Entries Tagged as 'Anything else'

snoopy and charlie brown peanuts movie review

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a private screening of Snoopy and Charlie Brown – the peanuts movie. Growing up I was never much in to cartoon characters but there were two exceptions – Miss Piggy and Snoopy. With snoopy & charlie brown I particularly remember reading the comic strips in the newspapers and really enjoying them.  But as the years went on I forgot about Snoopy and Charlie Brown because you didn’t see much of them.  That was until I received  an invite to see the film and really wanted to go almost for old times sake.

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tips for cooking with kids everyday

Do you cook with your kids?  I don’t mean the odd cake or planned baking time but involving them in everyday cooking, everyday?  I love cooking and cook most days but I just didn’t enjoy it as much with Anya because of the mess and slowness that it brought.  I used to despair at the extra cleaning up, the extra time, the extra everything.  A simple task that was supposed to take 10 minutes would take five times that! 

Then I started thinking about it and realised that cooking with Anya could be a lot of fun if I changed the way I looked at things.  She is interested in cooking (as most kids are) and it would be a real shame not to develop her interest especially when we all know that there are so many benefits of cooking with kids.  So I thought about how I could make our cooking time in to something that we both looked forward to everyday.  Here’s what I did and what anyone can do to make cooking with kids a daily thing that fun for everybody.

tips for cooking with kids

My tips for cooking with kids everyday (without killing them 😉 )

1. Make up your mind to remain patient no matter what.
Before you start, make up your mind to stay patient. This has helped me no end. Taking  a minute beforehand to decide that impatience isn’t an option has made for much happier cooking together times, for Anya and for me.  And after a while,  like me, you will naturally be more patient.

2. Only cook with kids when you have time.
Cooking with kids is always going to take a lot longer than if you did it by yourself.  There will be days when you need to be somewhere or you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry, so just do it yourself on those days.  But when you know you have more time, that’s when you can take a slower pace, keep your patience in check and enjoy the process together.

3. Expect mess.
This used to drive me insane – poor Anya would barely spill a drop and I’d whip out the cloth and clean up after her every move.  I put myself in her shoes and I couldn’t think of anything more irritating than someone cleaning up after you every five seconds
!  So now I accept there will be mess, sometimes a lot of mess and when I feel like reaching for that cloth, I just remind myself of the decision I made before I started cooking – see point 1.

4. Let them lead where possible.
Give them a task that they can be in charge of, without any help from you.  This makes kids feel happy and proud – the look of pride on Anya’s face when she has done something completely by herself and the concentration while she’s doing it is priceless.  It can be as simple or as involved as your child can manage, depending on their age of course.  Things like pouring all the ingredients in to a bowl and mixing or breading homemade fish fingers which is one of Anya’s favourite jobs.

5. Let them express themselves.
If you’re a fan of cooking, you’ll know that it’s one of life’s great pleasures for so many reasons. For me cooking is fun, it’s relaxing and it’s so creative.  This is exactly how kids should be allowed to feel about it too if they are going to enjoy it.  The only way they will feel like this is if they are allowed to express themselves freely, without you giving instructions the whole way.  Let them give ideas on what to cook, suggest extra ingredients that may not have been part of the plan or give ideas on presentation.

6. Think of it as bonding time.
Cooking together with your kids is a great time for bonding but only if you view it as this.  Once you view it as this, cooking becomes such a fun part of your time together and you will come to look forward to it everyday.  Anya and I chat about her day, tell jokes and laugh at the mishaps and spills.  And then when Richard comes home, she excitedly tells him about what she helped make.

These are a few things I’ve done but I’d love to hear from you too. Would you involve your kids in everyday cooking?  Do you have any tips for cooking with kids everyday?

P.S. If you’d like to check out some recipes perfect for kids to get involved with, take a look at these soba noodles or these homemade pizzas or homemade fish fingers

a clever clothes storage idea

My friend and fellow blogger Cristina from across the pond shared a very clever clothes storage idea.  I thought the idea was so great that I had to share it here.  It’s such a simple idea but then simple ideas are always the best!  The idea – store your clothes horizontally instead of stacking them vertically (on top of each other).

