Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Travel enriches..

I adore travelling.  When I was 26 I resigned from my job and travelled around the world for a year. That year was one of the best years of my life!!

Travelling represented freedom, an escape from reality and a chance to explore different cultures.  It was a HUGE eye opener and gave me an overwhelming feeling of 'WOW'.  It definitely changed my life!

Now I'm married with 2 young kids - I really want them to experience that 'wow' factor.  I want to encourage adventure, to enrich their lives, minds AND souls!  I want to say 'bah' to the parents who pour scorn on my ideas, who have a joyless view of family holidays and who can't see beyond the arguments, travel sickness and compromises!

I want them to explore

embrace nature

try new things

and spend quality time together as a family

I want to have the pleasure of showing my kids just how AMAZING the world is. I want us to share unforgettable experiences together!

So I think we need to do a road trip.  Preferably through America - we'd drive Yosemite to Yellowstone!  We'd fly into San Francisco, explore the quirky streets and stop for pictures at the bridge, spend time at Fisherman's Wharf and soak up the atmosphere.  From there we'd head to the truly magnificent Yosemite National park where we'd unwind and explore.  We'd drive through dramatic desert scenery in Death Valley before stopping overnight in Las Vegas and saying hello to Elvis.  Then we'd jet off to Salt Lake City followed by several days around the uniquely diverse and majestic Yellowstone National Park. What an AWE INSPIRING trip that would be!!

I'm dreaming BIG here of course.  But I firmly believe that anything is possible. I travelled extensively in my 20s, there's nothing to say I can't travel extensively with 2 young kids in tow.  I want to explore the world afresh, take stock of my life and appreciate what's really important.  I think an American road trip would be just the ticket!

Now where's my passport..?

This post is an entry for the #Flying100 Family Holiday Challenge, celebrating how flying allows us to make memories and ‘be there’, in association with #Flying100. Find out more at http://bit.ly/flying100

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Holidays are always an education! #Wales4Kids

I love Wales. I was born in Chester which is very close to the North Wales border, so it holds a special place in my heart. I remember family holidays to Rhyl and Prestatyn, good old fashioned seaside holidays, the beach, fish and chips, donkeys, 1p amusement arcades and ice cream. And I remember with fondness holidays with the grandparents to Llangrannog (in particular searching for glass bottles at the banks of a river and getting my red wellies stuck in sinking mud!).

Wales is beautiful, but it's only really as an adult I've come to appreciate its stunning scenery. We were lucky enough to have 2 short breaks to Wales last year - both very different, but we had such fun!

The first break was a 2 night treehouse stay in Machynlleth. Our 2 young kids (5 and 4 at the time) were SO excited - none of us really knew what to expect but we were delighted with our new home.

The treehouse was accessed via a field full of sheep and the kids adored the little walk across to our fabulous house. They were quite taken with the outside loo which they had to walk over a little ropebridge to, and they were most amused by the outside shower, such good fun!!

They learnt that they didn't need their electronic games, the TV or any modern gadgets to have a good time. They were delighted by the rope swing, by fishing with nets in the little river and chopping up logs for the fire.

We talked (lots!). The kids were intrigued when we told them that people in the 'olden days' didn't have electricity for example.

Getting back to basics was great for all of us and it was a truly memorable holiday - complemented by beautiful Welsh scenery of course!

Our next break was a week in a friend's holiday cottage in Morfa Nefyn. We were blessed with some amazing weather and certainly made the most of it. We spent the majority of time outdoors.

We learnt that exercise is good for the soul and that learning to jump high and cartwheel can be exhilarating.

We spent time at the local butterfly centre, and learnt all about snakes and centipedes too!

And we perfected our rope climbing skills...

We also learnt to be kind to each other and to cherish our relationships.. awww!

So whilst holidays can be relaxing and a chance to wind down, really they do teach the children so much. They needn't be expensive either, especially if they are taken in the UK. When children are exposed to different things, whether it be a different location or a different activity they are naturally inquisitive - and this lends itself to learning. Their curiosity knows no bounds and their questions can lead to some really interesting debates!

