Thursday, 27 October 2011

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Welcome to this week's #R2BC! It's been chaotic with one thing and another but there is always something worth smiling about, even if it hasn't been the best week :)

1. The husband has returned from London! He spent five days at my sister & brother-in-law's house painting and decorating ready for them to move out so I have been flying solo from Saturday-Wednesday. I am exhausted, and in desperate need of a lie-in (haha... one day...) but the kids and I did have fun when it was just us, on Saturday we had movie night with pizza and watched "Rio" and my niece Chloe joined us with some sweeties for the kids to share, it was lovely. But, it is good to have him home, even if just for being able to go the loo without a child (or two or three) hammering on the door asking where I am!

2. My sister is moving home very soon. Nikki has been globe-trotting ever since she finished college when she was 18 and I haven't had been able to spend a great deal of time with her, just when she visited or when we visited them at holidays and a few times during the year though we speak or text almost daily. Now she is finally moving back home with my brother-in-law Clifford and their two-year-old daughter Niah, which will also coincide with Christmas, and the arrival of their second baby! I am VERY excited to have my sister back home with us at last, where she belongs and I am super duper excited to meet my newest niece or nephew (I think nephew!).

3. Alicia's first school progress report was SUPERB. She is already at or surpassing her levels that she has to achieve by July 2012 and it's only just half term, I am thrilled! She's on track for a very successful year before taking her first strides into her GCSEs next September, she's already beyond GCSE level in most of her subjects. That's my girl! I couldn't be more proud, I have said it before and I will say it again, I really do have some awesome kids :)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming...

Well as yesterday was October 25th (and when I originally planned to write this post, the children however had other ideas...) it means that Christmas is only two months away! I have begun my Christmas planning in earnest, so that I can have it mostly done by the time December rolls around and it does not interfere with the prep & planning of the birthday of my youngest son, which is just one month before Christmas on November 25th, and also then not left too late to get everything done.

I have started planning our meals for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. That includes everything from the three main meals, to snacks, treats and all of the ingredients I will need for our holiday baking. We have special breakfasts each day, although Christmas Day we let the kids eat chocolate for breakfast at the crack of dawn (*gasp!*), before we venture downstairs for present opening and our actual breakfast, which this year will again be pain au chocolat and croissants at the kids request. I will share our complete Christmas menu a little bit closer to the time, when I have finished writing it!

I have also begun planning our Christmas baking, this year the children each want their own gingerbread house... Great! So I have been collecting cardboard sheets to set them on, and working out the ingredients I will need to bake five houses (one for each of the big four, and another spare, or for any visitors we might have who wish to decorate them with us!) plus extra decorations. It's all good fun though, we had such a great time decorating them last year and it is such a lovely activity to do together on Christmas Eve, definitely a new family tradition we will be upholding.

Another tradition we have had for several years is that we make candy cane cookies to have with the hot chocolate that the elves leave the children while they are having their baths on Christmas Eve, they also leave a present for them to open before bedtime! And when bedtime comes, after checking the NORAD Santa Tracker, we leave out a mince pie and glass of beer for Father Christmas (although I heard a rumour that Mrs Christmas wants to have a well deserved glass of wine left out too), some reindeer food on the lawn, and the special key for him to use to get in our house (as we don't have a chimney, he hangs it on the tree when he leaves! eBay is handy for these) and then we read the children "The Night Before Christmas" before tucking them in.

I've started designing the new Christmas placemats for the children for our table, too. They have placemats already that I purchased online, that they use for our regular meals (saves bickering as to who sits where - if the mats are down, then that's where you sit, end of!) but I will be designing and making these myself. To be fair I bought the others to get a good look at how they were made so that I *could make my own, they're pretty straightforward so I am hoping that my designs will look nice all printed out!

I have been looking up new ideas for table and home decorations too, I really want to go for a different 'look' this year, though with the same colour scheme as last year. A little more vintage I think, traditional decs and things with a more 'homey' feel to them. Alicia and I are going to make our own napkin rings and centerpiece too. I can't wait!

I'm also researching some good local photographers for our family pictures. The last ones we had done were taken when Erica was six weeks old so we are very much overdue for new ones, plus I need a good family one for our Christmas card. I have three shortlisted at the moment, it will all come down to price & value for money because their work is beautiful. I'll be sure to share my top three when we have made a decision.

And the last thing on my list is find some good family movies for our 'movie marathon' on Christmas Eve. Last year we watched the Harry Potter boxset. What are your favourite movies, festive or otherwise? We have a good collection but I am always on the look out for good titles that I may have missed or overlooked so please feel free to share your suggestions with me, I'd love to hear them!

As for Christmas shopping... WELL! I can't say too much here because of little eyes that may be spying on my blog for a hint (hello Alicia!) but I have made a good dent in it already (though running out of room to hide things!) and plan to do some more next week when my topcashback pays out. I am so excited, I love present shopping!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Meal Plan Monday

I have planned and shopped for the next two weeks, so that I can enjoy half term with the kids without needing to worry about writing lists and shopping etc. The children and I planned the meals together again so we have lots of their favourites!

