Mama OWL Blog: June 2012

New Blogs On The Block

Friday, 29 June 2012

I do love a good BritMums blog prompt, and this week I am going to take great delight in telling you about some New Blogs On The Block.

Let me introduce Sarah, a young mum of three that I met on another blogging site some 9 years + ago. She has just started up her new blog here on Blogger, and you should all go and check it out

Next up I would like to introduce you to a few ladies that I met online way back in 2009 when we all happened to get knocked at the same time, therefore making us all 'Due in April 2010'. These ladies have been amazing friends to me and here are just a few of them, the rest reside elsewhere in my computer but are equally as wonderful and my life has been made a richer place because of their presence in it.

A woman on the edge is in a bit of a pickle...

A stay at home mum confesses...

Little ol' Laura in a big world...

and finally I give you, an Organised Penguin...

Visit and enjoy!

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

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Thursday again already! The weeks are flying by, in a blur most of the time it has to be said. These next few weeks are going to be busy with sports days, school performances and leavers assemblies... I can't believe my J is leaving Primary school, that in September he will be at "big school". Having two kids in Secondary school makes me feel REALLY old I must admit, which is a little bit sad considering I am not even 30 until September 1st!

L is feeling the strain of the last few weeks of term, when things are changing for him and he knows he will be moving classes, and his daily routine at school is all higgledy-piggledy with end-of-term activities etc, we've already had a couple of 'issues' (headmaster on the phone yesterday for example), I am just hoping I can keep L settled, calm & under control for these last few days of school before they break up for the summer... 17 to go!

So, let us consider my reasons to be cheerful, with everything that is going on...

1. I am SO grateful that L attends a school that understands his special needs and works with him to help him understand & learn to control his feelings, who WANT to help him and teach him rather than thinking he is too much like hard work and turfing him out. I don't think I will ever be able to thank them for all that they did for me and for him after I removed him (and J) from his previous school, after they treated him like an animal and refused to let him play with the other children, made him sit and watch the Christmas meal/party that they told him he wasn't allowed to attend (this was the day I came in to get him at lunchtime, emptied the boys lockers and walked out), and told me that his Autism was my fault for bad parenting (yes, seriously).

The boys current school is amazing, and I appreciate everything that they do and have done for my boys, including getting J back up level with his peers after his last school failed him and allowed him to fall behind despite me asking them to help him. Incidentally the NQT he had the final term before I took him out of that school didn't have his contract renewed the following year because of his poor performance, J would just have slipped through the net if I hadn't acted & taken them out of there. Their current school is FANTASTIC, and I just cannot stress it enough.

2. The husband has been getting on with the decorating that we started months ago and the house is looking lovely, new flooring in the kitchen (at last... the last floor we had was ruined by the washing machine after it leaked about 2+ years ago!) and I have finally replaced my leaking kettle & broken toaster with beautiful shiny new red ones, all the doors have been repainted, the bathroom redecorated completely (it looks so pretty!), our bedroom finished, the hall, stairs & landing carpeted... It is all coming together so nicely. I will share some pictures if anyone is interested in seeing his hard work.

3. I am so grateful that I have such a great family. My own little family of course, yes, but in this instance I am referring to my parents C & P, my sisters L, J, N & E and brother, W. We've had a great couple of weeks celebrating Father's day, being together to remember our Grampy, and starting out in a new joint venture which I am excited to tell you all about very soon. I shared some pictures from our annual family barbecue here. They drive me crazy sometimes but I do love them very much.

Don't forget to check out the other blogs who have linked up (below), and be sure to visit the host & creator of Reasons to be Cheerful, Michelle at Mummy From The Heart.

Family Fun

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I wanted to share these pictures from our annual Father's day barbecue, these are my fantastic siblings L, J, N, E & W and all of my nieces and nephews. We're missing my brother-in-law G as he was working (from the blondies family in the bottom corner!) and my eldest nephew N (should have been pictured with my eldest sister L, her partner & her two daughters also at the bottom) as he was poorly.

We had such a great day and the kids had a great time playing on the bouncy castle, the weather was lovely and there was lots of yummy food. Can't wait to do it again next year!

#TheGallery : Hands

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

For the gallery this week, I am sharing this picture of one of my youngest daughter Erica's hands when she was tiny wee, because wrinkly baby fists (along with baby feet) are just too scrummy.

And the winner of the Short Pyjamas from Stuck On You is...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Stuck On You short pyjamas competition ended at midnight last night, thank you so much everyone for all of your entries and for sharing the link with your friends and family.

I have drawn the winner using and I am delighted to announce that the lucky person who will receive a brand new pair of personalised short pyjamas from Stuck On You is...

Entry number 15

Congratulations Beci! I will be in contact to arrange delivery of your prize, thank you very much for taking part.

Thank you very much to Stuck On You for their generous prize.

Universal truths, the Laws of Sod

Monday, 25 June 2012

I have been pondering over the weekend, about universal truths. The laws of sod. Things that are inevitable. I've compiled a small list...
  • The postman/courier/someone will knock on the door just as you go to the bathroom. Usually just as your backside hits the seat.
  • The one day you forget the changing bag, is the day that your child will fall in the mud/have a nuclear assplosion/get soaking wet.
  • You're expecting a phone call, but need to pop outside for literally minutes (out to the bin, to the car etc). The phone will ring while you are gone. You will hear it, race back inside but miss it by fractions of a second. You'll probably hurt yourself in the process.
  • You have a delivery booked, you have to wait in all day with an 8-6 slot. The delivery man will come rolling up at 5.55. The weather will also be lovely.
  • Your child will have a screaming meltdown at the exact moment and in the exact place that you would rather they didn't. Middle of the supermarket, centre of town, on a day out... And telling them 'sshh' by the way, only makes them scream louder. You've probably just told someone how good they are too, especially when out & about.
  • Your child will ask to use the toilet somewhere where there are no public toilets.
  • They will also repeat something you had no idea they had heard you say, usually to the person it was about.
  • If you wear white, you will spill something on it. Or someone else will. Either way, make sure you have Vanish or Napisan in your cupboard under the sink.
  • You will run in to an ex/someone you dislike when you look like a beast.
  • Within an hour of hanging your laundry out on the line, the grey clouds will roll in. Or someone in a neighbouring garden will light a bonfire.
Please feel free to comment with some of your own!

