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Monday, 29 June 2015

Review of Family Fortnight Posts

Hello my friends and readers :)

Today I wanted to comment on family fortnight.  First of all I have enjoyed posting over the past 14 days but I got a sudden sense of how important family is over the past few days with what has happened in Tunisia.  Reading the posts on Facebook and Twitter, of those frantically trying to find out the fate of their family and loved ones, I can't even comprehend what it must be like and I feel so sad that this has happened.  Family means everything to me and I can't even imagine this!  Watching the News gave me goosebumps as I watched some of the horrors, along with interviews of those who had been there.  I sincerely send out my condolences to the families of anyone who lost their life, and I also send a huge #shoutout to the heroism of those who put others before themselves, and put their own lives at risk trying to save the life of others you are truly amazing (this was both holiday makers and the people of Sousse, Tunisia)!  I am thankful for the survivors as this is such a scary experience and I hope you all recover.  My thoughts and prayers are with each and everyone of you, and I wish for peace.

We shouldn't take family for granted, although, we usually do - I am guilty of this myself!  I really enjoyed writing my funny family tales and I hope I did what I intended to do and make sure there was an appeal to people of all ages.  I think my favourite family tale has got to be #2 I think my son wants to get my head kicked in! as this truly portrays a day in life - my children could get me into so much trouble!  I think my least favourite post was #4 Three Year Olds Know Everything just because I felt it wasn't as funny as the others.  He always does embarrassing and funny things so I wasn't sure why I chose that story, and I think it's because it was recent.  When he was a baby he wouldn't entertain his own Uncle or his Auntie, but would hold his arms out for random elderly gentleman to pick him up when in our town centre shopping.  I think I should have maybe posted something about how unpredictable my youngest child is - you never know what he is going to do next and it's scary lol.

Let me know what your favourite family tale was by commenting below!

I did enjoy posting about some of the indoor and outdoor activities we take part in, and I found I did a lot of soul searching when camping so I enjoyed sharing this too as a lot of people thought I wouldn't enjoy this type of holiday.  What was your favourite post this fortnight?

As I had a theme this month, I did miss doing random blog posts.  For instance, I attended an event and launch of a book that my Fairy Tale Adaptation is appearing in.  The book is called Grim Fairy Tales and my story is called A Family Dinner and is an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood - I did post about the book but not the event on my blog as: It's Here, It's Here! but I haven't reviewed the event and launch itself.  I also had a trip out with the family to York too, which was hard work, funny and tiring.  I suppose I could have slipped this in as it was family related lol.

I also featured as a guest blogger and completed a post called What Being Published Means to Me over at www.myrandommusings.blogspot.com during this month too!

Overall, I think it's a good month for blogging and I can't believe that in a couple of days, July is upon us!

Watch this space for July and if you have any blogging requests and don't want to comment, please email janetcoopercw@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!

Laters, Janet :)

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Funny Family Tale #7 - that time he tried to knock the bears head off!

This is my final funny family tale and I hope you have enjoyed all 7 - let me know what you think as it's important to me that my readers enjoy what I am writing.

Today's funny story is in relation to my middle child - my almost eight year old son (again).  When he was three, I used to take him to mother and toddler sessions at the library.  He was always scared of people dressed-up as characters so when Book-time bear arrived I was a little anxious as I thought he would be scared.  He had some fruit and a photographer arrived from the local paper.  All of the children were asked to get their picture took with the bear. My son had approached the bear and must've decided that it wasn't that bad.  He became majorly hyperactive and wanted all of the bears attention.

I felt quite embarrassed so I tried to reign him in.  But he got more, and more, hyperactive.  As the newspaper staff were there it was quite embarrassing.  He started jumping and lunging at the bear - pushing up his head-dress.  When he realised it moved he started doing it more and more.

I removed him from the area and explained that you can't do this!  I told him that we wouldn't be allowed back in the library and that he had to be kind and stop attacking the bears head.  The librarian came and said it was picture time and she indicated to my son to get in the picture.  At this time all of the other children had gathered round the bear and sat - so my son just barged to the front and squeezed another boy out of the way (who wasn't amused), as he wanted to be next to the bear but so did the other 20 children too!  I was telling him off and apologising to parents but the local newspaper were snapping away on their camera.  I moved him away so the other boy could have a turn next to the bear but nobody seemed too bothered.

He started again, jumping at the bear and in the end I brought him home.  Of course, the picture in the mail WAS in fact one of the pictures snapped with my son next to Book-time bear so I suppose his perseverance paid off - much to my embarrassment!

You gotta give it to him, he knew what he wanted and he didn't care who he trampled on to get it!  He was like a possessed, obsessed, mad-man trying to get the bears attention.  I stayed away from the playgroup for a while after that but I kept the clipping of him in the local newspaper, next to the bear he tortured.

Children can be so embarrassing!

What does/has your child done that's so embarrassing?  Come on, share, we are all friends here!

Laters, Janet

#linky #anythinggoes



My Random Musings



Saturday, 27 June 2015

Family and Food - our Five Family Favourite Foods

Hello readers, it's really warm in the North of England today, not that I'm complaining lol.  I was actually pleased for a bit of heat.  Hope the weather is fine where you are.

I promised recipes today and I am going to tell you some of our family favourite meals, however I will link up to recipes on a website that I have used as I tend to adapt my recipes and change, and to be honest I usually don't measure the amounts used I just guess.

1.  Vegetable and three cheese Lasagne
I love this recipe and it's certainly a favourite amongst the family - except from my son.  Everyone else loves it - it's my favourite ever served with garlic bread and salad.  Sometimes I replace the cheese with Bechamel sauce if I can't be bothered to make a white sauce.  To flavour the tomato sauce up I usually add a stock cube if it tastes bland.

