Tuesday 31 January 2017

Be in the Picture - January 2017

Have you ever looked back at your photos from a day trip, a holiday, a night out, basically anywhere and wondered where you were the whole time? You probably remember being there but there's no evidence of it. If you're anything like me then you were probably behind the camera taking the photograph. There have been so many occasions where i've looked back at special moments and realised I wish i'd jumped in front of the camera.

Me and my friend Alana from http://www.baby-holiday.co.uk/  have decided it's time to do something about it. Once a month we will be hosting the 'Be in the Picture linky', where we can all share any photos we feature in. Hopefully this will encourage me to get in front of the camera to make sure there are photos of me enjoying time with the girls to look back on in the future. I'm also vowing to make sure I get more pictures with my husband and also more pictures of me alone. It's funny isn't it how we never seem to want to get pictures of ourselves alone but yet a photo creates such a lifelong memory of a moment.

You can share any photos you like as-long as you're in them. It could be one's with you with children, your partner, family, friends or simply you on your own. 

You can use #BeinthePicture on your instagram photos all through the month and Alana and I will pick our favourites each week to showcase.

Every month the 'Be in the Picture' linky will be open for you to write a blog post to tell us about your favourite photos you've captured that month. 

My pictures for this month are a lot fancier than what you'd normally get from me as we had a family photo shoot whilst my family were over from Australia. Donna from Sweet Whimsy Photography who we've used before came to capture us whilst on a walk around a local forest and mountain.

Since having children hubby and I very rarely get any pics alone together which is silly. It's important to remember why we got together in the first place and what our lives are like with each other aside from the kids. We're so pleased Donna captured some of us together.

This pic I love as it actually features our dog Alfie. He's a huge part of our lives so it was fab to have him in some of the shots.

Now it's time to add your pictures and posts. I'm looking forward to seeing them.

There are a couple of rules to linking up:

  • Share a post with one or more photos and you have to feature in them
  • Comment on both hosts posts and a couple of others - Linky's work when we share the love
  • Grab our badge and add it to your post
  • Use #BeinthePicture on instagram and twitter so we can like and share your posts

 Be in the Picture

Monday 30 January 2017

Our weekly meal plan - 30th January 2017

Our first week of meal planning went very well. It made our food shop so much easier and I was able to be organised and prepared on a daily basis. Last week we used a lot of recipes from Kayla Instines book and I have to say they were all very tasty. If you didn't catch what we had you can read the blog post here, Meal Plan 23/07/17. Our favourite meal of the week was the chicken and sweet potato healthy pizza followed closely followed by the sweet and sour chicken.

This week i'm aiming to have a varied menu again for hubby and I and i'm also trying a few new things for the girls. Hopefully they'll like them.

Our meal plan for the week beginning 30th January 2017:

Monday - Sweet and Sour Chicken (Kayla Itsines recipe, leftovers from last week)

Tuesday - Salmon and Pesto Parcel (My own recipe, look our for it on my blog soon)

Wednesday - Honey and Mustard Chicken with Sweet Potato Chips

Thursday - Korean Bulgogi Beef (Slimming World recipe)

Friday - Prawn Stirfry

Saturday - Fakeaway Healthy Pizza (Inspired by a Kayla Itsines recipe)

Sunday - Roast Dinner

The kids meal plan:

Monday - Spaghetti Bolognese

Tuesday - Lasagne

Wednesday - Honey Mustard Chicken and Sweet Potato Chips

Thursday - Meatloaf (BBC Good Food recipe)

Friday - Oven Baked Ratatouille and Sausages (BBC Good Food recipe)

Saturday - Homemade Pizza

Sunday -  Roast Dinner


Friday 27 January 2017

smarTrike T5 scooter review

Just before Christmas we were kindly sent a smarTrike T5 scooter to review for Eva. SmarTrike is a brand we are familiar with and love. Eva's first bike was a smarTrike 3 in 1  and we're sure she is now so good at riding a bike from being being pushed around in her bike from a young age.

