Entertaining a two year old with endless energy

Real Life

Toddler routine

If you have a toddler that literally runs headlong into life from 7am to 8pm you have to be prepared to run off A LOT of energy! Entertaining a two year old is easy in many respects, just get them out in all weathers, but challenging too, especially as they haven’t developed their listening skills and are adept at running off, hair-raising stuff!

Our local park and farm are godsends, she’s learned to monkey her way up ropes lately tackling some pretty challenging climbs in a way that’s so fearless I’m really impressed!

An average day now looks like this, makes me wish we had a PJ day occasionally but generally we like the routine!

7am – up and breakfast, bit of Sarah and Duck on Cbeebies

7:30am – we shower together

8am – we get ready to hit the park

8:10 – climbing frame and swings for half an hour then walk home

9am – play with toys at home

10am – snack whilst I wash up

11am – quiet time with books or head out to see friends/go to a group

12pm – lunch

12:30 – walk up to local shops home via Farm

1pm – Joss naps I work/blog/craft/study

3pm – I prep dinner whilst she plays

3:30 – park/library/go crazy running around

4pm – quiet play or reading whilst I cook, sometimes she ‘helps’

5pm/6pm – family meal, Cbeebies for 30 minutes, chat/listen to music

7pm – last trip to the climbing frame!

8pm – supper, night time nappy and bed

Crazy stuff seeing it written out but it makes for a tantrum-free, happy, healthy tot and by that extension a happy mama!

Blog Life

I really enjoyed crowd-sourcing this post with some fellow bloggers, it’s about visiting art galleries with kids and features the Daniel Buren exhibition at Baltic

catch as catch can buren baltic


This week I was really inspired by the parents I’ve been speaking to about the postnatal depression support group I’m getting off the ground, and also in some chats with fellow bloggers including Mums Day’s Hannah.

Life is really busy but in a good way!

I’m currently seeking inspiration for my next tattoo, this quote caught my eye so I drew up this little poster, haters gonna hate!

Nice girls get tattoos too

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Daniel Buren – The Function of The Studio? What about the Gallery?

This post is partly about a brilliant new exhibition, but also asks about Art Galleries as family spaces.

Daniel Buren at Baltic

‘Catch as catch can: works in situ’ by Daniel Buren is currently in installation at the Baltic in Gateshead, OK so we should have waited for the sunniest of sunny days to really see the light captured in this work but I was too excited after seeing the gallery front facade with its 20 diamonds on my way to work most days, even on a slightly dull Sunday it was like being in a kaleidoscope with mirrors and tinted windows there’s something sunny and joyful about standing on Level 4 bathed in coloured light.


Photo souvenir : Daniel Buren 20 Diamonds for the Façade: work in situ 2014 BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Transparent vinyl, white opaque (blue, green, red, yellow) Photo: John McKenzie. © DB-ADAGP Paris

catch as catch can buren baltic

As a self confessed numbers geek I really enjoyed reading more about Buren’s work, his 8.7cm wide signature stripe features in many of his works and pops up at Baltic in the form of a border around the mirrors on Level 4, in an interview with The Journal he said“that was the dimension of the first linen I used when I did printing. I had some left and kept it for other things but it has a rhythm to it, one white stripe and then a coloured one, and it has become a visual tool.”

catch as catch can buren baltic 3

catch as catch can buren baltic 2

Daniel Buren – The Function of The Studio?

Having written about the function of the studio in an essay in 1971 I was interested to learn that he is an artist without a studio, working instead in a range of spaces including galleries like the Baltic itself. Concerned with the idea that a work of art conceived in a studio is compromised as once moved to a gallery we are seeing it out of place I understood the nature of this work ‘in situ’ better, and seeing how he has worked with the architecture of the Baltic to design the facade and window gels I feel really lucky to live where we do and get to see so many innovative projects.

Family art gallery visits

I’m not an art expert and am nervous about speaking up about what I understand of and like about works, but I do love design and having the chance to immerse myself in new experiences is something I really enjoy.

I wondered whether all this would stop once Joss arrived, but actually I probably visit Baltic more now than I did before.

So what of the function of the gallery? The preserve of artists and academics? Of adults alone? Or a family space to be enjoyed by all?

