Sunday, 26 June 2016

Positive parenting...

I'm no parenting expert. Despite a degree in Psychology and being an experienced teacher, when it comes to parenting my own kids I am still very much a novice. It's learn as you go, and certainly NOT a one size fits all thing. But recently parenting has been getting on top of me. It has become a chore and not a pleasure. I have started to dread weekends rather than look forward to them, as I know there will be many moments of conflict with my children - as I desperately try to get them to spend time doing anything other than staring at an iPad. I actually regret hugely the decision to buy an iPad and often wonder about selling it or simply chucking it in the bin. It is the biggest cause of conflict in our house by a long way and is the first thing my children ask for when they wake up in the morning. I say "no, not yet" and the first of the arguments begin, before it's even 7am, and seems to set the tone for the rest of the day. The simplest of requests or any sort of transition, seems to always result in conflict - or downright refusal. I've been so worn down that I couldn't even think outside of the issue or come up with idea for tackling it, I admit I had given up and accepted constant conflict almost as a fact of life for the foreseeable future. A depressing thought.

Then I had a night away. In fact a night and a day away. Just that space allowed me to start thinking about it objectively and try to identify exactly what is going wrong and when. A few things struck me...

1) We've pretty much given up being nice to our children. Requests have become orders, and when these are ignored or reacted to, the conflict begins.
2) Spending time with my children is no longer a pleasure whatsoever
3) I am constantly worn out and fed up.

As the adult in the situation, only I can change what's going on here. So today I woke up and decided to have a totally different sort of day. Here's what I did.

1) I greeted each of my children really enthusiastically, and complimented them on something.
2) Rather than ordering my children to get dressed, I asked them what they wanted to do. They wanted to do different things but both could be accommodated, so we compromised.
3) Every small thing they did, I praised them. I used the language, "I've noticed that Lewis has been very grown up and cleaned his teeth without being asked, that makes me very proud." and "Euan you showed such good manners then, what a star you are." To be honest I sort of feel like I shouldn't HAVE to praise such basic things, but you've got to start somewhere.

The effect was immediate. And I mean, immediate. The first thing I noticed was the look on the boys' faces when I complimented them, they didn't know what to say, or do. That made me sad as I realised they weren't used to it, they were just used to us moaning at them or requesting them to do something. Not that what we were asking them was at all unreasonable, but I have to get out of that mindset as it's just not working!

The other thing I tried was if one of the boys did start becoming difficult, I ignored that and focused on the other child, "Lewis I really like the way you've eaten all your food, that makes me think you're a very sensible boy." Lo and behold, our other son suddenly stopped messing around and started eating too. Hmm!

One of the things I also noticed, was that if I engaged with the boys and chatted to them about something they were interested in, there were no issues whatsoever. They didn't even notice when that meant I was leading them towards their bedrooms to get dressed, as they were totally distracted. I asked questions (mainly about the battle of Waterloo) suggested theories and explanations. Really, and I mean REALLY engaged. Not just superficially, but a proper, real conversation that was genuine. In the past I've felt too worn down to really go above, "Oh that's nice".

So today I have spent the day being 100% positive, engaging and "in the moment" pretty much the whole day. I have nothing left to give right now, but today was a GOOD day. We enjoyed spending time together and all got to do something we wanted. And I can't remember the last time that actually happened.

I purposefully haven't researched or looked into the theory or ideas behind the concept of "positive parenting" as I want to figure this one out for myself based on what is best for our family. But I can say that suddenly the future looks so much brigher. And I don't need to dread weekends anymore.

Now that is progress.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Mothercare Review

Like all mums in the UK I've pretty much grown up with Mothercare - in recent years the stores have become absolutely awesome. The store in Leeds has SO much in it - a cafe, changing room, feeding room, photography studio... and you can even go there for baby scans! It's a real home from home for us, and I sometimes just go there to relax and have a coffee with baby girl. The quality of the products in there really speak for themselves - and for any parent it's a must visit in terms of car seats, cots and more.



