My Nan - more than a Pearly Queen

This is how most people will see my Nan, as Pearly Queen of Crystal Palace. You may have even seen her on the TV - she's been on more programmes and adverts than I can count! As a Pearly Queen she is (obviously) charitable, outgoing, fun and friendly but to me, she's my Nan and so much more.

Our play kitchen makeover

I have wanted to do this FOR AGES. Literally, ages. Lily got her first play kitchen for Christmas when she was just one. It was cheap and it didn't last long, but she loved it. We bought her the lower half of the IKEA Duktig play kitchen for a bargain price on Gumtree just after her second birthday and I always wanted to customise it like the amazing creations you find on Pinterest.
But over a year went by. And the kitchen stayed the same. Lily loved it anyway, it is a great design and the adjustable height feature meant that she could easily reach everything. Because it was low we found that it didn't intrude too much into the limited space of our living room and yet still had tons of room for all the kitchen accessories.

A month of #LittleLoves


What a month. With moving house, changing jobs, settling Ollie into nursery and birthdays, family trips and Christmas shopping (yes, I started early) it's been a crazy few weeks. It's been so long since I wrote a #LittleLoves post for linking up with Coffee Work Sleep Repeat that I wouldn't know where to start if it wasn't for the useful prompts!

Well, I finished reading 'Queen of Shadows' by Sarah J Maas and enjoyed it and so also gave 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' a go. In the end I actually enjoyed it more as I felt the story seemed tighter and I liked that the faerie folk lore was well researched.

Lily, Ollie and I have been reading some classics at bedtime lately - 'Giraffes Can't Dance' and 'Peace at Last' are amongst the very long list of recent reads. I've needed to take a rain check on how many books we have for the kids - I have two large baskets in Lily's room, one in Ollie's, one in the living room and various bookshelves. To me, that sounds pretty reasonable, but that's without the box under Lily's bed which hasn't been unpacked yet and a number of Christmas presents...

Toddler approved Christmas cards

I love doing crafty activities with Lily. Maybe it's because my own craft skills are, shall we say, a tad immature, but I enjoy the simplicity of stickers, or cutting and gluing, maybe splashing some poster paints around.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that making our own Christmas cards to send to close family is one of my favourite parts of the run up to Christmas. Last year I cut little Christmas trees for Lily to decorate with stickers but this year I let her pick what she wanted to do. Her choice? Snowmen.

Luckily, I now live super close to a Hobbycraft store. After stopping there briefly for supplies I let Lily (and Ollie) loose with some card blanks and a choice of sparkly stickers.

Lily got straight to work. Ollie, unsurprisingly, was more interested in eating the finished product than actually doing much but he was fascinated by the glitter on the stickers. The snowman, his hat, scarf and the snowflakes all came in one pack from Hobbycraft and I can really recommend them for creative toddlers.

Wicked Wednesdays

I wanted to take a photo of Lily playing at Lilymae's Play Cafe but she wasn't having any of it...

Easy sensory play

I first learnt about sensory play when I worked part time as a nursery nurse in a Montessori school. The idea is actually simple but there is a lot of information out there, and so many ideas and suggestions, that it can sometimes be quite overwhelming to action.

I'm not an expert by any means, but the benefits of sensory play come from babies and toddlers (and even older children) learning and exploring through using and stimulating the five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing), and include:
- developing both fine and gross motor skills
- language development
- helping promote problem solving
- helping to enhance memory

I have personally found sensory activities to be a great way of bonding with your baby and more fun than the same old baby toys that can get a bit repetitive after a while.

When Lily was a baby we dedicated most Sunday afternoons to a sensory activity - oats, ice, rice, shredded paper, treasure baskets, play dough, shaving foam, bath foam... so many different things to try!

Sharing our weekends

We had another low-key weekend, managed to get more house stuff done and had some family to visit on Sunday. My favourite moment was this. Watching my children play happily together. We weren't doing anything special or extraordinary, they aren't even great photos, but they bring me such happiness to look at.