With a play space on Level 2 and an education strand to their work programme Baltic welcomes children and families. I took the time to read some of the literature in the education space and thought about whether there had been exhibitions I would avoid with a toddler. There have been exhibitions that have been very open and accessible and probably too tempting for tots, but I would still have taken Joss in the sling and been respectful of the space, if she is too noisy or too boisterous then we would play in the kids area and try the exhibition another day.

catch as catch can buren baltic 6

Developing creativity in children

Something I really liked was this life cycle of creativity development in children, it really made me think about getting the most out of our visits and convinced me of their value in Joss’ development; however under confident I feel in my own ‘understanding’ of the pieces we see, that ‘knowledge building’ happens without my intervention

catch as catch can buren baltic 5

So are art galleries generally family spaces?

I was interested to know whether we are alone in trying to get out to see new exhibitions as often as we can with a tot in tow, and so I asked fellow bloggers how they feel about taking little ones into gallery spaces, I think we’ve concluded that it has to be the right kind of space and the right kind of exhibit, but that where possible interaction with art is to be welcomed:

  • Louise from My Gorgeous Boys (and they are really gorgeous!) said “I take my boys aged 5 and 7, and have taken them since they were babies, generally to family orientated events at galleries. Always been successful – they love it and I think it does provoke them to think about things that perhaps wouldn’t come under their radar in everyday life though sometimes I think it does go bit over their heads. Good fun though!”
  • Gillian blogs at A Baby on Board and shared a brilliant post about her visit to Tate Modern with her little girl, though she agreed “some art galleries are probably more suitable than others” she has taken Eliza into art spaces since she was really little
  • Vai from Rambling Through Parenthood is looking forward to taking her three year old on his first gallery visit; “we are taking our 3 year old son to the National Art Gallery this year. Will be his first time at one. He has loved museums, so I remain hopeful. We shall see. “
  • Anne from Raisie Bay also shared a post with me, about a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery seeing her children interacting with the work and drawing their own interpretations links to this top tip from her – “We love visiting the art gallery and generally take some art books and pencils so the kids can recreate some art” – a great idea to take materials with you so you can create as you go!
  • I love this post that Rachel from The Little Pip shared with me, Paul Klee’s work cropped up in my year 9 art classes at school and her description of Pip’s interactions really brought the pieces to life for me again, in a different way, I’m in full agreement with her that “it’s never too young to start thinking of different ways of expressing and also different ways of interpreting emotion / perspective”
  • Becky from The Mummy Adventure made me realise how lucky we are to have an interactive space just 30 minutes from home “I will take mine to a more interactive or hands on gallery but I do find that taking my nearly 18 month old and nearly 3 year old is like torture at the moment. We attempted it but they were not interested unless they could experience it and this gallery was not like that. Maybe they are just the wrong age?
  • And Faded Seaside Mama agreed “I’ve tried talking mine to a local one that is apparently uber family-friendly. The looks I got from staff when my two tried to ‘interact’ with the art has confirmed everything I ever thought about art galleries. We are not that sort of family it would seem. Beach it is then!

I agree, it has to be a welcoming space and appropriate for children too, that’s not to say that there shouldn’t be places and spaces that are not open to children, a friend of mine pointed out that some parents do have a sense of entitlement that all places should be family friendly but generally people are sensible; the art gallery world has responded to this demand with ‘family open days’ so families are increasingly being welcomed into these spaces and most people respect the spaces and the works.

We’ll continue in our Baltic visits being flexible about what we see and do when we are there!

Catch as catch can: works in situ, is at Baltic until October 12.

Eco-parenting: cloth bum birthdays and alternatives for new parents

Two things on my mind today, potty training Joss, and thinking about how new parents are introduced to eco alternatives.

Potty training is something we’re taking really slowly and it’s definitely easier now the nicer weather is here; we had a lovely day with the paddling pool out yesterday and she pootled in and out to use the potty and announced loudly all her movements, followed by “clever girl” and clapping herself!

I’d guess we’re not going to be using our cloth nappies for too much longer so what I’m about to share is lovely, but we won’t be indulging in more nappies anytime soon!

