One step forward, two steps back

Following on from my last post about our new sleeping arrangement I am calling out to anyone who has tried anything similar. For advice, reassurance, wisdom…As I said before Poppy was settling herself to sleep without feeding fairly often in her new room. During the evenings I simply had to go in and put my hand on her back and give her a little shh and she was back to sleep. Leading up to her middle of the night feed she was a little harder to settle and she always cried more if Tim was settling her, but it was a frustration cry and she went back to sleep without my heart breaking.

The night I published that post everything changed! Tim just couldn’t settle her. She cried but it got more and more intense until I went in and she started to settle again. One time she had got herself too worked up and needed the boob to relax again. I ended up waking up at 3.30am that morning, listening to her cry as Tim attempted to get her back to sleep (I had aimed for no feeds before 4am as she had a late one at 11.30pm) He eventually succeeded only to hear her wake again 15 minutes later. This time she didn’t accept him and I had to step in. She woke up fully and started smiling at me and stroking my face (“Aww how cute!” you say…not at this time in the morning!) There was no convincing her it was the middle of the night so I tried to feed her into drowsiness again. Long story short I got her back to sleep at 5.30am and fed her more than planned, and by the time she was asleep I was too wired myself to go back to bed. So yesterday I was a zombie. Last night I had to decide what to do, seeing as she refused Tim again twice in the evening and I ended up feeding her at 9pm. With Tim away all weekend I needed sleep so I pondered weather sleeping in her room would be enough to give her the comfort each time she woke and stop her getting herself worked up to the point that she needed to comfort feed. After all I knew she could fall asleep without the feeds, but she still needed a little support. I gave it a go, and our night was even worse. I was so tired when she woke up I could hardly be bothered to try (hence why I moved her out of our bed in the first place!), and her cry just didn’t sound like that frustrated cry, it sounded more distressed, and I cannot listen to that for too long without feeling like the worst mum ever. Coupled with the fact that she was putting her hands down my top I felt like I was completely suppressing my natural response and not listening to her. So I gave in, multiple times, and fed her throughout the night. I convinced myself that she must just be hungry, but her fluttery, lazy sucks proved otherwise! She decided it was time to get up at 5am, and as well as that her morning nap is all out of sync for the second day in a row. Back to square one?

Feeling confused, annoyed, disheartened and guilty. Go with the flow and hope she decides to play ball again sometime soon? Or push on through the heartache knowing that at least I am there with her as she cries? But what if she just doesn’t stop?! Is this her way of telling me “Yes I figured out your plan, and I gave it a go, but I don’t like it so you had better stop right now because I’m not having any of it!” I have had enough of thinking about who needs what…I have no idea what I need anymore, apart from a strong coffee.

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(Less Than) Perfect Parenting

When I was pregnant I started reading about attachment parenting and it resembled what we would have done naturally anyway. It opened up a new community to me and got me thinking about other things, such as elimination communication and home ed, which I may not have considered without the Facebook groups, blogs and small collection of AP books on my bookshelf. It made me think about more general aspects of parenting, such as the way in which you speak to your children, and how you choose to deal with specific situations, and I believe the new perspectives I have gained will benefit Poppy for her entire life. For that I am grateful for the books and the groups, but there is an element of this community that needs addressing.

Mother’s who choose to parent this way are often mother’s who have very high expectations of themselves. From socialising with many like-minded Mum’s I have noticed a few things. We over think everything, believing that all of our choices will have a life long impact on our children. We are labelled as ‘alternative’ (or other more amusing names like ‘crunchy’) and so begin to label ourselves. By doing this we inadvertently label others, which is something I never wanted to do. At first I felt like mainstream parents were judgemental of my choices, but I am starting to feel that the alternative community do most of the judging. By believing so strongly in doing everything for the best of the child, it is too easy to believe that any other way is wrong, or worse still, damaging for the child. To make sure you don’t get it wrong you seek information about every aspect of parenting from those very books that made it all sound so blissful and simple (despite the fact that at the very core of natural parenting is trust in your instinct). I have lost count of the amount of times I have read that a baby cry’s because they have an unmet need. So what if your baby just cries and you have done everything you possibly can?

