Refreshing Reminiscing…

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There are sometimes moments in life that prove that however ‘grown up’ your life becomes, we are all still, eternally, children at heart! Our day today consisted of filming a music video in Brighton, which already says something about our chosen lifestyle. However, if possible (we’re filming with a personal hero of ours today so it was already at an extremely high level of happiness!) the day reached new, dizzying heights of joy, when we went into a ‘Happy Shopper’.

Bear with me, the good news isn’t simply, we went into a newsagents, we’re excitable people but not quite that easily pleased…

ANYWAY, regular readers will know that my husband and I met aged 5 and 6 respectively and had a quarrel over a classic 80’s/90’s drink, ‘Twist and Squeeze.’ These drinks weren’t particularly healthy and contained quite a lot of additives, as such, although my Mum would buy them (I didn’t like fizzy drinks and otherwise only drank water so Mum allowed me this one ‘vice’!) not many other parents would. Consequently, I was a bit of a neighbourhood dealer, heading up to the village green with a load stuffed in my backpack! My favourite flavour was blue (I’m not sure what ‘blue’ was supposed to be, I never really questioned it…) and the occasion in which my future husband and I both wanted the last blue one is one of my very favourite anecdotes about how we came to know one another.

The drink was sadly banned (sadly for me, nutritionally it was terrible that it was ever available..!) and Twist and Squeeze was no longer in my life. Luckily, my husband and I connected on a deeper level than soft drink preference all those years later, and we somehow continued despite the gaping hole that Twist and Squeeze inevitably left in it’s absence.

However, coming back to today, we wandered into the Happy Shopper with high spirits. As I perused the fridge shelves for a snack I felt my other half’s hand grip mine…

“Don’t look behind you.”

Thinking I was perhaps being protected from witnessing some horrendous crime I froze. And then I saw the glint in his eye, something good was happening, something was exciting!

“Turn around.”

I obeyed and my eyes eagerly scanned the facing shelves, cans of drink, cartons of Um Bongo, standard newsagent stock, I couldn’t work out what he was referring…oh no wait…and then I saw it. A glimmer of emerald green, a familiar plastic shape, but it had been banned, it couldn’t be…

…it bloody was!!!!

Twist and Squeeze!!!!

Exactly the same, except the branding was now ‘Squeeze It’, the ingredients had much fewer chemicals and the flavour was apple. Still, it was definitely Twist and Squeeze. It was like welcoming an old friend. An old friend you hadn’t seen in twenty years. It was a really exciting and wonderful moment that took us back to the first time we met. For me personally it was like reliving a slice of my childhood, even down to the shop; we used to visit a Happy Shopper round the corner from my Nan and Grandads when I was little, I hadn’t been in one for years.

The rest of the day was awesome, we were working with a personal hero on his new music video and had a great time together. But that moment, the moment we saw that piece of shared history (I know I know, all this over a bleeding kids drink, what can I say, I’m very theatrical!) reminded me just how much we’re still children at our core. The best things in life are free is very much a cliche, but it’s very true (well strictly it was 45p, and technically we bought 11 so I’ll let you do the maths!) but today we spent the entire day having that proved.

Scarlett will have a whole set of new things that will accompany her youth and hopefully when she’s an adult, she’ll keep that spirit alive and always find the joy in things that remind her of her past. Perhaps things with less additives and harmful chemicals than the eighties but all the same…

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Nappy sack solution…

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It’s been an extremely busy week. With a baby we have to be particularly organised, especially as we’re out and about so often.

Normally, although I would by no means consider us expert level, (our lives are and will most likely always be pretty chaotic!) we have, after five months of being parents, pretty much got it down to a way that works for us. The changing bag is our lifeline that contains everything we need and we always ensure we have a supply of ready feeds etc in tow.

However, sometimes, this well oiled machine (‘well oiled’ is probably the wrong term but sounds much better than ‘haphazard whirlwind of chaos’!) goes slightly off track and this week, well…Mummy derailed!

If you had asked me a few days ago,

‘Danielle, have you ever dressed your baby in a plastic bag?’

I would have said,

‘Don’t be ridiculous, plastic bags are not appropriate baby wear!’

On the other hand, if you’d have asked me on Thursday, I…well it’s still no, Scarlett’s not been going round in a plastic bag dress just yet. HOWEVER, whilst Daddy was teaching in one room, Mummy started changing baby in the other, and soon realised that just after throwing away a dirty nappy, I was in fact without a clean one. The system had faltered, the changing bag was empty. Where we were situated, there was luckily a local Sainsbury’s still open but a good ten minutes walk away from my currently smiling and now naked baby.

