Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Mixed Review- Billy Smarts Circus...

On Thursday evening, Matt, Noah, my gorgeous nephew and I went off to the circus. If you managed to read this post HERE, you will know that Noah was so excited about the possibility of going when the circus was next around, so we kept it as a surprise until we arrived. Noah was super excited to finally be going to 'The Show'.



Before we even went inside, the shape of the circus tent had Noah completely excited, like he was in a dream or something. We walked in to the tent to a refreshment area where there was seating and oldy worldy popcorn and candy floss machines which were perfectly fitting to the atmosphere of the circus. There was also a larger scale kiosk which offered beverages, sweeties and fast food. The prices weren't too extreme... about average for the style of event with popcorn at £3, candy floss on a stick £2 and a small tub of sweeties at £2.50.

We were then ushered to our seats by a steward. I would say that considering the circus is an entertainment event, the steward was incredibly grumpy and a smile wouldn't have hurt, even if he just smiled at the children. However, the atmosphere in the tent was buzzing so we forgot about the grumpy steward very quickly (everyone has off days after all!).

The show started with a subtle presentation of the history of the show which was actually quite nice. I felt like we were a part of something special and there felt like a strong sense of pride surrounding what we were about to watch. 



The show was broken down in to two halves with a small interval halfway through. I have to say, we were completely entertained from beginning to end. The acts were flawless... apart from one fall in the grand trapeze act by The Flying Aces, however the young lady still managed to look amazing when falling and landed like it was on purpose. Quite obviously a true professional. It was intense but there was a beautiful realness about it, it made me enjoy it more. The Flying Aces were definitely one of my favourite acts. 

I also enjoyed the performance by Caroline (A solo trapeze act), she was incredibly enchanting, calming and beautiful. She is incredibly talented and I would loved to have seen more from her throughout the show.


Another act that we all quite enjoyed was Germaine the Foot Juggler. This was that clever it was ridiculous. How anyone can juggle with their feet is beyond me yet she didn't even look like she broke a sweat. She made it look so very easy... even when she was juggling fire. She was incredibly captivating... Definitely worth watching. 


The X-Treme Brothers were superb!! They had such control over their bodies it was insane. How can you even balance that way? Literally, on one hand, on someone's head... while they are standing up!!! They are just amazing.

Unfortunately, I didn't get as many photo's as I would have liked. Quite irritatingly, of the performances I like most of all. During the performance of Alina, another incredibly talented and unique performer... I had just reached for my camera when a steward very abruptly approached me and quite harshly told me to stop using my camera. I was very embarrassed and because he was quite rudely leaning over the couple next to me, I just nodded my head, said "Ok!" and put my camera away quickly in hope that he would go away. My camera did not come out for the rest of the first half and for the whole second half of the show. BLOGGER NIGHTMARE!!!!! I was a little upset as there was absolutely no visible disclosure's to say no photography or video's were permitted and there was no verbal communication at the beginning of the show either. It did taint the show for me slightly but thankfully the children were completely unaware because they were enjoying it so much.

In all, I would absolutely recommend a trip to Billy Smarts Circus. Even though some of the staff and their people skills are a little questionable, the actual show was full to the brim with talent. We were completely entertained throughout- even when the acts changed, it was all very smooth, no gaps so no time to get bored. It was a great experience and the children honestly loved it. There is a lot of variety between the acts so there is something to suit everyone. The commitment to being a good old fashioned circus with a fresh twist is on point and I would definitely recommend it for some good, wholesome family fun. 

Disclosure
I was very kindly sent a family ticket to watch and review Billy Smarts Circus. As usual, all opinions are completely my own. 

Lots of Love
x Maria x




Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thank you Teacher...

On Wednesday, Noah's first year in Reception class of school, finished. There were a mixed bag of emotions going on really. I could not wait for him to finish so that we could kick off the Summer holidays yet it made me feel so very sad that one whole school year had already passed, blink and you can really miss these things. Noah has changed so very much in his first year of school, he has grown so much. So I just wanted to put my gratitude somewhere...

Dear Teacher,

First of all I would love to say that even though you have only been Noah's teacher since Christmas, you have made a real difference to the start of his school career. 

Noah started off his school year, a very shy little boy. He would often play by himself or play inside where it was quiet so that he could build and write. You have encouraged him socially and I have seen a big change in the way that he confidently manoeuvres between friendship groups. When you send your child off to school, you hope and pray that they have friends, they don't bully anyone and they are not bullied. Under your care, I feel happy that Noah has built a good friendship group and that he cares about people and their feelings. He is free to be the same boy that he is at home and the same lessons are installed with consistency. I am incredibly thankful for that.

