Summertime messy & sensory play

Mumma Says….

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We love summer! We love messy play! We love sensory play! So combining the 3 is our idea of heaven! This year with most of the children turning 2 we can really extend our messy play ideas outside and get completely filthy! Children benefit from messy and sensory play sessions as it helps all areas of their development no matter what their age. Fine motor skills, hand/eye co-ordination, concentration, problem solving, communication and language are just a few of the areas that are enhanced by messy and sensory play. Some of our favourite messy play activities, old and new, are:

We equally love sensory play, and the warm sunshine makes it easier to get the water and mud going! Nathan and Millie have already been out playing with the water table and Ellie has enjoyed exploring her sandpit. The coloured rice is also good indoors as its easily hoovered or swept up, it can also be used in art and craft sessions. *remember to be sunsafe!

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We also love experimenting with foods in the warmer weather, especially as sticky and mucky hands and faces can be washed easily in paddling pools and water tables. We are naturally very cautious about new foods given various allergies within the Mumma Says family.

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So where do you buy items for your messy and sensory summer activities? The high street is still a great resource in places like Hobbycraft, WH Smiths, and The Works. We also love the quirky stuff you can find on the internet on site such as www.tts-group.co.uk, www.hope-education.co.uk, www.ascoeducational.co.uk, www.sensorytoywarehouse.com and the wonders of http://www.amazon.co.uk (messy play and sensory play) never fail.

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*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma andLeytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found athttp://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

Pregnancy – Food Do’s & Do Not’s

Leyton’s Mumma Says…

 

Pregnancy… for a process which hasn’t changed in forever, we seem to change the ‘rules’ for it all the time. I was really strict in my pregnancy for what I did, ate, positions I slept in…. I tried to follow all the rules I could in an attempt to help things along in something that can’t actually be controlled. (For more pregnancy related posts click here.) Maybe it was my way of trying to control things, to influence something which the outcome feels so out of your hands. Everyone is different and a lot of people will tell you how drinking a few glasses of wine, or eating a few runny eggs and pink steaks doesn’t make a difference, but in my eyes it’s only 9 months without a few items and it’s a pivotal developmental time for your baby so I’ll personally do whatever I can to ensure the best start as possible…. But considering the rules change all the time, I’m sure things I did/ate in pregnancy now will in years to come be not suitable!

The general rule is: anything that could put you at risk of food poisoning avoid in pregnancy.

We are learning things all the time. We have more information around than ever before, more research and tips on what we should or shouldn’t do, I’ve collated it below…

 

Meat 

Well-done steak – don’t worry its only for 9 months!

Do not eat raw or undercooked meat, including meat joints and steaks cooked rare, because of the potential risk of toxoplasmosis. Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly so it’s steaming hot and there’s no trace of pink or blood.

 

Many cold meats, such as salami, Parma ham, chorizo and pepperoni, are not cooked, they are just cured and fermented so could still put you at risk of toxoplasmosis. I didn’t eat any in pregnancy but if you want to, make sure you read the packet in case you need to cook it first.

 

Pâté

Avoid all types of pâté, even vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria.

 

Liver

Don’t eat liver or liver-containing products such as liver pâté, liver sausage or haggis, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.

 

Fish

Don’t eat marlin, shark or swordfish.

 

You should also avoid having more than two portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and herring. Oily fish has great health benefits but because it can contain pollutants you should limit the amount [pollutants such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)]. There is a guideline on Tuna too, of no more than 140g of Tuna a week as it is high in mecury.

 

Don’t eat raw shellfish, ensure they are cooked thoroughly first.

 

 

Nuts

The latest advice on Nuts is that you can eat peanuts or food containing peanuts (such as peanut butter) during pregnancy, unless you are allergic to them, or a health professional advises you not to. Apparently studies show avoiding peanuts altogether might actually increase your risk of an allergy and it seems nuts are a good thing to eat in pregnancy due to their health benefits, but you would need to do your own research on this and make your own mind up!

 

Cheese

Don’t eat mould-ripened soft cheese (cheeses with a white rind) such as brie and camembert, including mould-ripened soft goats cheese and soft blue-veined cheeses. Some websites say they are ok cooked but this is personal choice as to whether you risk it. Because soft cheeses contain more moisture they can be an ideal environment for harmful bacteria, such as listeria, to grow in leading to illness that could result in miscarriage or illness in your baby.

