I went to bed last night and as per usual spent far too long looking through social media on my phone.

Opening Twitter I saw Manchester was trending. I clicked through to see what was happening and there were a few Tweets describing a bang at the Manchester Arena. Many Tweets claimed that what had been heard was nothing more than a couple of balloons and that the response was being widely exaggerated. I hoped that last part was true. 

I awoke after a restless night to the awful news that last night had not been a balloon but a bomb. A suicide bomber had detonated a bomb at the exit of the concert. He had intermingled with his victims and spent time choosing the place at which he could stand and murder the most people possible. 22 people. 22 innocent people who just wanted to spend the evening enjoying music. This murderer also injured many others – 59 at the last count. The reason he did this holds no meaning for me. It is irrelevant. 

The thought of how scared those poor children and teenagers (as well as their parents) must have been has played on my mind all day. 

I have heard several people on the news say that we should carry on regardless. Get back to normality they advised. I can’t. Not today. 

Perhaps once I could have watched the news reports and although I would have felt sorry for the victims and their families I could have gone on with my day as normal. Since becoming a Mother though that has been getting harder and harder to do. I am unsure whether that is because I am a parent or because of the frequency of these attacks. 

I have an 11 year old who adores Ariana. She watches all of the shows she is on, on tv and listens to a lot of her music. She wanted to attend the concert last night. Maybe that is why I feel affected. Any of those children could easily have been my child or your child. 

Don’t let hate win, they say. But what about fear? How can we stop fear winning?

I want my children to be able to experience the joy and beauty of this world. Seeing the news was upsetting for my daughter this evening; we did of course talk about what had happened but nothing really prepares you for seeing it on a screen I guess.

She turned to me and said, “I won’t be allowed to go to a concert like that for a while then. Who knows when it will happen again”. My instinct is to wrap my children up away from the world and keep them safe by my side. But I know that would not be any kind of life for them. 

Instead I forced myself to say “No, concerts are amazing. You will go to plenty I’m sure”. I explained that although there are bad and dark things in the world, they are outnumbered by the good. If she (and my boys) hide indoors away from the dark, then they will miss out on the light too. 

People were hurt. It was awful. Amid the carnage and chaos though were the lights. The taxi drivers who switched off their meters to assist in getting people to safety. A man called Jay whose evening with his daughters ended with him cradling a little girl who was alone and injured in his arms. The homeless man called Steve who upon hearing the blast ran into the arena to help. A woman called Paula who led 50 children to the safety of a hotel room until they could be assisted. 

They are just a few of the many lights last night. Too many to mention. But I will read their names and try to remember as many as possible because they (along with the victims) are the names which matter. The people of Manchester should be proud of themselves.

Our children need to see the lights in all of this darkness in the world. I would love to be able to protect them from all of the pain and the hurt but it would be naive to expect to be able to. Instead we should try to teach them to be strong enough to fight when they need to. Mentally and emotionally as well as physically because that strength will be their shield and their weapon. 

So please. Don’t ask me to act normal.

Don’t ask me to go on with my usual life and draw a line under this. I can’t. But what I intend to do is to keep showing my children those reports of strangers helping strangers in the hope that they can see that on the whole people are good and they are strong and these acts of terror are not and never should be normal.

Love 

Mummy & Moose

 

Gousto is a subscription recipe box service with home delivery

Easy, tasty ingredients to make nutritious meals straight to your door. No brainer. So when they contacted me to ask if I would like to try a recipe box for myself and the family I didn’t need much persuading. 

Gousto offers 6 different subscriptions.

  • 2 recipes for 2 people – £27.49 per week
  • 2 recipes for 4 people – £41.99 per week
  • 3 recipes for 2 people – £34.99 per week
  • 3 recipes for 4 people – £51.99 per week
  • 4 recipes for 2 people – £41.99 per week
  • 4 recipes for 4 people – £59.99 per week

The great thing about the subscription is that although the default is set to a weekly delivery you can cancel, skip or pause deliveries at any time. 

