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Month: October 2016

Pumpkin Wars: The Six Year Old Competitive Streak.

Pumpkin Wars: The Six Year Old Competitive Streak.

With Halloween on the horizon, yesterday afternoon I managed to find myself in the middle of some competitive carving. This is the fourth year my daughter and I have carved pumpkins together. Normally she would help design and draw, but she hasn’t really had the ability or strength to carve. Last year she gave it a good go but it was pretty terrifying and she tired of it quickly – phew. But this year, at the grand old age of 6½, she has totally upped her game. There is a determination that wasn’t there before which seems to have given birth to a competitive streak. Suddenly we had a game of Pumpkin Wars on our hands…

kid-competitive-pumpkin-carving
The look of a determined winner…
Elsie’s Rules for Competitive Carving:
  1. Mom has to do the gooey insides bit because it’s disgusting;
  2. Don’t touch my pumpkin (apart from the gooey insides);
  3. Don’t even look at my pumpkin until it’s finished;
  4. Stay on your side of the table with your own pumpkin;
  5. Until I need help popping the eyes out because they’re stuck;
  6. Then return to your side of the table until I’m finished.

We have competed a number of times recently. Only the previous day we had friends over to make pizzas. “We’re having a pizza making competition!” She said excitedly. That’s not what I said but that’s what she heard. A few days before we had sat down to try out her ‘How to draw Manga’ book from the library. “We’re having a Manga drawing competition.” She said. Note how she tells me what’s already happening rather than making a suggestion. So where did this sudden competitive streak come from?

What the Experts Say

Because I occasionally like to back my waffle with a bit of science, I thought I’d do some research and find out whether this sudden surge of enthusiasm for winning was normal.

“The chronic competitiveness of 5- and 6-year-olds is often hard for parents to handle. We tend to be embarrassed by the boasting common at this age and concerned that our children might be perceived as arrogant or insensitive.”

Thankyou Karen Levine from Parents Magazine, I feel so much better knowing my daughter’s pumpkin carving trash talk is normal. “My pumpkin is gonna be so much spookier than yours,” could really hurt someone’s feelings.

The New York Times offers expert views for and against competitive behaviours in children, including quotes from experts such as:

 “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that competition is destructive, particularly, but not exclusively, for children… It’s a toxic way to raise children.” (Alfie Kohn)

Shit Alfie, I wish I’d know that before embarking on two days of competitive pizza making and pumpkin carving. We’ve had such an intoxicating weekend I almost feel hungover. Mr Kohn is quite convinced that competitiveness can ‘promote anxiety, damage self-esteem and performance, and lead to disengagement.’ We’re screwed… totally screwed. Another week of this and she’s going to be a quivering mess.

However, luckily for me, not everyone is quite so pessimistic. David Johnson, a professor at the University of Minnesota believes than when competitive behaviour is combined with co-operation, it creates a healthy environment for support and success. So teaming up and encouraging each other to do better is good. And it’s OK to have a winner as long as the loser is also encouraged…

“The creativity, the innovation, the quality of product all goes up as you nurture talents and performance of others,” (Prof. David Johnson, University of Minnesota.)

Oh good, I do feel better. I was getting plenty of encouragement from my opponent while carving. “I bet your pumpkin is looking super spooky Mommy.” If I’m honest the tone was a little cocky and patronizing but I’ll totally take it.

The Result

At the end of the competitive pumpkin carving, of course there had to be a winner. Daddy was out at the shops and so it was decided that he was to be the judge on his return. However after leaving the room for a few moments I returned to find this…

pumpkins-with-crowns

Ignore the washing up in the background and the cat trying to squeeze it’s head into the pumpkin to get the flickering electric candle… I haven’t got time to be full glamour all the time you know. What we’re looking at here is the crowns. It seems Elsie couldn’t wait for Judge Daddy to get back from the shops so had crowned herself winner of the pumpkin carving competition. She made it very clear that she was given the gold crown and I had been awarded the silver crown for coming second. “Well done Mommy.” Then she pointed out the certificates she had placed beside each pumpkin…

pumpkin-carving-certificates

So… I got a ‘nice try’… does that count as ‘nurturing talents and performance of others?’. She was certainly very pleased to be crowned first place and who could argue with her… she had just carved her very own pumpkin at age six!