 

You can eat Soft Cheese that uses pasteurized milk, such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, ricotta, halloumi, goats’ cheese, processed cheeses (such as cheese spreads).

 

You can eat hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan and stilton, even if they’re made with unpasteurised milk as they contain less moisture and therefore much lower risk of listeria.

 

Eggs

Avoid raw or partially cooked eggs (even runny eggs) if you’re pregnant as they carry the risk of salmonella food poisoning. Also avoid foods that contain raw and undercooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise. Jars are usually ok.

 

Alcohol

Yes that is a soft drink!

Yes that is a soft drink!

In November 2012 a new study claimed even moderate drinking in pregnancy could lower your child’s IQ, and there could be potential health problems. New recommendations in the Uk is although guidelines say a maximum of 2 units a week, ideally don’t  drink any alcohol whilst pregnant.

 

 

Caffeine

Limit your intake to 200g a day which is roughly the same as 2 cups of instant coffee or 4 cups of tea – but with a lot of decaf options available in the shops now, that would be a safer option. Remember chocolate, some fizzy drinks etc contain caffeine too so in my pregnancy I opted for drinking decaf but eating lots of chocolate instead! Remember fruit teas are a lovely alternative too but anything with Raspberry Leaves should be avoided until after 37 weeks as some people say it can bring on/ speed up labour. Also avoid Sage and Parsley Tea as it could cause miscarriage.

 

Generally with all of the above, just do things in moderation!!

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma andLeytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found athttp://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

Teaching children about holidays

Nathan’s Mumma says….

After our adventurous time at Centre Parcs last year where we discovered Nathan’s egg allergy we decided to stick with holidaying in the UK. As we cannot afford to travel to somewhere like the USA or Canada, or manage the flight to Australia, where the language barrier isn’t a problem and we can easily access allergy information, we came to the conclusion that holidays in Europe were too dangerous with the language issue to risk Nathan’s safety.

So, where to go?

With a small child, 3 generations in total, and differing tastes in activities we summised that Centre Parcs was a good solution again, then someone mentioned Bluestone Wales (think Centre Parcs on a smaller scale in the Pembrokeshire countryside). An added bonus for us is that we can visit my aunt and uncle in Saundersfoot (near Tenby) while we are there, and we can break our journey from the midlands at Worcester to have lunch with my mum’s cousin. It a win-win situation.

*I’ll be writing a review of Bluestone Wales when we return in late June.

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Now then, the point of this blog…how to get Nathan ready for our holiday. I don’t mean the practicalities of a holiday in the UK, I mean how to get him tee’d up ready for our adventure before we go so that we can make the most of the 5 days we have in Wales.

I wanted to teach him about what we will see and do before we go in order for him to really capitalise on what he sees and does once we’re there.

downloadEver the Pinterest addict I looked up crafts on the various topics we would experience:

  1. The countryside…trees, mountains & feeding wildlife
  2. The beach…buckets & spades, starfish & sailboat potato stamps
  3. The farm…tractors, sheep & pigs
  4. The zoo…giraffes, zebras & tigers
  5. Travelling…traffic lights, vehicles & packing a suitcase

*These crafts and activities are all being used along with his usual sessions of painting and colouring, messy play and his various groups and pre-school sessions.

We have also been singing lots of songs on these topics too…

  • old macdonald
  • alice the camel
  • animal fayre
  • peter rabbit
  • she’ll be coming round the mountain
  • row row row your boat
  • wheels on the bus .

Our little bookworm is lapping up the stories we’ve been reading too, his eternal favourite Faraway Farm is back along with his My First Atlas.

We’ve also been reading Kipper’s Beach BallAnimal Hide and Seek (Farmyard Tales Touchy-feely)The Very Hungry Caterpillar [Board Book], What the Ladybird Heard and Dear Zoo to name but a few!download (3)

Nathan has lots of toys that we can use too.

His fisher price little people farm is a brilliant toy, he has several Jellycat cuddly toys that include a zebra and a donkey. He has buckets and spades which we’ve been using in playsand as well as in the garden to find worms.

Having a boy means that our house is overrun with cars, trains and other vehicles. We’ve been looking for all the animals we might see on our planned trip to Folly Farm  on his alphabet and numbers wall charts too.

