Mama OWL Blog: February 2015

Meal Plan Monday 230215

Monday, 23 February 2015

Meal Plan 230215
Monday 23rd
Tuesday 24th
Slow cooker Lasagne for the Mr & kids,
minced beef in a tomato, garlic & herb sauce with veg for me
Wednesday 25th
Bacon wrapped chicken with mixed veg
Thursday 26th
Bangers & mash (cauli mash for me) with baked beans for the
Mr & kids, and veg for me
Friday 27th
Caveman chilli & brown rice
Saturday 28th
Chicken, bacon & Tenderstem stir fry
Sunday 1st

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

Hard Work = Progress | #LoudnProud

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Since the beginning of the new year, I have undertaken a lifestyle overhaul. I have changed my diet and started taking regular exercise, and am now seven weeks in to a 'better me' and honestly - I feel fantastic, the best I have felt in years. Or possibly ever, in fact.

I have always shied away from exercise because I had a fear of looking silly and worrying what other people would think. But now, I just don't care what other people think of me, to be frank. I am doing this to make myself feel and look better and to be healthier and fitter, and I am really proud of myself for doing something so completely out of my comfort zone and sticking with it, and I am enjoying it so much. Not just because of the progress I have made, but because of how it makes me feel too.

This week I shared my six week weight and inch loss update (because the inches are just as important if not more so than the pounds - I don't want to just 'lose weight', I want to tone up and improve my fitness) and you can read all about it and see my before and after pictures too.

Mama Owl

Meal Plan Monday 160215 | Half Term

Monday, 16 February 2015

Meal Plan 160215 - Half Term
Monday 16th February
Spaghetti ('vegetti' for me) and home-made meatballs
in a tomato, garlic & herb sauce
Tuesday 17th February
Sausage and eggs, with chips & beans for the Mr & kids, and as it's Pancake Day there will be pancakes with various toppings (fruit, cream, maple syrup, chocolate sauce, lemon & sugar etc) for dessert
Wednesday 18th February Pork chops & applesauce with roasted carrots,
and roast potatoes for the Mr & kids
Thursday 19th February
Turkey steaks with mashed potatoes (cauliflower for me)
served with mixed vegetables
Enchiladas (fajitas in lettuce wraps for me)
Saturday 21st February
A cheesy pasta bake for the Mr & kids, chicken & bacon salad for me
Sunday 22nd February
Roast chicken

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Vegetti = sliced sautéed vegetables such as carrot or courgette}

Project 6 Pack | Week Six

Sunday, 15 February 2015

I did it! I did it! I made it to the end of the six week Project 6 Pack course. Honestly, when I started I was so far out of my comfort zone I didn't think I'd get there. I was anxious about not knowing anyone, and it was such hard work, especially for someone like me who does very little exercise beyond swimming and walking.

I have stuck to Laura and Amirah's diet & nutrition advice to the letter because I wanted to get the most out of it. No "Oh if I eat a mars bar nobody will know" - I will know, and in the end it's my body that suffers. I did (and still do) get cravings but managed to quash them with fruit & honey, and if at any point I'd needed a pep talk I could have contacted either of them for support at any time.

I managed to attend 3 classes a week, two on a Monday and one on a Wednesday, but hope to up this to 4 or even 5 a week with a bit of schedule re-jigging for round two, which starts tomorrow. It is hard work, it is tough - but when I leave the studio after class I feel amazing as well as exhausted. I feel so much better in myself that I actually can't even describe it. I am taking responsibility for my health and my body. I want to look and feel better, and Project 6 Pack is helping me achieve my goals.

The support from Laura and Amirah as well as all the girls in class is fantastic, everyone spurs each other on, I have never once felt self conscious or silly despite my initial fears. We are all there for the same reason and everyone helps each other. I am also officially the new Project 6 Pack 'record holder', with the biggest loss in six weeks.

I have lost an amazing 9kg (just shy of 20lbs), 50.5cm (19.8") and my body fat percentage has gone from 36.78% down to 26.83%.

I still have a way to go before I make it to where I want to be, but I am well on my way and feeling motivated, and excited to see & feel my health and body changing and my fitness improving. I hope you'll stick with me and continue to follow my progress, I have had so much support and it really means a lot.

So, without further ado, I promised you some before & after pictures - and here they are.

Chocolate Orange Valentine's Truffles

Friday, 13 February 2015

review post.

Getting kids in the kitchen is so important, teaching them to cook and bake is a vital life skill in my opinion and what better way to encourage them to learn than by taking advantage of special days and seasons, and making some delicious themed goodies.

It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, and something easy and fun for the kids to make is chocolate truffles. The children & I made a chocolate cake, cut a small square out of the inside of the top layer, and added some tasty chocolate orange truffles inside before icing the outside with chocolate orange icing. All you need to make your own truffles is:

300g chocolate
300ml double cream
50g butter (unsalted)

And of course, something to decorate & add flavour to the outside - we used Sugar & Crumbs natural flavoured Orange Zest icing sugar mixed in with some cocoa powder to roll the truffles in before popping them into petit fours cases. You can also use sprinkles or crumbs, or any flavour combinations you like.