Noah absolutely adores you. I have appreciated that when I bring him to the classroom door every morning, you are not simply standing at the door ushering the Children in promptly. You will usually be found sitting cross legged on the floor with Children draping off of you while you put in the time to play with them before their day starts. Not every teacher would do that...and still manage to greet every single child who walks through the door. It is lovely and I believe it makes a difference. Not only to Noah but to all of the Children... and most definitely me.It shows that you truly care.

Further to your Morning madness, you have never been too busy to answer copious amounts of (and sometimes ridiculous) questions from me, I have never felt like I can't approach you, you have always insisted that no worry is too small when it comes to my child. To me that is invaluable information that you can tell the Mother of a reception class pupil. It has been nice to know that you understand how nervous we feel, the worry and mixed emotions we have that go through our minds.

Thank you for being human, a real person that I can relate to. Thank you for doing all of the boring paperwork that you wish that you didn't have to. Thank you for the energy that you bring to every school day, even though you have a two and a half year old and must be really tired. These things matter and they don't go unnoticed.

Lastly, thank you for encouraging Noah to reach his full potential this year. Noah can now do things that I never would have dreamed he would do in his Reception year of school. I never would have imagined him reading to me, writing me long letters, writing out the instructions for a treasure hunt... all and completely by himself. He can count really high and adding, subtracting and his two times table are no issue for him at all. He is interested in how the world works and his imagination has completely soared... I can honestly not wait to see what the next year has in store for him.

Thank you for the confidence that you have given to us both... you have been truly wonderful.

All The Best
Noah's Mummy

p.s. I hope you are still teaching the Reception class in a few years when Ellenah heads off to school... fingers crossed!

It is so easy to criticise and complain about teaching and education... I have to say it feels really nice to give credit where credit is due. 

Love
x Maria x




Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Chosen By The Abandoned Ones...

Abandoned- Having been deserted or left.

Abandoned is such a factual word. Brutal and to the point. The reality of such an ugly word is much worse. Whoever had the job to really define what abandoned meant, didn't quite capture a summary that would include the words unloved, unwanted, unimportant in its meaning. Of course, every story behind the expression will be different, this one however deserves more from it's conclusive beginning.

On Monday morning, my Sister and I were at work, happily starting off the working week. The phone rang, much like it always does. My Sister answered in her usual happy yet professional tone. Something was different about this call. The change in my Sisters facial and verbal expression had me feeling worried. I could feel my heart begin to race. Her eyes looked sad and I was feeling so very anxious.

I was right to feel that way!

While we were at work that morning, my Mum went about her usual day and walked her dogs by the stream near her house. The dogs started to bark and behave in a quite unusual way. My Mum soon realised that they had come across a box, fairly raggedy and looking a bit battered. Curiously, she put her hand inside to discover two very small and very frightened kittens. With a small hole for air and food too large for such tiny mouths, they had been left in the middle of a heat wave... to be found... or to die. Whoever left them, most certainly didn't care or worry about their fate.

My Mum, heartbroken and teary scooped up the box and with her crazy, territorial dogs in tow she hurried them to safety. Luckily a very kind neighbour was only too happy to help. He removed them from what I can only describe as a coffin and placed them somewhere safe... all parties unsure what to do next.

From there my Mum had alerted my Brother, who in turn alerted us. Immediately after my Sister informed me of the news, I knew in my heart that I wanted them. I wanted to give them a home, somewhere to feel safe and loved. I think it took me less than a second to put in my claim.

Within about half an hour, after my Sister told me to go and see them, I had been in to see the vets to enquire about vaccinations and anything else that these 6-8 week old kittens would need. And then I ran, yes ran in bare feet may I add, to get me there quicker than my sandals would... to see MY kittens. 

From the moment I looked into their hopeless, frightened eyes, I knew that this little brother and sister duo were coming home with me. So after I had a few cuddles and purchased almost the entire kitten section of the pet shop, I popped them in there carrier made for two and took them to their forever home. 

As soon as I brought them home, they wasted no time in making themselves comfortable. The children love them, Matt loves them and I absolutely bloody love them.

What is a little bizarre is that, one kitten who I believe to be the young lady was quite obviously the runt. A far as I am aware, the runt is sometimes killed by its Mother, dies naturally because it is not strong enough or is left out of the litter. Not this one! She is strong, sassy and curious. She is already putting on weight and the bond with her big brother quite honestly amazes me. She is a survivor. The second one, is completely black. Many people believe black cats to be unlucky... Not this one, He was found and now has a family who will love him forever. Both of these beautiful kittens make us all feel incredibly lucky and so very happy.

Also, rather funnily if you managed to check out this post HERE named 'We Are Not A Proper Family Unless We Have A Pet' you will know that at the end I said that I would let whichever pet we get somehow choose us... I think they did, don't you?

