Studying three years on

I was sorting through some uni paperwork when I came across my OU application and realised I’ve been studying part time for three years now. In a sense it’s gone over in a flash, but in that time I got engaged, married, became pregnant and now have an 18 month old. It’s very different studying and living the life of a ‘grown up’. In the Library this week I overheard chatter from two students, they were committing to going back home to have a nap before a big night out, and I was planning dinner, an activity for Joss before bed, what I needed to buy for next days dinner, whether I needed to get a nappy wash on…

I remembered my uni days, I took my studies very seriously. maybe even more than I do now, and back then I was grateful the library was open 24/7, if anything my approach is more relaxed this time around, and yet I have less time but am more productive – an effect of motherhood, or just less time to procrastinate?!

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I’m in the last four months of my course now, and starting to think about two things, 1) what I’ll do with my free time when no longer studying, and 2) what I’ll spend my money on without £150 in course fees going out each month! My work life is entering into a new and exciting period, I have been accepted on a placement learning the craft of research and campaigning, my dream job and I cannot believe my luck, nine months to continue learning, so I suppose I won’t have to face leaving a structured learning environment for a while yet! I’m not sure that I’m ready to leave academic pursuits behind, but I am certainly ready to pick up some lighter reading, and have a shorter to-do list for a while!

Amazing achievements in Autumn

I am so delighted by Joss’ walking, there’s nothing like walking hand in hand feeling her little fingers stroke the palm of my hand…until she tries to wriggle free and run away!

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I blogged about our Autumn box recently, it’s been lovely to play with, the pinecones are a big hit so I think we’ll gather more to explore and then maybe do a spot of painting and glittering for a Christmas activity. I’ve loved hearing her talk about the trees and the ‘leafs’ this week, a free, fun activity for an inquisitive tot and a reason to get out in the fresh air to gather more stocks as the leaves get crumpled and break apart!

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This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 November challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Whinfell Forest

Messy play, what’s stopping you?

What if you have a toddler and understand why messy play is important, but you can’t stand mess and different textures yourself?

This is sort of my dilemma, I say sort of as I feel the fear but do it anyway, and in the course of the last few months I’ve developed a few ideas for lessening the mess that some of my readers might find helpful.

1) Do it somewhere else

I’ve blogged about supporting our local Children’s Centres, many offer opportunities for messy play, I’ve learned a lot about development through them and Joss has had great messy fun! In the early days before I discovered Pinterest I thought messy play was just painting, but we did food play, shaving foam art, fake snow etc and it exposed me to mess away from my own home, a great intro to messy play!

2) Proper preparation prevents a poor performance

I find that if I plan a messy session properly it reduces my anxieties about mess. This means having a bath run ready for Jossy if we’re paining, having flannels at hand and plenty of plastic sheets for the floors, I have some that I cut and edged so theory can go in the wash after a rough wipe down.

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3) Try messy without the ‘wet’ textures

Why not try something that explores other textures? One we like is putting down a piece of sticky back plastic sticky side up and taping to the table, then we use glitter, paper strips and newspaper cuttings to make a mess free picture whilst using pens and crayons for mark making too

4) Keep fuss to a minimum

I don’t really enjoy having sticky or wet hands but having Joss has exposed me to this more, so where possible I get involved and try to think about her learning and see it as an opportunity to re-learn to enjoy textures myself.

5) Contain mess for short bursts of activities

If Joss is bored I use the highchair as a good base for some ‘fruit painting’ with mashed berries and chunky fruits, she gets messy, enjoys a snack and draws on the tray with her snacks. Its also a good place for small activities like play dough etc.

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What’s the story?

