A little pregnancy update.

I was looking back over this little space of mine just the other night, and came across so many posts with memories that I had forgotten about. There are many, many times when I think about just stopping. But then, it’s moments that are captured, that might otherwise be forgotten that make me keep going.

So, with that in mind I wanted to record some memories of this pregnancy.  This pregnancy has been such a mix of emotions and feelings, so much more so than any of the others. It was a very much longed for pregnancy, and when those little lines appeared on that test on my birthday I was over the moon! But, not long after I’d soared over said moon, the feelings of worry and anxiety came – what if this little one doesn’t make it, what if something goes wrong….

And the first 12 weeks continued to be that rollercoaster.  Moments of pure joy and excitement, with moments of pure fear and angst. Also, this time around, I experienced nausea like never before! I know, I know, in the grand scheme of things it was nothing, but honestly at the time, it. was. horrendous. It hit at around 8 weeks…lasted all day, peaking at around 4pm and stayed with me until 17 weeks.  I never actually boked – some days I really wished I could as I thought it might bring some relief, but it never happened. The nausea left me as quickly as it had hit me, but was replaced with fainting. Now, I am a fainter by occupation….if I get too warm I faint, if I get too hungry I faint, if I visit someone in hospital I faint, if I stand too long in the one place I faint. So, yeah I am a fainter. But normally I know it’s coming, I have learnt to avoid going right down and hitting the decks. But for a few weeks – the faints came thick and fast. Once in church – ohhhhh the embarrassment. Apparently it was due to low blood pressure and the midwives assured me that it was very common in this stage of pregnancy and would probably ease up a bit when baby moved up out of my pelvis.

And, she was right. About a month of that carry on and then it stopped.

Reaching 20 weeks was magical! Baby had got the ‘blooming stage’ memo and I was starting to feel somewhat normal again. We had our 20 week scan – which was AMAZING. Honestly the photos that we got were unbelievable. Baby was completely crazy though and just would not stay still – at one stage, they actually disappeared off the screen. The lady was about to take a measurement when ‘whoosh’…and she exclaimed, “oh my, where’d they go??!’ It was just great to get to see our little one and to get some assurance that all was going well.

I am now 27 weeks and cannot believe it! Where has the time gone?! Unfortunately, in the past couple of weeks a kind of pregnancy insomnia thing has kicked in and with the lack of sleep, it seems to have triggered my panic attacks….not cool.  Thankfully, at the moment, I am able to manage them. But it is a horrible thing. There was a night when I thought I was losing my mind! And I want to urge anyone out there, if you ‘get’ what I am talking about, please don’t keep it to yourself….tell someone how you are feeling, share it with someone else, reach out – it does help.

So, yes here we are at 27 weeks. Baby is still a crazy cat and is constantly on the go. It’s funny, my other 3 used to just do kicks and punches and wee pokes- this one feels like it is throwing itself around in there. I feel like it is doing somersaults or throwing itself against the sides of my tummy and then laughing hysterically as it’s falls onto a soft cushion! You know the way kids do on a bouncy castle??! I am really enjoying it’s moves though – gives me a wee connection with them already, as I laugh and chat to them about how much of a rocket they already are!

J, S and L are LOVING the bump. After dinner they all put their little hands on bump and wait for the party to begin. They have been chatting to him/her, telling them stories and singing them nursery rhymes. They are all very curious about whether it’s going to be a brother / sister – they have no real preference, but just want to know.

Here’s some photos of the growing bump! I am definitely a lot bigger at this stage than with any of the others – I guess things are a little looser!!!

 

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15 weeks

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18 weeks

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19 weeks

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19 weeks and bump had popped!

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20 weeks!!!

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20 weeks

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21 weeks

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25 weeks

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25 weeks

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26 weeks and there was definitely another growth spurt!!

Cooking with Tesco!

Ahead of the recent Mullahead Ploughing Championships – a key date on the NI calendar – Tesco Northern Ireland teamed up with Mullahead ploughing Society to start its search for the ‘Tesco School Chef of the Year’.

Designed to educate school kids about the great wealth of local food available on their doorstep, the competition called on schools to submit pupils’ recipe ideas. The 6 shortlisted finalists were then challenged to cook off at the Ploughing Championships.

Believing the importance of educating families and children on NI’s food and drink heritage, Tesco Northern Ireland challenged us to replicate the winning recipe as a family and sent us the core ingredients needed to prepare it.

The winning dish was perfect for the Easter season; a delicious lamb roast with herb crust, roast vegetables and a creamy mash. We decided to make this dish for a family meal on Good Friday. It was a great success! It was lovely to spend time together as a family preparing the meal – our children LOVE cooking and baking, especially S. He was great at helping cut up the vegetables. With today’s busy lifestyles,  it can be difficult to find time to get together, so I think it’s great that Tesco NI are encouraging families to cook and eat together.