We may need to curb the competitive streak at some point, but for now I think I’ll let her revel in the toxicity of her win, sorry Alfie. Happy Halloween!

pumpkins-in-darkness 

 

This post is linked up here:

Mad About Kids
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback
Two Tiny Hands
Hot Pink Wellingtons
The Obligatory Pumpkin Patch Outing

The Obligatory Pumpkin Patch Outing

pumpkin-patch
How to confuse small children…

When I was a child, the Pumpkin Patch was definitely not a thing, certainly not in England anyway. Now, it seems to be a Fall staple, and despite making it six years into motherhood unscathed, last weekend I found myself on the obligatory Pumpkin Patch family outing. “What IS a Pumpkin Patch?” I asked my husband before we left. “It’s a big patch of pumpkins.” My daughter said. Thank you sweetie, I feel so much more prepared now.

On arrival at MacDonald’s Ranch we struggle to find a parking space because it turns out people really like pumpkins. I wonder if this would work for any other vegetables? I could make a killing opening the first ever (Twin) Pickle Patch… see what I did there? Patent pending. It’s $12 to get in… $12! There had better be one seriously impressive pumpkin in there. I can take the kids to Safeway for free and see a pretty decent selection, and I’m pretty sure they won’t mind if I rearrange them for a little photo shoot. 

pumpkins-safeway
There’s straw and everything…

Still, the twins have a couple of weeks to go until their 1st birthday so they get in for free. I suddenly feel like we’ve nabbed ourselves a bargain and we head onwards into the realm of the Pumpkin Patch. I instantly see that my $12 is not just for viewing pumpkins, there’s a whole selection of activities – I’ve essentially walked into a pop-up theme park decorated with scarecrows. On that note, why are scarecrows a Fall thing? Don’t you need to fend off birds all year round?

My daughter is pretty pumped. Six years old is the perfect age to get your face painted, lasso/milk a fake cow, sift for gold, and play fairground games with prizes designed specifically to hurt when you stand on them the following day. I should point out, if you didn’t already know, we live in Arizona, USA. So if you live in Scunthorp, UK, you may be offered slightly different activities.

western-activities
In case you were wondering… lassoing and milking were separate activities.

With a quick cheese toasty break we head on to the main attraction… The (actual) Pumpkin Patch. To encourage the air of suspense we are taken there on a hay covered trailer drawn by horses through the desert. I know, we’re totally rockin’ the wild west right now. The  scenery is beautiful but I can’t help thinking “I’m pretty sure no pumpkins grow out here…”

desert

Despite being late October, it is 95° outside and I’m starting to wish I had brought water with me. Who goes out to a desert Pumpkin Patch without water? Rookie error. As we come to a halt I see it… the famed Pumpkin Patch, set up in all it’s glory right here in the Arizona desert.

I figure we have about 15minutes before I pass out from dehydration, including catching the horse wagon back and sourcing suitable refreshments. I wanted my family Pumpkin Patch photo and I needed it quick, so we found the perfect spot beside a slightly deranged scarecrow and prepared the children. Elsie was on board, if you remember my post about the family photo shoot, she’s pretty reliable when it comes to striking a pose. The twins however had other ideas. George was bemused… “Why am I surrounded by large orange vegetables in the middle of the desert?” Arthur just went total melt-down…

pumpkin-patch-tears
The photo I travelled through the desert on horseback for…

Was it the feel of the hay? Was it the pumpkins themselves, or just the weird scarecrow with the plastic head? Who knows, but he was having none of it. Drinks required all round. We make a quick exit and headed back on the horse drawn trailer. Elsie was annoyed because she thought the tractor dressed as a train was a much cooler ride… make no presumptions about children.

We didn’t stay at the ranch much longer as we were starting to melt and frankly I felt like I had earned a Sunday afternoon beer. When I got back I couldn’t help but google, and sure enough there is an official title for the fear of pumpkins – cucurbitophia. The same word is used for the fear of all vegetables in the gourd family. What is a gourd I thought? Google strikes again. Gourds are ‘chiefly herbaceous tendril-bearing vines including the cucumber, melon, squash, and pumpkin’. So unfortunately (Twin) Pickle Patch can not be marketed to sufferers of cucurbitophia… bummer, it was a genius niche market opportunity.

 

This post is linked up here:

PoCoLo
Hot Pink Wellingtons
Petite Pudding
Organizational Skills: A Tale of Two Ninjas

Organizational Skills: A Tale of Two Ninjas

Last week’s parent teacher conference brought to my attention that my six year-old daughter is somewhat lacking ‘organizational skills’. How organized a six year-old is supposed to be I do not know, but I would agree it’s not one of her strong points. Anyone that can go upstairs to get changed for school and come down 30minutes later naked, with a copy of The Beano, clearly needs a little help.

ninja-tools
This image will make sense in about 1minute…

So, no surprizes in regard to my slightly eccentric daughter, but what came as a bit of a blow was Teacher going on to suggest if we were more organized at home it may help organization at school. I knew not to be defensive, I am a teacher myself, but who did she think she was (I thought silently to myself)? Time management and organization is my thing, without it how have I even made it this far? But, had I better consider what she was suggesting? After all, I turned up to see her sweaty and panting, because I was five minutes late for a 3:40pm appointment. It was only when I’d been there a while she informed me the appointment was actually booked for 3:20. I wasn’t exactly oozing organizational skills right now.