For me it's about safety, and the fact that all car seats are properly checked and fitted by the expert staff, means ultimate peace of mind. I also noticed that every member of staff is trained to use all of the prams and pushchairs which is pretty impressive. Some pushchairs can be quite difficult to grasp, but here you have an obvious point of call should you need any help. Genius!

We were lucky enough to be offered an item to review from Mothercare this week, and we decided to go for the ELC My First Sand and Water Table along with some Sand to go with it. Unfortunately, since receiving the items, it has rained solidly for days, so it's been pretty much impossible to get any photos - my little girl did have a quick splash on Friday evening before the heavens opened, and she was splashing about like no-ones business, laughing her head off. At 13 months, she's into EVERYTHING at the moment, and loves making messes and generally covering herself head to toe in anything she can lay her hand on. Water to me, is a better alternative to paint - which I'm pretty sure she would eat. The sand I am less sure about, as I have a feeling she will also try to eat it - but I also sort of think it's a trial and error thing - she'll only learn by tasting that gritty sensation...

ELC My First Sand and Water Table £30


ELC Sand £2.50
First of all, the table was SUPER easy to put together! It took less than one minute - which was blessed relief I can tell you. The table is in two parts - the bottom part if for the sand. It has a plug hole in it which is pretty handy, and is a great height for younger toddlers. On top of the sand layer you then place another layer, where the water goes. If you want to prevent water mixing with sand, there is a sort of lid that you can put on - a great idea. What I love about the top water layer is the way it looks like a sort of boat race track! The set comes with a boat and some digging tools - but we have plenty more at home, plus some boats that can whizz round. We use lots of cups and old washing dispenser cups to create ways to throw the water around, and baby girl absolutely LOVES it. I wish I could get a non rain photo - but when I have one I will add to this post.

I would really recommend this item as an ideal 1st birthday present. You really cannot fault the quality of Mothercare and anything bought from there you just know will be something that will last.

These items were sent to me for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Top 5 Father's Day Ideas

If you're anything like me, then thinking of ideas for Father's Day pressies - both for your own father and hubby - is low down on your list of priorities. What with birthdays galore, Christmas and the rest, my ability to choose useful yet luxurious presents seems to have fallen by the wayside! I commented to my husband recently that since we got together, he immediately obviously thought - "ah, no more present buying for me from now on, I now have a woman to do that for me!"

So anyway, back to Father's Day. Here are my fail safe ideas for easy pleasy pressies.

1) Whisky. Preferably a 12 year old as this is better value. Apparently there is a Whisky in Aldi that is to die for?



2) An olive tree - who doesn't love olives, and everyone knows that men love gardening. I got this one for my dad from Find a Present UK - incidentally they have loads of ideas for pressies.


3) I always think that this mini greenhouse from Ikea if a bit of crowd pleaser - speaking of gardening. Can be used in doors or out? And for £12 why not?


4) Cuff links never fail - and everyone loves lego. I picked up a pair of these on ebay for £2.99. Cheap and cheerful I say.

5) Craft beer - I don't actually know what this is but I have noticed that lots of men really like it. Saltaire Brewery which is close by to where I live do an actual keg of beer that men seem to get quite excited about. It's just where to store it?!




What are your Father's Day ideas?


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Cabana Brasilian Barbeque Review

We do love a good meal out, it's one of our only vices. Since we hardly ever go out for "date nights" - in fact what are they - we may as well have a five person date with our children! Obviously this can require a fair amount of careful forward planning - not required if there are only two of you - which is something we are well and truly experienced at! So today, we did something we've not done before - we went into Leeds and had lunch that wasn't in Trinity Kitchen - yes, it's true! Though in fact, the restaurant we ended up going to was directly next door to Trinity Kitchen, but it still doesn't count as TK - Cabana Brasilian Barbeque! Now this isn't normally my cup of tea - for no particular reason, just force of habit, but I'm always up for trying new things, why not? I've passed Cabana before but always just assumed it was for young 'uns and not for oldies like us - but actually when we were in there today, there was a real mix of ages - families, couples, older people and groups of students too - which is always a good indicator of how nice the food is I think.

