Week 2 of the holidays are over and we have had another busy and fun week!

Monday

Ezra was at nursery as usual so in the morning Violet and I baked cinnamon rolls! They were sooooo tasty! I am a fairly awful baker so Violet doesn’t get to do it too often. But the whole family agreed that these were yummy.

Then in the afternoon we went to Christmas Tree Farm. The last time Violet went she was so anxious about feeding the animals. She wanted to but the fear of them nibbling her fingers (fair enough!) got the better of her until the end. With tears practically streaming down her cheeks she made herself feed a sheep some carrot! This time she marched up to the animals and fed them without a single worry! I was so proud of her for overcoming her fears and feeding the animals so confidently. We stayed there for ages and also managed to stroke the baby goats and ponies.

We then had some carrot cake from the shop.

Tuesday

On Tuesday we went to summer Boppin Tots! It was a Wild West Theme and Violet loved it. Ezra wasn’t so keen, I suspect because it’s a bit bigger and crazier than the usual term time classes. Felix really enjoyed watching the dancing and singing and then loved playing with the toys.

We got the bus home and Violet harvested another crop of carrots. She’s doing very well with her growing!

Wednesday

We headed over to the Dolce Vita cafe in Petts Wood for kids baking and lunch. I used to go alot last year so it was lovely to go back! The children made jam tarts. And then ate them! So I have to assume they tasted good!

Thursday

Violet went to an all day holiday club with a couple of class mates. Meanwhile I took Ezra to Bromley soft play. What a disaster that was!!! He literally cried the entire time and I spent far more time in there rescuing him than sitting down and chatting with my friends. After another dash to guide him down the steps I said we were going to leave and get lunch. We stopped at a burger restaurant and sat outside so that Ezra could run around and make as much noise as he fancied. Our friends who we abandoned at soft play came to join us later on and the children ran around in the gardens.

Violet had an absolutely brilliant time at her club and said she wants to go again!!

Friday

After a really terrible night with Felix I had a lay in. It was necessary! Joe took the children for the morning. In the afternoon Violet and I went to a local playground to meet some of her class friends. The sun shone (I’ve been missing the sun, please come back for the holidays!)

Saturday

We met up with some family and went to the Science Museum. We were first in the queue waiting for the doors to open! It really was a fantastic day. There was so much space to move around the museum and the children especially enjoyed the interactive displays. 1 tip is to bring a packed lunch as the food in the museum cafe was astronomically expensive.

We then went to the Rainforest Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue for dinner. We came home with these two monkeys!!

Sunday

Today has been a lovely one for me as I got to catch up with some of my school friends. A lovely, civilised roast lunch with no children!

I’m a born and bred Greenwich girl. Literally.

I just love it. And the older I get the more and more I appreciate this beautiful pocket of London.

As a child I remember going to Greenwich Park with friends for picnics, playing ‘it’, hide and seek, sitting on our skateboards and zooming down the hills. Greenwich evokes many happy childhood memories for me. Then as I got a bit older I started discovering the vibrant village and buzzing market. I loved strolling through by all the stalls, making sure I always stopped at my favourite jewellery shop on the corner. And in more recent years I have really enjoyed the food market, my favourite being the teriyaki stand!

Yesterday we arranged to meet Joe’s sister and boyfriend at Greenwich. It had been too long since we had last been to Greenwich together so it felt just brilliant to walk through the park and look at the amazing view of the City. We met up at the Cutty Sark. Joe, Violet and Ezra played chase while I sat down for a breather  (i’m 5 weeks away from having this baby now!). Ezra enjoyed running after the pigeons, exclaiming “LOOK” as if these birds were the most amazing thing he had ever seen. To a 21 month old I guess they were!

Once my sister-in-law and her partner arrived we headed to the market to get some food.

I had my sights firmly set on the teriyaki stall and could practically taste the fresh squid in anticipation. Joe was looking forward to some fresh salmon. To my utter shock and huge disappointment the stand wasn’t there!!!! There was sushi, Portuguese pastries, gluten-free cakes, vegan and raw food but NO fresh squid!!!!!! In the end I got a chorizo bread and Joe had a lentil lasagne. They were both very good but I still feel sad that my favourite food wasn’t available. I wonder if it has gone for good or this was just a blip. Does anyone know?

For pudding I had some Nutella and strawberry pancakes!

This definitely lifted my spirits!

I also visited the drinks stand and got myself a watermelon juice. Joe had a fresh lemonade and gin!

We then walked to the park. Autumn has arrived which I’m not-so-secretly quite happy about. The 30degree heat in London was starting to get to me and I was struggling to cope. This cooler, fresher weather is certainly much more manageable. With autumn the leaves are turning crunchy and one of my favourite things to do with the children is collect conkers. Greenwich Park was abundant with conker trees and we spent a lovely time squashing the fallen shells and popping out bright, shiny conkers. Violet quickly filled any available space in the bottom of the pushchair with beautiful marbled conkers. Ezra also loved running around the trees with a conker in each hand showing anybody who would listen!