Just the other week I did this with Anya’s sweaters and it’s not only helped us find things quicker but there is no after-mess to tidy up.  When her sweaters were vertically stacked on top of each other I had to get the whole pile out and by the time I pulled out the one I wanted, the whole pile collapsed – you know how it is. And when Anya tried to get one out, well that meant chaos!  Now that I’ve rolled them all up and lined them up – I pull out the one I want and the rest stay undisturbed. It’s also so much easier to see what you want.  And the best part is that even when Anya pulls them out herself, there is no mess. With the lighter clothes like t-shirts, I don’t roll but fold and do the same – again so easy to see what’s what and pull out what you need.

Next, I’m going to be re-organising my wardrobe this way.  What do you think of this clever clothes storage idea? Great, right?  Got any other great tips to be more organised with your or your kids wardrobes?

tips for getting to school on time

Lately (ok if I’m honest it’s ever since Anya started school) we were always in a mad rush to get out the door. No matter what, it always seemed that the last 10 minutes were a crazy panic to get to school on time.  We usually ended up arriving at school about a minute late or at best, bang on time.  It doesn’t matter if you have one child or four, I think so many of us have manic mornings.  And that got me thinking – why can’t we be just that 2-3 minutes earlier so that we aren’t running like crazies.  After 2 years plus of trying to beat the clock, I decided to make some changes to our morning routine.  Some worked and some didn’t – so I thought I would share the tips for getting to school on time that worked for us and helped us have less stressy mornings (maybe not stress-free everyday but definitely less frantic):

1.  Get up earlier than everyone else
This has been a game changer for me – maybe you all know this secret but I didn’t.  I started doing this at the start of this school year and I feel so much less stressed for it.  I lose around an hour of sleep, but it’s so worth it  – and yes I get up at least an hour earlier sometimes a bit more. Especially if you’re a working mum, that hour in the morning before everyone else is awake is a godsend.  I check my emails, think and plan the day ahead both work day and any family chores/errands that need to be done and most of all just get my head ready for the day.  Before, I got up with everyone else and tried to do this alongside everything else and it was mayhem. Now I really look forward to my hour of solitude in the morning – if I ever oversleep I feel cheated!

2.  Make a morning routine chart
We made a morning routine chart just over a month ago.  It simply lays out the order of what has to be done when so it saves me shouting out instructions and nagging every two minutes.  And I was doing a lot of shouting before this chart!  Now Anya looks at the chart every so often each morning and she knows what she has to do when.  I also built in ‘golden time’ which is a little play time in the morning if everything is done on time.  This has turned out to be a good incentive – even though Anya hardly ever manages to get golden time, she tries which makes her more likely to stop daydreaming and start getting ready.

3.  Sunday evening planning
There’s always something happening in school – from mufti days to bringing in autumn leaves for craft projects and so much more.  I have started spending just 5 minutes on Sunday evening reading school emails and putting reminders for the week in my phone.  I always set two reminders – one for a couple of days ahead in case anything needs to be bought or organised that requires time and one for the morning of the day.  In the past I have forgotten mufti day and the crestfallen look on Anya’s face when she was the only one in uniform at school taught me a lesson.  So plan ahead and know what’s in store for you for the entire week.

4.  Make a game of it!
Kids love games and love winning. Anya gets dressed at the same time as Richard so I have made a game of this – I challenge her to be dressed before he is.  She always wants to win so the speed at which she now gets her uniform on is amazing!  Before, getting Anya to put on her uniform could take upwards of 10 minutes.  Not any more.  This kind of challenge or any game can really speed things up in the morning so think about where you can do something like this in your morning routine.

6. Check the weather
Nothing is more frustrating than spending precious time in the morning madly hunting for things, while stress levels are climbing high because time is ticking. We live in London and that means we can have summer one day and winter the next so by checking the weather the night before I can get umbrellas’s, raincoats, wellie boots, scarves, hats etc ready and by the door instead of scrambling around in the morning.

7. Prepare your kids things the night before
An obvious one but I thought I would include it anyway as we all know we should do this but do you do it?  I didn’t because I would leave it till last thing at night by which time I was too tired so I always put it off till the morning. But then I started getting everything ready in the evening and this has made me much more inclined to do it.  So by around 7-7:30pm I get book bags ready, any PE/swimming kits packed and uniform hung up outside the wardrobe so it’s ready to be grabbed and worn.

