Twiglet Top Tips – The Chilli Pickle

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Welcome to the latest instalment of my Twiglet Top Tips series – where I recommend places, products and brands which we love and would like to share with you all 😊 Last week we were lucky enough to be invited along to have lunch at The Chilli Pickle, a street-food inspired Indian restaurant in Guildford.

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Have a Very RAINBOW Christmas!

For a number of years – basically since we bought our house – we’ve had a mainly purple and silver theme for our decorations. I say mainly because there are exceptions – random decorations we’ve picked up along the way which don’t really fit the colour scheme but which we liked or were gifts etc. This year, I would LOVE to have a rehaul of our decs and you can probably guess what my dream theme would be – RAINBOWWWWWWW!!

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Twiglet Top Tips – Rachel Thornhill Photography

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A few weeks ago, we spent a fabulous morning at Mayfield Lavender with the very lovely Rachel Thornhill. I’ve known Rachel for a few years as she used to teach the twiglets Gymboree before she embarked on her career as a photographer. Her work is amazing so when she offered to take some photos of them I almost bit her arm off πŸ˜‚ We met at Mayfield Lavender Nursery, the β€˜secret’ lavender fieldΒ πŸ™ŠπŸ˜Š It’s a bit more wild and natural than the main field further up the road but, unlike that one, is not open to the public. It is available for private hire though 😊

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Twiglet Top Tips – Tots Tastes

This week’s Twiglet Top Tip is a fabulous little company based near me in Surrey called β€˜Tots Tastes.’
The lovely Caroline from Tots Tastes contacted me before Christmas to ask if we would like to try some of their meals. I freely admit I struggle to keep up with cooking for the twiglets – it seems neverending! Especially given that they can be fussy little buggers 😩 So needless to say I jumped at the chance 😁
Tots Tastes are a husband and wife team who are committed to producing healthy, fresh alternatives to commercially made toddler meals. Basically, all the benefits of lovely, home-cooked food without you actually having to cook it 🀣 Pretty perfect really! They use locally sourced produce where possible, with no chemicals or added salt, sugar or preservatives. You can choose from a selection of purees or meals, which come in single-serve portions and are all designed to be stored in the freezer and cooked from frozen in either the oven or microwave. I absolutely loved the ease and convenience of this 😁 They also offer β€˜Make Together’ kits which include all the ingredients you need to make pizzas, bake cookies or even make play dough! These will definitely be on my list to try when I make an order – I love the fact that everything you need is provided 😁 What you might find surprising is that the products are extremely competitively priced compared to supermarket brands, with the frozen meals all costing Β£2.25 or Β£2.50. And if you use code β€˜Jan40′ at checkout, you can get a whopping 40% off your order for the last few days of January (quick! ☺) They deliver to a wide range of locations in Surrey and Kent (check the website for further details), and delivery is free for orders over Β£20.
And most importantly of all, the twiglets LOVED the meals 😁 There’s a great variety on offer, from macaroni cheese, to chicken goujons and potato wedges, to curry.

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I also loved the packaging – it’s super clear with the name of the dish and the ingredients on the side, plus a sticker saying β€˜Made by Mum’ or β€˜Made by Dad’ on the lid which I thought was such a sweet personal touch 😊

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Check out Tots Tastes’Β website to order some lovely meals for your little ones 😊And don’t forget to use code ‘Jan40’ if you order in the next few days 😁

Twiglet Top Tips – More2Explore

So far my blog has been all about telling my parenting journey and discussing issues I’ve encountered along the way, with a few (hopefully) funny stories thrown in. I hope that it brings a smile to a few of your faces and maybe a bit of reassurance when it’s an issue you can relate to 😁 I’ve decided to introduce something new alongside my usual posts and start sharing some fabulous brands and/or products as we come across them. There are so many small businesses out there, particularly on Instagram, and it can be hard to know which ones are great, which ones are not so great or which ones you can trust. I for one, love recommendations and will often end up buying things I’ve seen people I follow wearing or using (#instagrammademedoit 🀣🀣) If you’ve followed me for a while on Insta, I hope it comes across that I’m an honest and genuine person – for example, I would always say if we were sent something for free (we are very lucky that that happens occasionally). I wouldn’t ever recommend something just because it was free but only if I genuinely loved it and thought it could either make things for others that little bit easier, or just to make you happy so they seem easier 🀣 Anyway, introductory spiel over…. Introducing my first β€˜Twiglet Top Tip’ 😁😁 This week I’m featuring a lovely company based in Scotland called β€˜More2Explore’ and their awesome product, the Adventure Belt.

