Tag Archives: family

The Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Britmums have challenged bloggers to take the #OreoCookieQuest Challenge. And as one of the first 100 to sign up to the challenge, I received two free packets of Oreo cookies, for the family to enjoy a tasty treat.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

I decided that we would have a fun Oreo cookie quest at home. I hid the treats and thought up some clues for the hiding places, then gave the clues to the boys for them to figure out.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Son1 immediately headed to the kitchen and after a false start rummaging through the chiller drawer in the fridge, he discovered his first Oreo in the fruit bowl.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Meanwhile son2 rushed upstairs and found Oreos on my pillow.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

They found most of the Oreos quite quickly, but the final hiding place was a bit more tricky. They were on the right track looking in the freezer, but they needed a little hint to prompt them to look inside the ice cream carton. What a delicious combination of 2 Oreos and ice cream, 2 being the perfect serving size.

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

Oreo is celebrating The Great Oreo Cookie Quest with a fun and interactive way to win great prizes. Oreo fans have the opportunity to win a once-in-a-lifetime wonder-filled trip to California and the Googleplex through an on-pack promotion. I downloaded the app to try our luck and son2 had great fun scanning for Oreos. He found about 25 in half an hour but this is his favourite below. No points for guessing where he scanned. Certainly not one of the places I would choose to hide an Oreo!

Great Oreo Cookie Quest

So try your luck by popping a pack in your trolley on your next shopping trip. And I’ve still got another pack of Oreos left. Think I might try using them to cook a tasty treat for the family. Anyone got a recipe suggestion for me?

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Disclosure. This post mentions a product that I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. This post is an entry for BritMums #OreoCookieQuest, sponsored by Oreo.

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Guest post: Awesome things you can do when you have kids

One would say that parenting is extremely frustrating. However, I would never say so. For me, being a fully established mother also means having fun with my girls all the time. Every day with them is a new and priceless memory that I will remember forever. From my extensive experience, I can safely claim that there is a multitude of activities you can enjoy just because you have children. Here is the list of awesome things you can do, without being laughed at!

Buying toys you didn’t have in your own childhood

As a child, I had numerous amazing toys. However, no matter how much my parents tried to buy me everything I wanted, the sole range of toys one could buy back then was significantly smaller. That’s exactly why I have always dreamt of playing with Lego bricks, Barbie dolls or ridiculously cool toy vacuum cleaners. Of course, it would be impossible for me to play with such stuff in my 30s and still prove that I’m mentally healthy!

Finally, I came up with a great idea- to provide my girls with all the toys I love! Now, I’m playing with them all the time, with the excuse that they are too young to know how to play properly.

I can still sing silly songs in the car!

As a teenager, I was a huge fan of NKOTB. My largest dream was to attend all their concerts and to buy all their promotional items. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford them. As the time went by, some other boy bands reached the peak of popularity.

Today, as they get in the car, my girls want me to play One Direction. I’m pretty sure that I’ve managed to memorize all their songs by now. Now, both my husband and I really enjoy singing them at the top of our lungs! What’s even funnier is that no one bothers this just because of our kids sitting in the backseat! As One Direction’s (probably oldest) fan, I’ve decided to provide my little angels with the accessories I come across. They have already collected a bunch of posters, tees, mugs, watches, CDs and DVDs.

Awesome things you can do when you have kids

I can finally watch cartoons all the time

I will never understand why all grownups stop watching cartoons. For me, they are the most innocent way of having fun. Unfortunately, neither my husband nor my friends wanted to watch them with me. Now, that I have kids, I can watch animated movies all day long. Until now, we have seen best Disney movies, from classics like Cinderella, Bambi and Sleeping Beauty to the latest ones such as Frozen and Cars. Even more, we bought annual passes to Disneyland in order to meet all the characters whenever “my daughters” want to. With kids, it is never awkward to stand in line enthusiastically!

Decorating your kids’ room just as you’ve always wanted

When it comes to home renovation, I set my girls’ bedroom as a paramount. As a kid, I never had a room on my own. For years, I was picturing every detail in my perfect, imaginary nook, from walls, curtains and furniture, to even the tiniest accessories like scented candles. Luckily to me, I have two little princesses who still let me redecorate their room every once in a while. Although my husband thinks that I’ve gone nuts, I’m enjoying it as long as I can. I know that, once they grow up, my daughters will want to do all this by themselves.

Dance parties after dinner!