Regardless of whether you have a specific target like a holiday to focus on, or if you just fancy spending time playing and learning about a set theme these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sensory play, messy play, craft, reading and singing.

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma andLeytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

So you’re having a baby? 50+ Ultimate must buys

Leyton’s Mumma Says….

 

WE often get asked what is the ultimate list of products/ equipment etc you need for a baby. The problem is the finer details really depend on the parents and your personal preference to things. For example, I am a self-proclaimed OTT paranoid Mumma who likes excel spreadsheets and post-it lists for everything. Therefore, in true style I collected info off a million websites and spoke to other parents, and created a spreadsheet of products to buy when we were expecting Leyton.

Laugh as you may, it really helped me and I’ve put it below in case it helps you too. We were super lucky that we had close friends who had recently had babies too so we had a lot of nearly new stuff which we were given, and I’m no snob, I think a problem shared is a problem halved and this giant list of things to buy was getting out of hand so we happily had second hand things from our friends and said we’d happily pass things back along with our stuff if/when they popped out baby number 2.

The below list is focused on getting the essentials for the baby rather than pregnancy, for pregnancy info take a look at the Survival Guide or the Pregnancy What To Do per Trimester . Hopefully you find it useful!

 

Estimated price Actual price Lent / Gifted?
 Totals  £          –  £        –
Decorating Paint
Clothes hooks
Pictures
Lampshade
Night light
Curtains
Shelves
Mobile
Car Carseat
Sunvisor
On the go Pushchair
Parasol
Travelcot
Changing Bag
Baby carrier
Furniture Cot
Wardrobe
Toy box
Changing table
Changing mat
Cot sheets
Stair gate x2
Blankets
Muslin cloths x10
Baby Bath
Bath stuff
Baby towels
Nappy bin
Sheets for moses basket
Moses Basket
Baby monitor
Clothes Maternity clothes
6 vests
6 long sleeved bodysuits
6 sleepsuits
20 bibs
cardigans
sun hat
Grobag/ sleeping bag
Day to day Nappies
Cotton wool
Baby wipes
Nappy bags
Sudocrem
Feeding Breast pump
Breastpads
Nursing bras x2
Sterilisers
Bottles + teats
Highchair
Labour Pocket fan
Sanitary towels
Breast/ nursing pads
Food/ drinks (Full Hospital Bag List here)

 

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma andLeytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

Down at the bottom of the garden….

Nathan’s Mumma Says…IMG-20130601-WA000

Spring has sprung, the grass is green (and in need of mowing) and the bird are singing. It is the ideal opportunity to start getting together the various bits a pieces you might want or need for your garden fun! Regardless of age there are some guidelines to follow when out and about in the hot sunny weather:

  • Hats, always put a hat on your baby (and you) when the sun is shining
  • Suntan cream, the highest SPF and UVA rating as you can (minimum SPF30), these are not always found in the most expensive brands to its worth looking around (we’ve discovered ASDA own brand in SPF50 with 5 star UVA). Check the use by date too, it’s often only 12 months from opening. Remember to apply frequently!
  • Shade is very important for children, especially during the height of the day (11am-3pm) so invest in a IMG-20130414-00195parasol/sunshade for prams and strollers, we like:

i-Safe Buggy Shade Universal Sun Canopy Complete with Storage Bag (Black)

Koo-DI Sun and Sleep Stroller Cover (Charcoal Grey)

You might also want to get some car window blinds, our new favourites are:

2 NEW SMALL RECTANGULAR Car Window Side-Rear Seat Sun Screen/Shades/Sox- BLACK Mesh

For beach days its worth investing in a UV tent, it gives you privacy for changing and nap time too:

Frostfire Popup Beach Shelter with UV protection (50+ UPF)

Babymoov Anti-UV Tent (Blue/ Green)

  • Fluids, essential for all ages when getting hot and sweaty. We also swear by cooling spray, such as

Magicool Hot Weather Cooling Spray 200ml

Babies

Under 1’s are tricky to cater for in the garden, they’re either too little to do much but you are fretting over them being the right temperature, what to dress them in, are they hydrated, insects etc. Or they’re just at that put everything in your mouth stage and they’re just learning to walk and are very unsteady on their feet, especially on uneven surfaces such as grass, sand and patios slabs. A good way to cushion little bottoms outside is to invest in some Large Soft Foam EVA Floor Mat Jigsaw Tiles Alphabet & Numbers Kids Babies Puzzle Before you venture into your first spring/summer as a mumma it’s best to read up on poisonous plants and garden hazards on websites such as:

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The obvious activities to do with the under 1’s in summer are swings, paddling IMG_1400pools and sandpits, along with the quintessential blanket and toys on the lawn (a personal favourite from Nathan’s first summer). However there are lots of great messy and sensory play option for babies that are brilliant for outdoors (and you can obviously use items from the Sensory Basket list):

Toddlers

The over 1’s but under 5’s are a fantastic bunch to explore the garden with, and the great outdoors in general. That bit more confident on their feet and better able to communicate and understand what’s going on around them, toddlers have a great time in the spring and summer. Once again the trusty sandpit and paddling pool come into force, Nathan now has a bigger paddling pool but Leyton has an inflatable water park!

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Our lawn is frequently covered in the multitude of garden toys Nathan has acquired…seesaw, car, quadbike, water-table, playhouse, tunnel, pop-up tent, basketball hoop along with various sports balls, beanbags and cars.

A greater sense of independence and adventure means that you can expand your sensory and messy play with toddlers, painting is just the tip of the iceberg! Do you have room for a mud kitchen?

Then there is the topic of venturing out of the garden on a sunny day, we very often like to go to the local park or for a walk on a sunny day. We live a long way from a beach but when we do go it’s great fun (until a wave knocks you over!) We also enjoy packing our bags for a picnic at a farm, stately home or gardens. The same rules apply for sun protection (on the beach or by the pool we opt for an all over UV suit for Nathan), and fluids but you have the option of various modes of transport…walking (with or without reins), trike, stroller or pushing dolly in her pram.

Enjoy the improving weather, for information on holidays in the sun with babies please read Leyton’s Mumma’s advice. We are planning a summer holidays blog too so come back and visit us for that!

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma andLeytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found athttp://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

Keepsakes – because they grow up too fast

Leyton’s Mumma Says…

Keepsakes are invaluable – with many different things carrying the definition of a keepsake.

Daddy’s Little Monster

For me, paintings, drawings and things involving hand or footprints are my fave keepsake items as they are personal and cheap/ free to do frequently (and with babies growing up fast I think it’s important to capture these memories and handprints often), and you can start doing some of these from a few weeks old! We did some paint a pot creations when Leyton was around 4 months, and by 5 months we had him sitting down sticking lots of different materials to paper and making me a piece of art, as well as great for his dexterity and as sensory play (see article on sensory items and treasure baskets).

As he grows older the type of play he does advances and develops, but many things can be turned into beautiful keepsakes for your family for birthdays or Christmas, and for you to put pride of place and remember how small they were once!

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Below are some photos and ideas to get your inspiration flowing if you want to try the homemade route.

*Salt dough handprint / footprint. You can then paint the print and frame or if you piece a hole before your dough dried it can be a hanging decoration.

*Play dough handprint / footprint and fill the print with plaster of paris. Once dry this creates a cast you can paint and frame.

*There are lots of art you can do painting hands or feet and either just keeping, or turning into funny shapes (like our footprint snowmen Christmas cards).

*You can create stained glass effect sun catchers using double sided sticky back plastic, paper or tissue paper and them framing with card like our Halloween pumpkins.

Pinterest has many more ideas for homemade crafty keepsakes so it’s worth having a bit of a look around!

Below are some great ideas if you’ve got some pennies to spend on your keepsakes.

*Fingerprint jewellery – I haven’t used them but Mothercare do it and also there are loads of retailers online such as http://www.fingerprintjewellerycompany.co.uk  

*Photo magnets/keyrings etc – there are many companies that can turn your photos into gifts, such as Photobox, Snapfish and Vistaprint.

*Babygrow bears using your little ones sleep suits – https://lovekeepcreate.co.uk/ 

 Whatever you choose to do, remember it’s also about creating a nice memory and playing with your child so don’t pressure yourself to make the perfect item, just have fun with it and see what you can do!

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma andLeytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found athttp://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

A day out at Trentham Gardens, Stoke on Trent…*REVIEW*

Nathan’s Mumma Says…

 

With birthdays in January, February and early April, our household has fairly sparse pickings for birthday outings. We are mostly limited to indoor activities, or getting cold and wet. So when the weather forecast for Nathan’s Daddy’s birthday suggested sunshine we immediately searched for an outside adventure for the day. Friends had recommended Trentham Gardens near Stoke on Trent so we checked the website for opening times etc with it being Easter holidays. Open 9am-6pm from the 30th March: we packed our bags and headed off to see what we could find.