Getting crafty

We actually did this activity a couple of weeks ago now but as it was a gift I didn't want to share it and risk ruining a surprise. This was a very simple craft that Lily was able to choose, and then do, for herself.

It was my mother-in-law's birthday and I thought it would be nice if Lily made her a present. As it was a for someone else, I wanted to encourage Lily to think about what the other person would like and then let her create it. Lily loved the idea and had a great time walking around Hobbycraft saying "Ooo, I think Nana Rosie would LOVE this".

To Lily, My Beautiful Girl

Today for #BEDN I'm sharing a post I wrote ages ago when I was first considering starting a blog. I'd sit at work during my lunch and write little letters to Lily because she had just started nursery and I missed her terribly.

At the time, Lily had been picked as regional winner for The Baby Show Stars at Birmingham. A couple of weeks later we had the shoot at Bumpkins and I have shared my favourite photos as part of this post. In the end Lily didn't win, although her photo was still used on the website, leaflets and posters which was still pretty cool.

Having a camera on my phone means that I take more and more photos of you every month. I currently have hundreds saved on our pc, organised first by days, then weeks and then months. I’m also selecting my favourites as I go and putting them together for a photobook to be printed for your first birthday which is only a few months away now. How time flies! I think I’m getting better and better at taking photos of you. But then, you do make it easy for me. I try and capture so much of your play and development, I want to be able to remember this time for always and having the photos there will help enormously. I love looking back at my baby photos and childhood pics, I hope that one day you will too.

Sharing our weekends

It's actually been a while since I shared our weekends. I've been caught up in a whirlwind of moving house and changing jobs but this weekend we visited my grandparents in Sydenham and had a great lunch at local favourite Chef's Delight (you can see why it's a favourite when you see the size of the pancakes!)

One of 'those' days

You know those days where everything seems to go wrong.

That was today.

It all started early, with a grumpy bus driver who wouldn't stop at the right place.

It carried on when the shops didn't have the right items I was looking for.

Then Lily decided she needed to wee and I had to put all my shopping down and rush to another shop a few doors down so I could take her to the loo.

I gave up on running all the errands I needed to.

It rained when we got off the bus on our return journey.

Lily fell over and grazed her knee.

Lily was hungry and tired.

Ollie was hungry and tired.

I was hungry and tired.

But neither Lily or Ollie would sleep after lunch. And so I didn't sleep.

Or get the chance to do any housework.

During my disastrous shopping trip, I'd managed to convince myself that a convenience-straight-to-oven-chicken-breast-and-stuffing-thing would be easier than my usual buy-a-chicken-throw-it-on-an-oven-tray-and-cook method.

Teaching Children Kindness

It's rare that she misbehaves, but when she does, I often find myself telling Lily that something 'is not kind'.

It is not kind to snatch things.

It is not kind to say hurtful things.

It is not kind to throw toys.

I do this because I'd rather say 'we don't do this because it is not kind' rather than just label something as 'naughty' but today, the prompt for Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in November challenge is about World Kindness Day, and it made me wonder whether I spend enough time teaching my children what IS kind, as opposed to what is not.

We all want our children to be kind. I think you'd be hard pushed to find any parent out there who would not value kindness as a trait in their children. It's just I've never thought before about how exactly I want to instill that kindness in their hearts.

Recipe - Beef and Tomato Stew

I love a good roast dinner on a Sunday. Actually, I love a roast dinner any day of the week. This Sunday we had roast beef, and with only the three of us eating there was a little bit of beef left over. I don't like throwing things away and make an effort to reduce waste and save money - particularly important now that I'm earning less but paying more in childcare!

So on Monday, instead of throwing the last bit of beef away, I decided to turn it into a slow cooked, Italian-esque stew. It's a popular meal in our home and makes a change from the more traditional gravy based stews that I like. I love that it is so simple and yet so delicious, you really can throw in whatever leftovers you have to hand, and it is all cooked in just one pot (or in my case, my trusty slowcooker).

