Monday, 5 May 2014

Flower power water table fun

Princess and Grapie were playing in the garden with their water table and I wanted to find a new twist on it for them (to take their mind off the fact they weren't able to use the sand that we had just bought, as we still need to get a cover for it!) Luckily the lawn was covered with daisies so we got picking, and had a flower power water table pretty soon.

Both girls had a wonderful time scooping and pouring the flowery potion, and both both absolutely soaked, Grapie got so wet, even her shoes and her nappy were drenched!

The flowers looked beautiful floating in the water, there were hundreds of them in there!
Obviously, Princess had to try to get the daisies to go through the water wheel, at one point she had about 50 daisies stuck in there!

And of course, every flower power princess needs a crown so I made her one out of daisy chains, she was fascinated with seeing the daisys get linked together.

What a pretty, fun and best of all, free way to play with our garden toys in a different way!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Thank you

To the lady who found me a sobbing wreck in the car park of the children's centre, thank you for helping. Thank you for stopping when others had kept on walking. Thank you for stopping even though I was mortified to be found like that. Thank you for gently taking my crying tired child from me, calming her down and putting her in her pushchair, something that I had spent 10minutes trying and failing to do. Thank you for confiding in me that you were late leaving the stay and play session we had been to because you too were seeking help wiyh coping. And thank you for not judging me, and going on to have a normal conversation with me. Thank you.

You see, most days I hold it together quite well, considering I could count the number of decent nights sleep I have in the past four years on one hand. Considering the fact that my youngest daughter still wakes every 2-3 hours throughout the night, despite being 20 months old. That my eldest daughter still wakes at night most nights too. That, despite not sleeping at night they both get up for the day at 5.30. Despite all those things, I still manage to function quite well. Hey sometimes I even manage to blog about some of the fun things we do!

But then other times, I don't hold it together so well at all. Times like this morning, when G just point blank refuses to go in her pram. Or walk. Or do anything other than cry and cling to me. Despite her tiny size, she is deceptively strong. And at that moment in time, I couldn't find a better option than to just hold her, and sit on the floor and cry. Because that is the thing about being a parent; every day is just a series of moments that you have to deal with, in the moment. And sometimes, usually, we can see the bigger picture, but just sometimes, we can't. And we just get consumed by the moment we are dealing with at the time.

Had a stranger not come along to rescue me, I'm sure I would have picked myself up again soon and carried on again, but, at the that moment, I was very glad to receive some help, and I would just like to say thank you.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Attracting some nature to our garden

We have made a new addition to our garden which is proving to be very popular. Popular with Princess and Grapie, and popular with a load of feathered friends too. We have added a bird feeder to our garden and it ia a big hit all round! 

We hung it on the fence close to our house so that we can see the birds having a sneak through the window, even when we are not in the garden. We have quite a few regular birds in our garden anyway, and one by one they are starting to find our feeder. Firstly the big wood pigeon found it, you can see him in the above photo, and he is so tame that he will stay where he is even if we open the door and go outsisde!

Next a pair of blackbirds found it and in the last few days I have seen a bluetit and a robin having some food too. Its great for the girls to watch and they had a book for Easter about garden wildlife, so we can identify our feathered friends too!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


The girls were very excited on Easter Sunday to see that the Easter bunny had been and had left them an Easter egg hunt. They put on their Easter bonnets (for about 5 minutes!) and started looking for clues.

Their first basket contained some Easter masks, which they shared out nicely

Then, after finding some more Easter bits and pieces, it was onlt the serious business of finding the chocolate!

Their last basket contained a book about garden wildlife and a bug hotel, as I didn't want Easter to be completely about chocolate eggs (which was a bit lost on them at the time but they love now it's up in the garden!)

A lovely start to a lovely family day together

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fun in a DIY Teepee

We have loads of toys in our garden (ok, lots of them are from the pound shop, but still loads!) But still they want more, more, more! Every time they look at the Early Learning centre catalogue they spot about 20 things they fancy. But apart from not having an endless money supply, I don't want them growing up spoilt and always needing 'things' to make them happy.

So this weekend, inspired by here come the girls, we made this teepee and it was pretty easy to make. Start with 4 beanpoles and push them into the ground in a sqare shape. How far apart you put them will depend on how big you want your teepee to be.

Then tie the tops together with some string or ribbon if you happen to have some (we didn't so garden twine it was).

Next comes the walls. We used a blanket, which gave the teepee a cozy private feel, but sheet would work well too, and that is what we will be trying next. Wrap the blanket or sheet around the poles and use pegs to hold it in place. Depending on how you peg it and the size of your sheet you could have flaps for a door or leave one side open, or what we have which is half a door leaving a crawl-in entrance.

