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Mamma Musings

Party Ideas for Winter Kid’s Birthday

Summer children have it easy, the warmer days and brighter evenings provide plenty of opportunities to get outside and run around, letting off the pent-up energy that only seems to increase in capacity when children gather together. Children born in the winter face a couple more restrictions when it comes to organising a party, especially considering the cost of hall and venue hire when trying to entertain a larger number of classmates. While it can be frustrating, it just means winter children get to be more creative with their party ideas and can offer something different to just going to the nearest park or open field to play outside games.

Festive Treat Decorating

A party idea that has the kids creating their own snacks, buy or make a collection of gingerbread men, or if you are feeling really motivated, a couple of gingerbread house kits, that the children can build and decorate together with sweets, icing, chocolate shapes, sprinkles, etc. There are plenty of edible decorations available in the cake aisle of your local big-name supermarkets and around the festive period, you can find plenty of pretty patterns and shapes including snowflakes, snowmen and holly leafs to name a few.

Prepare the room by investing in a cost-effective large plastic sheet or tarpaulin that can be placed on the floor to protect against dropped treats and squished sweets, especially necessary if you have carpet!

Indoor Winter Sports

Got room to spare? Host your own winter games indoors, away from the cold. You can set up several “courses” including an area for measuring the furthest hop, skip and jump, somewhere to hold a short footrace or if speed is a concern, the slow footrace! Who can go the slowest without stopping? Further winter games could include an obstacle course, balloon race and best animal impression.

Creativity and imagination are your only restriction when hosting your own indoor winter games and there isn’t much investment needed, although you can always grab some medals as a “prize” for the party guests. Get your child involved in coming up with the games together and if you get stuck, there is plenty of inspiration available online.

Cops and Robbers Party

Depending on the age of your child, a themed party is sure to go down a treat and cops and robbers can be particularly fun for kids. Have the kids come in costume, police or robber or simply hand out some masks and a sheriff’s badge which all can be handmade relatively cheaply and quickly.

Party games can include a “laser course” made using string hung horizontally across a corridor that the kids must get through without touching the string and “setting off the alarms”. You can also set up a target practice zone using soft nerf guns or cheap “sucker” guns which fire soft ended sucker darts and often include a plastic target. Don’t forget to get the kid’s mug shots before they go home!

Lego Party

Lego is always going to be a popular pastime and toy for growing children as it encourages their creativity and imagination and helps them create entire make-believe worlds around them. As such, a Lego party will always go down a treat for boys and girls and even the party food can be made Lego themed, with brick-shaped cupcakes and pizza squares.

Lego sets can be picked up inexpensively via online stores and you can introduce party games such as hide the brick, fastest to build a specific design, highest tower, guess the number of bricks in a jar and build the best Lego vehicle to launch down a homemade ramp.

Winter doesn’t always bring rain and if you have an all-weather garden with artificial grass or a covered trellis, you can put together some activities that the children can take part in outdoors to give them more room to enjoy themselves. Just remember to request outdoor suitable clothing on the invitation to stop them getting cold!

Note: This is a collaborative post 

Mamma Musings

Free time? What’s that? Your guide to putting your feet up

With Christmas coming and with hordes of relatives descending on your home at any moment, you might find yourself at a bit of a loose end. With many family members simply not allowing you to lift a finger and letting them do all the hard work…A girl can dream right?

But seriously, with plenty more adults around, who are willing to lend a hand, you might find yourself with a bit of free time. So, what should you do with it? It may have been so long since you’ve had any you have no idea. But don’t worry – read on for a little inspiration of how you can spend your free time. Or you could just dream about it instead…?

Treat your face

With the kids seemingly under control and you’ve managed to become unstuck from the oven you might even be able to take a little time and put some makeup on. You could slip on some anti-aging eye cream (to get you through the Festive Season) or play around with some new eye shadows or even sit with a face mask on for ten minutes. Just enjoy being able to hear your own inner thoughts!

Reading

Yeah it might be a little obvious. But sometimes we forget how good it feels to pick up a book and get pulled straight back into a story. Whether it’s a fantasy novel, an old childhood favourite or a celebrity tell-tale book. There’s nothing wrong with disappearing for a couple of hours and diving head first into a book.

