Thursday, 26 February 2015

Parent's evening in year one

We spent a lovely 10 minutes at our son's school the other day.  He has two teachers who job share, and our parents' evening meeting was with both of them.

We are lucky that he goes to an Ofsted rated outstanding school.  Ofsted ratings aren't everything I know, but in this case it really is well deserved.  The school works so very hard to build a community and extend the confidence and learning of all its pupils, regardless of ability.

The teachers gave some lovely feedback on our son.  In class he is polite, helpful and listens really well.  He's doing well with his reading, writing and maths and loves PE and sport.

I forgot to ask about his friendships, which we think are just as important as his academic progress, but at home he talks about lots of his class mates and gets invited to lots of parties, so we're not worried in any way.

After six years hard work, it's really rewarding to hear he's doing well and is a liked and trusted pupil.  We were both so proud, and he received a very well deserved Hot Wheels toy car when we got home.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On being two

Imagine being two years old...

  • Old enough to understand when Mum says no, but not know why
  • Big enough to know you need to get dressed, but with no choice on what to wear
  • Enough experience to know the toy needs balls, but not know how to look for them
  • The dexterity to 'finish off' brushing teeth, but not enough to brush them completely
  • Old enough to know you want cuddling to sleep, but not realise that Mum has things to do
  • Able to feed yourself, but have no choice about your meal
  • Enough language to say 'help me' but not enough to explain the help you need
  • The ability to communicate when you're unhappy, but only in kicks, screams and cries.

All this = massive frustration!

Welcome to the world of our toddler girl at the moment.  Do you recognise any of these?

Monday, 23 February 2015

Family life is...

Saving loads of clothes under the spare bed for a younger sibling, and not being able to part with one or two extra special things with memories attached.

Is it just me?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Approaching #WotW

The dictionary definition of approaching is 'to come nearer to, draw near'.  As ever with my word of the week, this has a few meanings for me over the last seven days.

We're approaching my birthday.  It's not a big one this year, but we're definitely approaching that milestone!

Our son's approaching the end of his half term holiday and getting back to school.  He's really appreciated the break, but will be glad to get back to school next week.

I'm starting to approach some sort of healthy eating plan... I hold no store by thinness, but am getting tired of my wardrobe all being tight!

And finally, toddler girl is approaching two.  It's a lovely age, but I can see now we're also approaching tantrums, stubborn behaviour and 'I'll do it, I'll do it'.  I'm not tackling any of it yet, all the toddler defiance just makes me smile at the moment.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Chicco Baby Senses Line toys and giveaway

Chicco's Baby Senses Live range is a bright and colourful range of rattles designed just for babies. The whole range is designed with friendly animal faces, bright colours and shapes.

Chicco's vibrating rattles are made from soft fabrics and provide a variety of tactile activities as well as fun vibrations. The non-vibrating rattles have teether parts to help soothe aching gums which is great for little ones.  All are great for helping to develop motor skills.

I have two Chicco Baby Senses rattles to give away, Happy Hippo Vibrating Rattle and Easy Grasp Bear Rattle. These gorgeous rattles are great fun and would make a perfect gift.

Easy Grasp Bear Rattle is lightweight and comes with a big handle for little hands to grasp.  It helps to develop manual co-ordination and is a brilliant teether too.

Happy Hippo includes a stroller clip, and would look great on a Chicco pushchair! The hippo pulls down by his feet to activate the vibration as he retracts. It also features soft plastic for teething gums and a colourful ball rattle.

All of the Chicco Baby Senses line are paint free and are suitable for three months and over. With a starting RRP of just £4.99, you really can't go wrong with these lovely toys.

