Our March…

March seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye and as I still here going over what we have been up to I think it’s probably the fact we have been so busy it has just flown by.

Archie started off the month with landing himself his first real part time job. It is on a church retreat and he had the job of cooking, cleaning and serving the guests. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying the more tasks he is set and meeting new people who all seem to have sixth amazing stories to tell.

I have to admit when he first told me about where it was(down a load of country lanes with no public transport) I was moaning like made as I knew this was going to fall back on me to get him there and back. But it wasn’t until someone said instead of moaning you should be proud of him for taking the time to find himself work and apply himself that I realise I should suck it up and praise him for his drive and want for independence.

Frankie has one of his routine trips to the hospital for an eye check and the good news is he is nearly done with patching. There has been a huge improvement in this sight and they have got it to a leave that is now remaining stable, so the daily battles with the patch I’m am happy to say are now over!

I fast forwarded the year and stepped straight into summer at the Next Happy Hotel event where I got to look at a whole host of products from homeware, clothing and beauty that are set to make for a pretty great summer. There were some fantastic pieces in each and every section but I think I was most surprised by the amount of other beauty brands that are available through next. I had no idea they stocked Benefit…did you?

From a event on my own to one with all the family at Chessington World Of Adventures. For those of you that regularly read my blog you will know that I have been an ambassador for them for the past few years now and absolutely love watching the changes each and every year. This year the have a new interactive attraction based on the much loved book – Room On The Broom. The children loved it and it’s a must see for any fans of the story.

I have been up and down with my exercise but Jemma’s Health Hub has kept things pretty constant for me so I’m hoping to feel a lot healthier and less self continuous this summer.

Whist we are in the subject of health I had a little bit of a scare with some chest pains that I was referred to the hospital for. My blood pressure isn’t really what it should be and I am waiting on a scan just to check that everything is ok and it’s actually given me more of a push to shift these pounds and get my exercise back to being an everyday routine rather than a chore.

Peppa Pig is still very much a favourite in this house with the boys…even though Frankie wouldn’t let on to anyone; so we were very excited to go along to Leicester Square to see the new film that is put this Easter. The boys absolved it and I’m sure it’s going to be another big hit.

From this screening we went straight to the Royal Opera House to take a look at one of their family fun Sunday events. I was more than a little apprehensive about taking the youngest two as they don’t really scream Royal Opera house! I needn’t have worried though as it was such a relaxed atmosphere where they got to enjoy lots of crafts, storytelling sessions and witness the most amazing ballet and modern performances. It really would come highly recommend from us.

With Mother’s Day on everyone’s minds I was invited along for afternoon tea with Paperchase. We got to chat to lots of lovey mummies and take a look at all the amazing products Paperchase had to offer this year.

A highlight for me probably more than the children this month though was a screening of the new Dumbo movie. It is most definitely a childhood favourite for me and I was so pleased that Disney had worked their magic and managed to recreate a different but equally as thought provoking and heart warming movie as the last.

Spring definitely seems to have been making an appearance and we have been enjoying this with some time in the garden, plenty of hot cross buns and some spring flowers. I really do love this time of year.

The last few days of March will always be ones to remember as the day we were celebrating Izzy’s 13th birthday party my eldest daughter Alice decided to give birth to my beautiful second grandchild. We don’t like to do things by halves in this family and it was a whirlwind 24 hours but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

After all the chaos it was time to celebrate Mother’s Day and this is traditionally a nightmare day and this year didn’t disappoint.

I think I have this ridiculous expectations that my children are going to turn into angels for one day and the arguing and bad behaviour are all going to disappear! Sadly of course this doesn’t happen and we started the day with two of them devouring my chocolates before I even sat down to breakfast, one then decided to throw the said breakfast as their sisters head and so the day started.

Next year I’m going to lower the expectations in the hope that this will help!

Our January…

Last year I started a series called “Celebrating The Small Things” were every week I would do a round up of all the little things I had to be thankful for such as one of the children learning to tie there shoes or the excitement of seeing the first flowers of spring.

Being the unorganised and scatty person that I am, committing to getting this done every week all got to much but I still wanted to keep something going this year so I’ve switched things up about with a round up style post of our month and I hope you like what you see.

We kicked the year off in a pretty amazing way with a visit to Center Parcs. This is by far one of our favourite places to get away too but the price isn’t always to attractive. We managed to get a great deal and had a few days to relax, try out some new activities, swim to our hearts content and eat our body weight in pancakes.