This post is an entry for the Visit Wales #Wales4Kids Family Holiday Challenge. Wales is the perfect place for a fun-filled family break and you can find out more on Wales here: http://www.facebook.com/visitwales or follow on Twitter @visitwales.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Father's Day & Hob Nobs

So we're coming up to Father's Day, which has made me think somewhat about what makes a 'good dad'.  I am extremely fortunate that my kids have an AMAZING dad in James.

My own childhood and memories of my own father are not that great.  Without getting into specifics, I never felt cherished or loved or that he was particularly proud of me.  Perhaps subconsciously I 'chose' a husband who was the exact opposite - phewww!

Rachael Jess is running a fantastic competition on her blog.  In conjuction with John Lewis she is asking fellow bloggers to write a blog on what makes their dad great.  I am therefore going to write this post in the words of my 5 year old.  When I ask Keani about her dad, this is what she tells me:

'My dad goes to work and wears a suit. He talks to his friends at work and eats Hob Nobs'

erm.... anything else Keani?

'I like his socks.  He wears stripey ones'

yes but what makes him great? does he do anything special with you?

'Yeah, he swings me around a lot.  And he chases me pretending to be a monster, like this, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!'

what else?

'He's really good at making sandcastles.  And I like doing somersaults in the water with him'

'I like it when he reads me stories at night.  And he tucks me up in bed and tells the bed bugs not to bite me.  Sometimes his chin is a bit scratchy though'.

So in conclusion, I think Keani is rather fond of her daddy.  He is definitely a 'fun dad', loves spending time with the kids, and loves them unconditionally.  Awwww!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Hoops, I did it again!

So Walkers in conjuction with Tots100 have challenged us to create a fun and yummy lunchbox for kids, using Walkers Hoops and Crosses.

As most of you know, Keani has food allergies which means that she always needs to take a packed lunch to school with her - which in turn means Dexter has to as well.  I'm always on the look out for new and exciting ways to furnish their lunches!

So I got thinking of the type of lunchbox Dexter might like to take to school when he starts in September (he's currently at pre-school).  I thought about the type of stuff he enjoys - superheros, pirates etc, and settled upon a 'treasure map' theme for his lunchbox.

I used flatbread with a topping of ham, cheese and red and green peppers for the treasure map.  Then little cheeses for the pirate faces (and the wax on the cheese as their bandanas).  Treasure was of course some Walkers Hoops and Crosses, and I added some grapes and strawberries for some balance and a little more colour.

Dexter was pretty pleased with the result and devoured the contents (and I can confirm the Roast Beef Hoops and Crosses are really tasty too, they really arrrhhhhhhhh!

This is our entry into the Tots100 #HoopsandCrosses competition.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mummy #Fail

I was feeling pretty good about myself on Friday.  Normally I'm pretty unorganised, but I'd written myself two notes to remind myself that the kids both had non-uniform days at their respective schools (Keani didn't get a place at the school we initially went for, and Dexter goes to pre-school, so will be joining Keani's school in September).

Dexter's brief was 'wear something yellow for Daffodil Day' and Keani had a very last minute text from her school saying 'don't forget to wear something bright'. 

We picked some super bright clothes for Keani - a nice colour clash!  I'd even remembered to buy some chocolate for the tombola.  And so I was polishing my halo as we walked to school....

Strangely none of the older kids were in bright clothes, in fact they were all in uniform.  'Oh, it must just be the Reception class' I thought to myself.  As I approached Keani's yard it all became clear though.

It wasn't a non uniform day at Keani's school, it was Dexter's.  The reminder text had been from Dexter's school.  Poor Keani stood out like a sore thumb amidst all the grey - my beautiful rainbow!  Thankfully the teacher whisked her off to borrow a school uniform from the lost property before she burst into tears.

Bad mummy!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Our Favourite Family Portrait

Printerpix and Tots100 are running a really great competition at the moment and have asked bloggers to submit their favourite family photograph along with a description of  why that photograph has been chosen.