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The Adventure Belt is basically an ingenious hands-free version of traditional reins. It comprises a pouch attached to a belt which is worn by the child and is fully adjustable around their waist. I really like the fact that the buckle is childproof; undoing it requires a button to be pushed at the same time as squeezing the sides which means the child can’t undo it themselves. The adult then wears a simple, plain belt and the adult and child belts can be attached together with an elasticated bungee strap which clips onto each one (again with a childproof buckle so the child can’t detach themselves). I love the bungee feature – it’s adjustable so you can choose how far your child can walk away from you which gives them more independence whilst still keeping them safe and close. It also avoids the β€˜straining at the leash’ which we would sometimes have with our backpack reins when Henry would get particularly impatient. To attach another child, they have a belt and pouch too, and the adult simply wears a second belt.

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The main difference between the Adventure Belt and other types of reins is that it leaves your hands free which is so so useful, particularly if you have more than one child.

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Also, there is a range of fun pouch designs and colours to choose from, including camouflage and animals such as a panda and tiger. The child can store small items in the pouch which really gives them a sense of ownership. Even when they don’t need to be attached to me, the twiglets often ask to wear their panda belts and they love collecting and storing little treasures on our walks.

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I think this product is such a fantastic, innovative alternative to traditional reins, particularly for families with multiples. As we were walking around the shopping centre taking photographs, I heard a dad with twins say ‘oh wow, look at that – how amazing!’ And I genuinely think it is 😊 More2Explore have created discounted twin and triplet packs too so that you can easily purchase more than one belt. The belts are designed for 2-5 year olds but have been tested and sized for up to age 8. The Adventure Belt is perfect for use in busy, crowded situations. One of my biggest anxieties when out and about with the twiglets is the thought of losing one of them, particularly as Henry is a runner and liable to bolt at any opportunity. Having them attached to me is such a weight off my mind and makes it much easier to go out without a pushchair, especially as I have my hands free to juggle bags etc. I would definitely highly recommend it as a convenient, hands-free alternative to reins 😁

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Check out More2Explore’sΒ website to purchase or follow them onΒ Instagram to find out more 😊

NOTE: We were gifted this item in exchange for some photos of the product – I was under no obligation to write a review but wanted to because it’s bloody awesome 😊 All views are my own 😁