So, Happy First Birthday George! In honour of Prince George turning one Totsbots have released a super-duper new unlimited easyfit V4 print, Birthday! I don’t have one but I have seen one today, and it’s a beauty, here’s a sneak peek!

totsbots george birthday nappy

When I wrote this post about eco-parenting I guess it was aimed at folks who are already interested in the green and ethical route. It got me thinking about the information parents get in the early days and I suppose for most parents the Bounty Pack will have been one of their first experiences of marketing aimed at new parents. Given out at my first antenatal appointment I gratefully accepted my pack as a way to carry my hospital notes, by the time I got the forms for my last pack I didn’t collect it. The cynic in me finds the idea of this marketing route really interesting, especially as most mums I’ve spoken to have stories to tell about receiving theirs and a survey by Mumsnet last year of more than 1,000 mothers who gave birth since May 2012 found that over half – 56 per cent – thought that the Bounty rep invaded their privacy.

My own story is that I heard I wouldn’t be taking my baby home on the fourth day from the Bounty rep who said, “oh we’ll see you tomorrow as you’re staying another day or two” – it just felt like this person on the hospital wards had access to more information than I’d have liked.

Aside from my experiences, the contents of the Bounty Pack are highly commercial and in some ways a bit scary. As an anxious new parent all the antibacterial sprays, washes and stain removers fed my fears about cleanliness and most of the contents were highly chemical, stuff we just didn’t and don’t use.

This week I’ve reviewed a Mama Pack and I think it’s a brilliant alternative. A much nicer, less wasteful sample pack this is the pack I’d have liked to receive when Joss was born. I’ve seen some of the variations of these packs, priced at £1 (sometimes free with larger orders) and available from many cloth nappy or eco retailers they are a good introduction to eco and ethical alternatives and one I’d like to see rolled out locally including good quality local information for new parents.

The Mama Pack is a breath of fresh air in this respect, packed with goodies that get you thinking about green issues.

Mama pack

Water Wipes are a good crossover for parents who might be unsure about making the move to washable wipes but who want to avoid chemical nasties. They are a cotton wipe which contains 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract; I use these for long days out and they’re great for sensitive skin too.

Palmers is a brand I didn’t know as much about but I do like cocoa butter and they are a member of the World Cocoa Foundation so care about the origins and sustainability of their raw materials, I try to avoid parabens so it’s good to know this is paraben-free and is a nice treat alongside the Pregnacare cream for Mums and there’s a treat in here for new Dads too which is sweet!

Gin Gin sweeties were a godsend to me during pregnancy, both for morning sickness easing properties as the ginger kick is lovely, and later to pep me up when I was tired! A lovely addition to Mama Pack!

Caffeine free Tea Pigs are a real treat for mums, great if avoiding tea and coffee during pregnancy a good cuppa and feet up is definately a treat! I got green tea and berries which were really refreshing, good for those long night feeds, these are a really great quality tea and I was impressed to see them in here!

Pregnacare is a welcome addition too alongside Wellkid, it’s important to take care of yourself during pregnancy and as a busy working parent during pregnancy I found supplements gave me peace of mind. I’d also welcome more information on taking care of yourself in Mama Pack, great to see some health info in the form of this meningitis card but friends were asking whether there’s information on mental wellbeing in here for example, and that could be a great addition too

You can get yourself or a friend a Mama Pack (contents may vary) from Grow Up Green who kindly provided me with this Mama Pack sample – thanks Aggie! – (and you can also get yourself the lovely Totsbots Birthday print from Grow Up Green too!)

Make it Rust-oleum, upcycling jam jars!

Armed with a can of Rust-Oleum spraypaint and their rather lovely pink can of Painters Touch in Candy Pink I surveyed my collection of glass jars; hubby is convinced I only buy jam for the empty pots!

When I spotted these goodies in my bag from a recent blogging event I knew I’d try my skills on a mini project before trying a biggie, more on that later. Upcycling jam jars is becoming something of an obsession of mine!

I took a little kitten toy from a kinder egg and glued it to the lid of one jar, then sprayed with my can of gold paint.

I then tried swilling a little of the pink paint into one jar to give a lovely rosy glow.

The other I painted on the outside quite roughly to give a rustic look, then when it was dry I took a little wire brush to it to make it look old and chipped, I love the results and Joss is delighted with her little kitten jar that now holds her threading beads!

diy upcycled jars1

DIY Budget Wedding Anniversary Ideas

History Lesson!

You know that term, Hallmark Holiday meaning a commercially designed holiday or festival? Well the cynic in me doesn’t really ‘do’ them; but I am interested in marking our wedding anniversary (9th July dear readers!)