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When Poppy was a newborn and suffering from her dairy intolerance, I did not know at first why she was crying. Yes she had an unmet need of sorts because she needed me to adjust my diet, but it was not something that could be solved instantly. She was fed, changed, warm, well rested, secure and in my arms, but she could not always be soothed. I had to relax and just make it easier for her by holding her, but in that moment I couldn’t make it stop. Similarly when Poppy became over tired she could not shut down, she seemed to fight her sleep to the point that she was so over tired she would scream for 4 hours until she finally gave in and fell asleep from exhaustion. There was nothing else I could have done, that was part of who she is; she was fascinated by the world and didn’t want to miss a thing, and at times even half an hour of being awake was too stimulating for her. In those early days everything that I had read rushed around my head; I didn’t think babies would cry if they had everything they needed? They don’t cry in Africa! What was I doing wrong? I tried everything to stop her from becoming over tired in the first place, abandoning my social life completely, but we still had episodes. All I could do was be there with her through the tears, letting her know she wasn’t on her own and that she was loved. There was nothing in the books that made me feel I was still doing a good job. The way I read it was that AP parenting should mean the baby has no reason to cry at all after you have responded to their needs. Maybe I over exaggerated that expectation, but being the stereotypical alternative mama I am sure I’m not the first.

Poppy settled soon enough, and now at 8 months old she is pretty easy going. She can still be distracted, but the majority of the time getting her to sleep has become easy, and we never have prolonged crying fits anymore for any reason. I am happy with all of our choices; I have completely and utterly devoted myself to her. It has worked very well for us, it has actually made life really easy, and I believe we have a very securely attached, happy little girl. But about two weeks ago I suddenly felt a page was turned. Poppy is no longer a newborn whose wants are the same as her needs, I believe they are starting to blur and she is gaining more and more understanding. There are certain things that she could probably learn not to need anymore, even if she does still want them. With our busy lives my constant devotion to her was starting to feel less natural and more forced. With Tim working longer hours I had no time left for me, and as a result I wasn’t being as good a parent as I can be. I never want to resent my child, so it was time to make some changes.

I need a bit of the old me back, and for those of you who know me well you will know that I need to really let my hair down from time to time. Rather difficult when your baby feeds to sleep, wakes up 3-4 times before you even make it to bed and then feeds throughout the night. And will not, ever, be comforted by Daddy in the night. So am I suddenly a bad mum for considering forcing my baby to change these expectations that we created just so that I can have a night out? I scanned a few forums and was guilt ridden to read that no one else would consider leaving their cosleeping, breastfeeding 8 month old baby for one night and their comments reminded me that her needs had to come before mine. But what if by compromising your own needs your child’s need for a happy and healthy mother is not being met? That was a more important long-term need in my mind.

In my confused state of mind I even typed the following into google: “Sleep training with attachment parenting.” I found blogs written by people in my position. I also found more hating from the AP extremists. I felt like there was no middle ground; you either leave your child to cry it out, which I never wanted to do, or give up your whole life for them. And then I came across something called RIE parenting which encourages listening to the type of crying and not immediately trying to fix it when it could simply be an expression of emotions. You can read more about this here and here. Suddenly something clicked. I have always known it and told Tim numerous times; there is a big difference between leaving a baby to cry on their own and letting them cry in your arms. Just like when Poppy was a newborn and I had no choice. This changed my whole perception of so called sleep training or simply teaching your baby to fall asleep alone, and I became more open minded to the gentle approaches. I will write another post about exactly what we have done and why I am happy with it soon.

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It has been just over a week since Poppy moved into her own room. I would have happily carried on cosleeping but wanted to drop the constant feeding, and I didn’t think that was easily achievable if she was in our bed. I miss the cuddles with her but am thrilled that she is now self-soothing and accepting Tim as a comfort during the night at times. She is still feeding to sleep in the evening, having a feed before I go to bed and one during the early morning, but that is massive progress. And she I not being traumatised, she has never been left on her own to cry, not even for a minute, and if she had protested too much I wouldn’t have continued.