After a pretty hectic Christmas and a trip away we decided the rest of the holiday should be dedicated to relaxing, recouping and enjoying our new home. I am always on the look out for the next thing to do and after a discussion with the kids we decided this year would be the year to take things at a slower pace and enjoy things like movies nights and playing board games instead of always being out chasing a new adventure.

I’m truth if was Frankie that really made me feel terrible about the amount of time we spend out as he informed me he never gets a chance to just go to the park and ride his bike as I’ve always planned something. I know you mum guilt hits you all the time but I really felt terrible at the fact I must have been putting so much pressure on them.

It was Frankie’s birthday at the beginning of the month and we celebrated him turning seven with a his first day back a school which didn’t go down to well and a steak dinner. Next year it’s my mission to not let the December and January birthdays go so unnoticed.

I jumped on the keep fit bandwagon with the majority of people and got myself back into David Lloyd more regularly again. The weight had certainly piled on again over Christmas and I was eager to hit those goals again this year.

After a bit of a nightmare with going backwards and forwards to hospital and orthodontist visits, both Izzy and Archie are finally on their way to getting perfect teeth after having their braces fitted.

I’m sure most of you feel the same and get pretty bored of the same old meals everyday. I was as bored of cooking them as the kids were of eating them so I dusted off the cookbooks and tried some things I’ve never had before. All I can say is move over Wagamama as I can now cook a pretty mean katsu curry!

I’ve been adding a few pieces to the house to put our own stamp on it, but with things being a little tight I have been trying to my good friends EBay and the bargain corner at IKEA and found some great pieces. It always makes me feel happier to know I’ve got a bargain.

We rounded the month off with our first event of the year and it was a good one to say the least. We headed to Islington for the release of How To Train Your Dragon. Not only was it an amazing movie they you all need to see but the interactive event was amazing and the boys literally felt like they had been transporting the Isle Of Berk.

Back On Track With David Lloyd Purley

Today hurt, it pushed me to my limits, it made me want to just give up but I didn’t. Today was my first day back in to David Lloyd – Purley since before Christmas and although each and every minute in that spin class pushed me to breaking point I got through it, enjoyed it and it has given me that much needed motivation to keep going.

I know at the moment their is a huge buzz around accepting our bodies for the way they are but this is something that doesn’t sit well with me. I have always been taught to strive to be the best I can when it comes to things such as work and parenting so why shouldn’t this be the same for the way my body looks and feels. Yes my body has carried five babies and age is no longer on my side but that is no excuse to neglect the body that has done so much for me and why shouldn’t I strive to get it looking and feeling the best way it possibly can. I know its not going to be easy and since I first started back on my fitness journey last year I have both good and bad moments but I have learnt from both.

Over the last few months I was utillising the gyms fantastic kids clubs and cafe area to catch up on work rather than for looking after myself and my own well being and although it was fantastic for allowing me to hit targets with work it meant that my fitness and weightloss were suffering. Im using this New Year to get things back on track, manage my time better and smash those goals and I hope you will join me on my journey!

  • We have been given a family membership for the purpose of these posts.

Learning More About Sustainable Food

Here in the UK we all love to eat, in fact over the year we consume tons of food that probably most of us don’t really think to much about.

We all want something that tastes good, is easy to get our hands on and quick to prepare but the back story behind how our favourite foods get to us is a pretty complex one and also something that we all need to give a little more thought and consideration.

Sustainable food is something that starts at the very beginning and over the past few years a lot of work has gone into getting the farmers, fishermen etc to change their way of working to make the detrimental impact on the environment far less.

The ethos behind sustainable food is taking into account the environment, health, social and environmental concerns.

Farmers are moving on from using conventional fertilisers and swapping over to an organic way of farming. This is one way in which this can help the environment, the animals and the workers.

There is still a lot of work to do in this area but with time and knowledge I am hopeful we will continue to see changes.

Back to use now as there are plenty of thing we can do to help in the home by following these guidelines and I have listed below:

Shop Local And Seasonally – Our high streets are sadly becoming a thing of the past with large supermarkets and internet shopping bringing us such competitive prices the pull is pretty great but taking things back to basics is what we need to do.

I also find that shopping locally and getting more hands on with your approach food is great for the children and gives them a far greater knowledge of where food comes from.

We managed to get some delicious apples from our local green grocer the other day and created some delicious deconstructed toffee apples that we all loved!

Shopping locally from the butchers and green grocers allows us to support small business and buy local and seasonal products that have a huge impact on the way we eat.

Buy Organic – Buying organic can put people off as the price tag is generally a lot heftier then ordinary produce. The benefits of the quality of the food and the impact on the environment are certainly worth those extra pennies though.