Go for a walk

Who says you have to stay cooped up indoors? You could really make a break for it and go for a walk around your favourite beauty spot, or even just around the block for some fresh air. Getting in a little cardio before you tackle that box of chocolates this evening will help you not feel as guilty.

Sleep

None of us are getting enough sleep, and the festive season can be both physically and mentally draining. So, if you get the chance try grabbing an extra forty winks and catching up on some much needed rest. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Rearrange your photos

If you have sleeves of photographs that are looking for homes, or you just haven’t gotten around to putting them into your albums yet, then why not do it now? You can even date them all and place them in chronological order. Looking back at the memories you’ve made over the year will certainly make you smile.

Listen

Why not try listening to a new audiobook? Or even a podcast on a subject your passionate about? Or how about a comedy set from your favourite comedian or just some of your favourite tunes that make you feel happy. You could even try listening to the nice, peaceful silence!

Have a bubble bath

You’re probably going to get some new smellies for Christmas anyway, so empty that whole bottle into the tub and have a nice long soak. You deserve it.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

What a week in The Mamma Fairy house

What a week……

Well drum roll please, my little blog, my one person operation, my crazy random rambling has only gone and won Bronze at the Irish Blog Awards. I actually cannot believe it.  I was a finalist the last two years but this year I was up there with the top 3, the best in the business.  Indulge me!! I’m absolutely over the moon.

I’ve always said its not about winning and it really isn’t but there is a small part of me that is just so excited that somebody somewhere thinks what I do is good. There is no fancy marketing, no staff and to be honest im quite bad at social media. Its about the writing, its my creative outlet so to be recognised is so exciting.

Happy, so so happy.

 

Other news

In other news….second drum roll!! I need a caveat at the start of this one. ***If you know my kids please don’t say anything to them about what im about to say next.***

In three weeks time we are off to Lapland. No matter how excited the kids are, they will never be as excited as me!! I know they are going to go wild when they hear it. I wont be telling them until a day or two before hand for my own sanity.

pom pom socks

Pom Pom Socks: Credit: https://www.condorbarcelona.uk/en/with-pompoms-warm

The last few days have been spent pouring over Facebook Groups and discussion boards to digest all of the information about dressing for the cold weather for us and the kids.  Don’t laugh but one of the items that is discussed at length re Lapland is having good socks.  So if you looked at my search history all you will see is searches for different types of socks! While searching I stumbled across the fabulous  Condor UK online shop.

 

If their  knee socks were good enough for Prince George, the are good enough for my crazy pair.  I could spend hours browsing, there is so much choice.  I don’t have girls myself but my little nieces will be getting a pair of the pom pom sock as part of their Christmas present. So so cute.

Another must have item over the base layers are fleeces or cardigan. Just look at the toddler boys cardigans online here. I want them all! There is something so adorable about cardigans on toddlers. My own mother always said that to me about them for my own boys and I really do agree with her.

You will see lots of posts over the next while on our trip and the preparations. For us it really is the trip of a lifetime.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control.

 

Mamma Musings

My journey to a new smile

There are loads of phrases we see and hear when it comes to our smiles….”our smiles are the windows to our soul” or “smile and the world smiles with you” or my personal favourite “smile..its the prettiest thing you can wear“.

But you see for me for many and I mean many years I thought that this wasn’t the  case. I never smiled in photos, actually I deliberately avoided photos on nights out at events etc. On the rare occasion I did end up in a photo, I preferred to hide in the back and certainly never smiled showing my teeth. I always promised myself I would do something about it. They weren’t terrible. I just wasn’t happy with them and it didn’t matter what my friends and family said that was my opinion and that was that.

Last year I hit 35, a bit of a milestone in my own head and thought you know what.. im going to do this. So I began a treatment programme which used clear aligners. 

Thus beginning a journey I wanted to take for some time.  This is all done online, you take impressions of your teeth and they get sent off and a couple of weeks later your clear braces land in the door.  So so simple and efficient. However in advance its important to have consultation with a dentist, do shop around as you may even be able to obtain a free dental consultation. 