2.  Goey Chocolate Fudge Cake
I love chocolate fudge cake served with ice cream or cream.  This one is so easy to make!

3.  Burger (and Chips)
I use oven chips but the burgers are home made.  I often use crackers crushed in my pestle and mortar rather than bread crumbs.  I don't eat beef so turkey burgers suit us all!  Sometimes a touch of the spice cumin adds a lot of flavour too and the very same recipe can be used for meatballs.

4.  Spaghetti Carbonara
For this recipe you need dried spaghetti, creme fraiche, an onion, six slices of bacon, two mushrooms and spray oil.  You also may want some grated cheese to sprinkle over the top when serving.  This one is my personal recipe and it's so simple to do.  First of all put the spaghetti in the pan to boil (I usually use half a packet for four).  Then chop one white onion, six slices of bacon (trimming the fat), two mushrooms finely, and put into a frying pan with spray oil, for around 3-4 minutes.  You then need to add your spaghetti, and stir in two tablespoons of creme fraiche.  Serve and top with a sprinkle of cheese.

5.  Chicken Stroganoff
Again, this is my own recipe.  I use 200g chicken breast pieces, 2 cloves of garlic, an onion, 2 mushrooms, soured cream (half fat), chicken stock cube, cornflour (1 tablespoon) butter, spray oil, and tomato puree.  First of all I chop that garlic, onion and mushrooms and fry off in a little butter (possibly around 10g).  After they are cooked I set them to one side.  I then spray a frying pan with spray oil and I coat the chicken breast pieces in the cornflour before frying.  Once the chicken is cooked, I add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic, and I put in around a tablespoon of tomato puree and mix.  I sprinkle in the stock cube - breaking it up and then I add around 100ml of water boiled from the kettle.  Stir well and simmer for around 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat (be certain your chicken is cooked) and add the soured cream.  Start with around 150ml but add a little more if you think you need it.  It should be a browny/orangey colour.  I usually taste test to make sure I have added enough.  If you think you have added too much you can add a little more water and a touch more of tomato puree.  I always serve this with rice, but it can also be served with chips or veg too.

I hope you enjoy reading out family favourite recipes.  Apart from the lasagne which is disliked by my son, I know that I can feed my family these meals and expect clean plates as they truly are our family favourites.  I had to stick the fudge cake in there for good measure!

What are your favourite recipes?  Is there anything that guarantees clean plates in your house?

Come on, share, don't be shy!

If you have a go at any of these, I hope you enjoy!

Laters, Janet :)


My Random Musings

Friday, 26 June 2015

Funny Family tale #6

Mum Knows Best!
Welcome to my sixth funny family tale.  This is a recent story at just a couple of weeks old, but I concerned that to see the funny side you may have had to have actually been there.

We attended a kite festival (which I believed I have already mentioned).  My two eldest children wanted to go on the bigger rides and I wasn't very keen.  I let them go on a toboggan type ride that spun round in a circle, after refusing them to be able to go on a ride that looked a little bit like a twister but I assumed to tip upside down.  After the ride we banged into my friend who had let her two girls (the same age as my children) to go on this ride.  She is a really sensible lady and my children then wanted to know why they couldn't go on if the other girls of the same age could.  I said I thought it went upside down and could possibly be fast, but they went on and on.  The lady and her husband said they thought it was a twister type ride, and in the end I gave in and let my children go on.

The ride began and it picked up speed.  It started to lift in the air and tip on its side.  Before you knew it, they were upside twisting.  My son looked like he was celebrating, giggling away.  My daughter looked surprised. The G-force was pulling her cheeks backwards and her eyes were wide.  She tried to smile but her head was pinned to the seat and she did not look impressed.  My friend had to turn the other way and was almost in tears as she couldn't watch her girls.  It wasn't on long and soon came to a stop.  As the carriages turned slowly you got to see the faces of the people who had been on the ride.  As the carriage turned with my children in, my son was dancing and I heard him say 'that was the best ride, ever.' my daughter looked horrified.  When she got out of the seat she laughed but I knew she was going to say 'I'm not going on there again!' - and she did.  My friend's girl's carriage turned and her youngest looked like she was going to throw up - but soon recovered and looked normal again once on steady ground again.  The eldest looked shocked and terrified - her mouth was agape, she was still clinging on to the bars, and she looked ready to cry.  As soon as she clocked eyes on her Mum and Dad, she couldn't control herself.

The faces of the girls I knew on this ride made me laugh hysterically - I couldn't help it.  I think it was a bit of delirium too as I didn't like them being on the ride in the first place.  I really wanted to say 'Well I told you so - Mam knows best' to my daughter as I had warned her.  They kept going on and on until they got their own way.

As for my son, he still thinks it was the best ride ever so no hope there!

Laters, Janet
My Random Musings

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Five Reasons to take your Children Camping

So, I used to love camping!  I thought I wouldn't as I hate bugs, but I do.  My husband introduced me to it and both of us, and a few friends used to go to a market down on the drink, and camp overnight, and it became a regular thing (Check out my Funny Family Tale #5 published also today and links to this theme).

Just last year, after many years of not camping, we decided to take the kids.  They were excited but I thought it was going to be a nightmare.  We had a rough year and I had been working hard, and I finished my BA and we needed a break.  I booked a lovely place in Helmsley and we travelled through.  We had to buy new things as we had gotten rid of most of our old stuff, and I can honestly say we had the best time ever.  Here are my five reasons why I think you should take your children camping.  I appreciate this isn't for everyone and this is my opinion (remember I am not God, or telling you what to do, it's an opinion).

