Leeds Jurassic Trail

Leeds Jurassic Trail


We recently completed the Leeds Jurassic Trail (2) with the dinosaur mad Master of Mischief.
Firstly, I just want to say, WOW!

It was a fantastic day for many reasons, the main highlight was that it was a FREE EVENT!!

There are 13 different dinosaurs over 12 locations within Leeds city centre. You can collect a map from various points of the trail depending on where you start. We picked ours up from the train station information centre when we arrived in the city. From there, we walked to each of the locations. These included; the Train Station, The Trinity Centre, which is home to a spectacular giant animatronic T-Rex, Trinity Kitchen, Briggate, The Corn Exchange, Kirkgate Market, Victoria Leeds, The Core, The Light, St Johns Centre and The Merrion Centre.


A dinosaur shop has been set up inside the Trinity Centre (first floor next to Next). The store has dinosaur merchandise on sale, a ride on t-rex, and activities that run throughout the day. Kirkgate Market also had an activity pen which was full of dinosaur colouring supplies for children to use.

What’s Right With It?

Almost everything, the staff situated at various points along the trail were all friendly and helpful. The paper map we collected when we started included a multitude of discounts and offers from companies involved with the event. At each location, you get a stamp to show you’ve visited that dinosaur. The Master of Mischief particularly enjoyed collecting each of these.

The locations themselves were grouped close enough to easily follow and not feel like a marathon but distanced so that we felt like we’d explored a lot of different places.
The movements and sounds of the animatronics, while not enough to scare an adult, are advanced enough for kids to feel like they are face to face with a real dinosaur. I saw so many children looking up in wonder at what was in front of them. The Master of Mischief was in awe for most of the day.


Another feature I liked was that each location included a poster telling you where to get your map stamped. There was also a host of information about the dinosaur you were looking at.
A new feature of the trail is a downloadable app for your smartphone. Through the app, you can access the map and receive a notification when a dinosaur is nearby. An egg would appear on my screen & clicking it would cause it to hatch. You can view the hatched dinosaur through AR technology and take pictures that can be saved to your gallery. Once a dinosaur has been discovered, they are added to your in-app dinosaur counter. There are prizes advertised for those who find the most between the dates the event is running. It must be noted that the app is not necessary to follow and enjoy the trail.

Points to Note

The event is free, meaning anyone can pick up a map and start hunting. However, the dinosaur rides at various locations have a small charge. When planning your day, be sure to factor in travel and food & drink costs. We paid for an open return train ticket into Leeds meaning we weren’t tied to a specific time we had to leave.


As far as food & drink go, Leeds city centre is packed with an abundance of places to pick up a bite. We enjoyed lunch in the Trinity Kitchen, which has a mixture of street food vendors. Kirkgate market has a similar set-up with food stalls and vendors situated around the dinosaur. There are also shops, bakeries and café’s that fit any and all budgets.
One tip I would say is to take a water bottle and plan for a toilet break mid-hunt. There is nothing worse than getting halfway between two locations and hearing the dreaded words ‘I need a wee’.


Another tip would be to check the weather before you go. While the walks between locations aren’t far, I wouldn’t want to get caught in a downpour. We planned for a bit of rain as per the forecast but were lucky that the sun shone the whole time, or unlucky if you consider we ended up carrying our coats for most of the day.
All in the Leeds Jurassic Trail is a great family-friendly event that can be as cheap as you make it. The kids all had a fantastic time, as did me and the hubby. It was nice to get out and was even nicer seeing the Master of Mischief’s reaction to each dinosaur. It’s probably the closest he’ll get to a Jurassic Park experience.

If you are local to or visiting Leeds with kids, I would highly recommend this event.
It is currently running until 12th September. Happy Hunting!

Hannah XO

Hello Again. Again.

Hello Again. Again.

Hello again. It’s been a while.

I am still here, floating about in the background of my severely neglected blog site.
Life has been, in a word, hectic.
Between the kids and their schooling, me and my schooling, pandemic restrictions lifting, meeting friends for coffees, meeting friends for wine, eating cheese, family commitments, work and the rest; life has been moving at a million ‘what the fucks’ an hour for quite some time. My head is spinning & all the added wine and cheese with friends has meant my jeans are a little tighter. I thought I’d ease back into the blog posts with a howdy-doo and a round-up of how we’ve been passing the time.