To enter to win Happy Hippo and Easy Grasp Bear, please complete the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • You must be resident in the UK to enter. Prize will be shipped to a UK address.
  • Competition runs from 19th February until 23:59 on 4th March 2015.
  • Entry is via one and/or more of the methods in Rafflecopter widget.
  • Winner(s) will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.  Winning entries will be checked and must be current at time of checking.
  • There is one prize.  The prize is one Chicco Happy Hippo Vibrating Rattle and Chicco Easy Grasp Bear Rattle.  There is no alternative.
  • The winner(s) will be contacted by email or on Twitter (if appropriate) by 11th March and asked to confirm their delivery address within 48 hours.  If no reply is received, a new winner may be chosen.
  • The winner's name, as registered when logged into Rafflecopter will be displayed after the end of the competition.
  • Me add three’s decision is final.
Win competitions at  Also listed on Loquax.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Half term library success

Our local library is great, and we definitely don't use it enough.  The children's section is really big with a massive variety of books.  Now our son is reading really well he is devouring books and borrowing them is a much better option than buying loads!

On a rainy day of half term, we were climbing the walls in the house so I took our son and toddler girl to the library.

Toddler girl loves to run round the alphabet rug and find the initials for her and her brother's names.  And I turned round after watching her for a minute or so, to find our son sitting down, silently reading and engrossed in book he'd chosen.

I'm so proud of his reading, and love that he enjoys books so much.  We will definitely be back to visit our library soon.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Image of the week

This was a 'grab the phone camera - quick!' photo.  Toddler girl wanted to do a selfie, but with her beloved Christmas Elf.  An 'Elfy', if you like.

Elfy has been with us now since the start of December, and toddler girl is VERY attached to him.  I hear Father Christmas has asked Amazon to send us another one, just in case.


Truly Madly KIds

Friday, 13 February 2015

Easy winter warmer beef chilli con carne

My husband loves this beef chilli con carne.  I always try and make a big batch and freeze a few portions for an easy mid-week tea.  The chick peas pad it out a bit and give it an extra dimension too!  It's perfect for chilly evenings.

Winter warmer beef chilli

Serves 3-4 hungry people, or 1-2 with a couple of leftover good sized portions for the freezer.


400g extra lean mince beef
Teaspoon vegetable oil
One onion, diced
Three tins chopped tomatoes
One tablespoon tomato puree
Very large splosh of Worcester sauce (about a teaspoon)
One teaspoon ground cumin
One teaspoon ground coriander
Half teaspoon ground cinnamon
One beef stock cube
Two tablespoons chilli flakes, not pictured (this makes hot chilli, adjust up or down to taste)
One tin kidney beans
One tin chickpeas

Step one

Using the vegetable oil, fry off the onions in a large saucepan for four or five minutes until translucent, and then add the mince.  Fry it all until the mince is brown all over but not yet cooked through.

Step two

Add in the chopped tomatoes, spices, tomato puree, Worcester sauce, stock cube and chilli flakes.  Give it a really good stir.  Cover and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the flavours really develop.  Stir occasionally.

Step three

Turn off the heat but keep the saucepan covered while you open, drain and rinse the chickpeas and kidney beans.  Add them to the pan and stir through.  Put the lid back on the pan, and leave to stand for a few minutes to allow the kidney beans and chickpeas to warm through.  Serve immediately with a jacket potato, rice or nachos.  With the lid left on it will stay nice and warm for 15 or 20 minutes.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Year one reading success

When our son was a baby and toddler, I spent many hours reading to him.  For a while, it was the only thing he'd sit still for, so the piles of books in our house were big!

Despite this, he never really showed a lot of interest in reading for himself, and refused to even try before he went to school.  Yet somehow, I wasn't surprised when he picked it all up really quickly and started reading pretty fluently in his first and second terms in reception.

Now he's in year one, he's almost finished the Oxford Reading Tree, and reads widely, fluently and sometimes even silently!  His loves of books continues, and I like to think that those early years where he looked and listened with such intensity to me reading really paid off.