*1.  Fresh Air
Every child needs fresh air, in fact so does every adult.  I wont lie, the whole time I was camping I was tired.  I got up, showered in the shower block, helped the children get ready, and then I tidied the tent and folded the sleeping bags so that we could unfold the day furniture.  Then it was all about food -  I made breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks - probably supper too and for the rest of the time, I watched the children play in the play area and I read my book.

*2.  No Technology
I thought we would all struggle without technology.  I am always on the internet to the point it is shocking, but I work on it too so I do need to access.  I couldn't!  My phone died, and I turned it off so I could use it on the day I travelled home.  Usually I am not off it, but I didn't even think about it.  It's good to remind children that there is more to life than TV, computers, and video games - they didn't even notice.

*3 Valuable Family Time
Camping takes you away from distractions imposed on you.  There was nothing to take away the attention so we had some cracking family time.  On a night, in the dark, we all slept in the same bedroom so that the kids didn't get scared and we told stories - fairy tale like ones.  We took turns, so I started, then it passed to my daughter, then one of my sons, then his father - and we kept doing this until we ended the story, all adding bits.  It gave us some quality time together.

*4  It's Relaxing
Everyone needs to relax from the stresses and strains of life and this really did benefit us as we did relax.  I was able to unwind, and read, and yet the kids had fun.  It was really good as there was a relaxed atmosphere within our family.  We walked, and talked, and played games.  We really connected.  On the Saturday, we found out there was a Pizza shop in a neighbouring village that delivered to the campsite at a specific time so we ordered take away.  Some places still have the night life and a swimming pool too but the one we went to was last minute and was also quite simple.

*5  It's Educational
There are many ways you can educate your children by taking them camping.  There is nature, and even animals and the environment can all link into this.  You can also teach them basic survival skills and this could be beneficial in the future as who is to say what will happen.  It depends on what campsite you go to but some allow you to build fires, and you can learn basic survival skills like getting around in the dark, cooking food, cleaning up your pots, protecting animals and cleaning up your meant.  If you are experienced in foraging then you could teach them this skill too - the possibilities are endless.

A lot of people are put off camping but it's my philosophy in life that you should try things (within reason) at least once.  I was worried about my hair and make up, but I managed to do it in the shower block which were kept immaculate.  Yes, I could have straightened my hair but I didn't know anyone so I didn't bother.  The rewards of spending time with your family and embracing camping is excellent.  What's the worst that can happen?  You hate it - you come home early and don't go again!  See if you can lend some equipment the first time you go so cost is minimal.

These are my reasons and I hope I have encouraged you, as the experience was amazing and I will certainly be going again!

Laters, Janet


Funny Family Tale #5

This is just a short post.  First of all, let me apologise, as this post should have been completed yesterday, however I have had shocking internet connection and I spent 2 hours in a queue to Sky, then cut myself off with my chin and it was then past closing time and they couldn't accept new calls.  Then today I have been at an event all day and a book launch in relation to the story that I have recently had published within a collection.  Then I spent an hour on the telephone tonight and my issues still aren't solved #sigh.

Funny Family Tale #5 is to do with camping.  It dates back to before myself and my husband had our children together and we went camping with a few friends and his brother.  We where on a hilly-bank in a farmer's field and to be honest, it felt like you were sleeping upside down.  The next day we got out our burner and frying pan and decided to fry bacon sandwiches.  We made everyone a sandwich and my husband's brother asked for sauce.  My husband added sauce and tossed the sandwich to him, but in such a way that the sauce left the sandwich and slapped up my brother-in-laws cheek and ear.  Everyone laughed at him as he muttered untoward names calling my hubby.  My hubby then sat down to cook and all of a sudden, something crashed into the back of him and he felt claggy.  We hadn't put the lid on the oil (more or less a full bottle) and as he had sat, it had all spilt underneath him.  It was all over his jeans, everywhere!  My husband started swearing.  Everyone tried to hold in their laugh as when he was younger he could be a little hot-headed and nobody dared laugh... well that was except me.  He was swearing away and I was laughing as loud as possible.  Even funnier to that, he had no other trousers to wear.  We had went to go out drinking, so we had got ready to go out and were travelling back the next day so he hadn't taken a change of trousers thinking he would just shot his jeans back on.  I drove into the town and the only shop open was the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop and everyone thought it was funny I went in to see if they sold trousers.  'Are you getting me woolly trousers?' my husband asked 'I wont be wearing them!'  I ended up driving to out of town and to an Asda.  We drove back and my husband was then most upset - I had picked up the first jeans I had come to in the shop - and they had a 'bootcut' leg, so they flared at the bottom.  He was fuming about the whole situation but the more he fumed, the more it made me laugh and amused the others!  All I can say is if you go camping - even if just for a brief time, take spare trousers.  Oh, and ensure your oil lid is secure too!

I think this story theme works out well as it still includes family just not children, and it's based on camping, which takes me to my next post My Five Reasons Why You Should Take Your Children Camping.

Laters, Janet

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

My Top Five ways of Handling a Child's challenging Behaviour

I am sure that most parents will agree that on occasion (or sometimes more often) your child's behaviour can drive you insane and push you to the limit.  When you think it can't get any worse - it does!  The way we handle this is important for both ourselves as parents', and also for the child too.

