Why should I use my vote?

So today is the deadline to register to vote- have you? (Click here to go straight to the site)

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I’ll be voting and I don’t mind telling you that, as always, I will be voting Labour- I have many, many reasons why but this post isn’t a party political one- it is an urgent one.

I URGE you to vote.

Of course I’d love you to vote the same way as me but who you choose to vote for is none of my business, that’s between you and the ballot box BUT for all of our sakes, VOTE.

If you really need a reason to do it, here are 10…

  1. It’s free- you’re not charged for putting your X in the box.
  2. We are lucky to have to right to vote- so many people around the globe are disenfranchised. And I’m not just talking about in 3rd World countries either-  did you know that in many USA states you must have photo ID to vote? Just imagine how many people this caveat excludes! This is something that could quite easily happen here too if some of the rumours are to be believed!
  3. No right to complain- your vote is your voice! If you don’t use it to have your say then do you really have a right to complain about what the government does?
  4. Have a say in where your hard earned cash goes- this is your chance to dictate where your taxes are spent. Yes, I appreciate you can’t just say ‘I want my money to go to the NHS’ but you can weigh up the manifesto pledges and decide which best matches your desires.
  5. The sense of righteousness- how can you be smug if you don’t vote!
  6. You don’t live in a dictatorship- Democracy shouldn’t be taken for granted! As futile as people think they are, the House of Lords often acts as our buffer against a dictatorship’ish (YES it’s a word!!!!) leadership. What if none of this existed here though? Could you imagine if you were just told what to do and how to live your life all of the time?
  7. People literally died to give it to you- do I really need to go over this again?! Especially you ladies out there- click here to find out more in a very child-friendly manner.
  8. Representing your age group- under 35’s are traditionally the most underrepresented age-group in the UK voting system and they are often the subject of some of the most ruthless policies- I wonder how the politicians get away with that? Oh yeah…. you don’t register to vote!
  9. It’s quick- LITERALLY TAKES 2 MINUTES!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. You count- don’t be fooled into thinking your vote won’t make a difference- even if you have no desire to vote for any party, leave your ballot blank and pop it in that box- YOU COUNT!!!

So, in conclusion-VOTE!!!!!!

I’ve tried hard to convince you but now its down to you!

See you on the other-side of May,

Mrs T Xx

Safe Sensory Play for 0-6 Months

As an Infant/ KS1 teacher of 10 years I’m highly aware of just how important play is to learning and development and as a new mum I want to expose my precious treasure to as many different types of play as possible!

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Yes we sing, read, visit playgroups, the library, park and even go to Baby Sensory every week but I also want to enhance Little Miss T’s experiences when we’re at home too.

She has the essential hoard of wooden and, dare I say it, plastic play equipment that seems to appear from nowhere once a baby is born but I want her to also have a chance to get messy and stimulate those senses!

Easy, you would think, but before babies are weened it’s actually rather tricky to expose them safely to messy and sensory play of the kind that looks creative and fun. So as a starting point I’ve compiled a list (and linked back to any relevant bloggers) of some of the things Little Miss T and I have had fun with-

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  • Bubbles!

Bubble machines are fab if you can get one (ELC has excellent ones!) but a good old pot of bubbles works a treat too! We’ve tried blowing them outside on a windy or sunny day and enhanced bathtime with them- mess free and baby won’t yet be able to grab at them quickly enough to get the solution on their hands so they’re super safe! LMT loves watching how the light and colours dance on them as they float about!

  • Soggy spaghetti!

Boil it up, rinse under cold water and then pop into a messy play tub (or your baby bath/ washing-up bowl) with a splash of warm water. Rather than putting this out to touch with hands I stripped LMT to her nappy and sat her in it- she’s able to sit and hold her head up really well now but even when teeny she could sit with my support or lie in it.  Top tip- do it in a warm room and keep your eyes peeled so that they don’t stick some in their mouths if you’re not ready for them to eat solids yet- LMT loves putting everything in her mouth at the moment but during these kind of activities she seems to chill out and just squidge about with her feet!

  • Balloons!

Whilst they’re still gummy and toothless balloons are great fun! LMT likes to lie on her tummy and reach out for them or bash the balloons on the ground. Watching  them bounce and float around is fun too! She also loves looking through them and seeing the world in a different colour! Top tip- don’t blow them up too big so that they still have some squidge to them, little ones can handle them much better then.

  • Sandwich-bag painting!

