Friday, August 17, 2018

Are You Surviving The Holidays?

Down in our neck of the woods the fourth week of the Summer holidays is coming to an end and I have to say it hasn’t been what I had imagined.
We got the kids involved in picking activities and days out for the holidays, creating a Summer Bucket List and put it all on our ‘Summer Holiday Post It Note Calendar’ so that everybody knew what we would be doing and when we would be doing it BUT the reality has been very different.
We have so far stuck to our plans and completed all of the days out and activities from our list keeping the kids occupied but my goodness, it hasn’t stopped the constant bickering, the “Mum I’m bored and hungry”, the steady flow of mess that keeps appearing no matter how many times I clean it up and the  arguments over what should be on the tv. 



I started to secretly think that my kids may actually be demonic robots who were sent to just see how far they can push me before they see steam coming out of my ears but the more people I speak to, the more I realise that I’m not alone and maybe the world is being taken over demonic robots.



I’ve always been that parent who doesn’t look forward to the kids going back to school, I love having them around me, I love the slightly less rigid routine and I love the memories that we make and despite my kids driving me slightly bonkers these last 4 weeks have gone by way to quickly. If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll see what we’ve been up to so far and what’s still to come.




So whilst I’m hollering and hooting at my kids to be nice to each other, clean up their mess and  just be more grateful, I’m also secretly gutted deep down that the holidays are swiftly coming to an end and soon all four of my demonic angels will be back to school.


Emma xoxo

Monday, August 13, 2018

10 Signs Your On Holiday On A UK Holiday Park

When we are at home I’m usually THAT mum that tries to run a tight ship, with bedtimes, schedules, meal plans and any other kind of routine that keeps things running smoothly BUT when we go on a staycation to a UK holiday park all of that goes out of the window.

1. The bedtime routines go completely out of the window.



2. It’s totally acceptable for your kids to run around barefoot 99% of the time that you are away.

3. Healthy eating options are just not a choice at the full board buffet.

4. You find sand in places that you didn’t even knew you had and it will be a THING for weeks even after you return home.



5. The preplanned outfit choices that you packed before you left are a thing of the past. Your kids are wearing any random items together whilst they happily dig holes in the dirt with a stick.

6. You WILL be forced to get up on the dance floor every evening to do some dodgy holiday club dance routine that involves you looking like a complete an utter twat.

7. You end up creating your very own little community with your new neighbours.

8. Kids that you’ve never seen before descend upon your accommodation. You end up feeding and playing with all of them because these are your own kids ‘new best friends’.



9. You pack way too much because the British weather is so unpredictable and you want to be prepared so your car ends up looking like the Amazon delivery van.

10. You’re almost tearful as your packing up to leave because despite screaming at your kids at some stage, being shattered by the late nights and early mornings and the dodgy weather, you’ve actually had an amazing time, you’ve watched your children live their best lives and made more magical memories with them during their childhood.

What things go out of the window when you’re on a UK break?

Emma xoxo



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Easy Sprinkle Cake Recipe

One of the things that was on our Summer Bucket list was baking a sprinkle cake. As my 9 year old wanted to make it by himself I wanted the easiest possible recipe so that he was confident. We started out by making a shopping list of all of the ingredients needed and popped into our local Asda. Armed with his list and some money, I dutifully followed him around the store watching him check things off his list.
Shopping completed, we headed home and the baking began...



Ingredients

For the sponge
8oz butter
8oz caster sugar
8oz self raising flour
4 eggs
1 pot of sprinkles
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

For the buttercream
20oz icing sugar
10oz butter
A few drops of vanilla essence
1 pot of sprinkles
Colouring if desired


Method

1) Preheat oven to 180C/160fan/gas mark 4 and grease and line 4 20cm sandwich tins(if you only have 2, halve the mixture and bake in 2 batches)

2) Cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy

3) Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla essence and the sprinkles

4) Sift in the flour and fold into the mixture using a metal spoon

5) Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and bake for 20 mins or until a skewer comes out   clear



6) Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and leave until cool

7) In a clean, dry bowl beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy and add the vanilla essence and mix through( we put ours in the fridge for a bit because it was boiling hot and everything was melting)

8) Stack the cakes, spreading some of the buttercream between each layer(you can level the cakes by cutting across the tops but as my son was doing it himself we didn’t.