At this stage I had two choices, 1) run to Sainsbury’s (not to mention first cutting through the very full Stage Combat class) clutching my baby’s bare bottom in the hopes that in that time she didn’t wee or worse all over me…OR (and yes I’m sure those of a more logical mindset could come up with more than these two solutions but these were the only two my brain gave me at the time!) 2) come up with some kind of homemade alternative.

Although option 1 does sound more my style, I went with option 2 and started searching round for something to use.

I’ll cut a longer story down to just the result, after ten minutes and a lot of faffing, my beautiful baby girl had a pack of tissues unfolded and wrapped around her tooshie, all held into place with three nappy sacks tied around her in a loose attempt at a secure (and waterproof!) nappy alternative. The ten minute walk to Sainsbury’s was still cut down to seven minutes due to a not completely convinced nappy creator, and in less than twenty minutes we were back and Scarlett was returned to the traditional undergarment of choice for a five month old. And, amazingly, despite slight action, her clothes remained unaffected!

Was it my proudest moment as a mother? No, certainly not, I tied three nappy sacks round a pack of tissues wrapped round my baby girls bum because I didn’t pack enough nappies at the beginning of the day for crying out loud!

However, I like to fly the flag for equality; ridiculous actions when looking after their children is stereotypically supposed to be reserved for the Dads, but my husband is generally more sensible than I am, (well, he probably could have made a more impressive homemade nappy anyway!) but I’m happy to prove that it’s not just Dads that end up in less than catalogue worthy parenting situations. In fact, I’d like to happily fly the flag to prove that practically no parent in the real world behaves like the catalogues/brochures or books portray. We stumble along as we go, picking up tips, learning from our mistakes and gaining insight from our own very individual experiences. Children are very resilient, and utilising simple bits of common sense, the odd cock up is not going to eternally damage them, the stress from worrying about being a perfect parent probably won’t help though; if I worried about being a supermum from the cover of the fancy magazines, the result would likely be that Scarlett grew up with an eternal sense of panic and an inherited feeling of not being quite good enough. Sod that! The reason everyone loves the Bridget Jones character is because realistically we are all the Bridget Jones character! Very few people really know what they’re doing in life but we’re all still managing. So if I forget a coat for her and it’s colder than expected, she’s not going to look particularly fashionable wrapped in my jumper, but she will at least be warm and safe. A nappy sack isn’t a permanent solution for clothing, but it’s better than leaving her in her own filth or letting her just soil an outfit.

What I’ve really learnt from this experience is not just put more nappies in the changing bag(!), but that really, it’s not about the problems that arise, but the way you deal with them that matters.

Life happens to all of us, with even less control when you’re a parent, but we’re all doing the best we can and sometimes we’ll find ourselves in slightly less than ideal circumstances. But comrades, let’s all admit these occasions happen, allow ourselves to just laugh them off, and give ourselves a break.

It’s been an extremely busy week, and with a baby we have to be particularly organised….but let’s be honest, even with a strict daily routine you can never be totally in control of your day to day. We have the kind of lifestyle where a regular day can easily see my husband in one room being paid to play Zombie warm up games with students, while I wrap my baby up in random items from my bag in another. So if you’re anything like us, and often find yourselves having to improvise solutions, relax, I highly doubt we’re quite as much the minority the glossy magazines make out. And anyway, I’ve heard that shabby chic nappy sack look is all the rage these days dahhhling!

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Food for thought…

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One of the most queried ’30 before 30′ items is absolutely the ‘eat a pot noodle sandwich’! It was one of the suggested entrants but one that I immediately added. The idea behind it is that it represents the kind of food you eat as a teenager or in your twenties, the type of food you happily scoff as a child but when you get to your thirties, that sort of food starts to seem unpalatable (if it hadn’t become so already!).

Now I’m fully aware that some people never enjoy things like pot noodles and likewise some people carry on enjoying them, so from that point of view, I am on this subject, generalising. As a general rule, our taste buds develop as we get older. Don’t think yours have? Grab yourself a children’s drink and have a taste – much sweeter than you remember? They’re not, your tongue has just evolved. As in many parts of life, your tastes and preferences change, and when it comes to food, foods with bitter tastes are more popular with older people.

