Mama OWL Blog: November 2012

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Friday, 30 November 2012

The magic of Christmas is creeping in to my house little by little as the 'big day' approaches. We love our family traditions, and it is important to me to share them with my children in the hope that they will one day pass them on to their own children and remember the good times that we had, and the things that we did together to celebrate the festive season.

We bake our cookies and build our Gingerbread houses, make our own chain link garlands with brightly coloured paper strips and write our lists for Santa Claus, and on Christmas Eve we hang our stockings and hope that in the morning, they will be filled with lots of goodies for us to enjoy!

Stuck On You have very generously sent us two beautiful Personalised Christmas Stockings for my daughters to hang up at the end of their bed ready for their Christmas treats. The stockings are a beautiful thick red & cream knit and are embroidered with the girls names in a classic script font, they are absolutely stunning and will make a wonderful addition to our family's festive decorations.

The personalised stockings are not the only thing available from Stuck On You this Christmas, there are Santa Sacks to help organise the gifts under the tree, Christmas mugs to enjoy delicious hot chocolate on these chilly winter evenings and a wide selection of beautiful Christmas gifts to choose from for your loved ones. You can like the Stuck On You Official Facebook page or follow Stuck On You on Twitter to keep up to date with all of their latest deals, offers and news.

** Disclaimer: Stuck On You sent two Personalised Christmas Stockings free of charge for my family to review. The views shared are my own honest and personal opinions of the products.

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

Thursday, 29 November 2012


That really could be the entire post haha, I am so excited for Christmas. In all seriousness, it has been such a busy, hectic week with so much going on, in comparison I think Christmas will be a relief for a few days at home just chilling out with the family.

1. So, L's serial leg casting has begun, and he is now all casted up for the next 4-6 weeks. I posted yesterday about the process and how everything went and I am really pleased with their treatment of him. He's uncomfortable and finding it a bit of a strain but that was to be expected, let's hope that the next few weeks pass without too much upset for him.

2. H's birthday went brilliantly, he had a wonderful day with us and then his party with his friends. He got his Deadly 60s cupcakes for his celebration cake that he wanted too. They all enjoyed bowling, and he had a lovely party tea and everyone sang happy birthday to him. He got lots of lovely presents (the pic below is him with his cards & presents from his friends), and was suitably spoiled before going off up to bed that night a very happy boy. I can't believe my baby boy is seven years old! The time has whizzed by so quickly. He's really growing up in to such a wonderful young man, I couldn't be more proud of him. He has time for everyone and is everyone's friend, loves to help people and do things for others, he really is a little star.
3. The weekend is nearly here, and that means that I get to spend some quality time with the Mister and my babies after a long, busy week. What's not to like about that?

If you want to learn more about #R2BC then head over to Michelle's blog and read about how the linky came about, be sure to link up and share your own reasons to be cheerful too.

Casts away!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Yesterday we took L for his first serial leg casting appointment. I barely slept a wink the night before, I think I eventually closed my eyes at around 4am. I did some googling of the casting while I was roaming the house. I've seen a cast go on before, but I was interested as to how they would prepare his legs if at all, whether it was going to hurt, how uncomfortable it was going to be for him.

After worrying myself into a ridiculous state I did manage to get some sleep. His appointment was at 2pm so the Mister and I collected him and H from school early and set off for the hospital. We headed to the Fracture Clinic and waited, before being called in by L's physio, Grace.

Grace sat L in the chair in the plaster room and explained everything. I was really impressed by their treatment of him, they explained everything step by step, showed him all of the tools they would use and explained how everything worked. While they were doing that, Grace was stretching his legs and feet and he was so busy absorbing all the information about his casts that he barely noticed she was even doing anything, it was punctuated by the occasional "ouch" but mostly he was too busy watching all that was going on around him to be too distressed about it.

He was really made to feel like he was taking part in the whole process instead of it just being done TO him. They got him some gloves so that he could touch the plaster as it was being applied, and told him how it worked. They will re-cast every week for the next 4-6 weeks, adjusting the angle of his foot gradually to stretch and lengthen the hamstrings so that eventually he should be able to walk flat footed. He will have to continue exercises and also wear some supportive orthotic shoes (he's had orthotic boots before which were to help him walk flat footed, unfortunately they didn't work as hoped, which is why we had to move on to serial leg casting) once the casting is complete.

By the end, both of his little legs from the knee to the toe were clad in plaster. He has boots to go on to the bottom that attach with velcro and have a little wedge of felt to support his feet until they are adjusted down some more in the coming weeks. Right now he is a little uncomfortable which is of course understandable, and he is using different muscles which is a little painful for him, but so far so good. He is being SO brave.