The Master of Mischief finished reception. This was huge. I got really emotional about the whole thing, mainly because I felt he was robbed of his introductory year of school. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns meant that the entire thing was a stop/start affair. Reflecting back on his first day, he was so excited and ready to learn. He burst through the gates without even looking back. In the end, the poor kid didn’t know which way was up. I can’t fault the school because nobody was prepared for what the world experienced (which is why ‘unprecedented’ was the buzzword of 2020). However, I can’t help but wonder what (if any) effect the disrupted reception year will have on the Master of Mischief as he moves into Year 1. Within his end of year report, the school provided us with some targets to work on through the summer. I was grateful for this; although the Master of Mischief was not. Keep your peepers peeled for some of the activities I’ll be sharing to help skill-building and to help keep the super fun school energy going through the rest of the summer.


Since most of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, we have been venturing out into society a bit more. It has been refreshing to be out and about again, seeing friends, visiting coffee shops and our favourite lunch spots. While I would never class myself as a social butterfly, I never realised how much I’d miss the ability to visit family & friends. It’s definitely true that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. At one stage, even the ability to pop for a coffee with my mum became forbidden. The pandemic has given all of us have a newfound appreciation for our freedom.


Finally, on a personal note, I finished my foundation degree (insert victory dance here). I graduate in September before moving into the top-up year of my BA and write my dissertation. This is quite possibly the scariest word in the English language. I am told that we’re expected to put down 8000 scholarly words in a single document. While my ability to waffle on a blog page is infinite, I don’t actually think I know 8000 English words, let alone academic ones. Regardless of my anxiety about the whole thing, I am immensely proud of what I have achieved so far. Returning to education with three kids and a husband in tow was daunting and the whole thing has been hard work. Oceans of tears have been cried, a million swear words have been quietly uttered, I’ve had more meltdowns than the end of the Ice Age, but I did it. I have proved many people wrong, stayed the path, put in the work and emerge from the tunnel a little bit smarter and a whole lot tougher than when I went in.


To those unsure of chasing their dreams because they ‘have kids’… If I can do it, anyone can. Help is there to be had, make the enquiries, take the leap, because it’s true that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
And on that wise pearl, I shall wrap this up. It has been lovely writing again, hopefully, I will be back soon to share some of the million ideas that are just waiting to burst out of my brain onto my blog. I also have some updates to the site coming soon with ideas for affordable days out, so be sure to check it out.
Stay safe and smile.


Until next time…

Hannah XO

Birthday Traditions

Birthday Traditions

While (slowly) making my way through the 30 Day Writing Challenge set by @MyTalesFromTheCrib (on Instagram) I came across this writing theme and it really stuck out for me. Birthday traditions are my favourite traditions. As early as I can remember, I have always cherished birthdays. My mum used to go out of her way to make birthdays an extraordinary event for us. This in itself is a tradition that has carried on with my own children.

I have always tried my hardest to make birthdays in our house unique celebrations. Like everything else in our orbit, they are often done on a budget. This is, however, in no way a suggestion that they are anything less than magical. My superpower is, of course, to make a lot from a little.

Next week, I have not one but two birthdays. The Little Fairy is set to turn 9 on the 13th of April and The Master of Mischief turns 5 on the 14th of April. A timetable even I never saw coming. Some call it bad planning; others call it convenient. I know that I had serious doubts about my time management in April 2016. I spent the day before birthing a 9lb baby waddling through a children’s indoor ball pool and activity centre. It wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had. Managing two birthdays in two days has never been easy. Over the years however, I have mastered it to a fine art.

In this post, I share a few of the birthday traditions practised in our family home.

Birthday Pancakes

Birthday pancakes have been a tradition in our house since my eldest child’s first birthday after weaning.

The birthday person wakes up to balloons, presents, and PANCAKES!

We pile them high with fruit, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and sprinkles. We top them off with a candle and gather around the breakfast table to belt out an uneven pitchy chorus of Happy Birthday. This is the ceremonious and somewhat sickly start to birthday shenanigans.