Finally we walked over to the playground. This was updated about 2 years ago. Gone are the usual metal framed swings and climbing frames and now there are huge wooden frames, swings, play houses and covered walkways.

The playground really is excellent, with plenty of picnic tables, grass areas, a little cafe and well serviced toilet facilities.

Our last stop in the playground was the sandpit. This is the same sandpit I played in as a little girl so I am fond of it despite not being a huge fan of sand! There is a water pump the children can use to get water into one area of the sand and there seemed to be a lot of buckets and spades which were for general use. Violet and Ezra both really loved pottering about in the sand.

We then trudged up the hill and headed for our car. I could easily have spent so much more time in the park, it’s so huge and there is loads to explore. But for us it was home time.

I absolutely loved our trip to Greenwich and will make sure we go back soon.
Have you been recently? What were your favourite places to visit? And any ideas where the teriyaki stall has gone?!
Capturing Moments

This morning as I hauled myself out of my warm cosy pit I thought about the day stretched out in front of me, and I breathed a sigh.

Life is running by so fast at the moment. Our days and weeks are a carefully pieced together working mechanism. We have so much happening that sometimes I wonder how long we can sustain the pace. I was fast running out of steam in the lead up to Christmas and limped into the holidays with tonsillitis. The break was much needed!

So I thought I’d write down a typical Thursday which is usually our busiest day.

6am – BBRRRIIIINNGGGG!!! I have precisely 19 minutes from my alarm going off to get out the house! I shower on a Wednesday evening so that’s ticked off my list. A quick face wash and spray in the right places gets me feeling ever so slightly more awake. I pick up my pile of neatly folded work clothes and go downstairs to get dressed. Under the cover of winter this is easy however when the mornings start getting lighter I’ll have to rethink my strategy. I don’t want to go scaring the milkman! I then run the straighteners through my hair. Now that I have REALLY short hair I can’t just scrape it back into a ponytail, I have to DO something with the birds nest! Once I’m looking presentable I down some water, brush my teeth and then haul ass out of the house whist pulling my shoes and coat on.

6:20am – I take the bus to the train station and aim for a specific train. Without fail I always have to leg it from the bus to get the train. I’m beginning to recognise fellow sprinters from my bus! It’s a 50/50 chance that I make the train, this week I have missed it twice. It’s a sweaty 15 minutes into Victoria and I often don’t get a seat. I used to spend the time with my crochet however now that I’m working on a different project it’s a bit too big to bring on my commute. Now I tend to flick through the pages of the Metro or check out some blog linkys on my phone. I arrive into Victoria just before 7am and navigate the tube, arriving at the office at 7:10am. Believe it or not, I am not the first person in the office!

7:15am – check emails and clear off any work that I can do very easily. I then go to the ladies and quickly put a bit of make-up on. Don’t want to go scaring my colleagues! Then back to my desk where I eat a small bowl of cereal and a banana while working.

7:45am – Joe calls me to let me know how the drop-off has been with the kids. He has his own mission in the morning; getting the children up, nappy changed and into the car. He drives 25 minutes to my parents’ house where he leaves them and then walks 15 minutes to the train station. Usually there’s something that’s happened like Ezra filled his nappy as Joe was putting him in the car, or Violet has been too busy running in the front garden to get in the car. Today’s drama was that I had left with the car key in my pocket. Cue a frantic hunt for the spare all the while Violet is hollering for her vitamin sweet! In the mayhem of leaving the house Violet ended up in the car with no shoes on. Ah well it’s raining today, they probably wouldn’t have got to the playground anyway! Is it just me, or does it feel like your head is just full to bursting with so many things to remember that sometimes the fundamentals just seem to go out of the window!?

WORK

11:15am – is it lunch time yet?

11:45am – is now an acceptable time to get lunch?

Midday – Lunch time! By this point I’m hungry and feeling tired. I need a good lunch to see me through to dinner. I’m on a bit of a healthy eating kick at the moment so try to avoid all the snacks and chocolates!

WORK

15:45 – I’m out the door faster than you can say “see ya tomorrow”. I now have a sprint on. Thankfully I wear trainers on my commute. But if you see the girl legging it through Covent Garden around this time…well it’s me. I have a train to catch and the rest of our militarily planned evening hinges on me making this train! I’m noticing that as my fitness improves, the more spare time I have.

16:35 – If I made the train then now I’m getting off and walking to my parents’ house. This is the house I grew up in and I know the route like the back of my hand. I make it to their house and find my 2 happy kids waiting for me. They will have had a fun day with their grandparents; playing, going to the park and sometimes to the library. I have a 15 minute breather where I get loads of cuddles and hear what they have been doing. We then load ourselves into the car and drive home.