These 7 tips have helped us get to school on time and avoid last minute scrambles and they’ve also made me feel calmer in the mornings.  Not every day – we still have those manic mornings but they are far less than they used to be.  What do you do to in the mornings?  Any tips – please share!

Have a wonderful weekend a hopefully a calm Monday morning!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared one of my inspiring story interviews.  If you’ve read the last couple, you’ll know that these interviews are all about incredibly strong women and mums who have been through a lot – often more than most go through in a lifetime –  yet stayed positive and never stopped believing.  Each of these interviews is inspiring because they show us that even though life can throw the worst things at you, you can still come out the other side.  It kind of puts our little, everyday troubles in perspective and makes me realise that they are just not worth stressing about.   Today I wanted to share Elizabeth’s story – a mum, a blogger, a business woman and a wife. Her story is a little different to the others but definitely no less inspiring.

inspiring women entrepreneurs

Tell us a few words about you.
Hi.  I’m Elizabeth, mum to a three-year-old girl and wife to a Yorkshire lad living in London.  I’m a journalist, blogger and I have my own health and beauty business too.  A huge passion of mine is travel, so much that I set up a blog to record my family adventures.  As well as spending time with my family, one of my favourite things is hanging out with my mates, a glass of fizz in hand, chackling away.  And it really IS a loud chackle particularly for someone my size ( I’m 5’1).

family with new baby

But recently there hasn’t been much to laugh about, has there?
No.  The past three years have been full of extreme highs and lows.  The biggest high being the birth of my daughter and the low being my husband’s health.  It began three years ago shortly after Paul ran his third marathon.  Over the next three months he steadily felt more and more unwell with less and less energy.  Eventually, when he could barely stand, he was admitted to hospital and we discovered he had the lowest blood count doctors had ever seen on somebody still walking.  After many tests we were told he had lymphoma- a blood cancer.  It was a huge shock.

We had never expected something as serious as cancer especially in someone so fit and young – he was 33 at the time.  When the ‘big C’ is mentioned, it strikes fear into your bones.  It was aggressive and advanced at stage four.  I was then seven and a half months pregnant.  Instead of getting excited about our new arrival, buying cots and painting the nursery, Paul was preparing to have chemotherapy.  Just weeks earlier I had been diagnosed with a fairly rare complication in pregnancy, Obstetric Cholestatis so I was also in and out of another hospital.  It was a crazy time.

After various tests, it was confirmed that Paul had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and it was treatable.  He was put onto chemotherapy very quickly and was recovering from his first round when my daughter was born. She proved to be the best distraction and looking at the positives, he got to spend an extended amount of time with her, albeit not feeling very well, but time none the less. After eight rounds of chemo it was confirmed that the cancer had gone. It was a huge relief and we started to get on with our lives with a renewed perspective and appreciation for life.

Soon after you started getting back to normal life, tell us what happened?
At the start of 2015 my husband had been feeling a bit under the weather – a cough, cold, the usual winter ailments.  We didn’t think much of it; who doesn’t get ill in the UK in winter?  He went ahead on a planned business trip to Chicago but less than 24 hours after arriving he was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.  I received the phone call nobody wants to get – he had bacterial meningitis.

His father got the first flight out there and I later found out that doctors had told him that it was unlikely Paul would make it through the night.   That night I somehow managed to get some sleep and stay positive. I told his mum he would be alright.  He had to be!  After all he had beaten cancer, surely he could beat everything else?  I was 3,000 miles away in London, not being able to see him or speak to him (he was in a coma) and I was unable to talk at length with the doctors.  When I did, they weren’t painting a very rosy picture.  He was in a critical but stable condition and the doctors had no idea how he would be affected if and when he came out of the coma as often the virus can affect the brain.

A few days later I flew to Chicago with my little girl.  It was so good to finally see him even though he looked desperately ill and was in a coma with tubes coming out of every orifice.  I kept calm, held his hand and chatted to him about normal everyday things and tried to keep things light.  Even though he was asleep I didn’t want to make him anxious.  He’s a worrier so I knew he’d have been panicking about how we’d been coping.  I’ve never had such a one sided conversation – he’s not exactly the quiet, shy, retiring type!  Although under heavy sedation, he managed to open his eyes and nodded when I asked if he could recognise my voice.  It was a great sign!