Funny Cards

This is one of my favourite traditions. It started after I met my husband. Most couples share sentimental and meaningful cards with one another on special occasions. Not us. My husband (in all his childishness and immaturity) goes out of his way to find the funniest and often most inappropriate card he can. The results are never disappointing. It provides a good laugh and has become a competition between us to see who can find the daftest card. Even the kids have joined in with this. Their card choices are getting funnier each year. Birthday cards with poo, boobs, funny animals or inappropriate jokes are the best kinds.

A Homemade Cake

This is a tradition that started when I had children. This was because as a young single mother, I struggled to afford fancy shop-bought cakes. Instead, I would make them myself.

As the kids got older, my skills improved, and I found that I was actually quite good. Ten years in, and I am still making birthday cakes every year. What started as something for my children has spread to friends and family too. The kids will always pick a theme, and we design the cake together. It’s a fun activity as well as something unique for them to remember.  

Whether you make something elaborate or a basic sponge, a homemade cake is so much nicer because it’s made with a little extra love.

These are just a few traditions that we practice for birthdays. Do you do anything differently? Have you changed any of your customs due to the lockdowns?

I have seen some lovely ideas from families who have had to spend birthdays apart, from letter writing to pre-recorded video messages.

I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying their birthdays regardless of lockdown. While it has been hard celebrating with limited visitors both last year and now. We have all undoubtedly had at least one birthday in lockdown. I think it is lovely how people have adapted and overcome these difficult times.

Hopefully, we can all be back to celebrating with friends and family again soon.

Until next time…

Hannah XO

Mini-Egg Cookies

Mini-Egg Cookies

If you’re sick of the sight of eggs, these delicious cookies make for the perfect alternative treat over the Easter break. They are quick and easy to make meaning they are perfect for baking with the kiddos. Our favourite part of the process is bashing the mini-eggs with a rolling pin. Happy breaking…I mean baking!

You Will Need
150g Butter
150g Soft brown sugar
1 medium egg
190g Self-raising flour
200g Mini eggs (crushed)

Method
Start by beating the butter and the sugar together in a mixer until pale in colour, light and fluffy.
Add the egg and mix again.
Before adding anything else, give the mini-eggs a good bashing with a rolling pin until they are crushed into nice chunks. There is no exact science. Just give them a good whack!


Fold the flour and the crushed mini-eggs into the butter, sugar and egg.
Once you have folded in all of the flour, scoop dollops of the mixture onto a baking tray lined with parchment.
Make sure you leave enough room between each cookie for them to spread.
Again, there is no exact science, if you prefer a smaller cookie, use a smaller spoon. If you like a big cookie, use a bigger dollop of the mixture.
Bake the cookies in the middle of the oven at 180C/160Fan/Gas Mark 4 for 8-10 minutes until golden.
The cookies will still be slightly gooey when they come out of the oven but will harden as they cool.

Other Ideas
If mini-eggs are not for you, try using smarties or M&Ms instead.
Another alternative is to use Aero Mint Bubbles which give a delicious peppermint cookie flavour.

Writing Challenge Theme: Reflection

Writing Challenge Theme: Reflection

I recently wrote that I am taking part in the March 30 day writing challenge. 22 days in and I have completed *cough* one task, by writing a long list of reasons why I am supposedly amazeballs. Unsurprisingly, sticking to a deadline wasn’t on there.
While reading through the list of themes I have yet to complete, reflection really stuck out for me; mainly because it’s something I both love and hate to do.
I truly believe it is important to reflect on how far we’ve come in whatever journey we are on. Reflection helps us to keep focus and continue knowing we are so far from where we started. However, as someone who has suffered/suffers from anxiety at varying levels, reflecting back can often trigger feelings of worry and guilt about what I could have done better or differently in the past.


A wise man (my dad) once told me that we should only ever glance at the past, never stare.
These words blew my mind, and they are now words I live by.
In the spirit of reflection and avoiding hurling myself into a spiral of self-doubt, I have decided to use this post and theme to reflect on three things that have brought me happiness over the years.