30 things about me!

Whilst doing the rounds on the fabulously named '#fartglitter' linky, hosted by My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows, I came across this post on Run Jump Scrap.

Having just turned 30, I thought it'd be interesting to see if I could actually come up with 30 'interesting' facts about myself. I just about managed the right amount of facts, but will leave it up to you to decide just how interesting they are!

1. My surname means 'Cherry' in German, hence my blog name - our family tree.

2. However, my maiden name was Jolly. I always thought it'd be a great name if I was to work in a school - but now I'm starting as a school receptionist, it's too late.

3. I used to want to be a journalist and even studied journalism at uni, but never finished my degree after my Dad died, now I enjoy just writing for fun.

4. I'm not a big fan of silence. I like to have the TV or radio on for background noise nearly all day.

5. When I was eleven I got my first job as a waitress at a small town cafe. Working there has left a lasting impression on how I judge other cafes, waitresses and Cream Teas...

6. Despite loving and previously living in Devon, I put the jam on my scone before the clotted cream. I like tons of cream. It's the best way.

7. I haven't learnt to drive yet, but it's on my to do list.

8. I once took part in the TV programme 'Boot Sale Treasure Hunt'. I was there as a Pearly Princess in a team with my Grandad. He didn't quite get the point and gave stuff away for free. We lost to my Nan's team but all the money went to the Pearly Kings and Queens Society.

9. I chose my Lion Rampant character name, Eleanor Courtenay, because I used to live in Okehampton and the Courtenay family once owned the castle there.

10. My favourite colour is blue. Unless it is clothing, and then I really like black.

11. I have never smoked a cigarette, not even a little bit, and have never taken any drugs. Although I
like to support other people's choices, I can be very intolerant when it comes to drug-taking.

12. Strangely though, despite seeing the negative impact of alcohol, I'm a big fan of wine (and spirits, cider, sparking wines, liqueurs...)

13. No matter what size I am, or have been over the last 15 years, I always feel fat.

14. I once won a quiz at Waterstones in Islington to find the biggest Harry Potter fan on the night of the 'Half-Blood Prince' book release.

15. My favourite Christmas Carol is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". I can't choose a favourite hymn or worship song because there are just too many.

16. I have a can of diet coke that actually belonged to Ewan McGregor... It's about ten years old, and I pinched it off the stage (and finished drinking it) after I went to a book signing. I'm not a stalker. Honest.

17. I always wear my socks inside out because I hate the seam rubbing against my toes.

18. I don't actually like eating a lot of meat. I almost see it as an accompaniment to vegetables and carbs, really, just carbs...

19. I haven't been on a holiday abroad since my honeymoon four years ago, before that my last holiday abroad was to Rome in 2004 (I think, maybe even 2003).

20. I've had a crush on Bryan Adams since I was about 10.

21. When I was little, it was my ambition to become Britain's first female vicar. I also wanted to be a Nun until someone told me I'd have to take a vow of silence.

22. I have a naturally loud voice. Even when I don't mean for it to be. It's so bad that my Mum used to think I had a hearing problem...

23. I've always suffered from migraines and it is a nightmare. I've had some bad episodes over the years but the worse ones are when I was about 8 and then more recently in my 20's when I had them almost every day for about 6 months. I've no idea why, but am so grateful that they calmed down.

24. I've always wished I could sing but I'm tone death. Maybe I have got a hearing problem, because I genuinely can't tell the difference between me singing in tune or not!

25. If I won the lottery, the first thing I would do is book holiday to Disneyland. The second thing would be to buy a house.

26. My biggest fear is losing those I love. Closely followed by not living to see my children grow up.

27. I have really vivid dreams and they are often set at my old secondary school. I sometimes wonder if I unconsciously have unfinished business there.

28. Apparently, if I was an Orc, my name would be Grung.

29. When it comes to Marmite, I hate it. With a passion.

30. The thing I love most, in the whole world, is hearing the laughter of both my children. #CheesyButTrue

The List

Super Busy Mum

Parenting Problems

We all had a late night last night. We actually went to a PARTY, can you believe it? We were social.

It was fabulous!

We headed up to our friends late afternoon, had a drink, a catch up and got ready for some fireworks at a local display. Walked down, did some 'Ooo-ing' and 'aah-ing' and walked back for more drinks and shenanigans involving a giant fitness ball and a human pyramid of small children.

Of course, by 'late' I mean that the whole Kirsch family was home by 10pm. But family fun time is measured in quality, not quantity.

Then, amazingly, this morning both children SLEPT IN.

Yep. It's a miracle. It got to 6:30am and all were snoring away in the Kirsch household.

Except me.

How is that fair? I was the one who was up twice feeding Ollie. I was shattered. I DESERVED the lie in but couldn't get back to sleep.

I shouldn't complain, I got to read, with no interruptions which was wonderful.

But I would have liked to sleep.

Time ticked away. All was quiet(ish). I ended the chapter and my eyelids began to droop.

Finally. A chance for a little snooze.

Then. Ollie woke up.

You knew it was coming didn't you?


My unusual hobby #BEDN

I'm taking part in Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in November challenge. Sure, I haven't really completed it as I started late, but I'm loving the prompts and finding new blogs to read and follow on social media.

Today's prompt was a no-brainer for me. Because I do have an 'unusual' hobby, but one that is incredibly fun and interesting. I'm part of a medieval display society - The Lion Rampant.

We aim to portray the excitement and chivalry of the nobility in medieval Europe between the 11th and 15th centuries. We have sword combat, archery, singing, dancing and a short comedy play which we call 'the script'. Best of all, we do it in gorgeous costumes and dresses.

I joined in 2005 and was hooked. During the incredibly painful time after my Dad died, it was one of the main things that kept me going. I even moved to High Wycombe a year after joining, to escape painful memories in London and be closer to my new friends.

Because that is what made the LR so addictive. You could escape for the weekend to a stunning castle and spend nearly the whole time laughing with some of the most intelligent, talented, kind, wonderful friends. We'd sit around the campfire in the evening, telling lewd jokes and singing (our version of Bohemian Rhapsody is amazing) and drinking. We'd toast marshmallows, play hide and seek around the castle grounds at night and the parties in the beer tent at big multi-group events like Tewkesbury were brilliant.

And then I grew up, got married and had kids.

It's much harder to do the shows now. I was never a fan of camping, and the thought of camping with a three year old and a baby fills me with dread. I've known other (braver) families to do it though and it is a great hobby for children to be part of. There are so many educational benefits, plus a sense of independence for older children who can play and explore whilst in a (relatively) safe environment.

And it's fun. So much fun.

Top Ten Tips - Moving with Toddlers

Now we've got through the moving day from hell, I thought I'd share with you my top tips for making it as easy as possible on your little ones. I'd like to think that despite me being an exhausted mess at the end of it, the kids have got through pretty much unscathed... and where things went wrong, I hope you can learn from my mistakes!

1. Visit the new place with your toddler
We took Lily with us when we went to view it and it really helped when we then told her about the move. She didn't have to imagine it, because she had already seen it. We just had a job explaining to her that Derek, who showed us round, wasn't coming too...

2. Enlist their help with the packing
Lily was apprehensive about packing at first. She was worried about leaving things behind. Once I'd assured her that we would be taking everything she was more than happy to get stuck in with packing up her toys and books.

3. Read books and watch TV about moving
Thank goodness for Topsy and Tim. Lily decided she wanted to move house before we did just because Topsy and Tim moved to a new home. It made explaining it all to her much easier.

4. Organise yourself
Work out the plan. Then do as I did and cry when it all falls apart...
No. Seriously. An organised move is going to make it all a lot easier. For everyone.

