Saturday, 30 March 2013

Today, I am grateful for...

Spring, which seems to be finally on the way! The sight of even one or two new flowers popping up outside gives me such a happy feeling!

A yummy dinner followed by an super easy option for pudding :)

My husband, who not only made Charlie's new desk today, but also set up his computer, bought both kids new posters for their rooms (checks Charlie's uber cool Minecraft one!), and is generally just an all round lovely stepdad/tech support/soulmate/superhero...

Doris, our beautiful campervan! Steve and I were child free for most of the day, so we spent a lovely afternoon outside, generally pottering around with Doris and getting her tidied and cleaned up for camping season. Just need a few full days without snow now!!!

So, just a tiny few of the many things I'm grateful for today, as well as a hot shower, comfy jammies, well behaved kids, my growing baby bump, a snuggly night on my cosy sofa, and loads of other things. Sometimes it's just good to take stock and be thankful for all of these things!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fussy eaters - the only thing that's worked for me...

Fussy kids, eh? Honestly, nothing drives me more nuts, especially considering that I adore cooking and cook everything from scratch. We are definitely not a chicken nuggets family, but both kids have always been pretty fussy eaters.

I have always encouraged healthy eating, and am proud to say that both my kids enjoy vegetables, they ate carrots, peppers, peas and cucumber from babyhood and still love to eat those now. It's just whole meals I struggled with! They would always say they didn't like their dinner, and would have happily just eaten a plate of carrot and cucumber sticks instead, which is all very well and good, but it's not exactly a balanced diet, and they won't get the energy they need from raw vegetables alone!

We got to a point where there was virtually nothing that they would both eat - Charlie had decided that he didn't like rice and wouldn't eat anything with rice in it, and Daisy didn't like pasta and wouldn't eat anything with pasta in it. The only thing they both agreed to eat was mince and tatties (pictured above), but you can't eat that every night of the week!

I tried everything - being nice, being tough, begging, crying, the lot! Every meal time became a battleground, and planning meals was a nightmare as there was literally only one meal I knew they'd both eat.
One thing that worked for a short time was not making a big deal of their food refusal, just calmly taking it away and saying they'd get nothing else until bedtime. Then, at bedtime, they'd be given a small amount of plain cereal, like weetabix, just purely so they wouldn't go to bed hungry. It worked for a while, but eventually they started refusing their dinner before it was even put down, and choose to just have their bedtime cereal instead.

The next thing I tried was deliberately giving them a very small portion of dinner and allowing them to have cereal afterwards if they ate it all. This drove me nuts very quickly because Charlie especially, at the age of ten, would easily eat his tiny, toddler sized portion of nice, healthy dinner, and before even swallowing the last mouthful, would immediately start asking for cereal, crisps etc. ARGH!!! I tried gradually increasing their portion sizes, but then we started getting the excuses after a few mouthfuls, followed by begging for something else as soon as his plate was taken away.

The only thing that's worked for me was realising what was important to them both - money, and having their own money to spend. I decided to give them both £5 each per week as pocket money, which they get on a friday evening.  I then make a meal plan for the week, from monday to friday...

This works because instead of stressing about what to make each night, I ask the kids, Steve and my mum to all choose one meal each. That plus my own choice makes our five meals for the week, which massively takes the pressure off me to think of five meals, and means that everyone gets their own choice of dinner once a week, and gives the kids a bit more power over what they eat.
Each night, they are given a normal sized portion of dinner, not a small portion like before. They are expected to eat at least 3/4 of what's on their plate, and if they don't, I take £1 off their pocket money for the week. 
I have to emphasise, this is not bribery, I really disagree with bribing kids. I am not paying them to eat their dinner, the £5 per week is theirs anyway.
I'm also not punishing them by taking the £1 away for each night they don't eat, what I'm doing is letting them know that food costs money, and when they don't eat, they will be expected to pay for the food they've wasted.