Once you have chosen your delivery schedule you can pick from large number of meals. The menu changes weekly and contains a huge range of meat, fish or vegetarian based meals to suit most palettes. 

gousto box

I love cooking. That’s why I sat this one out

Mr G and I decided that given the option we would rather try 2 meals for 2 people than 1 meal for 4 people. I do all of the cooking in our house and have done for most of the 15 years we have cohabited. 

There was 1 occasion where Mr G removed a frozen chicken pie from its metallic case and attempted to grill it but the less said about that the better. Probably. 

With this in mind we agreed that to really see if Gousto recipes are easy, Mr G should be the one to have a go at cooking them. What was the worst that could happen?

I was impressed with how the Gousto box arrived. The packaging was extraordinary –  the chicken for example was packed with ice and wrapped with plastic covered sheeps wool. 

Gousto Lemon & Pepper Chicken With Rosemary Potatoes 

This was the first meal I chose. I have to be honest and say that my expectations were not high. I had been concerned that the portion sizes might not be very generous but as you can see from the photos I had nothing to worry about! 

chicken dinner

Curried Chicken & Sultana Rice 

This one was something MrG would never have chosen to cook in a million years. Completely out of his comfort zone (lets face it, that zone pretty much resides in the cereal cupboard) but he did seriously well. Once again, the portion sizes were spot on and the meal was absolutely delicious although Mr G did comment that the method could have been made a bit clearer to follow. 

chicken and rice

Would We Choose Gousto Again?

Without a doubt. Ok so perhaps for us it wouldn’t be a viable option for everyday meal planning but as a replacement for a takeaway when we want a special meal I could imagine this being something we would look at. At roughly £7.50 per portion it is something we could have fun cooking together and would be cheaper than eating out. 

Besides, now I know Mr G has these hidden culinary capabilities I would be a fool not to! 

Love 

Mummy & Moose.

 

Disclosure: We were invited to try these meals in return for writing a review. As always, all opinions are our own.

Mummy in a Tutu

girl feeding ducks

Dear Bess

This morning was a normal morning. I had to shout you to get up, persuade you to rise from your warm bed and stumble into the bathroom to brush your teeth and wash your face ignoring your protests that you needed just 5 more minutes snooze. The same routine we have carried out nearly every day for the 4139 days you have been here. I saw you though. A slightly tense expression and the nervous hair twiddling. Today was different for you.

4140 days ago the world was a little less bright and a lot less fun.

You more than anyone else have made me think about how I see life. About more than myself. How women and girls are treated in our society and whether I can adapt my behaviours and my thoughts to try to make life easier for you and girls like you.

To teach you to live freely holds the same importance to me as teaching you to read and write. I hope you can be a little selfish in your choices for your future. I know that you will find it tough to not put others before yourself always because you are just that sort of a person. A good person.

You should know that even at age 11 you are already one of the smartest people I know. I am pretty sure that you have barely been without a book since you were a toddler and your thirst for learning seems to be unquenchable. This, coupled with your kindness is my most favourite trait of yours.

You see, dear daughter, this week you have no need for nerves. I tell you the same thing which my Mum told me and her Father told her;

worry quote

Ok so it’s perhaps not worthy of inclusion in the top quotes of all time but that doesn’t make it any less true. I hope you remember these words.

The fact is that I know you will be amazing this week.

Not because of what you know but because of who you are. You are so strong, so able and so determined to succeed. I have seen how hard you push yourself and you deserve every single accolade. You have earned them.

I asked you this morning how you felt about this week. Your answer was perfect; “Mum, they’re just tests” you said with a shrug. “I’m just happy school are doing free breakfasts”. You went on to admit that though you had woken up a little bit anxious, you felt like you had listened in class so you were confident you would do Ok.

I know that you are in the best possible hands this week. The adults with whom you spend the bulk of your day will be there to remind you to keep smiling and that these tests do not define you. I am so grateful that your teachers and headmistress ensure that they help to empower you and your friends with a strong sense of self worth.  They tell you to:

Mission statement

 We all want you to do the best you can do but remember always that no matter what your scores in their tests are, you are enough. You are loved.