We've bought him some thermal socks to wear over the top of his casts, and today some of his friends signed his casts and it's all quite a novelty at the moment... We'll see how things are in a few weeks!

#TheGallery : Eyes

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

One of my favourite things to do when my kids are watching something, or seeing something for the first time, is to watch them, and to see the excitement and delight in their eyes.

Being a mum has taught me so much. Things I might never have known or seen or understood if it wasn't for the children. Being the mother of a child with special needs has taught me even more, and has opened my mind to a world that I might never have realised existed without L. Seeing things from their point of view, understanding the world as they see it. Seeing the wonder of the smallest things, and learning something new every day.

So while they're watching the world, I am watching them... And seeing the world through their eyes.

Snowman Soup

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

There is nothing more delicious than a nice hot mug of Snowman Soup on a chilly Winter's night, and it makes a great treat after an evening of decking the halls for Christmas or while you wait for ol' Saint Nick on Christmas Eve.

Little packages of Snowman Soup also make a great gift to add to a hamper or as a little stocking filler, you can save yourself the work and buy them ready made & pre-packaged with or without a festive mug from Eva's Kitchen in Bradford on Avon.

It's super simple to make - just add a serving of hot chocolate & a portion of marshmallows to some warm milk, use a candy cane to stir, and there you have it! Snowman Soup. Enjoy!

The WINNER of the #FRIENDS limited edition prize pack is...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a limited edition FRIENDS prize pack from Warner Bros Pictures .

The winner has been drawn via on Rafflecopter and the lucky person is...


Congratulations! I have sent you an email so please keep an eye out for it.

Thanks again for all of your entries. Please feel free to follow my blog for regular updates and details of new giveaways!

Snazaroo Face Painting Sticks, Mission Earth, KRE-O BSH Combat Chopper & LOGO [Toyologist Reviews #16, #17, #18 & #19]

Monday, 26 November 2012

Snazaroo Unisex Face Painting Sticks

In truth, here at Mama Owl we're not really into face painting. Mostly, because a few of the kids have uber sensitive skin and/or eczema, and so I have to be extra careful about what I put on them.

We received a pack of Snazaroo Face Painting Sticks to try out in our second box from Toys R Us, recommended for ages 6+. Limited in who I could try them out on, H was the one deemed least likely to have any sort of reaction (just in case) and so H it was! While the Snazaroo Face Painting Sticks are hypo allergenic and fragrance free, as with any cosmetic product it is recommended to try a 'patch test' if you are unsure about sensitivity.

I did ask him if I could get creative or do something Halloween themed but he was not feeling particularly adventurous that day, and instead chose the tiger from the front of the pack. An artist I am not, but I gave it a good go and he was pleased with the result.

The Snazaroos were easy to use and applied to the skin well, I didn't have to apply an awful lot of pressure to the stick when I was painting H's face.

Most importantly, they didn't cause any reaction or discomfort, and when it was time to remove the paint it came off easily with soap and water.

** Disclaimer: Toys R Us sent the Snazaroo Unisex Face Painting Sticks free of charge for my family to review as part of the 2012 TRU Toyologist program. The views shared are my own honest and personal opinions of the product.

Mission Earth

Mission Earth is my absolute hands-down favourite of all the games we have received from Toys R Us during the 2012 Toyologist program. Educational yet simple and lots of fun, this is now our go-to game of choice for family game night and the kids absolutely love it.

Starting out with seven carbon footprint tokens, the aim of the game is to get rid of all of your tokens before answering a question to win the game. Follow the spiral path through space, and then on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere you answer a question and complete an action card, if you get both right then you are the winner.

You have a choice of questions from different coloured backgrounds if you have younger and older children playing (my 'big kids' are 14, 11, 9 and 7), and they are educational without being too difficult, things such as "name three animals beginning with the letter B" or "name three types of tree". L (who has Autism) prefers to watch us play a game a few times before deciding if he wants to join in, but he took great delight in answering the questions with the others and has since decided that he very much likes this game.

The game keeps to its eco-friendly message by being made entirely of 100% recycled board, with the board folding to become the box.

Mission Earth is for 2-6 players and is recommended for ages 7+ which I would agree with. It is priced at £16.99 and available now from Toys R Us. Simple rules, a great message and environmentally friendly, we think it is a great family game, a big thumbs up from Chez Mama Owl.

** Disclaimer: Toys R Us sent the Mission Earth game free of charge for my family to review as part of the 2012 TRU Toyologist program. The views shared are my own honest and personal opinions of the product.