Ever the Brownie Guider, I packed for every eventuality for Nathan, as well as the usual changing bag paraphernalia:

  • WelliesIMG_3511
  • Raincoat
  • Waterproof all-in-one
  • Woolly hat
  • Mittens
  • Trainers
  • Reins back pack
  • Fleece

We arrived about 10am and loaded up the stroller with all our kit: lunch box for Nathan (we didn’t know if we could get anything safe for him), water-proofs for myself and Nathan’s Daddy, blanket & rain-cover etc. We paid our entrance fees (£9.70 per adult, under 5’s go free) and started off on the 2 mile plus lake walk along the fairy trail.

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We stumbled upon a beautiful tree carving on our walk called ‘Diving Otters’ by Andy Burgess, it’s perfectly set in the woodland and is a marvellous use of an old tree.

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Nathan really enjoyed his walk through the many puddles along the footpaths, the surface is good but it had rained so much the previous week that the ground either side was very muddy. We walk alongside the miniature train tracks, which wasn’t running until the next day (Good Friday), a little disappointing given that it was the school holidays. The boat cruises up and down the lake weren’t operating either. We felt it was a bit short-sighted of the estate, especially as the sun was shining and a trip on the lake would have been spectacular!

We continued to the tip of the lake, dodging the Gnats hovering over the puddles, and looking back down the lake is a stunning sight. You can also take a rowing boat out on the lake, have a cup of tea at the Lakeside cafe, and watch the various wildlife including Herons from the bird hide. It was at this point that Nathan’s legs got a bit tired and he decided to continue the journey in his stroller (and have a nap). You walk past the outer fencing of Monkey Forest on the far side of the lake, somewhere we took our friend’s daughter when I was pregnant with Nathan. It too is well worth a visit and we look forward to taking Nathan when he’s a bit older and not so likely to want to hug a monkey!

We ventured to the Trentham Garden Centre just outside the garden gates for lunch, it’s your standard garden centre and serves its purpose well. Nathan enjoyed a run round it before sitting down for his lunch. In hindsight we should have enjoyed the quiet of his nap at the Italian Garden Tearoom and stayed there for lunch too.

We had a post lunch walk around the shopping village, it has a good number of log cabin style outlets of various shops including Yankee candle, The Works, L’Occitane, Cotton Traders and Tog 24 amongst many others. It’s well laid out but would benefit from a coffee cart or two (there are several coffee shops/tearooms to sit in but nowhere to just grab a drink on the go). The little craft shops and galleries have some nice pieces in. It was a pleasant walk in the sunshine whilst digesting our lunch before we headed home.

They are doing lots of work to the estate to turn it back into the masterpiece that it originally was when Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown first designed it in 1758 in order to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his birth next year, and to mark the Queens 60 year reign with a ‘Diamond Wood’. It doesn’t however affect the spectacular views and atmosphere of this lovely lake and woodland. We enjoyed our walk very much, and views from either end are wonderful. We will definitely be returning to Trentham Estate and Gardens very soon.

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Overall rating: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5 (It’s quite expensive for a walk ad it’s extra for the train and boat trips)

Pushchair friendliness: 4/5 (Good paths)

Scenery: 5/5 (It’s stunning!)

 

Address: 

Trentham Garden / Park

Stone Road

Trentham,

Stoke-on-Trent

ST4 8AX

01782 646646

http://www.trentham.co.uk/trentham-gardens 

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma and Leytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉

Happy Easter! Crafts, games and the reason behind it all…

Leyton’s Mumma Says…

Leyton’s first Easter involved us eating Easter Eggs whilst 9 month old Leyton napped so he didn’t want to try them – he had only been on solids for 3 months and Chocolate was on my no-go list! We tried to restrict salt and sugar in his diet doing Baby Led Weaning (see here for our BLW experience!) although now he is a bit older he has been sampling the cakes and biscuits we make and we’re a bit more flexible on this rule…. that said Leyton doesn’t like chocolate or chocolate flavoured things. Who knows if that is nature or nurture but I’m aware by the time he starts school this may change!