Remembering Grampy

Monday, 25 June 2012

Remembering our dear Grampy Charlie, who passed away a year ago today.

"Loved with a love beyond all telling, missed with a grief beyond all tears.
To the world he was just one, to us he was all the world.

An understanding heart,
An intelligent mind,
We miss you Grampy,
You were one of a kind."

Meal Plan Monday #mealplanningmonday

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday 25th June - Baked Cannelloni

Tuesday 26th June - Brinner

Wednesday 27th June - Cheesy broccoli & penne bake

Thursday 28th June - Baked potatoes with a large mixed salad

Friday 29th June - Chicken Fajitas served with cheesy nachos

Saturday 30th June - Hand-cut chips, poached eggs and baked beans

Sunday 1st July - Roast garlic chicken served with mashed potato, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, parsnips, onion rings, steamed mixed vegetables and sage & onion stuffing, with gravy

The likelihood of the ass-covering pants

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Caitlin Moran has the right idea when it comes to pants. Sometimes, indeed most of the time, I just want some comfy pants that ensconce my backside in its entirety and don't require yanking out of my arse crack numerous times a day. Of course we like pretty knickers that we wear for special occasions, or to match outfits, or just because we fancy wearing some frilly kecks that day.

But really what I would love, about 95% of the time, is panties that don't get in a bunch or a wad, that don't give me a wedgie, that don't feel like cheese wire, and that actually COVER MY ASS.

I have just spent the last hour searching online for some new pants because mine are looking decidedly old & past their best, but unfortunately all I can find are;
  • boy shortswhich my arse will stick out the bottom of, and really I don't particularly enjoy wearing something that looks & sounds like it was made for my sons.
  • french knickerstoo fussy & lacy for every day wear, I'm not expecting Christian Grey to come bursting in to ravish me at any minute so really quite unnecessary.
  • thongsagain... really? Okay for occasional wear & to prevent VPL of course but I'm not anticipating a visit from Sisqo so I don't think anyone else really cares.
  • and some weird strappy belt-like bandana style that, if my ass had eyes, would make it look like it was wearing a disguise.
So I shall continue on in my quest to find some nice pants that are pretty & practical but actually do their job of dressing my derriere. That is, if such things actually exist.

Wish me luck, because failing that I will have to resort to apple catchers.

#SatCap - Saturday is Caption Day!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

My little moomin, leaning over the edge of the sofa playing with her toys, and then it all got too much and she zonked out mid-play, dropping her toy back in the box!

Caption if you can!


Thursday, 21 June 2012

In January 2006 soon after the birth of my fourth child, I took a good long look at myself in the mirror and hated what I saw. I was overweight and looked horrendous, I didn't look anything like myself, not the me that I knew.

That was when I started Slimming World and in just over a year I managed to lose 4.5 stone with a change of diet and gentle exercise. In the years that have followed, I have had another child, and my weight has fluctuated a little. I am currently 1.5 stone heavier than I was in 2007 after my 'big' weight loss, however having been unable to exercise in the past four months it was to be expected, the extra half a stone crept on in that time (or rather, it was carried on by chocolate and cake... and probably a bit of wine & rum if I'm honest) and the other stone comes and goes as it pleases it seems.

But recently I have realised that I just don't care. I have been so hung up on what other people thought of me, would they think I looked fat? Could I get away with that outfit? Am I in danger of having Green Peace come to my aid if I wear this bikini on the beach, or being harpooned if I dare swim in the sea? Since my holiday I have questioned myself about this. Why do I care what other people think about how I look?

I thought to myself, am *I* happy? And the answer is yes. I am finally happy in my own skin. I don't have the body of a supermodel, I never have and I never will. I don't want that, to be perfectly honest. I am happy being me, as I am. Maybe I will lose that extra 1.5 stone, maybe I won't. The only person it affects is me and quite frankly if I want to eat a bag of Cadbury nibbles in front of the TV on a Saturday night without fretting over how many calories it is then I bloody well will and I will enjoy every single sodding one. If I decide I want to lose weight, then I will do it for me and not because of what other people think. I know I'm not fat, sod what anyone else thinks.

I have a big bum, wide hips, wobbly thighs, deflated boobs, skinny wrists, knobbly knees, stretchmarks and a bit of a belly... And frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

It has taken me nearly thirty years, but I have finally realised that I love me just the way I am, wobbly bits and all.

I have linked this post with #oldiesbutgoodies at 3 Children and It

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

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
Welcome to this week's #R2BC, as always please go and show some comment love to our lovely host Michelle at Mummy From The Heart, and also check out the links at the bottom to read what is making other bloggers feel cheerful or grateful this week.

1. Logan got to experience his first residential school trip and stayed away from home from Monday-Wednesday this week. I've naturally been anxious about how things would go but the school were well prepared and he had been made aware of how things were going to be and what he would be doing each day etc. so we packed his bags and off he went! He had a fantastic time and was as good as gold, he really enjoyed it but missed us all bunches and is pleased to be home.