A week later, when Paul came out of his coma, his brain scans came back clear but the bacteria had attacked his heart.  This was not the end – he was told he had to have heart surgery within the next 48 hours.  This was a lot for his hazy mind to take in as he couldn’t fathom where the last week had gone.  The bacteria had damaged two of his heart valves and he underwent an eight hour operation to replace them with metal ones.  He steadily recovered from the operation and was determined to get his physical strength back.  Defying doctor’s expectations, he was let out of hospital just over a week later.  Things were finally looking up and we started planning our trip home.

What happened next?
We tried to get back to some kind of normality even going on a dinner date in Chicago as a belated Valentines present.  But the relief and happiness did not last long.  A few days later Paul went back into hospital, struggling to breathe and they discovered fluid around his heart.  Little did we know that the worst was yet to come.  As he was being prepped for yet another surgery to remove the fluid he went into cardiac arrest.  He flat-lined right before my eyes and was clinically dead for 28 minutes.  It was the worst day of my life.

Someone must have been looking over us because the medical team miraculously brought him back to life. His heart restarted and he went into theatre to drain the blood from around his heart after he had suffered an internal bleed.  It was a success and he was back in intensive care, steadily making a recovery and beginning more rehabilitation.  We eventually flew home from Chicago after seven long weeks, our lives forever changed.

How and where did you find the strength to carry on functioning as a wife, a mother, a person – not once but twice?
I think you just have to!  The first time with the cancer it was all a bit of a haze as I was in the late stages of my pregnancy with complications but I had a strong network of people around me including doctor friends who could decipher all the medical chat.  When our daughter was born, she became the focus but also my husband’s strength and positivity helped us get through this time.  The second time was far worse –  I couldn’t even speak to him or see him!  But I always tried to keep a positive state of mind.  Sometimes it wasn’t easy.  He is a tough, positive person so I channeled a lot of him and I had belief in his strength and determination that he’d get over the meningitis and out of the coma.  I also wanted to keep things ‘normal’ for my daughter and that helped me put one foot in front of the other each day – I had to as I didn’t want her thinking anything was wrong.  The worst bit was when she would ask about her daddy.  Fighting back tears I told her he’d be back soon.

Before I went to Chicago I tried to keep as busy as I could – it was my way of coping – and I did all the jobs around the house we hadn’t got around to doing.  I wanted to make the home look as perfect as possible to welcome Paul home.  I had to believe he was coming home and that was what I focused on.  I kept reassuring myself that he had already beaten cancer so he would fight this too.  I would also think to myself ‘what would Paul do in this situation’ even for the small things like booking the flight.  It helped me find strength and feel like he was there with me.

My little girl helped so much especially when we were in Chicago.  She had no real idea what was going on.  She wanted to go to breakfast, have a play, read books.  She was the best distraction and when I was with her I gave her my full attention so that there was no dwelling on the ‘what if’s’.

Months after, every now and then, something will come back to haunt me – the enormity of what Paul went through, what I have seen and what he has survived.  Most of the time it is fleeting and I push it aside but it is there and always will be.  That however is the past and you have to look to the future.  We have learned a lot over the past few months with the biggest lesson being how fragile life can be and therefore it’s so important that we all live life to the full.  Everyday.

How did you get through the darkest moments and how did you cope with your worst fears?
As mentioned my daughter has been my absolute rock.  On the day my husband went into cardiac arrest, I went back to the waiting room and there she was.  I gave her a huge hug and focused on reading her a story and being strong for her, putting my trust in the medical team.  I knew there was nothing I could do for Paul at that moment but I could stay strong for others and be a positive and reassuring influence when he woke up.

My best friend Emma was also amazing.  She’s a surgeon and as soon as she heard my husband went into cardiac arrest, she came out to Chicago. She helped with my daughter and took my mind off things and assisted with all the medical language too.  I also got so many messages of support from friends and family which meant a lot.  But when it was just me and my thoughts I did all I could to shut out any negativity.  The mind is extremely powerful but we can have complete control over it if we choose.  In that moment when my husband was in a hospital room dying, I felt sick and was praying – a lot – but I never gave up on him.  I remember saying to myself over and over “he’s going to be ok, he’s going to be ok.”  I just kept repeating it over and over because for me there could be no other ending.