I wouldn't say that my children are very bad or naughty, but they are what I would call 'testing' - they test me.  I remember that advert from just a few years ago in which a child starts going mental in the supermarket because they want something so the mother lays on the floor kicking and screaming, and the child stands up in amazement whilst the parent is still on the floor pretend tantrum-ing.  Oh how I aspire to be that mother - but I have never built up the courage to do this.  I secretly wonder how my children would behave in the supermarket if I did this, haha!

I want to share with you my top five ways/steps of handling challenging behaviour.  You may find it inspiring, or you may think that I am stating the obvious, or you might even think that it's rubbish and your own methods work better - and that is absolutely fine as I don't expect everything I say to be seen as 'words of wisdom' but as this is family fortnight I just wanted to share how I survive a commonality that most of us experience in our time as a parent.

#1  Stay Calm
I have been at my wits end but I always stay calm and it always works.  I was only 21 years old when I had my eldest child and I suppose I was inexperienced but it didn't take me long to realise that getting stressed and even agitated makes the situation worse when children are behaving in a challenging way.  Everyone can be a little snappy and even shout but it's more effective to keep calm - keeping a low, firm tone.

2#  Don't Shout
Oh, yes, I admit it, I have shouted at my children.   I have also noticed that it doesn't work.  I suppose this links on from the first point as you don't shout if you are calm.  When I shout at my children they don't listen to me, it's like they shut off and think 'my Mum is shouting at me' and they become that upset at the fact that I am shouting at them that they ignore the reason behind it.  I always tell children (in that low, firm voice) why they are being unreasonable and that there are consequences if they don't stop.

3#  Have a Consequence and Stick to it!
My consequence for challenging behaviour is like Super nanny suggests - a minute for each year of age in a time out area.  We use the stairs.  I have a three year old who does 3 minutes, a seven year old (almost 8) that does 7 minutes (soon to be 8 minutes, haha), and a ten year old that does 10 minutes.  They hate it, but they know it happens.  They don't have a consequence for silly things, they have a consequence when they behave in a challenging way that they have been warned about so be careful not to use your timeout as an excuse, make sure you are consistent.  If you put the child on the stairs for anything - then the stairs will no longer be a punishment as it will be integrated into their daily life.  Only use it when the warnings don't work.  If I am out and about, I stop what I am doing and explain to my child that I can't do what you are doing until they stop.

4#  Ignore it and reward it!
Okay, this point of mine is difficult and I suppose I had to train myself to do this but it's important to ignore some behaviour.  For instance if you put your child on a timeout and they cry and stand up, this is normal when you first initiate a consequence so ignore some challenging behaviour, but reward the good behaviour.  I always explain what I expect - so if I go out, I tell them - I expect you to hold hands on the way to the park and walk sensibly, no running.  If you do, you will get an ice lolly but if not, we'll come straight home.  My youngest is going through a moaning phase and I tolerate/ignore it to a certain extent, then I tell him that I am not happy with the moaning,  If he doesn't moan, I tell him, well done for not moaning today and I reward him with attention.

#5 Be Positive
My final point is that negativeness can spread and it can bring everyone down.  Once you have dealt with the behaviour I always feel it's important to become positive.  It's a pet hate of mine when I hear people going on and on about how their children were badly behaved yesterday or earlier, and yet they keep bringing it up - I find myself wanting to say these are kids man, what's your excuse? Surely people don't hold a grudge against children!  Going on and on about something is not good for your own state of mind, I know I don't want to keep reliving the same negative event or experience.  Children are precious, so after my children have had their time out I always tell them I love them and give them a hug - because it's true.

I was thinking the other day that I don't always tell the people I love, that I love them enough, but my children will know that I do.  It's my job as a parent to guide them, and to try my best to teach them and put them on the right path in life.  I've never been as dedicated to anything as much as I am dedicated to give them the right start in life and teaching them right from wrong is tough but I don't want them to think they can do anything and get away with it because as they got older this would escalate.  I raise them to be respectful, polite and to do what's right! There's a lot at stake here so I hope I get it right!

Comment and let me know how you deal with your child's challenging behaviour in a positive way?  I would love to know, and I have just shared what I do so it would be great to hear what you do as I am always open to suggestions :)

What are your hopes for your child?  How do we know if we are being a good parent?

Laters, Janet




Monday, 22 June 2015

Funny Family Tale #4 - Three Year Olds Know Everything, End of Conversation!


It's needless to say that my three year old boy can be a bit of a handful.  He knows what he wants but I know that if I need to raise my voice because he is pushing me too far, his pet lip will come out and quiver... and then I'll feel bad for at least the rest of the day!  One thing I can't control are the things he says.  There are two particular boys at nursery and he will not be civil to them and if I comment 'There are your friends XX and ZZ from school' he becomes very agitated, growling 'They are not my friends.'  I know it's not the other boys, it's him.  The other boys try to come and talk to him but he blanks them and walks away.  I have spoken to him about this and told him it's rude, yet he does it again and again.

We went out the weekend before last, and one of these little boys was walking behind us.  They ended up catching up to us at the crossing, and I spoke to his mother and the boy spoke to my son.  He didn't answer so I said 'say hello,' so he said 'hello' in a low growly-voice.  I suppose this was my punishment for making him talk to someone he didn't want to as it was such a forced hello and he rolled his eyes at the same time.  I was embarrassed but what could I do?  I tried to act casual in front of the boy's mother.

A week later, we took a trip on the bus and the other boy was on the bus.  We sat a couple of seats in front of him and the boy kept shouting him but my son just kept looking, and then looking away.  He told me he didn't like that boy because his nose runs.  I explained that it doesn't make him a bad person.  He then told me 'yes it does.'  Again he refused to speak so I found myself speaking in his place and talking to the boy's mother so that his ignorance wouldn't be recognised as much.

