Ice Cream In A Bag

Ice Cream In A Bag

It’s throwing it down with rain outside and the kids want ice cream but our house is out of stock.

I vaguely recalled a way of making ice cream using salt and ice cubes so we thought we’d give it a try. It passes as an educational activity (just) so double win!

1. Put 1/2 a cup of semi skimmed milk in a zip lock sandwich bag.

2. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

3. Zip the bag shut trying to get as much air out the bag as possible.

4. Put that bag inside another zip lock bag and seal tightly removing the air again.

5. Place the ice cream bag into a larger zip lock bag and fill with ice.

6. Put 2 tablespoons of salt into the large bag and seal tightly.

7. Shake the bag for approx. 8 minutes. You’ll notice the liquid start to go slushy in consistancy.

8. Take the ice cream bag out the larger bag and serve immediately.

The kids got bored shaking the bag and we did spring a leak but, we got a small amount of slightly melted ice cream which the kids loved and made it all worthwhile (to them anyway).

The boys were fascinated by the chemical reaction between the salt and the ice and how it turned the milk into ice cream.

Definitely a great activity to waste 20 minutes on a wet day.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

I’m probably a bit late writing this post as it’s January 3rd, most of the country is back to work and Christmas is a distant memory!

We’ve had such a busy Christmas with 4 very excited small people and a house that now resembles Toys’R’Us! It has topped off what has been an incredible year. 

Our year started with me quitting my job and having a complete career change. Gone are the long hours, long commute and stress I didn’t need. I now work in children’s services, much closer to home and see my own children far more. It’s amazing how much of a massive difference it’s made to my life and how much happier I am.

We’ve had 2 fantastic holidays. One as a family to Mexico, where we welcomed a new sister-in-law to the family. A stressful 10 hour plane ride was made a lot easier by the addition of 20 family members. They also helped a huge amount while we were away and discovered just how stressful 4 little people can be!

We also had the opportunity to have a holiday as a couple to Las Vegas. 

It was a bit of a belated 30th birrhday present to ourselves as our big birthdays passed us by in the blur of newborn twins. 

The kids spent a very enjoyable half term with their grandparents while we got to have a week of being grown ups again. Some people might not agree with our decision to holiday without our children but all of us had a great time and the kids had a much better half term with their grandparents than we would have given them!

While there, I finally got to visit the Grand Canyon. As a geologist, it’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit. We took a helicopter ride out to the Canyon and back and it was absolutely incredible. Definitely a tick off the bucket list. 

We also went to one of the most amazing weddings ever (which just happened to be my brother’s). He decided to get married on Tower Bridge in London with a party on the Thames afterwards. 

It was such a great location for a wedding and we had such a good time. Nothing beats a good family party and it’s not often that we get everyone together. 

This year is looking a lot quieter for us. I think holidays are on hold as we are looking to build an extension on our house. We bought our forever home when we were just a family of 4 and now we are 6 it’s getting a bit tight! I am so looking forward to having some extra space even if it does mean sacrificing some of my garden.

How is your 2017 shaping up? Is it looking like a busy, expensive year or a quite one that is just going to tick by?

Elf On The Shelf 2016

Elf On The Shelf 2016

I’ve struggled to blog for a year now as playing Mum to 4 smalls seems to be taking up all my time. I’ve realised that I miss sharing my ramblings and dodgy photos.

I’ve decided to start posting again with a pretty photo post to ease me back in! 

This is the first year we’ve welcomed an Elf (which is still nameless) and sometimes it can be hard to come up with a quick idea at 11pm when you’ve forgotten all about it! I’m not the most imaginative but my 4 have loved finding their elf in these places. Hope these help someone.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Not the easiest to photograph but the naughty Elf set up a string treasure hunt around the downstairs using 75m of string! 

Day 5

Day 6

Taking to his sick bed after a rather dramatic fall from the light the day before!

Day 7

Day 8

A shoe train down the hall. Nobody wants to see my messy hall so we’ll save that photo!

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

You can keep up to date with the Elf ideas on my Instagram page (4under4madness). I’d love to see your Elf ideas – share them in the comments. 

The Last 2 Months

The Last 2 Months

As you may have noticed, my blog has been pretty quiet over the last few weeks. This is because the last 2 months of our lives have been absolutely non stop! So much has changed and so many things have happened that I can barely keep up myself! My life has become a soap opera!

It started with my lovely husband getting a new job. He’d been unhappy in his job for a while and a great opportunity arose which meant he still got to stay at the company but move on to bigger and better things. He absolutely loves his new job but I’m finding it very stressful as he now has to do lots of travel abroad. With 4 children and me working 3 days a week it’s really hard to keep on top of my own life when he’s away.