17:10 – hello traffic. I try to chat with Violet about what she’s been up to and our plan for the evening. I find that she is less likely to lose her rag if she knows what’s going to be happening, well doesn’t everyone?

17:30 – we are home! Pile out of the car. Usually Ezra is starting to get quite agitated. He is tired and he just wants cuddles. He is very attached to me at the moment and even finds not being in the same room as me quite alarming. I try my best to divide myself in 3 but my focus once we are through the door is to get dinner on. I’m getting better with my organisation and usually have something home cooked defrosted in the fridge.

17:50 – Normally Joe gets home by now and the kids are eating their dinner. Hopefully all is calm!

After dinner we try to get a little bit of play time in. Even 5 minutes to just sit and mess around. Violet usually has a dolly she needs to get to bed or a treasure map she needs to draw, and Ezra is either playing peekaboo in his tent or clambering over me!

18:10 – Kids are in the bath

18:30 – kids are clean, in their pj’s and we start the bedtime routine.

19:00 – we flop on the sofa and breathe a sigh of relief!

What a day. If every day was like this I’m not sure we would be able to keep it up! But needs must, we need the pennies.

Do you work? How do you juggle your days?

 

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My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

 

Last week Violet got to see her third theatre production this year when my mum treated us to tickets for The Tiger Who Came to Tea. I grew up seeing theatre productions fairly regularly.  From pantos at local theatres to small productions at oldie-worldy theatres in London to full scale musicals in the West End.  I didn’t always thank my mum for signing me up to watch all these productions however now that I look back I am really pleased I got such a wonderful opportunity.  In the summer I took Violet to see Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales at the Leicester Square Theatre.  Naturally it was really geared up for kids and the staff even handed out booster cushions for the younger ones to sit on.  The show ran through Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s stories of A Squash And A Squeeze, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant In Town and ofcourse Tiddler.  Violet really enjoyed the songs and imaginative story telling.  It was great that she knew these stories so well so she could follow the plot and know what to expect next.  Had she not have known these stories I suspect it could have been a little overwhelming for a just-turned 3 year old.  After the success of her first theatre outing we promptly booked tickets to the London production of The Gruffalo.  Joe took her and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  I gather that the costumes were more involved and the characters even came into the audience.

 

So when my mum suggested seeing The Tiger Who Came to Tea as an early Christmas treat I jumped at the chance. Violet and I made our way into central London on the train.
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We have a train game of playing eye-spy however we tend to use colours or other descriptions rather than letters.  Me and my little mate then made our way to Piccadilly Circus on the Underground which was a bit noisy much to Violet’s dismay!

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She then decided that her legs were tired so I got the sling out and she jumped up on my back.
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I keep wondering when I will have my last carry with Violet.  It’s funny that at 3 and a half years she still feels really comfortable on my back and we do have a real giggle nattering to each other.  I also love how she gives me a giant cuddle and tells me how much she loves being in the sling.
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We met my mum and went in to find our seats.  This theatre didn’t offer boosters to little ones so we loaded Violet’s seat with the sling and our coats so that she had a good view.  The Lyric Theatre is such a traditional and old venue.  The carvings and ceiling are really beautiful and brings about a sense of occasion and anticipation for the show.  There was a lovely atmosphere from all the kids, some of the girls were wearing beautiful dresses for the show.

 

The production lasted about an hour. I wondered how they were going to make a book which takes about 5 minutes to read into such a long and worthwhile production.  But they managed it.  The costumes were fantastic and really matched the distinctive drawings in the book.  The tiger was actually quite amazing, the way he moved and slinked around the stage was exactly how I hoped.  There was even some magic!  When the tiger ate anything then it seemed to disappear before our very eyes!  I feel like I should really have figured out how they did it but so far I’m still clueless!

 

The show was excellent and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it to any children aged 3-6 years.

 

We then decided to take a trip to Hamleys. I haven’t been since I was a child and wanted Violet to see what a magical toy store really looks like.
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We started off looking at the Christmas window displays.  They featured snowy scenes with cuddly toys that had the biggest eyes.  I’m not quite sure what they were called, but they were very cute!  Violet enjoyed pointing out Father Christmas and watching the toys moving.
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Once inside it was a bit manic!  There were hundreds and hundreds of people plus staff demoing toys.  We explored the ground floor and Violet loved cuddling all the animals.
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She found a display of dinosaurs and we talked about which one Ezra would like.  Violet has told Father Christmas that Ezra would like a dinosaur and a flower so I think it’s important that we listen!  Once Violet had moved on to look at the Pepper Pig section I told mum to sneak a Diplodocus into her shopping basket.  I hope Ezra loves his dinosaur teddy and I also hope Violet loves that Father Christmas really did listen to her suggestion!

