Road Trip to the National Space Centre


Charlotte and I had a well deserved day out yesterday.

We had nothing planned for the weekend and, because Charlotte’s theme at school is Space and because we’ve watched, what seems like 101 experiments with Tim Peake and Chris Hadfield on YouTube over the past couple of weeks, I’d decided we’d have an educational jaunt to the National Space Centre which is, handily, less than an hour away from us. Despite this, I’m pretty sure the last time I went was when I was doing ‘Space’ in school and we got to go on a field trip so it’s been a while!

To be honest it was surprising we actually made it there at all. I’d threatened to not go so many times during the multiple tantrums this week. If she didn’t get her shoes on, if she didn’t stop pulling the dogs collar or if she didn’t stop singing ‘oh my gosh, look at her butt’ on the walk home from school over and over again.  

Because of this, and the hilarious notion that I might, one day follow through with my threats, I didn’t book online. 


Tip No 1. Book online. 

The tickets are no cheaper granted, but the queues are definitely smaller!

At £14 for an adult and £11 for children 5-16 (under 5s go free) it’s cheaper than a theme park and way more interesting with loads to do and see. I thought it was good value anyway but you can also turn your day pass into an annual pass for £0 extra! Bargain! 

Tip no 2: Check the website to see what’s on before you go.

The centre have lots of special events on over weekends and holidays which is great but if you add the word ‘Lego’ to any event I think you are guaranteed to triple your normal visitor rate which is what had happened this weekend. 

There were a few interactive bits within the Lego area but there were also lots of amazing, intricate models with signs saying ‘Do Not Touch’ which is just calling out for a toddler to grab half of a Death Star or something don’t you think? 

The centre also have evening talks and film nights I found out whilst standing in the queue for tickets. I’m quite excited by the idea of Starship Troopers in the planetarium. The most cheesy space film ever and a very guilty pleasure of mine and my brother’s. 

Tip no 3: Take your own lunch if going at peak times.

Unfortunately, due to the Lego invasion, the small cafe was having trouble keeping up and sandwiches were being made in the back no quicker than they were disappearing off the shelves. However, after the queuing we asked whether they did any gluten free options (I did have some snacks just in case) and we were told they could make it fresh and we could have any of the non-gluten fillings. One fresh ham sandwich scoffed so quickly I had to ask what bread they used as Charlotte never eats sandwiches! 

So, after our first trip and after my mind was completely blown learning about just how many stars are in the Milky Way (approximately 200 billion) and just how ridiculously huge the known universe is in the amazing planetarium, we came home knackered but very happy and we will definitely be back soon. 

Ps. The National Space Centre has not paid me to review our day, we just had a good time! 

 

The yin and yang of meal planning.

This morning I had the luxury of dropping Charlotte off at school and having a day free. This must be what those mums feel like!

Normally I run home, hop in the car and pelt it to work but I have another couple of days off so thought I would use them wisely by meal planning and doing a mindful big shop, rather than a ‘throw it all in, I probably, maybe need another pineapple for my compost heap anyway’ type way. 

Ok, so let’s get this straight, as I’ve said before I don’t start diets at New Years because life is too crazy for that, but, planning my meals may just make my life easier and anything that does that I need to give a go. So off I trotted, with my new ‘Lean in 15‘ cookbook I got for Christmas, a fresh shiny notebook and pen to…wait for it…McDonalds for a coffee and a cheeky breakfast whilst planning. 

My balanced breakfast.

Yes, I looked like the biggest hypocrite ever staring at Joe Wicks‘ beautiful, ripped body and all the lean meat and veg whilst scoffing a deep fried hash brown but I believe life is all about balance and this, was indeed the yin and yang of culinary goodness. 

And d’ya know what, I did it. I planned my main meals, bought most of the food from Aldi for a lot less that my usual food shop was and I even cooked my own healthy chicken tikka masala this evening. Made my own paste and everything and Charlotte bloody ate it! Yes, she picked out two bits of red onion that hadn’t been whizzed properly but my daughter ate a meal I cooked! Pigs are currently flying around my house! 

It didn’t come from the freezer, it had flavour and maybe even some vitamins and nutrients and the recipe was naturally gluten free so I didn’t have to work out what substitutes would work! That is a massive win in my book! 