We chose to have a pink scooter (Eva's favourite colour). When it arrived she couldn't wait to get it open and get outside. The T5 scooter is suitable for children aged 3 years and up. the scooter has 2 stages. The first stage enables the t-lock function which prevents the handlebars from tilting. The second stage allows the handlebars to be tilted so that your child can ride freestyle.

Setting the scooter up was easy. The handle simply slot into the base. The handle bar height can be adjusted which is a fab feature. This means the scooter will grow with your child. Let's face it they grow so quickly so it's good to know that this product will last us a while.

I really like the design. It's contemporary and not too childlike. I also find it lightweight.

Eva was able to ride on it as soon as she used it. I'm sure this is down to it having 3 wheels and not 2. She does have a 2 wheeled scooter already but she hates it because she can't use it. The 3 wheels allow her to feel more stable and therefore more confident.

The surface footplate is rubber which is comfy (in Eva's words). It also allows for a good grip.

The one feature that took her a bit of getting used to was the brake. Personally I think it's a great feature but she couldn't quite get to grips with how to engage it. It's located behind her.    After a couple of weeks and lots of practice she is now a pro at using it.

We still haven't used the scooter in stage 2 but Eva is now a whizz on it that i'm sure we'll be adjusting it soon.

Overall, Eva loves her scooter. She uses it everyday. She rides it back and forth to school which makes the school run so much easier for me as she is actually enjoying herself. We also use it when we take the dog for a walk.

I'll definitely be buying Ophelia the smarTrike T1 scooter which is suitable from aged 15 months and up so we will be able to get her one at the end of next month. I just wish they did adult ones so hubby and I can join in the fun.


Wednesday 25 January 2017

Mummy Don't Cry - How PND is affecting my child

"Mummy don't cry,
Look at me, it'll be ok,
Please don't cry,
I'm here for you,
Mummy just look at me and smile,
Just smile mummy,
Mummy let me touch your face,
Just remember that I love you and you love me,
Mummy what can I say to make you happy?
I don't like you sad, you're making me sad,
Mummy don't cry,
I love you with all my heart".

Eva aged 4

This was how my 4 year old handled me during a bad day with post natal depression last week. At the time I was crying, sad, couldn't get up from the sofa. I was so lethargic. Anything and everything was making me upset and I had no strength or motivation in me. My husband's attempts at helping me failed. Everything was failing. Then Eva came along and uttered those words. As she stroked my face and cuddled me, I realised what an impact my illness was having on my children. 

I felt awful. Here was my 4 year old girl who's supposed to be my baby, the one I care for, the one I nurture and protect, looking after me. It's supposed to be the other way around. I am supposed to be the one to tell her everything is going to be ok, to stroke her hair and face and cuddle her until she stops crying. 

It was the first time I realised that my illness was having an affect on my girls. It's funny when I sit back and think of it now, there are times when what I would class as bad behaviour, now just seems to be attention seeking or playing up as a direct result of my illness.

I realised that on my deepest darkest days, all the girls have ever wanted from me is love, affection, playfulness and overall my attention. 

When you're suffered with PND or any form of depression, decision making becomes overwhelming. This often leads to me being very indecisive or just giving up. This may have been effecting Eva's own decision making and problem solving. When I ask her to do things i'm often met with a response of I don't want to or lots of crying or lots of stalling. Therefore, just mirroring what she has seen me do over the last year and a half.

I've always put her mood swings down to her age but I am now worried that again she is just copying my behaviour. I'd like to think it was an age thing rather than have the guilt of knowing it could be from me. 

Seeing how she behaved towards me that day was bittersweet. Part of me was overwhelmed and astounded by how much of a caring, sweet girl Eva had become. I was blown away by how grown up she seemed. However, that is the saddest part about it. She is 4. She shouldn't have to be dealing with things like this. She shouldn't have to take a mother role on. 