Monday 24th October - Cottage Pie

Tuesday 25th October - Chicken Korma with pilau rice, peshwari naan and poppadoms with mango chutney

Wednesday 26th October - Brinner ("breakfast for dinner" - eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown etc)

Thursday 27th October - Macaroni Cheese with broccoli

Friday 28th October - Chicken Fajitas with nachos

Saturday 29th October - Homemade cheeseburgers and chips with salad

Sunday 30th October - Roast beef served with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, onion rings, honey roasted parsnips, sage & onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, with beef & onion gravy.


Monday 31st October - *HALLOWEEN SPECIAL* Pizza with potato wedges and breaded chicken dippers, plus spooky cupcakes and a scary biscuits!

Tuesday 1st November - Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread

Wednesday 2nd November - Baked potatoes with cheese, baked beans and salad

Thursday 3rd November - Lasagne

Friday 4th November - Chicken Fajitas with nachos, and savoury rice

Saturday 5th November - *GUY FAWKES NIGHT SPECIAL* Sausages & burgers in buns, bacon rolls and fried onions, with homemade chips.

Sunday 6th November - Honey roast Gammon served with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, onion rings, honey roasted parsnips, sage & red onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, with gravy.

Friday, 21 October 2011

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

My #R2BC this week...

1. The windows are DONE DONE DONE. All finished, finally. It took them a bit longer than anticipated but I don't care because they are DONEEEEE. I can feel the difference in the house already, it's wonderful. This means we can now crack on with freshening up the paint in the rooms, and finish decorating the hall, stairs & landing, complete with new carpet! Happy times indeed.

2. It's half term! A week off of lunches, uniforms, school runs, homework, timetables... Just me hanging out with my wee ones having a break from it all.

3. I have made excellent progress with my Christmas shopping. I have made a good dent in it already, and I have almost £200 waiting in my topcashback account which will be payable in a week, so then I can do some more online Christmas shopping, and earn more cashback! It's fabulous. If you don't have a topcashback account... get one here, now! No strings, no fees. It's amazing and so worth it if you shop online lots, like me!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Actually yes, I do have a TV.

A discussion thread on Netmums about large families got me thinking.

What is it exactly that people (in general, not all) find so unacceptable about large families? If the children are looked after, fed, clean, loved and provided & cared for, what exactly is the problem, and more importantly, what has it got to do with anyone else? I assume that one bone of contention is "the benefits issue" which I don't want to debate as everyone has their own opinion on the matter and there are several shades of grey to consider on that subject, but for those of us who do not and have not relied wholly on benefits, why are we made to feel guilty for having more than 2 or 3 children?

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard "don't you two have a tv?", "do you know what condoms are?", "you must have your hands full", "haven't you done your bit for the population?", "don't you know what causes that yet?" amongst other things. None are funny (particularly not after the 1746395th time) and actually most of them are offensive.
Hands down, the worst remark is "have they all got the same dad?"... Well, why wouldn't they have? Does having more than three children require further partners to prevent wear and tear on the old boy? No? Just being rude then? Thought so...

My husband has worked ever since he left school. When he is ill, when he is tired, when it is cold & horrible outside, he still gets up and he goes to work to make sure that we are provided for. He pays our rent, our council tax, our bills, our groceries. He pays taxes like any other working citizen. So, until we are holding our hands out asking for someone else to pay for our family, then any "smart" (term used loosely) remarks are best left unsaid.

Years ago, having a large family was 'the norm'. I myself come from a large family and have four sisters and two brothers. My parents have now been married for almost forty years, they run their own business and have worked hard for everything we had. I had a wonderful childhood, we never went without, we were always clean & tidy and looked after, and I look back on those years when I was growing up and feel very lucky because so many children - no matter the size of their families - don't have that sort of upbringing.

I didn't plan on having five children, but I am so happy that I have them and feel so blessed for what I have been given. Christmases with everyone taking their turn to open a present & sharing in the excitement, Friday movie night with everyone jostling for a place on the sofa or the bean bag, bonfire night with a little row of gloved hands excitedly waving their sparklers, their smiles lit up. Coming home from a family walk, with a little row of muddy wellington boots lined up by the back door. It will never matter 'how full my hands are' because my heart is full too and that is what matters most to me.

There are 'burdens' of having a large family, but those burdens are not the children themselves. I might be tired, I might go without to make sure that my children never have to, I might have little time to myself, but when I kiss their little foreheads goodnight and tuck them in at bedtime, I know that it is worth every single minute, every single penny, every single second of missed sleep I have endured since their births.