Teacher suggested that doing homework at regular times through the week would help. I totally agree… routine is key. If she knows what to expect, she will become more efficient at transitioning from one activity to another. She will know what’s coming, reducing anxiety and eliminating surprizes that can be difficult to process. That’s my teacher training talking. My Mom brain is thinking “How does she even know that we bodge it together whenever I remember, and the rest is cobbled together Sunday night?” I give her a squinty-eyed suspicious look… was she some kind of ninja teacher? Ninjas are one of my daughter’s latest obsessions,  so that would be pretty cool. I envisage Teacher in a black jumpsuit and a karate style headband, stalking students at night to check they’ve done their homework… I could write a children’s book.

organizational skills
Do I go headband or full face balaclava thing?

“…very distracted and finds it difficult to concentrate.” Crap, what was she saying? Deep in thought about the styling of my illustrations, I’d totally lost track of the conversation. Shit, I don’t even know if she is talking about me or my daughter? And at this point does it even matter? We clearly both have a problem, and my husband’s no better, it’s like the blind leading the blind.

We left school and went straight home to create a homework chart for the fridge. Everyone loves a chart, right? The following day I bought a pack of stickers, a multi-pack of hearts, smiley faces and stars – perfect, I thought, this is going swimmingly – check out my organizational skills. My daughter and I sat and discussed what would need to be achieved for a sticker on the chart. It started with a sensible plan of dividing the homework into quarters to be completed Monday-Thursday, ready for EARLY hand-in on Friday, take than Ninja Teacher.

ninja-battle-run-away
You’re not the only one with ninja skills…

“Let’s use the hearts for homework,” she said. This sounded like a good suggestion, but then things started to get complicated. “But what is the difference between the big hearts and the small hearts?” Hmm… that’s a good question, surely a big heart sticker is superior to a small one, so it seemed unfair to make them equal. “Maybe if you do more than the minimum homework you get a big heart?” A great idea, but it started a snowball…

“Let’s make the smiley faces for finishing my work at school.”
“What can the stars be for?”
“What about the big stars?”
“Maybe I can write +3 on the sticker when my homework is on +3s?”
“What about Friday-Sunday?”
“No, I’m not tidying up, that’s the worst.”
“What do I get if I pass my maths test?”
“But what if I play my recorder and the piano on the same day?”
“How many stickers do I need to get a prize?”
“Let’s have a different coloured heart for every week.”

My head was spinning, I should have been taking notes. What did she have to do for a small star again? And was there any difference in the colour of the smiley faces? What do I have to do to get her to tidy up? What would Ninja Teacher do?

ninja-fight-hyaah
Don’t mess with Ninja Teacher…

So… I’m feeling pretty defeated right now. Defeated by crappy organizational skills, and defeated by a six-year old who, thinking about it may well be a ninja too. We’re a week in and the chart is a random scattering of pink and red hearts, a blue smiley face and two small sparkly stars. I have no idea what that means but I don’t see any large hearts, so know she hasn’t been doing any extra homework. No surprises there.

What can you learn from this tale of two ninjas?
  • Teachers are always right;
  • Don’t let a six year-old make decisions for you;
  • You may not be the person you always thought you were;
  • Buy boring identical stickers to make charts;

white-black-ninjas

If any of you are planning on becoming an actual Ninja, the images in this post were sourced from a very useful article titled ‘How to Ninja Fight’. People lacking organizational skills may want to read something more useful… can’t help you there.

 

This post is linked up here:

Two Tiny Hands
Diary of an imperfect mum
Island Living 365
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com
5 Reasons I Like Mondays.