So I’ve been searching for Easter things that weren’t focused on the Chocolate Eggs, but the joy of springtime 🙂 I know Nathan’s Mumma has been doing the same but for different reasons – Nathan’s egg allergy means seeing egg & egg orientated things everywhere could be a sensitive subject (as well as the obvious fact he can’t be playing and painting actual eggs) so she’s trying to make it a special celebration that doesn’t focus on these eggs (see the start of their Allergy journey here )!! Leyton’s lucky that so far he’s had non-chocolate gifts including an activity book, toys and a knitted cardigan complete with bunny from his Great Nana (below) so Easter can really be special even without the dairy or eggs!

So what is Easter?

It’s a religious Christian celebration at heart, with Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and Easter Sunday, the day Jesus’ resurrection. Easter is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon on the Spring Equinox between March 22nd and April 25th, and is celebrated at the end of Lent.

If you want to teach your children about Easter there are lots of materials out there.

*The Easter Story

*What is Easter? Rhymes for Kids

*My Day with Jesus – Board book from the Donkey’s point of view

*Bible Coloring Book 1 & 2 – Religious Coloring Pages

 

But for many Easter is a nice long-weekend of two bank holidays where family can come together to do silly games, exchange small gifts and chocolate, and maybe even a big roast dinner.

GAMES:

There are loads of games you could do if you are having a family occasion:

* Egg hunts (You don’t have to just hide chocolate eggs… we’ve been known to hide chicks and even wooden bees and ladybirds round the house and garden)

* Decorating cakes (Best Decorated, Most Creative, Most Colourful, Tastiest etc)

* Egg and spoon races

*Pinata time

* Egg Roll (Similar to the Traditional White House Roll, where you get hard boiled eggs and kids must roll along the floor to a finish line using a spoon, their feet or even their noses if they fancy crawling! Broken egg = disqualified remember!)

You can do crafts if you have younger children too. We had a little Easter party this week (photo at the end), where we had homemade flapjack and chocolate cake complete with the token chicks I remember from my childhood too (both egg free and dairy free for the benefit of the allergies in the group to avoid any disasters from crumb eaters!) Our toddlers had lovely crafts to do set up by host Nathan’s Mumma, of decorating a foam chick (below) and painting a salt-dough bunny rabbit (salt dough instructions available on Pinterest which is a perfect harmony of shop bought and home made goodies, getting delight from both.

CRAFTS

Other crafts  you could do are below:

* Decorating an Easter tree branch
* Decorating an Easter bonnet (Straw Easter Bonnet to attach chicks etc to)
* Painting hard boiled eggs
* Make Easter Nest cakes (like ours below, or for a dairy version add yummy Mini Eggs)
* Paint Easter cards for friends or family

For a great recipe of a dairy, egg and nut free recipe have a Google for Wacky Cake as there are a few different versions including this Chocolate one I’ve done (well Leyton and I have done)….

DAIRY FREE AND EGG FREE CHOCOLATE ‘WACKY’ CAKE

  • 1 1/2 Cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 Cup sugar (Granulated Pure Cane Sugar)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp.  pure vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil 
  • 1 Cup water 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 170 degrees C.

Mix first 5 dry ingredients in a greased 8″ square baking pan.  Make 3 depressions in dry ingredients – two small, one larger. Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in the other and the vegetable oil in third larger depression.  Pour water over all.  Mix well until smooth.

Bake on middle rack of oven for 35 minutes (but different ovens vary, mine was done in 25 minutes!).  Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Cool and top with your favourite frosting  quite rich and dark dark chocolate so I am hoping to try an After Eight buttercream next time, or a chocolate and orange icing. This time I just crushed up Shredded Wheat, cocoa powder, icing sugar and drops of water until it looked nest-like!

The flapjack we had was done by Millie’s Mumma using Mary Berry’s recipe below ( Mary Berry’s Baking Bible available here), definitely a winner! :

DAIRY FREE FLAPJACKS

Makes roughly 24

PREP 10 MINS & COOK 30 MINS

125g butter plus extra for greasing – we used a dairy free alternative

90g golden syrup

90g light muscovado sugar

250g rolled oats

roasting tin or shallow cake tin, about 20 x 30 cm

Directions

1 Lighlty butter the roasting tin or cake tin.

2 Combine the butter, syrup, and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the ingredients have melted and dissolved. Stir in the oats and mix well.