"CABANA IS THE UK’S HOTTEST GRILL FROM BRASIL! FLAME-GRILLED SKEWERS COOKED FRESH TO ORDER, WITH STREET FOOD, COCKTAILS AND INTERIORS INSPIRED BY THE BEACHES, STREETS AND MARKETS OF MODERN BRASIL."

On arrival I have to say the staff were lovely and friendly, not at all off hand - and even opened a special door so that I could enter with my huge pushchair without causing a commotion. We had a sort of booth in the centre of the restaurant with plenty of space for a highchair AND pushchair.



 I love this picture of baby girl - she loves the camera... the restaurant has a sort of festival feel to it, and hubby hit the nail on the head by saying it had a real holiday feel. Which I guess is the idea! A lot of the cocktails are 2 for 1, which explains why I have to two drinks in this picture. The cocktail menu was huge and I had a sort of Mojito style drink - I waited for the ice to melt to water it down a bit, didn't want to be sozzled.

2 for 1 cocktails. Can't go wrong.

Looking happy. 

  

 The kids menu is spot on for kids - and my two ordered beefburger and breast in a bun...

Sweet!

The popular flag?!

They were very keen to make sure they were having fries - which makes total sense as they were amazing - and the Brasilian flag for some reason was a total crowd pleaser. I should also add that there was colouring in to do which is always appreciated.

Cabana Steak

Holiday!

Squid - awesome
The adult menu was huge - I didn't really know where to start. But I've not had squid for AGES and I knew they would do it well, along with the epic dipping sauce. What a winner. For our mains hubby ordered Cabana steak and I had spicy chicken. I should add that the mains come on traditional Brasilian skewers like you would expect from this style of restaurant. The servers bring the skewer to your table and then swipe the food off the skewer directly onto your plate. There is also the option to add things to the skewer like ribs and prawns which I think would probably be a good idea as it would vary the meal nicely. Unlike other Brasilian restaurants, the food isn't limitless, in that you order a main and that's what you get. I actually prefer this as I find the continuous bringing round of skewers in other places really overfacing. The steak was amazing - cooked to perfection and you could tell it was really high quality. The chicken was less interesting, but then that's chicken for you. The marinade was lovely and was just the right level of flavour. The sweet potato fries however really stole the show - WOWEE. They were coated with something heavenly and tasted absolutely divine, like nothing I've ever had before. Beautiful.

Baby girl and daddy looking happy.
 Time for desserts! These were awesome. Frozen yoghurt I think is a really good alternative to ice cream and isn't quite as sickly. You could choose between peanut butter flavour frozen yoghurt or caramel frozen yoghurt - and we also ordered some chocolate filled dough balls. Mama mia they were delicious. In fact ALL the desserts were amazing as you can see...

Chocolate filled dough balls. Heaven.

Frozen yoghurt with a caramel sauce. Gorgeous.

The pricing of the meal was around £10 - 12 for a main which for lunch is good value, but for an evening meal is REALLY good value. I thought the kids menu was spot on - and at £6.95 including soft drink is incredible value when you compare it to Pizza Express and the like. Because of the spaciousness of the restaurant, baby changing facilities and general vibe - which sort of drowned out the occasional screams from my children - I would say that it's an ideal place to take children when you're out shopping in Leeds. For me, Trinity Kitchen is SO busy and we've sort of exhausted the options there. I actually found it cheaper overall to go to Cabana as the kids meals were such good value! Highly recommend and what I want to do now is go in the evening to REALLY get into the vibe - and have a few more cocktails from the extensive menu!

Cabana Brasilian Barbeque
Trinity Leeds
Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5AT
0113 3917500

Opening Hours 
Mon - Thurs 11am - 9:30pm
Fri - Sat 11am - 11pm
Sunday 11:30 - 9pm

For the purpose of this review I was offered a free family meal at Cabana but all thoughts are my own.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Bathroom Design Ideas

It's difficult to believe that it's almost one year ago to the day that we moved house. With a third child on the way we needed a four bedroomed house with a study - since I work from home. I was sick and tired of moving my laptop and stuff off our dining table, so move we must. The whole process was actually quite straight forward, and we were lucky in that the people we were buying from, and our buyers, were genuinely nice people who just wanted to do things the right way. With around four weeks to go we moved on the 10th April last year, and swiftly called in a decorator, carpet people, and kitchen fitter. Within four weeks we had completely redecorated the house, had a new kitchen fitted and had all new carpets and flooring. You can see our kitchen makeover here.