We are still very much following a natural parenting style, but it is what is natural to us right now, not necessarily to every other AP advocate I will meet. Nor have I been converted to RIE or (heaven forbid) to baby training methods! We are simply finding what works and evolving as Poppy grows up. And I am doing my best, whilst realising I can’t be perfect. If you are a confused mama who has a tendency to put yourself under so much pressure to do the right thing, remember that there are no rules. You can, and should, allow yourself to compromise on your beliefs at times for the sake of your own sanity (even if some AP devotee on some forum somewhere has raised 6 kids back to back and tells you otherwise.)

I admit that right now I am more exhausted than I was before because this is requiring some effort! But I know that we are heading in the right direction, and I have booked a celebratory night out later in June, guilt free, knowing that Poppy will be happy in her Daddy’s arms.

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Gradually Going Green – Part 3 – My Make Up Bag

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It has been a while since my last gradually going green post! Today I am going to tell you what basic natural make up I use. Not all of my make up is natural or organic, but that is because I have a lot that I don’t want to throw out! There are some things that I only wear on special occasions, such as eye shadows, so I am not too worried about these. I was also given some gorgeous nail varnishes and lip gloss for Christmas, and seeing as I don’t wear these on a daily basis either it doesn’t matter that they are not natural. The only make up that I wear every day is foundation, blusher and mascara. And as foundation covers your skin I made this a priority! You can’t change everything immediately, and that would cost a fortune, so it is best to choose the most important things to you.

So here is my every day make up:

P1030397Foundation: Lavera Natural Liquid Foundation, available online. I love this foundation. It isn’t as heavy as other brands I have used, so might not be good if you like thicker foundations or very good coverage. It blends well though and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry like every other foundation I have ever had! It cost about £10 so it isn’t even more expensive than good high street brands.

Mineral foundation, blusher, bronzer: Color Revolution, an American brand. I got this set of 3 mineral powders from TK Maxx for about £7, and I’m not sure if you can find it for sale elsewhere in the UK. But there are loads of mineral make ups out there! I personally didn’t want a powder foundation, so I use this as a powder after applying my liquid foundation, which works well. I love the blusher and the bronzer and they are all lasting for ages. They are easy to blend too.

Mascara: Green People, Volumising mascara, available online. I love love love mascara, I couldn’t live without it! And this is actually one of the best I have had, and I have tried a lot! It isn’t as thick and so doesn’t give you a really dramatic look, but it highlights every single lash and you never get any clumps! It wasn’t expensive either.

Eye liner: Beauty without cruelty, natural mineral soft kohl pencil in carbon black, available online. Does exactly what it says on the tin. Doesn’t smudge and is a good price.

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Fake Tan: Lavera, self tanning lotion. I have only used this two or three times so far. It was good, didn’t streak at all or smell bad. But it wasn’t that dark either. If you want instant bronzed goddess look for a night out this probably isn’t the best option, but if you are looking for a natural, gradual tan it does the trick.

And that is it for my green make up! I got most of mine from naturisimo online which has a huge variety and I got 10% off my first order!

 

5 healthy and *should be* easy changes

I have been meaning to make a few changes for a few weeks. But there is always some excuse. We have been very busy and Tim’s work is rather manic, which seems to have a knock on effect on our whole lives. Anyway, that may seem totally unrelated to the following changes, but I have found myself in general becoming more and more unhealthy. I haven’t been organised with planning meals like usual because Tim leaves early for work and I don’t seem find the time to cook proper meals when Poppy is awake; but that is a poor excuse because I could do with a little effort. I am so tired by the end of the day and Tim is home late, that I don’t feel motivated to cook from scratch and eat by myself. Not having the car as often as usual also means we are getting behind on food shopping, and have been left with an empty fridge far too many times recently. The other night I literally just roasted some potatoes and ate those!!! I am filling myself up on quick fixes like crisps, and drinking too much tea and coffee because when I do it makes me feel as though I am having a break, even if I am drinking it on the go! So that is the eating side of things.