At the time I happened to be reading a book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (I recommend everyone read it at some point in their lives).  It was like I was supposed to read that book at that moment in my life.  It helped enormously in those dark days.  It’s all about the law of attraction and thinking positive thoughts, overcoming fears and attracting good things into your life.  The book really spoke to me and gave me solace.  Yes, it was an awful situation but I focused on it getting better and didn’t think too much about the why.  Why it happened.  Why us?  Why so many times?  After all what would that achieve?  You can drive yourself crazy.  I could not change what was happening but I could control how I dealt with it and how we moved forward as a family.  I am just so thankful that he is still with us.  Now, when I get annoyed with my hubby or he gets stressed about little things, it’s not hard to look at what has happened and have gratitude.  I usually just laugh at him and give him a big hug.  There are far bigger things in life.

One of the many things you do is blog.  Tell us a little about it?
Wander Mum is mainly a travel blog about my family adventures with a bit of mummy stuff thrown in and I have also documented some of what we have been through as a family over the years.  I got the traveling bug after going on a round the world trip on my own after university.  I did everything from skydiving to bungee jumping, climbing glaciers and jungle hiking.  I had a blast and it opened my eyes to the world.

Fortunately my husband shares my passion and now it seems my daughter does too.  She first flew when she was just nine weeks old and we haven’t looked back.  I set up Wander Mum because I wanted to show that you can still travel with children in tow.  I share my experiences and pass on advice to help inspire others to take the plunge and not be put off traveling as a family.  Traveling is the best education and I want to be able to expose my daughter to many different cultures and experiences.  It isn’t something I did a lot when I was a child (being one of four we stayed in the UK for our holidays) but you always want more for you children, don’t you?

What drew you to blogging?
My friend Emma suggested I do it.  I am not sure I would have thought to do it if it hadn’t been for her encouragement. Sometimes it’s the things you never imagined doing that become the best decisions you ever made so always stay open minded.  I love traveling and writing.  I would type out stories on my mum’s typewriter when I was little and make up magazines for my primary school friends.  I did an English degree and now I am a journalist so I guess blogging was the natural thing to do.  I love being able to write about anything, anywhere, without any restrictions and creating something totally unique.  I also find it’s a great therapy.  In fact, I am finding writing this very therapeutic.  I haven’t gone into too much detail about our ordeal on my blog –  yet.  Writing this makes it far more real!  So thanks for asking me to do this.  It has been a great help to me and I hope to others as well.

What has the blogging community meant to you?
When I was living through my husbands illnesses and blogging a bit about the experience I had so much support – so many lovely comments. I can’t thank people enough. To receive encouragement and reassurance is a huge boost.  And knowing that my words could have an impact and help other people find strength in similar situations is an incredible feeling.  At BritMums recently I had people like Vicki from Honest Mum checking how my husband was and that was really touching.  Thanks to you Nomita, for asking me to do this and assuring me that my words and my experience were inspiring.

Who are your favourite must-read bloggers and why?
There are so many great bloggers out there and every week I find another –  that’s the great thing about blogging, there’s room for all of us and each blog offers something different.  I am forever getting tips and knowledge from other parent bloggers and I really enjoy reading the adventures of other travel bloggers and learning about new places, some of which I haven’t even heard of before.

What’s your best piece of advice for any family or anybody going through some very difficult times?
Gosh, every family has different struggles and each one is very personal.  You never really know how you will react in situations until they happen.  My biggest suggestion is to dig deep inside and reach that determination and grit which I believe exists in everyone.  Forget what has gone before, let go of any blame and take responsibility for making things better and owning your future.  Believe in yourself and never give up on you or on life!  I also think it’s really important to have gratitude for all the good things you do have.  I live in a safe, first world country not a war zone as many people do.  For that alone, I feel blessed.

Would you change the past if you could?
It would obviously be great if my husband hadn’t had all these health issues, especially the heart surgery which means he will have to take medication for the rest of his life and has had to make a few lifestyle changes but it’s just a drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of things!  It has happened and I don’t like looking back – it’s not going to achieve anything.  You have to learn from what has happened, deal with it as best you can and carry on rather than dwell.  The bumpy road we have gone through has only helped make us stronger, more supportive and made us appreciate life, each other and what the world has to offer even more!