The idea from Pinterest is that once the paper and paint is secure inside the sandwich bag, you tape it to the table or ground in front of the little one but this has never worked for us as LMT likes to pull everything to her mouth! This activity is still perfect as I don’t have to worry about paint covered hands being stuck in her mouth yet she gets to feel the squidgy texture, watch the colours combine and create something too! If you’re worried that the paint might seep out then simply tape the edges of the bag or use edible paint rather than shop bought. Top tip- paper goes soggy and tears so card is a much better option! 

  • Gloop!

Or Oobleck as you might see it called. This is simply magical! Combine 2 cups of corn flour with 1/2-1 cup of cold water and mix. Just like with the soggy spaghetti I let LMT sit in it and she enjoys trying to grab at the mixture (it changes between a solid and a liquid). At this stage I’ve always left it its natural colour but as she gets older I will add food colouring to change it up a bit. Top tip- despite its liquid appearance, gloop can often go hard (part of the awe and wonder if it) so I wouldn’t advise poring it down your sink during clean-up!

  • Jelly!

Super easy and it smells divine!!! Hartley’s crystals are the best as they are sugar free and use natural colourings so should they ingest some then you know it’s as safe and as healthy as jelly can be! An alternative is to use a sachet of Vegi-gel and make your own natural coloured jelly up. We’ve used this for several activities including the favourite- sitting in it- but also inside sandwich bags with other objects in there such as buttons, sequins, pasta twists and glitter!

  • Ice cubes!

Lots of fun either in a sandwich bag or simply on her high chair tray. When using the sandwich bags I’ve also added splashes of food colouring to them before freezing just for a little variety and interest.

We’re just about at the first tastes stage of weening so LMT is beginning to explore food- if you’re going down the purée route  then the leftovers of these can also be a great sensory play resource and it will ease your sense of guilt over the waste when they don’t like or refuse to eat something! Bonus! 

Have lots of fun stimulating those senses and be sure to let me know how these activities work for you- we’re always on the look out for new twists to old faves!

Until next time,

Mrs T Xx

Why I’m ok with Daddy getting the giggles

So Little Miss T is just over 5 months old now and her hearty chortle warms my cockles but it’s not usually me who manages to earn a good belly laugh from her- it’s her daddy! 

At first it really bugged me that I spent all day with her and yeah, I got plenty of gummy grins and the odd chuckle but the real, long lasting and heart felt giggles only appeared when Daddy was about. 

All he had to do was make a silly noise or shake the nappy bag (!) and out would pop the most glorious sound and there I was doing a multitude of silly dances, songs and faces, blowing raspberries on her tummy and moving Heaven & Earth only to be greeted with what was really a noisy smile! What was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I get her to giggle too? 

But my view on the giggles all changed last month when I was upstairs and could hear the 2 of them giggling and cooing away downstairs and my heart burst with love and pride.

This is THEIR ‘thing’!

I get the morning smiles, goodnight cuddles, moments of awe and wonder day after day and if this is the part of it that Mr T gets then I’m ok with that! 

There’s many things he’s been excluded from during our journey into parenthood, not on purpose just they way nature makes it and if this is something he gets to have that I don’t then who am I to be bitter about it? 

I’ll keep my morning smiles and goodnight cuddles along with the joy that I feel whenever I hear the 2 of them giggling together and Mr T can keep the giggles- I think that’s a fair trade, don’t you? 

What would you trade your partner for or are you happy to let them have their own ‘thing’ too?

Until the next giggle fit,

Mrs T Xx

The Long Distance Friendship Problem

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So, I’ve got plenty of friends, IRL friends I mean not just people who have clicked a box on a website or app. If you’ve read any of my previous posts then you will already know that there is a little circle of ‘girlies’ whom I love to keep up to date with over a cuppa and a slice of cake (such a meeting took place on Monday!) and I am lucky enough to have some lovely co-workers who I count as dear friends too. Outside of these central groups I have my bestest friends in the whole wide world- my cousins!

But then there is Clare. Clare and I lived together for a year, one of the hardest years of both of our lives. We were training to be teachers and both found ourselves newly single. We laughed, we cried, we sang and we cooked together for 1 whole year and then she moved back to Ireland.

 I can totally be myself with Clare, I know nothing I say will sound too rediculous to her and my singing is always, always a rival for Beyoncé in her eyes!!! The problem with a ‘Uni’ friend comes in the years after. You move back home, you carry on with your life, grow up (a bit), take on responsibilities at work, get married, buy houses and have less and less time to chit- chat on the phone. Despite this Clare and I have remained friends- we’ve spent a couple of NYE together, been to a festival together, slobbed around watching TV together and even scrubbed up well together to be a bride and bridesmaid but in the last couple of years our friendship has mainly existed on Facebook. Until today…

I’m currently on the train to London to spend a couple of days being a tourist with my Clare. I can’t wait!!!! Even the gloom and downpours scheduled for tomorrow won’t put a dampener on our plans. It’s Wicked tonight and then general sight-seeing tomorrow! I can’t wait!

