Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Spanish Tortilla Let's Cookalong

My children and I recently took part in Tesco Eat Happy Project who are working with Children's Food Trust  to launch a series of cooking videos called Let's Cookalong. We were sent the ingredients for us to make a Spanish tortilla. My children love to cook and bake, I think it is important for us to teach our children the skills needed to be able to cook for themselves. 
I was sent an instructional video that was really easy to follow, it gave you step by step instructions and told you what skills to use to chop the ingredients. This helped my children greatly as they could visualise what they was required to do. The video also prompts you when to pause so you are able to carry out the task given.
The ingredients we were sent are:
1 onion
1 red or orange pepper
50g mushrooms
400g leftover boiled potatoes
50g frozen peas
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of mustard
Cooking oil
30g reduced fat cheese

The equipment needed is:

Weighing scales
Sharp knife
Chopping board
Kitchen paper
Oven gloves
Small bowl
Medium bowl
Whisk or fork
Spatula or fish slice
Frying pan
Plastic cup

We followed the video together and chopped up our ingredients as shown in the video. Little lady loves to crack eggs, having our own chickens means she has had plenty of practice at doing this and for a 4 year old she is quite the pro. Little T almost left the kitchen when it came to chopping the onion but thanks to the tip on the video there was not one tear in our eyes, I will definitely be chopping my onions the way I was shown in the video from now on. To learn more skills take a peek at the Eat Happy Project YouTube channel 

I highly recommend following the Let's Cookalong recipes and videos, my children and I had lots of fun today and it is a way to teach your children valuable life skills no matter what their age is. Our Spanish tortilla was a hit, especially my eldest son who asked for more. My husband does not normally take an interest when we are baking together but his nose pulled him towards the kitchen today. I will be following the rest of the series.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Education and restricting access: two keys to keeping children safe online

For those of us who didn't grow up with internet access, this tech savvy generation of youngsters often has us in awe of its skills. However, while we may feel rightly proud of our children and grandchildren, it is important to remember that however knowledgeable and confident they are when it comes to technology, they are still children and do not have the wealth of life experience to make them wary of some of the dangers that they may encounter online.

There is no doubt that internet access offers many benefits to children. It provides access to a wealth of resources that can help them with their homework. It also offers a way for them to share creative work such as stories and drawings as well as allowing them to play games and stay in touch with friends and family, wherever they may be in the world. However, it is sadly also the case that there are less benign aspects to the internet and, without the right kind of protection and guidance, children may unwittingly put themselves at risk - for example by sharing information with a stranger who is not as friendly as they may seem - or compromise the security of the computer by accidentally exposing it to viruses or malware.

Such risks are not a reason to prevent children from benefiting from all the positive things the internet has to offer, but they do mean that responsible adults need to educate themselves on the types of hazards that exist, so that they are in a position to ensure children are safe online.

Fortunately, the internet itself offers a wealth of knowledge about online safety, which responsible adults can access to inform themselves and the children in their care. One of the best ways of raising children's awareness of online safety is by discussing the subject and finding out what they already know - or think they know - and encouraging them to think about the kinds of situations they could run into online and how they might respond to them.

As well as learning what risks to be prepared for and discussing these with children, a practical step is to install good quality anti-virus program which also features parental control tools. Using the parental control settings, adults can restrict the websites that a child can access in order to reduce the risk of them viewing inappropriate content.

Anti-virus software and parental controls will help keep your child safe when he or she uses your home computer, but remember that other parents may not have taken the same precautions. If you are concerned about what your child may access online at friends’ houses, it may be a good idea to discuss the subject with other parents to make sure they are aware of online risks and how they can protect their children from them.

I would not allow my children access to any computer that does not have a fantastic antivirus program on it. I also like the parental controls that comes with my program

Top tips to make your home a healthier place

The home is a warm and inviting haven for the family, but there are lots of dangers lurking around that could compromise the health of those who live there. Minimise the risks and make your home a healthier place by following these common sense tips.

Banish harsh chemicals

Chemicals in cleaning products and washing powders can be harmful to the health of your family. Harsh chemicals may be responsible for causing allergens and irritation to the skin, so instead opt for more natural alternatives. Lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda are all known to be effective cleaning agents that are chemical free. If, however, you do use any chemical products, such as lotions, nail varnish and sprays, always make sure that they are safely locked away in cupboards that can't be accessed by small hands.
I try to do this where possible. My skin is so sensitive to chemicals, I am even allergic to some washing powders.

Ditch carpets

No matter how often you clean your carpets at home, they are thought to be breeding grounds for dust mites and other allergens. If you are thinking of upgrading your flooring, consider switching carpets for wooden or laminate flooring instead. These are easy to clean and less likely to harbour allergen-causing irritants in the same way that carpets can. If it is not feasible to change your carpets, at least invest in a high-tech vacuum cleaner that offers maximum suction and cleaning power.I love my wooden floors, they are easy to clean and I get to use my steam mop. I do however like a bedroom to have carpet, it makes it feel a little more snug.