KRE-O BSH Combat Chopper

H and his Uncle M sat down to build the KRE-O Battleship Combat Chopper from Hasbro together one evening when he came round for dinner & to watch football with the Mister. It is recommended for ages 7+, so I knew Uncle M would be able to manage it without too much help from H  ;)

They set out the box with all the pieces on the table and then set about building the model. There are a lot of small pieces to put together so for younger ones it does require an adult's help as it was a little fiddly in places, but it is a great little play set with exciting features, including spinning rotor blades and the ability to fire missiles.

It is available from Toys R Us priced at £19.99, good value with plenty of playability.

** Disclaimer: Toys R Us sent the KRE-O BSH Combat Chopper free of charge for my family to review as part of the 2012 TRU Toyologist program. The views shared are my own honest and personal opinions of the product.

LOGO What Am I?

It took a couple of read-throughs of the rules of LOGO What Am I? before everyone was (almost) clear about what we had to do. We're big gamers here at Mama Owl so we were keen to give this a try, it looked very promising as it is billed as the child-friendly version of the brand & logo recognition game which uses describing, drawing and guessing rather than the standard question format.

It is recommended for ages 8+ and is for 2-6 players, currently priced at £19.99 it is available now from Toys R Us.

In all honesty I think the rules are a little too complex for the younger end of this age group, and that it could have been simplified further. We also had to swap cards a few times as L & H (9 & 7) struggled with reading a handful of them.
It moves at a good pace by using the sand timer although L got a little distressed when his time ran out and we opted not to use it for his turn, though despite this he abandoned his place half way through the game. I think that this game is better suited to older children.

The aim of this game is to travel around the board, landing on either guess it, describe it or draw it spaces along the way, before reaching the winning zone. You take a card and complete the action space you land on, and everyone has to guess the logo or brand. For the guess it cards, if there isn't a 'hint' you could be there a while as the person who has the card can only answer yes, no or maybe which of course does not narrow the field very quickly or easily.

A & J (14 & 11) enjoyed this game, and it is one that I think I will reserve for them to play with their friends or with myself & the Mister. In the end we 'teamed up' A & J with the younger two so they could help each other out and the game went a lot more smoothly! All in all, a good game, clever concept, but better for older children in our opinion.

** Disclaimer: Toys R Us sent the LOGO What Am I? game free of charge for my family to review as part of the 2012 TRU Toyologist program. The views shared are my own honest and personal opinions of the product.

Meal Plan Monday #mealplanningmonday

Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday 26th November - KFC as a treat for L, for "cast day"... Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 27th November - Toad in the hole with chips, vegetables and gravy

Wednesday 28th November - Brinner*

Thursday 29th November - Baked potatoes with coronation chicken

Friday 30th November - Chicken Chimichangas with salad

Saturday 1st December - Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread, followed by some 'Snowman Soup' after a busy afternoon/evening decking the halls ready for Christmas - exciting!

Sunday 2nd December - Sunday Roast with Lamb chops

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
*Brinner = Breakfast for Dinner

#CountryKids from @CoombeMill

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

On the walk to my parents house we often see a little grey squirrel barrelling through the trees in the lane, so we started feeding him every day we pass, leaving some food underneath the tree where we see him sitting most often. E loves doing this and never lets me forget to bring "Mr Squirret" some food when we go out, and here she is emptying the little bag under the tree for him.

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

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happy Thursday! Only 33 sleeps until Christmas ladies and gents, are you ready?

I've been stocking up my Christmas cupboard with yummy treats and ingredients we need for our baking ready for the festivities, including sweeties for our Gingerbread Houses and tubes of the kids favourite chocolates for their stockings, grabbing them when I see them on offer in the supermarket. I've written my Christmas meal plan so I can write my grocery list and book up as soon as the delivery slots become available, so that'll be another job off my list. The children are SO excited, as am I. Mostly I am looking forward to spending time with the kids, lately I feel like I have barely seen them and that is something that really needs addressing. Anyway.

On with #R2BC...

1. I am rocking a new custom URL. I bought my own domain several months ago with a view to swapping it all over but could not for the life of me figure it out. After some faffing around and some advice from Twitter, I finally sussed it and now I am proud to show off my new outfit - Does it suit me?! I even put on a shiny new header to mark the occasion!

2. We have received our final Toys R Us Toyologist review box, and are getting stuck in with the fab toys and puzzles they have sent us. It has been a wonderful experience and we were so fortunate to be chosen to take part, the children have of course thoroughly enjoyed testing out all of the fantastic toys, crafts, games and puzzles and it has given us a great excuse to spend lots of time playing together.

