Thursday, 25 January 2018

Natural Aromatherapy Playdough

When it comes to activities at home with my children, its always the simple, fuss-free and inexpensive types that always come up top trumps, whether thats garden activities, being indoors getting messy with crafts, using up old materials or finding ones around the house, baking simple things, or sometimes challenging our (my) baking skills, but usually you'll find them colouring in, writing stories, and asking for the homemade playdough.

Especially now I have two at school, and two at home when it's Phoenix's days off nursery, its something so easy and actually quite lovely to make for them both to play with. Whats even better is that Didi is slowly getting the 'no eating, just playing' thing so its more enjoyable all round (rather than the consumed playdough or spitting out and finding soggy bits to play with!) - That's one of my main motivators for making my own since having kids is that this recipe is non-toxic. Apart from the potency of the oils, I've used child friendly ones with minimal drops per ball of dough.

Reasons why we love it:

  • Its a great activity to encourage quiet or calm play.
  • Open-ended imagination, one minute they're baking cakes, the next they can be found making dinosaurs or people.
  • The perfect rainy day activity.
  • Fuss-free to make. (also lovely to include them on making the batches)
  • It's cost-effective!
  • Adding to the previous pointer, that we can easily make lots more to make sure there's enough to go around (four kids all love it here!)
  • Suits a range of childrens ages.
*I even made batches of rainbow playdough to go in party bags for one of the kids birthdays and it was so cheap to do, and they really loved taking a little game home!) We've been using essential oils in our family for a few years now, but since late last year we have been using Young Living and even more so around the children now. I've made lavender playdough before but I really wanted to incorporate a few more oils into them this time. As mentioned above, its a perfect activity for a moment of calm, or quiet play if another is napping or something so I wanted to use oils to reflect that sense of calm. The kids are familiar with these scents too now so they loved to have a whiff of them while kneading away and creating different things.

Recipe:

There are so many wonderful recipes for playdough, but simple and fuss-free spring to mind when wanting to whip something up super quick. We opted for an overall popular mix which is:
  • 2 cups of hot/warm water.
  • 2 cups of plain flour.
  • 1 cup of table salt.
  • 1tbsp Cream of tartar.
  • 2tbsp Olive oil.
  • Food colouring if you're wanting to add colour.
  • 4-5 Drops of essential oil (we use Young Living) - Check for child-friendly oils.
There may be a better and more elegant way of making this, but we've always just put the whole lot into a big mixing bowl, gradually adding the water. With this batch, I then separated into three balls to which I then added food colouring (to match each oil) and then the 4-5 drops of oils each.

Little extras:

  • Cutting shapes.
  • Childrens rolling pin (we have this set of four).
  • When storing essential oil playdough, be sure to use glass containers as this preserves the moisture of the dough and keeps the quality of the oils contained.

The oils we used:

Lemon - Great for creating a happy and uplifting atmosphere, packed with antioxidants and smells so fresh. I also use this in the all purpose spray around the home too for these exact reasons.

Gentle Baby - This fragrant blend is specially formulated for mothers and babies (and children). It helps calm emotions with its a comforting combination of oils, one that we use daily whether its through diffusing for bedtime, or calm moments and also lovely to incorporate into body products.

Lavender - Fresh, sweet and fragrant. The powerhouse of oils, calming, soothing, comforting and has so many benefits for adults and little ones. You will without a doubt find me spraying this around the bedrooms or on pillows at bedtime or in the diffusers!

You can read more about why we love using essential oils in an upcoming post.

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Monday, 18 December 2017

Simple wreath for the festive season.

Christmas is almost here, we've said hello and goodbye to the biggest amount of snow i've seen since January 2013, and the warm drinks under cosy blankets are plentiful round our house. Something I have really been enjoying more so this year is to add plants & nature to our home. Obviously they are lovely to look at and give a pop of colour into a room but also for the added benefits like purifying the air for example. For me though creating something from scratch is just so fulfilling, and to carry this on throughout the seasons and this month for the festive period is something I love to do!

I bought an artificial Christmas wreath years ago, and its been battered and falling apart so I'm so glad to have got rid and created a new tradition of creating my own. This year has been extra lovely with making one though as my two eldest daughters (7 & 5) asked to join in and create their own too. I love to show them that its the thought process that matters most when creating something, or gift giving. I loved watching as they were choosing what they wanted to use and look proud at their efforts, as was I.

I went to my local florist, and picks up these in preparation:
x1 bunch of long stem eucalyptus.
x1 bunch of cotoneaster.
x1 bunch of viburnum tinus.
x1 branch of pine.
x1 roll of wire.
x1 copper wreath hoop
and I also added a few slices of baked oranges.