No matter how foolish it might sound, my family throws dance parties all the time. Usually, such moments happen spontaneously, after dinner. We listen to music and, as soon as the meal is over, we jump and start dancing like crazy. Even daddy enjoys it, which always makes me laugh. I cannot imagine him doing any of these things before the kids.

Jumping on a trampoline

Jumping on a trampoline is one of those activities I have always wanted to try. However, when I was a kid, it practically impossible. Luckily for me, today there are numerous amazing trampoline fitness centers, which can also serve as great kids’ birthday party venues. When I heard of such centers, I came up with a silly idea to organize a surprise party for my husband. At first, he didn’t even want to come, but later on, he was speechless. I planned everything in advance and invited a lot of our friends with their kids! We all jumped on trampolines, danced and listened to music. In a nutshell, we had the time of our lives!

Baking cookies all the time!

My girls simply enjoy my culinary skills! That’s why I bake various cookies all the time, even when I have no good reasons. Most important of all, I really enjoy it. I always look for reasonable excuses, telling that the kids are the ones who enjoy making and decorating their own sugary treats. I don’t even mind that the kitchen is in such a mess once we’re done!

Awesome things you can do when you have kids

Building sand castles

I’ve always loved spending time at the beach. Now, my girls keep reminding me of how amazing building sand castles is. Since they have no idea how to make a firm sand castle, mommy is always there to help! Even worse, I’m always so focused on my new “construction project” that I completely forget about all other kinds of activities! Finally, I can completely relax, without being laughed at!

Awesome things you can do when you have kids

Organizing an epic water gun fight!

Is there anything more fulfilling than organizing an epic water gun fight? In our family, it has become tradition. Every summer, we use it as one of most amazing methods to cool off and have a lot of fun. Once, I even grabbed a hose in order to defend myself against my raging children! We laughed a lot!

All in all, my point is that, when you have kids, you can always act silly. It is an amazing way for you to make your parenting much simpler and joyous. Try any of these tips and you will realize what I am talking about. Have fun!

About author:

Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She loves cooking, baking, sewing, spending quality time with her daughters and she’s passionate in writing. She is contributor on High Style Life and her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” Find her on: Facebook.

Our Norfolk holiday

UKbreakaways have challenged bloggers to share their passion for the UK destination of their choice. I was already planning to tell you about our great holiday in Norfolk. And I’ve also included a couple of my holiday tips as holiday autos have asked bloggers to share their holiday hacks.

Son1 has been remarkably well during the maintenance phase of his chemotherapy, so we felt confident enough to book a holiday in advance rather than leaving it to the last minute. We booked a cottage in Norfolk, an area of the country I have not visited before in memory. Although my mum told me I had been to Cromer aged 3.

We stayed in Snettisham in the north of Norfolk and from there visited nearby places and attractions including Hunstanton, Sandringham, Kings Lynn and Wells-next-the-Sea. Our favourite beach was at Holme, sandy rather than stony. Being more remote, it was quieter than most. We discovered that beach by following a previous guest’s recommendation in the visitor’s book at our cottage. One of my top travel tips is to research your holiday locality by checking out the leaflets at the tourist information and I always read visitors books for ideas.

tourist leaflets

Fun on Holme beach

Fun on Holme beach

We were staying within walking distance of Snettisham Nature Reserve. It was lovely wandering round the lake, seeing the geese and wild plants. Although the anglers and bird watchers may have preferred it without our two loud boys’ presence. And the boys enjoyed having a few early blackberries as we walked.

Snettisham Nature Reserve

Snettisham Nature Reserve

Our favourite attraction in Kings Lynn was Lynn Museum. There was lots to occupy the boys giving us time to properly read about the exhibits. I found it fascinating to find out all about Seahenge there.

Horse ride at Lynn Museum

Horse ride at Lynn Museum

At Wells-next-the-Sea we walked from the town to the beach. And afterwards whilst I walked back, the boys loved riding back on the miniature railway. They also enjoyed eating pancakes on board an old sailing boat, The Albatros which has been converted into a restaurant.

Harbour Railway, Wells-Next-The-Sea

Harbour Railway, Wells-Next-The-Sea

Our cottage was small and cosy, but well equipped with plenty of games and toys to entertain the boys, and lots of books for me. We didn’t know that in advance, so I had followed my other usual travel tip of packing small things like balloons, bubbles, beach balls, colouring for the boys. There was no WiFi at the cottage, so it was great to spend less time online.