Another way I feel unhealthy is in my mentality. When I have a lot going on I find it really difficult to switch off. I actually love being busy, I might moan about my essays at times, but I think it is good to have something to focus on, and I am enjoying it. But I admit I find it hard to manage my time between being a mum, a girlfriend (housewife!), a student and a friend to lots of people who I have not made enough effort with recently which is adding extra pressure because I feel guilty about this. My mind goes into overdrive. And I have become so used to doing that I have forgotten how to stop. It gets to 5pm and I start looking forward to putting Poppy to bed and having some me time. I think about what tv might be on catch up, whether I might run a bath, what book I could read…but then the time comes and I find myself tense and fidgety, and usually end up writing a blog post, wasting time on facebook, starting a mini project (like today I rearranged our living room and looked online for some paint to revamp our drawers) or something else that seems to get me to 10pm realising I haven’t put my feet up once all day. There always seems to be little jobs that need doing, like changing my phone contract, ordering our veggies for the week, booking car hire for our holiday, writing a letter to my doctor…I have a list on my phone with the idea that it will be deleted once everything is crossed off (I am sure many of you are the same.) Of course this will never happen. I aim to do these little jobs in the evenings when I have no distractions, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered. What do I do instead then? I don’t sit and relax knowing they can wait until tomorrow. I sit and think I really should be doing stuff and don’t allow myself to relax, so it is just a complete and utter waste of my life, and it somehow seems to take energy to do nothing?! This tense state of mind is also filtering into my weekends with Tim, and I am fed up of us sitting next to each other on our phones, or saying ‘Let’s find something to watch’ every now and then for an hour or two, whilst we waste time doing other things and then realise it is bed time. We are off on holiday this weekend just for 3 nights, and I am so looking forward to it. Tim has even promised he is leaving his phone at home!

The last thing worth mentioning before the list is that I feel like my own energy effects Poppy and vice versa, and not in the way you might first think. When I feel worn out or demotivated Poppy seems more energetic than ever, which makes me even more sorry for myself! Whereas when I am energetic and productive Poppy is calm, interested in what I am doing and the hours pass so quickly as we do lots together. I have recently become interested in the conituum conecpt (I will try to write a post about this another time) and one thing that has stuck with me is the way in which young babies are so calm and relaxed when they are at the centre of the adults busy lives and everyday jobs. It seems that the active lives of the adult is enough to tire out the baby without them doing anything at all. When Poppy was a newborn our busy lives seemed to be too much for her and she became very over stimulated, so I am questioning whether this philosophy would have worked for us, but now that she is older she is certainly very interested by our actions, and often falls asleep most peacefully if we put her in the sling when she is wide awake and get on with our lives. Suddenly I look down and she is dreaming. Babies brought up according to the contiuum concept are constantly held, watching their parents work and amazingly they are able to use knives safely by themselves at age two! I am not suggesting this is my aim, but it is amazing how concentrated Poppy is when she is watching me ‘at work’. This must be the easiest, most natural way to teach a child. It also resonates with me because the concentration a child demonstrates when they are fixed upon the activity of an adult is that same concentration that is at the heart of Montessori education, and indeed the way in which you present an activity to a child is by clear, precise demonstration with little need for speech. It makes perfect sense that children should be calm and relaxed watching their parents at work because their mental energies are focused and they have no need to channel their natural energies into volatile behaviour or pointless activity.

So anyway…my completely random, unrelated list of positive changes:

  1. Drink more water and less tea and coffee 
  2. Hold Poppy in the sling every evening whilst I cook a healthy dinner. 
  3. Turn off my phone and computer one evening a week and have a bath, read, do my nails…
  4. Turn off my phone and bully Tim into turning off his during our weekends (or rare evenings together), as MUCH as possible. 
  5. Take Oscar for a walk EVERY afternoon with Poppy in the sling* (another time when she is nearly always calm and concentrated on the world around her. Also love the fresh air once we are out and Oscar thanks me) 

*I have had a bad neck/back lately so in the event that this is particularly bad I am allowed to skip this one every now and then!

If you know that I am not adhering to these rules feel free to slap me! Oh…whoops it is 9.30pm and I am getting up at 5.30am…I suppose I had better go and relax quickly!!!

Creamy Celeriac and Cauliflower soup

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Very thick and creamy soup, with hardly any ingredients, easy and healthy!