Life changing events like these really do help give perspective and put value on your life.  It sounds a bit morbid, but you never know what is around the corner or what is going to happen so always make the most of everyday.  I don’t sweat the small things half as much as I used to – there really are bigger things in life and unfortunately, as we get older, we are bound to come across more challenges.  I just remind myself that I am lucky to still have my husband and my daughter has her daddy.  On the flip side, although my husband was terribly unlucky he was also incredibly lucky to be in America, close to an excellent hospital and with quick thinking colleagues who got him there in time.  Things could have been a lot worse.

inspiring women interviews ebabee

What’s next for you – both professionally and personally?
Who knows what the future holds?  It’s kind of exciting in a way.  Paul is doing really well. He is getting his fitness back and planning to run an 8 mile race soon.  I’m looking forward to taking on any new opportunities which come my way.  You never know what is around the corner.  I will continue working on all my different interests: my journalism career, my business and keep growing and expanding my blog – there’s still so much I want to do with it!  As a family, we are looking forward to more travel, exploring new places and spending time together.  With any luck, we would like to grow our family at some point but one step at a time.  We have each other.  We are in a good place now and really looking forward to the future. But please, if my hubby could have no more health issues that would be perfect!

Wow. What can I say?  Elizabeth and Paul have been through so much and yet they have both remained so positive and determined to come out smiling the other side.  I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Elizabeth while interviewing her and I was so struck by her lack of self pity.  And more than that, in every difficult situation wallowing in grief was never an option – for Elizabeth it was always about staying positive and focusing on what she could do rather than dwelling on what she couldn’t change.  In the midst of it all Elizabeth even wrote a post on why she felt lucky.  Elizabeth’s words and attitude are so inspiring for any situation in life, no matter how small or big.  Be positive, be determined, look forward and most of all do what you can to make things better rather than wasting time and energy on what you cannot change. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your inspiring story with us and if you want to read more, check out Elizabeth’s blog – Wander Mum.  

charlie and the chocolate factory

Last Friday night we were invited to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the musical.   Ever since reading the book as a child, I have been fascinated with Mr Willy Wonka and his incredible factory.  Years later, I was excited to re-live this fantastic tale with Anya and Richard.  As of this year, Anya has really gotten in to Roald Dahl books with her favourites being Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and George’s Marvellous Medicine.  We’ve read both at least twice already so Anya & I were really looking forward to the musical while Richard was less so as he can be a little cynical about musical theatre.

From the start, my companion sat gripped, eyes darting from one performer to another in anticipation of their next line or song, welling up as Charlie became the grateful recipient of the last golden ticket.  It came as a big surprise to me that those eyes belonged to Richard, who had clearly checked in his cynicism along with his coat!  But he wasn’t the only one – all three of us sat glued to our seats watching the incredible spectacle of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory unfold before us.

charlie and the chocolate factory the musical review

Visually, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the musical is an absolute treat for the eyes.  The sets and special effects are clever and quite stunning.  Imagine seeing Violet Beauregarde balloon in to a blueberry right in front of your eyes. Or the highly strung Mike Teavee transform in to a shrunken version of himself.   But it wasn’t just the amazing special effects that got me.  It was also the performers, each of whom were outstanding. 

charlie and the chocolate factory the musical

Mr Willy Wonka had the right amount of eccentricity without being frightening for kids.  Although personally for me, he could have been a bit more sinister.  Also worth a mention is the relationship between Grandpa Joe and Charlie which was very special and true to the book.  The musical brought tears to my eyes a few times but mostly I throughly enjoyed watching a dazzling show that I think any family with kids older than about 5 years will enjoy.  

charlie and chocolate factory oompa loompas

For the entire performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anya sat forward in her seat, wide-eyed, never once taking her eyes off the stage.   As much as Richard and I found it hard to tear our eyes off the stage, we also delighted in seeing Anya’s little face changing expressions and reacting to this imaginative piece of theatre.