I know things won't always be like this. In fact the majority of days are now filled with laughter and happiness. But when they're not Eva this is what I want to say to you.

"I do love you,
I love you with all my heart,
You do not make me sad and never will,
You fill me with joy and happiness,
You make the days bright,
You show me the light,
I may be crying,
But I will never stop loving you,
I don't know why i'm crying,
But I know the reason isn't you,
When I am crying just know that I love you,
And that it will get better soon."


A tour of the Marriott Village d'ile-de-France

At the end of last year we went for a short break to Disneyland Paris and stayed at the wonderful Marriott Village d'ile-de-France. it's located outside of Disneyland but is just a short bus ride away.

You may have read my previous posts about the accommodation. I wrote one post which was an overall review which you can read here, Review and I also included it in a roundup post which talks about all the places we have ever stayed at Disneyland. If you are thinking of booking a trip to Disney then have a read of that post as there are 4 different types of accommodation listed with various pro's and cons of each. You can view it by clicking here, Disney Accommodation.

I filmed a short video for youtube which is a tour the townhouse we stayed in and its surroundings. I'm sure you'll agree how lovely it is. You can watch it here, 

Have you been to Disneyland Paris before? If so, where did you stay?


Monday 23 January 2017

Our weekly meal plan - 23rd January 2017

With hubby starting work again this week in a job that see's him away from the house early in the morning until late in the evening, I need to be more organised so I've now starting meal planning. I wish I had done this a lot sooner as it really makes things easier.

We are both back on a healthy eating mission after consuming way too much naughty food over the Christmas/new year period plus a few weeks after whilst my family were visiting from Australia. We're actually having different meals to the kids which is silly as it makes more work for me but i'm batch cooking lots of their meals and using the slow cooker. Their meal plan will be in a separate post.

I was browsing all of my cookbooks for healthy meal inspiration and I found it a bit too much so I decided to just use one cookbook per week and some recipes of my own. This week I've decided to use Kayla Itsines - 28 day healthy eating and lifestyle book. I've followed her on Facebook for a long time. I've completely fallen in love with this book. It's packed full of recipes with food we love to eat.

It's Chinese New Year this weekend so we're also planning to have something to mark the occasion but something that's as healthy as possible. You can't beat a fakeaway.

Our meal plan for the week beginning 23rd January 2017:

Monday - Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki (using a wholemeal wrap)

Tuesday - Fish Tacos (using a wholemeal wrap)

Wednesday - Chicken, Sweet Potato, Caramelised Onion and Rocket Pizza (using a wholemeal pitta bread as the base)

Thursday - Jerk Chicken with Rice and Beans, Mango Salsa and Lime Yoghurt

Friday - Halloumi Burgers (my own recipe)

Saturday - Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice (homemade healthy fakeaway)

Sunday - Roast Dinner (at a family dinner)

There you have it. I'll update you at the end of the week with what we had for breakfast and lunch too. 

What are your favourite healthy meals?

Friday 20 January 2017

Disneyland Paris Accommodation

As you may already know, we are huge Disney fans. Before we had children we visited Disneyland Paris quite a few times and we've also been a couple of times with our girls. Here i'm sharing the places we have stayed and placing them in order of preference.

1) Marriott's Village d'lle-de-France

We'd never really considered the idea of self catering when visiting Disneyland Paris. In our naivety, we only thought there were hotels there. We were very fortunate to be invited to stay at the Marriott Village d'lle-de-France and we absolutely loved it. In fact we now can't imagine staying anywhere else.

It is situated in breathtaking surroundings. It's slightly further away than everywhere else mentioned in this post but you can use the resorts shuttle to get to and from the park. 

We stayed in a 2 bedroomed townhouse which was amazing. It was a home away from home. It was luxurious but cosy and welcoming. It had everything we needed from a washing machine, TV, huge bathtub to a coffee machine. It was such a lovely place to come back to after a busy day at the park. 