2018 – Getting some ‘me’ back

I’ve never been particularly hot on New Years Resolutions. Mainly because I find that the more set on achieving something I am, the more likely I am to rebel against myself so that I don’t achieve it – queen of self-sabotage, me πŸ™ˆ For example, I’m not the type of person who can really go β€˜cold turkey β€˜ with things – it just doesn’t generally work for me. So cutting things out completely will just make me really desperately want those things and I won’t be able to stick to it – it’s usually much better for me to make more gradual changes.
So I don’t really tend to make New Years Resolutions as such. Sometimes I don’t particularly do anything differently at all, sometimes I think of one or two little changes I’d like to try to make but I don’t put too much pressure on myself as I’ll be less likely to do them that way (I’m aware that doesn’t really make much sense – I think I may be a little strange). But anyway, for me, I feel that 2018 needs to be the year for me to get some more of myself back. As I haven’t yet returned to work since having the twiglets, I often feel like I’m in an extended version of the maternity leave bubble. It all feels quite temporary if that makes sense? When you’re properly on your official maternity leave, you sort of put things off a bit don’t you? Well I know I did anyway. Like housework for example – when I was in that year of β€˜official’ leave, it didn’t really bother me if the house was a bit of a sh*t-tip or if I had lots of life admin-type crap that I needed to sort out… It felt like I was just in a temporary state of disorder and disorganisation and that once I regained some normality by returning to work, I would get back on top of things a bit better (whether that would actually have been the case or not who knows!) But anyway we soon realised that with double childcare to fork out for and me on a teaching salary, it wasn’t actually going to be financially viable for me to return to work for a while anyway. So we’ve basically continued on in that β€˜bubble’ which almost doesn’t really feel like real life to me because I know it won’t last that much longer. That’s not meant to sound negative by the way – I have loved being at home with my twiglets (despite the amount I whinge about how bloody difficult it can be!) and am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to spend so much time with them, witness all their milestones and have lots of adventures with them.
But 2018 is going to be the year it all changes. The plan has always been for me to return to work when the twiglets turn 3 and get their funded nursery hours. That happens this September πŸ™Š (they turn 3 in July) The fact is, they already attend nursery two days a week anyway, but this is only possible because my mum pays for it for us. We’re really starting to feel the pinch (to say the least) of living on one salary so that’s the main reason I need to go back to work. But there are other reasons. I don’t want to be out of the teaching profession for too long. It’s been three years and already I feel so far removed from the world of education. I don’t want to make it harder for myself to get a job by leaving it too long. Also, while I’ve been a stay-at-home mummy, pretty much everything has been about the twiglets. That’s been absolutely fine so far and how I’ve wanted it to be – they’ve been my full-time job 😁 My priorities completely changed when I had them; their needs come above all else and they always will. I guess that’s how it should be. But I think at some point you have to start doing some things for yourself too. I could totally imagine myself overly worrying about the twigs and overthinking things if I had too much time on my hands. I know all mums worry like mad anyway but that’s why I think it’s good to have other things in your life to focus your attention on, not necessarily work – it could be hobbies or travelling or anything really. I want to ensure that I’m not just living for my children, but for myself as well, especially once they’re at nursery more and then school. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish? I need to feel stimulated and challenged in doing things I enjoy. For this reason, I also want to try to pick some of my hobbies back up. I belong to a local Ladies’ Choir and pre-twiglets I used to attend weekly rehearsals and take part in concerts. Since they were born, I’ve tried three times to get back into going regularly and each time managed a few weeks before life took over or I couldn’t be bothered or lost motivation. I really enjoy singing, not that I’m any good, but it makes me happy so this year I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back into it properly.
I would also like to work on my appearance a little. Again, I’m not going to be going on any crazy strict diets or exercise regimes or anything, as I absolutely wouldn’t stick to them. But, I’ve noticed that since having babies, my wardrobe has become more and more plain and dull. I loooove bright colours and bold prints and I think I’ve lost the confidence to wear them a bit so I’d really like to try to get that back. I’ve also put on a fair amount of weight since having the twiglets and I can’t really continue to use the excuse of β€˜I had twins.’ For one thing, they’re 2Β½ now, and for another, a lot of the weight has gone on after they were born – looking back on photos, it’s clear I was much slimmer straight after having them than I am now! Extended maternity leave, prolonged sleep deprivation and copious amounts of cake are probably to blame πŸ™ˆ For the record, I don’t regret any of the cake πŸ˜‚ I also don’t think I’m horrendously overweight or anything- just a bit bigger than I’m really comfortable with. The main thing really is just that I’d like to be a little healthier and look after myself better. One of my main aims is to get more organised in terms of meal planning and doing a proper weekly food shop. At the moment we sometimes do a β€˜big shop’ but then end up buying bits and bobs here and there, which is uneconomical and also leads to us wasting food. I’m hoping by organising in advance what we’re going to eat for the week we can save money and also eat more healthily. In terms of the twiglets, although we do cook for them a lot and hubby in particular does at the weekends, I’ve still definitely been using microwave toddler meals like Little Dish, which are fab by the way, more than I would really like. I had always intended to cook them fresh food as much as possible, but I find it so hard to keep up with! I’m hoping with a bit of extra organisation, doing more batch cooking and using my new slow cooker, I’ll be able to ensure all of us eat more fresh home-cooked food. The last thing in terms of being a bit healthier is to cut down on alcohol. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I love a good vino πŸ™ˆ Toddlers are stressful and I find a glass or two of wine takes the edge off the a**ehole behaviour and helps me unwind in the evening. Recently however, it’s been nearly every evening and even I know that’s probably a bit too much. So we’re going to try to only drink at the weekends – again, not going to ban myself completely as I know I’ll only want it all the more πŸ™ˆ
Lastly, as well as looking after myself a bit better physically, I think I also need to focus on my mental well-being more. It’s not very often that I take time for myself. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about this and I wholeheartedly agree that self-care shouldn’t just be a luxury, but a necessity. I know for me, just something as simple as having a bath or taking ten minutes to read a book and drink a hot cup of coffee, can make all the difference to my mental state. I feel like I’m on less of a short fuse and have more patience with the twiglets – basically, a better mummy to them. So I’m going to really try to go out with friends a bit more in the evenings, have more date nights with Rob and do a few more little things for myself – and the most important part, I will try my hardest not to feel guilty for it and remember that in the long run, it’s actually better for all of us 😊
So there you go, a boring post about my aims for 2018 πŸ˜‚ I would also like to try to blog more regularly while I can, as I think from September, if I manage to find a job, it will be even harder to fit in. Writing it all down, it sounds like a lot but hopefully it’s achievable. And if not, oh well 😁 The main thing is to be grateful for my gorgeous twiglets, my amazing husband and our friends and family 😊 What are you hoping to achieve this year?