If you haven’t seen the series of Lean in 15 books yet, I would thoroughly recommend them. Not only is Joe Wicks easy on the eye but the meals are delicious and usually take hardly any time to prep and cook. Perfect for busy parents and not as pretentious as Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. The portions are massive though which is ideal when cooking for one and a half like me. You can choose to ignore the exercise section at the back if you wish, but don’t tell him I told you that! 

Tomorrow night Smoky Joe burgers with sweet potato wedges…can’t go wrong there can I?!

What are your tried and tested recipes for getting good food in your children? Let me know in the comments! 

Sayonara 2016, welcome 2017.


Happy new year everyone. I hope you had a good one last night, whatever that may mean. 

Despite being childfree, I spent the evening at my best friends house and drank absolutely nothing. I got back home just as Big Ben chimed on the car radio so went inside, put my pyjamas on and went to bed.

But all of it was exactly how I wanted to ‘celebrate’ at that moment. This week, let alone this year, has been emotionally draining for so many reasons so being with my best mate and having an ‘early’ night was perfect for me this year. 

Way better than strappy high heels!

Like everyone else, 2016 has been pretty shitty.

Personally I’ve been in pain for 6 months or so with gallbladder trouble, I’ve been messed around by more men than I can count, work has been awful and has not got better.

I also went on a stressful holiday to Lanzarote which was the least relaxing holiday ever. My flat sale fell through three goddamn times.

Charlotte was diagnosed with coeliac disease in April which created so much overwhelm for me I went into a bit of a decline and along with all the rest of the world’s goings on it could seem like a bad year but… 

On the plus side, I went on an amazing holiday to Portugal with my friends, I was also lucky enough to go to France with friends in October who also had had a new baby early in the year. 

I had my gallbladder removed fairly swiftly (for the NHS) and I’m on the mend, I’ve also lost a few lbs because I can’t eat very much! I’ve also worked out how to make my hair look awesome (post to come on this shortly!). I had a perfect week with Charlotte before she started school. Charlotte actually started school and is thriving, which is a joy to watch and we’ve just about got the hang of her diet with support from school and all of our friends and family who have been on a steep learning curve like me. 

Oh and the two big ones, of course, I got divorced and I have a boyfriend. The latter has not been without its stresses (the former hasn’t either)  because he’s also had a really difficult past few months but hopefully this is something we can both work through. I’ve had a lovely weekend away with him which was perfectly timed when we both needed to escape from norm. 

My own #bestnineof2016

So, looking forward, I’m optimistic that there will be lots of positives in 2017 and I will be able to cope with the negatives whenever they arise. I am starting a bullet journal (for the third time), and have just started the KonMari method of decluttering to organise myself better and life *is* going to be easier this year. 

Last year my main goal was to say ‘no’ more and I think I’ve done well but still need to work on this…along with my 10 other new goals for this year! 

What are your goals this year? Let me know in the comments and here’s to a fantastic, fulfilling 2017! 

10 reasons why having a messy car is a good thing.

A few weeks ago Charlotte and I went on a trip down to Devon to visit some friends. She said she had a tummy ache the night before but, unfortunately, because of her Coeliac Disease this can be a common occurrence so I have to say I kissed her goodnight and hoped it would go away by the morning.

 

It didn’t, she woke saying she was feeling sick, but, yet again I dismissed it especially as she ate a tub of yoghurt! So I gave her some calpol and packed her in the car along with our luggage.

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It started so well…

25 miles from home on a bypass with no lay-bys she began complaining of feeling sick again so I just said we’d stop for some food soon and she was probably hungry. Turns out she wasn’t hungry, she was actually sick and proceeded to vomit over herself and my car.

 

After driving another 4 miles before finding a lay-by, I pulled in and ran around to her side of the car. It was a massacre, she’d covered everything so I looked around for anything that could help me and, because I’m a lazy, messy mum and my car is an outpost of my kitchen, bathroom cabinet, wardrobe and toy cupboard combined I found everything I needed.

 

Multi suface cleaner wipes for the chair and car seat. Check.

 

Half a bottle of water for Charlotte to wash her mouth out with. Check.

 

Tesco carrier bag to put all contaminated items in. Check.

 

Change of clothes for her. Check.

 

Raincoat for me as it was also pissing it down. Check.

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My ingenious homemade sick bucket…craft bloggers will be quaking in their boots! 
This life event made me realise that actually a messy car isn’t so bad.  Yes, it can be embarrassing when you get tricked into having to give a non-parent a lift somewhere but I also came up with 10 reasons it’s actually essential that your car is messy.