I love food, I love experimenting with food, I often re-try things I didn’t like as a child as I enjoy new meals and delicacies that would otherwise be lacking had I not given them another try in adulthood. But as my palate develops, it’s not just additions that I’ve noticed; as the pot noodle sandwich proved – some things get deleted! I used to have a pot noodle at least once a week; on Wednesday afternoons, we went swimming as part of ‘Games’ at school, and after swimming we’d either go via Burger King or grab a pot noodle. My personal flavours of choice included the classic chicken and mushroom, and then sweet and sour for those days that I felt frivolous. Without realising, years had past since my last pot noodle experience.

For this challenge I picked up the classic chicken and mushroom from our local Tesco, with two slices of buttered bread. A little wave of nostalgia washed over me as I picked out the little sachet of soy sauce as I thought back to the more regular pot noodle days, the golden era of snacking if you will..! More the experiences I had in those days rather than the food items themselves of course but still, the smell, the pot itself, definitely took me back!

I sat down to tuck into my feast, and… well. It wasn’t good! It was very salty, with a horrible texture and tasted…well, unhealthy is the best way to describe it! But not in an indulgent, ‘ooh I know I shouldn’t have a curry tonight but I’m going to treat myself’, kind of way, in a ‘how does anyone eat these’, sort of way.

Does it mean I’m growing up? God I hope not, I revel in regularly indulging and encouraging my inner child. But there was a strange sense of peace in officially putting things like pot noodle sandwiches behind me!

These days, the heady heyday of things like Turkey Twizzlers and Sunny D are much less the norm as the importance of home cooked natural food is at the forefront of public consciousness. I’m sure Scarlett will come across her fair share of rubbish food and I’m certainly not going to ban foods. We homemake our food from scratch and will ensure she has a healthy diet, but that will not stop chocolate and sweets being around; and the only people I know who have a really unhealthy relationship with food (excluding those with an emotional reasoning) are those that had them banned and then therefore gorged on them when inevitably exposed to them. (Again this is a generalisation so apologies to those to whom this reasoning doesn’t apply). I was brought up with the ‘everything in moderation’ motto, and it’s a message that I intend to carry on, nothing banned, and therefore nothing overtly tempting. If Scarlett grabs the odd pot noodle, or every so often treats herself to an all you can eat buffet, we won’t have any big lectures for her, we can’t – it would make us huge hypocrites! And as she approaches her thirties, chances are she’ll no longer be downing litres of cherryade and popping candy, she too will discover that that much sugar will start to only cause headaches and the sugar crashes will be much more affecting than the sugar rushes!

I’m nearly thirty and I’m a new Mum so I’m also considering my health much more; trying to cut down on caffeine, keeping the sugar and saturated fats down to a very small percentage of my daily intake. Still not banning any foods but certainly starting to consider my heart, cholesterol and internal organs (not to mention that without a healthy diet, there’s no way I could keep up with our busy lifestyle!).

So I had a pot noodle sandwich, and acknowledge the change in that side of my life. My husband and I both agreed that actually we embrace the change, we both quite enjoy the lure of thirties and everything that decade brings. Discussing different food tastes then lead to discussions about how much more comfortable in our own skin we both feel. But the head space of a thirty year old is a whole new subject matter and no doubt a whole new blog entry! So the loss of things like pot noodles is not one I’m going to mourn.

It’s another tick on the list and strangely makes me feel one step closer to that leap into a new decade! It was refreshing, it was re-affirming, it was…well it was revolting but symbolically it was quite the experience! And all this from a simple pot noodle!!

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Activity Advent Calendar…

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One of our new family Christmas traditions was, alongside the regular chocolate one, to run an ‘Activity Advent Calendar.’ The idea being that each day in the run up to Christmas, we do a little activity together, posting a picture or video online so we can share the tradition with friends and family. Those regular readers will have seen my last post about this in a bit more detail.

As today is ‘December Eve’, I posted the activities on the Facebook group I set up and in case any of you lovely readers want to play, please find the list below, the list of course is December/Christmas based but on the off chance you’re happening across this in Springtime, please feel free to amend accordingly and have yourselves a merry little April…!

The ‘rules’ are loose and simple, either go through them day by day in order, or write the numbers down and pick them out of a hat each day and do the corresponding activity, or simply cherry pick them as you go along. Be as enthusiastic as you want or cut as many corners as you’d like. The only idea is to have fun with it and please feel free to send pictures or share your experiences, if you search ‘Activity Advent Calendar’ on Facebook you’ll find our open group, please feel free to join us and join in! ;

1 – Create a new dance move, as creative as you like, and feel free to give your dance move a name!

2 – Choose a different country, and find a Christmas tradition from that country to celebrate in some small way.