5. Be positive - if you dread the move, they will too.
This was hard for me because I truly dreaded moving. I expected it to be stressful and it was. Despite trying to hide it from Lily I think she picked up on it anyway and kept telling me she felt 'sad' on the day.

6. Let them say goodbye
Lily wanted to say goodbye to her old house and so we made sure we left some time on Saturday morning for her to go back. I think it was important for her to have that opportunity, even if she did run back out of the door because she was visiting her friends and was excited to see them.

7. Unpack their room first
My best friend took the day off to help me move. Isn't that amazing? She was fantastic at every turn, but one of the things that meant the most was how she unpacked most of Lily's room and made it look ready for her to sleep in. By surrounding Lily with her old things straight away I think it helped settle her at bedtime and made for a happier little girl at the end of it.

8. Take breaks and maintain routine
Despite trying to fit an awful lot into that one day I still made time for a story before bed. It is such an important part of our routine and I didn't want to lose it. We were able to have a little sing song, read a book and snuggle and it was a good way to unwind at the end of a very stressful day.

9. Understand they may be clingy
Both Lily and Ollie are still clingy, although with Ollie I think that is as much down to teething as it is being unsettled by the move. Most of Lily's things are in place, but it's still quite hectic and it's going to take a while for things to even out a bit. It means that Lily wants tons of hugs and often asks to 'snuggle and watch TV'. It can be a bit frustrating when there is so much to get done, but I am concentrating on the positives of having lovely hugs with my special girl.

10. Treats! (One for you, one for me)
Yep, I'm not above a bit of bribery. I got Lily a magazine (a real treat, they're so bloody expensive) to keep her occupied during the morning. It didn't last long but it was better than nothing. She also picked out a huge chocolate chip biscuit at M&S when we stopped for lunch. She wasn't the only one to be fair, I treated myself to one of their new chocolate tarts. I think I deserved it.

Mums' Days

Post Comment Love

Firework Art

Remember, remember the fifth of November, 
Gunpowder treason and plot. 
We see no reason 
Why gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot!

Yes, it's that time of year once again. I'm already looking forward to going to a local fireworks display on Saturday with Ollie's godparents. We went last year and Lily is excited to go again, especially as we have bought some ear defenders for both her and Ollie to protect them from loud bangs.

So I decided to get in the mood by creating some firework pictures.

New Home Ideas - Bedroom

Having already covered my hopes and plans for our new living room and the kitchen and dining room, I've been putting off describing my ideas for our bedroom.

I always love the look of the bedrooms you see in interiors magazines but for me, they don't seem realistic. Maybe it's just me, but the bedroom always seems to be in a right tip. I drag myself out of bed in the mornings, spend most of the day clearing the rest of the house, doing Mummy-things and working and then fall back into bed, exhausted, at the end of the day. Tidying up my room always seems to be the lowest priority, even if we have guests I just throw stuff in and shut the door.

So when it came to choosing the 'master' bedroom in our new home, I gave the biggest to Lily and took the next size down for Matt and myself. It didn't make sense to keep all the space for us when we wouldn't use it, but Lily and Ollie could make the most out of all that room for toys and books.

We've moved!


We've moved house.

I'm writing this from the depths of unpacking hell.

Despite my attempts at organisation it was awful. The removal van was late, the junk in the loft tipped me over the edge and right in the middle of all the stress Ollie cut his first tooth.

I haven't slept properly in days. It feels like weeks.

But. It's (almost) over.

I couldn't have done it without my friends. They looked after my children, they came at night to ferry the Kirsch-family-loft-shite© from old house to new and my best friend was there through it all - packing, cleaning, hugging and putting up with me laughing hysterically at the random lady who looked like a witch (no, she wasn't in costume). I will be thanking them all, with alcohol, very soon.

We've now been here four days and I've only unpacked a handful of boxes. I keep looking at them, thinking I should do something but what I really want to do is take a nap. So it may take me a while to get back into the blogging habit but thank you for stopping by and I hope to be writing properly soon!