The boys had great fun on the beaches, paddling, building sandcastles and collecting shells. And when we got torrential rain, there were indoor play areas, museum, ten pin bowling, swimming pool and arcades.

Son1 was overjoyed to win a toy at kids Bingo at one of the nearby caravan sites.

And it was a delight to see the ducks and chickens wandering round outside from the small-holding behind the cottage. There were even alpacas.

I’ve written a separate blog post on the wonderful lavender farm at Heacham also encompassing Farmer Fred’s Play Barn, a favourite of the boys. I also intend to blog about our lovely day at Sandringham , so watch out for that.

Norfolk fun

Norfolk was wonderful. I certainly want to go again. Where do you love visiting most in the UK?

Disclosure. I’m entering this post to the Ukbreakaways travel competition and to the holiday autos travel hack competition.

Draw With Me – Family

Last year I found a nice kids drawing competition on “This Mummy Loves” blog which my boys enjoy taking part in.  It is a monthly competition and this month the theme is Family.

Son2 put quite a bit of effort into his drawing of our family doing it twice, as he declared that he was too big on his first drawing. And son1 initially said he was going to a family tree of our extended family including grandparents and cousins, but changed his mind and spent only a couple of minutes drawing us a stick family.

Our family by son2

Our family by son2

Our family by son1

Our family by son1

This Mummy Loves...

This post is an entry to Draw With Me.

A holiday in Margate

During February, son1 seemed to be doing quite well with his chemotherapy treatment, so we decided to take a chance and book an Easter holiday in Margate. We can’t get travel insurance, so we knew this was a risk, but it is nice to have something to look forward to. Roll forward 6 weeks to a few days before we are due to go and son1’s temperature spikes to 38 deg. Luckily he wasn’t neutropenic last week, as the temperature threshold for hospitalisation reduces by 0.5 deg to 38 deg in that scenario. And the morning before we were due to go, he was sick, but he bounced back later in the day. He was fighting off some sort of bug, but we had his 3-monthly appointment with the hospital consultant on the morning we were due to travel and she was okay with us going ahead with the holiday.

So we drove down to Margate last Monday in horrendous rain, but at least son1 was feeling better and he remained well for all the holiday. We enjoyed a complimentary cream tea on arrival at our hotel. And the weather improved. A blustery start to Tuesday but no more rain. After getting cold at the Viking play area, we retreated indoors for a game of ten pin bowling. And by the afternoon, the sun came out. One of our newly purchased buckets lasted all of 10 minutes before the handle broke and by Thursday had split entirely.

Our room had a sea-facing balcony and we had fantastic views of the sunset. I wasn’t expecting that with Kent being on the East. What a bonus, especially as the sun remained with us for the rest of the holiday. We even got a little pink from the sun, as we had packed winter coats, not sun hats and sun cream.

Sunset from our hotel balcony

Sunset from our hotel balcony

As well as paddling (no I didn’t venture into the freezing cold water myself) and building sandcastles, the boys had fun at the kiddies beach playzone and we enjoyed playing crazy golf a couple of times. Son1 beat me by one point. We had huge breakfasts at the hotel, so didn’t bother with lunch. Then we found some nice places for either tea or a very early evening meal, as son1 has to take his chemotherapy each evening an hour after eating. Our hotel also had an ice-cream parlour. My favourite flavour was the salted caramel. We gave the Wimpy Bar a miss, but seeing it brought back memories of my Saturday job over 30 years ago, as the branding looked pretty much unchanged. I didn’t even realise that Wimpy Bar still existed.

Wimpy Bar - a blast from the past

Wimpy Bar – a blast from the past

And all too soon we were heading home today, but it was lovely to have a break. And we also visited Broadstairs and Ramsgate, plus a visit to Reculver Roman fort.

Reculver Roman Fort

Reculver Roman Fort

Mecca’s Mother’s Day Memories

I came across a blogging competition sponsored by Mecca Bingo via Michaela. Mecca Bingo have challenged bloggers to create a collage of family memories. This can be from past Mother’s Days, memories, days out with the family or special days to you. Anything you like.

This sounded like fun and I have loads of photos of our family memories, but I’m almost always behind the camera. Being a mum is important to me, just as my mum is special to me too. So in the end I’ve decided to just feature four special memories in my collage.

The first photo is of my eldest son as a baby and me. This was taken on my first Mother’s Day as a new mum, complete with my Mother’s Day flowers on the mantelpiece and balloon.