I’ve also been offered the opportunity to leave my job. I used to love my job but feel I’ve been treated really unfairly since having children and I’ve been dreading going to work every day for the last 5 years. I’ve been in my job a long time and it’s my first job out of university. I’ve worked my little socks off and I used to come in to work with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I think I’m unfortunately suffering from being a woman in a man’s world (I’m an engineer).

With the opportunity to leave work, I’ve started looking at my life and decided the time is right for a career change. I’ve logged onto the UCAS website and decided to apply for my teacher training. I had a place on a teacher training course when I left university but pulled out just before term started as I was offered my current job. It’s a decision I massively regret and now seems as good a time as any to rectify the mistake.

I’ve applied for a part time school based course in secondary physics and I’m nervous as hell! My science knowledge is a bit rusty but I’m looking forward to a new challenge and hopefully building my confidence back up after it’s been destroyed so badly by work. Fingers crossed I get accepted.

With all this going on we’ve also spent quite a lot of time in hospital. I almost feel I qualify for my own parking space!!My biggest twin has managed to get bronchiolitis. Fairly common this year apparently and she’s so much better after a few days with an inhaler.

Then my husband decided to take hospital visits to a whole new level and ended up having emergency surgery 2 weeks ago. He is now laid up at home, milking the sympathy and signed off for a minimum of 6 weeks! He also faces the possibility of further surgery next year which could see him out of action for up to 8 months!

Things appear to have calmed down a bit and we’re very much looking forward to Christmas with 4 very excited children. I’m also getting a bit more time back to pick up my blog again. We have a very exciting 2016 ahead and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Parenting Battles – The Car Seat

Parenting Battles – The Car Seat

Admit it, we’ve all been there! Usually it happens when you’re running late for an appointment or it’s tiddling down with rain. The child goes as stiff as a board and refuses to get into the seat or if you’re really unlucky refuses the car altogether.

We’ve had this happen a lot over the last few years but it’s usually manageable with a bit of bribery. That is until last week when the 5 year old decided he wasn’t having any of his new car seat.

The day started well. We’d been to the local country park on a Home Start day out. The kids had done crafts, played in the park, done some pond dipping and had a picnic. I’d been brave and taken all of them on my own and was feeling slightly smug that everything was going well.

We headed back to the car after several hours and I loaded the 3 smallest into the car while the eldest got himself in. This was no different to usual but things were about to get ugly! The 3 little ones were all ready to go and I went to do up the biggest ones seatbelt but he’d decided he didn’t want to be in his seat.

No amount of coaxing, arguing or fighting him would work. I tried for a good 20 minutes all whilst he was screaming at the top of his voice. It must have sounded like I was murdering him in the back of the car!

I eventually gave up and called Daddy in the vain hope he would listen to him. Kids always behave for their Dad’s right? By this point, the others were starting to get upset and I was sobbing that we were going to be stuck here forever! Daddy tried his best over the phone but failed miserably.

Knowing it wouldn’t be long until no. 2 started to try and escape his car seat and, faced with the prospect of being stuck in the car park forever with 4 screaming children, I did what all terrible parents do – I went to drive off. I’m not proud of my decision but thankfully all it took was starting the car and putting it in reverse before the child panicked and put his seatbelt on. If only I’d done that 20 minutes earlier!

I’m very glad he saw sense so quickly as I couldn’t have driven off knowing he was unrestrained in the back of the car. I’d probably still have been stuck in that car park several hours later when Daddy came home to rescue us!

This is a scenario I really hope won’t be repeated but knowing children and car seats, I know it will! What are your top tips for car seat refusers? How can I ace this in the future?

What We’ve Learnt From Half A Term At School

What We’ve Learnt From Half A Term At School

So, the biggest boy has finished his first half term at school. It’s been a long, tiring and at times frustrating 6 weeks but we made it. So, what have we learnt?

1. They get really, really tired
The stroppy, difficult child arrived after 1 week of full time school. The sulking and teenage display of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning is most amusing!

2. They don’t appreciate going to school on their birthday
Refer to this post. I had to drag him to school kicking and screaming as he desperately wanted to stay at home. Not one of my finest parenting moments but, within 5 minutes of being in class he was fine!

3. They are really missed at home
Both me and his brother really miss him. O has lost his play mate and runs to hug him as soon as he’s out of school. They used to try to kill each other but now they hate being apart!

4. They think their teachers are superheroes
“My teacher says this”, “my teacher does it this way”! Mummy is suddenly always wrong! I’ve been replaced by another woman in his life!

5. They have a really great time
He comes home from school telling me it was OK and he didn’t do much but, parents evening and the weekly reports we get from his teacher tell another story. Apparently, he’s really enjoying himself.