9) Once all of the 4 tiers are stacked, spread the sides and top of the cake with buttercream so that you can’t see any of the sponge.

10) Now the fun part, sprinkle away all over the buttercream until your hearts content.

I must admit, the finished product looked and tasted amazing and other than me putting the mixture in the oven and taking the cooked cakes out, he did the entire thing all by himself.

#proudmum

Monday, August 6, 2018

Are Screens Evil?

How many times have you just needed five minutes peace and quiet so stuck your kid in front of Cbeebies or given them the iPad? I'll be completely honest, I've done it quite a few times in my 16 years of being a parent and up until recently I've not seen any issue in it at all, but as my kids have got older I have found it increasingly difficult to control how much screen time they actually have. With a new social media app launched every few months, homework being set via the Internet, games consoles, Netflix and what not, how are we supposed to keep on top of it?



My three older children are in education so are out from around 8am until 4pm every day but when they get in they just want to chill either on the Playstation, watching TV or watching Youtube but when I ask them to switch off there is ALWAYS an excuse as to why they can't just yet - "I need to finish my match on Fortnite" or "Oh but the show is nearly finished anyway Mum can I just watch it" or some other reason as to why they just need a few more minutes. When I get fed up and turn things off they get miserable, angry, cry, whinge and anything else they can muster up but why?? Why is the detachment from screens such a trigger?

Don't get me wrong, we are an active family, we're always out exploring or on a day trip somewhere so I don't begrudge my kids screen time but I feel that slowly, they are choosing screen time more and more over the park, board games, painting and the simple activities that I loved as a child.



So what is the solution? We've sat down together, as a family and discussed the amount of time spent on phones or watching some other form of screen and come up with a daily limit of screen time for each child. Be it the PS4, mobile, TV, iPad or handheld console, unless otherwise stated each child knows just how much leisure time they are allowed on an electrical device. It's not that I'm anti technology but I feel that these pixelated boxes are stealing my children away from me and THAT is evil!

How do you manage screen time in your house?


Emma xoxo

Friday, August 3, 2018

Body Confidence and Me

For years I’ve struggled with my weight and by struggled I mean I’ve not been happy with how big I am but not doing enough about it. Before I had my eldest(now 16) the average size of ‘the perfect woman’ was a size 10 so my 5’9” size 14 body was seen as fat....if only I could go back to that size 14 body.


Over the years I’ve crash dieted, yo-yo dieted, joined gyms, eaten out more, drunk more fizz and guess what....gained weight.
During the height of summer I wouldn’t leave the house without a cardigan or something covering my arms because of my ‘upside down biceps’ and I definitely couldn’t buy t-shirts because they would be too short and show off my Santa like tummy but the truth of the matter is, nobody cared. I was the only one bothered by my wobbly arms and round tum. Everyone else is too busy worrying about their own wobbly bits to have time to bother themselves with mine!



What I came to realise over the years was that it wasn’t so much what I wore it was always more about how I wore it. You see, those upside down biceps look amazing on a woman with confidence and that round tum is beautiful when worn with a smile. Confidence is beautiful!

I’m not saying that as long as you are happy then to hell with your health but what I am saying is that whilst you’re working on that journey to being the person you want to be, be happy with the person you are today.



So the next time you’re out and about and see an equally amazing woman, give her the nod and a smile. Let’s lift each other up because let’s face it, we all have our own hang ups.

Once you’ve found your groove the rest will fall into place.

