kindness
  15.  Meet 40 new people
  16. Learn enough Greek to hold a conversation
  17. Live somewhere new
  18. Learn to meditate
  19. Hold a proper plank for 3 minutes
  20. Climb a tree
  21. Throw a party
  22. Meet someone famous (I have no idea how I will manage this)
  23. Have more girls nights out
  24. Make a dress on the sewing machine
  25. Re-upholster a chair
  26. Crochet a blanket
  27. Knit a hat
  28. Grow a Cucmber plant (I will not be defeated!)
  29. Master a perfect Yorkshire pudding
  30. Learn the yoga headstand (I've been influenced by a pal on this one)
  31. Zip Line somewhere fantastic
  32. Work on my self belief (not a tangible one but important none the less
  33. Volunteer some of my time
  34. Sail something (kayak, ship, yacht?!?!?!)
  35. Have a night at the bingo!
  36. Stay at Smiths Hotel again 
  37. Read 40 books!
  38. Cycle 40 km
  39. Create at least 40 new Vlogs for my YouTube Channel
  40. Think of a reason to be cheerful every single day (I'd love if you joined in with this)

Friday, 8 July 2016

Memories of The Baby Days (or Haze!)

I'm utterly blessed and totally happy with my lot in life, but the strangest things can make me yearn for more babies...

Taking pictures of this car seat for eBay and I was smacked in the face with heart filling memories of bringing my big two home from the hospital.


Peanut, squashed into her chair in her specially planned 'going home outfit' which was too big and looked bonkers. Us Filled with excitement and fear, joy and nerves that we were now parents!

The golden child, hoyed (another great Geordie term, it means chucked, obviously I didn't literally chuck him though you understand)  into his chair in a hastily picked romper because I was aching to get home and we hadn't planned to be in hospital.  This time not quite as nervous and feeling happier than a pig in mud despite the overwhelming task ahead of having two children under 19 months! 

And Termite, well she never got her journey home because she arrived in a perfect home birth in our bedroom. 

But those memories so vivid and clear in my mind, memories we won't repeat with a fourth made me tearful and joyous all at once! How strange the human heart is to feel such emotion from looking at the teen tiny settings on a baby car seat! 

To ache for that secret bond of the growing life inside or to know that those blissful, tiring, endless night feeds are firmly in the past, that there will be no more first steps or first words. But despite that ache and that sadness I know that my three will be providing a million more first , and celebrations and sleepless nights, hugs, crying and lots and lots of love.

On holiday recently I felt 'the brood' again when i saw lots of ladies with perfectly beautiful bumps, enjoying a break before the big day arrives, and it can be a strong feeling even though Im lucky and blessed and happy and content, something inside would still love to do it again, sometimes I feel sad that the days of teny dangly legged babies have gone, that there wont be another 'first steps movie to mke.
So while my bloodiness may never quite disappear I'll just go with these yearnings brought on by random things and remember with my rose tinted specs how amazing my baby days were and how fabulous my kids make our life and I will try (whilst repeating 'I will parent with peace and calm over and over) to absorb embrace and enjoy every single crazy, hard, happy, laughter filled, messy, funny, heartfilling moment of our toddlerhood, tweendom and teenage years









Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Am I A Bad Daughter

Im crying big fat tears (you may know this is not the first blog post I have started like that) Ive just read this post from Glennon Doyle Melton  she is one of my most favourite writers, a real honest hasnt got all the answers mam (or mom technically) she is also an addict (or has suffered with addiction) and talks honestly about it, so there in lies the problem you see. She writes amazingly but as I can tell you that eing the daughter of an addict not in recovery is painful and reading this post has broken me! I have big fat tears rolling off my face and soaking my top ! Peant has just come to me asnd asked

P- Mammy why are you crying
M-Mammy just feels sad, its ok though sometimes that happens (remember Im trying  following the honest and open path  with the kids)
P-Why are you sad
M-I was just thinking about my mammy
P-Whats wrong with her
M-Nothing baby, I just miss her a bit
P-Then go see her
M-Ah she doesn't want to see me just yet
P-Why though just ring her and say you miss her

How easy life is when you are small!

So my Mam hasn't seen us in over 6 years, we have a horrible dysfunctional relationship and it has been reduced to me sending texts to check she is OK and nothing more. She doesn't want to see us and whenever I try to make plans she doesn't show and I feel guilty having let this happen but...


  • Its easier to not being confronted risk the addiction fuelled nastiness 
  • Its easier to protect my babies from the messiness
  • its easier to protect my heart from the sadness
  • Its easier not to face the disappointment that years of providing support and joinin her in meetings hasn't helped
  • Its easier not to face the knowledge that I can not fix her
  • Its easier to not have to explain that Nana didnt show again because she cant fight


But is this how she feels

Does she feel like she ran out of tries, have I made her feel like that, should I be trying more?


'THERE IS NO RUNNING OUT OF TRIES. LIFE IS FOREVER TRIES. Every heartbeat is proof that you’ve got another try. Listen to me: If your people are tired of you, find some new people.'

Have I become a bad daughter should I give her more tries? I feel guilty and cross and angry and sad and emotional that she should have more tries but it hurts and its hard and.... well I don't have the words  to explain it. Am I selfish,  Am I awful?

I have no ending for this post, I was moved to write something after reading Glennon's post, I was moved to get out the words and emotions but it didn't bring a conclusion just confusion