The middle photo was taken on holiday in Spain in 2011, also of my eldest son and me. This was the last time we went somewhere hot on holiday. My husband was out of work for over a year after that, so we couldn’t afford an expensive holiday, but we did have some enjoyable house swaps in the UK in 2012. And then my son was diagnosed with leukaemia in May last year. He isn’t allowed to fly until after his chemotherapy treatment finishes in 2016, so hot foreign holidays are just a memory at present.

The bottom photo was taken when my son was well enough to come home from hospital. It is a treasured memory as it is the first time he was well enough to have some fun on our trampoline, which we had only assembled on the day he first started complaining of pains, 3 weeks before his diagnosis. He wasn’t mobile enough to try jumping, as he had to be carried onto the trampoline, but he is now happily bouncing around again.

And the big photo is a memory that I am a very proud mummy of. My son with his Little Star Award and certificate last December. Plus a certificate for his younger brother, who was also impacted by his brother’s illness, missing his mummy, being looked after by friends and family whilst we were at the hospital. Little Star Awards are to celebrate the courage of children in the UK who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Casserole and Cake

I took a day’s leave off work yesterday, so that I could attend son1’s Autumn concert for his year at school in the afternoon.  It was a lovely event.  The children all did very well and there was even a special role for son1, giving out programmes. But I used the morning to catch up on chores and to do some cooking.  I tidied a corner of the garden, picking some gone to seed onions, that got missed from last year’s crop, but they didn’t yield much – less than the equivalent of one large onion. I prepared a casserole (including the onions) ready for tea and baked a cake.

Onions rescued from the garden

Onions rescued from the garden

Meatball Casserole

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

20 Richmond Mini Meatballs (200g)
4 Medium to Large Potatoes
1 Onion
4 Carrots
25g Lentils
Sausage Casserole Mix

Method

Peel and chop potatoes, onion and carrots.
Put vegetables in large casserole dish.
Add lentils and meatballs.
Tip casserole mix into a jug and add cold water according to packet instructions.
Stir and pour over casserole.
Cover the casserole dish with a lid.
Cook in fan oven at 160deg for 1 hour.
Serve and enjoy.

Meatball Casserole - ready to cook

Meatball Casserole – ready to cook

Meatball casserole - serve and enjoy!

Meatball casserole – serve and enjoy!

I was planning to bake a Cherry and Almond cake, but found I didn’t have enough cherries, so I modified it to a Fruit and Almond cake.

Fruit and Almond Cake

Ingredients

175g margarine
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
75g glace cherries
125g mixed dried fruit
few drops of almond essence
75g ground almonds
1 tablespoon milk

Method

Grease a 17cm round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Cream margarine and sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Sieve and fold in the flour.
Add almond essence.
Chop the cherries in half.
Fold in the ground almonds, mixed fruit and cherries.
Add enough of the milk to give a dropping consistency.
Spoon mixture into tin.
Cook in fan oven at 160deg for 40 minutes.
Cover with foil and cook for approx 10 more minutes.
Cool on wire rack.

Spoon cake mixture into tin

Spoon cake mixture into tin

Fruit and Almond Cake

Fruit and Almond Cake

Yummy! Enjoy!

And I thought I’d enter my cake for The Great Bloggers Bakeoff which is being run by Jenny of Mummy Mishaps and Helen of The Crazy Kitchen.

mummy mishaps

A busy week

I’ve rather neglected my blog this week due to other priorities, the main factor being that I started back to work.  This was after an absence of over 6 months, since son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia on 3rd May.  But son1 is about to move into the maintenance phase of his chemotherapy on Monday, and since his medication will all be orally administered at home, we should be able to get into a more normal routine.  I’m very glad he doesn’t need to have any more lumbar punctures or intravenous drugs.  His blood counts yesterday were finally high enough for chemotherapy to recommence on Monday.  This is 2 weeks later than planned, as his blood counts had been very low following the delayed intensification phase.

It did feel strange being back at work after such a long absence, but everyone was very welcoming and wanting to know how son1 is doing.  But over 1200 emails waiting in my inbox was not quite such a welcome sight.  The boys were already fairly settled in their routine, so it didn’t seem to cause them any issues.

It has meant that we need to have quick simple evening meals, so I’ll share what I made for tea yesterday.