3. L's serial leg casting begins on Monday. I'm not looking forward to it, and I am worried that he is going to be in pain and uncomfortable but hopefully this means it will be out of the way before Christmas. I expect his last set of casts to be off the week before Christmas, or possibly Christmas Eve. Either way, he should be able to spend it cast-free.

We haven't told him when we're going yet because otherwise it will make him anxious and he will worry about it, but the school have been informed and have been telling him about the 'special treatment' he can have when it's time for his casts (getting to use the lift instead of the stairs, not having to do P.E. etc, all things that very much appeal to him!) and the Mister and I plan to tell him this Saturday, so he doesn't have too long to dwell on it, and he'll have H's party to distract him on Sunday before our appointment on Monday.

The school have been absolutely fantastic. I honestly cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for L after the appalling treatment & discrimination he received at his previous school (from which I removed him, and J). Their phenomenal academic progress and L's behavioural progress is evidence enough of what a great school it is, I just wish I had moved them sooner. H is thriving, and J was basically back level with his class when he moved up to senior school. I'll be applying for E to go there too, I wouldn't even consider anywhere else. It is just a wonderful, caring environment and I really admire the entire staff for their commitment. They've made my children very happy indeed, and happy kids mean a happy mum!

Don't forget to check out the links below, and of course thanks again to the host and creator of the linky Michelle. What are your reasons to be cheerful this week? Link up and share with us!

Deck The Halls - Christmas 2012 Meal Plan

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

It's that time of year again, a year ago I posted my Christmas 2011 Meal Plan and detailed all the delicious goodies we were going to eat to celebrate the festive season. I've done a similar plan for this year as we like to keep to our traditions. We are really looking forward to marking the first day of Advent by 'decking the halls' on December 1st, decorating the house and setting up the Christmas tree together before watching a nice festive film and enjoying a delicious mug of "snowman soup"!

I've been storing away goodies to decorate our home-made Gingerbread houses with, this year I have decided that I'm going to have one for the children to decorate and then keep one for myself to decorate on my own. I have a fab simple and delicious Gingerbread man recipe that I use every year. On Christmas Eve I will once again set up the dining table with bowls of sweets and icing and let the kids decorate their house however they want, and then we'll all share it over Christmas and break off bits as and when we fancy some!

While we're on the subject, if anyone in the BA15 and surrounding area is looking for a high quality home-made and large Gingerbread House kit to take home and build with their family, you can purchase one from Eva's Kitchen in Bradford on Avon. They are priced at £12 without sweets, and £15 with sweets. They are also available as Chocolate Houses, in either milk or white and can be ordered now ready for pick up or delivery closer to Christmas. There is a special Christmas offer on at the moment of one Gingerbread House kit, one Chocolate House kit and six hand decorated Christmas cupcakes for only £30, you can email her at to order yours.

Now I've planned our meals I can write our grocery list, so as soon as the Christmas delivery slots are available I can order my shopping and have it delivered to my door. This will also mean less waste, which of course can only be a good thing.

Right, now on with our Christmas 2012 Meal Plan -

Monday 24th December {Christmas Eve}
Breakfast - Pancakes & waffles with various toppings (syrups, sauces, chocolate chips, fruit & cream etc)
Lunch - Sandwiches with various fillings, crisps (potato chips) and fruit.
Dinner - A yummy Mexican inspired buffet with chicken fajitas, quesadillas and cheesy nachos.
Dessert will be home-made mince pies or sticky toffee pudding and custard, and after decorating our Gingerbread houses, before bedtime we will all enjoy Candy Cane Cookies (freshly baked that day by me and the children) with our hot chocolate stirrers and marshmallows.

Tuesday 25th December {Christmas Day}
Breakfast - Pain au chocolat, crepes, and croissants with jam.
Lunch - Roast Turkey crown served with sprouts, leek, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, swede, two potato mash, cauliflower and accompanied by pigs in blankets, onion rings, sausage meat & stuffing and cranberry sauce, topped off with thick turkey gravy. Dessert will be chocolate fudge cake and cream.
Dinner - Leftovers (meaning, everything we had for lunch, in the form of a sandwich) and probably lots of chocolates and treats.

Wednesday 26th December {Boxing Day}
Breakfast - Eggs & bacon, with sausages, hash browns, baked beans, fried onions, tomatoes and toast. Possibly a little bubble & squeak too depending on what is leftover from Christmas Day.
Lunch - Sandwiches with various fillings, crisps and fruit.
Dinner - Ploughman's - mashed potatoes, cold meats and salad.