Other tools needed: secateurs and some twine to hang where you wish. Ours is currently in the porch near the front door and the girls have combined their mini wreaths on a little hook in the hallway. There’s something so therapeutic about floristry that I love, and am definitely incorporating it more so in my everyday life with having more plants and flowers in the home. So this Christmas was a no brainer for making my own and it was also a lovely activity to do with my big girls. Showing them the art of making using your own hands, skills and imagination. And that Christmas isn’t about all the materialistic things, I mean gifts are lovely, but for us one of the most important parts of Christmas is time together. And this was just that - with the added bonus of lovely handmade wreaths.
So we’re now on the second week of poorly little ones, each taking turn to fall, so I may not get time to post anything else for 2017, so I will say a Merry Christmas, filled with joy, family time and peace. And here’s to a very happy new year and positivity for 2018. X
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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Let’s go for a walk.

So there’s many reasons my little space on the internet has been quiet this year, but I’ll go into that another day. For now though I wanted to share our Sunday with you....

The busy periods begin at this time of year right?

Especially with school invitations, family parties, after school activities back in full swing with the school term etc. Last weekend was so busy for us, four events in three days - we had fun but this weekend was all about chilling out, well as much as possible when you have four kids! So the week took a turn for the worst on Thursday when Halle got knocked over accidentally on the playground and ended up in A&E resulting in a 'buckle fracture' to her wrist. She was so brave though, really coped well but we knew it was more than a little bump. Definitely tough as old boots our little Hal. Saturday was a slow one, and yesterday we decided to get out for some fresh air, and have some family time together.

We headed to a local country park about ten minutes drive away from our house, somewhere we love to come for some exploring. The kids had their wellies, coats, and waterproofs for the big two (need to get smaller sizes for the little two!) and off we went. We let the kids take the lead, following their directions, they found it so cool that they had the say so to find the way to the natural sand/mud pit. Didi was loving it so much, walking proud in her mini wellies, the last time we came, she was wrapped up warm in the carrier, so this time we abandoned any of that so we could just walk, stomp and explore.

After the long walk, a short stop to get a family photo, more walking over mini streams, under branches and over logs, we finally made it to the sand area. Now our kids don’t do much by halves, so as some others were a bit more cautious in the mud on one side, ours completely let lose, sheer joy on their faces while stomping like crazy. It got to the point of no return with the amount of wet and mud which they were really loving, even Élodie! Her first proper experience of jumping in muddy puddles (just like one of her favourite little toys, peppa!) in those cute little wellies. She went face first twice, but that just added to the giggles!
Yves, Halle & Phoenix were in their element, Halle was still having so much fun despite the wrist injury, Yves was completely bonkers with her high jumping, and Phoenix was finding lots of sticks, jumping in ninja style and laughing at how Didi had a muddy face!

As we didn’t have waterproofs for the younger two, we decided to take the walk back to the car, the girls were dry enough under the waterproofs but the little two had to be stripped from the waist down and got wrapped in daddy’s coat and on the shoulders for Phoenix!

We had a couple of moments of “my legs are tired” but once we got back to the car, offloaded all the mud soaked clothing and water filled wellies- they were all saying what a lovely time they had.

We ended up spending an hour or so there, then get ready to head back home for the rest of the afternoon, prep for the school week ahead, and just take it easy.

This type of family time is one of our favourites, an idea with no strict plans to stick to, its free, its simple and it’s getting us outside together creating memories.

That evening they were so wiped out but were still talking about how great it was, is included. Despite skipping her nap, walking a hell of a way, Little Didi stayed awake. That was until she crashed out sitting up at 4:15pm. Danger nap! We let her have 20-30mins before our roast dinner then woke her up gently, all tucked into our food then thankfully bedtime was straight forward!

Simple days together are the best kind.

What simple things do you like to do together as a family? 
Mama & her tribe 🌿 We know we all have hard moments, days, even weeks in this parenting journey. But goodness me don’t our children teach us so much about life? And ourselves? They really are my pride and joy and they make me find the good in any situation. If only the way we think in childhood stayed with us a little longer whilst growing up.
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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Kit & Kin

This place has been a little quiet over the summer, I have been cherishing time with my tribe (and obviously being super busy), Its also given me a chance to switch off, and reflect on the direction I want to take my blog - more on that very soon but for now I wanted to share a little post about a brand I have been introduced to this year and even though I am still pretty keen on a couple of brands in the same field, this one caught my eye in particular as its a the same time I have been researching a lot into the products I use for my baby/children. I've been doing this for more reasons than one but more so because our Didi has had a year of severe topical eczema (with added staph infections) which has now thankfully 90% healed - with the up keep of the right management of steroid creams (last resort), natural remedies etc.

Anyway...
Let me introduce Kit & Kin, created by Christopher Money, 15 years of experience in the mother & baby products industry, and with no introduction needed really, Mrs Emma Bunton.  (Did I mention I had the full Spice Girls tracksuit & bag for my 11th birthday?).