 

  1. You will always have baby wipes somewhere in the car. This can clean sticky fingers, sticky faces, sticky dashboards, sticky steering wheels (hey, I’m not one to judge!)
  2. You can fashion a miniature sick bucket for a miniature human being because once bitten, twice shy.
  3. You will always have reading material. That time when you’re stuck on the M5, everyone’s turned their engines off and your phone battery dies. What’s better than Biff and Chips ‘Sit me up’ or an old cereal box that was an art project from nursery.
  4. You will also always have something to eat. Granted it may have been on the floor under the seat for an undetermined amount of time but, if it ever gets to the point where you’re contemplating a Bear Grylls type survival technique, fear not. That half pack of Wotsits will keep you alive for at least another half hour.
  5. You will always have a coat. It may not be for the right season or go with what you’re wearing but it’s another layer so stop whinging.
  6. Your child will also have a spare set of clothes should you need them. Maybe a ‘hold on, we’re just near the services’ accident, or a ‘just take a little sip and then put the lid back on’ accident…whichever you will definitely be able to change them. Ok, the tights might be a bit small but no one will know under the Tangled fancy dress outfit.
  7. And speaking of fancy dress outfits you will never be caught short at nursery’s Pirates and Princesses days that you heard nothing about until that morning. That blunt eyeliner rolling around your footwell is perfect to draw a couple of scars and an eyepatch! Voila!
  8. About to send your car for an MOT and realise you don’t have any windscreen wash? Rather than being charged £5 for them to fill it up for you so it passes just empty all the half drunk bottles of Evian into the water tank in the lay-by before you get to the garage (and then use a baby wipe to clean your hands).
  9. If you can’t stand to hear ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ one more time then have a feel down the side of your seat and you will definitely be able to find a CBeebies CD or a Greatest Hits of Bonnie Tyler CD there. Pick whichever will make your ears bleed least.
  10. Hair not quite sitting the way you want this morning? Dig down the back of the passenger seat and there will definitely be two Peppa Pig hair clips and, if you’re lucky, a headband with fluorescent pigtails protruding from the top. New look, sorted.

 

You’re welcome people!

Have I missed anything off? Let me know what you have found in your footwell recently in the comments below!

The cost of coeliac disease

There were lots of things I was completely ignorant to when it came to coeliac disease. My best friend has been diagnosed with it for about 10 years now but I still had no idea about the cross-contamination side of things until Charlotte was diagnosed.

Did you know that even a crumb of normal bread can actually harm someone with coeliac disease? This isn’t just an intolerance where you might get a bit bloated, gluten actually kills part of a sufferers intestines so that it can no longer absorb vital nutrients. 

Because of this it is suggested that you should change a number of things which you may never be able to say is completely gluten free. So the literal cost of coeliac disease for us so far is…

1 toaster £25

3 baking trays £7.50

3 chopping boards £5

2 non-stick frying pans £25

4 plastic spatulas £8

3 mixing bowls £14

Officially I shouldn’t use a dishwasher which has previously washed glutenend items but unfortunately my budget doesn’t stretch to a brand new dishwasher quite yet, although I am thinking its a very good excuse to bring my ‘new kitchen’ project forward a bit!

Carefully chosen gluten free picnic courteousy of M&S

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that gluten free products are SO much more expensive to buy that the gluten filled alternatives. Bread which tastes similar to normal bread can have a mark up of at least £2 more than your average white sliced loaf. 

Luckily, in most of the UK, diagnosed sufferers can get some items on prescription, however, this is a minefield and we’re currently trying out every option available to find out what is edible and what is definitely not! 

There is talk of the prescriptions being scrapped, especially adult ones and if they’re not scrapping them, they’re making the list of things you can have shorter by the day. Thankfully Warwickshire seems to be holding on to most items for now but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. 

Obviously the biggest cost is Charlotte’s health and this is the reason I am happy to pay for all these items…now just to work on friends, family, restaurants and schools to make sure they’re as precious about her health as I am. 

Healthy kid!

Tipping the scales.

What a difference a year makes. The cardigan can only hide so much!

I’ve joined Weight Watchers…again. I know, I know, I said I’d never do it, but the scales had ticked over to my dreaded number and I had to take action. 

It was the number that makes me say “No more”. 

The number that makes me say “Katie, what the hell are you playing at?”. 

The number that makes me run to the nearest Weight Watchers meeting to declare allegiance to the points system and swear never to eat peanut butter again. 