Promote Heath And Wellbeing – We are fast becoming a glutinous nation and steps need to be put into place now to educate ourselves and our children on healthy eating, balance and food waste.

Choose Fair Trade – Wherever possible try to keep an eye out for the fair trade symbol on packages. They go to great efforts to insure their producers get a good deal and put so much back into social and economic opportunities for people.

Cutting Back On Animal Origin Foods – My sister turned vegan a fair while ago now and a lot of her decisions were based on the impact on the environment eating meat and it’s byproducts have.

I don’t think this could ever be a move for me but I am certainly putting in place wats to cut down on meat a few timed a week and switch over to milk alternatives such as soya and oat milk.

We are also big fish fans in our house but we are opting to cut back on spies such as cod that are facing danger of being wiped out due to over fishing.

I hope this has given you all a little food for though…excuse the pun! I would love to know if sustainable food is something you already do something about and if you have anymore tips I could try out.

*collaborated post

Keeping The Kids Busy This Summer With David Lloyd

For some of us the long school summer holidays are already upon us or they are only a few days away and I’m sure that many of you are the same as me and having mixed feelings about it.

I absolutely adore having mine at home with me but it can also be a real struggle to keep them entertained and also work around them when all they want to do is have your attention.

This is where David Lloyd Health Clubs are an absolute godsend and offer anything from a fulfilled day with all the family, a few hours in a club or two to keep them occupied, full days of childcare and so much more.

With Oscar set to start school this September and Frankie needing a little extra extra push with swimming we are booking onto the intense course to really make sure they get their water wings ready!

It is not only swimming that All Stars at David Lloyd offer. They can learn skills in tennis and gymnastics too with the clubs expert coaches who make learning lots of fun!

As well as keeping fit as a family by swimming together, have a game of tennis or taking part in one of the family friendly circuit or spin classes the children can join in one of the many clubs that DL Kids offer. If sport isn’t their thing then there are plenty of other ways to keep them entertained such as film club, arts and crafts or Nintendo Wii sessions.

These clubs are a great way to keep them entertained and make new friends while you can take part in a class, head to the gym or even enjoy a treatment in the spa.

The holidays can be a really tricky time for working parents and finding childcare that the children will enjoy can be a real challenge. At David Lloyd you have the option of half or full days in their very resonantly priced holiday camps where the children can enjoy all the fun of DL Kids plus a yummy lunch…what could they possibly not enjoy about this!

My younger ones are pretty easy to please and are happy to give anything a go. My eldest son however is pretty hard to drag away from the Xbox but by some kind of miracle David Lloyd has managed to do that! He has loved coming to win as a family and of course fill his belly in the DLicious Cafe which is always a hit with us all for its deliiocs coffees, creamy smoothies and vast choice of healthy hot and cold meals. All of which can be enjoyed in the cafe itself or in the dedicated children’s area where the kids can left of steam in the soft play or spend some time on the built-in iPads.

Some thing he is yet to try is are the special 11+ gym, swimming and tennis sessions which he has his sights set on the summer.

With this wonderful weather we are having at the moment we also want to spend as much time as we can outside and David Lloyd has a large number of clubs with outdoor pools which we are itching to try out. Outdoor swimming in the UK is pretty limited these days so this really is a fantastic addition.

I’m sure there are things that I haven’t covered as the fun at David Lloyd is so expense you really need to see it to belive it. Why not nip along to your local club and see for yourself what a membership could offer you and your family this summer.

*collaborated post

Making Arla Organic Free Range Milk Part Of Our Everyday Routine

My husband jokes that it would be cheaper and easier to buy a cow for our home due to the vast quantities of milk we go through each and every day. From breakfast to our evening meals there is rarely a meal that doesn’t include it. Milk is certainly a staple in our house that we couldn’t live without and after a trip to an Arla dairy farm last year it gave me a completly different outlook to how I view this rather amazing product!

I was certainly the kind of person that didn’t give my choice a milk more than a few seconds thought. I would simply throw a full fat for the little ones, a semi skimmed for the adults and a dairy free for Frankie into the trolley and off to the tills I would go.

All of Arla’s milk is free range and sourced only from British farms. The cows are all free range and where possible grazed on organically farmed land. The wellbeing of their cattle is of upmost importance and this is one of the many reason I choose to buy Arla Organic Milk.

I always start the day with a big bowl of porridge along with the majority of the family. There are varying topping of choice from healthier options such as blueberries and strawberries to naughtier hazelnut spread!

Arla is the perfect milk to kick off our day with and works perfectly with our porridge.