Like most mums I adore taking pictures of the kids - I have thousands upon thousands.  Luckily in this digital world, it is so easy to keep these precious records of our children growing up.  Sadly I am sure I'm not the only one who has SO many on my computer, and not so many printed out and in frames (bad mummy!).

What's more, I can pretty much bet that I am not the only mum who likes to keep herself out of the picture where at all possible.  I say why ruin a pic by having me in it?  I am trying to make more of an effort though as I really don't want the kids to look back on all their childhood photographs and wonder why I'm not there.  Moreover I don't want them to have the same insecurities with their appearance that I have, and so one of my resolutions this year is to <gulp> have more photographs with me in.

So on a dreary day a few weeks ago, I jollied the troops and suggested a group photograph.  Given the ages of Keani and Dexter (5 and 3) this is not the easiest of tasks.  Both kids more or less used to refuse to smile, these days they're getting better, though both tend to do that classic inane grinning thing that children do when you ask them to 'smile' or 'say cheese'.  It is so difficult to get a decent natural looking pic.

Anyhow with camera in hand, I sat it on the dining room table and aimed it towards the settee where I decided to take the photograph of all of us.  I then had to set it on the self timer thing, then rush back to get into the picture.  Say 'sausages!' I yelled out then subsequently went back to check the picture - and no, it was rubbish!  Again, timer set, I rushed back to my place, 'say chocolate cake!' looked at the picture again, nope, still not great.  And this kind of continued in a similar vein for a while.  We weren't having much success.

The children were getting restless and started jumping around and being silly and I started getting a bit stressed thinking we would never get that perfect family portrait I was after!  And then Dexter started hanging upside down on the settee.  His curly hair cascaded down and his little cheeky grin appeared.

And it was then, I had the Eureka moment!

Needless to say this was the photograph we finally took.  We actually flipped it round, so instead of us hanging upside down, it looks like we're flying!

I adore this pic.  It captures the kid's fun side (and ours too).  It doesn't look staged, it looks really natural, and fun - and actually it was.  It was so nice to be able to take a picture and have some giggles at the same time.

This post is my (Lisa's) entry into the Printerpix Photo competition.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Pancake Day Challenge

Pancakes! I love them!  I particularly like chocolate spread and banana pancakes, or the traditional lemon and sugar.  If I could have any pancake at all though, it would have to be one drizzled with some kind of salted caramel sauce...   nom!

For the first time this year we have been able to celebrate Pancake Day properly - you see for much of Keani's little life (she's only 5) she has been allergic to eggs, so pancakes in previous years have been a no go.

Thankfully, she is growing out of her egg allergy and can tolerate cooked egg, which means, hurrah! we can all eat pancakes.  Fancy fillings, and expensive ingredients are out though, Keani is only 5 and Dexter 3 and we do have Keani's nut allergy to contend with too.

Anyhow inspired by some biscuit cutters the kids received from Santa, we decided to go about making our own biscuit cutter inspired pancakes.

We took a basic pancake recipe and made 3 lots of batter.  One a normal 'batter' colour, and the other 2 coloured with food dye, one a dark purple (for Dexter) and one pink (for Keani).

We then cooked the regular batter and flipped our pancakes.  Once the pancakes had cooled slightly, the kids got their biscuit cutters (heart shaped for Keani, scull and crossbone shaped for Dexter) and cut their shapes out of the pancakes.

We then made 2 more pancakes, one pink and one purple - taking care not to burn them.  Food colouring makes them more susceptible to burning I find!

The kids then cut their shapes out of the purple and pink pancakes, and inserted them into the original pancakes.

And............. ta dahhhhhhhh!

Dexter was being more receptive to the photoshoot at this point, hence him posing with Keani's pancakes!

I managed to bribe Keani to pose a little in this pic.  Dexter is looking a little bit cheeky on this one!

We decorated the pancakes with a little golden syrup and some bananas and strawberries and they went down a treat.

This is my entry into the Tots100/Center Parcs Pancake Day Challenge