Mama OWL Blog

#LoudnProud | Changes & Challenges

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Time is whizzing by at an alarming rate. I can't really get my head around it being mid April already - we are fast approaching the end of the school year and before we know it, it will be the Summer holidays and time to reflect on all of the new things we have learned & experienced.

It's been a year of big changes and new challenges, and the kids have really done us proud in so many ways. When the Mister and I went to Australia last month, the children were immaculately behaved and very grown up, helping to make sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible while we were gone.

L & E have both settled in well at their new primary and secondary schools. E has taken to school life like a duck to water and has now moved up to level 12 in her reading, and is doing beautifully. She's moved up to stage 3 at swimming now too and has also moved up a group at Gymnastics. L has - touch wood - been much more settled recently and seems to be a lot happier at school now. I knew that the first year at senior school would be a difficult transition period but he has tried so hard, even taking part in school activities - he competed in the tutor group swimming gala and came first in his race!

J & A have had a lot of things to manage this year, with J being in his first GCSE year and A studying for her AS levels. Both have exams coming up soon and it's all hands on deck as well as a huge amount of work and stress for the two of them, A is always knee deep in revision at the moment but has also managed to land herself a new job at a new local business which is wonderful. Tonight is A's 6th form parents evening so I am looking forward to hearing about her progress from her subject teachers.

H has been throwing himself into his sport, playing for the school football team as well as his usual U9s Sunday rugby, and he's made it to 93% in stage 7 at swimming so we are anticipating his move up to stage 8 very soon (optional, but he's keen to continue), and he's signed himself up to the cricket club at school this term too. He is also delighted to have been chosen to represent the school in the swimming gala again this year. I love his enthusiasm for being busy and active and I hope he keeps it up.

Mama Owl

Meal Plan Monday 130415

Monday, 13 April 2015

Meal Plan 130415
Monday 13th
Chargrilled korma chicken served with salad (because our plans changed last Saturday) and naan for the Mister & kids
Tuesday 14th
Wednesday 15th
Caveman chilli & brown rice
Thursday 16th
Chicken & chips
Friday 17th
Spaghetti & meatballs (courgetti for me) with a homemade tomato sauce
Saturday 18th
I'm out with a friend today so the Mister will be in charge of feeding himself and the kids
Sunday 19th
Roast Pork with applesauce

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Tips for Surviving a Long Haul Flight | #ShepsDownUnder

Friday, 10 April 2015

We have travelled on a few long haul flights before, to the USA many moons ago, but even those couldn't have prepared us for the epic journey that was the flight around the world to Australia, and so having made it there and back I wanted to share our tips for surviving a long haul flight. They worked for us, hopefully they will do the same for you.

Travel pillows

I have never fully appreciated how awesome these things are. Get one. I picked up a lovely velour memory foam travel pillow from Matalan while the Mister went for a beanbag style one from Primark - both were effective and comfortable, and the Mister's had a handy clip which meant I could attach it to my bag (mine didn't, so I had to carry it). When you use them, it's worth tilting them to one side otherwise your face is likely to slip through the bottom, just FYI.

Socks & comfy footwear

Be it a nice warm pair to pop on during the flight or some actual flight socks, I'd recommend them. I wore slip-on pumps on the way out and flip flops on the way back and kept a fluffy pair of socks in my hand luggage that I slipped on & off on each of the four flights we took. My feet swelled up a lot so being able to remove my footwear easily and still keep my feet warm (I found it got quite chilly on the planes) was handy for me. Also, having to make a mad dash through Dubai airport after a late landing to catch our transfer flight to Adelaide was made considerably easier by having comfy shoes on.

Wear comfortable clothing

I wore a favourite jersey tea dress with leggings & a cardi and the Mister had on joggers & a t-shirt, with a hoody. Sitting in one place for such an extended length of time, you don't want to feel restricted or have anything digging in to you (belt buckles, jeans etc = not a good idea). Something loose fitting and soft is definitely the way to go, and if you have room in your hand luggage, perhaps a spare top/t-shirt & pair of undies in case you feel a bit gross and want to wash up & change between flights.

