Updates from the Inside

I feel the need to create something slow-moving and thoughtful to work against the fast-paced media bombardment we’re experiencing at the minute. I’ve been trying to find the right balance between staying informed and staying sane, and because I’m empathic, I find it important to have times of rest where I fill myself with inspiration rather than negative news.

I spent the day indoors with the girls and explained everything that’s happening to them in child’s terms. They listened (for a minute) and then asked if we could do salt painting again, so we did that, and I did a picture of my own 🙂 I find doing physical things that employ your hands settles my mind down when it’s getting overactive and realised the importance of not just being an instructor or observer, but of joining in with the fun when my kids do crafts 🙂 I’d recommend salt painting for adults too – just sitting dabbing paint on the page and watching it move along the little channels of glue and salt soothes your mind.

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After the wild weather collapsed my little pop-up grow house (!) I got a window box for the plants I’m trying to grow (special emphasis on the “trying.”) My tomatoes and coriander have actually sprouted  and watching them get taller each day fills me with happiness. I think I might need to thin out my chives as they’re looking a bit straggly, but it’s all part of the learning curve 🙂 and with gardening, I never make my way out of the curve and onto the straight line 🙂

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I’ve been thinking of ways to use up the food we have and to make things last longer so we don’t have to make needless trips to the shops. I stretched out leftover sausages by slicing them up and making a variation on hot dogs 🙂 It was the bribery I used to get the girls to eat my homemade soup. I had made a carrot and ginger one and a plain lentil one for my fussier eater. She announced she’d “changed her mind” about liking it midway through her bowl though :/ This new way of life that we have all had to adopt is already making me slow down and think of ways to use leftovers/keep meal plans interesting 🙂 I love these little sort of challenges 🙂

The girls wanted to dance, so I put on some records and it ended up being a work-out for me too 🙂 Their favourite game at the minute is making me slide them on the floor between my legs 😀 It’s exhausting and results in lots of squealing, which I’m sure my neighbours aren’t thanking me for 🙂

We had some milk and cookies (coffee for me) and played Guess Who. My younger daughter is very pro-women at the minute and sighs loudly if she is presented with a card that has a “boy” on it. It’s a bit of a giveaway as to what she has, but at least she’s showing interest is doing something that involves sitting down for once 🙂
4EDA16DC-960B-44DF-8041-119C35C327D8We played hairdressers and I had to sit on a kid’s chair while my daughter put fifty-seven bows in my hair and put some strain on my scalp 🙂 But the resulting hairdressing photos made it worth it 🙂 I’ve almost become so desperate for a massage that having my hair pulled out almost feels like a day in the spa 🙂

This enforced social distancing has already made me slow down, keep in touch more with friends and see what is truly important. An opportunity to over-listen to music and find new bands is always a treat for me too 🙂 I even got around to fixing one of my favourite necklaces I got in Camden Market with my jewellery wirework tools. (It took two minutes to fix and I had put it off for months :)) It turns out there are some benefits to being stuck in the house if you just take the time to look around and find them.

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Half-Term Adventures Part Two

As a continuation of my previous post, I thought I’d share the rest of what we did on our trip to Glasgow over half term.
We met a close friend of mine for dinner and had some chai tea in the flat afterwards. That’s the benefit of renting somewhere so central; you can have a chat there afterwards instead of trying to find somewhere kid-friendly that serves coffee after dinner 🙂 We listened to jazz and played Go Fish, although my kids were too excitable to finish the game!

The next day, we got the subway (or as my daughter calls it “the underground train”) into town. I took the girls to the GOMA (Gallery of modern art.) It’s free entry and helped to counteract the ironic unthriftiness of our holiday so far. We whizzed around the displays, which is typical of my kids. Most visits to museums are a blur until we reach a room with toys or something that holds their interest.
A man who worked there directed us towards the colouring room. I think he could sense my stress at trying to stop them touching the displays 😀 There were pictures of animals on the walls as inspiration and the girls loved drawing animals and having stories on some floor cushions.