The resort itself has plenty of facilities such as a gym, swimming pool, parks, tennis, movie theatre, children's play centre and many more. There are activities for adults and children. There is also a bar, restaurant and a supermarket type shop.

We cannot recommend this place enough. We didn't want to leave. It's perfect for families. We will definitely be returning. You can read my full review blog post here, Marriott.

2) Vienna House Dream Castle Hotel

We've stayed at the Dream Castle 3 times now. Once just the 2 of us and then as a family of 3 and then a family of 4. It's situated within beautiful French gardens and is in the style of a historic palace.

The reception area is big with a small children's play area and a couple of rides/machines. There is also a small Disney souvenir shop.

The bedrooms are always lovely and spacious. We've stayed in a double and a family room. The family room has a bunk bed which Eva thought was great. There is a lot of wardrobe space and the room comes with tea and coffee making facilities. You also get free wifi.

The buffet breakfast is good and the palace mascot often comes around to visit the children.  The staff are always friendly and helpful.

There is also a swimming pool and wellness centre and I am very ashamed to say that in all the times we've stayed here, we've never had a chance to use it.

The hotel also has a children's activity and entertainment programme which again we haven't seen as we have always stayed for short periods of time and we have always been too busy visiting the parks.

The hotel is fairly close to the parks and is just a short free shuttle ride away. The downside of the free shuttle is that it is always busy. It reminds me of visiting the Next sale. People become crazy when trying to get on these buses. It sometimes frightened me a bit especially when we had both girls with us. A few times we paid for a taxi.

We've loved our stays here and we'd recommend it to couples and families. 

Hubby and I stayed here when it was just the two of us. We really liked it here. It is set in beautiful, green surroundings so the views are fantastic. 

 Picture taken from the hotel website

The reception area was large and spacious. Our room was lovely. It included tea and coffee provisions and free wifi. The bed was comfortable and I remember the bathroom having very nice smelling toiletries. We were also impressed with the breakfast buffet.

Picture taken from the hotel website

The hotel has a swimming pool and wellness centre which we didn't get to use. There is also a golf course.

The hotel did seem further out from the Disneyland parks than other hotels we've stayed in but they are easily accessible via their shuttle. I think the fact that it's slightly further away makes it more peaceful and less busy. Their shuttle wasn't as crowded as the others we've used. 

We would stay here again.

4) Kyriad

It's been a couple of years since we stayed at the Kyriad. The price attracted us to stay here as it was fairly cheap. It was myself, hubby and Eva who stayed here when she was quite young. We arrived late at night (never fun with children in tow) and our first impressions weren't great. 

Picture taken from the hotel website 

We checked into our room which felt more like a prison cell. It was tiny. I don't know whether all the rooms are like that or we were just put in one of the worst ones in the hotel. It was very dark with hardly any natural light during the daytime. They also hadn't put the cot we requested in the room which again didn't help when arriving late at night. 

We both hated the room. The bed was very uncomfortable. It really wasn't the type of place you could put your feet up and relax after a busy day at the park. We spent as little time in the room as possible. 

Breakfast reminded me of queueing for school dinners. I appreciate you have to queue for these things but the queue was actually outside of the building. This isn't ideal for parents, let alone kids. Our only saving grace was that it wasn't raining. To top it all off the breakfast really wasn't worth queuing for :(

The hotel is close to the park and you can use the free shuttle provided. However, as i've already mentioned prepare for an almost hunger games style battle to get yourself onto one of those.

I don't know whether this hotel has improved at all since we've been but our experience there has put me off for life and I wouldn't recommend it when there are plenty of other better accommodations available.

Have you stayed in any of these places? Have you got any recommendations? 


Sunday 15 January 2017

The Siblings Project - January 2017

Its been a few months since I joined in with The Siblings Project. The last update I wrote was in October which you can read here, Siblings. If you have read my siblings posts then you will know that Eva and Ophelia's relationship wasn't always nice. It took Eva a long time to adjust to having a sister but thankfully they now have a great relationship. They now play together all the time which is great. 

