Leftover Gravy Pasta Sauce

At tea time tonight I needed a quick tea for my family of 5. We had sausages that needed eating and gravy sauce, which was actually juices from the slow cooker beef stew I’d made at the weekend. I didn’t have any potatoes to do the obvious bangers and mash so decided to do sausage pasta. At first I wasn’t sure how the gravy would fit into this so just decided to experiment. I was pretty pleased with the results and there were clean plates all round so I thought I’d share!

1) Cooked pasta bows

2) Cooked sausages on grilling machine

3) Fried a courgette and leek, chopped into small pieces

4) Heated leftover gravy in a pan and added basil, tomato puree, a tin of tomatoes and Worcester sauce.

5) At this point if it seems really runny just stir in a bit of flour or cornflour but I found the puree, tomatoes and veg made it just the right consistency.

5) Add fried courgette and leek to the sauce, stir, then pour over the cooked, drained pasta.

6) Chop up sausages and stir in.

7) Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan!

Whilst tea was cooking, my eldest painted a dried pasta bow and pretended if was a butterfly!

Let me know if you have an queries or how you found this when you tried it!

A Day in the Life of 17 Month Twins and 4 Year Old

I’ve been having fun lately making videos for my YouTube channel Tiddler Tales. My latest one is a day in the life of our 17 month old twins and 4 year old girl.

The twins have had this routine from about 16 months when they progressed from 2 to 1 naps and now at 18 months we are finding bedtime is creeping more towards 7:30pm if they have their 2 hour daytime nap as otherwise they were waking too early.

Their typical day goes like this:

6-6:30am Twins wake up. We change their nappy and take them downstairs. They usually play, we read them books and give them some water or very diluted squash in a non spill 360 cup (http://amzn.to/2zC2USi) Sometimes they’re hungry early and we give them a piece of fruit like banana.

7am Their big sister gets up when the sun comes on her Gro Clock (http://amzn.to/2Aie6Xi) and when she comes downstairs she has a drink of milk or diluted fruit juice and we sit down together for breakfast. They usually have shreddies or wheetabix or porridge. I often take the opportunity of the boys being in their highchairs to get showered and dressed then my husband will get ready once I’m back downstairs.

The twins and their big sis then get dressed, maybe another nappy change is often needed if they poop, and they have a little play whilst we get everything ready for nursery (3 days a week). Teeth cleaning happens in the pram before we leave for nursery or upstairs in the bathroom when I’m off work. We help the twins brush their teeth as they still just chew and suck on the toothbrush!

8:30am They leave for nursery (3 days a week)

9:15am Walk to a morning playgroup on Mondays; Drive to gymtots on Wednesdays; play at home or outside at the weekends; Sunday morning church.

10:30am Morning snack and drink (fruit/crackers/rice cakes/toast)

Play before lunch.

12pm Lunch

12:30-2:30pm Nap time. One-on-one time with my 4 year old.

2:30/3pm Afternoon snack and drink

Trip out or play at home or garden until tea time.

5pm Teatime

6-6:15pm Bathtime (every other night)

6:30 Bedtime milk in a bottle (8oz)

Get pyjamas on, read stories, clean teeth.

7pm Twins go to bed either at same time or often we stagger timings by 10 minutes to enable them to go to sleep in peace as they sometimes fuss for a few minutes. Our 4 year old will read stories and go to bed by 7:15pm too.


“Just Wait a Minute”

5 Thoughts

The guilt I felt for my toddler when the twins were born was something I hadn’t anticipated. “Just wait a minute,” was something I hated hearing myself saying. Over and over again every day I had to turn my daughter away, tell her to occupy herself, tell her wait, tell her to just get on with things herself and I would try and join her in a minute.

The guilt was awful. I still struggle with this and get emotional just thinking back. It was probably also fueled by the stress of caring for newborn babies and the sleep deprivation that came with it.