Emma xoxo

Monday, July 30, 2018

Have An Amazing Summer

A couple of weeks before the Summer holidays I sit and make a rough list of all the things I want to do with my kids(when I'm not shouting at them to stop arguing or to tidy up their mess). The list is always a list of the things that I think the kids will want to do and that will make for a great holiday. The reality is that my extravagant plans for days out or THAT ultimate craft project aren't at all what the kids want to do.

This year we made a Summer Bucket List of things the kids did actually want to do and there were some really simple and cheap activities on there.


A simple park visit always goes down well

Things like a movie night or picnic in the local park weren't the things I would have come up with but it just goes to show that our over thinking is so unnecessary to keep our children happy.

I always thought that my Summer holidays as a child were the most boring of all my friends and vowed that when I had kids they would have the most amazing holidays ever but the truth is, my fondest holiday memories are the simple ones. Me and my sister attempting a bungee jump over the banisters, sliding down the stairs on our bums, throwing brussel sprouts in the garden(wtf right? I know) these memories still put a smile on my face many years later.

I know it's hard to not have a mini meltdown when EVERY toy in the house is strewn across the floor and nearly every item in the fridge has been devoured by day number #5 of the holiday but it's these simple things that are making them happy and before you know it, you will have teenagers that no longer want to hang around with Mum.


Begrudgingly taking a pic with Mummy!

So instead of working out how you can cram a million activities into 6 weeks or which organ you are going to have to sell to fund it all ask your kids what they want to do and I bet you'll be surprised by their responses.

Remember, it's all about collecting memories, not things!


I plan on eating lots of these over the Summer

What are your simple plans for the Summer?


Emma xoxo

Friday, July 27, 2018

Black People Don't Do That!

I remember the funny looks I used to get on the weekends and school holidays when I would spend a vast amount of time at my grandparents caravan in Surrey. I'd overhear the odd comment but mainly it was just the stares. On our European holidays it was pretty much the same. I wasn't stupid, I knew what they were looking at - 'a black person camping?' 'A black person on the beach in Cyprus?'
You see back then, there were VERY few 'people of colour' that went camping and to be perfectly honest just as few that went on European holidays and although I am in fact mixed race I was always just viewed as black.




Growing up not much changed, I always seemed to find myself in places where I pretty much stood out. Then I had children of my own and I just wanted them to have as many amazing experiences as I had growing up. We used to frequent places like Godstone Farm, caravan holidays, Margate, The Lake District, Stonehenge and the White Horses and although I had got used to being in the minority it really hit home when my daughter said to me one day "Mummy, why don't other black people go to the places we go?" I can't remember my exact response to her but it went something along the lines of "because not everybody knows that these places exist." At only around 5 or 6 I wasn't going to give her a full on lecture in ignorance in culture.


That afternoon I sat and reflected on what my daughter had asked me, my childhood, my teens and early motherhood and the sad reality was that it was true, there had always been near enough no other families from any ethnic minority backgrounds at the places we would go.

WHY?? Why weren't black people on the beaches in Spain, Why weren't other black families taking pictures around Stonehenge? Why were we the only black family dancing to some dodgy redcoat songs at a holiday park?


The sad reality was I knew deep down why.  Back then, things seemed to be split into 2 categories 'things black people do' and 'things black people don't do.' I remember my friends saying of caravanning and fishing "Emma, black people don't do that" When I suggested to a friend that we all take the kids away for a long weekend to a holiday park she looked at me like I was crazy. "Em, WE don't do that kind of thing." The only response I could muster was "OK, well you and your kids will be missing out." And it was true because we did and always have had an amazing time.

Over the years I've noticed that more and more people have been mixing with folk from all walks of life and as a result it means that people are daring to do things that once upon a time 'THEY' didn't do.