And you know what? It works!!!
The kids don't want to waste their pocket money on food, they want to spend it on fun stuff, so they eat their dinner. As a result, they try foods they wouldn't have tried before, and this has increased our menu options so much! 
Obviously, I'm not completely evil, I won't make them eat something if I know they really don't like it or aren't feeling well, but I'll just give them an extra portion of vegetables to ensure they eat enough, and as long as they try a little bit, it's all good.

What's worked for your fussy eaters? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Final Countdown - 10 weeks to go!!!

Oh my goodness, Baby Widders will be here in the next ten weeks!!!
I've decided that each week, I'll do a post about how I'm feeling/what I'm doing, etc, so here goes....

Gestation; 29 weeks

I'm feeling;  Big, heavy and tired! I know I'm not massive, and still have ten weeks of growing to do, but I've had a significant growth spurt this week and I'm suddenly starting to get that familiar heavy, out of breath feeling after doing things like hoovering or going upstairs.
I'm pretty sure this feeling will settle down, and hopefully I'll have bursts of energy in between these knackered days!
Emotionally, I'm doing really well, feeling happy and content. I've had one or two hormonal cryfests, for absolutely no reason at all, but on the whole, I'm feeling very positive and happy. Starting to get a bit bored though, I've suddenly realised that I spend far too much time cooped up in the house, and my focus so far has been just on dropping the kids at school, doing housework all day and picking the kids up again!
Time to get out of the house and start socialising! The kids come on school holidays as of friday, so I need to make a list of things we can do while they're off. This is our last time to do things before the baby comes, so we should make the most of it!

I'm eating; Food obsessions this week are mango, cheese and chocolate. Not all at the same time!

Baby prep this week; We picked up our cot yesterday, courtesy of my lovely friends, and I've been buying little bits like a onesie and some muslin cloths. Most of the important stuff is bought now, so it's just a waiting game!

Highs and Lows; Lows this week have been my hormonal cryfest, almost constant heartburn and occasional pain when the baby is lying very low and feels almost like it's trying to jump out! It's also been the longest winter ever, and I'm starting to get really fed up with the freezing cold weather. Come on, spring!
Highs have been that the pregnancy is healthy and going very well, the house is up to date, the kids are being very happy and well behaved at the moment, and I'm so incredibly grateful for my husband, who is amazing with every aspect of family life. Life is very good, and I'll always appreciate it.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Taking it easy

Taking it easy doesn't come naturally to me, I'm naturally a 'busy' person and love working to to-do lists and schedules. Having said that, I'm very aware that Baby Widders will be here in ten weeks or less, and this may be my only opportunity to be a bit lazy!
I'm reaching that stage in the pregnancy now where I'm starting to feel big and heavy, and get tired much more easily. 
Being on top of things is the key to my happiness right now. I can't settle if the house is messy, so being in a routine is very important to me
Little things like making the beds as soon as we wake up, keeping the dishes and laundry up to date and tidying up every couple of hours makes all the difference between enjoying my time at home and feeling like I've totally lost control!
Today, the house is under control, the laundry is up to date, and my to-do list consists of this a cup if tea, crocheting a blanket and reading my photography book.
It's a hard life.....

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Every penny counts

Today is our national government budget day, so I thought a post about money would be appropriate!
Do you want to know a secret? I haven't used a debit card in over two years. Not even once, I'm strictly a cash only girl. Why? Here's why...

A few years ago, I was going on holiday to Florida and took out a credit card to cover spending money. I took out a second card just in case the first one was maxed out before I got home. Hello? If you're going with kids to the home of theme parks and shopping malls, and you give yourself the opportunity to max out your card, you can bet your bum it'll happen! Twice! Financial mistake no.1.

When I got home, it was nearly Christmas, and as all my money was paying for cards 1 & 2, I took out card 3 to pay for Christmas. Financial mistake no.2.

It was getting stressful having to pay three separate bills, so I took out card 4 to consolidate cards 1 & 2. WHAT?? I know, complete idiot. Financial mistake no.3.