The things that stood out to me from this company was the personal experiences behind the brand, the fact Emma says her son suffered with eczema too and that she found herself trying to find better suited products for her family just like the journey i've found myself on.

The brand commitments include:
  • Only using natural, nourishing, ECO friendly ingredients, not to mention all being clinically & dermatologically tested to ensure they are well suited to all babies and children.
  • Another great factor is that their nappies including packaging will biodegrade in 3-6 years. This sounds amazing in comparison to other brands of nappies that take up to 500 years!
So as their website states their ethos is pretty clear - Kit & Kin, protecting your world, naturally.
Here are my thoughts on the package we were very kindly sent for the purpose of an honest review.

Eco nappies -  we received were in the size 4, that also come with delightful little designs on the bottom. They hold the wet very well and also feel soft enough against her skin. Sometimes you'll find that some nappies can have a bit of a smell to them, or leave rubbing marks but these worked just fine for us. They're also ECO friendly which is always a comfort in mind.

Biodegradable nappy bags - These lasted well, a nice Kit & Kit print on the bags and come in a compact box with a pop out section easy enough to fit into your bag. We had a few dotted about in the bedroom basket, car, my bag and downstairs for whenever we needed. Again, with the fact that they're biodegradable, its that peace of mind that they will be wasting away much quicker than others sat in landfill for years & years.

For Baby - We were also sent the bath & body wash, bubble bath, body oil. All of which have been super sensitive for my tribe, especially my little Didi. I was so reluctant trying another product, but as this was aimed at sensitive and eczema prone skin I just hoped it didn't hinder her and to be honest its been lovely. Frangrance free and simple but sweet packaging.

For Mum - and finally, for myself I was sent the stretch mark oil and breast balm. These both came in handy as sore nipples will always happen when breastfeeding! I've had four lots of experience of that! ...and i'm still using the stretch mark oil as an all over nourishing moisturising serum. I'm not going to say its a miracle oil to rid of any blemishes but its definitely nice enough to let soak into your skin, I also really like the spray bottle application top, so much better than just a bottle!The kit was also given to me in this rather handy shopper bag, result!After bath time & before bedtime, aren't these designs adorable? So as I mentioned before, I'm really skeptical about trying these kinds of products, especially as Didi has had such big problems with skin sensitivity. These nappies are really great though. especially at such a complex time for her!I think these are wonderful products on the market, especially for little ones with sensitive skin. I learned quickly that I was trusting these products to use on my children but more in particularly my littlest one who's skin is very much in a phase of healing. I've enjoyed testing this brand out and am happy to say high praises about them. You can find them online at www.kitandkin.co.uk
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Friday, 21 July 2017

Hello summer holidays.

And so, at 1:30pm today our Summer holidays of 2017 begin.

Sports day complete, book bags filled with all their class work (plus lots pf paper cuttings), uniforms looking worn out, the last few mornings of rushing out the door having forgotten something 90% of the time done - with hairstyles being anything that takes 15.5seconds to do. It's time for waving goodbye to foundation class for Halle and Year one for Yvie-Mae. Such a bittersweet part of the year, they've all been a bit out of sorts at times, overwhelmed with tiredness, excitement bundled into one. Me included! I'm looking forward to spending the six weeks just having the option if I want to be getting out the door before 8:25am.
This summer is also going to be the time that my little sister has her first baby, exciting!

Change is for Phoenix too as he will also be doing longer hours for a few days a week come September. I'm going to miss him so much on his nursery days, what's an even more heartbreaking thought is that he needs the longer hours (15 per week) to spend the school year getting ready for his start at school come September 2018 - Goodness me, the change is just so constant that I find it hard to comprehend a lot of the time.
We haven't booked any holiday for the summer yet but I am hoping to take a relaxed approach as Ty will still be working. I'm making a pledge to get outside at least once a day though, even if it is one of those pj's in the garden type of thing - fresh air does wonder for the soul (children and adults!). I'm hoping to share a little more about what we're going to get up to over the summer so i'll write more about it then, one thing is for certain, and that is that i'm going to try my best to enjoy the simple, wake up everyday with a grateful heart, savour deep breaths in those mad moments of squabbles or tantrums, and just remember that I need to try and make the best of each situation - for my own sanity anyway!

If there is anything I have learnt in my motherhood journey in the last (almost) seven years and having four little ones close in small ages is that when it comes to being together or doing things - less always feel like more.