*We were given tickets in exchange for a review.  The review is in my own words and says what I genuinely thought about the show.  

cooking with kids

Do you cook with your kids?  There are so many benefits of cooking with kids and involving them in the kitchen.  I am on a mission to involve Anya in the kitchen as much as I can.  Everyday when I cook dinner I get her to join me and help.  I give her tasks like making marinades, peeling garlic, getting all the ingredients together or anything else that doesn’t involve knives or heat.  What I love most about this time is our chats.   We have lots of fun conversations where she tells me stuff about school, about her friends and I’ve found she chats to me much more during our cooking time than if I sat down and asked her lots of questions.  Similarly on weekends, Richard loves cooking and I can see what a great father/daughter bonding time this has become.

how to get kids involved in cooking

So, when Abel & Cole offered to send us their kids Summer boxes, I agreed.  I tend to make more complex food on a regular basis so while I involve Anya, it is me who is very much in charge.  But these boxes contain recipes that are super easy to follow, allowing kids to read the instructions and take the lead.  Most of the recipes have 3-4 ingredients like this vanilla ice cream Anya made – just honey, vanilla pod seeds, cream and egg yolks.  This box also contained ingredients to make a strawberry sauce and banana ice-cream which we will try over the weekend. 

The recipes are very simple and so your kids aren’t likely to make you the most delicious meal you ever ate but what I love about them is that kids around 5 and older can totally be in charge and you are there just as a helper.  We’ve had a few boxes now and Anya is so excited when a new box arrives as she thinks of it as hers and can’t wait to see what she’ll be cooking next.  I also love the convenience of pulling out a box and knowing I have all the ingredients to get started.  Abel & Cole are doing kids boxes throughout the Summer with different recipes each week so if you’re in need of ideas, check it out.  Also it’s a fun way way to keep kids occupied over the Summer holidays.

how to involve kids in everyday cooking

Here are some simple tips to help get kids involved in the kitchen:

1.  Start involving them by making foods they love – maybe baking some cookies or muffins.  One of Anya’s favourite things to make is pizza which would be fun for any kid to be involved in making even for kids as young as 2 or 3.

2.  Go food shopping together and once in a while let them choose what meal they would like to make or if you can, go to a pick your own fruit/veg place and they will be so keen to cook and eat what they’ve picked.

3.  Make a very simple recipe where they can be in charge – this can bring such a sense of pride and achievement as I saw when Anya made this simple ice-cream.  Kids love to help especially with adult tasks as this makes them feel good and appreciated.

4.  Even if you’re making an involved meal, give them small tasks like stirring or measuring ingredients.

5.  Involve the kids in the cooking when you have time.  Everything takes longer with kids so as long as you’re relaxed they’ll enjoy it much more.

Above all make it fun.  Play some music, be silly and if you’re anything like me don’t worry about the mess like I used to – it used to actually put me off cooking with Anya but I’ve learned to put my fear of mess asisde 😉   It takes a few extra minutes to clean up but it’s so worth it.  Do you cook with your kids?

P.S. I moved all my kitchen clutter to one side when I took these pics – my kitchen doesn’t normally look this tidy even though I wish it did! 😀

{All photos by ebabee.  Anya wears frankie fox print shirt from the ebabee shop}

things to do in South Bank London

The Summer holidays are in full swing and we’ve been getting out and enjoying London.  We rarely go away over the Summer because London is such a great place to be at this time of year and there so many Summer activities for kids in London.  This Summers mission is to enjoy as much of our beautiful city as we can and when I find something super fun to do, I thought I would share it here.  Earlier this week, along with some friends, we headed to the Southbank which is always a fun day out.  There is always a fab atmosphere, food, street performers and so much more.  Our plan was to just wander around and soak up the sights and smells but we ended up discovering the Appearing Rooms Fountain.  And once we discovered this, there was no moving the kids away.

free things to do in London with kidsSouth Bank London things to dofree things to do in London for kids

The Appearing Rooms Fountain is no ordinary play fountain.  It’s designed so that jets of water shoot high in to the air creating ‘rooms’ that appear and disappear as quickly as they appeared.  It’s possible to stand in the midst of fountain and not get wet – the trick is finding the ‘room’ where there is no water shooting up or to move super quick when it does come.  But the pattern of the fountain changes each time so you might get unlucky and get drenched.  The kids headed in to the fountain and the joy on their faces was quite unbelievable.  We thought they would play for a few minutes but they ended up playing in the fountain for hours.  They absolutely loved it.  There were kids of all ages there – from 2 to about 12 – and they were all squealing with delight and joy.

play fountains in London

Right next to the Appearing Rooms Fountain is lots of outdoor seating so we sat there, ate and chatted while we kept an eye on the kids who just couldn’t believe their luck at stumbling across this magical play fountain.  It may seem a bit over the top to go on about a fountain but the excitement was so evident on every child’s face so I think this fountain is a must visit for any kid.  And the best part is that it’s free.  Kids can easily spend 2-3 hours in there – just remember to bring a spare set of clothes or a swimsuit for them to wear while in the fountain.  Because they will get drenched!