And that is it, hours of teepee fun created in about 5 minutes and without buying anything new! Perfect for hiding in, curling up with a pile of books, peekaboo or just having some quiet time. And when the girls are not using it, the cat has taken to hiding in it too! 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A day out at Longleat Safari park

We went to Longleat Safari park last week and had a fantastic day out. We started our day at Postman Pat world, the girls both love Postman Pat (as do I!) so there was no way we were going to be able to start anywhere else and they both loved it. In fact, it was the only thing out of the whole day that we went back to a second time! 

The girls loved pressing the buttons and seeing their favourite characters come to life, and also loved posting letters through the letter boxes of the Greendale houses (top tip, ask at the shop for some letters to post, we only discovered this after seeing someone else get some!)
Next it was to the animal part of the park, where we got up close and personal with some of the animals. We stoked a lizard, touched a stingray and Princess fed some fish to a penguin.

After lunch we took a spin on the teacups ride (Grapie's first time on a ride!)

Then onto the main event, the safari park. This was fantastic and was well worth visiting the park for in itself. I had been to longleat once before as a child and I remember the monkeys being brilliant but only seeing the lions and tigers at a distance. But this time we got amazingly close to the big cats, who were all awake and prowling around.

And the monkeys were as brilliant as ever, jumping on the car, much to Princess's delight (and Grapie's horror!) One of them even did a big poo on my windscreen, which was obviously hilarious. Ans even better, my car survived the ordeal too! Great fun!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A surprise new table for the girls

We had a surprise knock on the door today, it was our neighbour with a set of children's table and chairs. His grandchildren had outgrown them, so he offered them to my girls, who jumped at them. They now have a new favourite thing! They are very cute, with pencils for legs (and to be honest, I had the exact same ones on my Amazon wish list).

I found a little spot for them under the stairs and the girls got straight to work painting (the mess in the background is our overflowing craft box!) Princess has asked if they can eat their dinner at the new table tomorrow!

I'm going to set Princess up with a box of writing practice sheets so she can sit at her new table and practice her letters (hopefully this will encourage her to practice!) I was planning on doing this anyway, and it's funny how a spontaneous knock on the door has provided the perfect place to do it.

I think a thank you card is called for!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A walk in the woods

The sun was shining and Grapie and I went for a little walk in the woods the other day. Well, not the woods exactly but a little copse close to our house. We were on our way back from dropping princess off at preschool, and Grapie was in a good mood (she's usually ready for her nap when we get back, thanks to getting up sooooooo early!)

We are very lucky to have a lovely green area so close to our house but it's been so boggy recently that it's been impossible to go in with the buggy. It's dried out a bit now so I took the opportunity to show Grapie some nature.

She loved being free to explore and touch things. We talked about how things felt and Grapie learnt lots of new words, like rough and hard, and it was lovely to have some quality one on one time with her, as often, even though she is with me all the time, we spend our time rushing from one thing to the next before it's time to pick Princess up again! 

It was short and sweet and simple but we had a really lovely time!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Fun in the sun

The rain has finally stopped and the sun made an appearance this weekend. It was the perfect time to get out in the garden and reclaim our outsise space after the winter. To be honest, we have hardly ventured out in the garden for months, our grass was so muddy and boggy and slippery that it was easier to go to the park for our outside time.

But this weekend the sun was shining, the birds were singing and we started getting the garden ready for play. We cleared the trampoline of leaves and puddles, so the girls could have a good jump. Princess had forgotten how much she loved the trampoline, she jumps on her bed every day but after going on the trampoline, she said to me later, "mummy, my bed isn't very bouncy, is it?"

We cut the grass so it can start to dry up quicker, and cleaned out the sandpit, ready for some fresh sand. This year, I would love to get a water table for the girls to play with out there. Also this summer I want to build some raised beds to plant vegetables in, so we can grass over our abandoned vegetable patch that has become one big raspberry bush! 

Its amazing what a difference a bit of bright weather makes, let's hope the rain holds off for a little bit longer so we can have some more fun! 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Word of the week, outdoors

My word of the week is:


We have been making the most of the better weather this week and have been spending time in the garden, getting it cleared up and ready to use properly again, cutting the grass, cleaning the trampoline and enjoying playing outside. We also discovered the unloved, unused trike in the garden and after cleaning it up, Grapie has claimed it for her own. Her new favourite word is "bike" and she loves her new form of transport!

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Monster spray

Princess has stopped sleeping well at night. She says she is scared of monsters. At the moment she is waking up scared around twice a night, on top of the several times a night that Grapie is up, so basically I will give anything a go to get a better night's sleep.