5 Reasons I Like Mondays.

monday-desert

There are many reasons not to like Mondays, so instead I am here today to spread start-of-the-week love, and explain why I like Mondays and you should too…

1 Monday Morning Memes

Every Monday millions of people are trawling their social media with a large cup of coffee, because that’s pretty much all they’re capable of doing until past noon. Monday moaning is the perfect excuse for a meme, you know the sort of thing…

monday-meme
baby-monday-meme
good-morning-monday
happy-monday-meme-thyroid-nation-3
tumblr_md17soo41l1qe11kdo1_500
monday-meme

 

2 Optimism

Once the morning haze has passed and the coffee has kicked in, you might take a moment to assess how you’re going to make it through the week. This could be organizing boardroom meetings, or planning packed lunches. Either way, Monday holds a certain optimism that this week… ‘I will do better’. For me, as an glass-half-full SAHM I genuinely believe every single Monday that this week…

  • I will go to bed with a clean kitchen;
  • I will walk the dog more;
  • I will be on time for school;
  • I will empty and sort the junk drawers;
  • I will do some ironing;
  • I will only take one very efficient trip to the grocery store;
  • Family and I will eat more fruit and vegetables;
  • I will empty the kitty litter box every day;
  • I will clean my car;
  • I will deal with my hospital bills;
  • I will catch up with all my friends and family;
  • I will teach my babies new tricks, like walking.

3 Quiet

1e42efec584beb5ea54f35c6bd5985d7fb59002851c4d145c2778b087aabdf03

This does depend on your situation, but as a working Mom and a SAHM I have managed to enjoy that Monday moment of quiet. For me now it’s when my boys have their morning nap… as I’m writing this in fact. My daughter has been successfully dropped at school, the twins have had their breakfast and gone back to bed, and my husband is out at the office. Quiet… and it’s bliss (only I forgot to buy more milk so I don’t have my Monday morning cup of tea… ugh).

4 Empty Shops

grocery6

Apologies for those stuck in the office, but us SAHMs get to indulge in off-peak everything and empty stores. Because of the walking cute-fest/freak show that is identical twins, I just love the opportunity to do my shopping on my own and in peace, which just is not possible at the weekend. After much experimentation I have worked out that our local Safeway at 8am is the emptiest shopping experience you’re going to get… such a pleasure. And if you’re fancy enough to head out to the mall, you can actually hear the naff music they play in the background.

5 Planning for the Weekend

The morning haze has cleared, you’ve had a quiet moment and the coffee and optimism have kicked in. You’ve shopped and cleaned the house a little (or booked meetings and cleared your inbox), and you now feel super organized and pumped for the week. All that’s left now is to start thinking about the weekend!

weekend-gif
source: ragtagriot.com

Gotta love Mondays!

 

This post is linked up here:

This Mum's Life
Night of the Living Pumpkin Gingerbread

Night of the Living Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkin-gingerbreadI have a confession to make… I’m a bit of a zombie fanatic. You may remember last month  I posted on the zombie apocalypse, and with Halloween only a week away it’s the perfect excuse to get my zombie juices flowing again. My six-year old daughter was totally on board; she’s been pestering me to make gingerbread men for ages and was a little too excited about decorating with plenty of blood and goo – should I be concerned?

Zombie Pumpkin Gingerbread Men
Yields 24
A traditional gingerbread recipe with a hint of pumpkin and some zombie attitude for the holiday.
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Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  2. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup molasses
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  6. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  12. frosting to decorate
  13. pre-made eye balls (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer. When light and fluffy, add the molasses, a beaten egg and the pumpkin puree.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices, then gradually beat into creamed mixture.
  3. Divide the dough and make two or three balls (this just speeds up the chilling process), then wrap in plastic and refrigerate to firm up, about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a floured gingerbread man cookie cutter. If decapitating or removing a zombie limb, do this before cooking.
  5. Place 1-2 in. apart on a lined baking sheet and bake until edges are firm or just starting to brown, 8-10 minutes.
  6. Cool those zombies and frost as desired. We bought ready made eyeballs because my frosting skills have room for improvement, nice and easy for the kiddos too.
Notes
  1. You can buy pumpkin puree canned - we found ours in the baking isle around all the pumpkin pie stuff. Otherwise, make your own by cutting a pumpkin in half, scooping out seeds and placing face down in an inch of water. Bake at 350ºF for 60-90mins (depending on size of pumpkin). When soft, scoop out the flesh and blend.
TwinPickle http://twinpickle.com/
The results aren’t going to win any beauty contests but they are delicious and we had so much fun making them. Here are some of my favourites:

zombie-bread-men

 

This post is linked up here:

Mummy in a Tutu
The Pramshed
Juggling Food
Diary of An Imperfect Mum
US v UK: First World Problems & Special Skills

US v UK: First World Problems & Special Skills

uk-and-usa-flags
Image source: lingholic.com

The Vegas presidential campaign debate starts in a matter of hours, and I can’t help think, who would win in a fight? Hilary Clinton or Theresa May? US v UK… What special skills would each leader bring to the ring? Which country is the greater power? I’m matching the ladies for this battle because Trump can’t be trusted around women anymore.