Say goodbye to germs and bacteria

We can't see them, but bugs, germs and harmful bacteria are happy to share our households with us and infect us if we come into contact with them. Whilst you can't eliminate all contact with virus-causing agents, there are plenty of things you can do to slash your risks. If you use a sponge in the kitchen, get into the habit of replacing it every week. Kitchen sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria, and are susceptible for coming into contact with food-borne bugs, which can be particularly dangerous to health. Change your toothbrush fairly regularly, too, as these make great homes for bugs. Regularly clean door handles and taps, as germs congregate at these places.

Get a dehumidifier

A dehumidifier may be one of the best investments you could make for a healthy home. It draws excess moisture from the atmosphere, reducing the occurrence of mould, mildew and even dust mites. These are well-known allergens that can cause a range of health problems, including breathing difficulties and irritation to the skin. A dehumidifier also eliminates musty smells and banishes damp from furniture and clothing, whilst even helping to keep food items fresher for longer.
We invested in a dehumidifier a few years ago and I have to say it is brilliant. My children have hayfever and have asthma so the more pollen & dust I can get out of the atmosphere the better. I think every home should have a dehumidifier.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Travel bag essentials

I saw that pink lining are on the hunt for bloggers to become ambassadors. We at mummy2five have been ambassadors for many brands and would love to become Pink Lining ambassadors. We reviewed the PL Child overnight bag two years ago and was rather impressed with the quality. Pink Lining have asked us what is in the bag? Read on to find out what will be in my travel bag this year.

In just under three weeks the minibus will be loaded as we head off on holiday, we will make the 317 miles journey to Cornwall, all in our trusty minibus. As the motorway services tend to be on the pricey side we take the majority of travel essentials with us, so what is in my travel bag.

Firstly I will start with the bag. We fill our PL Child overnight bag as it has bags of room and an easy access front pocket. Not only that but it is the cutest bag we own. Other than the usual keys, phone, change and chargers, the contents will be:

Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are a must. Having small children and a child with special needs, eating on the move can get a bit messy. My mother in law packs the most delicious food and we spend the whole journey filling our faces. Sure a sudden break can result in a jam tart in the face but we don't worry about that. A quick wipe with a baby wipe and we are good to go.

Antibacterial Gel
I carry antibacterial gel with me no matter where I go. Once on holiday we had the most horrendous stomach bug, since then I make sure that when we use public toilets we give our hands an extra squirt of antibacterial gel to be sure.

Carrier Bags
The front pocket of the PL Child bag comes in handy for these. I carry them for the same reason I carry antibacterial gel. We spent 317 miles one year being sick the whole way home. We have a bucket under the seat of the minibus at all times and line it with carrier bags so when we approach a service station the bag of nastiness can be thrown away easily.

This for us is rather important. Having children who suffer with hayfever and driving past hundreds of pollen filled fields is not a great combination. We find if we give them piriton it helps with any symptoms and allows us to have the windows down on a hot day.

Migraine Strips
These beauties are for big T. He suffers greatly with abdominal migraines that move to his head. This brings on a onslaught of vomiting from him(see why I carry carrier bags above). The migraine strips work much faster than any pain killer and can often prevent a full blown migraine. 

Now I know you are all scratching your heads wondering why the heck I would carry balloons. These are for big T. As part of his disabilities he is not a huge fan of change, nor is he a massive fan of being confined. He never falls asleep whilst travelling like the others do so we tackle this problem by giving him something he treasures the most, a balloon. Now this is not an inflated balloon, that would freak him out. It has to be a balloon that he can blow up repeatedly. We get a calmer boy and he gets to go red faced as he blows up his balloon.

Lastly is my camera, it is always to hand whilst travelling as you never know what beautiful scenery you may come across. I once missed a deer in the middle of a country road. My camera was not to hand and I could have kicked myself for it. One image I did capture was on the beach at Perran Sands. I see a ladies face at the end of the rocks, she looks like she is blowing the waves. Yes I have done a bit of editing but it is still one of my favourite images.

What do you pack when travelling?

This post is my application to become a Pink Lining ambassador.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Night terrors or nightmares

For the last few months most nights, Little T has woke around the same time. Sometimes we hear him whimpering. Other times he comes downstairs. On the nights he comes down the stairs he moves like a ninja, you don't hear a thing; not a creak of the floor boards or a clank of the safety gate. He appears in the living room; sweat soaking his hair, eyes wide and shaking. He startles me every time. We know straight away he has had a bad dream, we try to comfort him till he stops shaking and wait for him to settle. He is aware he has had a bad dream but can not remember what it was about. 
I looked up night terrors and discovered he is with the correct age bracket, however the symptoms are:
  • Screaming
  • Thrashing about in a panic
  • Shouting
  • Eyes open but not awake
  • Jumping out of bed
Now he does do some of them but he does not seem to be asleep when he comes down the stairs, he just seems scared.