3 – Dance around to your favourite Christmas song.

4 – Go Christmas carolling! If you don’t fancy surprising a friend or family member, sing one to, or with your family, anyone is welcome to treat us to carolling, a cup of tea will welcome any visitors!

5 – Do some cooking or baking, make christmas themed cookies or have a red or green theme dinner.

6 – Dec 6th, in honour of St Nicholas day, do a secret act of kindness.

7 – Play together! Visit a park, build a fort, play hide and seek, whether you have kids or not, pick a game and take a bit of time to play!

8 – Go for a Wintry Walk! Wrap up warm and walk, whether it be on your lunch break, or just a quick trip round the block at home.

9 – Make snow angels. No snow? No problem, do ten star jumps instead!

10 – Take a Christmas selfie! If you haven’t already, why not join in Operation Christmas Jumper (see The Action Emporium Facebook page or ask me for details!) and donate to Save the Children. Let me know if you did and I can add your selfie into The Action Emporium album and you might win a prize!

11 – It’s the holidays, relax! Pamper yourselves, have a spa treatment or do a homemade one, use a facemask, give each other a massage, paint your nails, just take some time!

12 – Write a list of five things you’ve achieved this year and five things you want to achieve next year, make them as big or small as you like but make sure you acknowledge yourself.

13 – Christmas is about time with friends and family and having fun and playing games, so go old school and play a board game! (Or card game) Whether you all sit round as a family and play a traditional game like Monopoly, a more specific interest game like Zombicide; even just a quick game of cards on your lunch break with colleagues (and if you’re unlikely to see people today or get a chance, why not have a round of solitaire!), forget the new fangled technology and get your board game on!

14 – Pick your favourite Christmas film and watch it, doesn’t matter what it is, if it says Christmas to you (Die Hard is a Christmas classic after all!) then it counts! We’ll be doing ours within our movie marathon day (part of our 30 before 30 challenge) so if you fancy joining us for any part of the day (or want to know which films we’ll be watching to only join us for the ones you fancy!) let us know and you’re welcome!

15 – Make some time to visit a relative or a friend, have a cup of tea and a slice of cake, go for a walk together, or if you’re busy at work, spend some time with a work colleague on a lunchbreak, get out of the office and connect!

16 – Draw a Christmas picture! Be as creative or as abstract as you like but remember to share them with the group. If there’s a few of you in your household, do one together or compete for the best, and if you’re at work, why not take in paper and pencils and challenge your colleagues to creating the best picture to brighten up the workplace!

17 – Christmas party! Christmas is a time for celebrating, and parties often mean party food, attend a Christmas party, or arrange one, or just have a buffet dinner at home! Failing that, create a party feel on your lunchbreak by each bringing in some Christmas buffet items.

18 – Be your own version of Father Christmas, take a bag full of clothes to a charity shop, donate some treats to the animal centre or take part in Operation Christmas Child or similar.

19 – Pick up a Christmas ornament. Either a new bauble for the tree or homemake a fairy for the top of the tree. Or if not for the tree, make a paper chain or buy something to Christmas up your home or workplace!

20 – Après Ski break! As a ski trip is a bit out of a simple activity advent challenge budget, make the most of bringing the Après ski activities home by putting your feet up after a cold day with a glass of gluwein, or maybe visit a Christmas market & get a glass there! If alcohol isn’t your thing, a big mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and squirty cream works just as well! (Optional shot of whiskey or baileys for that ski chalet feel 😉 )

21 – Christmas markets are a magical addition to any seasonal holiday, so go and visit one, either a local one, make a day of it and go further afield or have a look to see if your local school/church/leisure centre are holding a Christmas fair or market. No need to buy, it’s more about soaking up the atmosphere. If you don’t know of one or don’t fancy travelling to one, create one at home, bratwurst, home make some crafts, however you want to create it!

22 – After December comes the inevitable January detox, get a head start with some exercise, go for a jog, swim, exercise class, whatever you want!

23 – Re-enact your favourite Christmas scene, play or film, as creatively or as basic as you want. Or if you don’t have enough time, create a photo re-enacting your favourite Christmas scene, play or film!

24 – December is a time to catch up with friends and family but multiple parties and nights can be expensive, invite some people round for dinner and each provide a course. Get in some crackers and read each other naff Christmas jokes for that real Christmas dinner feel..!

25 – Happy Christmas one and all! Whatever you’re doing, enjoy your day, make the most of every moment and here’s to a happy New Year to all!

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