First and foremost, having kids is top of the list. Is it corny? Yes. Do I care? No. While they have caused me great anxiety, guilt, and pain over the years (labour, in particular, stung like a bitch) they are without a doubt, my greatest joys. Not only do I burst with jubilation at their confidence and individuality (something that I never had at their age) I cherish the fact that they make me a better person. Giving birth to my first child a few months after my 20th birthday was possibly the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I was just a kid myself. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Over the years though, my children have shaped my personality into the loving, caring, slightly bonkers woman sat writing this blog post. When I look at the married mother of 3 I am now, compared with the petrified 20-year-old single mum I started out as it is a journey I’m proud of.


Next up on my reflective list of joys through the years has to be music. There isn’t a single scenario or feeling that can’t be relived through music. Births, deaths, and everything in between. For me, memories are anchored to music. When my son was born, the theatre staff had the radio on, and Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ was blasting out. I remember the upbeat rhythm of the song calmed me. When we attended my auntie’s funeral last year, we exited the crematorium to Take That’s ‘Rule The World’ and I took comfort in knowing it was a song she loved. ‘Times Like These’ by the Foo Fighters takes me back to Leeds Fest which I attended for the day with my dad (the coolest dad in the world) just to see Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins playing live. It was magical, and something i’ll never forget.


Finally, a source of great joy and comfort to me has been my husband. I kissed a lot of frogs before I found a prince and I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a kind-hearted, fun and caring gentleman. He walked into my life when I was at a low point and has spent years building me back up with love, support, positivity, and encouragement. Make no mistake, he’s not perfect, nobody is. However, he deserves a huge shout out for everything he is and does, as a dad and a husband. I credit him for giving me the confidence to take the huge step towards my own dreams. With his support and encouragement, I returned to education and I’m now one year off getting my BA. The world is scary, life is tough but there is nobody I’d rather weather the storm with than him.

So, there we have it. A reflective look at the people and things that have brought me joy over the years. Do you have anything different? What brings you joy? How do you feel about reflecting on moments and parts of your life?
Let me know in the comments.

The theme of this post was set by the fabulous MyTalesFromTheCrib who you can find on Instagram. She has some amazing writing theme ideas. Check her out!

Life in our house is about to get less hectic as we move into the Half Term/Easter break. With no lessons or assignments due I am hoping to be able to work my way through more writing challenges and post more family and budget-friendly recipe ideas.
Keep checking back and stay safe wherever you are.

Until next time…
Hannah XO

30 Reasons Why!

30 Reasons Why!

Due to the chaos of life recently, my blog has been severely neglected. I am hoping that with the kids returning to school I can find more time to waffle online.

In a bid to ease me back into writing, I’m following a 30-day writing challenge set by the wonderful @mytalesfromthecrib who you can find on Instagram.

I cannot promise that you’ll get 30 consecutive days of writing from me, I am a lazy blogger, however, I intend to give it my all and hopefully rediscover my blogging groove.

As always, I’m late to the party. One of the challenges set is to write 30 reasons why I’m amazing. I’ve decided to start with this.

I’ve found this an extremely difficult task. I’m famous amongst my friends and family for my awkwardness in accepting a compliment; even more so for my constant self-deprecating comments, so trying to find 30 reasons why I’m a total badass goes against every fibre of my existence.

Nevertheless, here it goes.