Break up the chocolate into small pieces and add to a bowl, and then simply melt the cream and butter together, before pouring it over the chocolate and giving it a good stir until it has all melted and combined. Then pop the mixture in the fridge to chill overnight. All you need to do then is use a teaspoon to roll out a small ball of the chocolate mixture, shape using your hands and then roll it in the coating of your choice before popping it into a case. These are so easy for the children to do themselves and are the perfect home-made Valentine's gift for a loved one.

Sugar & Crumbs have a brilliant range of natural flavoured icing sugars, as well as flavoured cocoa powders and chocolate icing sugars. We received 3 delicious flavours to try out - Orange Zest, Sugar & Spice, & Key Lime - and we have been very impressed by their quality. These icing sugars not only smell divine, the taste is phenomenal - rich & full flavoured but all natural as well as gluten free and suitable for a vegetarian & vegan diet. The fuss-free packaging is eye catching yet compact (handy for my jam-packed baking cupboard!), and the bag is resealable to keep it at it's best until its next use.

Inspire your children's imaginations with flavour - with Easter coming up, what could be better than a home-made carrot cake topped with Sugar & Spice butter cream!

We received complimentary products for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words. All links are no-follow.

Meal Plan Monday 090215

Monday, 9 February 2015

Meal Plan 090215
Monday 9th February
Roast chicken salad, with potato wedges for Mr & kids
Tuesday 10th February
Caveman chilli and brown rice
Wednesday 11th February Chicken wings with coleslaw, corn on the cob & mashed potato for the Mr & kids, brinner for me
Thursday 12th February
Turkey burgers with sweet potato chips and salad
Friday 13th
Chicken fajitas
Saturday 14th February
Happy Valentine's Day to all those who mark the occasion, we'll be having a special family meal together tonight
Sunday 15th February
Roast Pork

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

Project 365 | W6

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Welcome to week 6 of my #Project365 (this year is flying by!). You can also follow our daily progress on Instagram, via the hashtag #Shep365 if you would like to.

032 - Sunday, meaning rugby with H and football with J, the filling of water bottles for the U14s football team (as the Mister is a coach) and two tired boys with muddy boots come the afternoon.

033 - Walkies with Florence & Joey, whilst Flo loves to get outside and go for walk (more like a run), Joey is less enthused about the whole thing and will only walk if Flo is right next to him!

034 - It was parents evening for H & E this week, we received lots of positive feedback about their progress and behaviour (very proud), and some ways to help support their learning at home.

035 - The Mister and I headed in to town to book our flights to Australia this evening for a friend's wedding at the end of next month, and I captured this shot of the church and the beautiful sunset beyond it.

036 - Today was J's 14th birthday, which means birthday cake! I am such a messy baker, but his cake was well received and enjoyed by all.

037 - H & E wanted to go swimming while L had his 1:2:1 lesson, and this is the face of someone who is very excited about that prospect!

038 - Teenage boys are far too cool and grown up for birthday parties of course, so we took J & two of his friends out to eat at a local restaurant. The photo illustrates exactly how cool and grown up J is, I think.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Helping Support Your Child's Learning

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Mister and I went along to H & E's parent-teacher consultation evening this week, and it was a mixed bag really. E, her teacher tells us, is delightful and absolutely flying ahead with her reading, her writing is coming along, and she is making fantastic progress - she has no concerns about E whatsoever, she has settled in beautifully.

After visiting E's class we went upstairs to see H's teacher and were told that H is a lovely, popular boy and she loves teaching him, and that he always tries so hard and is building his confidence and will now ask for help when he needs it, but that he is struggling a little with handwriting in particular, and spelling. I did already know this, as H has always had a little trouble with this sort of thing. He is very good at Maths and Science (his Dad is great with numbers, me - not so much) but English is proving that wee bit trickier for him.

We discussed some strategies for helping to support his learning at home, and I have come up with ways of encouraging progress and bringing him along. The most important thing, is that he wants to learn. The desire to do it is there, so while he has that we have the best chance of getting him caught up or at least continuing his progress. I don't want him to get to secondary school and to have lost that passion for learning, because by then it will be too late. We want the best for him and I am willing to do whatever I have to to get him to where he needs to be.

He received some lovely Tom Gates books for his 9th birthday last November, made up of words and pictures not unlike the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (which we also have), and he has absolutely loved reading them. The fun layout of the book is, I think, ideal for reluctant readers or those who have difficulties. H reads them before bed every night and has been thoroughly enjoying them. I will be choosing some new books for him, and I have printed out some book review sheets for him to fill out as he finishes each book.