SAT’s cannot see how much you enjoy reading or writing stories.

Tests don’t catch how kind your heart is and you demonstrate that – often.

They don’t hear you question the fairness of the world around you and not just question it but actually talk about what can be done to change things for the better.

An SAT will recognise how well you do in Maths and English but it won’t know your ability to make music or be an amazing friend to those who need you.

You are growing into an able, beautiful young woman and no matter your SAT’s results I know that you make the world better just by continuing to be yourself. I hope you know that too.

Now go and smash it!

Love 

Mummy & Moose

x

 

 

 

My 2 eldest children could not be more different when it comes to School

Whereas Col doesn’t really enjoy putting pen to paper and much prefers a more physical learning experience, Bess is the opposite. Nothing makes her happier than when she has a pen in her hand or her nose in a book. 

Both of these attitudes to learning come with their own issues. Col needs help to catch up with his peers sometimes and we constantly worry that Bess doesn’t have enough to challenge her and keep her interested in learning. 

Learning At Home Is Important To Us

I believe that the best and most effective way to educate children is by parents taking an interest. That’s not to say that I push for them to constantly be doing homework – quite the opposite in fact. If you don’t know what your child is doing at school then how can you help? This was the reason I wanted to try Education Quizzes. It seems logical to me that using technology, play and my childrens ingrained competitive streak will turn a dull bit of homework into something more! 

Education Quizzes

The website is colourful, it’s clear and to be honest it’s pretty useful! I was expecting there to be a good range of quizzes (which there are) but there are also other features. 

Parent 999 is an area of the site I like especially. It is there for us parents to clue ourselves up on all kinds of subjects from understanding what your child is learning at school to how to speak to teachers. 

I really like that the quizzes for children are written by teachers and couldn’t wait for one of my little darlings to have a go!

Bess is moving onto Secondary school this year. She was more than happy to look at the 11 plus area of the website. 

After playing with the quizzes for pupils over the course of a week, she found the questions to be clear and said that the quiz did feel relevant to her school learning which is great! I can see that the Education Quizzes would be accessible to all ability levels. The cost to subscribe is £9.95 per month and for such an awesome amount of learning aid this seems to be a great price!

I really like that the quizzes are bitesize. Each subject has 10 questions which feels more than manageable and I found that it made Bess want to go ahead and complete more quizzes.

For Schools

As much as we loved using the site at home I couldn’t help thinking what a great resource this could be for schools. The Education Quizzes schools programme offers an exclusive pricing structure and I think it would a great addition to any school. 

I felt as though Bess benefitted from using Education Quizzes and most importantly, she had fun! We would definitely consider using the service in the future as I really believe it could add to her learning experience long term. Especially as she approaches the dreaded GCSE’s…

Love 

Mummy & Moose 

We received access to the website and payment in exchange for an honest review. As always all opinions are my own

The Day We Caught The Plane

Our first holiday as a family of five was to Tenerife when Moose was 13 months old and I have to admit, I thought we were just slightly insane for even thinking about doing it.

I was wrong. Really wrong!

As much as I love to travel our funds have thus far limited it to the occasional break away since having children. When MrG suggested that we book a holiday abroad, I was apprehensive about how well our youngest child, Moose, would cope with the upheaval (not to mention the heat). However, I knew we needed this time together.

I am not one to shy away from a bit of online searching to get a good deal and this was no exception. MrG and I agreed that the holiday needed to take place during the schools summer break (our eldest is about to sit his exams so really cannot afford to miss any school) and at the time of deciding that we needed to book it was really only a month away so I had to move quickly!

Breakfast at Gatwick airport

We took a vote and it was decided that we wanted to head toward the Canary Islands. We had visited Lanzarote and Tenerife as a couple some years previously (I am not telling you how many, it makes me feel old) but never with the children.