B was my first, my only baby for 2 and a half years. I had all my time and energy to devote to caring for her, playing with her, reading her stories, putting her to bed and going on fun trips out.

The twins came along and they consumed nearly all my time and energy. Suddenly I was busy changing nappies, breastfeeding, settling them to sleep, changing their clothes, cleaning up sick and the usual cooking and endless washing. It was a highly demanding, stressful, and relentless time.

Since returning to blogging last month and reading other posts I’ve realised this guilt isn’t uncommon.

If you’re expecting your second or have a newborn and toddler already, then here are a few tips I found helped me spend more time with my toddler:

  • Get them involved
    • Instead of saying you’re too busy changing a nappy to play, involve them. For example, they could pass you a clean nappy, entertain the baby to stop them crying or have them change their dolly next to you.
  • Don’t feel guilty about using TV
    • “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is advice that I mostly took on board with my first. With your second it’s pretty impossible when you have another child to amuse. I found when (or if!) the babies slept at the same time, this was our special uninterrupted mummy-daughter time. On a good day I do painting, crafts and playing with her. But to be quite honest in the newborn days this was too much. After being up most of the night I just wanted to curl up in a ball in a dark room. The nearest I could get to this was putting on a film and lying next to her on the sofa. Just don’t feel guilty, it’s not forever.
  • Walks with the pram
    • Getting out of the house with the babies in the pram has lead to some of the most quality time with my eldest. We’ve chatted as we’ve walked, collected nature, played in the park whilst the babies slept in the buggy, and been to the fun fair (although that did involve a stop off to breastfeed the twins on a part-broken picnic bench whilst trying to consume an overpriced hot dog!… and then change both nappies on the grass… she waited very patiently).
  • Find local playgroups
    • We go to a couple of brilliant groups. A multiples group and a church group at the end of our road. The main advantage of playgroups for me, aside from the blissful hot coffee and toast, was having people to help; to do crafts with my little girl (and clean up the mess after!!); to watch the twins while I took her to the toilet; to play with her; to watch the twins so I could play with her! I couldn’t survive without our groups and I’ve made some great friends. They’ve been there when I’ve needed a shoulder to cry, to offload, to understand and to laugh with.

Most of all, don’t be hard on yourself. Remember how challenging and tiring you found just 1 baby and now you have the extra demands of a toddler too. They will adapt quicker than you think, and so will you.

Please comment if you’ve had a similar guilt-trip and share how you cope.

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Top 4 affordable Christmas gifts for 4 year olds

1 Thought

Your 4 year old may have very specific tastes and likes or dislikes, but there are certain presents which won’t break the bank and which I believe all kids of this age will love.

Here are some ideas for Christmas 2017:

2 Wheel Scooter

Generally at this age they are progressing from a 3 wheel to a 2 wheel and there’s lots of different brands out there from My little pony to Paw patrol. My little girl loves riding to and from preschool on hers and it saves a lot of time; I can hardly keep up. A foldable scooter is very handy for when they suddenly decide they’ve had enough… inevitable when you’re still a long way from home!

All Set for Preschool

Magnetic 1st calendar: English and Spanish

My 4 year old has started wanting to know what’s happening each day, what day of the week it is and seems to be getting a general understanding of months. I felt at this age a calender helps them to know what’s going on and understand months and seasons too. I’m going to get this calender for my daughter for Christmas as it also shows the words in Spanish, which is the language they teach at our local primary school too so it should be useful for years to come! You can also buy these calenders in English only; available in blue or pink.

Little Live Talking Bird

Little Live Bird and Cage

This interactive bird has given my little girl hours of amusement. Suitable for both boys and girls, they can press the button to record their voice and it plays back in a funny parrot style pitch. The cage has space for 2 birds so they can collect a second as well as the other pets in the Little Live range.

As well as the recordings, the birds also have set tweeting songs and phrases which will amuse you little ones.

Tell the Time Wooden Clock

Whether they’ve already started school or not, over the next year teaching them to tell the time in a fun way will be a vital skill. You can play together with this clock and teach them as you play!