I can't quite put in to words the anger and rage that I feel towards the heartless, spineless, gutless, evil person who 'abandoned' them in a heatwave. It hurts my heart to think that people that awful really exist. I know one thing... these amazingly cute and beautifully tempered kittens will be loved so much and they will have to be prized out of my cold, dead fingers before anybody ever hurts them, ever again!

I'm pretty sure that this won't be the last that you see of these two but for now, meet Forrest and Puddle... aren't they sweet?

This was today... They love hanging out together. I guess it would be that way when you have only had each other...

This was their first meal in there new home...

Puddle...(She is still a little camera shy and didn't want to frighten her by getting too close)

Forrest... (He loves the camera apparently)

Lots of love
x Maria x



Sunday, 20 July 2014

A Stubborn Toddler Who Won't Eat Her Dinner + Veggie Update

I thought I would quickly update you on my vegetarian week mission... a few messages have popped up because I didn't post a recipe yesterday. The truth is, I didn't like what I made at all! I made creamy asparagus and pea pasta and to be perfectly honest I was a little devastated that it tasted so very bland. I didn't see much point in posting a recipe as such because I would not recommend this meal to anyone. I really wanted to like it so much because asparagus is my absolute favourite vegetable. I will not make it again because I can't think of any single way that I could improve it to my taste or my little fam's... bless them.



Last night I just wanted to make something simple. Classic. Easy. That I knew we would all enjoy. Needless to say, none of us ate too much of the previous nights meal. 

Classic Tomato Spaghetti

I Used...


1 Onion
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Large Handful of Fresh Basil
2 400g Cans Of Chopped Tomatoes
2 Handfuls Of Cherry Tomatoes
A Pinch Of Chilli Flakes
250-300g Spaghetti

First of all I brought a pan of water to the boil, added the spaghetti and let it simmer. I then roughly chopped the garlic, onion, cherry tomatoes and the basil. Next, I placed 1 can of chopped tomatoes in a blender, followed by onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes and then the other can of chopped tomatoes. I added the basil on top and started to blend for a couple of minutes. I then pulsed it for about half a minute until it was at a thick and almost creamy consistency that I like. When the spaghetti had cooked through, I drained it of and added the sauce to the pan to heat and cook through for about 3-5 minutes. To serve I grated a little cheese on top however I would usually use parmesan but I didn't have any on this occasion. I also added a few basil leaves to mine (Because I friggin' love it!)... And that is pretty much it. It was gorgeous!!!






Scores...

Matt 6/10
Noah 8/10
Ellenah 2/10 
Me 9/10

Conclusion...

We all really enjoyed the simplicity of this meal last night. It is definitely a reliable dinner time staple in our house. It is extremely tasty and incredibly easy to make. Winner! 

One thing I have noticed over the past few weeks is that Els is barely eating any meals at dinner time. Even meals I know that she loves. She has NEVER been a fussy eater, so I am a little thrown. She does eat in the day so I make sure she eats a healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks but I am finding it very frustrating I have to say. I feel like I have tried every trick going. I am going to get her to cook with me a few times during this week and to get her to help pick out bits while we are shopping to see if that will make a difference but other than that... I am pretty stuck. Noah went through a phase, I am hoping it is that and she will snap out of it if we don't make it a big deal. If any of you have any tricks or experience with stubborn toddlers who won't eat their dinner... feel free to throw a little advice or a few tips this way. I would greatly appreciate it.

Love
x Maria x

Beauty. Stillness. Inspiration.

As I mentioned in this post HERE, on Friday evening my little bunch and I went for a little stroll along the beach in Herne Bay. It was such a hot day so after we had all boiled ourselves, I thought it would be a good idea to chase a possible sea breeze and cool down. 

So that is what we did. We didn't get there until about half past seven in the evening. Even though it was still super humid, there was the occasional breeze which was very welcome.

We grabbed a couple of bag of chips and went and sat on the beach. I just love the beach when the weather is nice. Everybody is so friendly, everybody smiles at each other, people are walking there dogs, children for some reason are allowed to stay up late and enjoy the experience, a bag of chips become an acceptable meal followed by an ice cream as you walk along. Lovely!

I also really enjoy watching the sun set at the beach... I got some pretty beautiful pictures even if I do say so myself.



 If this makes any sense at all, the beach can be so noisy, a hustle and bustle... but there is also a very peaceful silence surrounding it. Appreciation. Beauty. Stillness. Inspiration. 



I love the freedom of the beach. The freedom to just be. The freedom for the children to run and play, unable to come to any real harm or any real danger. The freedom to just be children. Enquisitive. Curious. Innocent. 