2. My family all got together for our annual Father's Day barbecue yesterday, belated as my Dad was working away last weekend. We have lucked out with the weather every year and ended up moving it from the weekend to yesterday to guarantee the good weather. We had a lovely family afternoon celebrating Father's Day, and remembering our Grampy who passed away a year ago on June 25th.

 3. We had a lovely Father's Day last weekend. The kids treated their dad to a fully stocked beer fridge which has taken pride of place on the worktop in the utility room, just in time for the Euros, and made him some cards. He had a cooked breakfast in bed with a coffee and the morning paper, served to him by the kids, and we enjoyed a lazy afternoon watching movies and having our weekly roast. It was just perfect!

What are your reasons to be cheerful this week? Link up below!

#TheGallery : Family

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

This is one of my absolute favourite photos ever. When my youngest was very small she was kicking around in the living room on the pillows while we were getting ready for the school run early one morning, I came in to the living room and found this. Only a phone shot because it was the first thing to hand, but I couldn't miss the moment.

#50BookChallenge - Books 13 & 14 (Rachel Caine & Jodi Picoult)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I need to step up my game, we're halfway through the year and I am no where near halfway through the challenge! I have a stack of books to get through though so fingers crossed I am going to be able to make up the time and get this challenge completed by the time Big Ben rings in 2013.

I have completed books 13 and 14 of the challenge, as detailed below...

(Morganville Vampires) THE DEAD GIRLS' DANCE - Rachel Caine

Honestly, I really struggled with this one. It took me ages to read because it just wasn't holding my interest. There was a lot going on, it was a very busy story, but nothing really seemed to 'happen' and it seemed to go in circles for a while before eventually coming to a conclusion. I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first and I am unsure if I will continue to read the rest of the series.

HOUSE RULES - Jodi Picoult

As I have said before, I am a huge JP fan and I haven't read a book of hers that I haven't enjoyed. As a parent of a child with Autism this story, that of a teenage boy named Jacob who has Asperger's and is accused of murder, appealed to me on a personal level and I was keen to read it. There was one small thing that I was slightly disappointed about, in that Jacob's mother seemed to be very isolated and have no friends at all, whereas from my own personal experience, I find that parents of children on the spectrum actually tend to reach out to other parents who understand them, parents with children also on the spectrum. I felt she could have perhaps drawn on that for support during Jacob's court case. Parents of special & additional needs children almost have their own community and are certainly keen to aid those in need so it would have been nice to have had that included in some way. Besides that, it was a deeply moving story and I really felt that JP told this tale beautifully and sensitively. The book moved me to tears on a couple of occasions, it really tugged at the heart strings and made me consider the teenage & adult years for my son. A good story, well told.

Father's Day Cake

Monday, 18 June 2012

The kids and I were inspired after seeing the idea online, and we set about making a very special work of art for the mister for Father's day.

I baked the cake for them (plain vanilla sponge), and iced it with plain white rolled fondant, and and cut out the word 'Daddy' for them, and then bought them some special food colouring pens and let them have at it. Unfortunately I misplaced my red ribbon and he got stuck with pink...
They were really excited to be able to decorate it themselves with whatever they wanted and got stuck in drawing pictures, writing messages and their names and just doing whatever they fancied.

Alicia took great delight in drawing a 'troll face' (her current favourite thing) on it and writing random expressions that only she understands ("Ooh Jennifer" being one of them. We don't know anyone called Jennifer...) and Harrison wrote his name and drew a football as well as other swirly lines and pictures. Logan wrote 'World's Best Dad' and Joshua joined in with drawing some pictures too. Erica stabbed it a couple of times before managing to draw some lines and dots and I helped her write her name. It was a lot of fun!

Meal Plan Monday #mealplanningmonday

Monday, 18 June 2012

Monday 18th June - Cheese & Onion pie

Tuesday 19th June - Sticky chicken, mixed salad and mashed potato

Wednesday 20th June - Sausage casserole with baked potatoes

Thursday 21st June - Spaghetti Bolognese

Friday 22nd June - Chicken Enchiladas

Saturday 23rd June - Macaroni cheese with broccoli

Sunday 24th June - Family Barbecue *weather permitting, meal out if rained off*

Saturday is Caption Day! #SatCap

Saturday, 16 June 2012

My girls invited themselves in to my bed this morning and then started messing about and wrestling, the two year old getting the better of the thirteen year old more often than not!

Caption away!

Lemon & Poppy Seed Tray Bake [Recipe]

Saturday, 16 June 2012

After receiving my Graze nibble box this afternoon which contained a slice of lemon & poppy seed cake with some afternoon tea, I was motivated to make one for all of us to share because it was just SO good.

I modified the ingredients of Tana Ramsey's Lemon Drizzle cake recipe from the BBC Good Food website slightly and it turned out rather well, it is delicious!

This is how I made my tray bake:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 225g self raising flour
  • Small handful of poppy seeds (I literally just threw in a small handful, use your own discretion for this one)
(for the drizzle topping)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 85g white sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 180c / fan 160c / gas 4.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the 4 eggs one at a time until combined.
  • Sift in the flour, and then add the lemon zest and poppy seeds and mix thoroughly.
  • Grease/line a tray (the one I used is 8" x 12" and just over 1" deep), pour in the mixture and place in the oven for approx 30 minutes (this may need adjusting to suit your own oven) and a skewer inserted in to the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, make the drizzle topping by adding the sugar to the lemon juice and stirring well.
  • When the cake is cooling on the rack, prick it all over with the skewer or a fork and pour over the drizzle topping.
  • Leave it in the tin until completely cool, then remove and serve.