More than just shy behaviour

9 Thoughts

Earlier this year we had to deal with an issue. Something that was making our 3 year old girl unhappy and very very lonely. On paper it sounds silly and almost laughable, but when you’re the parent seeing your child miserable and unhappy it can cut you up.

In January our 3 year old started at a new nursery. This was a big change and she took a long time to adjust. It was awful leaving her screaming on the doorstep, looking through the window at pick to see her walking around the garden on her own, or stood looking on instead of joining in.

Every day she would tentatively ask “what are we doing today?”. I would brace myself for the inevitable crying and tantrums when we told her she was going to nursery. Often we would avoid the question until she was dressed and had breakfast. On her days off you could see the relief on her face that she was staying at home.

We spoke to the nursery teachers who said she was “fine, but very quiet”. She just didn’t seem to play with anyone and definitely wasn’t “fine”.

I felt like an awful mother forcing her to go. I stuck with it, all the time telling myself she would soon adjust. As the months past, so did our patience. We got so frustrated over these ongoing tantrums.

I talked to her about trying to just speak to one other child and join in a game. I said how I wanted her to be happy and have fun and play and make friends. I said I understood it was all new and different but that she had been going a while now and we couldn’t deal with these tantrums every.single.time. I think she had started playing relatively ok there but the dreadful drop offs had almost become a habit.

She told me she missed her friends at the childminder. She told me she already had a best friend Jess and seemed to think by making new friends Jess would no longer be her best friend and would be replaced.

That was the deal breaker. We had finally got deep into the crazy, illogical mind of a toddler.

Over the course of the next few weeks me and my husband both made time away from the twins to chat to her. We talked about having more than one friend. We showed her all of our friends and talked about how nice it was to play with a few different people. If one wasn’t there or was poorly, you could play with the others; and you could all play a big game together. I explained that her BFF was going to school and making other friends too but it didn’t mean they couldn’t meet up and play and have sleepovers together.

(We may have also bribed her with a toy of her choice if she got enough stickers each time she didn’t make a fuss going into nursery)

Most importantly I noticed a big change in how she started to settle and make friends. She would talk about the other children, she invited some of them to her 4th birthday party and now when I peer through the window before picking her up I see my smiley, friendly, bright little girl with her new friends.

My crazy wacky happy little bubble of fun (and me)

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5 reasons to LOVE 5 o’clock…

Hell… That’s a pretty strong word isn’t it. That’s how I describe early morning waking. Feeling constantly shattered, unable to focus in work, energy depleted, starting the day grumpy, feeling trapped in a seemingly never ending cycle of a baby waking early. You feel helpless to control the situation.

I currently long to rewind the clock to a few weeks ago when they all slept until a decent hour (anything after 6am is considered decent for 1 year olds). Some people LOVE waking early. Each to their own. I love my sleep. I don’t expect to lie in til 8 every day (trust me, that’s a lie in!), I just want to sleep even until 6am!! Please!! I don’t swear… normally… I really don’t like starting each day with expletives but this period, worsened by clocks moving back whilst the twins were poorly has really gone on long enough.

I hate feeling negative all the time and nothing I try is working so I’ve decided instead to try and see the positives and get light hearted about.

5 reasons to LOVE 5 o’clock:

1) I save ¬£14.99 a month on a gym membership. Think of all the calories I must burn pacing up and down the lounge trying to get “twin 1” back to sleep. If only he’d just snuggle into our bed and fall back to sleep.

2) I can spend more time on my blog… when the tiddler isn’t trying to grab my phone and press every button. He might try and tweet a photo of my bed hair and sheep onesie (the laptop is banned from the lounge since he smashed the screen and broke the keyboard).

3) I get to wear my favourite Cath Kidston dressing gown for longer. I’m getting my money’s worth especially when the scheduled heating hasn’t come on yet.

4) I can blame any blonde moments on sleep deprivation. Was that really me that put the back door keys in the bin or the feral toddler?

5) The sunrises are good for the soul and it’ll make me into a stronger, better person for going through this. If I chant that for long enough will it become true? Cos right now I’m weak, crumbling and grumpy… You best buy some shares in Kenco.

Watch this space for an inspirational blog about how we combatted and overcame early morning waking, but for now “I love waking early!” (Said no parent ever)

Anyone got any tips we might not have tried?

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Best Buys for Newborn Twins

2 Thoughts

If you’re expecting twins, you can lighten the load by getting prepared. Aside from getting 2 of most things, I found a few products which may help you in the first few months or years.

Uppa Baby Vista 2015 with buggy board

Double buggy – the obvious one, however the hardest choice to make. There are so many makes and models, side by side or tandem. The most popular double buggies out there are the Bugaboo Donkey, the Mountain Buggy Duet, and the Uppa Baby Vista to name just a few. I chose the Uppa Baby Vista as most of the side by side prams wouldn’t fit through our front door and it’s been a fantastic pram. We used the carrycots downstairs for day and night sleeping so they got alot of use and it was so handy being able to lift the Maxicosi car seats on and off. I’ve now also got a second hand Baby City Jogger which I bought for our hols to Crete but now lives in the car boot. This saves setting the Uppa Baby up and down and lifting it in and out of the car.

Changing table downstairs – I didn’t need this with my first singleton but this has been a MUST with the twins for the first 15 months, at which point it became a dangerous climbing frame and had to go! It helped to store all the nappy changing essentials and spare clothes downstairs without leaving the other baby unattended. When they get on the move its also handy to change them higher up out of reach of their twin who might try and steal your wipes, run off with the nappy, eat the poo and other monkey business they get up to!!

Swivel bath seats – the stage when they first start sitting before being fully independent is difficult and requires many pairs of hands in the bath. I always do bath time with my husband but even so it was so much less stressful to know they weren’t going to topple backwards or even try and climb out when they got on the move. This freed one of us up to organise things for bedtime or do something as luxurious as go to the loo! The only downside is sometimes it was awkward getting them in/out of the seats and needed the 2 of us but worth it even for the short period we used them.

Bouncy chairs… LOTS! – you can’t really have too many of these. I think we had 4. Keeping some upstairs is handy if you need somewhere to safely put them whilst settling or changing the other baby or getting dressed or even having a shower yourself if you’re lucky enough!) We also bought a rocking swing seat which helped settle one of the twins. After a few weeks when we started the night shifts my husband would place them in the bouncy chairs and sit crossed legged in front of them to do the bottle feed.

Mastering tandem feeding with the Harmony Duo Feeding Cushion

Harmony duo feeding cushion – this was an essential for tandem breastfeeding but it’s also useful for propping up the babies to bottle feed. Look around at other pillows though as well, as there’s a great range out there like the Peanut and Piglet and the Twin Z cushion. Don’t worry about the price for short term use as they maintain good value on the second hand market.

Baby monitor with 2 cameras – we used, and would recommend, the Motorola MBP36s. The sound and picture quality are both fantastic and you have the option of adding a second camera. This has come in really useful for the nights when we’ve had to separate them (we keep a travel cot in the spare office room) and also when we’ve been away and found it easier to sleep them in separate rooms.

Moses basket with rocking stand x2 – Many people, myself included, stress about what to buy before the baby arrives, not knowing how or where they’ll sleep best. I’d suggest just getting 2 Moses baskets with rocking stands and then even if you end up getting a co sleeping set up (a next to me crib or cot up to side of bed) you may still use them downstairs. We used 2 Moses baskets upstairs and used the pram carrycots downstairs with stands (these were designed for overnight sleeping). Saying that, mine loved to snuggle together in the same moses basket or carrycot for the first few weeks which was adorable!