I appreciate I’m a little off-piste here as this is not my normal subject matter (whatever that is). But while we’re all consumed with the big ticket items like war, taxes, healthcare and employment, I would like to bring to your attention some things we can learn from our Atlantic neighbours. There are many first world problems both countries have successfully solved, yet they haven’t taken off on the other side of the pond. Here’s my US v UK showdown of first world problems, solutions, special skills and offerings. You decide who wins:

First world problems solved by the US:

braile-atm
Image source: themeshyparent.wordpress.com

Problem: Finding a parking space on the high-street and getting to the ATM in the rain when you’re already late for work.
Solution: Drive-through ATM. Mind blown… It’s genius.

Problem: You want to walk your dog but the park says you have to keep it on a leash. You ignore this and get shouted at by parents of small children.
Solution: Dog parks. Enclosed play areas for dogs to socialise and do their business, including waste bins, shady benches, water stations and sometimes even paddling pools and free poop bags.

Problem:  You live beyond walking distance from school, yet if you  drive and drop off outside the gates you get told off and moved on while causing a traffic jam.
Solution: Car lines. You queue up, a teacher comes to the car door, picks up your kid, and you are free to drive straight to Starbucks (yes, you can get drive through coffee too!).

First world problems solved by the UK:

thomas-tank
Image source: wikimedia.org

Problem: Sitting in the car in a daily traffic jam to commute to work.
Solution: Public transport. Last year we moved from The Woodlands, Texas, a town with a population of 125,000 people and commutable to Houston. No trains and no buses.

Problem: You’re vacuuming the house and suddenly lose power. You turn to see the plug has pulled out of the wall socket… again.
Solution: The three pin plug. UK plugs fit snuggly into the socket. The pins are chunky and there’s three of them – simple. UK wall sockets also have a switch for each outlet meaning you can switch of the power before pulling the plug instead of dodging the sparks.

Problem: You get to the supermarket (that’s a grocery store Team US), park up and find you can barely open the car door let alone lift a 30lb (that’s 2st 2lb Team UK) child out of the small space between the cars.
Solution: Parent and child spaces. There is general acknowledgment in the UK that parents are all a bit special needs. So, the supermarkets provide wider spaces located close to the entrance to make our life easier. Team US you may lift your jaw from the floor at this point.

Special Skills of the US People:

server-meme
Image source: buzzfeed.com
  • Service with a smile – Miserable Brits like to call this being ‘fake’, but having lived here a while now I can assure you it is not. People are nice, work hard for tips and genuinely want you to have a nice day.
  • Charity – A borderline addiction for some, Americans are always raising money for something. The tax laws allow rebates for donations to schools or church, and there’s always a kid at the door selling cookies. You can’t knock community spirit and kindness, even if being badgered for money all the time is a tad annoying.
  • Pumping breast milk – Most working US mothers are stuck going back to the office when their babies are 6wks old. Despite this more mothers breastfeed their babes in the US than in the UK, because they are all busy pumping away at work to build up that freezer stash. Talk about multi-tasking.

Special Skills of the UK People:

ricky-gervais
Image source: ichef.bbci.co.uk
  • Sense of humour teamed with a fancy accent – In your face Team US… think how many cookies Ricky Gervais could have sold when he was at school?
  • Vocabulary – Brits use nearly all the words Americans do but yet elaborate their conversation with many many more. These words are not only pleasing to the ear and often funny, but also weren’t used in the previous sentence. Living in the US, I am almost completely immune to the words ‘cute’ and ‘awesome’.
  • Stiff upper lip – When you bump into a fellow Brit down the pub and ask how they are, they will say they’re ‘good’ or ‘alright’ and move on. This may be despite having an ingrowing toenail removed, a two hour chemo session and a funeral earlier that day. Brits will put on a brave face no matter what, because there is a time and a place for those conversations, and it’s not the pub.

US Material Offerings:

texas-bbq
Image source: cdn.shopify.com
  • BBQ food – Team UK I do not mean putting a frozen Birdseye patty on a disposable foil tray with coal in it;
  • Roads wide enough for two cars to pass each other – Driving on UK country roads is terrifying every time.
  • Pie – Apple, cherry, pumpkin, pecan, key lime, Mississippi mud…
  • Taking home leftovers – Taking home food you have paid for, which will otherwise be thrown in the trash, does not make you a peasant. All restaurants of all price ranges in the US will ask if you want your food boxed… Lunch tomorrow sorted.