It is a happy place. A special place. A place I love. A place where I can exist with my absolute favourite people in the whole wide world. A place of reminder, that to the world they may just be numbers but to me they are the world.





We did have a little walk through the arcades which the children enjoyed very much and as we left, the setting sun was shying away from the aggressive clouds of a brewing storm. 



As we drove home, we were driving through the beginning of what turned out to be quite a magnificent one. It was simply beautiful.

Lots of Love
x Maria x

Friday, 18 July 2014

Heat Wave.....

Today has been LOOOOOOOONG! I went off to work as the sun was still burning off any haze but by the time I got there, the sun was shining bright. My Sister and I have literally cooked ourselves today in our shop. It has quite honestly been a task to stay upright and/or awake. At one point I found myself laying on some uniform packaging on our office floor as the coolness slightly... VERY slightly resembled the cold part of your pillow at night. That is not normal behaviour!!!

Needless to say, by the time half past four came around we were hurtling ourselves out of the door and shouting "I'll be back on Monday!!!!". Earlier on in the day, I made a very organised and specific trip to Tesco... to buy birthday cards and the ingredients for tonights meal. I returned back, boiled and feeling half dead and popped my ingredients in the work fridge (Yes, I was incredibly tempted to climb in there with it!). So when I was throwing myself out of the door in a frenzy to pick Ellenah up from her Aunties and Noah up from his Nan's... I forgot my very precious bag of shopping. I realised too late and considering my body was about to call things quits on me, I thought sod it... I'm taking the kids to the beach where we will eat a bag of chips and ice-cream. 

None of us are particularly hungry today... the heat has seen to that!!! I'm pretty sure my 'Vegetarian Week' meal of 'Creamy Asparagus And Pea Pasta' wouldn't be appreciated, so I thought to myself... the weather wins once again. We will hit the arcades and go for a swim while we are there. Everything in moderation I guess!

I didn't completely give up however. Before we went, I made myself a rather healthy snack that I have become quite recently obsessed with.


Ryvita With Hot Salsa And Avocado(Sprinkled With Black Pepper)


This snack is quite surprisingly very filling and I find it so satisfying. It is no secret how much I love avocado and its health benefits. It is an amazing source of protein and they contain many vitamins and minerals which we struggle to get in our diets. I would definitely recommend this wonderful snack, you should try it.

What healthy snacks do you like the most?

Love
x maria x


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Hooray... The Circus Is Coming!!!



Not too long ago on a walk back home from Faversham Town, Noah noticed a rather bright, colourful poster stuck on an empty shop window. The poster was informing us that a travelling circus was going to be nearby. Very excitedly, Noah jumped with joy and asked, scrap that... pleaded for me to take him. Unfortunately, the poster was months out of date so I had to say no. Noah understood but feeling quite obviously upset about it, he hung his head.

For some reason, this particularly upset me. My children are most definitely not spoilt... they don't go without either but more importantly, they are not spoilt children at all. I think I felt frustrated that I couldn't say, "In a few days Noah, we will go..." because I didn't know when the circus would be back.

I could feel his desperation to go and his need to experience all of the complete wonders of the circus... I really wanted him to have that. So, I said to him, "Noah, the next time that I know of a circus visiting, we will definitely go... I promise I will take you as a treat!!"

And Like magic, the idea of 'someday' was enough to turn Noah's frown upside down. 

So yesterday, I felt very excited to find out that 'Billy Smarts Circus' was going to be visiting our neck of the woods. They are visiting Mote Park in Maidstone between the 15th-20th July, Canterbury, Kingsmead 22nd-27th July and Radnor Park in Folkestone 29th July- 3rd August... How exciting?! I just wanted to share the information in case any of you want to take your little Darlings for a smashing evening out at the circus. I know I can not wait to go now... The look on Noah's face will be priceless.



If you follow the link, you will see that it looks like a pretty marvellous show. I am looking forward to seeing 'The flying Aces' which is a flying trapeze act and 'Caroline' who is a solo trapeze act, she sounds rather graceful even if she will be swinging and twisting around above the circus ring. I think that Noah is going to love love love 'The Asadullin Troupe' who use a specially constructed seesaw to propel each other high up in the air. Ooooooh, I feel a bit nervous just thinking about it. 


Can you keep a secret... Noah doesn't know a thing about it?!!! I honestly can not wait to see the look on his face...

If you manage to get there, I hope you have a great time!! I know we will. Sorry to those who this post doesn't apply to. If you read my blog regularly, first of all thank you!! secondly, you will know just how little Noah ever asks for so hopefully you will understand why I am so excited. I also hope that you too have some wonderful things to look forward to.

Love
x Maria x