In my last update I mentioned that Ophelia was trying to say Eva. She still can't say it properly but over the last few weeks she has learnt the word sister. She regularly calls for Eva by shouting sister or when Eva comes into the room she excitedly starts saying sister. It is super cute.

Ophelia is very loving towards Eva. On Christmas Day Eva was crying and Ophelia pretty much moved mountains to get to her to comfort her. I wish i'd videoed it. She literally pushed cushions out of the way, scrambled over peoples legs and pushed toys aside. She crawled from one end of the living room to the other in about 10 seconds flat. When she reached her she threw her arms around her and gave her a kiss. Hopefully this is the sign of a protective bond that will last a lifetime. 

This month has been an exciting one for them as their family have been over from Australia. Its been lovely having my mum, stepdad and sisters around and the girls have been over the moon with the extra attention. They think it's great having such young and cool aunties. 

Eva is now trying to teach Ophelia things. She tries to get her to say new words and often points things out for her to see. She recently taught her 'where's your nose?'. She also has taught her Twinkle, Twinkle which is adorable.

This month we visited the Festival of Light at Longleat which was amazing. Both the girls absolutely loved looking at all the lanterns. Eva took pride in pushing her sister around in the buggy. They really enjoyed themselves on the carousel together.

It was Eva's 4th birthday a couple of days ago and we had a party for her yesterday. Even though all of her school friends were that she still took the time to play with her sister which was lovely to watch.

We haven't got much planned for the rest of the month and we haven't got anything exciting set in stone for February. Ophelia is not far off walking so i'm sure that will bring a new dimension and level of excitement to their relationship when it happens. 

The Me and Mine Project

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Drop 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks

Towards the end of 2016 I went on a huge health kick and dropped 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks. I started at a size 12/14 and I am now a 8/10. I can assure you it can be achieved and i'm not talking about fad diets or juicing. All it took was exercise and healthy eating. 

I've struggled with my weight since having children. I've always been up and down. I guess it's a combination of eating more and a lack of energy and enthusiasm to exercise. Whilst weaning my second baby I would sit and finish any leftovers. I'm sure if you're a parent you've probably done that to. I also found it a bit of a drag to try and prepare lots of different meals. With a baby, a toddler and working, the last thing I wanted to do was prepare myself and hubby one meal and the kids something else. Time is precious and I certainly felt too busy to be doing things like that.

I've also suffered with PND. This combined with the tiredness of being a parent, really hadn't helped in providing any motivation to exercise or eat healthily. There were days when I couldn't even leave the house due to my PND so the the thought of leaving to do some exercise was completely alien. However, my attitude to life was completely wrong (more on that in a later blog post).

It was whilst I was looking back on photos from our holiday to Turkey during the summer that I realised I didn't even recognise myself. I had gained a lot of weight and I was very unhealthy. I was ashamed and gutted. This is not the example I wanted to set my girls. I wanted them to look at their mum and see a strong, confident, happy, healthy woman. It was time for a change.

I can't believe I've put this picture up for you all to see! I hate it.
I decided to get myself a personal trainer. This was the boost I needed to:
A - Get myself to the gym
B - Be able to do the right exercise for me
C - Provide me with nutritional advice
and D - Get me results.

I met with my trainer once to twice a week in a 6 week period. This combined with exercising 3 times a week and a healthy balanced diet enabled me to drop 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks. I lost a massive 5 inches from my waist, 0.5 from my hip, 1 from my thigh, 1 from my arm and gained 0.5 on my chest. I also lost 12 pounds in weight.

So what were we doing?
Exercise consisted mainly of weights, resistance and hiit (high intensity interval training). This worked perfectly for me as I am not a fan of cardio especially running. Think everything from burpees, jumps, squats, sandbags, kettle-bells, planking and much more. We would focus on one muscle group per training session but when we did hiit it would be an all over killer session.