So back I am, handing money over to a not particularly slim woman to tell me how much I weigh on her scales, which seem to be completely different to those I have at home. 

Talk about a way to boost self esteem on a Wednesday lunch time. 

Back I go to trying really hard until about 3pm when my brain says “but chocolate would taste soooo good right now”. 

Back I go, four weeks in wondering whether I should just stay the slightly frumpy size I am because being on a diet is, let’s face it, boring and hard. 

I must admit though I’m having some difficulty with getting into the swing of it this time. 

I have realised since my last stint, thanks to the joy of articles posted on Facebook (that’s how everyone does their research right??) that most fat isn’t actually bad for you and low fat products are probably worse.  

I’ve realised that ‘diet’ drinks generally contain some rubbish sweeteners which, let’s face it, aren’t great for you and don’t taste good. (The research on how bad they actually are for you differs greatly however). 

I’ve realised that I have no time for cooking lovely meals when I get home because if I don’t get Charlotte in bed by 7.15 bedtime is fucked until about 11pm and I’m ready to kill. 

I’ve also realised that trying to loose weight on a diet whilst also trying to get my head around a gluten free diet is pretty impossible. 

I’ve also realised (although I did know this before) that cooking for one is utterly shit and generally ends in loads of food waste, a fairly dull meal and usually a way too late dinner time so I don’t enjoy it anyway. 

So I have to find away to get through the next two months (it was a three month pass) and lose weight without following the plan at all. Easy huh!

The reason for this particular blog post with added awful photos is so I have some accountability, other than lying to the woman who asks me how my weeks been every week. 
I will get back to feeling happy and healthy in my own skin and now is the time to do it…just maybe not how the slimming clubs would want me to do it. 

Still not perfect but way less lumps and bumps than now!

Can it be done? Share your hints and tips in the comments please! You’re all in the circle of trust now  (mines quite a round circle at the mo!), I need your help! 

30 things I’ve learnt since being 30.

It was my birthday last week and I’m now the ripe old age of 32.  A huge amount seems to have happened over these past two years, some of which is documented on this very blog as I started writing just after my 30th birthday.  I feel like I have learnt a lot, sometimes the hard way and some I have just happened upon through pure fluke so I’ve jotted them down to remind me.  Some are a bit deep, others entirely the opposite but all are true to me.

  1. Having children doesn’t mean you must cut your hair shorter. I for one look awful with shorter hair.
  2. I can, pretty much, make it through any challenging situation…just.
  3. You only live once. A cliché but a damn true one so make the most of it!
  4. Your health matters, so pay attention to it.
  5. Experimenting is a good idea in all areas of your life…food, fashion, f…(you get the idea).
  6. Making a mistake is not the end of the world.
  7. Tell your real friends you love them.
  8. Unfollow or unfriend people off Facebook or Instagram whose posts irritate you.
  9. I still don’t like goats cheese no matter how many times I try it.
  10. If I stop moving I seize up and it’s a lot more difficult to get going again.
  11. You will meet amazing friends in the strangest places if you are willing and open to find them.
  12. I wear my heart on my sleeve which can sometimes means it gets bruised more easily..
  13. Earl Grey tea is actually very nice.
  14. My wardrobe now has less clothes that are better quality, rather than the other way around.
  15. Same with my make up.
  16. Bright lipstick isn’t actually that scary.
  17. Sometimes I would rather eat an amazing salad that something deep fried.
  18. Saying ‘No’ and standing your ground is amazingly empowering.
  19. You are allowed to aspire to be in a job which you love…goals are good.
  20. Dresses actually suit me much better than trousers.
  21. Being selfish isn’t always a bad thing.
  22. Doing something good for someone (even if very small) is one of the best ways to boost your mood.
  23. I now ‘mum dance’ but I still do it anyway.
  24. All parents are winging it.  They are lying if they tell you other wise.
  25. Despite all my body hang ups people still seem to find me attractive, therefore I shouldn’t worry about them so much.
  26. I’m now much less tolerant of just smiling and nodding.
  27. My eyes are my best feature. (Sorry boobs)
  28. Netflix is definitely worth the membership fee.
  29. Being a single mum means my daughter is my best friend and my enemy number 1 all at the same time.
  30. Being a single mum is incredibly hard work but incredibly rewarding.

Just the two of us.

(Due to dodgy wifi this post has a time delay!)