  1. I am dedicated. It doesn’t matter what I do, I give it my all.
  2. I am kind. Always.
  3. My body grew and birthed three humans. Three!
  4. I can cook and I enjoy it. Feeding my family is never a chore because I feel most at home in the kitchen. You’ll always find me there at parties.  
  5. I can make a lot from a little. This is something that I have prided myself on for many years.
  6. I am creative. I have a big imagination and use it frequently.
  7. I am resilient. Having been dealt with some very bad hands over the years, I have always overcome my roadblocks with a smile on my face and a sparkle in my eye.
  8. I am optimistic. If there is a grey cloud, I can guarantee I will find the silver lining.
  9. I have a good sense of humour. I truly believe that having the ability to laugh at yourself is an important skill to master. It took me many years, however, I now actively live by the phrase, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?!
  10. I love reading. This is a trait that I hope my own little monsters will have. 
  11. After several glasses of wine, I become the sexiest woman alive and can dance really well! True story!
  12. I have stretch marks all over my body and I’m ok with it. This seems a strange one to make a person amazing, however, I spent the best part of my 20s (OK, all of my 20s) hating my body. If you had asked me at 22 what I’d change about myself, I could reel a list off as long as my arm. Once I hit 30 though, I started to appreciate my body for the human growing warrior machine it was. My body reflects the life it’s lived (and the cake it’s eaten) and I love that!
  13. At 30 years old, I’m pursuing my dreams and have returned to education to get a degree. This was a badass thing to do!
  14. I’m a good mum. Like all those with kids, there are days where I could do better, but when it comes down to it, I know I am a good parent. I work hard, my children are loved, encouraged, and supported. I don’t always get it right, but I’m doing my best and that is enough.
  15. On the back of being a good mum, I would also like to add that I am a good wife. Just ask my husband!
  16. I’m supportive of others. No matter how big or small a person’s dreams are if I can help or encourage, I’m there.
  17. I’m compassionate. I have a big heart. I would honestly give away my last penny if it meant changing the life of someone else for the better.
  18. I’m more than just a mum. This is important to me as part of what makes me amazing. I love my children with every ounce of my existence, but I am more than just a mum. I am a woman; I have my own dreams outside of my mum bubble and I’m allowed to chase them.
  19. I’m a good laugh on a night out. See number 10.  
  20. I am a good friend. I listen well and I’m there at the drop of a hat if I’m needed. I don’t have a huge friend group but the friends I do keep, I keep close to my heart.
  21. I can bleed for 7 consecutive days every month and survive while showing minimal signs of injury. My husband might try and tell you that my personality changes significantly, but he’s always being dramatic.  
  22. I support my husband who has a PTSD diagnosis. We have good and bad days, however, we always get through.  
  23. I am honest. I’m not obnoxiously honest, but I always say what I really think. This is a trait I have had to hone over the years because if my mouth doesn’t say what I’m thinking, my face usually does.
  24. I live by strong morals of treating others with respect and kindness. I have no time for rudeness or intolerance.
  25. While I struggle to accept a compliment, I am proud of how far I have come over the years.
  26. I can bake. Cake’s, biscuits, and pies. A good skill to have on birthdays and Christmas, however, not so much when you’re dieting.
  27. I once had an illness that put me in intensive care for almost a month. I nearly died. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced but I survived and have tried to live life to the fullest ever since.
  28. I am fun. All things should have an element of fun.
  29. I am really good at internet shopping. Nothing says badass like a good bargain!
  30. I am no shrinking violet. This is a positive for me, my mum often calls me a ‘gobshite’ but I stand up for what I think is right and if I know I can do something, I won’t let anyone tell me I can’t.

So, there we have it. My 30 reasons. It was hard to write and has taken me longer than I thought it would put together. It is an empowering thing to do though. If you’re ever at a loss of something to do, sit and write some positives about yourself. I guarantee you’ll feel amazing. 

Until next time…

Hannah XO

All Day Breakfast Quiche

All Day Breakfast Quiche

This is a fabulous quick and easy tea-time favourite in our house. It is cheap to make and usually does for lunch the next day. One of my favourite things about quiche is that it is a great way to use up any and all spare ingredients I have in the fridge.

You Will Need

250g Shortcrust Pastry (I ALWAYS opt for a shop bought pack of pastry – I bring shame to my family with my severe lack of pastry making skills! The ALDI 375g pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry is priced at 79p – winner!)

2 Sausages (cooked and sliced)

2 Rashers bacon (cooked and chopped into bitesize pieces)

1 Tomato (diced)

2 Mushrooms (diced)

1 tbsp Tomato Sauce

4 Eggs

40g Grated Cheese (whichever strength is preferred)

1 Tin of baked beans (for serving – optional)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Line your tin with pastry. Gently prick the bottom with a fork and line with crumpled foil. Blind bake the pastry for 5 minutes. Top tip, if you don’t have baking beans (personally, I don’t know a single person who does) you can use dry rice instead.

After 5 minutes remove the pastry from the oven, take out the foil with the beans/rice and put the pastry back in the oven for a further 2 minutes. Once done, set aside.

Cook the sausages and bacon according to the packets, once cooked, chop into pieces. Chop the tomatoes and mushrooms.

Beat the eggs.

