Blog Posts

Glasses at Age Four

Glasses at Age Four

Miss 4 was complaining of sore itchy eyes in the evenings when doing her homework, I thought maybe we should get her eyes tested, despite a couple of weeks prior having the Plunket sight and hearing test coming back as ‘normal’.  I consulted a few friends who had been through the eye test and glasses process with their little people and learnt the correct process is to go to your GP, get a referral, wait for the referral appointment, attend the appointment, get a prescription and go to an optometrist to order some glasses.

In the short time I had to research it (and as we were a week out from jumping on a plane to the other side of the planet) I learnt that the only saving to be had was the eye test itself, and the referral process could take up to 8 weeks.  As time was not on our side, I decided to contact my optometrist to see if they could help.

Another point I learnt, is that not all optometrists are qualified to assess children, however mine has kids around the same age AND was qualified to carry out the assessment.

The day before her appointment I collected some dilating eye drops and we put them in her eyes an hour before the appointment.  The staff were great and Miss 4 handled herself really well.  The dilating drops were used just in case she was unable to translate the letters, shapes and numbers on the screen, but she had no problem with that.

It wasn’t long into the appointment that she was assessed as long sighted and we were told it would be beneficial for her to be fitted with glasses – something I was keen to do as it’s not long before she starts school.

We finished the assessment and went to choose some frames.  After a fashion parade of quite a few frames, she settled on the pair she liked.

Within 24 (working) hours of our appointment her new glasses were ready to collect – the service was fast and left us enough time to get her used to wearing them before we left the country.

Although it cost a bit more money for us because we had to pay for the examination rather than going through the public health service, I’m happy we sorted it for her and went to a provider that was able to give us an amazing service and get the glasses ready so quickly.

                                             

Dilated Pupils after the test                               The chosen pair of glasses

 

Read more →

First day at school - differences between the UK and NZ

First day at school - differences between the UK and NZ

It’s been a long time since I was at primary school.  Mum tells me that things like we saw this morning started to change around the time that I was there. I’m obviously so old I don’t remember it.

Arriving in the UK just before the end of school term, gave us the opportunity to send Jacob (6) for a day to give him the chance understand UK school life before he starts the new term in September.  The drop off was very alien in comparison to what I’m used to in NZ.

Upon arrival to the school office, we had to ring a bell to given access, from there we were escorted everywhere and everything was swipe cards, key pin pads and pad locks as we moved from one area to another.

As we were leaving school at 9am, the clinking sound was apparent as the caretaker worked his way around the perimeter gates, padlocking each and every one of them.

This is now known as ‘Safeguarding’ and it falls under the Child Protection Act as a way of keeping kids in schools safe.  Not to the point that they are being locked in to prevent them from escaping, but to ensure that the threat of danger is kept out of the school.

It’s quite scary to read the articles about the level of terrorist threat in the UK. As I write this, it is set to ‘Severe’ which means an attack is likely, but the measures in place to reduce the threat on our little people is there and it would seem, necessary.  But sadly it’s not only terrorism that is a threat, there are other dangers and dangerous people that need to be stopped which means ‘Safeguarding’ is essential in all primary schools in the UK.

It certainly makes me think about the freedom in NZ – we leave our children to play in their playground before starting school, supervised to the point that there are teachers in the nearby classrooms with no security gates to pass through, whereas here in the UK, kids cannot be dropped off early to play unless it’s at before school care which again is under security.

Pick up is again under huge amounts of security, gates are unlocked so parents or caregivers can congregate in the playground and wait for their children to be signed out and released, there is no access to the class to collect kids, no opportunity to just stroll in and have a chat with the teacher.

Jacob did notice the difference in security from his NZ school to the UK school, however took it at face value, it was just the way things were.

He was much more excited by the amount of outdoor sport and the fact that he didn’t have to have one of mum’s school lunchboxes for a while and he could choose from a range of cooked lunches each day.

Read more →

17 hours on a plane with three kids under six!

17 hours on a plane with three kids under six!

Does the thought of a long haul flight with young kids put you off even stepping out of your front door? Well to be honest it should, but the good news is, you WILL survive and have plenty of stories to tell long after the event, just like I am doing now.

Travelling from Auckland to Dubai on the 17 hour flight seems like a great idea right? Well it did to us. 'Let’s just get it over and done with as soon as possible' we said. 'It's a night flight, we'll get on the plane, have dinner and the kids will fall asleep for most of the flight' we said.’