Of course, having big adventures planned can be awesome, amazing in fact but having the thought that you 'have' to be going somewhere all the time just sends the wrong message and also ends up just being a bit much. We happen to have just as much fun doing the simple things too and that i'm going to hold onto. So with that in mind... I wanted to share some words that I hope sum up this summer coming towards us...after all, we can rewind time now can we?
Carefree, Simple, fun, genuine and joyful.
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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Our four in July 2017

We are now one week away from breaking up for the summer holidays and I think it's come around just in time. The past month I've seen the relationships between our four develop so much, anything from being extra snugly, bickering over absolutely anything, caring for one another, telling on each other and just a complete variety that comes with having four little children, especially so close in age.
The bigger girls have been up & down, being the best of friends one minute, and the next having a row over belongings etc. I think the 'end-of-term-it-is' has well and truly kicked in, they're both so worn out from school, overwhelmed and I think it just gets a big much some days, not everyday but this week has been challenging.

The little two have been blossoming so much, Didi is loving the attention she gets from her siblings, (not the picking up sometimes as it restricts her from getting up to no good! ;) ) but more so as its her & Phoenix during the week, they play together so nicely most of the time or they just do their own thing. The favourite thing recently is the sand table in the garden where you'll mostly find them being a double act tipping son each other while finding it hilarious, making castles, or usually Didi will be standing up on the table in the sand - testing my heart rate of course! They remind me so much of what it was like to have the big girls these ages, and again with Halle being three and Phoenix being the baby.

As Phoenix has now been doing two mornings at nursery per week, he lets me know if he gets to see either of the girls at the gate which is a little novelty, that paired with if we get "our parking space" at the school where he can watch them play and talk to them at the fence on the afternoon play!

On the whole, I am looking forward to them spending time together without the rushed element of life that school routines bring. With having all five of us at home, their Daddy will still be working it's obviously not going to be sunshine and roses everyday but we are going to try our best to embrace it all.

These summer holidays come around so quickly, and I read something quite bittersweet recently, that 'we only get 18 summers of their childhood' - now when you think about it like that, as much as motherhood can bring challenging times, i'm going to try my hardest to keep this at the back of my mind. 
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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Favourite things lately.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the direction of my little blog, and something I want to document more is about me and my interests. I find its also a nice way to remember some positives in those moments when things feel a bit stressful and a little less positive. So this is just a little post about some of my favourite things lately.

Fresh:

Anyone else love hanging out fresh & clean washing? I find it so calming and especially on the days that you know it's going to be perfect drying weather. It also makes me a little emotional seeing the little clothing hanging up that they seem to be outgrowing so rapidly. (just to make it realistic - our washing baskets are never empty and sometimes drive me bonkers!)

Getting outdoors:

Visiting our local PYO farm for the first time this season, Strawberry picking is just such a lovely activity (with kids) but also nice to just have a walk around, watch as the kids run free and to just breathe, take it all in, and scoff lots of them on the way round - you can't tell me you don't do this, you can't exactly help it with four kids in tow! In Elodie's case, she was trying before she bought them, that along with the mud. We also recently walked a fair while into the city centre and had such a fun family time including coming across a nature festival (more on this soon!)

Green & floral:

I have such a huge love for plants and flowers and definitely bringing them in the home. Something that is so lovely and joyful is to bring in something you've grown yourself in your garden or recently, Halle brought home a few plants she has been growing at school. Broad beans, and a sunflower, she's been keeping a close eye, we've been watering and they look fab so far! I just love the pops of green and various other colours everywhere, not to mention the different scents. I am also very guilty of buying a bunch of flowers or a new plant at nearly every supermarket or florist, I have this thing about buying the reduced ones too, reviving them and adding them to our back garden to watch them turn into something beautiful! I do really love to visit our local farmers markets too but as mentioned above, nothing beats home grown and we've recently got a water butt too which helps with the watering process (when the kiddies are using it all up!) Also purchased my very first bunch of peonies from Aldi of all places :)

Comfort & style for Mama:

So after a few months of umming and arring about whether or not I should invest in some Birkenstocks, I finally made the choice, the right choice! Goodness me aren't they comfortable? I have always had ones from Next, and Schuh (which both served me well, the schuh ones broke last week and they were probably 8 years old!) But I have seen that these have had great reviews, and I'm hoping they stand the test of time and last even longer than my other ones. I still love the other brands, just wanted to try these out as since having kids I like to wear shoes (sandals whenever possible) with lots of comfort even more so! (anyone else get 'fallen arches' in pregnancy and took ages to heal?) So anyway, I've been loving these *and wearing them almost everyday!*

Making:

Something I've been making for a few months (ongoing projects) is travel films for my Dad. He went to Los Angeles/Grand Canyon/Hollywood to name a few, that film is completed and the one I'm working on now is his trip to Thailand. It takes me ages what with so little spare time but its so interesting to see the world through his eyes for now and he does crack me up with his guts with talking to the camera and his quirky jokes!

What have you been finding joyful lately?

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