I found a great deal to the hotel Marylanza which looked like it would suit us perfectly. The only thing I was worrying about was the flight duration. 4 hours with a bored toddler is not my idea of fun and I had heard on the grapevine that the Dreamliner we were booked onto provided nada in terms of inflight entertainment. So, a special Moose bag was a must for the flight.

My top 5 items to include when flying with a toddler are;
  1. A sippy cup. This will help with take-off and landing which for us were the worst parts of the journey. You cannot explain to your toddler why their ears are hurting and that kind of sucks!
  2. A mini Aquadraw and a magnetic doodle toy (ideally one with the pen attached so it can’t be lost. Our son basically played with this for most of the flight.
  3. A favourite (preferably lightweight) blanket to increase the chances of them taking a nap. Moose did. He slept for over an hour and it. Was. Glorious!
  4. Spare clothes x2 and spare nappies and nappy bags. You do not want to be caught short mid-flight.
  5. Toddler friendly headphones. The grapevine was a big fat liar because once on board we soon realised that the in-flight entertainment was plentiful and once an adaptor had been purchased Moose loved having his own tv!

Of course your kid is not my kid and you will know what they need to comfort them or get them through dull situations but I found all of the above to be a godsend. The Dreamliner was actually pretty awesome. My 6ft2 tall, plane hating husband agreed. It was pretty roomy in economy and that is not something I have said before – besides, who doesn’t love purple mood lighting?

Waiting for take off

We arrived in Tenerife after a pretty easy flight (thanks in part to my mother in law living within spitting distance from Gatwick airport) and hopped aboard the coach transfer with me volunteering to take Moose while MrG sat with our 2 older children, Col & Bess.

It was around 5 minutes into our relaxing 30 minute transfer that Moose did what I can only describe as the loudest and smelliest poo he has ever EVER done.

People moved away.

Seriously.

There really was nowhere to change my poor (stinky) little man until we arrived at our hotel so as soon as we did I ducked into the baby change and did the necessary,leaving MrG to check us in.

Upon my return I was met with a complimentary cocktail (high five whosever idea that was) and beaming smiles which are not my families resting expressions. I was suspicious.

It became apparent that the reason for their happy demeanour was as it turned out down to a month long email conversation between myself and the hotel manager paying off. We had been given a free upgrade to the best room in the hotel.

The first thing Moose did upon entering our room at The Marylanza.

It was a 2 bedroom duplex overlooking the pool on one side and a golf course and mountains on the other. An excellent start to our holiday. I would highly recommend exchanging pleasantries with the hotel from the get go. It can’t do any harm and it might just improve your entire experience!

Our time in Tenerife passed far too quickly

Never happier than when he was in the water

It soon became apparent that heat did not bother Moose, who was a natural water baby. Of course he was always well shaded and sporting a layer or ten of suntan lotion. He spent his days splashing in the water and playing in the onsite play park with occasional trips to the kids club.

He was too young to be left there obviously but they were more than happy to allow us to come in together to use their facilities and Moose became something of a big deal with the staff!

Night time parking

Our evenings were mostly spent within the confines of the hotel grounds getting the most value out of the all-inclusive (hic)  but I did insist on going for walks too.

We also enjoyed playing at the park (and relaxing with a drink) late into the night with all of the other families – always remembering to have the pushchair to hand for when Moose decided enough was enough.

Getting our submarine game faces on

We took the children on a submarine ride on the third morning which was fabulous. All 3 of the children absolutely loved it. There was not a single complaint of boredom for the whole week. Any parent of a toddler, tween and teen will tell you that is no mean feat

Finding Nemo

On the last day MrG surprised the older 2 with tickets to a water park (which I hate) and I spent the morning with Moose in the pool before putting him down for his nap and packing our things.

Moose still mentions the holiday months later making reference to the pool and the beach. He loves looking at the photos and I do too. MrG and I have agreed that it was an amazing experience and we need to make it a regular one.

Next time the only reservations I will have will be the ones I make at whichever hotel we choose for our next adventure! What has been your favourite holiday?

Love

Mummy & Moose