UK Material Offerings:

bacon-butty
Image source: mrbreakfast.com
  • Thick cut unsmoked back bacon – What is that? Go to Britain and find out.
  • Cars that run at 80mpg – Good old fashioned engineering and design, mixed with sensible purchasing, well done Brits. OK, the US gallon is smaller than the UK gallon, however that’s still 66mpg compared with the 18 I get in my mine.
  • Chocolate – The US do make chocolate, but you really don’t want to eat it.
  • Pubs – You can not beat a pint in a 300yr old pub when it’s cold and drizzly outside. The blazing fire, pub dog and a ceiling so low you have to duck as you enter. They won’t have ice or lemon, and the glasses will probably not shine, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t knock a good British pub.

In conclusion, before I waffle on any more, I’m ringing the final bell. US v UK, Hilary v Theresa… Who has solved more first world problems? Who has the superior skills and offerings? As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been here in the US for a while now and as a result, things are starting to rub off on me. I wouldn’t know which way to vote…You decide, and let me know your thoughts 😉

 

This post is linked up here:

Two Tiny Hands

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

DomesticatedMomster
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
One Messy Mama
The Family Photo Shoot

The Family Photo Shoot

Having been in the US for nearly three years, certain traditions are starting to rub off. We are building up to Thanksgiving and starting to feel excited about turkey and pumpkin pie. My daughter is desperate to start the Halloween home makeover and has been since August. Then there’s the fall family photo shoot.

Its a widely excepted fact that Americans are addicted to photo shoots… spring, fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, pregnancy, newborn, birthdays, graduation,  anniversaries, and of course school and dance recitals. Other than the school photos, I’ve never before felt the need to employ someone to take photographs for me. After all, I have a GCSE in Photography and an IPhone, what more could I need? But alas, this year I couldn’t resist and I booked the fall family photo shoot, despite my husband’s horror.

family photo shoot

This weekend was the big day, and this is how it went:

6.37am Wake up in a panic. We have to leave in 45mins and I have to feed and dress myself and three children. Realize I probably should have set an alarm and got up a lot earlier.

7.15am How long can it take for a six year old to eat a bowl of cheerios? Curse myself for booking a photo shoot at 7.50am, what was I thinking? Cross my hair off the mental to-do list, I’ll look fine, there’s nothing more flattering than the mop-haired, puffy-eyed hungover look. 

7.30am The twins have still not taken their clockwork morning poop. Run around in a panic trying to find extra clothes for the bag in case we have a sudden explosion mid shoot… why did I think white was a good idea in the first place?

7.45am Realize we’re going to be late so send my apologies to the photographer… could have seen that one coming.

8.00am Find photographer, take a deep breath… we sort of made it and everyone has clothes on. 

8.05am Get kiddos in position for the debut picture. Our six year old daughter tries to hold her smile while losing grip of her two brothers who are more interested in eating the gravel. Parents, granny and photographer jump up and down like crazed chimpanzees, trying to achieve the perfect smile. Twins stare with bemusement without even a curl of the mouth… “What ARE they doing?”

8.10am George gets on board and Elsie is loving all the attention but Arthur is playing hard-ball. That emoji with the straight mouth and the slight f**k you tone is the best we’re going to get. We move on.

8.15am Elsie steals the lime light with some single portraits. Despite the mild freak out over the bees in the bougainvillea all goes well.

8.20am We try the group shot again in a new location. Granny manages to head butt Arthur but once the tears pass he decides he might be ready to break a mild smile. George is thinking about peanut butter on toast and has no intention of hiding it.

8.25am It’s over… Thank goodness for that. No poop explosions, no major disasters and everyone still has clothes on. That’s success in my book. Time for a massive coffee and a piece of cake. 

Driving home, I consider whether I would do this again. When you take into account shopping for the perfect outfits, organizing a photographer, paying for the service and getting yourself there and back in one piece… is the family photo shoot really worth it? I am always taking pictures of my kids and achieve delights like this one taken a couple of weeks ago:

family-photo-shoot
Photograph by Twin Pickle Photography, Arizona.

Is there really much difference? The short and only answer to this is yes. Because believe or not, the bonkers brigade shown above is the same three children as the angelic beauties below:

family-photo-shoot
Photograph by Sara Waterman Photography, Arizona.

So if you want to convince your friends and family that you have it all under control and your children are fit for tea with the queen, book your family photo shoot and melt at the cuteness for many years to come. I know I will.

