Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Family Walk Fail

Ah, the holidays.  Plenty of family time to be had, and time to use that National Trust membership that we took out in January and haven't bothered with since.

So last week with DH on a few days leave from work we decided to do just that.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the National Trust and the places around here are particularly picturesque and provide a really good distraction for a few hours here and there.  We are very very lucky to have them.

Except, there never has yet been a visit without someone moaning about something.

You know the kind of scenario I'm talking about, don't you?  The kind where everyone else is having a really great time, bar one child who is moaning and grumbling.  ALL. THE. TIME.

To be quite honest, with five children I'm so used to this now that my hearing has become a little selective.

This is not always a good thing, as I realised when I snapped this picture of Twin Boy half way round Hare Hill near Alderley Edge, where we had mostly been having a lovely walk (apart from his whinging).

The poor child.  I should have never let him put his wellies on by himself.  No wonder he was finding walking a bit tricky...


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

How to #HartleysYourLunchbox

I don't know about you, but for me one of the nicest things about the school holidays is not having to think about making packed lunches for a few weeks.

Having been the family packed lunch maker for the past 11 years, it's all started to get a bit tedious of late, I mean, how many cheese and ham sandwiches can one mum make before she goes totally and utterly insane?

So, as Britmums has teamed up with Hartley's for the #HartleysYourLunchbox Challenge, I decided to get my thinking cap on and share my tips for making back to school lunchboxes* for this coming term.

As I was taking part in the challenge, Hartley's very kindly sent us over a nice new lunchbox complete with stickers, and some samples of their No Added Sugar Jelly Pots to try to make the task a bit easier for me.

Hartley's are also offering consumers a chance to claim their own lunchbox and sticker set by collecting 12 special edition green lids from pots of No Added Sugar Jelly (115g).  Once all 12 have been collected all you have to do is head to their website to claim.  They are such cute lunchboxes and very reminiscent of the one I had when I started school (so retro, not old) and would make the perfect first school lunchbox.

Twin girl set to work with the stickers and lunchbox straight away and did a stirling job personalising the box ready to take to school.

The twins are currently entitled to free school meals still as they are only in Year 2 this year, but having had them for the past two years now they are really looking forward to a packed lunch or two, so I have decided this year that I'll let them take an occasional one every now and again.

This will mean making 5 packed lunches some mornings and so my tips for lunchbox making largely revolve around speed and ease of putting them all together, while trying to keep a healthy balance.

Wraps are much easier to make than sandwiches I find.  Not only can I put their favourite ham/cheese fillings inside but I can sneak a bit of salad in too and then wrap it up so that nobody really notices it - good for fussy children who rarely eat veg.

For the non sandwich eaters I include a tub of crackers/breadsticks and houmous and some carrot and cucumber for dipping.

I always include one portion of fruit in the kids' lunch.  Bananas and apples are easy, but for the children who won't eat those I do wedges of melon (you can slice, wrap and store in the fridge overnight), grapes, or if there is nothing fresh in the house, my cupboard standby of raisin boxes.

I allow one sweet thing in their lunches every day. This can be a prepacked biscuit or cereal bar, a piece of homemade cake/flapjack or a yogurt.  I do worry about the sugar content, which is why I was so pleased that the kids gave the Hartleys No Added Sugar Jelly Pots a big thumbs up when they tried them.  Those are now going on my shopping list for September too!

Lastly, I try to include something savoury.  This could sometimes be crisps or even a small bag of cheese crackers.  These often get eaten at break time when they are running around outside, so it has to be something that is pre-packed which limits my choices somewhat.

Aside from that, they all have a refillable water bottle which they can fill up at school during the day if they need more.

That's it really.  Easy for those of us that are too exhausted and sleep deprived busy in the mornings for anything more complicated, and a bit more exciting than cheese on sliced white bread!

This post is an entry for Britmums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge sponsored by Hartley's Jelly 

* my teenagers would like me to note that they in no way shape or form have a lunchbox of any kind, because that is not dank/on fleek/swag or whatever.  The lunch just goes in your schoolbag OK? (but they are quite partial to jelly also)

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Teenager In Training

It's been ages since I last joined in with #WickedWednesdays over with Brummy Mummy of 2.  The holidays seem to be going, not quite at a rate of knots, but it is going quite swiftly I suppose, or maybe I'm finally immune to the 6 weeks of kids droning on about how bored they are every five minutes.