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I was just about to write, in my youth, but I’m 29 years old so scratch that…In my party-going days Mr B and I would go to the odd Rockabilly/burlesque night, and I loved getting dressed and spending hours on my makeup. I just don’t have the time for all that now, but as I dug out my old facepaints to create this five minute candy skull inspired face I remembered the last time I used them must have been Halloween 2010, we had a great night out and so I looked over some old photos for a reminisce. Joss is 18m old this week, we were supposed to go on our first night out at the weekend, but I chickened out. I couldn’t imagine tucking her up for the night and then getting dolled up for a night on the tiles knowing she might wake and I wouldn’t be there. Oh well, I’ll build myself up to it when we’re both ready, but it was nice to look back on younger days and remember…

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A first foray into slow cooking

Anything that saves me time and prevents dinner time meltdowns is a good thing in my book! This week’s meal planning is being designed around my new kitchen helper, a slooooow cooker. I picked up this beauty fairly cheaply after parents on a budget meals Facebook group raved about pulled pork, stews and slow cooked chicken thighs.
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I started today with a huge portion of bolognese sauce with two cans of cannellini beans added to bulk it out for three meals.

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I’m not great at knowing which cuts of meat are cheapest so I’ll be taking a trip to the butchers to gen up on this, but any advice is greatly appreciated!

So here’s how the week ahead is shaping up:

Monday: Bolognese and pasta with brocolli

Tuesday: Sausage casserole in the slow cooker, sprouts are sure to feature as Jossy seems to enjoy them!

Wednesday: Bolognese and jacket pots

Thursday: Work day, not brave enough to leave the slow cooker on all day so a quick n easy but loved beans on toast with sausages

Friday: Falafels in wraps with veggies

Saturday: Homemade pizza

Sunday: Chicken thighs in slow cooker

Psychologies Magazine Review

I was delighted to have been sent a copy of Psychologies as a regular reader and blogger interested in the new design. I am a Sociology student with an interest in the psyche and this is a mag I’ve always liked to dip into, great ideas, brilliant interviews and they always have some good suggestions for reading appropriate to how we might be feeling at different times in our lives.

I settled down with a cuppa over a couple of evenings and still have plenty left to go back and mull over!

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I really liked the new features; sometimes when a loved magazine has a refresh it loses focus but not so with Psychologies. The focus this month is on making small changes that stick, for a happier or more fulfilled life. When I was having a rough patch last year I took a course of CBT and learned two key things:

1) That in order to change something we sometimes have to expose ourselves to uncomfortable situations, even just in short bursts

2) It takes time for a change to become a new way of life.

The new mag recognises both of these things, there are some brilliant short experiments to try, which give the opportunity for such exposure, and my favourite piece from the December edition, on making a change for life was full of great advice, did you know it takes an average of 66 days to make a new habit a way of living? Of course this means there will be ups and downs on the way, days when we feel we’ve ‘failed’ at the change or it’s not happening quickly enough, this edition responded to these concerns thoroughly and with the supportive tone that I’ve come to expect from Psychologies.

 

There are still the old favourite features, for example I always like to see a spot of beauty, health and homemaking amongst the learning and development features, and some familiar faces, like Sally Brampton, who writes with wit and an eye for spotting gems in the everyday mundane.

I love the new look and I think a subscription is likely to appear on my list for Santa!

Psychologies are offering a trial ‘3 issues for £3’ of the magazine which is available until the end of December, you can find out more here

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Magazine for review, all views are my own, the terms and conditions of the offer presented are available on the Psychologies web page and are not affiliated with www.headphonescheaponlinestoresale.com

First Words Taxedo / Tagxedo Tutorial

I had some positive comments on my post about Joss’ first words and some readers were interested in how I created this little picture showing her new words. I used a website called Taxedo / Tagxedo and thought I’d do a little tutorial so that you can do the same! It’s at www.tagxedo.com

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You can either point Tagxedo to a website, your blog perhaps, and have a tag cloud created out of common words on the site, or write a string of words as I did.

You may need to install Tagxedo first:

1 First Words Taxedo Tutorial

Click on Load on the left and type your text in the box:

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Click save and share to save your design and upload to your blog as you would any photograph, and remember that you cannot use Tagxedo for commercial purposes! Oh and it’s quite addictive!

Crafts on Sea

Happy Halloween and why Cloth isn’t Scary

Last year Joss was dressed as a sweet little frog

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This year’s effort was a bit hurried but we had great fun at the Farm at the end of the street, a dino or two showed up and Joss was delighted by a chance to try her first pair of wellies too!

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I had a guest post published on the Great British Nappy Hunt blog this week, on why Cloth Isn’t Scary, and so here’s our competition entry for the GBNH competition:

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