3 Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a palette knife. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C (160C fan, Gas 4) for about 30 minutes.

4 Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then mark into 24 fingers. Leave to cool completely, then cut and remove from tin.

 

There’s also lots of special events at farms, National Trust locations, play centres etc so if you want to nip out for the hopefully nice weather then just check on some of the websites applicable for your location like www.lotsfortots.co.uk or www.daysoutwiththekids.co.uk

Leyton’s Daddy is working most of Easter weekend but on his one day off I’m planning a nice themed day out so I had better get searching!

Happy holidays!

Treasure baskets & heuristic play

Nathan’s Mumma Says….

When Nathan was born I had never heard of treasure baskets/discovery boxes or heuristic/sensory play. I quickly learnt that babies satisfy their need to explore the world through sensory play, and it aids their cognitive development. With heuristic play they can touch, suck, lick (all items should be suitable for this as its their best way of understanding and learning), bang, drop and pick up all manner of objects to answer the question of “what does this do?”

When the lovely lady at our mummy and baby group introduced us to sensory toys we were hooked. Our group had both the shop bought sensory toys and the ones you can make yourself, Marcia (the lovely lady) even showed us how to make the various items. Nathan was fascinated with all the colours, shapes and textures that were introduced to him. He also had regular toys, but you would be surprised how many have their origins in sensory play, Nathan particularly loved his lamaze toys (activity puzzle, peacock, moose, octopus, foot-finders, and monkey), wooden shapes puzzle, his mamas and papas activity tray & baby snug, and his taggy blanket.

So when my cousin announced she was expecting it didn’t take me long to decide upon putting together a discovery basket for the baby. I wanted to give him a present that was different to the usual gifts of clothes and baby toys, footprint kits & photo frames (although the box does include some of these things too). I began researching the best items to create or buy. There really are no limits, apart from baby safety, for discovery boxes. But ever the pinterest addict I got online and began my quest…images (2)

I picked the tummy-time finger painting, 3 discovery bottles (rattle, oil & water and floating sparkles) and a rainbow ribbon hoop to make. I then added the sensory toys that were Nathan’s favourites (new ones obviously) a wooden spoon, a bottle of bubbles and a shower loafer. You could also add things like:

  • Large shells
  • Metal balloon whisk
  • Furry fabric
  • Zips
  • Hairbrush
  • Pinecones
  • Plastic animals

I also read that babies see in black and white, or high contrasting colours, best, so Nathan and I chose a jellycat bunny for the new arrival. We also chose some more stereotypical gifts… a wooden animal puzzle from marksandspencer.com, a sensory ball from johnlewis.com, The Day-by-Day Baby Book, clothes and a personalised blanket knitted by my lovely and very talented friend Ellie’s Mumma at Crafty Claire’s Creations.

I have then thrown in a bottle of oilatum bath as we find this is better than other baby bath products and there is a family history of eczema. There is also a small stash of disposable nappies in there, just incase they get caught out whilst washing the reuseable ones they have. It’s all labelled up with what each thing is, how to use it and what areas of development it assists. I can’t wait to give it to him, a box full of exciting things and lots of love too.

For more information on heuristic play and the toys to use/make you can visit websites such as:

I enjoyed these books on the subject:

Developing Play for the Under 3s: The Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play

The Little Book of Treasure Baskets: Little Books with Big Ideas (Little Books)

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com!

The Artful Year: Over 175 Family- Friendly Activities: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes

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I am a Mummy and I will be Yummy!

Nathan’s Mumma Says…

I have always struggled with my weight. I was never the slim kid at school, I regularly got bullied for my weight at primary images (1)school even though, now looking back, I wasn’t fat. Fast forward 20 years and I was pregnant with Nathan. As soon as the line appeared on the pregnancy test I lost my appetite, I felt like I had just eaten all the time. I craved ice cold blackcurrant squash and that was it. I once craved a roast chicken dinner in the middle of August. Other than the fizzy drinks that settled my stomach, I ate very little because that’s what I felt like. I did eat healthy stuff because I knew I needed to and occasionally towards the end I treated myself when I fancied something sweet.

I LOST over a stone and a half! I continued with slimming world throughout my pregnancy to monitor my weight and try eat healthy. Lets not forget at this point that Nathan was a very healthy 9lb 11oz at birth, and I could see from midwife checks and measurements he was growing well, so I wasn’t doing him any harm and I wasn’t intending to lose weight, I just wasn’t hungry.