Whilst it's refreshing to see people getting out there and trying new things I still think there is an attitude amongst some of ' black people don't do that' A perfect example was when I first began blogging back in 2011, so many friends thought I was crazy. They told me that 'WEdon't put our lives out there like that and that I was pretty much the only one of 'MY KIND'doing it. They weren't exactly wrong, for many years I have followed many fantastic bloggers, vloggers and other great people on social media and although I do enjoy their work, I have to admit that I do find it hard to fully identify with them because whilst parenting is hard work whatever your ethnicity and decorating is a pain in the arse regardless of colour there are some cultural and social issues which only people from a similar ethnic background will understand. For example, someone who doesn't have afro hair posted about hair care and products the other week and whilst I found the article interesting, it wasn't something I could relate to because quite simply, my hair needs are completely different. Or I watched a recent make-up tutorial not to long ago but the brands featured don't make products for my skin tone so another interesting but not particularly helpful video. There really isn't an abundance of black bloggers, I don't know the real reason why but I assume it does have something to do with the motto 'black people don't do that' and it can be frustrating. 




By blogging, vlogging and doing all the things I did do and continue to do with my children, I am one of a handful(which I would love to see grow) of people who are hopefully starting to break that viscous circle. I'm proving that we should not be restricted to what we can do just because of the colour of our skin.

I know topics like this can be a bit controversial but what are you thoughts?


Emma xoxo

Monday, July 23, 2018

10 Signs That You Have a Toddler

When you first discover that you're pregnant all these idealistic images start running through your mind of how you will dress your baby, the fun and educational games you'll play and the way all of the baby's belongings will seamlessly match your decor then BAM your dreams and baby become a toddler and your home is filled with the most mismatched, useless crap you can imagine.

If you're not quite sure where you are on the timeline yet or are in fact just in denial that you ARE living the toddler dream here are my 10 signs that you are living with a toddler.

1.     You've acquired a new abstract art collection

2.     You find toys in the most random of places

3.     Broken toys become sacred and if you dare throw them away the curse of a tantrum will be put upon you

4.     You WILL be force fed all kinds of plastic foods and you WILL(pretend) eat them



5.     Peppa Pig and her family have become honorary members of your family

6.     Pets vanish when your toddler enters the room. Today they don't want to         be the subject of a makeover or be dressed up as Super Cat so today they hastily exit.

7.     You have learned the theme tunes to most if not all of the Cbeebies shows



8.     There will be at least that one time in public when your toddler chooses that moment at the top of their voice to ask you why you put those 'nappies' in your knickers or why you shove that 'stick' up your bum

9.     The new decorating you start to find all over the house



10.   Why?.....why, why, why?! All day, every day they ask WHY. Why bloody why?

So there, these are my 10 signs that we have a monster toddler. 

What are your tell tale signs?

Emma xoxo

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Silent Sunday

Every Sunday, across all of my social media I will post a photo with the hashtag 'Silent Sunday'. It may be of the kids, the house, somewhere we've been, something we've done or something else but this photo will either represent something that I've really enjoyed that week, a happy moment, sum up our week or my thoughts or feelings. 



Feel free to join me in #silentsunday Don't forget to tag me so I can see your Silent Sunday pics.

You can find me on Instagram HERE and Twitter HERE

Emma xoxo

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Tired Mum's New School Year Resolutions

If you are anything like me, when you have completed your last school run of this (school) year(yaaaaassssss), you'll reflect over just poorly organised you were over the last couple of months and swear that come September you will be in control and on top of everything. If that sounds remotely familiar then you, my friend need to read on!

1. I will set my alarm 20 minutes early(and not hit snooze 6 times) and get out of bed when it goes off to ensure I am up and ready to the face the day with a bright and breezy attitude.