Now things have settled down a bit, and our baby girl is not so tiny anymore, I'm already getting itchy feet about what we can do next. If we had the money, I think I would extend so the boys have a playroom - mainly so we can get away from them. But the other thing I think we need to sort out, are the bathrooms. There are lots of bathroom design websites, but for me what I want is something REALLY luxurious, with two sinks, walk in shower and large free standing baths - I have none of  those things at the moment.This is our en suite as things stand. Don't get be wrong, there's nothing awful about it, it's just the size.



Whereas what I want is something more like this...

House Renovation, Mexico. Bathroom : Modern bathroom by Inspiria Interiors


Ice White House-Luxury home : Minimalist bathroom by Quirke McNamara

But I guess in the space available something like this would be more realistic...

Water Jet Mosaics in Various China Projects : Modern bathroom by ShellShock Designs

Thing is, once you start making changes - where does it end? We have a swirly pattern on our ceilings which needs sorting, the internal doors need replacing, the garage door is a bit rusty - so many things, so little time and money. But the thing is, as a family we spend SO much time at home - we want it to be the best it can be. Also, realistically, money spent on your home is the best investment ever - and even if it isn't, we work hard, don't we all deserve a little luxury?

In collaboration with homify

Friday, 1 April 2016

Easter Sales!

It almost seems like there's no real point in buying clothes at the moment - my life seems to be a constant round of washing clothes that have smeary finger prints on. But I have discovered a new thing - sponging! Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to simply sponge off any unwanted bits of weetabix and food stuffs - brilliant! Also I am trying to train the rest of my family in the art of clothing inspection - when you get ready to go to bed each night, don't simply assume that your clothes need washing. They may not! There's this thing called putting your clothes away and wearing them again the next time - it'll be fine, trust me...

However, I did manage a sneaky trip into Harrogate on Wednesday and managed to pick up some surprising bargains. I've not been a massive fan of Crew Clothing of late, I think it can be the sort of shop where things look good before they've been washed, then end up like limp rags. However I spotted this sailor type top the other day, and I have to say it looks amazing - great with jeans and quite "structured" which means it doesn't end up looking like it's hanging off my shoulders. The square neck line is also great for me as I have quite narrow shoulders - here it is, the Crew Olivia Top £20.
Crew Olivia Top £20
Although the 10 fitted fine, I am trying to go for comfort over style a bit at the moment, so I got the 12 so there was a bit of give when I sit down. I must be getting old.

Who knew that Harrogate has a Whistles! Yes, in fact it has an LK Bennett, Jigsaw, Joules, Space NK amongst many others - though every one of those "posh" shops was deserted although H & M was packed out. Seems that posh people love bargains too. Anyway, I took advantage of the lack of customers to have a good root around in the Whistles sale, and came across the holy grail - high quality black skinny jeans in my size for - £28.50! I am wearing them now, they are beautiful. There aren't many sizes left online, and they also look better in real life - less of a grey tinge and more opaque. Whistles Black skinny jeans £28.50.
Whistles Black Skinny Jeans £28.50

I am still massively obsessed with Baukjen and have been waiting patiently for these bad boy foldover leggings to go into the sale - alas they have eluded me. The blue marl colour has been reduced from £55 to £38 which is tempting, but I can't help but think that blue wouldn't be very slimming, which kind of means that the whole foldover concept is a bit lost in translation. I know what I mean. Foldover Leggings £55.

I talked earlier about H & M and I was able to complete my annual trip there to get some ballet pumps for Summer. Since I have enormous feet, I have to get in there early to make sure these don't sell out - which they always do. However this year, I have found them a bit smaller than other years. Maybe my mammoth feet have grown yet again?!