My kids don't ever go without. They have a home, clothes, food. We go on family holidays, they go on their school trips, we have day trips out together, nights out, they have toys and gadgets. Their meals are all homemade and healthy, with fresh ingredients. They even get homemade desserts, cakes and treats occasionally. They have the same opportunities as any other child, and they just so happen to have four siblings to share it with.

And probably the most important thing for me personally, is that when the time comes for me to go, I know that they will never be alone in this world. There are four other people there for them who shared their home, their life, their memories, and their love. The five of them will have each other and they will always be there for one another, especially when their dad and I have passed on.

So. If I have five kids, six kids, eight kids, ten kids... Then that is my prerogative as an adult, and unless I ask for your opinion or your money then I expect the same respect for my personal decisions as I give you for yours. There is no right or wrong, everyone is different, but this is what is right for US.

And actually as it happens, I do have a TV. There is just not a whole lot worth watching. I'd rather raise my family.

Friday, 14 October 2011

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

It's that time again! My #R2BC this week are as follows...

1. The boys had a FANTASTIC parents evening consultation this week. I am SO SO proud of my boys, they have done so well and their teachers, as well as the head and deputy head, were singing their praises about how much effort they have been putting in to their work, how well they are doing and what lovely boys they are. In addition, Joshua was selected for the school football team, they played their first matches in the tournament on Wednesday, won both of them and Joshua even scored a goal. It doesn't get better than that! Massively proud mum right here!

2. We have cheesecake for dessert tonight. This is something very minor, but cheesecake is my absolute favourite dessert in the whole wide world. This makes me very happy. It's spiderweb cheesecake, which is plain vanilla with chocolate on the top. I think my favourite cheesecake of all has to be New York baked cheesecake, delicious.

3. Our new windows are being fitted today. Not all of them, it'll take about four days to do the house, but they've made a start and I am very excited for them to be finished because as soon as they are done we can finish decorating the hallway and lay our new carpet, yay!

"No Cook" Week

I have decided to give myself the week off of "cooking", so all of next week's meals are as close to not cooking as I could get without ordering a takeaway, the simplest meals that I could think of. Thank heavens for slow cookers!

Monday 17th October - Lamb Casserole & dumplings

Tuesday 18th October - Chilli con carne served with rice

Wednesday 19th October - 'Brinner' (egg, bacon, sausages, hash browns etc)

Thursday 20th October - Chicken korma with pilau rice, peshwari naan, samosas, bhajis and poppadoms

Friday 21st October - Fajitas with nachos

Saturday 22nd October - 'Choose-your-own' deli Pizza -- as a treat for the kids (er, and me...) because the husband will be away working all weekend *sad face*

Sunday 23rd October - Roast chicken & trimmings

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Spiderweb Cheesecake [Picture]

I made tomorrow night's dessert this afternoon to give it plenty of time to set. We're having Spiderweb cheesecake, how delicious does this look! Cheesecake is my absolute favourite of all desserts, I cannot wait to try it. It'll make a great dessert for Halloween too!

^^ ready to go in the fridge overnight to set ^^

^^ presented ready to eat after dinner ^^

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

How to really love a child.

This was shared with me on Facebook and it was too lovely not to share here, I honestly couldn't have put it any better myself, this just about sums up my feelings about my kids :)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Meal Plan Monday

It's that time again. We've sat and put this week's meal plan together as a family this week so everyone got to choose a favourite. All homemade, mostly Slimming World, please ask if you would like a recipe that I haven't already added.

Monday 10th October - Cottage Pie

Tuesday 11th October - Blue cheese burgers & fries with salad

Wednesday 12th October - Rigatoni alla amatriciana

Thursday 13th October - Chicken Korma & Chicken Dopiaza with rice, peshwari naan and poppadoms with mango chutney

Friday 14th October - Fajitas & cheesy nachos, with spiderweb cheesecake for dessert

Saturday 15th October - Mashed potatoes & pork chops with mixed vegetables

Sunday 16th October - Honey mustard roast beef with trimmings

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Running a bit late! My #R2BC this (last) week -

1. My brother-in-law proposed to his girlfriend! I am so very excited, they are two of my most favourite people in the world and I am so happy for them. I have also been given the honour of being Maid of Honour for them in their wedding, and my youngest is going to be a flower girl. Such lovely news!

2. There's only just over a week until half term. I am looking forward to getting out and having some lovely Autumn walks with the kids. They've got a few days extra off next week too, which means more time to spend with them doing fun stuff and not worrying about school runs and uniforms and lunchboxes!

3. I bought myself some new clothes. I decided it was time for a little wardrobe overhaul and threw out most of my clothes. I've gone for a change, I don't want to live in jeans all the time and have bought some really nice dresses, and some boots with a few different tops to try and mix it up a bit. I always spend so much money on the kids wardrobes and they have plenty now, which means I can spend a little on myself for a change. I've stepped out of my comfort zone a bit, but I really like the new look me and plan to carry it on!