6. It’s not as hard as I thought to get 4 children dressed and out the door
I’m not the playground Mum I thought I’d be. I thought I’d be the one tearing down the road late with half dressed kids in tow. Instead, I’m one of the first at school, fully dressed and even sometimes with make up on! Go me!

7. The big boy attitude sucks
I always thought he behaved like a teenager but that was before we started school and took sarcasm and bad tempers to a whole other level!

Love2read Photo Book

Love2read Photo Book

The youngest boy is now fast approaching his 3rd birthday and the search has begun for the elusive present that isn’t a toy!

Since his brother started school and begun learning to read, he’s become more and more interested in books and attempting to read them himself. This gave me a great idea for a birthday present.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Love2read, I was offered the opportunity to create him his first photo reading book.

Love2read create photobooks which aim to encourage a love of reading through photos of the world around your child. They use high frequency key words in the books that your child will recognise when they begin learning to read and personal photos to help recognise the words.

The process of creating the book was so simple. I chose my template then uploaded my mugshots! It was so easy that it could have taken me just 10 minutes to create a book. Instead it took my nearly 2 hours as I realised I don’t take nearly enough photos of my family!

We had a small delay with delivery but, I was sent a very lovely email explaining as such and telling me when to expect my book. I was again sent a great email when the book was dispatched so I knew exactly when to hover around the letterbox.

It arrived in a hardbacked envelope and was beautiful. I had a sneaky look as soon as it arrived as I was so excited!

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We chose the ‘Our Family’ book so he had photos of people he sees frequently but, there are so many different titles to chose from. I also think that if you ask nicely, they’ll create a title just for you. The front cover has a preview of some of the photos in the book. Excuse the diamonds but I don’t put photos of my children’s faces on my blog.

The book is such good quality and printed on lovely thick card. Given it’s aimed at early readers, this should prevent any accidental rips when turning the pages.

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Inside the book there is space for 10 photos with words underneath. The ‘I see’ is repeated on every page with a different family members mugshot!

On the final page of the book the key words are repeated several times to see if they can recognise and read them.

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I am so impressed by these books and think O will be really impressed when he opens it on his birthday and sees all his favourite people. They are really good quality and I think they are a great idea for introducing children to reading using objects/places/people that they recognise. They are also a creative way of capturing memories for the future.

Books cost £14.99 plus p&p but the price per book drops if you buy multiples. With Christmas just around the corner these would make a fantastic gift for the smallest people in your life.

For more information and to order visit www.Love2read.co.uk

New And Improved Slim Fast – Final Thoughts

New And Improved Slim Fast – Final Thoughts

I’ve now completed my week of Slim Fast and with a 3lb loss my BMI has dropped from 29.6 to 29.1. This is a huge step in the right direction and I feel great.

I’ve enjoyed my extra week on Slim Fast and the added variety of the noodle boxes helped keep the boredom away. I do have to admit that I only tried the spicy thai noodles as I’m a vegetarian but they were really tasty. I couldn’t believe they only counted as a snack as they really filled me up. I was a bit worried that they might taste watery as they do ‘swim’ in liquid a little bit but the flavour was great. They also made my house smell amazing!!

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I did however get my other half to try the spaghetti bolognese and the chicken tikka. He was as impressed as I was and for once he wasn’t raiding the biscuit tin mid afternoon!

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I’ve also found a new love for the meal replacement shakes and especially the cafe latte flavour. It was really great to see that Slim Fast had taken on board the feedback they have received recently and have lowered the sugar content of their shakes. I found that a massive down point when I first did the Slim Fast Challenge so was really impressed with the new shakes. The rest of the brand is due to have its sugar lowered in the near future.

With the introduction of the noodle pots I’ve enjoyed Slim Fast much more this time. I haven’t felt like I’m constantly filling myself up with sugar and I have also found myself fuller for longer. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Slim Fast again as it definitely seems to work for me.

30th Birthday Challenges – Gliding

30th Birthday Challenges – Gliding

If you read my previous post about doing some amazing daredevil stuff for my 30th birthday, you’ll know that I planned on going gliding.

Well, at the start of the month I did it and it was amazing! I went up in a vintage open cockpit glider and even had a little go of flying it myself.

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Watch me being launched here.

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Check me out looking like Biggles!

I absolutely loved every second of the flight. We were lucky enough to have good weather and managed to get a fairly long glide. I even got to glide over the top of my house!

It’s definitely made me realise I want to fly but that I don’t have the time to do it right now. I guess it’ll have to be another thing that I put on hold until the kids are older. Maybe one of them would want to learn with me!

So, one challenge down and one to go. I’m hoping I can do my wing walk before my next birthday. Just a small case of a little bit of weight still to lose.

The Twinkle Diaries
Stopping at two