Monday 31 March 2014

Hen Do Fun

Its becoming a rarer and rarer thing to go out with my girlfriends and just have fun, but a Hen Do is one totally legitimate reason to pilfer my toddler off onto my husband and spend the day laughing and being silly! Which is what I did a couple of weekends ago.
I travelled with Biscuit up to Birmingham to for the Hen Do of my best friend's sister, we all grew up together and are all good friends now, I have two younger sisters who are a similar age to my best friend's younger sisters so we all played together and our mums were friends.  My friend has a toddler now too, she is Boris's God Mother and I am her toddlers God Mother.

It was a beautiful sunny day so we took a picnic and walked to some nearby playing fields in the village where we all grew up and where her parents still live.   We had a great time telling funny stories and reminiscing about old times.  We also played some games including an egg and spoon race and a three legged race and by far the most hilarious game of all where we dressed the bride and another hen up in toilet paper wedding dresses.

We divided into teams. The younger (child-free) girls amongst us began carefully planning what style of wedding dresses they would make with their toilet paper - should it be strapless, off the shoulder, princess style, or mermaid?  My friend and I on the other hand, like two silly school girls began running round and round our poor "bride" wrapping her like a mummy in reams and reams of toilet paper!  I was in absolute tears with laughter,(which I mopped up on the living toilet paper dispenser that was our bride-to-be!)

So I am sure you might be wondering why I am telling you this story (she had a fun day, so what?)  Well I am writing it on the off chance that you are reading this and are currently child-free and thinking what a great idea it would be to have babies.  Of course, by all means have babies, but first there is something really important that you need to do... PARTY!!!!  And I am talking like literally every day.  Well maybe not every day, that might make you ill, but as often as you can, dress up, go out, go to the cinema, go to clubs, have weekends away, travel, because I am not kidding, the end is nigh! Once you have kids its over.  There will be no more partying, there will be no more spontaneous trips to the cinema, there will be no more dressing up, those days will be gone.  So party while you can because one day soon you too will be running round a field with a roll of toilet paper like it is the funnest thing EVER, like you are on day release from an institute, and you too will look back and wish you had partied more, I know I do. Mark my words folks, the end is nigh!

Monday 24 March 2014

Gel Bag Aquariums

Its been a frantic time recently, lots of dashing about and not much time for fun to be honest.  I am finding things with a toddler and 4 month old Very. Hard. Work. Like, all the time hard, like, never get a break hard, like, RELENTLESS hard.  I am told it gets easier, but in the mean time I am pottering off to toddler groups, meeting with friends, and ploughing through March's activities.  (seriously, hardest job I have ever had)
Last week we made Gel bag aquariums.  Or rather I made a gel bag aquarium and Boris threw it around the room.  Oh well.

Here's what you need:

Zip lock bag,
Tub of hair gel (15p from ASDA, I bought two!)
Tube of glitter,
Coloured foam sheets,

All you do is cut out some under the sea shapes from the foam sheets, I did a jelly fish, gold fish, shark, star fish and some sea weed, then put them into the zip lock bag with the other "ingredients", zip it up and away you go.  Children can have fun searching for different sea creatures and moving them around to create different scenes.  In fairness to Boris, he did help me put the glitter into the bag and helped select the beads. Which I think he enjoyed. The activity was a bit too advanced for him because he didn't play with it is the way I wanted him to, but obviously that is my failing in trying to control the activity too much and not his failing.
Here are some pics of the finished thing, it looked really magical up against the window.

Monday 10 March 2014

Becoming a Vegetarian

On the 21st of February I consumed my last Satay Chicken Chow Mein from my local Chinese takeaway.  I was pretty sad about it, it was a really really good one!  The chicken was so juicy which somehow made it worse, if it had been dry and chewy I wouldn't miss it so much!  But I had made the decision to become a vegetarian and it was a decision that needed to be made and I would like to explain how and why I came to this decision.

Here are the hows:
  • My sister has been a veggie for about two years and she has been a great example to me, she has shown me that it is perfectly possible to live as a vegetarian and she is so positive about it, saying how she never misses meat and eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • One of my Facebook friends  is a vegan and often puts up pretty horrific images of animals being killed etc.  Two particular things she put up were triggers for me; THIS essay by Gary Yourofsky and THIS video of pigs being abused (this is a really horrific video, you have been warned).
  • For Boris' birthday we visited the Sea Life Centre in London, and while I have some concerns over the keeping of animals in captivity, I was really impressed by their conservation message.  There were loads of signs around saying which fish were in decline and what to eat instead.  It made me realise that eating fish is really damaging for the ocean and there is no easy way to ensure the fish you are eating aren't becoming extinct. 
And as for the why:

  • My health - or more specifically cancer.  I am pretty scared of it, people I know keep getting it.  I don't want to get it so I am going to do everything I can to avoid it.  Statistically vegetarians are less likely to get cancer and a number of other health ailments including heart disease and strokes. This all sounds pretty good to me.
  • The Planet - There are so many reasons why eating meat is harmful for the planet, here are just a few examples: Rainforests are destroyed to make land to graze cattle for meat resulting in around 1000 species per year becoming extinct, the burning of forests contributes to 20% of all green-house gases, it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of meat. The raising of animals for meat produces millions of tons of toxic waste which is quite often released into waterways. As a self professed environmentalist, I couldn't in good conscience continue to eat meat knowing the damage it causes.
  • People - Eating meat is harmful to other human beings on this planet, people are starving to death (approximately 60 million each year) because their countries sell grain to feed animals for meat. If everyone ate a vegetarian diet there would be no reason for anyone to go hungry. As a Christian the thought of people dying because I like the taste of meat is abhorrent to me and becoming a vegetarian is a first step towards causing less harm to my fellow human beings.
  • Animal welfare - Unless I can absolutely guarantee without any doubt that the animal I am about to eat hasn't suffered I am not going to eat it.  I don't want to cause pain and suffering to animals, any more than I do people, if I ate meat I am causing suffering by proxy because of creating demand. 
So there you have it, a very brief account of my journey to vegetarianism.  And do you know what, I feel much better, I feel like a great burden has been lifted.  I feel like a more honest person now, I feel like a more empowered person I am not lying to myself any more that the way I eat meat is ok because it's free range or organic, or I don't eat it very often, I can have a more un-hypocritical love for all animals and I am no longer in denial about their treatment.

So why am I sharing this with you?  Well even though I have only been a vegetarian for a very short time, I already feel a burden of responsibility to share the facts about the meat industry that I have learnt so that people can make an informed choice about whether they want to eat meat of not.  It isn't about beliefs, opinions or judgement it is about facts and information, and if people can hear these facts then I have at least given them the opportunity to re-evaluate their position, even if they choose not to change it. And how can I be judgemental of anyone eating meat when I ate it for the last 30 odd years?

And finally, here are some awesome memes about how great being a vegetarian is:

newyorkvegan:And people say that veganism doesn’t affect anything.  Go vegan!

According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.

beans versus beef

Make The Connection
Hmmm :)

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian but not convinced it is for you, watch THIS video and see what you think then.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Planning for March

It's been a busy time for us recently, with Boris' birthday followed by Boris and Biscuit's Baptisms last week and the usual hecticness (is that a word?) that is involved with life and two small children so I am slow of the mark with March planning. Things have been stressful at times and I have wished I had more help at home so I could enjoy life more instead of always feeling rushed and like I am always doing chores.  As you know, being on top of things isn't one of my strongest points so although I am trying to be organised, recently things have got a bit overwhelming.  Hopefully you can forgive the tardiness of my March planning but here it is.  (As with February, some of these activities are carried over from last month because we didn't get time to do them.)

1. Post card shapes into a box,
2. Dance to music,
3. Draw with chalk on the patio,
4.Pancake day - Make and eat pancakes,
5.Colour pasta with food colouring and thread onto pipe cleaners,
6. World Book Day - visit library and borrow books,
7. National Doodle Day - Do some doodles!
8. Walk on the beach,
9. Visit Grandpa (or other elderly friend or relative)
10. Have a pillowcase sack race,
11. Make gel colour/glitter bags,
12. World Maths day - do counting activities,
13. Mothering Sunday - Spoil myself!
14. Pi Day - Eat Cherry Pie,
15. Have a daddy/son day,
16. Create an invitation to play with wooden peg people,
17. Play pairs with pairs cards,
18. Make sock puppets,
19. Do scratch board paintings (wax crayon covered with black paint mixed with washing up liquid)
20. World Day of Theatre for Children - do a puppet show,
21. International day of Forests and Trees - Go for a walk in the woods,
22. World water day - Do a water play activity,
23. World meteorological day - Do a weather related activity,
24. Bang on saucepans,
25. National agriculture day - spend time at the allotment, plant potatoes etc.
26. Potato printing,
27. Fly a kits,
28. Make a felt shape board,
29. Earth Hour/Natural baby festival in Oxford,
30. Make stars from tissue paper to stick on the window,
31. Paint a tree. 

So there you have it, there is March, hope you are all having a good one, spring is on it's way!

Monday 3 March 2014

Valentines Toddler Activity

I was keen to get Boris involved in Valentines day this year so found a fun activity on Pinterest that I thought he would like, it took a bit of forward planning but I was pretty pleased with it.  It's a sort of Valentines heart lucky dip come family identification game.

I got photos of some members of our family printed then cut heart shapes round the faces and stuck them onto pink card.  I then followed the heart shape of the photo leaving about a cm gap all round.

I then cut a few more hearts out of the card with no photos on and chucked them all in a plastic box.

I added some faux rose petals that I bought off ebay and some heart shaped marshmallows for Boris to dig out and we were ready to go.

He had a good time looking through the photos and we went through naming them all and did this a few times on valentines day and the day after.  I then stuck the photos on the wall and my husband and Boris played with them, pulling them off, naming them, sticking them back on then putting them back in the box.

I think it was worth doing because it got Boris involved and was a fun game (although surprisingly he wasn't fussed by the heart shaped marshmallows).  I am trying to think what I can do with all the bits now, might make a little book with all the photos in it for Boris to identify.

I also made a Valentines day cake for my husband: