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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.
  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
Mamma Musings

How much is your Silver worth

silver candle sticks

Image by LR Annie Spratt via Flickr

A lot of people will inherit antiques and old furniture from family and loved ones when they pass away. We often do not have a lot of room for other people’s possessions in our home, so one alternative is to sell these unwanted items. You can get some excellent advice on the value of old things on the Forbes website, and below you can read more about valuing your silver that you want to sell. Knowing the value of silver antiques is also helpful when you’re purchasing such antique pieces online or from your local antique dealer. The price of an item will not only be dictated by the current market price of silver, but also of the rarity of the object itself, and there are a few considerations that you need to consider.

Silver Plated Objects

If you have any silver that you want to know the value of, the first thing that you will need to do is find out if it is silver plated or not. Silver plating is when a base metal is used which is of a lower value, and then a layer of silver is added creating the illusion that the object is solid silver. You can often tell by picking up an item if it is solid silver or not, as silver-plated objects are usually lighter than solid silver ones. If you are in any doubt, you will be able to take the object to a local jeweller or pawn shop, and they will be able to confirm whether it is silver plated or not.

Sterling Silver

If you have sterling silver items, then these will be solid silver and should also have a hallmark confirming as such. Solid silver pieces will usually either be pure silver or made up of 0.925 parts silver, with 0.075 parts copper. You may see any of the following marks on the silver to confirm its purity;

  • Sterling
  • 925/1000
  • 0.925

If you have solid silver objects such as antique silver, then the value is going to be a lot more than if the item was plated.

The Current Price Of Silver

The next thing that you will need to do is to work out the weight of the silver you have and look at the current prices of silver. You can get the latest market prices on the Bloomberg website, which is regularly updated as the market price changes. When you know the weight of the silver and the current price, you will be able to work out a rough value.

Additional Factors To Consider

There are other factors that you need to consider when trying to value silver. If you are going to sell your silver to someone like a precious metal dealer or a pawn shop, they will often charge you a smelting fee to melt the silver down and recycle it. Another consideration is the aesthetic value of the piece, as you could have silver jewellery that is worth more than the scrap value as it is rare, exquisite, or just beautiful. You could find that someone is willing to pay a little more for the item as they have fallen in love with it. As such, if you do look to sell your silver, you may wish to try selling it privately to a collector before using the services of a pawn shop, depending on how quickly you need the cash.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

5 Refreshing Team Building Activities Staff WILL Love

If your staff run for the hills as soon as they hear the phrase ‘team building’, then you know its time to change tack. But rather than ditching the idea, maybe its time for some fresh, new team building activities.

1 Team building cookery courses

cake

Pic Credit: Pixabay

In many ways, the idea behind a team building activity is to push boundaries, both personal and as a group, gently ‘forcing’ people to communicate, listen and work out the best way of achieving a goal as a collective group.  When this happens and new skills have been learnt, as well as information about each other, then you can put a big tick in the box that says, ‘successful team building activity’.  Thus, you may think that team building cookery courses are the soft option, where everyone turns up, bakes a scone and leaves.

But consider;

  1. Not everyone can cook and/or bake – so the head of accountants who seems so in control of the books needs guidance on how to boil an egg by the intern in marketing.  
  2. Not all cooker courses are the same – from a competitive restaurant challenge to creating making a dish that no one has ever made before, you will be amazed at just challenging some cookery team building activities can be.

Unlike whitewater rafting and other outdoor activities where you end the day wet, cold and aching, with a cookery course you eat what you cook, together.

 

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Mamma Musings

10 Reasons You Feel Tired All the Time and How to Fix It

sleeping

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Always feeling tired but aren’t sure why? You are certainty not alone, as countless other people continue to feel tired despite having enough sleep, with as many as one in five people feeling tired at any given time.   Let’s take a closer look at 10 reasons you may feel tired all the time, and how you can fix it.

Lack of Sleep

We’ll start with the most obvious reason most people are tired all the time –  a lack of good sleep. Sleeping is vital for restoring energy levels, so it’s important that you get a restful night’s sleep with minimal interruptions, while sticking to a regular sleep schedule also helps.

 

Not enough Food

Undereating is another common cause of tiredness. Food gives us the energy to go about our days, so you want to ensure you eat enough calories each day to avoid feeling tired. Your caloric intake varies depending on age, gender, weight, and height, so try work this out an ensure you’re eating enough.

Dehydration

Not drinking enough water is a leading cause of tiredness. The better hydrated our bodies are, the more blood flow to the brain, helping to avoid fatigue and tiredness. So, make sure you’re drinking as much water a possible.

Stress

While we all deal with stress from time to time, suffering from frequent chronic stress has a serious impact on your mental and physical health, including feeling tired all the time. If you frequently suffer from stressful situations, consider stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga.

Sugar

Not only is sugar bad for your waistline, it can have a significant impact on mental functioning when consuming too much.   By decreasing activity of orexin cells, sugar can cause feelings of tiredness after that initial sugar buzz wears off. While difficult, you may want to reduce your sugar intake, especially during the morning and afternoon.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies lead to a lack of focus, increased fatigued, and even physical weakness, with anaemia being an overlooked condition when it comes to tiredness. Consider checking to see if you suffer from iron, folate, or vitamin deficiencies and upping your intake of each should it be lacking in your diet.

Not Exercising

The idea of working out to feel less tired may seem counterintuitive, but it does work, and many don’t realise a lack of exercise is likely causing their tiredness. A sedentary lifestyle may contribute to this, so consider walking, running, or swimming a few times a week – you’ll notice the different immediately.

Skipping Breakfast

breakfast granola

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Many people struggle to eat during the morning time, but this should always be avoided, as breakfast provides our bodies with a much-needed dose of energy to start the day. If you don’t like eating much after waking up, try starting with something small such as a piece of fruit, toast, or some yoghurt. 

Too Much Caffeine

Drinking caffeine-rich beverages such as coffee and energy drinks may offer a short burst of energy, but this becomes a problem when done too often. High sugar and caffeine consumption results in rebound fatigue after the initial energy wears off. Ditch frequent cups of coffee and energy juice, replacing them with water instead.

Food Allergies

Not everyone realises their food sensitives, whether is being lactose intolerant or gluten sensitive, but the symptoms are a nightmare, with fatigue being chief among them. Dairy, gluten, and eggs are a few types of foods that could be causing sleepiness – try dropping them for a while to see if it makes a difference.

Mamma Musings

Looking Fab Wherever You Go

If you love to travel, then compromise is no new concept to you. Wherever you go, you know you’re not going to have all the comforts of home. However, many women take this to mean that they have to leave all their beauty tools behind them. Here, we’re going to look at a few must-haves that can keep you looking fab as you go globe-trotting.

Get items that multitask

This is essential. When it comes to skincare and hair care, you are not going to be able to pack every single item that makes up your usual routine. Instead, you need to look at multitasking skin products like skin food, and 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner mixes. They help you save on lots of space and, even though they may not be quite as potent as different specialized products, they help stay on top of your routine care so that everything doesn’t have to fall at the wayside all at once.

Your little touches

Make-up can be tricky to take overseas. Not all of your products are going to be allowed on the plane and, even if they were, you don’t want them to take up too much space. Luckily, there are plenty of travel makeup kits and products that are space-saving and budget-friendly. To make sure that you’re always able to find what you need, you should invest in a travel makeup bag, too. These little bags help you confine your make-up to a smaller area so they’re much less likely to get lost in transit and to clutter up all your things.

Care for your hair

If you’ve been to enough hotels, then you know just how dire their hairdryers can be. They will work most of the time, but they are terribly inefficient. If you have long or curly hair, it can take forever to dry it, which will simply discourage you from washing your hair too thoroughly. Instead, it pays to find a mini hair dryer that isn’t going to take up a lot of space but will still provide enough power to get the job done. Especially under the heat and humidity of certain locations around the world, it’s important to give your hair the care that it deserves.

Prepare for the long-haul

Of course, you’re not always going to have the time to look your very best. Doing your make-up and hair on a long-haul flight isn’t always the easiest of things. So, it’s good to have a few little accessories that can help you look glamorous and keep yourself covert when you’re not looking ready for the world. A scarf and a pair of sunglasses in your on-flight luggage can help you easily cover up when you don’t want to be seen. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a little more control over how the world sees you.

You don’t have to sacrifice your beauty and self-confidence to go exploring the world. Make sure you stock up on the travel-friendly items that are going to have you looking and feeling great regardless of where you are.

Note: This is a collaborative post
Mamma Musings

My Untold Story

This story was prompted by a video I saw recently, talking about Untold Stories. I have a story quite similar, but I was almost afraid to share it  as I though my story isn’t about overcoming adversity, or  health issues or traumas.

My story is old school romance that would warm even the coldest of hearts.  There are people in this world who leave a lasting impression where ever they go and with whomever they meet.  This story is about two of those people.

Take a seat! Make a cuppa and grab some tissues.

Ill set the scene – its the early 1950s bad boy meet upper class girl, girls family disapprove. Bad boy gets the hint and runs away to the Navy.  Lets roll on five years.  Bad boy returns to his old stomping group and bumps into said girl. She is upset, very upset. She was engaged to be married the following month. She had just found out her husband to be had a gambling problem and had just sold the furniture of the house they had planned to move into when they got married to pay his debts. She was distraught.  She is comforted by bad boy, two years later they were married and thus began one of the most romantic love stories.

So who are they? They are my dads parents my Nannie and Granada. Their remarkable love story doesn’t end there.

They were the epitome of the popular hash tag used today of “couple goals”. My Granada had a deep love and respect for my Nannie that reflected in everything he did. She got breakfast in bed  almost every morning, her toast cut just the way she liked it.  He opened doors, he pulled out chairs, a gentleman through and through.  If my two boys grow up to respect woman even half of what he did ill know I did my job well.

Lets jump to the 1980s their two kids grown up and married themselves (one being my own dad). The house now empty except when the growing number of grandchildren come to visit to be utterly spoilt.  One morning my Nannie was outside cleaning as she would have done probably every day, she was incredibly house proud. You could have ate your dinner off the glistening floor.  However this day was different, having finished clearing the back garden she looked down and her wedding ring was gone.  She always took off her engagement ring for safe keeping when she was cleaning but never her wedding ring.  In fact she often said she never took it off from the minute my Granda put it on her finger when saying their vows all those years ago. But it was gone. She was utterly distraught.  My Granda searched, the neighbours searched but it was not to be the ring was gone. My Granda bought a replacement ring a couple of months later.  While my Nannie wore it everyday it just wasn’t the same for her. She always believed she would find her wedding ring, countless hours weren’t spent over the next few years looking for it out the back garden in the vain hope her instinct was right.  When she told the story I used to remark she would say the ring was misplaced – not lost, just misplaced.

Ten years later and my Grandas world came crashing down, my Nannie, his beloved wife passed away. I was only young yet I remember it like it was yesterday. My Granda gave me the locket that he gave her before they got married, the date of July 1956 inscribed on the front and black and white pictures of my grandparents when they were 21.  That is my most treasured possession.

holding hands

Pic Credit: Pixabay

From memory it was about two years later when my Dad came running in from the hall way after being on the house phone. My Granda had been out cleaning the shores in his back garden that had become blocked and had found my Nannies wedding ring.  That same shore my Nannie had cleaned multiple times over the previous ten years. None of us could believe it but she was totally right all along, it was never lost, just misplaced.  For a ring that had spent ten years lodged in an outside drain it was still in almost perfect condition.   I actually have tears in my eyes just thinking of this story again.

The ring had been sitting in a little crack just below the shore in their back garden all this time, it was like something out of  movie. It was like a dark cloud lifted from my Granda and from that house that they spent so many happy years.  That was the turning point, he knew then everything was going to be ok.  She was watching over him. He guarded that ring with his life from that point on ward.

My Granda, my best friend passed away in 2015.  I have written about him before.  He was the kind of man that left a lasting impression wherever he went. What I would give for five minutes more.  Maybe one day who knows.  As I write this post that ring that has been on quite the adventure sit proudly on my right hand where it will forever stay until I can pass it to the next generation. That ring could tell some stories…

When my Granda died a good friend bought me a  necklace with the words “Miss me but let me go”, my Grandas last words to me were not to worry that he was ready to go that he lived his life and I was to make sure i did too…….I do try to follow these words…… the missing you is easy its the letting go that will never be.

 

I guess there is a lesson for us all there.  Life is to be lived – there is no trial run, no second chance.

 

 

 

Mamma Musings

Easter Hols time for some de-stressing!!

There is something about the Easter holidays above any other time of the year that means I can actually relax and de stress.  It really is a rarity for me, two young kids, a full time job together with the blog, time off is a precious commodity. I vowed earlier this year that I would make more time for me and more time to relax and de stress.  This has been happening with mixed levels of success.

Rattan Direct have produced a useful guide with tips to help us to destress at home.  The guide talks about the Danish concept of Hygge. Believe it or not I have only been introduced to this concept in recently months. I’ve obviously been living under a rock or something as this seem to me anyway to be really popular.

I am reliably informed Hygge is pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah and  is a Danish word used to refer to or a conscious appreciation or feeling of content.  Sounds exactly like something we all need.  Basically you don’t buy a Hygge piece of furniture, you buy a piece or repurpose an old piece to bring the feeling into your life.

The Rattan Direct guide sets out 19 helpful hints to help us to invoke that feeling in our own homes.  One of the take away points for me and also the one I should action more is decluttering.  There is something very theraputic about throwing out or giving away things you no loner use, need or want.

One other point I always do for myself and the kids is focus on relaxing sleeping arrangements. Rooms are kept tidy and clutter free, sheets are kept fresh and refreshed often.  I loathe getting into an unmade bed so I have got myself and my kids into the habit of making beds each morning.

If you have any tips for destressing at home do let me know in the comments.

Note: This is a collaborative post.