We’re off! I’m being brave and taking Charlotte on a holiday – abroad – just us two 😳I’m not sure how we’re going to cope! We actually spend A LOT of time apart so a solid week of just us can sometimes be taxing. I know that makes me sound like a crap mum but 24/7 child time is exhausting!  Props to all the stay-at-home-mums. You have my utmost respect and admiration. 
I would love to say that we’re going tech free and having some proper 1 on 1 time but we’re only on the plane there and so far she’s on her iPad with headphones on and I’m writing this on my phone. I do have a real book in front of me though promise! 
I think we’ll be OK though. It will be sunny (hopefully), there will be no washing up to do and hopefully there will be at least a couple of gluten free meals a day available. If not, Charlotte will be living on ice-cream and slushies! But I’m really just looking forward to some downtime with my one and only and hope that we come back happier, maybe a little bit healthier and ready to take on our next few challenges. 
Photos to come soon as it won’t let me upload them…note to self: check the availability of wifi before booking next holiday!! 
Happy Monday everyone. 

Back to basics for us.

Another long hiatus from me I’m afraid. I don’t know how other bloggers do daily posts…weekly seems difficult enough for me! But then maybe their not juggling all the other things too. Work is full on, home is full on and I’m now taking on the challenge of being a completely gluten free household too as, after the biopsy, we had confirmation that Charlotte does indeed have Coeliac Disease. Just what we needed!   

  
So I’m now trying to work out what this means and how it will affect our lives…so far I’ve come to the conclusion that it will affect it a lot! 
I have to admit I have become a lazy cook. We go out for food quite often and we eat ‘easy’ foods. I’m not happy with this scenario as I used to love cooking and trying new things but time has not been on our side and I’ve recently been picking the easiest options. After a trip to Bill’s Restaurant and Starbucks I’ve realised this can not be the way forward. The options available for a four year old Coelic are non existent and this in turn means a hungry child and a stressed out mum! So I’m going to have to go back to basics, meal planning and cooking from scratch. Great! When the hell in going to fit all this in I’m not sure yet! 

  
My high pressure project had a very brief quiet moment last week and I had time to take stock and realise that Charlotte has actually been quite poorly and getting worse over the past few months. Cue ‘worst mum in the world feeling’. She’s tired all the time, she’s waking during the night again, she’s grumpy and so am I and she is catching every bug going. I have also slowly been gaining more and more weight because of this unhealthy lifestyle we’ve slipped into so we need the change but I’m petrified. There’s so much to take in and implement and it seems so overwhelming. So rather that deal with it right now we’re running away on holiday in the hope we’ll both be rejuvenated enough so get cracking on the change when we get back. 

  
So now I have to focus on washing and ironing in order to pack and work out what the hell i’m going to wear by a swimming pool so I don’t look and feel like a beached whale. 
Anyone got a tarpaulin I could borrow?? 

Seperating the wheat from…well everything!!

One of the things that has been going on in my world that I am yet to mention on here is that my daughter has recently been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease

This seems to be a more common illness than I thought but I am still really nervous about how this will change both our lives. We are yet to remove gluten from her diet as she has an endoscopy booked in for Friday and we need to keep eating it in order to see the damage it is causing. So essentially, since the first blood test results in early December I have been knowlingly poisoning my daughter with bread, pasta, doughnuts, biscuits etc. This has not helped with my wellbeing over the past months alongside everything else.

 My best friend has Coeliac Disease and has been diagnosed for a while now so when I got told by the consultant that the blood tests showed she had this I felt like I knew more than most about it. But adapting this to a four year olds diet scares the shit (pardon the pun) out of me. I also found out that my ex was diagnosed with borderline Coeliac Disease after we had split but I had no idea that it could be hereditary so didn’t even think about it!

I also had no idea that the symptoms she was showing could have any correlation with Coeliac Disease. I actually took her to the doctors as she seemed to be having persistent, reoccurring pins and needles in her arms and legs. It was one of those times when the mummy bear instinct kicked in and said ‘somethings not quite right here’. Luckily, or unluckily, I was right but it’s still taken a long time to get to this point. 

Doesnt look poorly at all hey?
 So on Friday I have to try and explain why she needs to be put to sleep in a big, new hospital without crying (her and me!) and then I have the even more difficult time of making awkward conversation with my ex and whilst trying to suppress the urge to kill him at any point! 

I’d love to hear from any other parents who’ve been through this process so please leave a message in the comments below. I’ll keep you posted on how we get on.