The remarkable thing here is if I take him shopping in our shopping centre, he randomly chats to elderly men telling them things like 'I'm going to buy a sword,' or 'my brother is at school' or 'I'm just going to buy some sweets'.  When he was a baby he was clingy to me and his dad, yet when an elderly man paid him any attention, he would hold his arms up to them as if he wanted to be picked up.  Yet he would cry if his Uncle (his father's brother) or his Auntie (my sister) picked him up.

I want my children to be civil and polite to everyone.  But it's so hard teaching these skills to a three year old who already claims to know everything.  He knows who he wants to play with and who he doesn't as much as he knows what food he likes, what toys he likes, and what drinks he likes.  I think the most dangerous thing of all is that he says what he thinks and tells me 'I'm not playing with *** because they are yucky.' or 'That person stinks!' or 'I don't like that'.  It doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing, he tells the truth, loudly.  He argues with everything I say, he pushes me and he tantrums, often, but I love him.

I always say, I wish I knew everything when I was 3, haha!

Do/did your children know their own mind at an own age?  Have they ever embarrassed you or did anything funny?

I don't pretend to know the mind of a three year old, but it would be interesting if I did.  Sometimes their behaviour doesn't make sense but I think my life (and blog) would be boring if my children behaved well all of the time!  What do you think?

Thanks for reading,

Laters, Janet :)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Five Fun (inexpensive) Family Outdoor Activities




With the summer holidays arriving it's so easy for a lot of parents to dread how much it is going to cost them.  Every activity works out costing a fortune, especially if you have more than one child.  I know with my own family, we have to watch the pennies.  I am not claiming that we never have treats if I can make the cash available but there is no way I can afford to do this regularly so I do look for cheap activities and this is what I do.



#1 The Library
First, I contact the library.  My local library has activities on for children that are either free, or cheap.  I know they release the brochure two weeks before the summer holidays begin and you have to be in there first as childminders are also aware of this and can book a large amount of places as these are on a first come, first served basis.  If libraries don't offer activities, it's worth checking out local community centres too!

#2 Picnic
I know, I know, it's a little cliche and I mentioned a tea party in my indoor activities but a picnic is different as you carefully select your place.  We often schedule a day and pack a picnic, all sharing a little of the load in a backpack.  I tend to involve the kids and we make quiche, pasta salads, and flapjacks rather than the traditional sandwiches.  I make sure I pack plenty of drinks, and if we go to the park we take bread for the ducks.  Sometimes we walk up to an outdoors centre too which has a great play ground but the walk is quite a distance.  Involve your kids in your food - chop carrots and cheese, or even make a fruit salad - make cakes or scones, whatever you think.  If you are happy with sandwiches then that's fine, but by baking a few items it can really make the picnic more interesting.  I would even make a more exciting picnic if we were going out in the car too!  You could give your picnic a theme and if you have young children, what about a teddy bear picnic?

#3 Treasure Hunt
Making a treasure hunt is easy! You either draw a map or write clues - or both.  You can write riddles to make it last a bit longer and the prize can be as little or as large as you like.  If you have a garden this is ideal but if not, then it could be a little trickier, especially if you are going to a public place.  You need to know the place, however you could give clues and riddles, and once the child guesses the correct place and goes to it, you then give them the next clue rather than them having to find it.  you could keep your 'treasure' on you and when they discover your 'thought-of' hiding place, you could then hand over the goods.  This can be fun, and it can take minimal set up as you just have to write a few clews.


#4 Nature and Landmark Trail
This is also a good exercise if you are walking somewhere or are visiting a place were there is plenty of bugs and nature as they make things more interesting.  You can have landmarks you pass on the way listed on a tick sheet.  For nature you could ask questions asking them to name three bugs they find and even three flowers they find.  It's important you know the place you are going in order to do this activity too.  Sometimes you can print them off the internet too is you search.  They are fairly cheap too!  Use your imagination as you could also do a similar type of exercise at the beach too.  I also sometimes take paper and a pencil and use shells underneath and scribble over them to get the pattern.


#5 Museum
This may not be applicable to everyone but the museum were I live is free.  This means we walk down to it, have a look, and then we can visit the cafe for a drink or come away.  It's near McDonald's so sometimes we settle for a mcflurry!  They change their displays, sometimes have events on, and there is a dressing box so the kids can get dressed up and I take their picture.  We can have an enjoyable, inexpensive outing here and are pretty lucky it's free. It's not the best museum in the world but it's interesting.  We also have a free Art Gallery close by too so you can have a day of excursions and it's quite close to our town centre.  It's well worth doing some research and seeing if you have anything similar near you!

Well, these are my ideas.  Having three children means that almost every activity works out expensive as I could access the swimming baths, or there is an Ice rink in a nearby town too.  My children love camping, which works out a cheap family holiday but they also like days out at theme parks and love to have a holiday too!  I do try to do what I can with them but cost is an issue.

My advice
There are so many activities that you may not know about, and some places have some excellent offers too so use your imagination, plan an outing budget, and do some research too!  Set out the rules to your children about what you have to spend before you go so that they are clear.

If you have any questions, or if you have a comment to make below, share.  Tell us what you do as an inexpensive family activity or ask for advice if you struggle to stick to your budget!  Children like to do anything as long as they can be entertained and you know them better than anyone!


Don't forget to chillax too, it is summer afterall!

Laters, Janet :)

Saturday, 20 June 2015

2 for 1 - Why Family is Important to me? and Funny Family Tale #3 - Grandchildren!