Ingredients:

1 whole celeriac, peeled and chopped into small chunks

1 whole cauliflower chopped

1/2 white cabbage, sliced into ribbons

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Drizzle of olive oil

Enough bouillon to cover the veggies

Pepper to season

Seeds (optional) 

Method:

Fry garlic and cabbage in the olive oil on low-medium heat for a few minutes, stirring every so often to make sure it doesn’t burn. 

Add celeriac and cauliflower to the pan and cover with the stock. 

Simmer until veggies are cooked.

Blitz and season with pepper, and sprinkle with your choice of seeds (I used shelled hemp seeds and sunflower seeds!)

Enjoy!

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Adults see a hazard whilst babies see a learning opportunity!

Poppy has mastered the step that divides our living room and dining area! It is a small step (hehe) towards her ever growing independence! I love how babies and children practise new skills over and over again. Repetition is recognised as vital to a child’s development in Montessori’s philosophy and they should be given the time to be allowed to. Poppy has been climbing up and down this step all afternoon!

 

The Importance of Play

I have been learning all about play, and I wanted to share with you some of the reasons why it is so important to the healthy all round development of children. First of all it is worth saying that there are so many different types of play, too many to mention here, and lots of ideas surrounding exactly it means to play. It is difficult to define play because it is context dependent, ever changing and personal to the player. Play is not the same as being playful. True play is always chosen and controlled by the child and is characterised by a deep concentration. This is important because adult led activities are not the same as free flow play!

P1020365Every child in the world is born with an innate desire to play. I have already written about the benefits of treasure baskets for babies, and of course babies also benefit from interaction with their caregivers. That is the first way the learn how to be sociable! Poppy enjoys playing on her own too, and no one has taught her that, it comes naturally, just like sleeping and eating. As babies get older they are interested in finding things out for themselves, and ‘heuristic play’, a step up from treasure baskets, is beneficial at this stage. Children make their own discoveries spontaneously and there is no right or wrong way, giving them the confidence to make decisions and learn. Heuristic play enhances physical and cognitive development as children use fine and gross motor skills to manipulate and explore. If play is always adult led however a child’s natural motivation to play will be crushed and they will not be able to think for themselves.

Early physical play builds strength, coordination and skill and also offers a break from cognitive tasks, with school break times improving children’s attention during lessons. Rough and tumble play is a safe way for children to develop emotional control as they fight with friends and self-handicap. This is a normal part of development and can help children to manage their emotions and maintain friendships. Physical development is at the centre of a child’s overall development and so all of that seemingly silly activity you see in the playground is of great importance to every element of the child’s growth!

During this time children actively interact with each other, learning social-emotional skills that give them confidence and build their self-esteem, which will encourage positive relationships throughout their entire lives. The conversations they have during play, with each other and adults, not only help children expand their vocabulary and understanding of language, but are also thought provoking and encourage children to work together to solve problems. Playing with people of different ages increases the child’s scope to develop as they help each other learn, which is actually one reason that I find the typical classroom set up so unnatural. It is not realistic of true life, to have children of all the same age working together. By home educating Poppy I hope she will have friends of all different ages, expanding her learning potential and opening up a social world that school perhaps cannot offer. Anyway…back to play! We all remember playground games – I loved polo polo and stuck in the mud, but there are hundreds and children make up their own games with rules too. These games introduce morals to a child and increase social awareness. Social concepts are formed as children take turns, share and listen to each other. They face disagreements, and learn how to effectively deal with them, and start to learn about consequences (if they do break the rules!) They start to manage their own behaviour and feel that they have their own place in society, or at least in their own small society, but this is just the start of their sense of identity in the bigger world. Social lessons are much better learnt through experience than explanation, and disagreements, falling outs and preferences over friends is completely natural and true to real life. An adult who tries to keep the peace by forcing children to get along at all times is addressing the problem very artificially and temporarily, with the children learning little negotiation or communication skills in the process, and often being left confused.

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Credits Image: Maciej Lewandowski (CC)

A well-recognised type of play is fantasy play, something I am sure you can all remember. You probably acted out your own experiences, and copied things that you had seen your parents or older siblings do. The whole time you would have been making new links between your knowledge, gathering information, putting everything together in your mind so that it could become embedded and understood, without overwhelming you. There is so much for a child to take in, playing is the best possible way for them to consolidate their learning and deal with that amount of information, which they simply couldn’t process any other way.