Having a large family and working from home can sometimes feel like I’m in a hamster wheel that I can’t get out of so I always try to take five minutes out of my day to switch off to everything and grab a cup of tea. This usually means a quick stop off at the supermarket after the school run in the morning (Arla Organic Milk comes in handy 2L bottles) and take solace in the garden – sometimes with a sneaky piece of cake!

One of my favourite ways to incorporate Arla Milk into our meals though is with my creamy rice pudding recipe that I have left below.

The richness of the whole milk is the prefect choice and something my whole family love:

125g pudding rice
600ml Arla organic whole milk
50ml single cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp grated nutmeg
2 tbsps sugar

Place the rice into a medium sized saucepan and pour in the milk, cream and vanilla extract. Bring all this to the boil and then simmer.

Cook the rice ensuring you stir regularly for 20/25 mins. The aim is for the rice to be plump and the liquid reduced.

Add the sugar and nutmeg and wait for the sugar to dissolve. Once it is completely dissolved give it a good stir and serve covered with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Using Arla Organic Milk allows me to know that my family are getting all the goodness they can from a milk plus I have the feel good factor that comes from knowing it is coming from happy cows and the money I am spending is going straight into the farmers pocket.

Is buying Arla Organic milk something you already do or something you would consider?

*Collaborated post

MUTU System 12 Weeks On

After the birth of each of my first three children I seemed to manage to get back into shape within a relatively short space of time. I don’t know if this was my youth giving me more of a zest to get back to my pre-baby self, the boundless energy I seemed to have or just luck but it was never really to much of an issue.

Yes my body had changed in countless ways but I could deal with this and my body confidence(whilst clothed) wasn’t to much of an issue for me.

Along came number four and this is where things took a change in the way I felt about my body and how my body was now dealing with multiple pregnancies. If I’m honest the fact I was breast feeding a baby with multiple allergies and an impending wedding the weight loss and diet side of things were pretty on point but my pelvic floor was really feeling the strain from so many pregnancies and vaginal births and I suffered terribly with vaginal prolapse that I managed to improve a little myself before I fell pregnant for the fifth time.

Age was now not on my side, struggling to find a work life balance with caring for five children, weight gain and a completely shot pelvic floor left me in a place I wasn’t happy with and if I’m honest its taken me four years and the kick up the bottom I needed to get me back on track.

I had gone from a hugly active job as a personal trainer to writing my blog which I never imagined would be a completly new career path for me. All my time, love and passion were being ploughed into this new project and any form of exercise had taken a nose dive. This added to events with free flowing food and drink I knew something was going to have to give.

After going along to the Embrace Workshop with the owner of the MUTU System – Wendy Powell she opened my eyes to the way I looked at myself and was just the stepping stone I needed to get things back on track and my body feeling better both inside and out.

The MUTU Systems main aims are to strengthen your core and pelvic floor, heal your diastasis recti, lose weight and eat well.

The program consists of 12 modules with exercises lasting only 20 minutes or less. The programs can be downloaded to any device which makes it easy to keep up the program whenever and wherever you are.

As well as the exercise program there is an easy to follow food guide that promotes healthy eating rather than unrealistic, restrictive diets.

The plan offers realistic goals and allows the flexibility to fit around everyone. My plan still has a couple of weeks to go as I had a bit of a blip over christmas so stay tuned to see my final results…if I pluck up the courage to post them!

I am already reaping the benefits with a significant weigh loss, flatter tum and most importantly for me, less leakage. If you want to give this plan a try for yourselves then click HERE and use the discount code EMBRACE15 for your 15% discount.

*Collaborated post

David Lloyd Clubs:The Start Of Our Family Fitness Journey

All the start of the year I wrote a post on the reasons that I wouldn’t be making any resolutions this year and was going to aim for longer term goals so there was no pressure to getting a huge long list of unobtainable goals completed by the end of the year.

Plenty of changes have sprung to mind with being more organised and procrastinating less…I can safely say this one is very much still a work in progress. One of my lifestyle changes however was to rekindle my love for fitness along with the rest of the family.

Going back three years…pre blog! I was an absolute gym bunny and nothing would get in the way of my daily training. This was all well and good but at times the Mum guilt would set in and I would feel bad for prioritising this time just for myself. This alongside trying to work hard to build my blog meant that sadly my exercise was the thing that I let go.

So with a pretty substantial weight gain and the pressure of spending quality time with the family I wanted a facility that could entertain, motivate and bring pleasure to us all through exercise and I knew this was going to be no mean feat.