Like all ‘long distance’ relationships it’s effort that is needed. I’ll be honest, in the last year I’ve not made much effort, between selling my childhood home, moving house myself and general work stresses, I’ve just not had the energy to make the effort but something’s changed. Something has given me a push. The online teaching community.

Last year, around Christmas, things in work took a slump. People whom I thought were friends masks slipped, I didn’t feel comfortable around them anymore and the whole atmosphere in the staffroom changed. I ate lunch in my classroom so not to be around the whispering and hushed conversations, avoided asking for things I really needed so not to be accused of being demanding and generally sunk into myself. Don’t get me wrong, I have some amazing friends in work whom I cherish but they too were feeling the gloom!!! Unable to pull myself out of it, I looked elsewhere for support and somehow bumped into the world of Instagram teachers. Brimming over with positivity, encouragement and inspiration I finally felt the clouds shifting. I was inspired to change things in my classroom, refresh my teaching and change my outlook. I began a teaching blog too (year2tastic.blogspot.co.uk) and I love it!!!

Most of my ‘virtual’ friends are American and the community they have created is a comfortable, friendly, funny and inspiring one! Unlike most UK educational blogs, my US friends have a chatty feel to them. I can come home, read about their days, catch a glimps inside their classrooms, see resources they’ve found useful and feel like their equal. It’s turned things around for me and I know many others too. I’ve found my tribe!

You see, many of these online teachers have also become friends IRL. They host yearly meet-ups, periscope, email and Google Hangout together. And, believe it or not, I’m not only meeting my longtime friend Clare in London but a new friend too. I’m off for lunch with Myranda the blogger behind Keep Calm and Teach 5th Grade. She visits London every year to help at a summer camp so knows the city better than I do! We’ve supported eachother through blog link-ups, give aways and general Instagram pics but today we get to drink cuppas and plan future greatness to come!! We hope to continue our intercontinental support of eachother through some joint online ventures so watch this space!!!

Obviously the same long distance challenges face us too- effort!!! The difference is our friendship is a public one- the pressure is on to make the effort since it’s posted on Instagram and our blogs- we have to deliver!

Thanks to my friends and their endless cups of tea, hugs, texts and blog post over the last school year, I’ve managed to turn things around. 2014-15 was a marked improvement from the gloom and doom of the previous school year and I’m heading into 2015-16 with a positive, can-do attitude and tons of inspiration! How about you?

How do you nurture long distance friendships?

Have you ever needed a friend to lift you out of a slump?

I’m going to try hard to keep my friendships strong and make a big effort to keep in touch…

Let’s see how it goes!

Mrs T Xx

Whole 30 and Me: 2 Fridays down…

day 11

11 days in and I am loving it! I have eaten some awesome meals and haven’t felt bloated, stuffed or sluggish at all. In my last post, you might recall, I said it had taken until day 4 to feel satisfied between meals- the feeling of satisfaction is well and truly here to stay. I’ve felt no real desire to snack between meals and even my break time nuts have been knocked on the head.

In the rest of the post you will find-

1. A run down of my meals from day 5- day 11

2. Links to some recipes I have tweaked and tried

3. Some products which are Whole 30 compliant and available in the U.K.

My Meals

photo 4It was Mr T’s birthday so we had a lazy morning and didn’t sit down for breakfast until 10am- it was worth the wait! It felt like a massive treat but was totally Whole 30 A-OK! Love it! Since we ate late, I didn’t fancy much for lunch and we were going out shopping (for a drill, oh joy!) so I planned ahead and popped a ‘yo,yo’ in my bag along with a drink and some fruit- I will admit that I was ready for my tea when we got in though! Tea was chilli without the kidney beans and sweet potato wedges- scrumptious! I also took advantage of it being the weekend to make some cinnamon bananas- Mr T ate most of them but I had to try one just to check how tasty they were! I discounted the sugar and added a dash of ginger. Fried in coconut oil, these were delicious!photo 2-2I woke up on Sunday morning to no eggs and no bacon- Mr T had scoffed the lot! I resigned myself to a fruit salad in the garden while he headed to to gym and then the shop. I hung on until about 11:30 and could take it no longer so I decided to switch the day around- my parma ham. olive, beetroot and sugar snap pea salad with balsamic dressing was divine!!!! Seriously…..if there is one salad you try during Whole 30- this should be it!!! Ahmazing! I spotted the blueberry omelette on Pinterest and decided to give it a try when Mr T arrived home, in place of my lunch- another tasty treat! The cooked blueberries give of the slightest hint of sweetness which, if you’re having a craving is a perfect way to satisfy it as part of a meal rather than a snack. For tea Mr T made a gorgeous cottage pie with green beans rather than peas and a sweet potato topping.