(*Always talk to your doctor / midwife about eating habits if you are concerned during pregnancy. The average is a 11 to 40 lb gain dependent on your starting BMI apparently, but everyone is different and there is actually a Pregnancy Plan from Slimming World to ensure you are eating a balanced diet http://www.slimmingworld.com/health/policies/pregnancy.aspx )

The weight I lost during pregnancy and once Nathan was born meant I could fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans after 2 weeks!!

Once Nathan was born my appetite returned and a post-caesarian sleep deprived woman eats whatever she wants that’s quick and easy (as I wasn’t allowed to stand for long periods and cook, for 6 weeks!) so takeaway menus and pasta became our diet. DANGEROUS! The weightloss didn’t last long, if only I’d realised how slim I was…. 😦

And now I’m faced with needing to lose weight again the hard way…diet and exercise. I could kick myself!

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I hate exercise, I’m definitely not a sporty person. I don’t participate in team sports in any capacity other than first aider. I don’t fancy going for a run, I don’t enjoy the gym, I don’t relish the thought of a fitness class. The rush of endorphines that people talk about? Never get that. I don’t like being sweaty, or hot. I hate wearing a sports bra (necessary with my cleavage) and my tummy wobbles ridiculously when I jump up and down!

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Why am I doing this then? I don’t want to be the fat mum at the school gates, I want to be able to run around with Nathan as he gets bigger, I would like to have another baby (there I said it) which should be more likely to happen, be easier to cope with and contain so much less criticism if I’m slimmer. The only way I’m going to get up off my rather round bottom is with the help of a personal trainer (and the occasional Davina fitness DVD).

10952670_904658982907386_321345266_aThat’s where my lovely friend Baz MacQueen at Potential Fitness comes in. A long time friend and basketball team mate, he has recently set up his own personal training business. Baz is the kind of guy who will listen to you moan and then just tell you to carry on (because you can do it!) He’s got an infectious attitude and is very calm and patient. He knows his stuff too, he can help you with all areas of fitness and nutrition, whatever your requirements and limitations are. I set him the task of devising a programme with these constraints:

 

  1. I can do the workout at home when I have a free hour during naps or with Nathan around
  2. I can continue with it if I get pregnant
  3. My general fitness improves

And he’s delivered. After filling in his in depth health and fitness questionnaire he came up with the programme I’m working to for the next 6 weeks, it goes something like this…2014-03-12 11.57.17

  • WARM UP (toe taps, lunges etc)
  • 30 minute brisk walk (I describe it as my “I’m running late” walk) whilst pushing Nathan in his stroller.
  • HIIT workout (high intensity) of squats, crunches and starjumps (because I can’t do burpees)

Our first workout was great, I loved the walk (although I was roasting when we finished) and quite enjoyed the HIIT until it came to the starjumps (big boobs+mummy tummy=too much wobble). I love that it a short sharp wack of exercise, not a long drawn out process of gym equipment.

Our second workout followed suit with a different walking route, again I was roasting afterwards. Baz increased my reps(?) this time and was a sneaky so and so when I had to break mid-starjump set to catch my breath. He just paused the timer and added about 20 seconds…soooo sneaky!

Third time wasn’t the charm as I’ve had a virus this week, however I did go for a walk with Nathan of about 1.5 miles and I managed a Davina Fit in 15 arms workout. Not great but it was all I could muster with a temperature and sore throat.

IMG_3138The hardest part of this initial phase is fitting in seeing Baz with everything else we do. He’s great at working around Nathan (who thinks he’s great) and is happy to do the programme at our house when we are free. The easiest part is exercising with Nathan, something I never thought possible. Getting fit with a toddler, now that’s a challenge I can do.

You can reach Baz on most social media:

Website www.potential-fitness.com

Twitter @BazMacQueen

Facebook www.facebook.com/BazMacQueen or www.facebook.com/potentialfitness

Instagram Potentialfitness

 

Follow our progress here on www.mummasays.co.uk

*We post at least one new article every week so make sure you save our blog to your favourites so we are easy to find. You can also follow us on Twitter @mummasays1 and our founders Nathans_mumma and Leytons_mumma are on instagram too! Our little facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/mummasays if you would like to ‘like’ us there too 😉