Get noise-cancelling headphones

Headphones are provided on the flight but ideally picking up a good pair of headphones of your own is a good idea, in the seat backs there are several different types of port so most brands should fit. This was recommended to us by a friend who has travelled between the UK & Oz on numerous occasions and I understand why. You'll want to block out the hum of the aircraft as well as the general hustle & bustle from other passengers on the flight, allowing you to listen to music or watch a movie in relative peace.

Drink water!

Very important. Obviously you can't take water through security, but once you're in I would recommend picking up a bottle or two before you board the plane. I asked for water every time a flight attendant passed me but I was still very dehydrated, & I also took water on board with me. It feels like you can't get enough so seriously - don't forget to drink. If you're drinking alcohol during the flight too, it is even more important.

Get an aisle seat

If you can book your seats ahead of time, try to do so and get yourself an aisle seat. For such a long journey, you'll want to be able to get up and move around without climbing over/waking other people to do so, and you can also stick your legs out now & again to stretch them.

Take basic medicines with you

We had a handful of medicines in our hand luggage, still in their own packaging of course, for emergencies. We took painkillers, anti-diarrhoea tablets & antihistamines as well as a couple of plasters. There's nothing worse than feeling unwell on a long flight and if you have basic medication with you, you can at least manage with what you have.


If you can sleep on the flight, and I know it isn't easy, then do. It'll pass the time quicker, and you'll feel less like the walking dead at your stop-over/destination. It can also help reduce the impact of jet lag once you reach your destination.

Take snacks, & eat before you fly

You might have to buy them after security (= expensive) depending on the airport but I would recommend taking snacks on the flight with you. In-flight meals are not exactly gourmet and on one or two occasions they were sadly almost inedible, if I hadn't had a couple of things in my bag I would have been rather hungry by the time we reached our destination. Also, take the opportunity to eat a good meal before you fly as you don't know how long it will be before the in-flight meals are given out.

Mark your luggage

If you have a generic black suitcase (and lots of us do), then mark it with something that will make it easier to spot in baggage claim. There's nothing worse after a long flight or two than standing there trying to guess which black case out of the hundreds bumbling along the carousel in front of you is yours. We bought luminous straps and tied them around the cases, plus a couple of brightly coloured address tags to make doubly sure.

Do you have any tips or advice for managing on a long haul flight? I'd love for you to share them with me. Happy travels!

Springtime Celebrations

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

I think I prefer Easter to Christmas, in all honesty. While I don't necessarily like how overly commercial Easter seems to be becoming, it is generally just 'nicer' in my opinion.

It's a celebration of the Springtime - the weather is warming up, the evenings are lighter, there are flowers and baby lambs everywhere (I'm a sucker for a frolicking lamb). There is less expectation, it's a lot more relaxed. Well - it is in my house, anyway.

Here we enjoy the long bank holiday weekend watching movies, doing a little baking (Easter nests, biscuits, and a carrot cake are the tradition) and crafting, and having a little egg hunt around the garden before diving face first into a basket of chocolate. We give our kids two eggs each (one medium, one small) and a little chocolate something else (this year was a Kinder Egg, last year was Malteaster bunnies if memory serves) presented in a little basket, and they also receive eggs from other family members.

On Good Friday we have hot cross buns for breakfast, and on Easter Sunday we have a traditional roast dinner with all of the trimmings. This year I used English Mum's slow roasted garlicky leg of lamb recipe which was utterly divine and just fell off the bone, and followed it up with a delicious dessert for the Mister and kids - a Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding courtesy of Munchies & Munchkins simple but tasty recipe.

We were blessed with beautiful weather for Bank Holiday Monday, and I took H & E down to the local Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt with my sister & her children, before spending a couple of hours letting them work off all the chocolate in the playground.

The afternoon was spent in the garden while the younger three went to a different park with their cousin for a few hours, and I very helpfully supervised the Mister from the comfort of a beanbag as he mowed the lawn. I'm quite certain he appreciated all of my assistance. The weather was so nice we even got the lesser spotted teenage boy out of his room for an hour to help his Dad wash the van (in return for XBox credit - of course).

It was a really lovely weekend, spent with my nearest & dearest. Absolutely perfect.
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