Children rehearse the future during fantasy play, and in doing so they function in advance of themselves, reaching the very top of their skill set and extending it further. They prepare for the challenges of life, and this practise run makes them more confident and able to deal with real situations as adults. Their role-play allows them to see life from new perspectives and learn about human interactions. Communication and listening skills, cooperation, empathy and understanding – these are skills that you could easily see on a CV or college application aren’t they? Life long skills that open up opportunities and contribute to a person’s social life and therefore their happiness! What if a child doesn’t have the chance to practise them whilst they are young? Do they just appear from nowhere? No, they are skills just like any other and they need to be refined.

So now imagine two children playing families. One child is the Mummy and the other the Daddy, and they are pretending that their dolls are their children. They care for the dolls like they have seen adults doing, they talk to each other in a grown up way, they have an argument about whose turn it is to go to the shop, they decide to go together and when they are there they recite things they need to make a cake and use wooden blocks and beanbags as eggs and flour. A typical childhood scene, that may be seen as simple fun, and yet those two children are learning more than ever and enhancing every single area of development. How? Acting as mummy and daddy teaches them about relationships and the imagination involved in becoming someone else promotes creativity and flexibility of thought which is vital for learning. As they care for the dolls they begin to gain a sense of responsibility and care, unlocking new emotions and an empathy and understanding towards others. The argument they act out may be something they have overheard themselves, and by re-enacting it they begin to understand the complicated emotions involved in human relationships and that they are normal. They see different points of view and learn how to manage their own emotions and understand other peoples. Perhaps the argument reflects a difficult time in their home life, and through role-play they are working through their own difficult emotions and easing their pain. They solve a problem together by deciding to go to the shop together. They are learning to work cooperatively, as well as trying out new ideas, adapting their thoughts and thinking outside of the box. As they shop for the cake ingredients they use their current knowledge of baking and it becomes embedded in their minds, and they show their creativity in using different items to represent to food. This ability to symbolise is the first step in developing abstract thought. Perhaps they build on their knowledge further as one child suggests that the cake could be made with brown sugar instead of white and the other suggests it is a lemon cake and so they choose a yellow box to represent the cake. They may even be exploring a scene from a favourite book about baking a birthday cake, helping them relate to the language within that book so that it is more meaningful to them and the next time they read it they notice new things that they hadn’t before. The whole time they are talking and listening and using their bodies. The children are also in deep concentration, completely engrossed in their play. This concentration is vital for a child’s development; it is the single most important factor in learning.

Credits Image: Lars Plougmann (CC)

aloneAs well as learning about the world, children do a great deal of learning about themselves during play. They may use play to deal with traumatic experiences and feel in control of worrying situations. Play helps children become emotionally literate, increasing their resilience to mental health problems, which in this day and age is definitely worth noting. The processing of emotions during solitary play impacts other areas of development. It is often a very deep play where children are free to gather ideas, dwell on feelings, relationships and embodiment, all of which are at the heart of creativity. Art, literature and music may be created as a way of dealing with emotions that the child has come to understand during their play. I remember playing on my own at home a lot as a child (probably because my sister thought she was too cool for me!) and I was, and still am, a rather creative person. In fact I specifically remember writing poems when I was feeling angry, sad or confused, or creating art when I was happy or finding or changing my own identity. As a child play may be the healthiest and most natural way to deal with the plethora of inevitable emotions you are faced with.

During the first five years of life children learn more rapidly than any other time and opportunities to play contribute hugely to healthy holistic development. Of course well-rounded, healthy children, who grow up into stable, intelligent adults, have positive outcomes for the whole of society. Even adults benefit from play! In a technological world where I see toddlers playing games on their parents phones, preschool children being bought computers for Christmas, and TV’s being used as babysitters, I wonder if the next generation are being given enough encouragement to play? Children are not communicating with each other, they are not moving, they are not thinking for themselves, they are not exploring their word. Play is the most natural and effective method of learning; if we deprive our children of play, we deprive them of a wealth of developmental benefits that can never be replicated with technology.