Spread the tomato sauce across the pastry base, scatter on the sausage and bacon pieces, then add the chopped tomato and mushrooms. Sprinkle on the cheese and then pour over the egg mixture. (I always add a little extra sprinkle of cheese at this point.)

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until set and light brown.

Slice and serve with beans for a real all day breakfast feel.

Other Ideas

Not everyone is a lover of the mushroom (I personally think they are fun-guys! – SORRY! Had to be done!), you might try adding spring onions or even a cheeky pepper instead of mushrooms.

Everybody will have a preference of all day breakfast features. If you want to add in some extras, try adding fried and chopped black pudding at the same time you add the sausage and bacon.

Another alternative could be to use brown sauce on the base instead of tomato sauce. If you’re a really brave rebel, you might want to add both!

Christmas Cinnamon Biscuits

Christmas Cinnamon Biscuits

These biscuits are great for baking at Christmastime. They are cheap to make, extremely easy to do and make your house smell wonderful.

You Will Need

200g Margarine

150g Caster sugar

400g Plain flour

2 egg yolks

2 tsp cinnamon

For decorating:

Green fondant icing

Red fondant icing

1 tbsp icing sugar

Water

Writing icing (optional)

Method

Mix together the margarine and the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Rub in the flour until you have ‘breadcrumb’ texture.

Lightly whisk the eggs with the cinnamon and add to the dry mixture. Mix together until you have a dough (the dough with be slightly sticky at first – mine always is).

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead. Roll the dough out to 5mm thickness.

Cut out whatever shapes you wish to use. We chose gingerbread men, Christmas trees and hearts. Place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment or baking paper.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4/180c/160 fan for 10-15 minutes or until pale golden brown.

Allow to cool.

Once ready for decorating, roll the fondant out and cut out the same shapes as the biscuits. Mix 1 tbsp icing sugar and water together to make a paste. Brush onto the biscuit and place fondant gently on top.

If you wish you can decorate them further with writing icing.

Enjoy!

Other Ideas

For other festive flavours you could replace the cinnamon with ginger, vanilla or nutmeg.  

To jazz up your decorating you could cut strips of different coloured fondant and line them up to make a festive stripe effect, or let the kids loose with writing icing and see what kind of crazy decorations you end up with.

Decorating with a Difference

Decorating with a Difference

It is officially the most magical time of the year if you’re financially secure and don’t have kids.

If, like me, you are not financially secure, have a few kids and more cousins than you can count, then the most wonderful time of the year quickly becomes the most stressful time of year. Throw in a global pandemic, multiple lockdowns, constantly changing tier systems and 3-degree assignment deadlines and you’ll be well on your way to a festive meltdown.

Now, usually, Christmas promptly arrives in our house on December 1st. The tree goes up, along with garlands, wreaths, ornaments, and heirloom style trinkets that are scattered throughout the house. Generally, we have no fewer than three trees, one in the living room, a second in the girl’s room and a third tree is erected outside to show to the world that we love Christmas.

Each one is decorated with love, care, matching colours themes and is organised to be flawlessly symmetrical. The magic of Christmas really comes alive. Meanwhile, I slowly die inside from stress, anxiety, and glitter inhalation.

Not this year!

2020 has been troublesome, to say the least. We’ve had heartbreak, loss, uncertainty and a whole load of other negative happenings and emotions. So, this year, we are doing December a bit differently.

Towards the end of November, I started to make lists for all the things that we would need to do in the Christmas run-up. What there was to buy, the lights that would require checking, the baubles and trinkets that would need pulling out of storage and dusting. While making these lists and becoming more anxious with each new to do, I had a moment.

A fleeting thought that changed my entire outlook.

 Four magical words.

A question really.

‘What’s the fucking point?’

Now, this sounds negative but stay with me.

What is the point? Why does every Christmas have to be like a military operation? Who is it for? The kids don’t care if the tree is symmetrical. My husband hates all the fancy fuss that comes with my stress quest to have the perfect Christmas. Together they don’t care if the family heirloom decorations are out on show or if the colour scheme of the tree matches the living room décor.

So why does this matter? 

Answer. It doesn’t!

And at that moment, as if by some Hallmark Christmas movie-style miracle, I discovered the true meaning of Christmas. That is to spend time with your family; smile, cuddle, spread love, laughter & joy and most importantly, have fun while you’re doing it.