I have linked up this post with Make, Do & Push! for Cake Week.

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

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
I've had to dig deep today. I've just had a very draining week emotionally and really just fancy it to be over and done with. It isn't anything Earth shattering and there are people a million times worse off than me, but you know how sometimes you just think stop the world, I want to get off... Yea, that. However, there are always things to be thankful for and so lets think about them shall we, rather than dwelling on the crap.

1. Harrison has been moved up a group in his swimming. He's taken to it like, er, well, like a duck to water! He is loving his lessons and really enjoying them, I am pleased to see him making such good progress and knowing that it has been money well spent. Logan has also been making great progress in his swimming and I think it is doing him the world of good to be exercising his legs and getting used to the water.

2. The only thing more annoying than not having a dishwasher in a seven-person household, is having one sitting in your kitchen that is not plumbed in. It has been sitting there for weeks, taunting us while we washed the dishes by hand. However, the brother of a school buddy of my husband's came and plumbed it in a couple of days ago for us, and it is amazing. I honestly do not know how we managed so long without one.

3. My husband has finished decorating our bedroom and it looks b-e-a-utiful. I love it, I will be sharing pictures very soon when we have finished adding all the little finishing touches. My old man is a star  :)

Living in hope.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

When you have a child you hope that everything will be all right. You are aware of all the risks, but still, you hope. You hope that your pregnancy will be successful and healthy, you hope that you will deliver a healthy baby at the end of nine months. As I said in my Great Expectations entry, you can hope, you can dream, but it doesn't always go to plan and you are never quite sure what life is going to throw at you next. You are venturing in to the unknown and hoping that you can find your way.

Logan was born weighing a healthy eight pounds nine ounces, nine days overdue at 2.20pm on August 19th 2003. Blonde hair, blue eyes. He was angelic looking, a really beautiful baby. He's growing up in to a handsome young man who has moments of sheer comedy genius, he is so smart and so funny and while he has challenges to face every day, he seems to come through it smiling and takes everything in his stride.

But there are times when I sit in the bathroom crying (this morning being one of those times) because we've been given yet more bad news, more tests, more appointments, more things to make him stand out even more than he already does. When I gave birth to him I wanted him to lead a full, happy and healthy life and all that seems to happen lately is setback after setback. Tests followed by tests followed by questions that never seem to get answered. We get bounced from specialist to specialist and never really find anything out, never quite get the answers we need. I don't want him to see me cry. I don't ever want him to think that it is him that is making me sad. Because it's not, it's everything that he has to deal with that is making me feel sad, and I will cry all his tears for him so that he doesn't have to feel any more pain.

I want him to spend his days smiling. I am thankful that he is mostly oblivious to the way he is treated by a lot of people. Those who exclude him from birthday parties because they think he's weird or doesn't behave like a typical kid (the sad thing is, it is the parents who implement this more than the children a lot of the time). Those who won't play with him because he doesn't ever quite understand their game. The kids who won't invite him to play football because he can't run like they do, he doesn't have the ability to kick the ball or keep up with them. The world can be a cruel place for people like Logan. Being made to feel like being different is something bad. Being ignored, being completely misunderstood, being ridiculed for seeing the world in a different way, for dancing to a different tune. I willingly bear the pain of that knowledge for him, I never want him to know how nasty and ignorant people can be and I will protect him from that with every last breath in my body. I hope that one day, everyone will see him the way I do and accept him as he is.

I want him to keep hold of his positive outlook. He starts his days by getting ready for school, pulling on those boots that are large and cumbersome and uncomfortable because that's what he has been told to do to make his legs better, to help him walk properly. He doesn't complain (often), he just does it. He gets on with it, he accepts that that is what has to be done. When he went for his MRI, he did as he was told and was still while he was scanned, he lets us stuff him in to machines, poke him, prod him, pull his legs around without question. He goes through so much and never does that smile of his falter. I hope that one day he will be able to stand tall and walk without discomfort like he does now.

So right now while I sit here and wait for yet another phone call after chasing up results for the MRI that has once again thrown up more questions than it has answers, the thing that keeps me going is picturing his little face. Knowing that he is relying on me to get him the help he needs, and to fight for the acceptance he deserves. I hope that soon we will have some real answers. And even though it is breaking my heart, I will keep going tirelessly until we do.

If Only I'd Known!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

If only I'd known - what an amazing journey pregnancy would be!

I think one of the best things about pregnancy, is that you don't know what to expect. It's exciting. It doesn't matter if you're on your first, second, or even fifth... There is always that air of mystery. From the sex of the baby, to the weight, who he or she will look like, right down to when that little bundle will arrive (always overdue if they're anything like mine. Absolutely no manners). You have your best guesses, but mostly, you never quite know what is around the corner. You can be completely blindsided, pregnancy can be a minefield.

I have been one of the fortunate ones. I have had mostly trouble-free pregnancies, fast and straightforward labours & deliveries, and healthy babies. I can say with my hand on my heart that I did enjoy my pregnancies... Most of the time. Not everyone is so lucky.

For the first three months with both of my girls, I spent my time laying on the bathroom floor groaning. When I wasn't doing that, I was praying to the porcelain god. Face in the loo, arms wrapped around the bowl asking my husband why the baby hated me so much. For the first three months with my three boys, it was worse. I wasn't vomiting, I just constantly felt like I was going to. Absolutely nothing alleviated it. A few times I had to make myself sick just to get ten minutes break from it, but it didn't take long before it was back.