Anyway, a few things have been happening in the past month chez Sounding Like My Mother.  In particular boy number two celebrated his 11th birthday and left Primary School all in the space of a couple of weeks! We marked the occasion by giving him his very own smartphone to which he has been glued pretty much ever since.

With it now being the holidays he has also been disappearing out for hours at a time with various school friends which is a bit of a new thing.  Always accompanied by "I'm going out now mum, I've got my phone!". It's all good.

Especially when he texts me to let me know that he's on his way home.  At least, that's what I think he was saying here...

Damn you autocorrect!  Something tells me he needs a little more practise with that phone!


Monday, 8 August 2016

Negative Nora

Have you met Negative Nora?  She's a new friend, who comes out with me when I go running.  Which would be fine, except she doesn't like running much, or rather, she doesn't like me running very much.

Every time I set out just lately she appears with absolutely no warning.  "You can't do this" she shouts.  "You are exhausted, stop!".

Nora makes me wonder why I run.  Why do I bother, when I know I'm not really getting any better at it?

She is also really good at interpreting my parkrun times. "What do you think you are doing here?  See all these people, they have club vests.  They are proper runners.  Not like you.  You can't run fast, just look at your time from last week.  You can't run well.  This is why you are injured.  Maybe you should walk it today instead?  Oh, and start at the back where you belong."

I think she may have a point.  So, every week I position myself somewhere near the back.

Nora doesn't just appear when I run.  Sometimes she visits me at home.  Like a good friend popping in for a cuppa.

"Oh, haven't you done any housework this week?  That's a big pile of laundry, why haven't you ironed it?  What about your children, it's the holidays, shouldn't you be taking them out somewhere?"

Nora likes Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.  She likes all the people there with beautiful homes, people who take their children on fabulous holidays and people who are actually good at their hobbies.

Nora says I'm very selfish for ignoring all my real responsibilities.  I'm also a terrible wife for leaving my family to it while I enjoy my increasingly long training runs.  She says that my husband will be in a bad mood with me if I don't get home quickly, and all my children will remember this for the rest of their lives as the time mum cared more about a 13.1 mile race than she did about them.

Nora makes me feel very guilty indeed.  But what if she's right?

Then, this weekend, something changed in me.  At parkrun I got chatting to a couple of other parkrunners before the start.  One was wearing a club vest and his PB was similar to mine.  We both decided to run with the 31 minute pacer (although Nora mentioned that it would be OK if I just stayed a few places behind, like last time, because I couldn't catch up).

So that's what I did.  All the time not quite catching up.  It was a hot day and I found the run hard.  Nora said I should probably aim for a 32 minute run.  Take it easy.  "You don't want to hurt your foot again do you?"  But, my foot felt fine.  Actually better than fine.  So much so that at the final turn for the finish I could see the 31 minute pacer.  Nora was shouting at me "No! Stay behind the pacer, she is a proper club runner, not a pretends one like you".  "But I've worked hard to get this close," I said, "I can do this!"

So instead of tucking in behind someone with a slower pace like I usually do, I ran past them.  I ran past them all and then...

I sprinted past the pacer.  Me!  Nora had given up.  She couldn't keep up with me.

Afterwards, when Nora had regained her power of speech, she said I should probably go straight home. Before my family missed me.  So off I went.

At home, the teenagers had only just woken up.  The teen girl gave me a (very random) high five and asked me how I'd got on.  DH was mowing the lawn and minding his own business.  Actually, come to think of it, nobody had died and they all seemed pretty happy although there was still a big pile of laundry in the corner of the bedroom. Twin girl asked me when I was going to get her some new trainers "so I can go running with you mum". Then my mum sent me a text, telling me how proud she was of me (more random, but nice all the same).

It was at this moment that I realised what an idiot I had been by listening to Nora.  Nora, who is no more than a voice in my head.  Telling me how I think I ought to behave.

The thing is this has nothing particularly to do with running, I reckon we all have a Negative Nora in our heads from time to time.

It's really easy to get sucked in to what we see on social media, how we think our houses, families and lives should be.  But, life really isn't like that, is it?

Comparison is the thief of joy.  It really is.

And as for Nora?  Well, I suppose this won't be the last I hear from her, it's normal to doubt yourself from time to time (and she's great at school gate mummy guilt as it goes), but I'm glad we've had words.  It's cleared the air.

My post parkrun breakfast, not Nora's.
Probably not Pinterest-worthy but it tasted nice.

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