Now obviously, every Christmas we’ve had as a family has been filled with laughter and joy. Please don’t think that I’m discovering the meaning of Christmas for the first time. We are lucky to be part of a large loving family but if I’m honest, at this time of year, I usually feel more stress than joy.

I constantly worry about how perfect everything should be so that everyone has a good time and, in the process, I end up…not having a good time.

After talking all of this out with my husband I decided that this year we were throwing out the ‘rule book’. If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that you should live your life to be happy.

So, I have made some major changes and have had so much fun in the process.

We decided not to bother with an outside tree this year. Why pay to fit and light something that only your neighbours really enjoy. Unless you are going to sit at your front door and look at your outdoor tree every evening, what is the point? Really?

Our living room tree from last year was in much need of replacing. It was a 6ft one that I had purchased in a B&M sale for £12.99 three years prior. It served us well, but our new Christmas spirit warranted a sparkly new Christmas tree. Luckily, we grabbed a bargain at a local Tesco. I managed to get a 7ft artificial tree for £40. While it was a splurge compared it’s £12.99 predecessor, it was well worth it. The quality of the tree is even better than I was expecting, and I know that this will last us for years to come.

With no rule book for decorating, we decided to put onto the tree only things that will make us smile. After the year we have had, it is the least we deserve. I spent as much as I could spare on ‘tack’, and I mean ‘tack’ in the most beautiful sense. I bought only things that I knew would bring a smile and a giggle to the faces of my children.

These included glitter pizza baubles, an alpaca carrying presents, multi-coloured tinsel, Santa, brightly coloured headphones, glittery cupcakes and the initial of each member of our family, to name but a few.

A traditional angel has been replaced by a Dragonball Z Super Saiyan Goku because WHY NOT?
So. Much. Colour. I love it!
Crash Bandicoot villain Neo Cortex has bagged a cheeky place on the tree.

When it came to decorating the tree, the usual stress fest and echos of “don’t put that bauble there, just wait for me to get it straight, just let me do it!” was replaced with nothing but smiles and giggling. It was, without a doubt, the most relaxed and fun ‘tree putting up’ session we’ve ever had. Ever. 

For many people, the strive for perfection at Christmastime brings with it an immense pressure. I hope that this year, people can relax and find some comfort in the changes that we are facing in what has been a truly horrific year. Not all change has to be negative. We can absolutely find joy and pleasure in little moments, adapt and make new traditions.

Now that the kids are finishing school, we are well into the countdown to Christmas. Keep your eye out for fun Christmas recipes and activity ideas coming over the next week.

Until then….Hannah XO

A Decade of Motherhood

A Decade of Motherhood

Over the weekend, while the rest of the world seemed to be putting up their Christmas trees, we had our own celebration. A decade ago, on a snowy night in November, I welcomed to the world, via forceps, a 7lb 14.5oz baby girl. She had brown eyes and a mass of dark spikey hair sticking up out of the top of her little round head. Across each cheek was a red scratch from where the forceps had gripped her head during delivery. Truthfully, she looked like a deranged baby version of Batman’s Joker, but she was mine and she was beautiful. The day she arrived was the day I understood what love, at first sight, felt like.

I had a 36-hour labour, by the time she finally arrived I was exhausted, but sleep wouldn’t come. Instead, I sat in my hospital bed with this tiny contented little bundle sleeping in a blanket between my legs staring at her. I was a mother. The enormity of that statement hit me all at once. Within that moment, the fear and anxiety I had felt through my pregnancy were replaced with love and fierce protectiveness for the human I had created.  

Fast forward ten years, and we are a million miles from where we started. The small, hairy little baby I had is now a beautiful and sassy girl with more confidence in her cheeky smile than I have had my entire life. I too have come a long way in my decade of motherhood; now a happily married mother of three, I’m worlds away from the newly 20-year-old single mum who still lived with her parents.

I could not be prouder of the sassy and uniquely fabulous kid that my firstborn child has become. These ten years have gone by in what feels like 10 minutes and watching her personality grow has been one of the best things I’ve been witness to. She is and will forever be my first true love, and I am positive that she will do great things in this world.