SPD, also known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Ladies who have experienced this have all just winced and crossed their legs. Oh yea. The burning sensation between the bones of your pelvis that makes you feel like your foof is actually ON FIRE. Walking up stairs, turning over in bed, hell even taking a few steps from your living room to your kitchen? Forget it. You will not want to move. Sometimes you will not actually be able to without crying. I can recommend a maternity belt for this, they won't stop the pain, but they do help. Luckily I only experienced this at the end of pregnancy number two, and throughout pregnancy number three. Despite baby number four being over a pound and a half heavier than #3, I didn't suffer at all until the third trimester with him, and only very mildly (in comparison) late on with number five. I am clearly a glutton for punishment.

What else... In the third trimester you might have to look forward to backache, sleep deprivation (getting any sleep, or indeed even remotely comfortable, with a watermelon attached to your front is next to impossible, this serves its purpose to prepare you for when baby arrives, I think), haemorrhoids (yea, I said it), constipation, restless legs, constant (constant!) peeing, stretchmarks, leaky boobs, skin breakouts, watching your stomach grow so large it should form its own website, being hungry towards the end of pregnancy and not being able to eat because you are too full of human that there is just no room for your stomach to hold any food, going right off of certain smells (I had to change washing powders and washing up liquids, and still had to stand at arms length for risk of hurling if it dared invade my nostrils), bursting in to tears because you forgot to get the meat out of the freezer for dinner, raging at your other half for BREATHING JUST SO LOUD... You never really know what is going to crop up next. Or even why sometimes, for that matter.

But the best part? Holding that mewling, scrunched up bundle that has been kicking you to death from the inside out for the first time, looking in to their eyes as they are blinking and trying to take a good look around at their new world, that is worth every minute of missed sleep, every tear you shed over absolutely nothing. Seeing yourself and your partner etched in to their features, and the sense of achievement you feel when you have brought them safely in to the world. It doesn't matter how they arrived, they could have been helicoptered in by the SAS in a dawn raid (your nether regions will probably feel like that is exactly what happened to be brutally honest), all that matters is that your wee one is safe in your arms, that you have produced your own little miracle.

So as for what to expect when you are expecting... Expect to have your world turned upside down. Life as you know it will be turned on its head and it can be amazing and awful in equal measure, but what comes next is worth every minute, so buckle up those maternity belts and enjoy the ride.

This post is Mama Owl's entry into the Aptaclub ‘If Only I’d Known…’ competition

Family Movie Review - A Monster In Paris

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The children and I watched "A Monster In Paris" (2011) during a particularly rainy afternoon in half term, we closed the curtains and wrapped ourselves up in blankets and duvets on the sofa and just enjoyed a movie together as the weather was too awful to venture out (as it has been before and since for several weeks, anyone else bored of the rain now? Summer please!).

We chose this one as it looked quite exciting and perhaps a little different to your usual family offering. There are a few scenes with mild peril which may upset some younger ones, my children are 2, 6, 8, 11 and 13 and enjoyed this movie, although the 2 year old fell asleep and snored through most of it. Not because the movie was boring you understand, just because it happened to be nap time anyway.

This movie is a French animation, set in Paris during the great flood of 1910. The story centres around Emile, his friend Raoul and cabaret singer Lucille (Vanessa Paradis). Emile & Raoul cause an accident in a laboratory which brings about the existence of Francoeur, the 'monster'. As always - I do not want to give the plot away and ruin it for those who would like to watch it, but in brief, the friends have an adventure of sorts, in which they must save Francoeur.

It is an exciting tale, with pretty and 'dreamy' French animation, and also features some really great songs. My children thoroughly enjoyed this movie and is one we will certainly be watching again.

** Disclaimer : This is an honest & personal review of a movie rental that was paid for out of my own pocket, and has not been endorsed by any agency for promotional purposes.

WIN a pair of personalised short pyjamas for your child from Stuck On You!

Monday, 11 June 2012

I'm thrilled to be able to offer my readers the chance to WIN a beautiful pair of personalised short pyjamas from

The lucky winner will receive one pair of short pyjamas, personalised with the name and design of your choice. There is no cash alternative to this prize.

Harrison's personalised Short Pyjamas from Stuck On You
For further information about this wonderful prize, please read my review of Harrison's short pyjamas here and also visit the Stuck On You website to see the wide selection of beautiful designs available.

To enter the competition, all you need to do is:

Leave a comment with your name & a valid email address (you can opt to email me your contact details if you prefer not to share your email address openly on the web), stating your size and design preference for the short pyjamas, whether it is for a girl or a boy, and your chosen name to go on the pyjamas. Please be careful to spell the name correctly!

To earn up to SIX additional entries, you can also:
  • TWEET "I want to win a pair of short pyjamas with @jooleroo & @stuckonyoutweet"
  • FOLLOW @stuckonyoutweet on Twitter
  • FOLLOW @jooleroo on Twitter
  • LIKE 'Stuck On You' on Facebook
  • LIKE 'Mama Owl Blog' on Facebook
  • FOLLOW my blog Mama Owl on Blogspot via Google Friend Connect
and leave a comment for each additional entry, stating that you have done it (eg: "I have followed on Facebook *name*" or "I have tweeted, @name" or "I already follow you, @name" etc. to confirm entries).

Note: You do not need to sign up to Blogger to leave a comment on this blog, comments are open to ALL (pending moderation) to enter this competition. Your email address is only required in order to contact you in the event that you win.

The competition closes on Monday June 25th 2012 at midnight, and the winner will be chosen at random using a number corresponding with their entry generated from and announced on my blog on Tuesday June 26th 2012. The winner will have one week to respond to my email and contact me to confirm their win and claim their prize, after which time a new winner will be drawn. This competition is open to UK residents only.