Sausage and noodles

Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 2 children)

1 Mattessons smoked sausage (200g)
2x 108g packets of instant noodles,
100g sweetcorn

Method

Measure out water according to noodle packet instructions into a saucepan.
Add the contents of flavour sachets and bring to the boil.
Add the noodles and cook until liquid is absorbed.
Meanwhile slice the sausage and heat in a wok.
Add the sweetcorn.
Add the noodles.
Serve and enjoy.

Sausage and noodles

Sausage and noodles

And finally here’s a photo of son2 from last weekend dressed as a knight. He went to 2 parties last weekend, one of which was a knights and princesses party. And son1 is going to a party tomorrow.

Son2 made a sword at the party

Son2 made a sword at the party

Getting ready for Back to School

Its the end of half term so I’m busy getting ready for the boys going back to school tomorrow.  Son1 was supposed to be going to the hospital tomorrow to start the maintenance phase of his chemotherapy, but he had his blood counts checked at Brighton hospital on Friday whilst we were on holiday there and his counts were too low.  So maintenance has been postponed for a week.

Not too much to get ready for son2.  I had to take his blazer to the dry cleaner at the start of half term as it was dreadfully dirty, so that had been collected.  Luckily son1’s blazer is washable.  Son2 is really keen on reading, so he had already read his 5 books that school sent home.  The only extra thing we had to do today besides the usual spelling and recorder practice was to prepare a feely shoebox to send in tomorrow.

However son1 was another story.  He came home with lots of half-term homework, so we took some of it to do whilst we were on holiday.  And I think we are mostly there, except he still needs to learn some verses for a couple of the songs for the Autumn Concert, but not too bad, as that isn’t until Nov 22nd.

So he’s done the following…
Read for about 15 mins most days.
Learnt a poem, including expression and actions.
Almost finished learning 5 songs. He knows 3 of them fully and parts of the other 2.
Prepared a computer graphics / photography entry for Nursery Rhyme competition. He chose This Little Piggy.
Chose and printed several photos to decorate his creative writing book. Choosing them took him ages.
Covered and filled a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child with help from me.

Does anyone agree this is a lot of homework?

And now I’m doing the usual Sunday evening tasks. Checking all uniform is ready and sports kits and school bags are packed. Only one item I can’t find – son1’s library book, so pretty good going. I’ve labelled son2’s new shoes and trainers, as he had gone up a size, when we went for shoe measurement yesterday.

I do love being involved with Operation Christmas Child.  It gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling knowing that we are preparing a gift for a child who otherwise wouldn’t get a Christmas present. I try to squeeze as much as possible into the box.  Before we did them via school, I used to do one on my own for several years taking it to a local collection point.

Son1 with his Operation Christmas Child shoebox

Son1 with his Operation Christmas Child shoebox

Half term holiday fun in Brighton

We decided at the very last minute that son1 was well enough for us to go on holiday for half term.  A break was well overdue as we hadn’t had a family holiday since October last year, having had to cancel our planned trips for May and the summer, due to son1’s leukaemia.  Most places were fully booked but luckily we found a nice mews property in Brighton.  And our hospital liaised with the Royal Alexandra Childrens Hospital at Brighton to let them know we were in the area in case son1 got poorly.  But he did incredibly well at this stage in his treatment with not too many aches and only a routine visit to the Brighton hospital to check his blood count.

Our first day coincided with the really windy weather, so I was concerned reading friends’ facebook posts whilst we were away about power cuts of 60 plus hours and fences down. What would we find when we got home.  I was envisaging having to bin contents of freezer and a tree through the bedroom window.  But no the worst we suffered was garden bench fallen over and plenty of scattered twigs to clear up.

Although out of season, there is loads to do in Brighton.  We went to the Sealife aquarium, on the Brighton Wheel, on the pier, visited Brighton Marina for ten pin bowling, boating, water walkerz and visited Hove museum and Brighton fishing museum, plus had several meals out. And of course, we were there for Halloween, but I’ve written a separate post about that.  The boys loved the magical Wizard’s Attic at Hove museum.  And there are several more museums if we go back again.

Here are some of our holiday photos.

A windy start to the holiday

A windy start to the holiday

This is heavy

This is heavy

At Brighton Marina

At Brighton Marina

Water Walkerz

Water Walkerz

Son2 is more reckless than son1 boating

Son2 is more reckless than son1 boating

Does he have sharp teeth?

Does he have sharp teeth?

On the Brighton Wheel

On the Brighton Wheel

In the Wizard's Attic at Hove Museum

In the Wizard’s Attic at Hove Museum