Meal Plan Monday #mealplanningmonday

Monday, 19 November 2012

Monday 19th November - Sausage & baked bean casserole

Tuesday 20th November - Fish & hand-cut chips with peas

Wednesday 21st November - Brinner*

Thursday 22nd November - Pizza

Friday 23rd November - Enchiladas

Saturday 24th November - Roast Chicken

Sunday 25th November - H's Birthday Party Buffet

I've joined in with Mrs M's #mealplanningmonday linky with this post
*Brinner = Breakfast for Dinner

The WINNER of the £25 Stuck On You voucher is...

Friday, 16 November 2012

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a £25 voucher from Stuck On You.

The winner has been drawn via on Rafflecopter and the lucky person is...

Entry #1141 - ANGIE HOGGETT

Congratulations! I have sent you an email so please keep an eye out for it.

Thanks again for all of your entries, and remember there is still time to enter the Friends Giveaway on my blog right now.

Mama Owl's Most Wanted

Friday, 16 November 2012

I started shopping in January this year. I hit the sales and picked up some great bargains, things that I knew the children would still like come this Christmas or items that I could use as gifts for others (for birthdays & parties through the year as well as Christmas). It's always worth checking out the sales for things that can be used later on, for example like I mentioned before I buy the children's Halloween costumes for the following year in the sale right after this year's spooky celebrations are over. E's costume for 2013 was reduced from £10 down to just £2 (a complete outfit - dress, hat and tights), and the boys costumes were all less than half price and are now all tucked away ready for next year.

I collect the free gift catalogues that just about every shop offers around this time of year and sit the kids around the table with pens and paper and tell them to write me their lists (or draw around things in the catalogues) and I will send them off to Father Christmas (that last bit is normally met with a roll of the eyes from A & J though they do play along for the little ones, I think they secretly enjoy being "in on it"). This has the added bonus of keeping them quiet busy for a while, too!

Obviously I can't afford everything on their lists, nor would I buy them everything they asked for even if I could, but I do try and get one special thing that I know they particularly want. I'm not going to give anything away on here because I know that little eyes occasionally check out my blog (*waves hello to A...*) but I wanted to share some of the top 'wants' on their lists for those maybe looking for inspiration.

Don't forget that I have been reviewing toys for Toys R Us as part of their 2012 TRU Toyologist program if you'd like some more ideas for your 6/7 + year olds, or maybe check out my reviews for DKL Toys for a couple of ideas for younger ones.

One of 14-year-old A's top wants is The Vampire Diaries complete box set Series 1-3 on DVD which is available for £36.60 from She's a huge Vampire Diaries fan and has missed a few episodes from each series so this way she would be able to catch up on all of them. We probably wouldn't see her for days.

I think if J (11) only got one thing this Christmas, as long as it was Fifa 13 for the XBOX he would be perfectly happy. Every time I have asked him what he wants, that is literally it. The game is priced at £38.99 from and they will also price match if you find it cheaper elsewhere online.

Nine year old L's current obsession is Skylanders Giants and he desperately wants the booster pack for the Wii. He's building up his collection of characters and he is very keen to try out the new Giants characters and levels. The pack is available from and is priced at £39.97.

H (soon to be 7) has seen the adverts for the Kurio and hasn't stopped asking for one since. It's available at for £149.99 and if you spend over £100 at Argos at the moment you can claim a £10 voucher (offer ends November 18th, redeemable until December 24th).

As for Miss E, who is 2 & a half, she is a huge fan of dolls & dollhouses and that sort of thing, and after having discovered them at a friend's she has developed a big interest in Sylvanian Families. Littlewoods have Sylvanian Families Cedar Terrace on sale for £37 right now, I'm looking forward to getting started on her collection this Christmas and then expanding it for her birthday in April. Hopefully this will be something that will last a long time and get lots of play time!

To help spread the cost of Christmas, as well as buying little bits and pieces each week throughout the year, I also save with Park. I've actually already started saving for Christmas 2013, as soon as I had finished paying for my 2012 Love2Shop vouchers (which are burning a hole in my pocket, I need to get out and get my shopping finished) I immediately ordered and starting paying for next year's.

Another top tip of mine is to sign up for an account with Topcashback, it is completely free to join and there are no catches or fees. If you shop online a lot (like I do), all you have to do is click through the merchant from the site, your visit will be recorded and you earn a percentage of cash back on your purchase (percentages vary). You can also often find promotional codes listed with many retailers. Since opening my account I have earned back over £400, which I save up for birthdays or the occasional treat!

What do your kids have on their Christmas lists this year? Do you have any top tips for stretching the pennies?

**Disclaimer: This is not a promotional post and I have not been asked or paid to write this, these are entirely my own personal findings of products, websites and retailers that I have come across while Christmas shopping online.

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