Nightmares usually stop at age 6, they are also usually caused by the child watching something scary and Little T does not watch much that is scary.

What ever it is it must be worrying him as he asked my mother in law to buy him a dream catcher. He must have spoken to my mother in law about dream catchers after seeing one in my husbands bedroom at her house a few years ago. She agreed to buy him one and it arrived a few days ago.

My husband placed the dream catcher right above his bed. Now I don't know if it is psychologically working or if the legend of dream catchers are true. I like to believe in the latter. Since it has been above his bed he has not had one nightmare. He came downstairs on the first night and said he could not sleep, there was no wide eyes are shaking to go with it though. My husband had a dream catcher above his bed, it was one of the first things I noticed when I walked into his bedroom. He had been bought it as a gift and the funny thing is, he never dreams. Well he must dream but he never remembers having a dream.

So I looked into the history of dream catchers. I found that native Americans believe that come night time the air is filled with bad and good dreams. The dream catchers were made to allow the good dreams to pass through the holes and run down the feathers into the person sleeping below, they can land so softly onto the sleeping person that they don't recall having a dream. The bad dreams are caught up in the web, when the sun rises on a new day they vanish.

I think at some point I will try to make a dream catcher. Whilst searching for a tutorial I found Sea Lemon on YouTube who has created a fantastic dream catcher tutorial go over and check her out.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The price of prom

In the UK more schools are taking on the US tradition of holding a prom to celebrate the end of the students academic journey. It is not only high schools that now hold proms, primary schools do too. My eldest daughter has had her primary prom, next year she will be attending her high school prom and talks about it lots already. For her primary prom she dressed as an 11 year old should, I witnessed false tan, limos, over the top dresses, make up and professional hair. I personally thought all that should be left for the high school prom however I many didn't. Parents are willing to spend hundreds on primary prom never mind high school prom. My voucher codes carried out a survey of 500 US and 500 UK students to find out how much they spent on high school prom, the results can be read on A Girls World website.

Primary Prom
The amount us parents spend can be astonishing, do we really need to spend £800 for our children to arrive by helicopter?  I know I won't, five children attending two proms in their life could bankrupt me. My children will have to make do with counting on their legs to carry them to primary prom unless they know of any fairy godmothers lurking about, I might extend the budget for high school but I can guarantee it will not be more than what a family meal out will cost.
Sure they will get the dress, make up and hair done but I will not go over board.

My middle daughter is due to attend her primary prom this year, her dress is bought, a pretty pale blue one that can be worn afterwards and won't remain redundant at the back of her wardrobe. I will do her hair and I may stretch to a bit of mascara. As for high school prom, looking at the figures I best start saving now.

Does anyone require a dress or helicopter ride review? Nope, raiding the piggy bank it is.

How much would you spend on your child's prom?
How much would you hope your parents would have spent had you attended prom? I would have had to do the old Cinderella trick.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

I have survived my first year at college

Well technically college is out for summer! I've survived my first year at college, not only did I survive but I got top marks too. It just goes to show, a bit of hard work; lots of coffee, many late nights and early mornings, pays off. I've surprised myself in what I've achieved. I remember sitting in my plastic blue chair at the start of induction week. A document flashed up on the white screen. It was of past students grades, one student in particular stood out from the rest. Ever assignment had D written next to it. That student had somehow managed to get a distinction in every single assignment. I remember sitting there thinking "wow" that is bloody amazing. Not for one moment did I ever believe I could achieve the same but achieve I did. As the weeks went by and assignment were handed back to me I got quit addicted to seeing D written on that paper.

With each distinction came more motivation. There was a flip side, I became fearful of getting a merit as my final grade. Why I don't know, a merit is still a good grade and with a merit overall I can still get into the university of choice. But still, the fear was there. Every assignment I put my all into and never settled on a merit. I am pleased I did. Sure, the dark circles under my eyes are starting to take over my face but they are worth it. I have finished college for the year knowing I put 100% into my work and achieved a distinction in every assignment. My overall grade, a distinction star. Little old me, the mature student with a distinction star!
I have had an amazing year. I have gained so much in just the short time. I have loved every second of working with animals and never once was I bitten. I have delivered lambs, wrestled with calf after calf, freaked out when a Madagascar hissing cockroach attached itself to me, laughed when the water dragon was mocked by her food on her nose and watched in amazement the crested gecko.Below are just a few of the amazing animals that have helped me achieve so much.

It is not just the animals that have helped me, of course I could not have achieved what I did without the help of my lecturers. They have made learning enjoyable even if they did work us hard. I also must mention the friends I have made, the majority almost half of my age but all have the same motivation as I do. I did not expect to laugh so much.

Next year I hope to return with the same motivation. I also hope that in August when I open my GCSE result that I am happy with the grades I receive, cross your fingers and toes for me please.

So there it is, I survived my first year of college!