 

Comparing Twins – yes or no?


Should you compare twins to each other? 

Everything I’ve read seems to say it’s a big no-no – twins should be individual and you should never compare them. For me, it’s not quite as black and white as that. While I totally agree that twins should be encouraged to develop their individuality and be their own person, I think it’s only human nature to compare. I often make sense of things in the world by relating and comparing them to other things – it’s how I understand things and I’m sure plenty of others are the same (faaaar too many β€˜things’ in that sentence but hey ho πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚) Even if I try not to, I do compare the twiglets to each other and always have. I find it absolutely fascinating and such a huge privilege to be able to watch a boy and a girl of the same age grow and develop in the same environment with the same or very similar external influences. And yet their personalities are wildly different and they have completely different strengths and abilities, which I just think is amazing. Having studied psychology and always been interested in the nature vs nurture debate, it was so interesting to me that even as small babies, the twiglets had such different characters. Henry was always more clingy and cuddly while Cora seemed much more independent. Henry was eager to get on the move and start rolling and crawling, while Cora seemed much happier just to sit and observe, as if she was taking in every detail of her surroundings. Fast forward to now and Cora has amazing speech, is good at climbing but quite cautious, very emotional and sensitive to changes in her routine or environment but also a tough little cookie – stubborn, strong-willed and fiercely determined. She is so eager to learn and thrives in structured activities. She is fairly sensible and will generally listen to instructions although she does have a very naughty mischievous side too. Henry can run so fast I struggle to keep up with him, doesn’t listen AT ALL and seems to have no real concept or awareness of danger. He is a little tornado with the shortest attention span, obsessed with food and, as long as he’s fed pretty much constantly, bumbles along happily, quite unfazed by change or more likely oblivious to it. I love that they’re so different and want to teach them that we all have different strengths and that that should be celebrated – it’s what makes the world such an amazing and diverse place – everyone has something to contribute. If one twin turns out to be more academic than the other, for example, I’d want to make sure the other knows that they have equally important strengths. Obviously I’d be sensitive in how this was spoken about in front of them – I wouldn’t be saying to one β€˜you’re no good at that β€˜ or anything! I certainly wouldn’t want them to feel limited and not want to do an activity they enjoy because they think they’re not very good at it, but I think at some point they’ll need to understand that there will be some things their twin will be better at, and other things they will be better at, and that’s ok – in fact, it’s great 😁

I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent but I think what I’m trying to say is that yes I do compare my twins, but I would never want to do that in a way that could damage their sense of self-worth. In fact, I’d hope that it would have the opposite effect and teach them that although they both have very different personalities and strengths, they are just as important and amazing as each other. I do acknowledge that I’m speaking purely from my viewpoint as the mum of boy/girl twins – if I had same-sex identical twins, it may well be a different story and maybe I would be more reluctant to compare as it can be harder for them to develop their own unique identity. 

As always, please let me know your thoughts – do you compare your twins or do you think it’s wrong to?