There are so many baby gadgets out there it can get overwhelming and when the babies arrive you’ll be tempted to buy everything under the sun to make life easier and help them to sleep. Try not to think you’ve got to get everything before the babies arrive and just wait and see how your babies respond and settle. Just play it by ear a little bit and don’t forget you can always do online next day delivery once they’re born for anything you missed.

This is only a list of the things that helped us and of course all babies are different so please add a comment if you bought anything for your twins you couldn’t have coped without!

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Survival Tips for Newborn Twin Parents

3 Thoughts

I’m now 17 months into this crazy journey of mum-to-3 with twin boys and a now 4 year old girl. If we thought it was a huge shock to the system to be told we were having twins it was an even bigger life changing event when they finally arrived. This is the first blog I’ve written since they were born which says it all!

We had a 2.5 year old girl and life had been starting to resemble some normality. We had (mostly) full nights sleeps, we didn’t deal with nappies anymore and felt a bit freer getting out and about without prams or changing bags. I knew it was going to be tough when the twins arrived but there were parts I didn’t expect to be so mentally challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I feel completely blessed to have 2 gorgeous little boys but I feel the need to share the things I learnt in the first year.

Settled well swaddled and sleeping next to each other

  • Don’t be too proud or polite to accept help – we had so much support in the early days of people offering to cook, wash clothes, come and hold a baby (you need all the extra pairs of hands you can get) Just say yes and if, God forbid, noone offers then ask. I learnt to just pick up the phone and ask people to come help me. There will be people out there willing to help but they may need you to say how, where or when as they won’t want to ‘bother’ you. Don’t wait until you’re at breaking point.
  • Take on board advice but then use your head and trust your instincts – For example on leaving hospital we were told not to swaddle or sleep twins together. The reasoning is to do with overheating and increased SIDS risk. After 2, nearly 3, awful sleepless nights trying to settle the new babies separately and falling asleep dangerously with them on our chests, I decided to learn by example. The first night in the hospital when left to deal with 2 babies on my own after the trauma of giving birth (twice) I finally cracked and burst into tears at 3am when failing to settle them. They took them away, I fell asleep and they brought them back asleep; swaddled and snuggled together in the same cot. It was the only way they would settle. Once home and again failing to get them to settle apart trying to follow the advice, I decided to sleep them together. This was the best thing we did in the early days. They settled so well and we just used 1 less layer and checked their core temperature to avoid the risk of overheating.
  • Leave the housework – if you’re houseproud then this is going to be a tough one. Seriously, it can wait. Get someone else to clean the essentials for hygiene if you can but everything else can wait. Life feels relentless for a while but just rest when they’re sleeping (if they sleep at the same time and you don’t have other young children to entertain!)
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself – I think I put pressure on myself and was wracked with guilt that I suddenly had practically zero time for my 2 year old. When the twins were sleeping (when they actually slept at the same time!) all I wanted to do was crash out. I felt guilty that I didn’t want to play with her, I just wanted to sleep. Guilty that I shouted at her when I was feeling pressured and sleep deprived. Guilty that I was too busy and all I heard myself saying was “in a minute, just go and play”. I found it helped just a few times a week having people over with kids would help to keep her entertained or asking a friend to take her somewhere fun.
  • Invest in a good, easy to use sling or wrap – I didn’t really use them with my singleton but with 2 babies you’re outnumbered when you’re alone. 2 hands, 2 newborns doesn’t leave much free to do anything else, especially in those fussy periods. I used the Caboo wrap¬†(UK: http://amzn.to/2AiSKqh / US: http://amzn.to/2ixZ1qa) which was quick and easy to use and gave me hands free to hold the other baby too. Others in my twin group have used the twingaroo sling to carry both. I found that time between 4pm and 6pm to be the hardest especially when trying to make tea and counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until my husband arrived home!