It sounded easy, almost idyllic in our heads, the kids would go to sleep and we – the parents who barely get to finish a sentence without being interrupted could actually spend some ‘us’ time chatting and looking forward to the adventures ahead.

Once we checked in 7 bags, 2 bikes and three car seats, passed through two more queues via passport control and security we boarded the giant bird, with three excited, very tired and overly hungry little people – bear in mind it’s nearly 8pm by now.  We took off on time, around 8.30pm and once in the sky, dinner was served around 10pm – now I could go into detail about the kids meals and the fact that they missed one so there was a half hour wait for one of our babies to eat, but I won’t.  We all finished eating, dinner was cleared and the lights dimmed – so now around 11pm.  I put the girls into their PJ’s ready for ‘bed’ and they asked if they could go upstairs to bed.  The realisation of sleeping in their seats was a very strange concept to them.

Now, one of the things we didn’t recon upon was that we have three very different, very strong minded kids. Jacob (6) was determined to play every game and watch every movie and avoid sleeping at all times!  Lilly (4) wanted to sing every song from Frozen and Moana at the top of her lungs, and Scarlett (2) desperately wanted to sleep but if in her seat it was going to be sideways across three seats otherwise she was going to scream the place down.

You guessed it – we soon became ‘those parents’ with ‘those kids’.  After a big episode of tears and shouting, I got Scarlett to sleep, the cabin quietened then about an hour later she woke up screaming, for no apparent reason, screaming so loud that she will have no doubt woken up most of the people in our cabin, settled back down, finally, then an hour later the same exact thing happened.  This carried on for about 5 hours, so yes, we were most definitely ‘THOSE parents’ with ‘THOSE kids’.

We arrived at Dubai just as the sun was coming up, with just about enough energy to navigate around the biggest (well if it’s not it felt like it was) airport in the world.  5.30am and 36 degrees, we had one hour to get to the gate for our connecting flight. We had to go down one lift the size of a small bedroom, walked to the underground train, where we held on for sheer life as it sped around what felt like a giant circle, then up again in a giant lift where we had a short walk to our next gate.

Find out what we recommend as your essential survival kit to take on the plane in our next blog.

Read more →

Nut Free Chocolate Spread

Nut Free Chocolate Spread

Somewhere along the line my kids have found they love Nutella, and although I'm first to admit that it is definately a yummy spread, it's not all that healthy, itls full of sugar and fat, and NUTS which means my preschool kids cant have it in their lunchboxes.

So I set about to find a way to make something just as yummy that does not contain nuts.

Just to be clear, sometimes you do what works just to get your kids to eat - they don't eat it every day.

I opted for sunflower seeds, they are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and more nutritional content than nuts, Winner!

Ingredients:

2 x Cups Raw Sunflower seeds

1/4 tsp Salt

1.5 TBSPN Vanilla extract

1/4 cup of Cacao Powder

1/4 cup Honey

3 tspn Vegetable Oil or Coconut Oil (not Olive Oil as the taste is too strong)

1/4 cup milk, diary or non dairy (I used Almond milk, which yes adds a nut content but cows milk works just as well)

 

Method:

1) Spread sunflower seeds on a sheet of baking paper and roast in the oven, be sure to keep an eye on this as it can turn very quickly, you are aiming for them to turn a golden colour which will take around 15 - 20 minutes.

   

2) Set aside to cool then place in a food processor.  Blend until the seeds turn into a smooth paste.  You may need to do this in stages to scrape the sides of the bowl down and ensure your food processor doesn't over heat.  Take time at this step, getting a smooth paste is your aim here

  

3) Add remaining ingredients except the milk and blend.  Once combined, add milk to achieve desired consistency, you may find you don't need to use  as much as 1/4 cup.

Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge

     

We love this on pancakes, in wraps, on toast and just to dip strawberries in!

Check out our cereal pancake recipe that's a winner every weekend in our house hold here

 

 

Read more →

Cereal Pancakes

Cereal Pancakes

Pancakes are requested most weekends in our house, and I'm always looking for ways to switch up the mix.  If possible I try to avoid processed products and aim to stick to ingredients that are as raw as possible.  

 My Cereal pancake mix uses ingredients straight from the pantry that I know my kids love because they eat it through the week.