The majority of gyms are solely for over eighteens and if the do have crèche facilities the hours tend to be limited and due to this very hard to book into. Then comes the teens and preteens who are often not allowed to use the gym equipment or join in with classes because of their age so get left out completely.

Thankfully David Lloyd Clubs have come to my rescue and asked me to try out their very family mined facilities for the next few months to see if it is possible to enjoy fitness as a family.

David Lloyd – Purley has recently undergone a huge makeover and no stone has been left unturned when planning this club which in one of the largest in the area.

There is something for everyone from a game of tennis on the numerous indoor and outdoor courts, the chance to take a dip in one of there two pools or just relax in the hot tub or sauna. There are workouts galore from a huge variety of group fitness classes to doing your own thing in the state of the art gym area.

If relaxation is what you are after then they have a fabulous cafe bar offering a huge variety of hot and cold meals, giving you the opportunity to grab a quick coffee or sit down with the family to have a tasty meal.

Your meals can even been served in the dedicated children’s area that has its own soft play area.

But for me the real attraction is their DL Kids facilities that allow the children to be cared for in the creche, older children have a huge variety of activies to take part in allowing them to have fun and meet new friends.

There are even specific classes put on for the family to take part in together such as family circuits and family spin they we can’t wait to try.

I really have only scratched the surface of what they have to offer here so please keep an eye on my Instastories to see what we are getting up to and I will be back on here very soon to let you know how we are getting on with this new and exciting journey.

*We were given a family menership for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Four

This weeks ‘celebrating the small things’ is a little self indulgent as I’m unusually pleased with what I have achieved. I’m usually full of self doubt and always see the negatives in what I do which is really counter productive and something I want to try to improve so here it goes:

Happy In My Work- I recently restarted teaching my ladies fitness kickboxing classes which I have found a whole new love for. Teaching was always a huge passion for me but the more children I had the trickier it became to fit this kind of work in and sadly it stopped a few years ago.
Thankfully the New Year has bought with it some lovely faces both old and new that have made my job an absolute pleasure once again.

Weight Loss Going Well – A New Year, restarting my classes and a big hit of self motivation has seen me finally losing some weight.
I wrote a post a while ago on how the past few years have seen me gaining a lot of weigh which has really bought me down and I’m so pleased that over the past few weeks I have seen some changes for the good.
I’ve banished the scales as these are always a source of disappointment for me and have simply used how I look and real as motivation to keep me going.

Looking Back – Last week the lovely Carrisa over at Little Likely Lads tagged me in a post on Insta Stories that needed me to scroll back through my hundreds of photos on Instagram to find my first ever post.
Of course this task had me stopping and looking over all the photos through the years and made me love this social media platform even more.
Moments captured in pictures are hugely important to me and Instagram allows me to see a whole host of my favourite moments in seconds.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Two

This time of year is never my friend! I get depressed by the weather, long for brighter and longer days and generally spend the whole of January and February wishing away the minutes until the start of spring.

I am however hoping that this new series of ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ I started last week is going to bring a bit of joy to the next few gloomy months ahead.

This week I have picked a couple of my favourite moments that have involved things I don’t get time to enjoy as often as I would like.

One On One Time: With five children this is certainly something I don’t get the chance to do as often as I would like so I cherish them everytime I get the chance.
We took a trip to Southbank to an event where Frankie got to meet some of his favourite characters from the Cartoon Network show – We Bare Bears and we both sampled delicious coffee that had been expertly poured and topped with incredible latte art.
Aside from having to take some pics whilst I was there we spent the rest of the morning completely screen free, talking about all those radom things that run through the mind of a six year and and really just enjoying each other.

Healthy Changes On Track: For those of you that are followers of my blog you will know that the past few years have gained an ever expanding waistline with my change in career.
Its something I’ve been battling with for a long time now and this week I feel that I’ve finally broken the cycle and things have got back on track.
There have been no faddy diets, I’ve just cut out the rubbish and reduced my portion sizes, I have got back into all the exercises I love such as spinning and kickboxing and have been feeling and seeing the benefits both physically and mentally.

Getting An Insight Into School Life: When your children set off to school they spend over half their day in the care of somebody else and we have very little insight into what they get up to; and if your children are anything like mine they aren’t to free with letting you know what they do either.
At the beginning of the week I wasn’t to excited about the thought of having a meeting at the school, but was pleasantly surprised when we got the chance to join the children in the classroom to see what they get up to during their working day.
It was so lovely to see Frankie interacting with his peers, thumbing through textbooks and asking questions on things he was coming across and seeing how much he has come on during his short time at school.