Afterwards, we went for a walk around the Merchant City and towards Trongate. I’ve finally reached the stage where aimless walks with kids are becoming enjoyable, and sometimes they spot things I previously wouldn’t have taken under my notice. We went to another vegan restaurant/bar I used to go to and had some hot chocolate to warm up. By that stage there was heavy rain and the kids were complaining about the cold. We were the only ones there since it had just opened and had some vegan hot chocolate with melted dark chocolate in it 🙂 The kids were so grateful for a warm drink that they didn’t stop to fuss about the ingredients 😀

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We ventured outside once the rain had calmed down and visited a vintage shop I used to go to. The lady who owned it was so kind and welcoming towards the girls. She told them to run around the shop if they wanted and she had a Mario leaflet holder that prompted a lot of conversation 🙂

The girls spotted a sweet shop I’d never noticed before. It was like an old fashioned sweet shop with jars of hard sweets, rock and lollipops. They also had random items like rag dolls and funny greetings cards. These ones made me laugh.

The girls chose some lollipops and the lady at the till was kind enough to give them candy canes too 🙂 She also gave them a stern warning about Jack Frost taking their noses, which seems to have stayed with them 😀

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The girls were hungry and I was trying to think of more budget-friendly lunch options, so we went to Subway. They have toasted bites at the minute that are the perfect size for kids and just over a pound each. I like the fact they cater to kids’ tastes too, allowing them to have ham and ketchup if they want it 🙂 It was busy so we took our sandwiches back to the GOMA and sat in a sheltered spot to have our picnic. The girls told me it was their favourite meal of the holiday and there was something really memorable about it.

I had given the girls some “holiday money,” so I took them to Primark to spend it 🙂 I knew they’d find plenty of things they wanted to buy there. They picked out some glitter eyeshadow, an outfit each and bubble-blowing guns 🙂 I found some dresses too 🙂 (which is never a hardship for me.) I came across another shop that I thought had closed down. It sells second hand clothes in good condition. We went inside and I talked to the lady who owned it. I hadn’t see her in about ten years. She had a wooden box with mice inside it to dress up and gave it to the girls to keep them occupied 🙂 We had a long chat and it was so nice to see her again.

By that stage, there were complaints of tired feet so we had some tea and chocolate in the flat to warm up 🙂

There was a shower in our flat which provided much amusement for the girls. They loved lying under it, pretending to swim in the “rain.” It’s funny the way kids always find the simplest things the most entertaining, and remember those moments of holidays more than anything specific to the place.

That night, we got the train to another good friend’s house and it started to snow just after we arrived 🙂 We had Indian takeaway and some drinks. Her husband had made a lovely orange and coconut cake and we had some tea and chatted while the kids played and painted each other’s nails 🙂

We got a taxi back to the flat with the kindest taxi driver I’ve ever encountered 🙂 He put on nursery rhymes for the kids, which kept them happy, singing along on the journey. He had chocolates in a compartment between the front seats and offered the girls some before we got out 🙂

The next day was our last day. I got a coffee and took the girls to the park to use their bubble guns. They had more fun with those than with any more expensive toys we’ve bought 🙂 The weather stayed dry for us while we were there.

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After we checked out of the flat, we got the subway into town again and I took the girls to TGI Fridays for lunch. I find it expensive for what is essentially a diner, but it’s kid-friendly and meant we didn’t have to trail our suitcase around town. The carb-heavy options appeal to my kids too and they gave them little activity packs to complete while we ate.

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I had a quick look at vinyl in Fopp. It’s a shop I used to visit a lot but I noticed the one in the West End has closed down now. Then we met a friend of mine for coffee before we got the airport bus. I’m grateful for the fact my kids love bus and plane journeys because it means the travelling is part of the adventure, and not an unwanted necessity. As soon as we got home, I booked to visit again in the summer. I find that having a trip arranged gives me the required motivation to save money and find budget activities in the meantime 🙂 It’s also something to look forward to on a day when I’m experiencing school run ennui 🙂