Well, now that all my money was going towards cards 3 & 4, I had no spare money for groceries and everyday living, so I (stupidly) started using cards 1 & 2 again. ARGH! It's all too easy, and all too familiar for most of us. What started as a little holiday spending money had spiralled into £15k of debt in the space of a year, and it was a nightmare. I didn't even have very much to show for it!

To cut a long story short, I worked hard, saved hard and over the next two years, I paid off every penny of my debt. I deliberately opened a bank account that had no debit card, just a cashpoint card, and have dealt purely in cash ever since. Hard lesson to learn, but I learned it for life!

Anyway, because I only ever use cash, it means that pretty much every purse, handbag and jacket pocket in my house has some change in it. I've got myself into a habit where every few months, I do a sweep of the house and gather up all the coins I have squirrelled away. This is what I gathered up yesterday...

It came to a grand total of £48.21! Hooray!
Another habit I've got into, is regularly gathering up my change and putting it away in my pot (shown in the photo at the top), so that we always have something put away for a rainy day. I counted all of that money yesterday as well, and separated it all into little bags, all worth £10 each. The great thing with this habit is, I can fill my purse with £10 worth of change each week and use this for those everyday expenses, like bread, milk and sweets for the kids. It avoids the need to take money out of the bank and means my pennies are stretched that little bit further.

Like I say, every penny counts! Hopefully, I'll pass on my careful spending habits to my kids, and hope they never get themselves in a state like I did. 

If you have budgeting or saving tips, please share them with me!

Monday, 18 March 2013

The story so far...

This is my family, and this is our little corner of the interwebs, a cosy, happy place to share our adventures and stories.
We are a happy little bunch - Steve and I got married two weeks ago, on the first anniversary of our first date. It's one of those "thunderbolts and lightening" love stories that I never used to believe in, until it happened to me!
We live together with my mum, my two kids, two dogs and cat, and are expecting a baby in June - as you can imagine, there's never a dull moment in this house!

This is me...

I'm Jodie, and I love baking, crochet and spending time with my favourite people - my family! I adore being a mum and can't wait to be looking after a baby again, it's been far too long! 
I believe in making the most of every moment, never holding grudges and treating everyone the way I'd like to be treated, pretty simple, really. I love organisiation, and constantly try to make our family life as simple and uncomplicated as possible, I've had my share of stress and chaos and now it's time to just enjoy the little things. That's what this blog is all about, little happy moments in ordinary days, and being grateful for every single one of them.

This is my husband, Stephen...
I know, right? Holy hell, he's just a little bit gorgeous! Not only does he have the BEST catalogue poses, he's utterly amazing with the kids, he actually enjoys tidying and decluttering, loves cars and camping, and when he smiles, I can't even cope with it. Seriously, I'm like a teenager at a One Direction concert. 
My husband, yum.

This is Charlie...
He's ten years old, and a total mini-me. He's a pretty quiet kid, complete maths and computer genius, and checks the awesome cowlick! He likes to keep himself to himself, but completely comes to life when we go outside. He adores camping trips, forest walks and fishing, and is a big fan of Bear Grylls. He can solve a puzzle or maths problem scarily fast, and has an extrordinary ability to eat endless packets of crisps. Love him to bits!

This is Daisy...

Don't be fooled, she's tougher than she looks! She's six years old, and a complete firecracker. She loves art and can spend hours drawing, painting and making crafty things. She's a total perfectionist and can have an absolute meltdown if she doesn't do things "just right". She and Charlie have a typical brother/sister relationship, and can swing between giggling and tickling each other, to screaming at each other in a matter of seconds. I reckon if either of them was in trouble, the other would be by their side in a flash, though. I'm looking forward to seeing how they take care of the new baby, it's quite an age gap but I think they'll both be a brilliant help.

And who's this?
Hello, Baby Widders! This is the youngest member of our crew, due to join us in June. We all absolutely can't wait to meet him/her!

So that's us, and this is where I'll keep a track of all our adventures, whether camping trips, decluttering achievements, baby days or recipes. Feel free to come along and enjoy the simple things with us!