So why not try a screen free week, get out there and play!

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Credits Image: David Robert Bliwas (CC)

Sunshine, socialising and selfies

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We have had a lovely weekend in the sun. Saturday we went to Milton Keynes and I met up with my good friend, Beth, who has just got home from traveling. It was great to see her and tuck into a vegetarian breakfast at Giraffe!

At home we played in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and taking a few family selfies!

Yesterday Dan and Charlotte came to visit which was lovely. The weather was on our side again, so after lunch in the garden we went to the bluebell woods in Ashridge for a walk. We almost didn’t make it though as we managed to get the car stuck, on dry land! It was rather embarrassing, especially as I was in the drivers seat, but under strict instructions to “Just keep going!” from Tim. I quickly got out with Poppy and fled the scene, leaving Tim and Dan looking less manly than they probably hoped as they got saved by a couple more experienced men! It gave us a good giggle anyway.

The walk was gorgeous, I loved discussing weddings with Charlotte, and we had a slice of cake midway to recoup – does a weekend go by that doesn’t involve cake?!

Unfortunately Tim has had to go in to work today, so not quite the long weekend I was hoping for. But Poppy is such good company at the moment, chattering away and laughing with me! She seems to have eaten quite a lot today, I don’t know if it is a one off, but maybe she is more ready for food now? She has had toast dipped in soup and managed to soak up all of the soup that was in her bowl! She ate homemade homous straight off the spoon! And she really enjoyed mango. Poppy also seems to understand the word ‘Mama’ and starts saying it if Tim carries her away from me, with her arms outstretched towards me! I am sure ‘Dada’ won’t be long! She is still pulling herself up constantly, I honestly can’t keep up with her energy!

Anyway here is our weekend in pictures! (click for slideshow)

I hope your weekend was wonderful ❤

Rainbows and Smiles

10291854_10154031925635346_1747914046365390881_nA couple of weekends ago we celebrated my beautiful Nan’s 80th birthday, and I promised I would write a post about our weekend. Of course I didn’t get time, but I had to at least share the cake with you. I made this 6 layer rainbow cake by following the basic recipe at Kerry Cooks: http://kerrycooks.com/easy-6-layer-rainbow-cake-step-by-step/ BUT, get this, I had to use TRIPLE the ingredients…it was a BIG cake! That included 18 eggs, 3 tubs of dairy free spread, over 1kg sugar…you see I am not always health obsessed! Depending on how greedy your friends are I would say this would serve 20.

I made some of my own additions and changes. I added lemon zest to the sponge and of course it was made with Pure spread and so was dairy free. I also couldn’t use her cream cheese frosting, so I made my own lemon frosting, with Pure spread, icing sugar, lemon juice and super white powder food colouring, because the bright colours really do look great against bright white. If you are not dairy free you can use Lurpak to make a lighter frosting, therefore needing less white colouring to get the desired shade.

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All of the other colours were the same as the ones Kerry used, except for purple I used Sugarflair pastel colours in ‘Lavender’ and it turned out perfectly. You must use professional gel colours in order for this cake to be a success, not just supermarket gels or regular liquid food colouring. Just add a little bit at a time until it is as bright as you want it.

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My tins were 26cm, and so took a little longer to cook. I would say it was about 30 mins per layer. The sponge was lovely and putting each layer in the fridge wrapped in cling film before decorating definitely helped! All in all the cake was simple to make, just slightly time consuming.

P1020685I wanted the inside of the cake to be a surprise so I covered it in the white lemon frosting, and then decorated it with yellow to match the lemon theme. I love yellow and I love lemon cake, reminds me of spring time and happiness. I would say lemon cake is nice and light too, but this probably can’t be described as light if you have a 6 layer slice, like I did!

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I also made this lovely bunting with my Nan’s name on it, out of thread, cocktail sticks and thin card. I stamped her name onto separate card, cut out the circles and stuck them to the flags. The flags are just folded over the thread and then glued together. It looked very pretty and girly, and added to the summery vibes!

My Nan loved it and everyone was commenting on how beautiful it was…and then she cut into it and revealed the wonderful rainbow! It went down a storm and tasted delicious.

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