Mama OWL Blog: March 2016

Meal Plan Monday 280316

Monday, 28 March 2016

Meal Plan 280316
Monday 28th
Chicken & chips (with wild rice for me)
Tuesday 29th
Lamb Balti and rice, made with leftover meat from Easter Sunday
Wednesday 30th March
Spaghetti (Courgetti) bolognese in a homemade tomato & herb sauce, with garlic baguette for the kids
Thursday 31st
Chorizo, vegetable & mushroom stir fry
Friday 1st
Chicken Fajitas (no wrap & brown rice for me)
Saturday 2nd
Kids choice
Sunday 3rd

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
*Brinner = Breakfast for Dinner (eggs, bacon etc)

A Sunday Stroll through Central Park | #MySundayPhoto

Sunday, 27 March 2016

It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were strolling around Central Park in New York, enjoying our last day in the city after an amazing few days of sightseeing. Time has flown since we got home and I'll be sharing highlights from our visit over the coming weeks but this is one of my favourite photos - taken right at the edge of Central Park as we made our way down to the (amazing) American Museum of Natural History.


Celebrating Easter with Home Bargains

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Easter holidays are here and with it brings the dilemma of what to do on the inevitable bad weather days. My kids love to make things, and also to bake so keeping them occupied when it's raining is pretty easy and made easier still with the Easter craft range available from Home Bargains. E spent two days home from school poorly with a temperature, but being E she didn't want to lay around and do nothing so she got to work making and writing Easter cards for her class teacher & teaching assistants as well as for the headmaster and deputy head. The cards came in a pack of five with envelopes ready-cut pieces including bunnies, eggs and chicks which made it nice and easy for miss independent to put together her own designs and stick them down.

Our local Lions Club holds a free egg hunt in town for children under 12 which also includes an Easter bonnet competition. E used the Easter bonnet kit from Home Bargains to design her own hat, using pipe cleaners and feathers to complete her creation. She used a fork to twist the piper cleaners into spirals and decorated the yellow hat with fabric bunny cut outs and pom poms, finishing it off with a nest of baby chicks on the top of some colourful tissue paper 'Easter grass'. The kit also includes glue, felt, wiggly eyes and ribbon to enable kids to create their own special bonnet designs.

In addition to their crafty & creative offerings, Home Bargains stock a range of sweetie favourites including Cadbury's Mini Eggs, as well as iced Easter cookies, marshmallow lollies and hollow chocolate bunnies - the perfect treats for the kids Easter baskets. Or you know, maybe for you to sneakily eat when the kids have gone to bed... I don't judge.
Family Fever
We received complimentary craft items for review purposes. All words and opinions are our own.

#LoudnProud - 240316

Thursday, 24 March 2016

It's that time of the week again, welcome to #LoudnProud - you know my favourite thing about this link is that it gives everyone the opportunity to share something that they are really proud of, to take note of an achievement or milestone no matter how big or small and to feel free to do so without being made to feel like it is wrong to enjoy and celebrate success - because it isn't, so come and shout about it.

Weight loss or fitness progress, non-scale victories, getting your teenager to actually wear a coat to school, sports or musical achievements, first steps, first words, or even that the bloody dog has finally stopped chewing everyone's shoes - anything goes. If you're happy or proud about it, then come & share with us and let us celebrate with you.

I'm this week's #LoudnProud host, and we would love to hear all about your special moments and achievements so please do share your posts below. We only ask for you to comment on the host post, and 1 or 2 others linkers - please do feel free to grab & display our badge, and we'd love it if you could share the linky love - thanks! The link up closes at Midnight on Sunday. Tweet @jooleroo #LoudnProud with your posts and I will RT and share them. Next week your hostess will be Sarah at Mum of Three World.

Want to know more about #LoudnProud? Check out the 'rules' here.