Following completion of the programme which took all in all about 8 months, I could not believe the different, each aligner change brought subtle but noticeable changes but it was only at the end when I saw the before and after pictures I realised just how far my teeth had come. But it wasn’t just my teeth. I lecture and I found my thoughts on my teeth really impacted on my confidence. I hid behind the podium, behind my hands or pages. Always aware and to be honest probably overly consumed by it. Now, its an entirely different story, I don’t mind getting into photos. I smile!! I actually truly smile.

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Mamma Musings

Four Cost Effective Lifestyle Changes to Improve Your Wellbeing

canoeing

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Being healthy and feeling good is something everyone wants in life but what many might not realize until they try to achieve this themselves, is that self-care and maintaining a lifestyle focused around their health, can actually become rather costly. From gym memberships to expensive solutions, to everyday problems, the industry around making money from honest, hard-working people, such as yourself, who are just trying to make positive changes in their lifestyle, is huge and growing still. However, taking care of yourself doesn’t need to be such a high cost affair as there are lots of ways you can make changes in your life to improve its quality without breaking the bank. In this article, you will find out some of the easy ways you can start making the positive changes you want to see in your life whilst also keeping your purse strings tight.

Learning easy ways of eating healthy while on a budget

One of the best ways you can save money while making positive changes to your lifestyle is by finding cheap and easy ideas for healthy food. A great way to start this is by doing meal planning which will mean you never buy anything unnecessary when you do the big food shop every week. This also has the added boost of being environmentally friendly as it means you will have much less food waste.

Getting the essentials of your life sorted

While it may not be the first thing you think of when talking about wellbeing in your life, but sorting out the practical essentials you need to make the day to day running of things go a bit more smoothly will have the positive effect of reducing stress and giving you peace of mind so you are able to get on with your life without any extra hassle or worry. A good place to start with this is by sorting out something needed like your car insurance and a way of making sure you are keeping the costs down in by reading a Metromile Insurance Claim review to give you insight into how to get the best coverage without having to spend too much money.

Keeping things tidy

Another way of keeping your stress levels down is by keeping things tidy, particularly if you work at a desk often. You can buy desk organizers at most stationary shops but they tend to be very expensive so, instead, why not look up how to make your own desk organizer so you can save money and have a DIY project on the go.

Making the most of the great outdoors

Gym memberships can be vastly overpriced, and many people don’t even use them regularly enough to make the most of the money they are spending on them. One cost-effective way around this is to trade in your membership card and make the most of exercising where its free. Why not go for a run in your local park or do some morning yoga practice in your back garden before work each day. This is a great alternative because you get to do it somewhere you feel comfortable.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

Living Arrows 37/53 – the simple things

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth – Kahlil Gibran

Probably around this time last year I joined Donna from What the Redhead Said linkie – known as Living Arrows where each week you share a photo from the week which celebrates childhood. I don’t know exactly why but this link up speaks to me! I love what it stands for and love the quote above that gave Donna the inspiration to start this.

I am aiming to link up each week but life sometimes get in the way. I missed last week but im back this week.  My photo this week is of my dad and my youngest son. Im not sure what it is about this photo but something in it touches a nerve and makes my heart swell with pride.

This pair have an unbreakable bond. Its such a beautiful relationship and I feel both are luck to have each other in their lives.  We spent a morning exploring the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.  No devices, no playground, nothing snazzy just simple fun exploring the gardens.  Sometimes we get consumed but having to do “something” visits to playgrounds, play centres, shows etc.

Sometimes paring it all back it just as effective and just as enjoyable. I had the most beautiful relationship with my granda and I love seeing the bond between this pair growing every day.

 

 

 

 

Living Arrows
Mamma Musings

The rise of messy play

It is known that children have always enjoyed getting messy — from splashing in puddles to playing games in the mud, youngsters love getting their hands dirty! Often, we let children discover these new environments themselves. However, messy play can be beneficial for babies and toddlers too, in fact it can help with their cognitive development in many ways. Together with Infinite Playgrounds, designers of wooden playgrounds and advocates of sensory play, we take a closer look at messy play and how it can be implemented in schools and nurseries.