What was I eating?
I reduced my portion sizes for a start. This didn't bother me as I was eating a more balanced diet which kept me fuller for longer. I was eating breakfast, a mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, dinner and then a final snack before bed. This was more than what I would normally eat but as I said the portions were smaller and more targeted for weight loss and toning. The diet consisted of lots of protein, superfoods and no alcohol. 
I'll be going into more detail about my diet in a separate blog post but here's what a typical day looked like:
Breakfast - Banana, Porridge Oats, Skimmed Milk
Snack - Fat Free Yogurt
Lunch - Chicken Salad
Snack - Carrot Sticks and Humous
Dinner - Prawn Stir Fry
Snack - Rice Cake
I also drank a lot more water during the day. 

I'll be sharing my journey with you in a lot more detail from now on but I feel like it is only the beginning. I want to tone a lot more and I now know it is achievable after how quickly I have managed to change my body and mind set already.  I've certainly eaten and drunk way too much over Christmas so as soon as my family head back to Australia in a few days it's back to my normal routine.

I have fallen in love with clean eating and exercising again as I have seen all the benefits it has given me such as more energy and motivation in every aspect of my life, not just with exercise. Keep your eyes peeled for my meal planning posts, exercise posts and recipes. 

Buggies and Barbells

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Funny Posts from 2016

I've had a tough couple of days and a bad start to the new year. My PND and anxiety have creeped back on me again and i've got myself a troll. To cheer myself up i've been finding posts that have made me laugh so I thought i'd share with you my pick of the bunch from 2016 which includes some of my own.

1) My Parenting/Friendship CV for the mums at the school gate

This was written by myself around the time that Eva started preschool. It was all very new to me and I was worried I wasn't going to make any friends. I wrote this honest CV about myself for people to get to know me. The part where I describe my house as a shit tip is both hilarious and so very true.

2) Parent Blogging: Stock Photos vs. Reality - Someones Mum

This post gave me quite a giggle. As bloggers we quite often show a perfect life on camera but what's hiding behind the camera is vastly different. The workspace picture is my favourite. 

Every parent will surely be able to relate to this post. We all have strange conversations and talk utter nonsense. I laughed a lot at 'it's a tiny cut, there's no way i'm phoning you an ambulance,'. This is something I've heard my own mum say on numerous occasions.

This was another of my favourite posts that I wrote last year. If you are around the same age as me (31) this post should take you back to your childhood and have you reminiscing and giggling.

I could really relate to this post. 'Do you know what it's like to feel like a self service buffet?'. Yes I sure do. This makes for a very funny but very true and relatable post.

If you're a blogger you should enjoy reading this one. I can honestly say i've had pretty much all of those thoughts whenever I think about stats.

If you only have young children at the moment then make sure you read this post. I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I think about what is to come. The food and drink section  is very true. I've spent the last year debating how to feed Ophelia and yet i'm watching my younger sister (16) asking our mum for some wine.

This was another post of mine. Eva developed quite a swag about her in the last year and we had many epic battles. Some I won, some she was triumphant. Pop over and have a read about our day trip to Bristol Zoo.

Before you become a parent you make a lot of statements and judgements about what kind of parent you're going to be. In my head I wanted to be like Mary Poppins. I've heard friend's of mine saying they'll never give their children and iPad or let them watch TV etc and yet now they watch Peppa Pig 24/7. 
This post I can completely relate to. In fact both my kids had a mcdonald's today! What sort of parent does that make me? Defo not Mary Poppins.

I can't tell you how many times my days have been like this since i've become a parent. It's days like this when all you can do is laugh or you'll cry.

Last up is this hilarious post about potty training. I never knew how much toilet roll a tiny person can use so I laughed out loud reading 'prepare yourself to become bankrupt".

I hope these posts have given you a chuckle. What have you read in the last year that has made you laugh? Had you previously read any of these posts?

Blogger Template Created by pipdig