Well, today's post is two for one as I was very naughty yesterday and I didn't get to post my piece on why family is important to me.  Yesterday, I didn't get to bed until 2am.  I had been to Uni in the evening until late, and then hunted out the supermarket for a digital camera on my return to my home town. I then had a case to pack and I had to get up at 6:30am to take my daughter to school for 7am as she was going on a weekend trip to London.

Both posts are fairly short so there shouldn't be too much hardship (I hope), as I don't want to bore you guys!

It's a little ironic talking about why family is important to me today.  My daughter is ten, and has been away before for a couple of days on camping trips.  I know she is going to be having a great time and I am pleased for her.  Although I haven't had much time to miss her this evening as I have been working, I feel a little uneasy and emotional - a bit like something is missing.  When I waved her off this morning, I got goosebumps and tears trickled down my cheeks - those are the moments in life that I realise I am human!

My family is important to me because I love them and they make me who I am.  Through thick and thin, times of hardship, times of happiness or sadness, they are constant, they are there.  I'm not just talking about my children, I have a wonderful sister and Mum, a wonderful Mother in law and brother in law.  I also have a wonderful niece, and nephews that I love dearly.

My family - my husband, my daughter, and my two boys define me.  Sure they test me but I wouldn't be where I am today without them.  Before I had children, I would have worked any job really as I didn't have any plans or aspirations: as long as I had money to buy clothes, go on holiday, and go out and socialise, I was happy.

Something changed when I had my daughter ten years ago.  I aspired (not perspired but aspired)!  I wanted more - for me, for my kids, for our family.  I am probably the last person that anyone ever imagined ending up with a degree, and now I am working at post graduate level but I honestly think I wouldn't have the motivation without my family.  My husband is super supportive and he encouraged me to give it a go, and he supported me through it.  He kept the children entertained, shared housework and he worked 7 days a week at one point to help us through.

My family have given me the drive, enthusiasm and determination to go where I want to go and do what I want to do.  I am not the shy person any more that hides out of the way, I am the strong woman that has questions, that is growing in confidence and wants to be the best possible role model for her children, ever!  Everything about family warms me - I love watching them grow, them showing off their talents, hearing them read, and laugh, generally having fun.

If I was to sum it all up into one point I would simply say that my family is important to me because they give me reason and meaning.  I don't mean this in a morbid way when I say they give me a reason to live or they give my life meaning,  I just mean that they are the reason I am the person I am now, because I want to be the best I can for myself and my family.

If you have a fulfilling life, then nothing can stop you!


Funny Family Tale #3

Out of my three children, none of them remember their grandfathers.  My father in law died 2 month before my eldest child and my own father died a week before she was one years old.

I do have a step daughter and from the age of seven, she lived with me and her father.  She was very lucky and had a fantastic Grandfather in my father in law.  He was full of mischief and life - I had a strong bond with him myself as he was a great, and funny man.  He was very well liked.  My step daughter loved to sleep at her Nana and Granddad's.  We had been shopping and she had gotten a toy from the market and her father had picked up something too but he was always up to mischief and I just let them get on with their shenanigans.  Her father showed her how to use it and no one was really paying attention.  My husband and I went out on the night and were picking her up the next day.

She woke early in the morning as she was an early riser.  Her Grandfather woke to something cold slapping his face, arm, and forehead, and half a sleep, he wondered what was going on and sat up.  Around the same time, her Nana woke to and asked him what he was throwing at her as she felt something cold and wet hit her face.  They thought it was a possibly leak at first.  But when they checked the pillows and the bed covers had this soggy substance. Behind the door, was their dear little Grand daughter - with a spud gun - and one of their potatoes!

Needless to say - my husband was in trouble with the parents when we collected his daughter!  Getting shot with potato innids at 5am wasn't exactly the weekend they had in mind.


Have your children ever done anything embarrassing or funny to their Grandparents? Did you encourage them or was it your fault they did this in the first place?  I'd love for you to comment and share!

Laters, Janet
My Random Musings
#Linky

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Funny Family Tale #2 - I think my son wants to get my head kicked in by another mother!


Today's tale will be quite short simply because this is a family tale that wont take a particularly a long time to tell.  There are two instances I am going to talk about how my son could have gotten me into so much trouble with other mothers.  I'm sure he has a secret vendetta against me and hopes one of them sorts me out!

Event 1 - The Folder
I was waiting outside of my son's classroom door to collect him from school.  There was a breeze in the air and I hadn't taken my coat.  When the wind blew, it blew but it was only every-so-often not a constant draft but it was blustery.  My son came out of his door, and so the teacher could see other parents I stepped back to make room.  I heard him shout 'Mam! Catch!' and I turned to face him and at that, he launched his reading folder in the air towards me.  It was in a plastic folder and as he done this, the wind caught it and took it another direction - BANG - straight into the face of another parent.  Of course, then I shouted his name and asked him 'why did you do that, you silly boy?' I then apologised profusely to the mother who had been hit with the flat of the folder thank God, so it hadn't hurt.  If it had been the corner I don't think we would have been as lucky.  I explained if there had been another child, a smaller child or toddler they could've been injured.  I couldn't decide if I looked like an insane person because my child was silly enough to do that, or if it was because I had shouted.  Either way, all eyes were on me!