Good luck!

Meal Plan Monday #Mealplanningmonday

Monday, 11 June 2012

Monday 11th June - Cottage Pie

Tuesday 12th June - Chicken korma served with rice and naan bread

Wednesday 13th June - Cheesy vegetable pasta bake

Thursday 14th June - Caribbean Lamb served with steamed vegetables & new potatoes

Friday 15th June - Chicken fajitas and cheesy nachos

Saturday 16th June - Gammon steaks, egg & chips

Sunday 17th June - Roast Beef served with mashed potato, roast potatoes, parsnips, steamed vegetables, onion rings, yorkshire puddings and gravy

#SatCap - Saturday is Caption Day!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

It's Saturday, that means caption day is upon us once again. Here is a picture of two cheeky little monkeys hiding under the table while enjoying lunch in a local Cafe. Caption at will!

Stuck On You Personalised Pyjamas - Review & GIVEAWAY

Friday, 8 June 2012

I was delighted to be selected by Stuck On You to review a pair of their personalised Short Pyjamas for Summer, which comprises a t-shirt with matching striped shorts.

I was spoiled for choice with their extensive range of designs for both boys and girls, not only did I have to decide on a design, I also had to pick which child I was going to be choosing the pyjamas for!

After some indecision I finally decided on selecting some pyjamas for Harrison, after seeing their simply lovely 'transport' design featuring a fire engine, car, digger, dump truck, motorcycle and airplane. Harrison is absolutely mad on all things vehicular so it was perfect to say the least (although my eye was also caught by the gorgeous owl designs on offer which would have been perfect for Erica). The quality of the print is outstanding, and Harrison loves having something personalised with his name, as with so many siblings it can be hard to keep track of belongings at times.

The t-shirt is 100% cotton, and the matching striped shorts are 100% cotton jersey making them exceedingly comfortable to wear, and beautiful quality. Harrison couldn't wait to put them on at bedtime and immediately told me he liked how soft they were. The 'shortie' style of the pyjamas is ideal for the Summer time, they would be perfect to wear & stay cool through a hot summer night, or even if the heat is generated from the radiator (all hail the great British summertime) they would still allow for a comfortable night's sleep.

Being a typical six-year-old boy, we've needed to put them through the wash already, which for the purpose of this review was handy as we parents understand that the wash is as important as the wear, and I am pleased to report that they have washed well at 40 degrees with a non-biological powder, and they have retained their shape and colour. We did not tumble dry them, but left them to dry naturally on a clothes airer.

The shorts are available in either navy or pink stripes, and there are a wide selection of beautiful t-shirt designs to choose from including transport, owls, cupcakes, bugs, robots, pirates, circus and jungle amongst many, many others, you will be spoiled for choice. RRP for these Short Pyjamas is £24.99 and will make a beautiful addition to your child's wardrobe, and are also ideal as a thoughtful personalised gift for a loved one, perhaps for a birthday or Christening.

If you prefer long pyjamas, or indeed other clothing items such as bathrobes, vests, t-shirts and even bibs then be sure to visit the Stuck On You website to view their extensive range of products, ranging from clothing to invitations and puzzles. You can also like the official Stuck On You Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter at @stuckonyoutweet to keep up to date with the latest news and offers.

On Monday 11th June 2012 I will launching an exciting giveaway for one lucky person to WIN A PAIR OF PERSONALISED SHORT PYJAMAS from!

Stay tuned for all the details on how to enter for your chance to win this fantastic prize.
(NB: comments on this blog are open to all, you do not need to have a Blogger account to enter)

*Disclaimer: I received the Short Pyjamas free of charge for the purpose of this review, and the prize will be supplied by Stuck On You direct to the winner when the competition closes. The review is my own personal & honest opinion on the item. Many thanks to Stuck On You.

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

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

As always, don't forget to visit the #R2BC host Michelle at Mummy From The Heart by clicking the linky above, and please visit the other lovely bloggers who will link up over the coming days using the form below and spread some comment love.

1. My bedroom is being decorated! Woo! This does mean that we are tramping it up sleeping on our mattress in the living room for the next few days, but at the end of it we will have a beautifully decorated room (and it also means we get to watch tv in bed, which I am all for, morning coffee with the news while tucked up in bed suits me just fine). I am very excited to see it finished. I have taken some before pics and will look forward to showing you the transformation when it is complete.

2. It's half term! Unfortunately it has done nothing but pee down with rain (nice drought we are having, eh) but that means we have spent lots of time watching movies and playing games and just hanging out without worrying about routine, and having to go places or even get dressed on some days. Lazy? Yes, but if you can't have lazy days in the school holidays, when can you?

3. I have managed to go to the cinema not once, but TWICE in the past couple of weeks **alert the media**. First was to see 'What To Expect When You're Expecting' (hilarious, you can read my personal review here) with my sister, and then to see 'American Reunion' with my husband, which was also hilarious. Two great movies, two great evenings out which I thoroughly enjoyed. There are some family movies coming out soon which I am really looking forward to taking the kids to see, especially 'Ice Age 4', we are BIG Ice Age fans in this house, and also Disney's 'Brave'!

How & when do you find the time to... #Meme

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I've been tagged by Mrs JC in this #meme started by Sex, Drugs, Rocker and Stroller.


  • Please post the rules.
  • When answering the questions, please give as much detail as possible.
  • Leave a message on Sex, Drugs Rocker and Stroller, baby, so we can keep track of the meme and I can totally steal your routine tips to make my world a happier place.
  • Also if you want (and I'd really like you to) add a little paragraph at the bottom to give a general summing up about your weekly routine.
  • Tag 3 or more people and link to them on your blog.
  • Tweet tweet tweet #howdoyoufindthetimetomeme

Righty-o. Lets crack on, shall we?