I have visited the and websites, and printed off some of their free worksheets for both H and E to support their learning including maths, spellings, and letter formation as well as the book review sheets. I also made my own review sheets about places that we have visited, and movies that they have seen for further handwriting practice. Personally I found that Twinkl was best for early years, and Sparklebox was better for KS2 but they both have lots to offer and are brilliant resources. I have also been recommended by a friend on Twitter though I have yet to check them out - I will be doing so this week.

I've also employed some tactics that I remember from my own school days. For example, I've taught him how to spell necessary using the same method that I used - I told him to remember never eat cucumber, eat salad sandwiches and raspberry yoghurt. For the trickier words, making up a little rhyme or something funny to help them remember is always worth a try and it certainly helped me when I was young, even now I mentally recite that line in my head when writing the word necessary and I'm in my early thirties!

A few others that H & I came up with together are : Naughty = Never Ask Ugly Guys How To Yodel, and Scene = Sometimes Colourful Elephants Need Eggs. City Girl Gone Coastal shared a good one, Because = Big Elephants Can Add Up Sums Easily. H thinks these are great fun and they seem to be doing the trick! Can you think of any?

Do you have any tips, useful websites, or words of advice for helping to support learning at home? I'd love to hear them.

How to raise a 'Successful Human Being'

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

I had a brief discussion with my mother this morning about how much I am enjoying the children now that they're older & more independent. I like that they are able to do for themselves, to think for themselves, and I love watching them grow & learn and become their own people. I actually realise now that I very much dislike the baby stage - as lovely as they are, personally I think they're quite boring and in all honesty I am finding that parenting children (rather than 'taking care of a baby') is much more rewarding.

I love that we can drop what we're doing and go wherever we like on a whim without having to load up with nappies, bottles, bags, pushchairs and all the endless baby paraphernalia that you need or worry that they might need a feed or a nap, or messing up a routine. They feed themselves (the trick with teenagers is getting them to stop bloody feeding themselves), they dress themselves, they are interactive. My mum likened it to being like a dog with pups, after a certain length of time they expect the puppies to take care of themselves and I thought - well actually, yes, because isn't that the whole point?

Eventually, & as much as I will miss them terribly when they're off on their own, I want them to live full, happy and independent lives. As the quote above states, "It's not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings". If my children, as adults, are expecting me to fund their lifestyle, raise their children, or just generally run around after them an exorbitant amount - then in my opinion, I won't have done my job as their mother.

I'm not talking about favours, or babysitting, or buying the odd gift. I will fully expect my children to learn to take care of themselves, and then their own families, without needing constant input from me. I will teach them to cook, clean, sew, budget, save - whatever I have to do to help them find their way in the world, but I do expect them to do it on their own when they leave home. I'm sure I'll end up with a bag of laundry now & again, and "Mum can I borrow a tenner" and the like, but I will draw the line at parenting an adult. I believe that I would have done them a disservice by doing so.

I'm expecting that L will need a different level of assistance as he grows up, but at the same time I expect that he will lead an independent life and have a family of his own one day, too. It might take a little longer to get him there, but having Autism doesn't mean he can't one day be just as self-sufficient as his siblings.

Their father & I will always be there for all five of them no matter what, whatever they need we will always help them if we can - but the key word is help, there will be no constant hand-holding. It's not that unreasonable to expect them to take care of themselves as adults - is it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Meal Plan Monday 020215

Monday, 2 February 2015

Meal Plan 020215
Monday 2nd February
Fish & chips with peas for the Mister & kids, chicken salad for me
Tuesday 3rd February
Spaghetti Bolognese with a home-made sauce and served with courgette 'noodles' for me
Wednesday 4th February
Mexican beef stir fry
Thursday 5th February
It's J's 14th birthday today, and he has chosen pizza for dinner so I'm going to have 'Actifried' peppers and onions with ham & pineapple
Friday 6th
Slow cooker lasagne for the Mister & kids, I'm going to have brinner
Saturday 7th February
Out for dinner with J & some of his friends tonight
Sunday 8th February

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

Project 365 | W5

Sunday, 1 February 2015

It's #Project365 week 5, you're more than welcome to follow us on Instagram too, via the hashtag #Shep365 if you would like to view our photos day by day.

025 - Sleeping beauty, so peaceful.

026 - My little sponge is storming ahead at the moment, she is loving being at school and learning, we are so proud of her.

027 - Delighted with the news that L passed his Tae Kwon-do grading and is now a white belt 9th kup (white with yellow stripe), he collected his belt & certificate at Tuesday's lesson.

028 - Too cute for his own good. Little beastie.

029 - My new toy - a Christmas gift from my parents! Makes the most amazing crispy & light sweet potato fries, and I also had a whirl at making chicken fajitas in it and they were utterly delicious. Looking forward to trying out lots of my favourite recipes in it.

030 - If only all of my kids would come home from school and do their homework straight away! Such a good lad.

031 - The kids and I have been doing some Valentine's Day inspired baking with these beauties from Sugar and Crumbs - post coming up, so keep your eyes peeled for some sugar & spice and all things nice.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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