Event 2 - The Rock
After the folder event (a couple of months after), I finally thought I had gotten through to my son in relation to him doing silly things.  As we left the school gates, there was a lady waiting for a child with her dog, as dogs aren't allowed in the school grounds.  The crossing is close by so my youngest son pressed the button and my oldest son was behind me.  He picked up a muddy rock from the grass about the size of a golf ball, threw it in the air, and kicked it with his foot.  It flew high in the sky and could see it going closer and closer to the lady with the dog.  I shrieked his name.  The rock landed just at the side of her and the dog jumped, but luckily it didn't hit her, or her dog, or anyone else.  Again, I apologised by telling her 'I am so, so sorry.'  My son knew he was in bother and got seven minutes on the stairs when we got home.  I told him if it had hit the lady or the dog, there could have been a serious injury and that you never, ever do anything like that, especially where there was people.  I was spouting this at him all of the way home as I was so mad that he had done this.  If he had kicked it towards the road it could have damaged a car or even caused a crash.  This was the second time that we were so, so lucky.


Sometimes, I don't understand what goes through his head and I don't suppose I ever will.  Usually, he is well behaved except for being a little energetic and boisterous at times.  I just hope he has learnt his lesson now.  Only time will tell because both of these events happening could have seen me bearing the brunt of his actions as it could have just as easily happened to a hostile person.  I coped with the embarrassment, and apologised, and both times nobody was injured which was such a relief.

Do you think my son is trying to get me 'sorted out'?

Have your children done anything embarrassing that you have had to apologise for that could have just as well meant trouble for you?

I laugh about them now, but this is because it was such an embarrassing moment.  Both of these events could have ended differently and obviously then, I wouldn't be writing it as a funny family tale as I may have been in hospital recovering!

So, let's hope I'm here safe and well for tomorrow's post!

Laters, Janet :)



My Random Musings





Wednesday, 17 June 2015

It's here, it's here! Spectral Visions: Grim Fairy Tales



Hello fellow readers,

This is an unscheduled post!

Sorry, but I just had to do an extra post because I wrote a Fairytale adaptation for a collection and the book has been released for sale just today on Amazon.

I am so excited as so many talented people have worked for this publication and I have ordered my own copy already and I am eagerly awaiting delivery (although I offered for supersaver so wont receive until next week)

I have a book launch next week at a conference with the other guys involved and some of the amazing lecturers and people I have worked with.

It is going to be absolutely fantastic and I can't wait!  This is what it looks like, and here is the Amazon link:  Spectral Visions: Grim Fairy Tales

Five Fun Family (cheap) Indoor Activities



Welcome to my first informational post of the fortnight.  There's nothing worse than finding yourself stuck in the house with nothing to entertain your children.  I love having a day in but the children still need to be entertained.  I thought I would share five of our favourite rainy-day activities.  I hope you enjoy reading!



1# Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Make your hat's by using black card.  First roll it around to make the round part (a tube shape the same size as the persons head that the hat is for - cut it a bit longer so you can glue it into a tube shape).  Then all you need to do is add a rim and a top.  To do this, cut out a circle shape slightly larger than the top.  Push the circle onto the top of the hat to see how much card you have free to make tabs in order to stick it.  Glue the tabs and push them into the hat.  You may need to put your hand inside and push the tabs against the tube so that it sticks correctly.  You then just need a rim,  Cut a circle larger than the tube piece - enough to be a rim.  Cut it out, but when cutting the middle, again cut it a little smaller then snip so that you have tabs again to stick the rim. You may need to make some snips to allow the tube to go into the rim - I pushed the rim down over the top of the hat.   I did cut mine too wide so I had to staple instead of glue but it still worked.  Not the best idea to use staples though so I had to stick a square of card on each side, inside so that nobody ended up injuring themselves on a staple.

Once this is done, leave to dry and then let your kids decorate them.  Probably better to make the hats the night before.  Of course you're not limited to top hats you could make any type really.

We used buttons, and old deck of cards, glitter, feathers and pipe cleaners. Imaginations went wild and they looked great!

Now all you need is a tea party.  Finger sandwiches, a few cakes, and a pot of tea!



2# Play Stop the Bus

We play a game called 'Stop the Bus'.  Maybe you know this by a different name but it's quite educational which is always a bonus.  You need at least two players, but all need a piece of paper and a pen each, and you need to decide on your categories.  We usually choose girls names, boys names, animal type, and then we take turns choosing a final topic like flower types, or countries and places, and we have even had clothing types or makes too and shop names.

First one of you starts going through the alphabet in your head and another person says 'stop the bus' and whatever letter you arrive at, you all have to fill in your categories, starting with that letter so for instance - if it was S, Sarah for a girls name, Steven for a boys name, and Snake for an animal and then your final topic.  When one of you is finish you say 'stop the bus' again and then someone keeps score.  Everyone gets a score on their answers.  You get 10 points for every answer that is different from another player so if nobody else got Sarah as a girls name then that is 10 points.  If two or more of you say Steven for a boy, then you would only get 5 points.  If you don't have an answer or your answer is incorrect, then you score 0.

You then all take a turn.  This can be a fun name and it helps with spelling and thinking skills too.



3# Baking Fairy Cakes


Cakes can be so easy to do and the kids can have fun decorating these.  I use a basic sponge recipe which is 4oz of sugar, 4oz butter, 4oz self raising flour, and then 2 eggs - beaten.  You cream together the butter and sugar first, stir in half flour, half egg mixture and then once everything is mixed in, you add the other half of flour and egg.  We all take turns measuring and mixing in our house.  Whisk well and then add two tablespoons to cake caps and cook on 180 degrees for around 12-15 minutes.  Once cooled, why not get the kids to decorate.


4#  Create a Show/Pantomime

This is great, especially if you have family coming over or if one of you is at work as the children can present it to the person when they come in.  First of all, you need to decide on a show, is it a musical, a play or a variety show?  You then can make props, dress up, and practise your show.  It doesn't have to be long but the children will enjoy showing off some skills.  If you have no inspiration, why not get them to use a story book or even a nursery rhyme and act it out!  They could even make tickets for the people watching too!