2. I will check school bags every evening for letters/notes/permission slips for non-uniform days, school trips, cake sales and so on to avoid the embarrassment of my kids being the ones in uniform on a charity jumper day or not having completed the 'special' homework for assembly

3. Every Sunday, I will make sure that all of the uniform is washed, dried and ironed for the entire following week to avoid those 'sniff it and see' days or the 'once your body heat warms it up it'll look ironed' days

4. I WILL NOT scream at the top of my lungs between 8.15 and 8.30 in the morning "bloody hurry up, get ready, get your shoes on, brush your teeth, right that's it no more TV or tablets in the morning"

5. We will leave with 10 minutes to spare which means I won't be hurrying the kids along the road whilst breaking a sweat because "we've got 7 minutes to get to the school gates. You don't walk this slow when we're going to the park or sweet shop so hurry up" under my breath so the other parents can't hear but loud enough that I now full well my kids do.

6. When my children get home from school I will have a healthy snack waiting for them because they clearly don't eat during the school day the way they walk through the front door, dump their bags and head straight to the fridge, cupboards, freezer and anywhere else there is food.

7. I will devote time each week to homework. Proper time. Not let's see what we can cobble together at 5.30 on a Sunday evening that's passable but lets get out the entire craft box and Pinterest the shizzle out of this weeks homework.

8. My bag will be park ready. There will be wipes, bottles of water, a piece of fruit and sandwich for those after school trips to the park where you spend a fortune in the corner shop because again, your kids are STARVING and you just can't bare to hear any more moaning about how hungry they are and wipes because let's face it, when don't you need wipes.

9. I will have a box with age appropriate generic cards, suitable small gifts, wrapping paper and gift bags ready for all there party invites that seem to come home on a weekly basis meaning we spend most weekends at some kind of children's party so I'm not running around like a flipping headless chicken trying to find a card and gift at the last minute.

10. When 4 weeks in to the school year and I've already given up on half of my resolutions I promise myself to look at the 4 human beings that I've created and know that despite being a rubbish school run Mum, I'm doing OK because my kids are (majority of the time) happy!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Our Summer Bucket List

Every year as the Summer holidays approach I panic. I panic because with four kids(by week 2 they are usually referred to as monsters or animals) to entertain over six weeks I know the empty bank balance, barren cupboards and headache is on its way. 

Just before New Years Day, we make a bucket list(we don't do resolutions) of all of the things we'd like to achieve throughout the year and just before Christmas we make a list of all the activities we'd like to do, days out and events we'd like to attend. It kind of keeps us on track to some extent and helps with the ever increasing cost of it all but we've never really sat down and made a Summer bucket list.....until this year that is!



We usually have a rough idea of the things we want to do and when we'll be away but its more a 'all in my head not on paper anywhere don't question me I'm the Mumma' type of list.

We sat as family(minus my big girl who is apparently too grown up and will be 'making that money' this Summer) and took it in turns to suggest things we'd like to do over the Summer and made a list.  



There are some things on the list that will take a little planning, some adventurous ones from my kids, some pretty easy going, lazy afternoon activities and some yummy suggestions.......and don't forget my DIY suggestions that didn't go down all that well.

1.     Have a picnic

2.     Go go-karting

3.     Go fishing

4.     Our annual visit to a pick your own farm

5.     Visit Chessington World of Adventures

6.     Go to the seaside

7.     Have a board game day

8.     Make a confetti cake

9.     Have a BBQ

10.   Go bowling

11.   Go rock climbing

12.   Have a movie night

13.   Visit the New Forest

14.   Go the the local adventure playground

15.   Redecorate the hallway

16.   Spend the afternoon on the South Bank

17.   Go on a boat ride

18.   Redecorate the bathroom

19.   Make Summer scrapbooks


20.   Take more couple selfies

20 things may not seem like lots to occupy four kids over 6 weeks BUT we have 2 weekend breaks booked and a week long UK holiday planned and the two boys are away for a week each(different weeks just to add to my confusion) with the local youth club they attend so that will be plenty.



Now all I've got to do is plan the who's, what, where, whys and when my fairy Godmother is dropping off the cheque to pay for all of this!

What are your plans for the Summer?

Emma xoxo