Thank you Sara Waterman Photography… you did great 🙂 

 

This post is linked up here:

This Mum's Life
Mumzilla
Diary of an imperfect mum
Hot Pink Wellingtons
Baby Finger Food: Baked Baby Falafel

Baby Finger Food: Baked Baby Falafel

Following on from ‘Spiced Vegetable Croquettes’, I continue my quest to come up with healthy, adventurous foods my boys can feed themselves. They are 11 months old now and really aren’t interested in being fed by Mom, yet I’m trying to continue all the goodness they used to get from their homemade purees. Beans are the perfect source of protein, especially because as a household we are trying to cut down on meat consumption. I am also keen on introducing them to herbs and spices, and what better to do it than this Middle-Eastern classic – Falafel.

falafel

I may be upsetting many an Israeli falafel lover here with my recipe because traditionally they should be made with dried chickpeas. They should also be fried in oil to give that crispy on the inside, fluffy in the middle texture. I apologize in advance because I’ve gone rogue… You can’t necessarily find dried chickpeas in your local grocery store, and they also have to be soaked overnight before you can use them. So if you’re prepared and organized, go with dried, but if you have three children and a time management problem, buy canned.

In regard to cooking, I tried frying them but because they are smaller than traditional falafel they soaked up a lot of oil and were too greasy. I tasted both the fried and the oven baked and I genuinely favor the baked, hence that’s what I’m posting below. I’m happier offering baked goods over fried to the babies anyway (sorry Israel).

Baked Baby Falafel
Yields 30
A Middle-Eastern classic made a little easier and healthier for moms and babies alike.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas
  2. 1/2 an onion
  3. 6 cloves of garlic
  4. 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  5. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  6. 1 tsp ground coriander
  7. 1 tsp ground cumin
  8. 4 tbs flour
  9. 1 tsp baking powder
  10. 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  11. 1 tbs olive oil (optional)
  12. Plain Greek yogurt & cucumber to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Finely chop the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place into a food processor with the chopped veg, flour, baking powder, herbs and spices. Add a little salt if you wish.
  3. Pulse the ingredients in the food processor. You're aiming to break the chickpeas up, without turning them into a paste.
  4. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls of around 1-1.5 inches in diameter.
  5. To give just a little crisp to the outside and stop them drying out, roll the falafel in a tbs of olive oil on a plate. Alternatively you could lightly spray with oil or just leave them bare - they will still be delicious!
  6. Place the falafel onto a lined tray and bake for 40mins, turning at half time.
  7. Serve on top of Greek yogurt with a side of cucumber.
Notes
  1. Instead of plain yogurt and sliced cucumber, you could go all out and make Tzatziki, yum. What can I say... I'm a busy woman and it just didn't happen this time! Enjoy snacking on your baby's food 😉
TwinPickle http://twinpickle.com/

Of course what matters most of all is the twin tasting panel… they went down a treat!
twins-eating

 


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Juggling Food
Mummy in a Tutu
48 hrs in Vegas: Twin Stroller Edition

48 hrs in Vegas: Twin Stroller Edition

check-in
The crew are raring to go! (Except George, he’s not impressed what so ever)

Tagging along with Husband’s work trips has its perks, however it also means I solo parent by day. That leaves me with a six year old and two 10month old babies to entertain in Las Vegas. So what do you do when you’re let loose in Vice City with three kids, comfortable shoes and a twin stroller (oh the glamour)?

Eat

babies-hooters
Babies’ first trip to Hooters… check.

The twins are of an age where between bottles and food they are pretty much always eating, or sleeping off a food coma. So days out are planned around mealtimes… to the minute. Yes, babies that have only just discovered real food do not wait, and therefore us parents need to stay ahead of the game. Mealtimes need to be perfectly calculated, adjusted to take into account sitting down, faffing with high chairs, ordering and allowing food to cool down. I suggest going for lunch at 11am to comfortably avoid restaurant rage and child meltdowns. And do note: it never looks good drinking a beer while you have two hungry kids screaming and banging the table while the other has her hands over her ears.

Vegas has some fantastic restaurants, and while you may be dreaming of fine dining in the Joël Robuchon Restaurant, your 6 year old is probably going to persuade you that The Rainforest Café is worthy of a Michelin Star. But who can resist their animated kiddie faces when the place starts rumbling with thunder, and the slightly creepy animals hanging from the ceiling come alive. Who wants ‘Oscetra caviar served atop of king crab and a crustacean gelée’ anyway, when you can finish the remnants of Kraft mac n cheese from a Formica tray?

Walk

I keep meaning to measure how many steps I clock up on a trip to Vegas. For a city that was built for cars, you do a ridiculous amount of walking. The resorts themselves are so huge, just walking from the entrance through to the pool can take 20mins. And when you look at the map and think ‘we can walk from New York to Paris’, for a six year-old it literally feels like you’ve crossed the Atlantic. My little girl was an absolute trooper, because when we came home my feet were throbbing, so how she did it with only mild moaning I do not know.