I bought mole and black in 7.5 as that seemed to be the biggest size in store - however now I look at the website I can see they are also available in a size 8? Maybe that's where I'm going wrong. Anyway, I will keep shoving my enormous feet into them until they "give" a bit. H&M Ballet Pumps £7.99.



I am on the look out for some really comfy and warm pyjamas - since I spend so much time in them. If anyone spots any - please let me know!











Friday, 25 March 2016

Longboat Inn York - Table Table Review

 As a family we're pretty good at eating out. We've always done it, ever since the children were little, and I think it's pretty much our only extravagant expenditure these days - since we can't go out in the evenings and all. Therefore luckily our children are reasonably ISH well behaved when we eat out - as long as it's not a super quiet place of course - and will sit patiently and wait for food, within reason. Therefore when we were invited to try out a restaurant as a family, I was up course well up for the challenge. It also prompted us to go to York for the first time in ages - not a place I'm usually a fan of since it's so touristy, but it's ok every once in a while. We actually parked at the Railway Museum and had a little browse around (which was fun) before going for lunch at the Longboat Inn - somewhere we've never been before. At this time of year there's every reason to celebrate, what with Spring arriving and all, so why not book a table for Easter! 

When we arrived at the Longboat Inn we were made to feel really welcome, which was blessed relief as only a few minutes earlier our pushchair has just SNAPPED in the middle of the street, bad times. Anyway, we were shown to our table by very friendly staff and had a read of the menus. I was shocked to see that kids can currently eat for £1.99 - unbelievable value.


Browsing the menus, there was a lot of choice so it was hard to know where to begin


Straight away, the boys were all over the Easter bunny masks, colouring them in and wanting me to decide whose was best. I very wisely declined to comment. There were also loads of other puzzles and fun activities for kids to do, and of course crayons were provided. I wonder if it might have been better to have had twisty pencils like Pizza Express do now, as the the crayons snapped quite easily.


What 7 year old doesn't like Horrible Histories? This went down really well with the boys, and I loved the themed names of the dishes too. Genius. The boys went for hot dog and poppin' chicken, and they LOVED the food...





We were pretty impressed with the new Spring menu, with loads of choices and very reasonably priced too. It was what some people might call "proper food" and we went for steaks - it is holiday time after all...



The hot dog went down a treat - as did the fries and beans. Perfect kids food.


The poppin' chicken was also perfect for my oldest son, who prefers to eat with his fingers at the moment, bit random but that's kid for you.



Baby girl actually had cottage pie from the menu which was just the right consistency for her, I mashed it up a bit with a fork, but she wolfed it down. Pretty standard for her, she loves her food.



Quiet times eating, always a good sign. We don't usually let them have coke by the way, it was a special treat. 


The interior of the restaurant was really calm, comfortable and cosy. Because of the carpeted floors, the sound from the children didn't cause a problem, and there was also space for them to have a wander around in safety without slipping on a hard wooden floor.



My husband ordered rib eye steak which came with a baked potato and sides - proper man food. He said the taste was amazing...


I ordered Steak Diane which was also really nice. I wonder if the chef could have got the pan a bit hotter before putting the steak in, as I think it would have sealed the outside a bit better, but it's probably down to personal taste.


Dessert is where things got really interesting. Littlest son ordered scary face ice cream which he loved - the idea was to make a face with the sweets onto the vanilla ice cream. Genius idea!


Oldest son ordered mini chocolate challenge, which he declared to be the most delicious thing he had EVER eaten, not bad praise... it consisted of chocolate brownie, marsh mallows and ice cream and choccy fudge sauce. Pretty much his version of heaven. I ordered tart tatin and a cup of proper tea, which was also amazing. 

All in all, I was really impressed and we will definitely go again next time we go to York. A combination of genuinely nice people serving us, £1.99 kids meals, delicious sauv blanc, steaks, baby food, awesome desserts, horrible histories stuff, puzzles and activities AND child friendly. What's not to like? 