 

We carried on exploring the different floors. Up near the dollies we came across a lady talking about glitter body stamps.  She did a demo of a glitter penguin on Violet’s hand.  Unsurprisingly Violet chose to have a pink penguin and the results were fantastic.
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Violet was SO happy with her special stamp and it lasted 4 days before wearing off.  She proudly showed the staff and her friends at pre-school and told me she wanted to go back to Hamleys to get another.
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We looked at the Sylvanian Families scene on display, played with a remote controlled car, popped loads of bubbles, tried on tiaras and had a go on a dance mat.  Violet loved it.  If our empty tummies hadn’t forced us to leave I’m sure we could have carried on exploring (and spending money!!!).

 

I had such a brilliant morning with Violet. She is leaving the trying tantrum phase behind her and maturing into a little girl who I love spending 1 to 1 time with.  We have fantastic conversations, play games and I love introducing her to new experiences.  It’s like I get to be a kid all over again.  But it’s better because I’m doing it with my lovely little girl.

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

 

Christmas started early for me this week with the wonderful annual Scandinavian Christmas street market on Albion Street in London.  This market has been going for about 10 years now and this year was the biggest yet.  Stalls selling Norwegian knitwear, Swedish seeded rye bread with scrumptious smoked salmon pate, Estonian warming fast food and of course cool Finnish design and our lovely Joulupukki (Father Christmas himself!)
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Rotherhithe in South London is a bit of a Nordic hub.  There’s the Swedish church on Lower Road, and the Norwegian and Finnish churches on Albion Street.  All churches are Seamen’s churches and where seafarers and immigrants during the late 19th Century from Scandinavia could congregate and maintain their unique Nordic identity.  I have been going to the Finnish Seamen’s Church since I was a baby – I was Christened there!  My mum then took me fortnightly to the Finnish Saturday School which was held at the church.  The lessons were very informal and although we did read and have homework it was more about chatting in Finnish, drawing, playing and have a few hours of being little Finns.  I did love it.
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I have been going to the Christmas Market at the church since I can remember.  As a teen I helped out in the kitchen peeling potatoes and prepping other veg.  One year I worked on the confectionary stall selling my favourite Fazer chocolate and delicious liquorice.  Nowadays I’m there to support the church and stock up on Finnish goodies.
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The church stocks all of the staples a Finn would need:

That really is a very limited list, there was so much more!
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We started off by going outside to the grill.  They were serving grilled sausages, mashed potato, reindeer, pea soup and a selection of soft and alcoholic drinks.  All were accompanied by delicious dark rye bread and lingonberry jam.  I had reindeer and mash (sorry Rudolph) and the children shared a sausage and mash.  We discovered that Ezra loves rye bread.  It’s nothing like bread as Brits know it. Finnish rye bread is dark, strong and fairly chewy.  I think it tastes best when lightly toasted with some melting margarine spread over the top.  Ezra took the whole piece and over the space of about 20 minutes devoured the lot!
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Next we went inside to the café upstairs.  We shared a Scandi smoked salmon open sandwich which is rye bread with lettuce, cucumber, smoked salmon and dill, a filter coffee and 2 cinnamon buns (‘korvapuusti’ which is a cinnamon and cardamom swirl bun).  Once we had eaten our fill we went back downstairs to shop.  The prices aren’t cheap.  Already expensive food is marked up due to the transportation and import costs and to raise money for the church.  We treated ourselves to:

  • Ruisleipä (rye bread)
  • Karjalanpiirakka (savoury rice pudding parcel)
  • Muumi toothpaste (Moomins!)
  • Felix Sinappikurkkusalaatti (pickle mustard salad)
  • Auran Sinappi – tulinen (strong mustard)

I could have filled my basket over and over again but this was enough for us.  We still have some supplies left over from our trip to Finland this summer.
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Whilst we were shopping we bumped into Muumipeikko (Moonintroll) and Pikku Myy (Litte My).  The Moomins were created by Swedish-speaking Finn Tove Jonsson.  She created the Moomin characters and wrote books which were published in the mid-late 1940s.  The stories are so typically Finnish with an absolute focus on family and the natural world.  Moomins are more popular than ever, both in Finland and the world over.  I tried to encourage Violet to agree to have a photo taken.  As interested as she was in the giant Moomin Troll wandering around the fair she did NOT want to pose for a photo.  So here’s me grinning with Muumipeikko with Violet’s face buried in my neck and you can just about see Ezra’s foot peeking out from my back!
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We left the church with our tummies full, our senses topped up with Finnishness and bags full of treats.  I am so proud of my Finnish heritage and hope that my children will one day also feel that stamp of unique Finnish identity in their hearts.

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