 Ingredients:

 1 Cup Rolled Oats

 2 Weetbix

 2 - 3 Eggs depending on size - I used 3 size 7 eggs

 Milk to achieve the consistency you desire

I also add other bits and pieces like protein powder and Maca Powder

  Method:

 Blend Oats in a blender or food processor to achieve 'flour' consistency

 Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth

 Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes and add more milk if a thinner consistency is required.  Note - the mixture is likely to swell and get thicker as the oats absorb the liquid

 Pour or ladle into a hot pan and cook

 I'm not a flipper, but if you can toss your pancake once bubbles appear on the surface and cook the other side until it slides around in the pan

 Serve with your favourite topping, Our Kids love our nut free chocolate spread

 

Read more →

Real Fruit Jelly Lollies - only three ingredients

Real Fruit Jelly Lollies - only three ingredients

I have fallen in love with these Jelly Lollies, they are so quick and easy to make and only have three ingredients.  They make a great snack option and are a good item to add to lunchboxes for any age.

So here's what you need to do.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of fruit juice - we used fresh strawberries
  • 3-4 tablespoons of honey
  • 4 tablespoons of gelatine powder

1) Raid the strawberry patch for about 2 cups of uncut fruit.  Blend to a smooth consistency which will measure out to be approximately 1 cup.

      

2) Pass through a sieve into a saucepan to remove any seeds.  Heat the 1 cup of fruit juice along with 3 - 4 tablespoons of honey until honey has melted and is mixed through.

3) Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of gelatine over the mixture and stir through.  Allow the mixture to get no hotter than a simmer and stir until gelatine has disolved.  It may help to use a whisk at this stage.

             

4) Pour into silicone moults and smooth over to spread mixture evenly.  I used choclate silicone moulds.

Freeze for about 10 minutes untiil set - turn out and enjoy

               

 Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week, if they last that long!

Read more →

Going it alone

Going it alone

I hate it when my other half goes away to work, luckily the last time he went was when our first was just under a year old back in 2011, I'm very glad he hasn't worked away since then as I wouldn't have managed on my own with kids, work, the business etc.  But there comes a time where everyone has to have their fair share of working away from home in the company he works for so here's my story about going it alone and the things I learn along the way.

The day before and the day he left I was very upset, outwardly crying, not because I was going to be 'stuck with three kids for two weeks' but because I didn't want to be lonely, I can handle the kids and in fact I really enjoy being around them and spending time with them one on one, but the thought of evenings alone without my best friends to chat to, cuddle up to and most of all wake up next too was the thing that was making me upset. Now, I realise I'm not alone, and that many other mums out there go it alone on a weekly basis, but this is a new life to me, and not one that I'm particularly keen on.

So, I thought I'd document my erm, ‘experiences’ over the two weeks to hopefully bring some light heartedness to my journey and maybe make one of you feel like you're not the only one - you too are as paranoid, unorganised, fly by the seat of your pants and emotional as me

So DAY ONE getting ready for bed - this can usually take 2 hours, I had primed the kids about 'team work' and if we all work together we can all have a reward at the end of our two weeks.  Bed time in our house is 7pm, being a Friday night I was a bit more causal than normal so after a few failed attempts of putting the kids to bed they chose a story each and I captured their attention with the world of make believe, ending in rolling laugher and tickling until they pee'd their pants.  Mr 6 (who's Birthday it was on this day) was determined to stay up a bit longer to draw a quick picture, he got busy at the dining room table and half an hour later was still there, I was getting angry with him at this point, which I hate to do but it seemed to be the only way he would listen. He went to bed and I went to the table to see what he had been doing - and it was this tear jerking picture.

 

He has a heart of gold and is the most amazing kid - lesson learned today - give him more credit and one on one time than I do already...

....meanwhile, whilst tucking in and kissing and cuddling Mr 6, I come back to the living room to find this is what Miss 2 has been doing - mummy fail, the eyes in the back of my head stopped working for 45 seconds!

DAY THREE. I didn't check in for day two as i've been LOVING spending time with my little people, we've all had so much fun just hanging out, but one thing I struggle with is bed time, our kids are 6, 4 and 2 and we start the bed time routine at 7pm but they never all go to bed and stay in bed - tonights lesson, just ignore them and when they fall asleep on the sofa, transfer them to bed! WINNING

DAY FOUR VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING Important Note - if you get the kids to 'help' in cleaning or washing the car, make sure you check they haven't left any internal lights on that will drain your car battery over night!!!

Read more →

What does it actually mean to 'support local' ????

What does it actually mean to 'support local' ????

Hi everyone, thank you for getting this far.

I'd like to take some time to show you the perspective from a local business owner in Papakura and I hope after reading this, if you haven't voted, that you DO AND DO IT NOW

In late 2014 I was on maternity leave with our third baby, I had an overwhelming urge / need to do something in the community, and I literally woke up one morning announcing I was gong to open a shop! Once saying it I couldn't go back and had to make it happen.  I had a vision to offer something to the community for them to benefit from - a feeding area, free parenting workshops, teaching and of course a boutique retail outlet. 