Become a Tourist Attraction

As I have mentioned in previous posts, people are obsessed with twins. I am usually stopped multiple times on a trip out, for a double foot grab and the standard list of questions. Vegas however took it to a whole other level. Maybe it’s the cocktail buzz people have going; maybe it’s the chit-chat in the street with salespeople and street performers. Or maybe its the high proportion of retirees spending their pensions that just love babies. Either way it was insane. If only my daughter could walk faster I might have had a chance, but alas I spent most my day displaying my offspring to the world as a living museum. Honestly, I’m going to start charging.

Highlights from the trip:

Walking through Luxor… one of the hotels I’ve been meaning to check out for a while. For those that don’t know, I was an Architect in my former life so I love a bit of geeky building porn.

luxor

Riding the monorail. My daughter has a slight obsession with public transport and watching her gaze out the window and follow the map through the stations was adorable.

monorail

The twin’s first trip to an aquarium. Watching them stare at the fish with that innocent inquisitive gaze almost made up for the 4hrs sleep I got the night before. 

aquarium

Low Points:

Walking into the kitchen at Denny’s and loudly enquiring “how long does it take to make a pancake?” while the boys screamed hungry at the table.

Losing $20 to the ‘Great Owl’ slot machine when I was sure it was giving me the win vibe.

Desperately singing ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ on repeat in the third row of the minivan while the boys ignore me and continue crying.

car
There were spells of giggles and sleep either side of the misery.

Summary:

  • We spent two days walking from one family friendly restaurant to another while being mobbed by touchy-feely grandparents.
  • Both adults managed to drink a beer and play a slot machine. (#wildinvegas)
  • The children were successfully kept alive and even enjoyed themselves at times.
  • Overall, the trip is getting a thumbs up.

hotel

 

This post is linked here:

Two Tiny Hands
Diary of an imperfect mum
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com
JENerally Informed

 

5 Reasons Why Las Vegas is Made for Babies

5 Reasons Why Las Vegas is Made for Babies

On Sunday we are packing up the Minivan and heading to Las Vegas for a couple of days. We do this occasionally because my husband has the odd meeting there, and it’s relatively easy to tag along. I was going to write a post about things to do, or what to pack, but then I got this vision in my head of one of my boys wearing a green visor at the poker table.

Las Vegas Baby

I just couldn’t get past it. So instead of giving you something useful to read about, I thought I’d Photoshop my children into scenes of Las Vegas instead. A sort of pre-trip photo montage… the photos that could be, in case I don’t make it back. In doing this I had a realisation. Las Vegas is literally made for babies. Vice city is living proof that we never grow up. Here are just 5 reasons why:

1 – Casinos are full of toys.

As adults we really haven’t moved on much. Anything that spins, flashes and stacks is a go-go. I’m pretty sure Fisher Price are in cahoots with the casino owners to ensure we are hooked on this stuff by the time we hit puberty – genius.

las-vegas-toys

2 – People are compelled to eat and drink non-food items.

I have no idea what is in these crazy slushy cocktails, or how much alcohol they contain. But I do know they come in stupidly large ‘glasses’ and look like your poop might glow in the dark afterwards. Please note: no-one is trusted with actual glass in Vegas – plastic sippy cups for everyone.

las-vegas-cocktails

3 – You can acceptably wear a diaper, onesie or wacky costume in public.

Yes, if you want to make a living out of being a grown-up baby, Vegas is the city to do it. Crazy Hat Day everyday? No problem. And instead of being scared and crossing the street to get away from you, people will give you money and take your photograph.

las-vegas-diaper

4 – Bedtime is accompanied by projection displays and music.

If you’re still afraid of the dark, just move to Vegas. The famous light displays never fail to please, and the background noise of fountains, nightclubs, and people who have had too many slushies, will give you the perfect night sleep. Everyone knows babies don’t like silence.

las-vegas-lights

5 – You are unable to calculate risk wisely.

As a baby we learn the hard way… from our mistakes. Every new experience is risky, and we just love to gamble, mainly because we haven’t worked out the likely outcome of our actions yet. In a casino this infant instinct resurfaces, and people are suddenly incapable of making sensible decisions. They are determined to throw away their life savings on the small chance of a win, and seem quite convinced it’s a good idea. 

What big babies we are… especially in Las Vegas.

las-vegas-money

Disclaimer: No babies were given alcoholic drinks or played poker to make these photographs. Images created for entertainment purposes only. A bit like this video… enjoy.

 

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