Have you discovered any London places that are fun and worth a visit?  Do share so we can all check them out.

Anya wears quirky bear tee by ebabee and floral shorts by Zara (past season)
{all photos by ebabee}

bragging about your kids

When you praise your kids to friends, is it bragging?  Schools out and I could not be more proud of Anya.  She has achieved so much this year – getting the achievers award for her year as well as a fabulous report.  A report that made me cry because not only was it great on the learning and academic front, but the wonderful things they wrote about her as a person made my heart swell with pride.  But why is it considered boasting to tell others that your child has done well?  Why is it not acceptable to be proud of your child in public?  Why do some parents feel the need to put you down if you praise your child?

As a habit, I don’t speak much about Anya’s achievements to anyone apart from family.  But I happened to mention these latest achievements to a ‘friend’ and she immediately turned around and said something jokingly (but with a clear sarcastic edge) along the lines of how I couldn’t stop talking about my super star child.  I had mentioned it once.  It was the day I found out about her achievers award and naturally I was bursting with pride.  This is a recent example but I have been faced with this same situation before. 

I get that if you constantly talk about how great your kid is then it is annoying, very annoying and that is showing off.  If every update on facebook is about your how your 2 year old is reading War and Peace then yes, that’s not cool.  But to once mention an achievement or something fabulous they have done should be more than ok.  After all you should be able to share your proud parent moments with friends and expect them to be happy for you.  I am equally happy to talk about Anya’s faults (like her making crazy faces every time I get the camera out 😉) and I don’t ever hide them so why shouldn’t I speak of her accomplishments?  When friends tell me about the wonderful things their kids have achieved, I am genuinely happy for them.  It’s not a competition – if my kid did something great, it’s not a reflection on your kid.  In fact it has nothing to do with your kid.

On the flip side, if you talk about your child’s faults or shortcomings, everybody seems more than happy to listen.  Those same people that dismiss the good stuff, are all ears when it comes to the bad stuff.  Strange.  This isn’t a rant, but I’m genuinely wondering how parents feel about this – maybe some people will say that me mentioning it even once was showing off.  I personally think that we should be comfortable praising our kids to others beyond family.  If they’ve done something that made you proud, why not tell people and expect them to be happy for you.  Of course, I’m not saying that every conversation should revolve around your ah-mazing kid who can do no wrong.   But there is a big difference between bragging about your kids and just being proud of an achievement.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any ‘bragging’ experiences you’ve had, good or bad?

kids say the funniest things

I am so glad I have started writing down what Anya says because even at 6½ years she comes out with some hilarious stuff!  I know these innocent comments and crazy sweet words will disappear over time so I want to make the most of it!  Do you write down what your kids say?  It’s such a lovely memory to have and look back on.  So to end the week on a happy, funny and light-hearted note, here are some recent conversations with Anya:

We were chatting about an upcoming 6th birthday party that Anya was invited to.
Me: What does your friend like?  I need to buy her a birthday present.
Anya: She likes boys. (of course I’m thinking, boys already?! But I continue the conversation)
Me: I can’t buy her a boy, can I?
Anya: No, but you can buy her a toy boy!
Oh the innocence of childhood!

Out of the blue:
Anya: Do I have boobies or nickels?

We were at a restaurant and Anya chose Cumberland sausage and chips for her meal. She then proceeded to tell the waitress her order:
Anya: Can I please have the sausage and chips without the Cumberland?

Anya’s just lost both her front teeth. We’ve always made a big deal of the tooth fairy and Anya’s always been so excited about the whole magic of the tooth fairy, much more so than Santa (sorry Santa!).  So I was not ready for this.
Me: How much did the tooth fairy give you this time?
Anya: (very matter of factly) It’s not really the tooth fairy.
Me: Who is it then?
Anya: It’s you.
Noooo… I’m not ready for these magical myths to be busted just yet. 

What are some of the funny, cute, candid and crazy things your kids have said?  I’d love to hear so do leave a comment below.

Have a happy weekend ~ nomita x

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