The meal took around 45 minutes to prepare and cook, and we had a lot of fun doing so. We were left with full tummies and happy faces.

A huge thank you to Tesco for supplying us with : rack of lambs, breadcrumbs, shallots, thyme, rosemary, courgette, peppers, red wine, redcurrant jelly and cherry tomatoes, potatoes, red wine stock pots and garlic – all of which are available at Tesco Northern Ireland stores.

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Our Easter Sunday.

As I sit down to write this, I have an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness and being blessed. It has been a weekend of food, family, friends and faith….and there is still more to come.  Yesterday, we celebrated Easter Sunday, like many families did I’m sure, with a lovely gathering around the dinner table and an egg hunt out in the garden.

Lynas Food Outlet had very kindly given us an Easter hamper which left me with big choices for what would be on the table for Sunday lunch.  With church in the morning, I decided to put the slow cooker to good use – so it was Texas Pulled Pork and a Pork and Leek Sausage dish with a pineapple salsa for us. Not your traditional Easter Lunch admittedly, but, it went down a treat and, even if I do say so myself, was mighty tasty!

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So. First up the Texas Pulled Pork.

Ingredients:

Method.

  1. Pour the vegetable oil into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork roast into the slow cooker. In a separate bowl mix together the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chicken stock. Stir in the brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chilli powder, onion, garlic, and thyme. Cover and cook on high until the roast shreds easily with a fork. We cooked ours for 6 hours.
  2. Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices.
  3. We enjoyed ours with rocket and mayo, all served up in a burger bap.

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Then, for the Pork and Leek Sausages and Pineapple Salsa.

Ingredients.

* pork sausages ( we had 10 )

* 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

* 300g fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

*½ red chilli, finely diced

* 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

*1 lime, juice only

For the rocket salad with lemon vinaigrette

* 1 lemon, juice only

*4 tablespoons olive oil

*2 bunches rocket

Method.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

  1. Place the pork sausages onto a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

  2. Put a frying pan onto a medium heat and add your sugar. As soon as the sugar starts to melt and is nearly caramelized, add the diced pineapple.

  3. Cook the pineapple, stirring every minute for 5 minutes, or until lightly caramelized.

  4. Tip the pineapple into a medium bowl and add the chilli, sweet chilli sauce and lime juice. Mix together.

  5. To serve, whisk together the lemon and olive oil in a small bowl and tip the rocket into a salad bowl. Dress the salad with the lemon and olive oil and serve it with the sausages and the salsa.

  6. We made ours into hot dogs using sub rolls. YUM!

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After our tummies were full, we headed outside to find dessert! And gosh, it was FREEZING!! But fun all the same…

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I hope you all had a great day yesterday too….and Good luck battling the traffic today whatever you’re up to😉

Spring has Sprung…..hopefully!

Wednesday saw the start of the Easter holidays for our boys. I was a very bad mummy and decided to start L’s Easter break a day and a half early too! Thursday was St Patrick’s Day and we decided to kick-start our holidays with a trip to Colin Glen who were hosting a special family event. It has been on our ‘To do’ list for a while now  – to visit the new Gruffalo Trail and Thursday also saw the launch of the new Fairy Glen, so it was a win win situation.

We really did have a lovely day and would highly recommend a visit for anyone with young children – The Gruffalo has been a number one contender for the bedtime story for about 5 years now and both Ben and I would challenge any of you to a recital from memory! The trail itself is fairly short, although perhaps a little steep in places for little legs – they will definitely sleep well after a visit. J, S and L all really enjoyed running along the path intrigued as to which character would be next to surprise them in the woods. They didn’t seem to notice the hills…not even wee S who wouldn’t be the most keen walker around!

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It’s so true that the weather really makes it. I know there are some people, and I salute you, who don’t let the rain stop them – but I’m afraid I definitely enjoy the day more when there is at least a bit of sunshine! My mum and dad had come along with us, Ben doesn’t finish work until this Wednesday coming – boooo! We brought a picnic and after we had visited all the gorgeous little fairies in Fairy Glen we stopped off and enjoyed our first proper outdoor picnic of the year – hooray for ham sandwiches and crisps galore!

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Spring 2016

I’m really hoping the dry days and sunshine sticks around for another little while – we have lots of fun days planned for the Easter break – but we kinda need the weather to be on our side as they are mostly outdoors! What about you guys, have you a list of places to go and things to do?? Please do share, we always love to get new ideas!

Mango Chicken – yum!

You might remember that back in January we were invited along to Lynas Food Outlet, Belfast to have a look around their new store and consider how it might help us to save money on our food bill. This evening I want to share with you just one of the family meals that we were able to enjoy using some of the products that we got there.

Mango Chicken! Mango Chicken is a popular dish in our house, and if we have ever had you over for dinner, no doubt this may well have been what we fed you!

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Granted, it doesn’t really look very appealing, but believe me it is tasty and goes down well with everyone – adults and children alike!