    Proud big sis

  • Do night shifts with your partner -on returning home from hospital with 2 day old twins we looked after them together day and night. 2 of them, 2 of us…we were both pretty occupied most of the time. I breastfed them but struggled to tandem feed initially so my husband would be settling, nappy changing and we were both just up and down all night with very little broken sleep. As soon as we decided we could cope with both of them, we switched to doing shifts in the night and this was the best decision ever. Even though it was tough feeding and settling them both on your own in the night we coped knowing we had a solid block of undisturbed, much needed sleep. This literally saved our sanity.
  • Don’t compete over who is more tired!! – this is so easy to do, you’re both sleep deprived. It’s easy to become jealous or bitter if you think the other one is getting more sleep, getting more of a break etc. The fact is you’ll both have different pressures to face. Be open in your communication if either of you feel you need more help or don’t feel appreciated. Don’t assume they know how you feel!

In the first few months of looking after our newborn twins we learnt so much about reliance on other people, working together as a couple, and through all the tough times we’ve absolutely loved watching our little boys grow and develop and seeing their proud big sister playing, mothering and now discipling them! The newborn days seem like such a distant haze, yet in the grand scheme of things 17 months is no time at all. As everyone says, it really does fly by and one day you’ll look back on all the cute photos and the struggles and sleep deprivation will be (mostly) forgotten.


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Boomerein Twin Rein Review

My first video and first product test is below! Be kind as I’m still learning but I had lots of fun making this little video and it’s spurred me on to make some more and try out other twin products.

Let me know what other twin related videos you’d like to see or products you’d like to see reviews of. I’ll do my best to share more with you when I find time amongst the crazyness of parenting and working life.

Waiting for the Tiddler Twins

1,117 Thoughts

My twin pregnancy has been pretty smooth and plain sailing. I’m now on the home run with my induction booked in 2 days at 37+5 weeks. I really can’t complain as I had less morning sickness than with my first (single) pregnancy and not even had any back or pelvis pain which I fully expected to get. I even thought I’d managed to swerve stretch marks again until a couple of weeks ago at 35 weeks when faint lines appeared and have now turned darker red.

We found out we were having non-identical (DCDA) twin boys at the 20 week scan and since then they’ve grown at a steady, even rate and were both estimated 6lb last week. In my last post I mentioned how I felt when we first found out we were having twins and I’ve got to say its taken ages to sink in… I’m not sure it really will sink in until I’m holding 2 babies and looking at them with a mix of awe, wonder and realistically pure dread!!! While part of me is thoroughly petrified at how we’re going to cope, I believe for some reason God has chosen us to look after twins and that makes me feel more confident that we’re going to survive!! I’m so excited to see what they look like, to get to know their individual personalities and most of all to see the look on my gorgeous little girl’s face when she meets her brothers for the first time.

Isabella, my 2 and a half year old has been watching my tummy getting bigger and bigger and hearing us talk about ‘the babies/twins/boys’.

She’s lived through our house becoming a tip as we converted the loft into another bedroom and seen us make a new nursery (finally finished last week just in time!!)

She slept on a bed in the tiny office room for a month while it all happened and now has a beautiful new bedroom too which she was excited to help decorate; choosing her pink paint and butterfly curtains.


She’s spent the last week creeping into the nursery in the morning to peer into the cot to see if the babies have arrived yet.

She’s been to the hospital with us a few times to see where the babies will be born and has seen her brothers on the ultrasound scan.

She often asks “have the babies come out of your tummy yet?” and is really thinking about it asking questions like “will they come out of your tummy, your bottom, or your flower?”. When people ask her what the babies will be called she replies “they’re called twins!”.

I’m so excited for her that her wait is nearly over and she’ll meet her baby brothers in less than a week. I hope she will feel the same love and protection towards them as a big sister and that we’ll still have time for her with the upcoming chaos so she knows she’ll always be our baby girl.

Follow our journey as we enter the exciting world of twin parenting!! I’ll try and find time to blog and tweet photos as much as I can and will take videos of their progress to the Tiddler Tales YouTube channel we’ve just launched.