What is it?

kids painting

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Messy play is all about allowing children to experience and explore objects that they aren’t always exposed to. It involves playing with anything that gets messy! This could be sand, water, chalk, paint or playdough. There are now many playgroups set up with messy play as the focus as the benefits have become widely recognised.

Often when parents play with their children, it is structured play with a target in mind — for example, pressing buttons to make the toy light up or make a sound. Messy play is different, as it is unstructured and allows the child to use their own imagination and explore new materials without any end goal.

This sort of play can support physical development too. As children create shapes with the materials, they are using their arms and they might push things around with their feet.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits for children when they engage with messy play.   For children with special educational needs or disabilities, messy play is a good way for them to

messy play

Pic Credit: Pixabay

 interact with other children by communicating in different ways. They may be slower at reading or speaking but can join in with messy play. It can encourage children to develop the ability of creating signs and starting to write as well. By drawing pictures and shapes in the materials such as sand, they begin to discover their hands as writing tools and experiment with what they can do. This practice also allows them to build up their finger and arm muscles, which can be useful when children begin to pick up a pen.

Unstructured play in general allows toddlers and children to explore their imagination and practise concentration. As they come up with their own games or focus on moving the materials around, they learn more about how their bodies work and their spatial awareness improves.  Playing with the materials also allows the child to practice their fine motor skills and develop their hand-eye coordination. This goes on to improve their abilities in sports and involvement in games in the future.  Research has proven that toddlers are quicker to learn about solid objects due to their unchanging size and shape. Exposing children to soft materials allows them to learn more about non-solid materials and broaden their knowledge. It also allows them to compare and understand textures. For example, two things may look the same from afar but when they interact with them and touch them, they can understand the difference.

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Mamma Musings

Living Arrows 35/53 – back to school

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth – Kahlil Gibran

Probably around this time last year I joined Donna from What the Redhead Said linkie – known as Living Arrows where each week you share a photo from the week which celebrates childhood. I don’t know exactly why but this link up speaks to me! I love what it stands for and love the quote above that gave Donna the inspiration to start this. For the week that’s in it this weeks photo is of my oldest as he prepares to return to school this week. I always feel like this week is a bit bitter sweet, yes to getting back to normality and a set routine but no to missing so much time with my pair.

For me this photo sums up a lot about him, while you cant see his face you can see the concentration in his gesture. He is so like me in many ways. He likes to be prepared.  He loves PJ Masks and being surrounded by his favourites is sure to help instil some superpowers of his own in him.

Its such new territory for them and hopefully familiarity and self belief will help them be brave on their new journey just like his favourite superhero CatBoy.  He likes to call me Owlette, which im hoping is become his mamma has her own superpowers to help him in any and every way she can.

Good luck to everybody starting or returning to school this week, in the words of Oprah – “education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom

 

Living Arrows
Mamma Musings

Mamma Fairy Summer Loves

I was reading back over some old blog posts and realised I share loads of what the kids like or our travel adventures but very little about what I like or love (kids and travel aside!!). So I thought id share some of the current things im really loving. This isnt a review post it just a random collection of things that I liked or loved of the last few months:

Shoes, shoes and more shoes

  • Hot, hot, Hotter……

I just love shoes, for me they make or break an outfit. I’m on the go constantly either running with kids to school, activities or  to work myself.  I’m always in heels in the office but I badly needed a pair of dressy but comfortable shoes to run between the office, meetings, pick ups etc.  This summer I was introduced to the wonderful collection of Hotter Shoes  they are insanely comfortable and dressy at the same time.  I wanted flat shoes that were stylish but didn’t look too mumsy if you know what I mean. I have Natalia in black and brown and trust me you will not find a comfier dressy work shoe. Coming in a little hefty a price tag but they are so comfortable and durable and for me anyway, well worth the extra spend.

  • Skechers for Style….

Staying with shoes, while shopping for the kids school shoes in Skechers, out of the corner of my eye I caught these bad boys. I honestly didn’t know Skechers do “street style” shoes (their words not mine!).  Just look at these I mean how could you not get them?