He has enjoyed reading Kipp, Biff and Chipper books, although it seems to have been a while since we last had one.  They are so much better than the Ladybird Janet and John books when I was growing up!  He really likes books about cars, and also an encyclopedia or two!  He's reading 'Shouty Kid' at the moment, and although it's quite grown up, I think he likes the mischievous main character.

People do warn me that boys don't tend to stay with books as they go into their teenage years, but I really hope our son proves them wrong.  I can't wait for him to get lost in a good book and stay up too late with a torch reading, just like I did.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Image of the week

Toddler girl's been a bit poorly on and off for the last week or two, so she's seemed extra cuddly this week.

Here's my view from our sofa, cuddling her while she's watching Mr Tumble. It's pretty difficult to describe how much I love these ordinary moments, and cuddling my girl. I wonder if she will always feel like my baby, even when she's grown up.


Truly Madly KIds

Friday, 6 February 2015

Green #WotW

The weather is freezing outside, and it's still really dark in the mornings and evenings.  So I was really surprised when I was driving down a long tree lined road to see the beginnings of a green hue on all the tree branches. 

It was nothing strong or obvious, but it was definitely green and didn't look quite as bleak as bare winter trees.  What a welcome sight.

Hurry up spring!

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 5 February 2015

January's been and gone

Despite January being a really long month, this year is already passing by so quickly.

I'm very glad to see the back of January - it is such a cold, dark and meagre month.  Nothing to look forward to, just humdrum life to be getting back into the swing of after Christmas.

We still had a good month though.. here are our high and a couple of lowlights:

  • New year at Center Parcs, the kids loved their holiday.
  • A first time quad biking for our son.  We were nervous for him, but he took it slowly and in his stride.
  • Toddler girl monkeying around; our fireplace and sofa being prime targets "boingy boingy".
  • Selfies at the park on a freezing cold Sunday morning
  • Work being, well, work. Sometimes I made progress, and sometimes I didn't.
  • Conjunctivitis, cold after cold and a bumped elbow for toddler girl. I love Calpol!
  • Our son playing music in his room. Thanks to husband he likes Guns and Roses, especially at 7am!

What did you get up to last month?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Have women scored a spectacular own goal?

It's been a busy few weeks.  Scrub that, it's actually been a busy few years.  I seem to spend my days working, looking after kids, sorting the house/garden/bank/bills/everything out.

It feels like the bulk of family life falls to me.  I'm not complaining about my husband, who will always help when I ask for it.  But surely by anyone having to ask, it means they're responsible for it?  I can't be alone with this.

So I wondered.  Have women scored a spectacular own goal with feminism?  Is it now just expected that we do or are responsible for abso-bloody-lutely everything?

Think about it.

60 years ago, women probably went to and left school while they were in their teens, got married, had children and looked after the home.  Men worked and looked after the finances.  School was somewhere kids went, not a community and playtime was in the street/garden/park.  No Mum needed.

For the last 10-20 years, women are expected to go to school, university, develop their careers, take on joint mortgages, have kids (shame only women can do that bit), go back to work, manage the house, organise nursery, take an active role in school life, manage finances, shop around for cheapest energy suppliers, balance the weekly shopping budget (top up shop to minimise costs anyone?), entertain the kids, nurse the kids, play with the kids, read to the kids, cook (making sure everyone gets their five a day, no sugary snacks now), clean, iron and be social secretary for everyone.  Not to mention maintaining a sense of self, keeping up with Downton Abbey and somehow, somewhere, maintaining friendships in that list.  Oh, and I almost forgot the small matter of 'pinging' back into shape and looking great in a bikini too.

In my experience, most men continue to go to work, and now play a more active role in their kids' upbringing.  Period.

There's no doubt life is more complicated for both men and women now, and I have simplified it all somewhat.  But does feminism now mean women are just expected to do and achieve even more?  Being pregnant (aka growing a new human being) and having young kids is hard enough, should we really expect women to work, do and achieve everything else on top of that?

Is the 'choice' we now have, really any choice at all?

I'd love to know what you think.