photo 1-2Monday’s meals were perfect for a busy day- I started off with a delicious spinach and sweet pepper omelette wrapped in ham plus a cup of my new favourite Lady Grey tea. The rest of the day was leftovers- chilli for lunch and cottage pie for tea with extra veg. I’ve been drinking lots of water over the course of my Whole 30 even though I’m not its biggest fan! If you’re like me then why not add a couple of slices of cucumber and mint or strawberries and lime juice to it? I’ve sat in the sunshine with a glass of sparkling water over ice and strawberries and not felt although I was missing out on anything- a total 180 for me!

photo-4Breakfast consisted of the good-old scrambled egg and bacon with some avocado slices followed by a really tasty lunch of beetroot and walnut salad with added olives and homemade French dressing. For tea I branched out and tried something that I wasn’t 100% sure would turn out ok. I mixed almond flour (or ground almonds) with cayenne pepper, paprika and a couple of twists from my smoked chilli and garlic mill. Then I dipped the chicken in egg followed by a dip in the flour mixture and lightly fried in coconut oil until golden. Mr T had his in a tortilla wrap with hot sauce, I had mine on a bed of crisp ice-burgh lettuce leaf, mixed Italian leaves, sweet paper and avocado. This was so filling yet not bloating and was amazingly tasty.

photo 1At this point, remembering to take pictures of my meals is harder than following the plan! I started the day with one of my previous breakfasts of blueberry omelette with sliced avocado and a cup of Lady Grey. Lunch was a bowl of spicy butternut squash soup and mason jar fruit salad (sorry for lack of pic but I’m sure you can imagine a bowl of soup!). Wednesday night was beautiful so I quickly text Mr T to swap our food plan around- it was supposed to be burgers and skewers on friday but we had to take advantage of the sunshine! I nibbled on olives and sipped sparkling water with strawberries and a twist of lime in the sunshine while Mr T grilled away to his hearts content!

photo 2I loved breakfast today- it was the only meal I had planned and had everything for- the inspiration is posted below but I simply mashed a banana, whisked in 2 eggs and added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon then scrambled it in a frying pan before adding a dollop of almond butter and enjoying! I was pushed for time in the morning and had totally overlooked making my lunch the night before! I quickly grabbed a bag of mixed leaves, sliced beetroot, sugarsnap peas and some ham- simple but tasty lunch! Because we decided to make chicken skewers the night before, we had no meat left for tea- Mr T made himself a cheese, bacon and egg wrap- totally not Whole 30! I didn’t panic and just had a nose on Pinterest instead- I tweaked this recipe using things I had in and it was rather tasty ( a little sweet but tasty)

photo 3Today I decided to use up left-overs seeing as it’s the end of the week. I started with a breakfast of bacon and eggs with avocado slices to finish off some open produce. For lunch I took the rest of my sweet potato quiche thing with a side salad and home- made French dressing. I was surprised to find that it was far more tasty cold than warm- I’ll be saving this for picnics in the future. I had a tea of chicken curry and cauliflower rice planned but friends invited us to their house for a BBQ so of course we went. I took some plain chicken drumsticks and steak as I knew most stuff would be in marinades and the burgers would have noncompliant ingredients- I really would rather have stake than a burger anyway! Whilst everyone was drinking, I was sipping ‘The Feel Good Drinks Co.’ lightly sparkling raspberry and passion fruit with a splash of sparkling water- refreshing.

Recipes I’ve tried, tweaked and loved!

Most of these recipes are Paleo but not Whole 30 friendly so beware! I simply took out the noncompliant ingredients and they still worked wonderfully!

Crispy chicken- Tastes of Lizzy Ts

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Cinnamon bananas- Dizzy, Busy and Hungry 

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Blueberry omelette- Stupid, Easy Paleo  

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Banana and egg scramble- Sweet Success

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UK available products

I have found that, unsurprisingly, most of the items listed in recipes are not available here in the UK so I thought I would share with any of my fellow  Pommie Whole 30′ ers a few items I’ve found useful and available here in the UK….