A Peaceful Start to the New Year

Today, we had a slow start to the day. I lit my candles and put on Ella Fitzgerald while the kids played with their reusable sticker books they got for Christmas. I did some batch cooking and used my slow cooker for dinner. I’d decided even though it was just the three of us, I’d make a New Years dinner. My granny used to always make a big dinner for our family on New Years Day and I miss that celebration, so I want to recreate it on a smaller scale with my kids. I kept the girls busy with making breadcrumbs for the stuffing. They really enjoyed doing it and it is simple enough they can do it without interference (plus, it is time-consuming – my favourite kind of kids’ activity :)) I made pork in the slow cooker and homemade apple sauce (which is so easy to make.) it’s a good way to use up apples when they are past their best. I just cooked apples I had peeled and diced with some brown sugar and water on a low heat for a long time until they were caramelised.
In the afternoon, once my kids started pulling the furniture apart and play fighting, I was in desperate need of some fresh air and an open space, so I took them to a nearby park at the seafront. It was bitterly cold, but the girls didn’t seem to notice and played with some friends/made some new ones and I got some time to reflect while I watched the sea.

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0B097C3D-09E5-4A17-8BA3-A042B1FDC787.pngBy the time we left, I couldn’t feel my hands from the cold and it felt like we should be following it with sitting in front of an open fire. There is a hotel on the same road that has pretty Christmas decorations. I always mourn the loss of Christmas lights, so I wanted to make the most of them before they disappear 🙂 

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The hotel is at the top of a drive and overlooks the water. We chose a good day to go there because there was a harpist playing all afternoon. The girls were fascinated by it and the music really calmed them down (which was needed.) We sat near the open fire and had some coffee and shortbread (and pineapple juice for the girls.) It wasn’t any more expensive than if we had gone to a coffee shop and was something a bit different and felt special. It almost felt like a civilised outing with children until the girls started fishing for ice cubes in their glasses with their fingers and eating them 🙂

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When we got home, the girls watched a film while I prepared the rest of the dinner. I like any excuse to adorn the table with festive candles and to use my wine glass charms, so the girls had Schloer in matching glasses and got to be grown up 🙂 We finished the Christmas pudding, played Pick Up Sticks and Snakes and Ladders and ate chocolates. I even had the “pleasure” of listening to my kids’ keyboard playing jingle bells on repeat as background music while we ate…
I like taking parts of old traditions and adding them to our own ideas to make new oneswith the girls and this was a simple but memorable start to the new year 🙂 

Things to do with Fed-Up Kids

My kids need a lot of stimulation or they just fight each other for fun. Maybe that’s by my own doing. We tend to go out a lot and have lots of varied experiences. The downside to that is that they probably don’t get enough time to face their boredom, which I think stifles their creativity. I’m making a conscious effort to let them entertain themselves more, but here are a few ideas for the moments when they’re climbing the walls and you’re about to crack up 🙂

1. Get out and go to the nearest beach. Bring snacks and drinks, get a net so they can “fish” in rock pools, make castles and collect pretty shells. Get a special box for them to put their treasures in.

2. If they have a tent/house in the garden, or if not – picnic blanket,  bring your kids milk in teacups and biscuits on a tray. There’s something about getting a delivery when they aren’t expecting it that puts them in a good mood 🙂

3. Draw pictures with crayons and paint over them with watercolours. You can also use candles instead of crayons to make “magic pictures” too.

4. Have a no electricity day. Turn off the TV, the lights, light candles (out of their reach!) and read stories together by candlelight and give them a glimpse of life before technology.

5. Let your kids dress up in your clothes and do a fashion parade/ play with your jewellery collection. My kids are like magpies and love shiny things and trying to pinch my stuff.

6. Bake bread together. Show your kids how to knead it and they’ll enjoy eating it more because they’ve made it themselves.

7. Watch old musicals and make popcorn. I find it hard to get my kids to sit still for any movies without cartoons in them, but for some reason, if they are music-based, they sit for longer and it holds their interest.

8. Give your kids old magazines to cut up and make collages with. If they are learning to write, get them to practise writing the words underneath, or get them to write an accompanying story.

9. Speaking of stories, my daughter likes if I make her a “book” by folding paper or card and tying it with a string. She comes up with phrases to write and I help her spell them. You can give younger kids an idea and they can draw it for you.

10. Have a treasure hunt. Hide a toy/a treat, draw a map or give clues to help them find them. When I was little, my grandparents used to hide a thimble and we had to find it using “hotter/colder.” It was one of my favourite games and didn’t even involve toys 🙂