Mama Owl

Visiting New York City (Pt I) | #NYCSheps

Thursday, 17 March 2016

I can't even begin to express how utterly amazing our trip to New York City was. We returned home on Monday morning and have come back down to Earth with a bump after our whirlwind four day tour of the city sights and lights. We tried to cram everything in and see as much as we possibly could during our visit because while I am quite certain that we will visit NYC again (and I'm keen to take the children because I think they will love it) there are so many other countries and cities that I want to go to.

We left on Wednesday 9th March, our 14th wedding anniversary, heading to Heathrow Terminal 3 and checking our luggage in before making our way to No1 Lounge that the Mr had booked for us as a surprise. It meant we were able to sit back & relax, and enjoy a small meal with complimentary drinks and snacks (plus comfy seats and free wifi...) until it was time to board our Virgin Atlantic flight to JFK airport in New York.

We arrived late in the evening, collected our bags and then made our way to the arrivals gate where we found the customer transport desk, and they called our airport transfer company to collect us. We had booked return transfers before we left the UK with Attraction Tickets Direct at a cost of £15 per person each way (so £60 in total) for a shared van from JFK to our Manhattan hotel to save any issues or messing about when we arrived in the USA all bleary eyed and jet-lagged. This way we knew it was all pre-arranged and pre-paid so we didn't have to budget it into our spending money either.

It wasn't long before we were loaded up and heading towards the bright lights of the city (at quite a pace, in a lot of traffic with a lot of horn honking), and ours was the first drop off at our hotel, The Millennium Broadway, just off of bustling Times Square after an approximate 45 minute drive which mostly of course was due to traffic. Check-in was quick and easy and we found our way up to our king room on the 36th floor.

Our room was very spacious, clean and comfortable with great views and most importantly a big comfy bed for us to collapse into after a long journey. We dropped off our bags then made a brief trip into Times Square for a first look around and to grab a quick bite to eat and a drink from a nearby deli before going back to our room, ready to sleep off the flight and rest up for the next four days worth of  walking and sightseeing.

We had come prepared for our trip with a handy Marco Polo New York travel guide (available from Amazon for £9.99) that we had pored over in the week before we left. Full of insider information and tips for the best places to eat and things to see, it was a great help and allowed us to build our own itinerary and decide where and when we wanted to visit certain attractions. It also included sample itineraries, and a handy map tucked into the back pocket which we kept to hand at all times. Between the map and New York's grid system, we managed the entire trip without getting lost once which is nothing short of incredible since I'd struggle to find my way out of a paper bag!

The next morning we got up, showered (amazing shower, I didn't want to get out), dressed and packed our bag ready for the day ahead. We pre-booked attraction tickets, again from Attraction Tickets Direct, choosing a FreeStyle Pass at a cost of £94 each. This gave us admission to five different attractions (or it can be used for dining - selections from fixed price menus; drinks and tips are not included), an 'all-round-town' hop on/hop off bus tour valid for three days with several different city loops to choose from and over 50 stops at almost all major landmarks around the city, as well as a hop on/hop off Hudson River cruise ticket that takes you out to view the Statue of Liberty.

The best part about the FreeStyle pass is that you can just choose your attractions on the day, at the venue. When you arrive in NYC, head to the Gray Line City Sightseeing office and redeem the tickets that you will have received from ATD and they will print out and give you your vouchers. All you have to do then is simply swap your vouchers for tickets at each attraction you choose, and in you go. The hardest part for us was choosing what to see first! That first day, we got our tickets and hopped on the first Downtown loop bus to come along at 9am, and headed into the city to take our first bite out of the Big Apple.

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Friday, 4 March 2016

Mothering Sunday is on March 6th and for those of you who are in need of a little inspiration and who would like to spoil your mum with something that will last longer than chocolates and flowers (though those are great gifts too... As is breakfast in bed - hint hint...), I have chosen a few lovely things from to help you on your way.

Now you may be looking at the picture and thinking... Wellies? Really? But yes - wellies! As a mum who spends many a Sunday knee-deep in mud watching kids play sports, wellies make a wonderful gift and I for one would love them. Not just for touchline mums, they are equally as lovely for dog owners who enjoy a walk with the furbabies. 