Temperature: 160’c

Serves : 4 (adults)

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Ingredients:

4 chicken fillets, diced.

1 green pepper, sliced.

225g mushrooms, quartered.

1 red onion, sliced

250ml whipping cream

360g Mango chutney

Method:

  • Fry chicken in 1 tablespoon olive oil and a knob of butter.
  • Using the same method, quickly fry vegetables, being careful not to overcook.
  • Layer chicken and vegetables in a casserole dish.
  • Mix cream and mango chutney together and pour over chicken mixture.
  • Cook for 40 minutes in a pre heated oven and serve with rice.DSC_0150

 

A simple, quick family dinner which is sure to be a hit!

Belfast Children’s Festival Launch

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Last Wednesday my littlest and myself headed into the Big smoke for the launch of the Belfast Children’s Festival 2016. The festival has always been something of great interest to me – back in the day, before the kiddiewinks came along I did a masters in Early Years Education, with a couple of those modules focusing on creativity in the early years.  It was something which really inspired me as a teacher, and even more so now as a mummy. I truly believe that creativity is so, so important – vital in fact and no more so than when we are young and uninhibited. I was so delighted at the launch to listen to folk who shared that same passion,  seeking the inclusion of, “the ultimate commodity of modern times” : creativity in the curriculum.

Young at Art is excited to announce the line-up for the 18th annual Belfast Children’s Festival (4-9 March 2016).  Families are invited to come along, look at, make and talk about the very best art for children and young people aged 0-14 years old in a wide variety of art forms, music, dance, theatre and visual arts from all over the world.

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There is lots of events taking place throughout the festival.  Since coming home from the lauch, I have highlighted a few things on our calendar which we would like to get along to.  For example,  everyone loves a big day out, right?  And this year the festival has designed two ‘BIG FESTIVAL DAYS OUT’ on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 March, the festival has teamed with partner venues to offer jam-packed family –fun programmes.  This year families are encouraged to take a ‘creative journey’ to the festival with discounted tickets to Belfast via Translink, then downloading our travel activity pack with suggested fun on the journey and visit our website to plot a festival itinerary and avail of an online early bird ticket offer.  Big Festival Days Out hubs will be located at the MAC, Strand Arts Centre (5 March) and the Lyric and Duncairn Arts Centre (6 March). 

Festival Director Ali Fitz Gibbon explains;

‘Young at Art produces this festival each year because it believes the arts are an intrinsic part of how our children and our society understand, grow, imagine and innovate.  Experiencing something creative is about going on a journey as far as you can dream.  Whether it’s reading a story, seeing an exemplary performance, looking at artwork, the arts offer children an inspirational roadmap through which they can navigate the universe, comprehend everything in it and imagine anything that could happen in the future.’

Tickets are now on sale. For more information and to download a copy of the programme see www.youngatart.co.uk or call 028 9024 3042.

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Save With Lynas

A couple of Saturdays ago, I got invited along to Lynas Food Outlet down in Belfast. I have to admit, that I hadn’t heard of the place until the invite came through, but once I did a little bit of research I realised there actually was a connection!

I knew of Lynas Food from my younger years – times spent with Exodus, and going on an Exodus team to Romania had indeed introduced me to the Lynas name. I just hadn’t realised that they had expanded their family run business to include 3 outlet stores in Northern Ireland : including Beflast, Coleraine and Londonderry.

The one that I was visiting opened in March 2015 and there are plans to open more in the future across the Province. On that Saturday morning, I was greeted by a lovely lady – who it turned out I also kind of knew! What is it about good old Northern Ireland eh?! She was to be my tour guide that morning, of what turned out to be a great little find, and not too far from home.

The store, “provides convenience and value for your foodservice operation and beyond“. You do not need to be a business or a large catering company to visit the store, nor do you need a special store card to gain entry. The business is open to everyone, and offers a good selection of products at affordable prices.  As we walked around the store, E.J explained how a large percentage of their stock is local produce, and that the price that you see displayed, is the final price and is inclusive of VAT – no nasty surprises at the check out.

As a growing family of 5, there is no doubt that our weekly food shop is becoming more and more expensive. There are some weeks I get to the check out and honestly have a little weep inside at the total! With Lynas there are plenty of options to help you save those pennies.  I was able to pick up 16 fresh chicken fillets, 44 fresh sausages, a bag of (delicious!) frozen chicken balls, a  4 litre tub of salted caramel ice cream and a chocolate fudge cake (to serve 18 people) for just a little more than £50. We have already enjoyed a great Chinese FakeAway for a fraction of the normal weekend treat price!

A huge thank you to Lynas for having me, we will definitely be back!

There is a great selection to help stock up your freezer!

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A growing selection of gluten free products!

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Large bags of pasta. (I got a little excited at the prospect of using these for messy and sensory play!)

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I HAD to take a photo of this!!! Giant Strawberries on tap!!

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Be sure to check them out on Facebook too!