It got me wondering where anniversary celebrations originated from.

Anniversary Gifts

It seems the historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, husbands would crown their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty fifth anniversary and then with a gold wreath on the fiftieth.

Later in the twentieth century commercialism led to the addition of more anniversaries being represented by a named gift, I knew some of the traditional ones, but where do they come from? A spot of googling showed that the themes have expanded and adapted over time, diamond was always a well known symbol for the 75th anniversary, but this changed to the now more common 60th anniversary after Queen Vic’s 60 years on the throne was widely marked as her Diamond Jubilee.

In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association introduced an expanded list of gifts (I bet they did!). The revamped list gave a gift for each year up to the 25th, and then for every fifth anniversary after that

[Source: Wikipedia, natch]

DIY Budget Wedding Anniversary Ideas

I’ve created a Pinterest board with ideas for DIY budget wedding anniversary gifts, I’ve done this for the modern list, but I’ve presented the traditional too, if you’re an old soul!

Follow Thereandbackagainamotherstale’s board DIY Budget Wedding Anniversary Ideas on Pinterest.

And finally here’s my own latest make for our third wedding anniversary (glass), a terrarium, he loved it!

Glass terrarium


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Stop and smell the roses mumslist

Real Life and blog life

This weekend we are doing really very little after a bit of a nuts week at work, note to self, do not plan six meetings in one day, and if you do, make sure you eat at the blogger breakfast!

This week I went to my first proper event for bloggers, OPR’s #Ocademy, it was lovely to see some familiar faces and great to meet some folks whose blogs I’ve read for years like Jen Walshaw from Mum in the Madhouse – returning to work with a fabulous goodie bag of treats was a really welcome surprise!

And then the meetings, oh the meetings, s0 many meetings! Time to chill this weekend, to stop and smell the roses, or the coffee, or just drink the gorgeous whisky from my goodie bag, whatever your poison!

Stop and smell the roses

We’re starting with a walk to the Farm at the end of the street this morning, we’ve been enjoying an evening stroll there too, and last week popped down in time for some celebrations; a rather amazing local photographer KJ Ranson was down there too, and I really love this shot she took of Joss tucking into her farm sausage sarnie!

Joss 2


This week I’ve been inspired by Joss to start slowing down! She’s so excited by the prospect of these toms ripening that we’ve popped out to the yarden a hundred times a day to enjoy them, she’s already pretty good at stopping to smell the roses so I’m taking a leaf from her book and having a lazy weekend!

toddler gardening

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Toddler Resist Art with 3M Scotch Magic Tape

I’ve always liked painting with Joss, she really throws herself into it, literally sometimes! When I heard about toddler resist art it took me back to my own childhood, using crayons as the resistant material to make aztec prints in the paint.

I liked the idea of trying this with tape, and when 3M Scotch sent me their guide to having a go with a toddler we took a roll of 3M Scotch Magic Tape, some paints, a brush and a canvas or sturdy card and a bit of imagination and away we went!

Joss cracked on with this activity whilst I was cooking our evening meal, her having fun and learning to do it her own way was a really good test of her independent play skills and she really enjoyed it. The concentration on her little face was amazing and the results were so effective!

toddler resist art 2

I marked out a rough heart shape on sturdy card and masked it with the tape, then Joss set to work! At this stage she started covering the tape (that’s exactly what you do, cover the whole piece tape and all) and said she was painting a pig! I was surprised by her brush control and clearly our frequent arty sessions are paying off!

toddler resist art 1

Then the ‘finger painting’ began, in purple and yellow, lovely!

toddler resist art 3

When she finished she got to work on another piece and we set this aside to dry.

After 30 minutes I took a sponge and some water and gently sponged the tape clean to reveal the tape heart, magic!

toddler resist art

We now have a really special card for Grandma and Grandad and I have lots of ideas for other tape resist art projects, next up I’m going to mask out a little house!