Aside from being ultra stylish they are staying true to brand and are uber comfy. The sales assistant in Liffey Valley very helpfully advised me to go down a size and she was of course totally correct. I’m usually a 6 but these fit like a glove in a size 5. I feel so stylish wearing them.  Only issue now is I want them all. Lots of different types to choose from.  Have a nosey on their website so many types to choose from.

 

Blue Jean Girl

I am and probably always will be a jeans girl, love them in all styles, colours, types.  Comfort is king when im running about so im always trying out new brands and really putting them through their paces.  I suppose what I love most about jeans is that you can either dress them up or down so easily.  One of my current favourites are jeans from Esprit they also do some fab office wear if you are in the market for nice cut office dresses and trousers/ blazer coordinates.

Accessories 

While not really an accessories girl, I favour keeping it simple. I love a nice watch and im so in love with my birthday present from The Dada Fairy.  Its a rose gold watch from Adexe London.  How stylish is this?  It really dresses up an outfit. The rose gold trend shows no sign of abating and ive totally jumped on the trend ban wagon between my skechers and my watch!!

Never realised I was a tend follower!!

Lotions and Potions 

My skin care routine is simple! We only have the one so I do try to look after it and I don’t mind spending on products that do work.  For the last 3 months I have been using Clarins extra firming night and day cream. I love love love this. The texture is so lovely and a small bit really does go a long way.   I cleanse with the Clarins gentle foaming cleanser again love the texture of this and its not drying at all. I have combination skin so it can be hard to find products that really work.  I’m still clinging hard to that youthful glow so I really feel I have found products that not only work but suit my skin.

I’m probably 3 or 4 months at this routine while be no means am I that regimented that I don’t miss a night or a day using the products I do try to do it daily and nightly.   The price tag is hefty at around €60 each but do bear in mind a little goes a very long way.  It really works for me.  I would advise if you aren’t sure which products to go for id pop in to one of their counters for a chat. I have been to the one in both Debenhams and Arnotts in Dublin and found staff in both very helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for some sample and go home and try them for a file. At €60 a pop these products are investments and you do want to be sure they work for you.

 

 

 

Home & Interiors, Mamma Musings

Top Tips for renovating your bathroom

You will have seen lots of our renovation ramblings on the blog over the last couple of years. Have finally (almost) come out the far side I though I share so tips on what worked and what didn’t! We ended up doing 2 bathroom projects. A total renovation and a new one.  So here are my top ten tips for renovating your bathroom.  Hopefully this will be useful and do leave comments below if you have any others:

  1. Plan, plan, plan – by this I mean discuss your plans with the relevant trades well in advance and especially before you start buying anything. For example you may want to move a radiator or bath but this may not be possible logistically so talk to the plumber, the electrician etc well before you commence. Also worth considering here is the relevant regulations affecting your refit. Your plumber should be well versed on these and be able to assist and provide advice and guidance.
  2. Features – bathroom tend to be one of the smallest rooms in the house so use what you have a feature. For example we went for heated a vertical radiator which served a nice and also very useful feature.
  3.  Storage – if like me you have a strange habit of accumulating all sorts of lotions and potions consider your storage needs up front!
  4. Lighting – consider your lighting needs well before you start any tiling and don’t go over board! (im looking at you Dada Fairy!!)
  5. Showers head/ brassware – these parts particularly the shower head maybe used multiple times a day so buy the best you can afford. Have a look at quality places like Insignia Shower Outlet  Somebody once told me when renovating the bathroom buying the best your budget can stretch to is critical.  These rooms get a huge amount of use so do look for quality. Its so worth it.
  6. Layout – really consider the flow of the room at the outset particularly given the space may be small.
  7. Tiling – Shop around there can be huge variances in prices and quality so take time to visit plenty showrooms and even take them home to get a sense of how they will look in your own space.
  8. Colours – As tempting as it is to go for the latest fad or popular colour, id suggest keep the sanitary ware neutral and jazz it up with the coloured accessories as they can be changed far more easily and cheaply. At the moment im loving Moroccan styled bathrooms. Its the beautiful use of different textures that I have fallen for. Timeless and elegant.
Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control