5# Story telling


We went camping a year back and this idea has became a family favourite - even when not camping.  We turned out lights out and started by torch light, and told scary stories.  Obviously, you have to be careful - we told Fairy tales I suppose as we had to have a 'nice' outcome - we didn't want the children having nightmares.  One starts the story, and then the next person adds to it and we all make up a story together.  We ended up with some great ones and the children wanted to do this every night of our camping trip and still do it occasionally now!  So much fun!


You can even make story books if you're at home and draw pictures coinciding with the story too.



Sometimes it can be really hard to keep your children busy.  Mine don't need entertaining constantly, however if we are not going out all day, I do try to do something to entertain them, especially in the summer holidays.

What indoor activities do you do with your children?

Look out for the second fun family tale tomorrow!

Happy reading,

Laters, Janet





Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Funny Family Tale #1 - Strange Habits that are not funny at the time!

Hello fellow readers, I hope you are well.

I promised a funny family story today as I have plenty of those however this one in particular is about a very strange habit (which is not funny).   I wasn't sure what to share and I have so many disgusting stories too - but I didn't want to make anyone's stomach turn during my first story so I have taken a more serious issue for this post.

I decided it best to start with the eldest child and she had quite a strange habit but the funny part is how I managed to stop her from doing it!

My daughter was quite a demanding child (and still is now at the age of 10).  From a very young age, she developed this really annoying habit and would put anything furry/fluffy into her mouth and chew it as if it were chewing gum.  The habit itself was actually worrying because I was worried in case she swallowed it and she did this regularly with anything she could find that was fury or fluffy.  I became obsessed with removing any fur or fluff from the household, and checking she hadn't put anything in her mouth that she shouldn't.

It started to get out of hand and by the age of 2 she would pull fluff from my cardigans.  I had already given away my furry cushions and throw that went with my decor in the front room.  She had a dummy and even then, she would prefer to put it in her mouth.  She couldn't have cardigans because she would pull fluff from the wool, if we went to anyone's house that had furry throws, she would run her fingers through it slyly and pop it in her mouth.  I tried explaining to her that this was really bad for her and dangerous as it wasn't meant to be eaten, I told her the whole cats coughing up fur-balls, I even started to tell her off and put her on a time out if she put any fluff or fur in her mouth.  I spoke to the health visitor, doctors, but no advice worked!

I was at my wits end and I didn't know what to do.  I told her I was just going to give her fluff at meal times if that's all she wanted to eat, but it didn't seem to affect her.  One day, we went to a carnival and there were carnival rides.  I walked past the sweet shop and noticed some candy floss.  I laughed because it reminded me of fluff/fur and I wondered how she would react if I gave her this and told her to eat it.

I got a bag of pink and blue candy floss and leaned over the pushchair.  'Here is your dinner,' I said.  She looked at me.  'What is it?' she asked.  'It's fluff!' I said casually.  'I did tell you that if you continued to eat fluff I would start feeding you it, so eat away.'

She looked very confused that I had given her this.  I opened it and offered some to her but she refused.  I explained - this is nice, and you can eat it, it's a form of sweets, and she tasted it.  She loved it!  It wasn't the best thing in the world to give her, because of the sugar content, but it was a treat.  This strange little trick worked, because she stopped putting the fluff in her mouth - she still picked it and pulled at it because she must have liked the feel, but for some reason, offering her candy floss - which she called candy fluff for 2-3 years after the event, seemed to stop the obsession with eating the plain, inedible fur/fluff.

It's strange because  I didn't expect this to work, in fact I thought I was going to confuse her further by telling her this was fluff she could eat.  Maybe the taste of the candy floss made her realise that other fluff and fur wasn't nice, whereas edible fluff was!

Maybe it was just a coincidence that she stopped just after I offered her the bag of candy floss to eat, I don't really know for certain as who knows what goes on in the mind of a two year old?  What I do know is that this obsession with putting fluff and fur in her mouth was really strange, and dangerous if she was swallowing it and I was so upset with this weird habit.  I was so pleased that this stopped and it's quite ironic that by offering her candy floss, it seemed to really curb this obsession.

Have your children had any weird habits?  How did you deal with this?


Laters, Janet



My Random Musings

Monday, 15 June 2015

Posts for the next two weeks - Family Fortnight


Hello readers,

Hope you are well.

I woke up this morning and the Sun was shining, and I don't know about you but it really sets me up for the day.

For the next two weeks I will be following a famiily theme - Family Fortnight as I have named it.  There are going to be some really fun and informational articles which you might find interesting if you are a parent.  I will be posting something informational every other day, but in between I will be posting a funny, yet true, family tale - let's face it, my family is bonkers so I have plenty of those.

I am really looking forward to writing the blog posts over the next few weeks as all of the topics are about my personal experience and part of my life.  Children and family is so important and I can't wait to discuss.

Anyway, my schedule is below and I hope you enjoy reading.

16/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #1
17/06/2015 - Five Fun Family cheap indoor activities
18/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #2
19/06/2015 - Why family is important to me?
20/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #3
21/06/2015 - Five Fun Family cheap outdoor activities
22/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #4
23/06/2015 - My Top Five Tips for Handling Difficult Behaviour in Children
24/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #5
25/06/2015 - Five Reasons Why You Should Take Your Children Campling
26/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #6
27/06/2015 - Family and Food - plus our five favourite family recipes
28/06/2015 - Funny Family Tale #7
29/06/2015 - Review of Family Fortnight

Hope you visit again soon,

Keep reading,

Laters, Janet :)