In celebration of a decade of motherhood, I wanted to share 10 things I have learnt since becoming a parent.

  1. Never compare yourself to other parents. It is a waste of your time and energy. Focus on yourself and how you want to raise your children. I spent so much time worrying that other mums were doing it better than me and comparing the way I did things to others. It caused me no end of anxiety. The day I started to do things my way and stopped caring how others did it was the day I became a better parent. Screw what other parents are doing, if it works for you, that’s all that matters!
  2. Be organised, make lists and, prioritize tasks. This is something I learnt really early on. Don’t spend time and energy trying to do everything, if a job needs doing then fair enough but if it can wait, then let it. Making a list for each day using a planner or journal can really change your time management. This was a huge revelation for me as a parent.
  3. Make time for yourself and don’t feel guilty for it! Self-care is a must for parents. If you’re not looking after yourself, it will affect your ability to look after your kids. Establish a self-care routine, even something simple like setting your alarm ten minutes earlier, having those extra moments to yourself makes all the difference.
  4. Attend the baby groups. I have always been an anxious person and struggled a lot with meeting new people. With my firstborn, I didn’t attend any of the mummy groups simply because I was so worried and nervous that I wouldn’t be ‘accepted’. When I did finally pluck up the courage to go to a baby group with my second child, I found a welcoming community of mums and dads who were just as scared as I was. It was great to talk with people who understood the difficulties of parenting. The new parents shared the same fears I had, and the seasoned parents offered advice. I honestly wish I’d have gone sooner.
  5. Share the load. Whether you are single, married, a first-time parent or have a football team of children, asking for help is never a bad thing. The saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ exists for a reason. Being a parent is hard, and the more people you bring into your support network, the easier it becomes. You do not have to do it alone, make sure you stay in touch with supportive friends and family and never suffer alone. If you need help, ask!
  6. Mistakes are how we learn. No parent gets it right every time all the time. If you get it wrong or something doesn’t go as planned, don’t worry. Learn from it and move on. If I had a pound for every mistake I’ve made as a parent, I’d probably be a millionaire. Mistakes are a part of life, so of course, they are a part of parenting. It does no good to fixate on something you got wrong, all you can do is acknowledge where you went wrong and learn what to do differently next time. Cut yourself some slack because none of us really know what we’re doing!
  7. Losing your temper does not make you a bad parent. This is something that I used to get so emotional about. I would never class myself as a ‘shouty’ mum, in fact, I like to think I’m calm and laid back, but even I have a limit to my patience. Losing your temper and shouting when you’re having one of those days makes you human and nothing else. We’ve all had moments where our parenting swings from snow white to evil queen in a single second. I usually have a week of this every month.
  8. Everything in moderation is a positive way to live. I have known parents whose children live on technology, chicken dippers and chocolate sandwiches. I have also known parents who don’t own a television and have their children follow a sugar-free vegan diet. While I firmly believe in the motto ‘to each their own’ I like to think that I do Ok as a parent somewhere in between these two parenting styles. With a little bit of everything in moderation, we have a nice balance between it all.
  9. Try to focus on what you can control instead of stressing about the things you can’t. I have always been a worrier, I classed it as a personality trait instead of something that I could manage. Once I changed my outlook and started to focus on the things I had control of, I found that my worrying stopped. Focus on yourself and your parenting, behaviour, words, ideas, actions, effort and reactions are all things that you are in control of. When it comes to others, you can control their actions, words and behaviours about as much as you can control the weather. So why try? As long as you are focused on yourself and what you can control, you can let go of all the things you can’t. Speaking from experience, from the moment you let go of things you can’t control, you’ll be happier.
  10. Listen to your instincts. This is probably the most important thing I have learnt over the past ten years. I know my children better than anyone else. I know when they are ill, tired, hungry, sad, happy, or excited just from the way they look. You too will know your own child better than anyone, so trust in your own abilities. You’ve got this!

I hope that the ramblings of what I’ve learnt in my decade of motherhood can be of use to someone. I wish I’d have known some of these things earlier on in the game, but I suppose one of the principal parts of parenting is the constant learning that comes with it. None of us really know what we’re doing, and any parent who claims they do is lying.

Until next time…

Hannah XO