Disclaimer: Thanks to 3M for providing the materials and ideas for this project, all views are my own

We Review Natural Sun Protection SPF30 Spray for Kids from Aubrey Organics

When I wrote this post about dressing a toddler for summer outdoors the sun’s harmful rays were in the forefront of my mind. Joss is often to be found outdoors, and her favourite activity is water play so I needed a sun protection that could offer an element of water-proofing too, the more natural the better.

toddler water sand play

Formulated for children’s more sensitive skin Natural Sun Protection SPF30 Spray for Kids from Aubrey Organics is an SPF 30 sunscreen offering full UVA/UVB ray protection in a convenient spray bottle for quick and easy applications. It’s water resistant for a full 40 minutes which is about the length of our water play sessions; paraben free and organic it meets my requirements and as it’s fragrance free I was happy to give it a go with our sensitive-skin toddler.

aubrey natural sun protection

I really liked the easy spray bottle and it added an element of fun for Joss, it had a pretty accurate spray for less mess! That it can be locked in transit with that little side button you can see under the spray cap means no spills so I was happy to keep it in the changing bag knowing it wouldn’t leak and it offered a really good coverage, a little harder to rub in than others we’ve tried but it meant I knew we were getting good coverage, it was perfect for her sensitive skin and wasn’t as ‘sticky’ as alternative brands.

Priced at £15.98 this is pretty close to the pricing of other brands that offer natural sun protection and I liked that they offer an SPF 45 coverage too as I’d want to use that level of protection should we holiday abroad; I’d recommend Aubrey as a great natural sun protection product for toddlers with sensitive skin

Disclaimer: We received this product to review, all views are my own

Lowdown on Liberty of London

When I get a bit of free time in the big smoke I love to head down to Liberty of London, hopping off at Oxford Circus into the buzz of the shopping streets is a total treat and on my most recent visit I took some snaps so that my lovely blog readers could see what the fuss is all about!

“Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.” Oscar Wilde

Since 1875, Liberty has been synonymous with luxury and great design. This wonderful emporium was designed by Edwin T. Hall and his son Edwin S. Hall who designed the Tudor building at the height of the 1920s fashion for Tudor revival. It’s said that founder Arthur Liberty wanted to create the feeling that you were walking around your own home when you came to his store, so each of the three main light wells was surrounded by smaller rooms to create a homely feel. Many of the rooms had fireplaces and some still exist today. It’s a sight to behold with it’s grand front entrance!

liberty of london front

The famous florist entrance is one of my favourite ever sights!

Image courtesy of Liberty of London Facebook

Image courtesy of Liberty of London Facebook

Liberty is a good old-fashioned department store with beauty and homewares aplenty but my heart lies in its haberdashery!

Liberty of London Haberdashery

Image courtesy of Liberty of London

The displays are enough to keep any crafty blogger interested, I never want to leave as there’s so much to look at, the fabric, the buttons, the displays, did I mention the fabric?

Liberty of London Haberdashery 2

Image courtesy of Liberty of London

Liberty of London Haberdashery 1

Image courtesy of Liberty of London

This time I came away with Betsy Tana Lawn fabrics and gorgeous old school hankies in vibrant prints, more on what I’m going to make with them over the coming weeks!

liberty collage

In the meantime check out this gorgeous Liberty print watches to get a feel for their classic style with a twist!

Image courtesy of Liberty of London Facebook

Image courtesy of Liberty of London Facebook

And these Liberty washi tapes found on Etsy, amazing!

liberty washi tape

Liberty washi tape as found on Etsy.com

Lazy crochet hooks

Real Life

Lately I’ve been too tired to pick up my hooks and this little granny square blanket was making me feel guilty, I couldn’t finish it, so instead I put down my lazy crochet hooks and turned it into a cushion cover, one work in progress down, two to go!


I used this method for afixing, from Knitting on Trains and it served me rather well, it seems I stopped crocheting at just the right time to fit my Ikea cushion inner!

Some new washi tapes arrived this week, so watch this space for more makes!


And finally Joss has been cracking us up with some hilarious phrases including

“it’s alright for some”

said randomly when we were talking about taking the bus to the beach! By the looks of it, it certainly is alright for some!


Blog life

Not much to report, I enjoyed writing a post about life as a no car family with kids and received my highest ever views for a single post after a kind soul tweeted it out and it got RT’d frequently over a few days much to my surprise and delight!



I absolutely love Wolves in London and was inspired by her posts on finding and printing vintage images, armed with a £1 transfer paper pack of two sheets and a printer I set to work and will be sharing the results next week, lets just say I’ll be trying this again and no fabric is safe from the printer and iron!!

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