I came across the idea of monster spray on Pintrest, the idea is that Princess will spray her room before bed to prevent any monsters getting in. I'm slightly torn on this idea as part of me feels that this might be agreeing with her that monsters actually do exist. But on the other hand telling her that monsters aren't real isn't working, so if this gives her the confidence to feel comfortable at night then, in the words of Postman Pat, mission accomplished!

It was really simple to make. I used an empty spray bottle, filled it with water, and added a tiny drop of pink food colouring to make it slightly pink tinted. I also added about 10 drops of lavender essential oil, in the hope that it might also be relaxing. A good shake and it was ready.

I found a fantastic printable label over at Easypeasygrandma, she has also made some really cute bedtime monsters. Once that was stuck on, I put it in a box and told Princess that the postman had delivered it!

She carefully sprayed her room before bed tonight, we did the door, window and the ceiling (apparently this is were the monsters are!) So hopefully this will keep the monsters away tonight.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Mummy Time - Avacado hair mask

This weekend I made something a little different, something just for myself. Everyone else was having a nap, so I had a little mummy time and made myself this Avocado hair mask.

You need:
A very ripe avocado
A tablespoon of honey

Mash the avocado really well. I mashed mine with a fork then pressed any extra lumps out with a spoon but if the children weren't asleep I would probably have used the blender. Mix in a tablespoon of honey and spread it all over your hair. If you have any left over it can also be used as a face mask but I didn't try this.

Relax for about 15 minutes (or do what I did and put it on then spend 15 minutes folding washing, tidying toys and if your a blogger, trying to take a good photo!)

Then rinse off, and then shampoo and condition your hair as usual. I found my hair looked really shiny and felt lovely and soft afterwards.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pompom Blowing Race

It was after dinner. Princess wanted the telly on. I didn't. So we came up with a game which soon took her mind right off it. It was so simple, involving a straw and a craft pompom, but both girls loved it. Pompom racing. We started with a pompom each and a straw each.  The finish line was the kitchen door. We had to move our pompom by blowing it with the straw and the first to cross the finish line was the winner.

Princess is very competitive, so really enjoyed this, and wanted to do it over and over again she kept coming up with different obstacles for the pompom to go through, such as toilet rolls, her rollerskate, tunnels made out of books and lots of others. Grapie didn't quite get the hang of it, although she can blow through a straw when it involves making bubbles in her drink! But she enjoyed watching too.

When we had finished, I gave Princess a winners medal which she loved.

And the telly stayed off. Which I loved. Simple, fun, perfect.

Friday, 28 February 2014


The Reading Residence

My word of the week this week is cooking.

We have been doing a lot of cooking this week with Princess, in the hope of inspiring a love of food, getting her to try new things, and breaking out of the rut that we have been in, of her wantting plain pasta with cheese every night for dinner.

We went to the library and got out some cook books, and sat down with Princess to look through them to choose what she might fancy trying. (The Ella's Kitchen one was great for this as the pictures are fantastic and every dish is pictured.)

We got her involved in making a list, and some of the shopping, as well as the cooking. So far this week she has made and eaten vegetable risotto, salmon fishcakes, chicken and vegetables stir fry and cupcakes, and has picked out a few more things to try.

She is also becomming more eager to look through the book and choose recipes, to start she didn't even want to do that!

So far, so good........

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Quick messy play session to calm down angry kids

Princess has a bit of a temper. Most kids do. And when she looses her cool, there is nothing I can say or do that will help, everything I say just makes her more upset and angry.

But there is one thing that works almost without fail to calm her down.

I will share it with you so you can try it too!

I simply fill the bathroom sink with water, give her some cups/bottles/toys/whatever's to hand, and the vital ingredient, shaving foam.

Then, after some messy, watery, sensory play, she is all smiles again


Friday, 14 February 2014

Word of the week, One-off

The Reading Residence

My word of the week this week is:


Something exciting, amazing and long overdue happened in our house this week.

Grapie SLEPT ALL NIGHT!!!!!!!

Now, I wish my word could be more positive, something like "finally", "amazing" or "breakthrough". But even though she is nearly 18months now, this has never happened before, and it's not looking likely be the start of a new pattern, based on the past few night. Unfortunately.

Oh well. It was good while it lasted!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

My family

My family by princess (age 4)

We had to capture this on camera as it was drawn on the Megasketcher so only lasted about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Winter Olympics small world play

Princess loves the Olympics. We took her to see an event at the 2012 Olympics, and she still remembers it even though she was only 2, and she has been enjoying watching the winter Olympics this year.

I made her this little Olympics small world play scene this week out of a cardboard box. It was quite simple to set up, and she has played with it for hours. It has really  sparked her imagination, and she has been making up all sorts of events and games to play with it, both with me and on her own.