How and when do you find the time to...

... do your laundry?

I live in a family of seven, including a toddler and a teenager, and BOYS. Three of them... My life is a constant merry-go-round of laundry. On the two occasions that my washing machine has broken I have practically had a nervous breakdown at the prospect of not being able to do the laundry. It is done daily, at least one load, usually two. The toddler fortunately isn't too hard on her clothes but the boys come home from school looking like they've been mud wrestling or knee-skidding through grass. The teenager, my word, it's like an awards ceremony with the amount of outfit changes she can go through in a day. I am lucky in that I have a utility room, otherwise my house would look like Widow Twanky's laundry. Just call me wishy-washy.

... write a blog post?

Evenings usually, when the small ones are in bed and the television has been taken over for Football or The Vampire Diaries. I hide myself away in our little office, and blog away to my heart's content. Often I draft them in my head beforehand, it's just a case of wittering them all out in to blogger before they disappear off to the realms of what I was meant to do yesterday, and where did I leave my keys...? Scheduling is my friend, it allows me to keep things ticking over even when I don't have a chance to get on the PC.

... look after yourself (ie; wash your hair, paint your nails, take a bubble bath etc)?

Again, evenings. I'm not an enormous fan of the bubble bath I have to admit, it's a bit like stewing in your own juices for my liking and I always feel the need to shower after, so unless I have had a particularly exhausting day that requires a bit of lazing in the tub, then I cut out the middle man and go straight for the shower.
Painting my nails, either teen does that for me (the joy of a teenage daughter who likes to beautify everything) or I call in my lovely friend Shelley to come & sort my feet out for me. I rarely paint my fingernails (unless, as I said, teen does it) because I am always so hands-on with everything they only last five minutes & it's a faff to have to keep touching my nails up. But I do like having pretty feet, and so Shelley introduced me to the wonders of nail wraps which are still going strong after a month, they'll need re-doing but only because they will have grown out, not because they have chipped off.

I'm very low maintenance. I don't have a lot of time for faffing with hair, make up & nails and so I stick with minimum effort for every day (light & natural make up, clean fingernails, semi-styled in a messy bun hair) and then I glam up for evenings out (a proper face of make up, fancy nails, styled hair). I always wonder where the fun would be in glamming up for a night out somewhere, if you spend every day caked in make up and done up to the nines anyway? Not really my thing.

... spend time with your other half?

Er... Am I supposed to do that then? ;)
We've been married for over ten years now. We've reached a stage where we know that it is great to spend all of our time together and be together etc etc, but it is also great to spend an evening just sitting together, even if we don't speak. I can be sitting on the sofa reading, while he watches 'Top Gear' or whatever, and we don't *need* to be in each others pockets and spend every hour of every day with each other. Just knowing that the other is there is more than enough.

We have our date nights, my niece will babysit and he & I will go out for dinner and then to see a movie, and we thoroughly enjoy that time, just as much as we enjoy cuddling up on the sofa at home & watching 'Swamp People'.

... do fun stuff with your LO?

We manage to find fun stuff to do every day even if it is just at home making biscuits or colouring pictures. We go on days out, holidays, weekends away, we go for family walks in the woods, evenings watching the balloons take off from the park, watching sunsets at the white horse, scooting through the country park... There is fun to be found in every day activities, they help me make dinner, we have impromptu movie afternoons after school and they'll all pile on the sofa while I fold laundry in the room with them, we sit and play Happyland while we eat our lunch. The time is there, we just have to use it wisely.

... spend time with family?

As mentioned above ^^ we grab every available opportunity to get away and do things together. Everything else can wait. I would rather come home to a sink full of dishes after a great day out with them, than spend time cleaning while they sit around at home feeling bored. They're only little for such a short time. Get out and enjoy it, the dishes will still be there when you get back.

As for my extended family, I spend a lot of time with one of my sisters and her two children. We take the kids to stay-&-plays, or go shopping, or just hang out together at our houses. I see my other siblings here and there but everyone is busy so we usually just keep in touch by text. We have had a family barbecue for Father's Day every year but I don't know if it will take place this year due to unforeseen circumstances. It'll be a shame if not, as last year we lost our Grampy just after Father's Day and it would have been a nice way to remember him a year on, to have a little tribute to him, to be there for our parents & mark the anniversary of his passing, and also spend time all together with all of the children so they can play, but... we will see.

... socialise with friends?

As the years have gone on I have seen my circle of friends dwindle down to almost zero. I admit I haven't always been proactive with arranging nights out, get togethers etc. But friendship is a two way street and if at any point I have felt like I was making more effort than the other person, or they were not responding to my efforts with them, or like we have grown apart, then I have taken a step back & distanced myself. My time is precious, if I am not spending it with my family then I will only make time for those who are willing to make time for me.

Therefore, I don't see many nights out or 'friends' any more. But the ones I have left are the genuine ones, who I know are there for me when I need them, and vice versa. So, not much socialising going on, but I do have a couple of true friends at the end of the phone who are there for a shoulder & an ear when I need them. You know who you are, innit.

... prepare an evening meal juggling a baby/toddler routine?