This happened, because, well it had to - I'd said it, so it had to, it was a massive sacrifice to us personally, because I felt an urge to do something for our community, a sacrifice that now 2 years on I am still in debt to.

So lets fast forward 2 years (give or take a month)  I now employ 2 locals and stock over 17 NZ made products - most from NZ mumtrepreurs - don't know the phrase, well basically awesome mums who run their hand made business from home. By stocking these businesses I not only support their business but I also provide products that are unique and can only be found in store.

For me it was all about giving back - giving back to the community and to the awesome mum bosses out there.

For the last two years (nearly) I have stuck it out - personally working two jobs to keep the business alive which is bloody hard with 3 very young kids , but I've done it because I believe in our community.

Sadly the community (not all of you because I have some awesome regular customers) have not supported me.  I always knew Papakura was a tough location, but I had faith and belief, but maybe I'm two years too soon! 

Frankly, I go weeks not even making wages to pay the two awesome staff I have, which means my family suffers financially week on week. 

Papakura is an awesome town, it is beautiful, has some outstanding people and deserves a chance, which is what I was trying to give it - much to the cost of us both financially and personally.

Supporting local is massively important on so many levels, let your feet do the talking, walk into our place weather you're in the baby market or not and give us a chance, we're normal people just like you just trying to make our town awesome.

Voting is massively important to ensure our town can be brought back to life, we have had the same council body in power for the last 10 years, and for me, personally, it has not been a benefit in any shape or form. Voting can make a massive difference

Come on people - #positivepapakura

We are all worthy human beings, take a stand, make a point and lets make it happen for our awesome town.

Read more →

Kneado - playing dough that even your kids can make

Kneado - playing dough that even your kids can make

Time is one of the things I really struggle with right now. Work plus three young kids, a business, house to run, husband to keep... all of that stuff it's pretty hard to juggle on a good hair day, so when I came across a new way to keep my little people entertained, in a safe and quick way then I was totally up for it.

Kneado is not only allergy free, it's quick!  So quick all I had to do was give a couple of instructions to my five year old boy, who is currently going through the phase of painted on ears, and he was away.

His words: 'it was soft and was really easy to make, it was easy to make shapes with and was just really awesome'

The mixing is easy, all you do is tip the pre-mix into a bowl and add 100ml's of warm water and knead together until it forms a dough, done! He struggled a bit through the gooey phase but I soon got him back on track.

I found it much more oily than other brands, my hand's didn't end up crusty and dry, if you know what I mean.

I love the fact that Ecomonkey ensure their products are allergy friendly, I'm lucky that my kids don't have any allergies that we know of, and even luckier that when Miss 2 took a big bite of the Kneado then exclaimed 'yum' I felt at ease knowing that she had consumed clean natural ingredients.

This product gets top marks from me, and the kids, we love it. 

Kneado is available on line and in store at Twinkle Twinkle little star, or www.ttls.co.nz

Read more →

The truth about holidaying with 3 kids five and under

The truth about holidaying with 3 kids five and under

Picture this, pristine white mountains, fluffy white snow and three excited kids eager to make memories, you know, core memories, the kind you see in the movie Inside Out.  I was filled with idealistic, romantic even images in my head as we packed the car and headed away to the snow for a week. But! That was short lived.

Now don't get me wrong, we have three awesome kids, and they were all told that snow is cold, wet and windy at times so it was important to wrap up to keep warm, well, that's where it all started.  We have a threenager who is adamant that she must wear a summer dress or togs at all times of the year, so the concept of putting three layers on is alien to her.

Aside from the sleepless night of bed hopping due to the kids being in a strange house, the mornings were where it all started, yelling, screaming. Punching. Fighting for looking, breathing, getting breakfast ready, packing bags.  I was hoping it was just a little anxiety and once we hit the snow it would all pass but nooooo, how wrong was I.  Now I'm not the best of writers but lets just say that I was 'THAT' mum, you know the one that EVERYONE else stares at, as I was left in the middle of the snow field with three kids totally loosing the plot as Daddy got some well deserved freedom with a couple of runs down the mountain.

We were lucky to have some lovely weather for our week away, it wasn't all doom and gloom but getting 'back on the horse' and thinking about another family holiday is pretty hard to do right now, I guess it's like child birth, you forget about the trauma and think ahead to the next one almost immediately.  

At the end of the day it's about building memories, and we certainly did that!

Read more →