I love the Harmony Woven printed scarf in Aqua Floral (also available in 'Pink Peony'), I often wear plain tops and jeans - it's sort of become my mum uniform - and a pretty scarf is great for a pop of colour and to liven up my outfit a bit. As well as scarves I do love a funky pair of socks and Joules have a great range of designs available, and currently on offer with three pairs of BrillBamboo bamboo socks for £16.95. Also - great with wellies!

The Kembry printed canvas overnight bag in Navy Rose is gorgeous, and it's handy to have an overnight bag for many reasons including those unexpected hospital trips as well as weekends away. With an overnight bag you need some comfy nightwear, Joules sent me a beautiful pair of PJs, a Mia long sleeve jersey top in 'Porcelain' with a pair of Kelsa pyjama bottoms in 'Hampton Floral', which have become my new favourites. The cuffed leg means that the trousers don't ride up during the night, and the soft jersey material is so comfortable to wear and keeps me warm and cosy during these chilly Winter nights. I'm 5'11" and the leg length is very generous, and the pyjamas have washed well with no loss of shape or bobbling of material.

Check out the Joules website for their latest offers, including their current sale with up to 50% off. You can also find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - join in the conversation at #BrightWithJoules.

I received a complimentary pair of pyjamas for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own.

E's First Gymnastics Competition

Thursday, 3 March 2016

As a parent, your job is to love, nurture and encourage your children throughout their childhood, to support them in whatever way you can, going above and beyond to ensure that they have everything they could ever want or need. This also includes Sunday mornings when it's freezing/raining/blowing a gale/all of the above outside and all you want to do is hide under the duvet with a coffee and a bacon sandwich. If you're a parent of a child who takes part in sport - this is something you will understand all too well.

This past Sunday three of our five children had sporting events to attend - a cup match at Football for J, an away Rugby match for H, & E's very first Gymnastics competition.

The Mister headed off to stand in a cold, muddy field with H first thing and I took E along to her gym and signed her in, ready for the floor and vault comp. She'd got up early and we had attempted to get her very fine hair which is about a thousand different lengths into something resembling a french plait twisted around the crown of her head and pinned into place so it was neat and tidy and most importantly, out of her face.

I convinced her to eat some breakfast but she was very anxious and only managed half, before we got her into her leotard with her joggers and club jacket on over the top to keep her warm. We arrived shortly after 10am and then waited patiently with the other parents from our category  ('6-8 years, 2 hours a week') to be called down to the hall. E's category began a little late, just after 12pm, starting with the vault before moving on to their floor routine. The vault is something she has struggled with when taking off with one foot, she is too hard on herself and then she gets cross and overthinks it, but on the day she nailed it both times and was visibly (& rightly) pleased with herself afterwards.

A video posted by jooleroo (@jooleroo) on

I was too far away to record her on the floor but I sat and watched with bated breath as she moved through each part of her routine, hesitating only one or twice as she carefully completed it, finishing with a bridge in to a kickover before presenting to the judges. I was so proud I could have burst! Seeing her and her mini squad friends in the corner lining up for their presentation, half the age and size of the other girls, and all of them doing so well just made me beam with pride - they were just fantastic and all so brave.

As each name was called during the presentation E stood & waited patiently, clapping for the other gymnasts, before walking to the podium to receive her GOLD medal - she won! Her face was a picture, she had been stood cross armed just before her name was called, thinking she hadn't won anything because the others had all been called forward before realising that that was because she had won the gold. She was over the moon!

During her floor routine

E with her gold medal

A video posted by jooleroo (@jooleroo) on

She always works so hard and I love to see her grow in confidence, now she has competed in-house she knows more about how it works and what she has to do and has really enjoyed the experience. I was keen for her to remember that she is meant to enjoy it, and that it should be fun for her and I think she took that on board. I'm looking forward to sharing many more of these moments with her and watching her progress.

Want to know more about #LoudnProud? Take a look here.

Mama Owl
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