I used a box with a lid that opens up to be the ski slope, I used bubble wrap at the top to be the launch platform. Then i used tissues on the alope to make it snowy, but when I tested it with a skier it just wasn't slippery enough, so I added a freezer bag on top of the tissues so the figures could really ski. 

The skier was made by blu-tacking some craft sticks onto the figures feet (we also made some into snowboarders later by using just one craft stick!)

I made a luge run out of a toilet roll cut in half and covered in silver foil and stuck on.

The winners podium was made out of Duplo, with pipe creaner medals.

I used cotton wool in the bottom of the box for snow and made an ice skating rink out of cardboard covered in foil. I sectioned a bit of the box off for the audience, but this has hardly been used as Princess likes alk the figures to be involved! I used stickers to add details like team GB flags on the figures and Olympic flags to decorate the box.

Princess has loved playing with it, she has gone back to it several times since, and I'm planning on covering it with fresh snow (shaving cream) once the novelty wears off, too give it one last lease of life. Which she will love, but we will only be able to do once! 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Muddy puddles and scooters

This afternoon, something very rare happened. The sun came out and the rain stopped. This momentous event occurred, even more incredibly, while I was picking Princess up from preschool. So we made the most of it and went to the park!

We are very lucky to have an excellent park close by, with a tennis court that the girls can run around in. Princess had her scooter, as did some of her friends, so they had a great time scooting around, while Grapie toddled after them.

Then we went for a play in the park, and after that Princess wanted a scoot around again and Grapie discovered jumping in puddles!

We had a lovely afternoon, as you can probably tell from the state of Princess's shoes by the time we left!

A bad night shows me how far we have come

Last night was a bad night for Grapie. She is getting 3 teeth and she tossed and turned all night, waking up and crying what felt like every 10 minutes. Not even Calpol gave her much relief. This took me back to a time when every night was like this for her, when she was suffering badly with reflux. And I realised this morning just how far we have come.

Don't get me wrong, its far from perfect. She still wakes several times a night and I still spend half the night in her bed with her. But she sleeps in her own little bed in her own room, she falls asleep without any help apart from me being in her room and she has stopped breastfeeding.

We still have a long way to go before she is sleeping all night but we have come a long way.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Spiderman birthday cake for my Princess

Princess, despite her name, and despite loving all things pink and sparkly, is a tomboy at heart. So when I asked her what birthday cake she wanted for her 4th birthday, she said she wanted spiderman. (Actually she did say pink spiderman but I couldn't find any of those, is that gender stereotyping?!) So here is is, her spiderman cake!

The recipe I used can be found here, I have an 8 inch square cake tin and have used this for the last few years, with great results every time. It's really easy.

340g self raising flour
280g caster sugar
280g butter
5 eggs
3 tablespoons milk

Pit all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer (although this is the first year I have actually had a mixer, it can be done by hand but, wow a mixer makes it easier!)

Pour into an 8 inch cake tin(greased and floured) and put in in the oven (150 degrees) for an hour and 15- 30 mins. Easy!

When it was cool I cut it in half and put jam and buttercream in the middle.

For the icing I used ready to roll royal icing, rolling it out until it was about half a centimetre thick. I'm no expert at this sort of thing, but it turned out ok, I just cut bits off and tucked bits in to make it fit and look neater.

Then for the exciting bit. I bought some Spiderman cake toppers off ebay, they were not expensive and they made producing a spiderman cake out of thin air a lot easier for a novice cake maker. I'm a big fan of cake toppers, I've used them for the last few birthday cakes I've made, and you can even get them with photo's on. I got one big spiderman face and lots of small ones, and I applied them with a bit of buttercream spread on the back.

And that's it! I'm sure that there are a lot fancier Spiderman cakes out there but Princess was pretty pleased with hers, especially as she helped make it!

Thursday, 23 January 2014


We had Princess's birthday party this weekend, and with birthday parties come party bags. In ours we had little bottles of touchable bubbles, which we have been having fun with this week. These were really cheap to buy (15 tiny bottles for about £1.30) and if you blow them upwards, they will set by the time they reach the ground.

This meant that the bubbles could be caught in the girls hands and that they land on the floor to be jumped on! Grapie and I had a great time playing with them while Princess was at preschool, she loved catching the bubbles in her hands and stamping on the bubbles when they landed on the ground.

I love the simple nature of playing these games, seeing the wonder in Grapie's eyes at catching a bubble in her hands and popping it. Catching bubbles is also excellent for developing hand eye coordination in toddlers. And at a time when I feel Princess is growing up so much, having just turned four, to see how excited she still gets by chasing bubbles around is just wonderful. These are the sort of childhood moments I cherish and will always remember.