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The ‘Smoked chilli and garlic mill’ is from Marks and Spencer and is really useful for a adding a cheeky kick to a dressing or on top of sweet potatoes. The ‘Coconpure’ oil is now available in Sainsbury’s as is the Meridian almond butter. The coconut oils is great for frying things that you don’t want the taste over powering by EVOO and the almond butter makes a handy good fat source for pre/post work out snacks with sliced apple.

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These products are all available in Asda and handy for picnics or lunch boxes (left picture) or as a time and mess saver (right picture). I used the soup mix to make lunch on Wednesday (day 8) and it was so easy and tasty, plus the packet only cost £1!!!

I’ve also discovered that some of ‘The Feel Good Drinks Co.’ bottles are compliant so if you’re heading to a BBQ this weekend and would like something other than water, these are perfect! This link will take you to the feature page on ASDA’s website for further information- they are currently only 79p!!!

Another tip is that some bottled Nando’s dipping sauces have sunflower oil in them but other than that they are totally Whole 30 compliant so if you’re out and about then Nando’s wouldn’t be the worst place to eat in- just check those ingredients first!

I’ll keep my eyes pealed for other UK alternatives to all of those US items we see so often.

I’m also trying hard not to step on those scales!!! I’ve resisted so far- have you?!

Until next Friday…

Mrs T xXx 

My Empire (or office- whichever!)  

2 months ago we moved into a new house, our dream house!  

 

Whilst we lost a bedroom we gained space everywhere else and……a garden!!!!!! Our beautiful old home had a tiny yard with an access lane at the end of it- totes private!!!!!! Not that I’m bragging (well maybe a little) but the new garden also comes with out building and a stable- Daddy still hasn’t bought me a pony *weep* and it is in one of these buildings that I am getting an office!!!!!!!

I can’t wait!! It’s going to have a sofa and TV in there so I can snuggle up with the laptop and plan school stuff and a desktop so I can create my clip art and teacherspayteachers products comfortably- it is going to be my very own Britas Empire (anyone else remember that show or is it just me?!) 

So to the fun stuff- colour schemes, accessories, organisation, Pinterest and Ikea visits!!!!! 

I’m kinda tied to a colour scheme that includes red as the sofabed is red- yawn- and Mr T wants some blue and white in there so some of the stuff from our old office room can be used in there… I hears ya but come on!!!!! I was thinking coral, mint, cream, rose and GOLD!!!!!!! WORK WITH ME PEOPLE!!!!! I’m just not sure my dream Kate Spade office accessories will match- such a first world problem!!!!!! 

Anyways- here is the colour scheme I’ve opted for-   

 

Gold will still totally work right? Please, please, please say yes!!!! Mr T doesn’t get why I need the teal and mustard in there too but then he doesn’t get why I spend £25 getting my nails done every 3 weeks either and tbh I’m sick of explaining ‘because’! 

I also fully intend on some cute wall art and inspirational quotes- gotta love an inspirational quote haven’t you Andrea?! I’ve got some on the way from The Night Owl which are all teacher’fied- loving it! I’m also putting my teenage CD player in there (it’s so old school that it still has a double tape deck that works! Woohoo!) and all my books- this is my office, I have to defend it!!! 

I’m totally going to try hard to keep all of my school work to the office too- I’ve tried this before but it has always spilled over into the living room- I’m hoping that as it’s a totally different building then I will manage to contain it! 

How do you organise your school work at home? 

Do you have any home office tips I should try hard to follow?

I can’t wait to get started…now to find the door key…oops!!! 

Mrs T Xx

 

I am a terrible blogger…. or am I?

I made the promise that I would blog at least once a month and I have failed miserably….or have I?!

As I mentioned in a post a few months ago, I have been testing out the world of virtual teaching to branch out and take control of my CPD. I have not only established an amazing online support network but have also created a teacher blog- yay me!

Yes I know I haven’t blogged over here once a month but I have been being an awesome teacher blogger over on my year2tastic blog where I have been posting at least ONCE A WEEK!!!!!! Please don’t hate me!

Anyways…things keep popping into my mind and I want to blog about them however they totally don’t belong over on year2tastic so where oh where could I blog about them???!! Ah ha!!!! Duh- my beloved first blog of course!

So I yet again humbly ask for your forgiveness and point out the title of my blog to back me up- confessions of a try-hard!

Here is to me keeping my promise and visiting here with ace content far more often than I have been….in the mean time feel free to visit my teacher blog at year2tastic  

Catch you soon friends

Mrs T Xx