Disclaimer - I was offered a free lunch with my family in return for an epic lunch, but all thoughts are my own.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Stripes, jeans and anchors!

I have been trying desperately NOT to spend money recently, which partly explains my lack of posting recently, but having had a bit of time this afternoon to browse the Spring/Summer offerings of my fav shops, I thought it would be churlish not to share! My first spot though, is more of an Autumn thing, and a great bargain in the Baukjen sale (especially tonight as they have an extra 20% off) - The Alyth Striped Skirt is a bit different and made of a thick jersey fabric so won't show your lumps and bumps.

Alyth Skirt from Baukjen - £54
Moving on, I am ALWAYS on the look out for dark indigo jeans - but am struggling with sizing at the moment post baby. I am pretty excited about this new, really dark style from Oasis at £32, hopefully they will have enough stretch in them.

Clean Rinse Wash Jeans £32 from Oasis

Whenever I buy anything, I always like to look for something to go with it, just to make sure...I spotted this lovely embroidered anchor t shirt and think it would be great for Spring/Summer - Oasis do great casual stuff and this is defo one for my wish list.

Embroidered anchor t shirt from Oasis - £25


Speaking of nautical themed clothes - I love the neckline on this Nautical SS Knit Top - having quite narrow shoulders I am always looking for ways to widen them. Great with jeans or a denim skirt. I LOVE this one!
Sailor Knitted Top from Oasis - £35
All I need now is something to go with the stripy skirt!




Thursday, 31 December 2015

Christmas Sales Fashion Picks!

This is the first time in quite a while that I've been excited about the Christmas sales - this time last year I was 20 weeks pregnant and the year before, well it's a blur. I always prefer the sales at this time of year to any other - usually it's stuff I've been looking at for months and all of a sudden there's a massive price drop, Frankly I love it.

For the past six months I've been desperately trying NOT to buy any clothes, convinced that very soon I would be able to fit into my pre pregnancy clothes. However 7 months down the line and I'm nowhere near, and I'm getting sick of constantly wearing and washing the same three pairs of trousers, so the time has come to take the plunge and actually buy some stuff. The hardship.

I've been a bit of a fan of Laura Ashley clothes for a few years now, mainly because there's a huge Laura Ashley just near us and it's easy to get to and park. Yesterday I bought this boiled wool jacket - though weirdly in store it was £39 not £45, but it's lovely. Warm, cosy, smart and versatile.

Laura Ashley Boiled Wool Jacket in Navy - £45 though £39 in store.
Speaking of lovely jacket/cardigans = coatigans, I love this one from Karen Millen - a real classic and good value for £70.

Karen Millen Two Tone Blazer £70.
While I was having a browse in Leeds the other day, I tried this grey cardigan on - lovely Karen Millen zip on - only XS left online but more in store. I think I needed a medium - which they didn't have in Leeds so I didn't buy - but for me I like this style as often their cardigans and jumpers are a touch short on me.

Karen Millen Zip Front Longline Cartigan £65.
On to something totally different but very wearable all year round, this Soft Stud Detail dress from Warehouse. Not great value at £35 in the sale, but I bought it because I've had my eye on it for AGES.

Warehouse Soft Stud Details Dress £35
To go with it I bought these Piped Detail Leggings - they look SO much nicer in real life!

Piped Detail Leggings Warehouse £15
Now to Baukjen - I still love their clothes SO much. For Christmas my mum bought me this v neck jumper, which is cosy, warm and a beautiful colour. I love it. But for £119 so I should!

Pink Dahlia V Neck Jumper BAUKJEN - £119
Also this looks great with the grey leggings. Double love.

A few weeks before Christmas I bought myself a black all-in-one from Baukjen and again, I love it. The quality is great - though it does have a tendency to attract bits of fluff and jumper etc which is annoying, though maybe because I'm rolling around with baby all the time.

Weston Jumpsuit now on sale at £79 from Baukjen

There is a Felton Jumpsuit which is equally nice, though maybe that one is a little more fitted.

Maybe time to stop spending now!

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