We have dinner between 5.30-6.30 every day. Bedtime is 7.30 onwards. Dinner, bath time, bed time. It's pretty standard. If I can I prepare the meal during the day, or throw it in the slow cooker if I am able, otherwise the kids pitch in and help prepare dinner while we talk about their day at school and toddler will sit at the table cutting up vegetables with her plastic cutlery, or sorting pennies in to jars, or drawing. Sometimes if I have the music on she dances on the table, but that is not something I encourage, and also something I hope is not a prelude to a future career.... *worried face*

... deep clean your house?

Um. Er, we do that every day, yea... *cough*... Ok really, about once a month/maybe six weeks on a Sunday we all spend the day having a big clear up together. Everyone cleans their bedrooms, we find any stray laundry and wash it, we all have a room to do and we all help get it done. Then we have a massive roast dinner and watch movies all afternoon. It's not an exact science but it works for us.
Our house is not spotless, it's lived in. Sometimes it looks lived in by a gang of hobos with a housework phobia, but it is clean even if it is not tidy. There are usually toys on the floor somewhere, maybe a plate & a couple of cups by the sink and probably a pair of socks stuffed down the side of the sofa, but that's because we LIVE IN our home, it's not a show house.

... do the food shopping?

I meal plan and grocery shop online every Monday a week in advance. Our groceries are delivered on Mondays, after they arrive I sit and choose the meals for the following week and order everything in. I refuse to drag my kids around the supermarket after they've been at school all day. I hate supermarkets, they hate supermarkets, it's just less stressful for everyone to do it online. PLUS, it saves me money because I am not tempted to pick things up as I go round. I get what I need for my meals as well as our regular buys, job done.

... bulk ironing?

*falls about laughing* the ironing is done as and when it is needed. We operate a iron-and-wear policy in this house.

Allllllrighty then. Who shall I tag...?
I pick Confessions of a Stay-at-home Mum, New Mum Online and Brownlee Banter.
Take it away, ladies x

Family Movie Reviews - Puss in Boots & Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

As I have mentioned before, we LOVE our regular family movie nights and generally have them on a Friday after our fajitas or occasionally on a Saturday if we haven't managed it the night before. Last week however we sneaked one in midweek after school, which was 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' (2012), and a couple of weeks before that we watched 'Puss in Boots' (2011).

Starting with Puss In Boots, I have to say I was expecting a poor spin-off of the very popular Shrek movies and expected it to be a bit of a let down, but I was very pleasantly surprised indeed.

Antonio Banderas is the (er, rather sexy) voice of Puss, and this movie tells the tale of Puss' life before he meets up with Shrek & friends. I won't give any of the plot away for those who have not seen it, but there are several laugh-out-loud moments for the grown ups as well as the kids. I particularly enjoyed the dance off, and 'Ooh' cat!
My children were glued to this from start to finish and have watched it several times since with just as much enjoyment as that first time.

This movie also boasts the voice talents of Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis and Billy Bob Thornton amongst others and has a very clever storyline that kept us interested throughout the movie, and is one we will enjoy together again & again.

As for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, my children were chomping at the bit to see this as they LOVE movies with different and, well, mysterious creatures in it. The kids are big fans of Dwayne Johnson (admittedly, Mummy is too... *ahem*) and really enjoy his other movies and so were excited to see that he was starring in this sequel to 'Journey to the Center of the Earth'.

This is a great movie for all ages, it is aesthetically pleasing with lots of colour and interesting movie effects and also includes a generous helping of silly humour and exciting action scenes. There is something for everyone and is suitable for all, very 'child-friendly' and something that everyone can enjoy together, a big thumbs up from us!

** Disclaimer : This is an honest & personal review of two movie rentals that were paid for out of my own pocket, and have not been endorsed by any agency for promotional purposes.

#Jubilee Baking

Monday, 4 June 2012

The kids and I indulged in some good old fashioned home baking for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend. We also cheated, and bought a ready-made flan base for our Union Jack flan. But the cakes were all our own work, and we had a great time making them.

Yesterday we enjoyed a Jubilee inspired 'big lunch', we invited my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew round to ours and together we enjoyed a traditional Sunday roast. We had a big joint of beef, and also some chicken for the littler ones and we sat and ate our meal while the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla on the River Thames was on the television. We had a lovely day despite the rain, the kids managed to get some play time in out in the garden before the heavens opened.

Here is the flan, which I also posted yesterday as my Silent Sunday photo. Ready-made flan base, I whisked up some double cream and filled the base, and then washed the strawberries and blueberries before chopping them up and arranging them on top of the cream. It was delicious I have to say. Simple, but effective.

We also made some chocolate cupcakes, topped with piped vanilla buttercream roses and sprinkled with red, white & blue sugar strands and also a little edible glitter. Harrison is a dab hand at sprinkling!

In the blue cases are our mini Victoria sponges. These were primarily Joshua's handiwork, he measured the ingredients and mixed it up into a batter and then we worked together to decorate them by splitting them in half and filling them with strawberry jam and the leftover whisked double cream from the flan. On top we sieved over some icing sugar, before splodging on a dab of double cream and arranging some strawberry slices.

Meal Plan Monday #mealplanningmonday

Monday, 4 June 2012

Monday 4th June - Sticky chicken & mashed potato served with a large mixed salad

Tuesday 5th June - Spaghetti Bolognese served with garlic baguettes

Wednesday 6th June - Macaroni cheese served with steamed broccoli

Thursday 7th June - *Brinner (*Breakfast for Dinner)

Friday 8th June - Chicken Fajitas, served with cheesy nachos

Saturday 9th June - Deli Pizza

Sunday 10th June - Roast Gammon served with apple & herb stuffing, steamed mixed vegetables, roast potatoes, mashed potato, breaded onion rings, honey roasted parsnips, yorkshire puddings and gravy, with apple & strawberry lattice pie for dessert
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