This week it's all about the planning! I should know as 70% of my job is planning (I'm a project manager & business analyst) for a goal, project or anything to succeed you need to plan...and execute...and review but do I do this for my blog? No, of course I don't, on a good week I do a little, a few days here and there. I love planning too.

This week though I decided to give myself a kick up the backside, well actually it was finding out my first tots ranking which helped as I am determined to get my tots500 badge by the end of August.  On that note, a massive well done and well deserved to Jocelyn for The Reading Residence's ranking this month!

Then I found out I'd been nominated for 2 categories in the Mad awards - WHAT???? My little blog? It's madness but my goodness am I taking this one and savouring it.

So anyway this week I created a plan and I've mostly kept to that plan and you know what? Surprise, surprise it saved me time, and kept me on track and..... saw my weekly blog stats double!!!!

To anyone else my blog planner might look a little manic but it makes perfect sense to me, I love  seeing 'used' pages.  Yes I've changed things and I won't be publishing everything I planned at the beginning of the week, but that's fine because they are concious decisions, not just because I forgot!

Have a great weekend lovelies (skips off into the sunset) x

The Reading Residence

|FAMILY|stopping the strops

It's no secret that we're going through some rather challenging temper tantrums at the moment, before we left for our weeks break at Bluestone they had really come to a head which prompted my post 10 great reasons to throw a wobbly.  We were having at least one a day.

Before we left I saw an article going round Facebook called 'well done, you broke your child' reading this article broke my heart, and whilst by no means could we ever be compared to the individuals in this article, it did make me stop and consider the bigger picture.  We are fortunate enough to have a bright 'spirited' child, he has his own opinions, he's independent and most of the time, yes he's a bit of a smart arse, questioning everything, so I asked myself, why are we trying to suppress that? The answer was that I didn't really know, to get out the door quicker, so we could have a few minutes peace, so other people didn't judge, there were many small reasons but no real reason, like he was going to endanger himself or it would make him ill or it would restrict his development.

Did it really matter if T wore what he wanted, not what I put out? Or if he had an extra 5 minutes at the park? Or that he wanted another apple after already eating 2?  Or that he wants to spread his own butter? The answer most times is no, it doesn't really matter, it was just us getting cross because he wouldn't do 'as he's told' or him going into meltdown for something really silly.  Most of the time we say no because it takes longer for him to do these things instead of us, but throw a tantrum into the mix and it takes even longer!

So whilst we were away we tried a few new methods to try and stop the strops which we are continuing and so far we've only had 2 tantrums in the last 2 weeks.

1. Keep T busy, a lot of his strops occur when he has to have the iPad or TV etc switched off, we've now found that setting a boundary and an alarm for when the device needs to be switched off is working better.

2. Turn a potential strop into a game, in Bluestone T was a little monkey when it came to walking up to the adventure centre, swimming pool and car park, once or twice a strop was averted by one of us carrying him.  Then on the last day (grrrrr) a miracle happened.  I inadvertently created a game called 'chase the superhero' where I was the joker, T batman and The Hubs Robin, I had to chase them up the hill whilst avoiding their laser rays (or something similar!) this worked a treat, I don't even think that he noticed he was going up the hill!  This little diversion tactic worked so well!

3. Another issue area was when T was asked to come out of the pool after over 2 hours in there, this resulted in the mother of all tantrums lasting well over an hour.  The next time we saw this on the cards we set some boundaries again, we will stay in the adventure centre for half an hour (set a timer) and then if you come out with no fuss you can come again.  If you whinge and cry we will still go back to the lodge but you won't get to come tomorrow.  This actually worked!  We didn't even need to carry this one through, but I know that we would have had to.  So I'm sure to only use a threat that I will carry out.  We continued to use this each day and it worked every time.

4. Spend time with T, this week going back to nursery brought on some hissy fits, although he loves nursery and seeing his friends, sometimes being with his Mummy and Daddy is more of a pull.  Tuesday we suffered with this more than ever with a good half hour tantrum and not wanting to go, to try and get through this one, The Hubs promised T that he could come to our work, which he loves to do, so I'm taking him along to work on Friday as a reward for sorting himself out.

5. Know when to throw the towel in, some situations are just not worth the trouble, for instance does it really matter if he wears wellies to nursery or wants to wear different pants/socks/t-shirts to those you've set out.  I've been giving in to these and that's really preventing the meltdown and making us both far happier in the mornings.

6. Tiredness, we cut T's naps at Christmas in the hope of him sleeping better through the night, well he's not really sleeping much better but he does go to bed earlier and so give us back our evenings.  Like most children (and me!) T gets really grumpy when he's tired so when he's having a lull rather than expecting him to work through it, we suggest a game or an activity or playtime and spend time with him, often he gets through the funk without any fuss, it's just a bit more attention and effort for us.

7. Cutting out sitting watching TV, the TV does not go on unless there's something we want to watch, this was quite a new thing that we have got into to, but just lately Nicelodeon has been playing in the background whilst we do our thing, this is such a distraction for T as he always wants to watch if it's on, so now it doesn't go on and he has his viewing time in a much more controlled way.

8. Allow more freestyle activities, I do a lot of craft and learning activities with T, he likes to be kept occupied and these are an ideal way we can add some variety for him, but I must remember to let him be a 3 year old, why say no to building a den for him to have his lunch in? Does it really matter that he's mixed all of his paints into a big brown muddy puddle?  Of course not, allowing him to express himself is far better for him and a big learning curve for me.  This is one area I need to work on as stupidly I get very anxious about things like this and need to let those go for the sake of my son.

9. Co-sleeping, this is actually one which The Hubs suggested, neither T or I sleep well, however, he does sleep far better in with us, so The Hubs suggested that when he does wake in the night, if he resists settling straight away, avoid the early hours tantrum by bringing him in with us, this works 100% sadly I was listening too hard to other people saying that you shouldn't co-sleep and that its a bad habit, your child needs to learn etc.  The fact is I was getting exhausted, T was getting very upset and it really wasn't good for our family.  Now, we are all getting more sleep and so things are better for us all, and at what cost?  Nothing!

10. Bedtime routine, we'd got into a great bedtime routine, but The Hubs being ill and then being at Bluestone everything has been knocked out, this is one we are really going to be concentrating on next week, having some good quality 'in-between' time then T going to bed on his own, by restricting his TV viewing it does mean that he looks forward to his 'telly time' half hour before bed, I know some people gasp in horror at children watching TV before bed, but it works for us and gives T a nice reward and reason to be on his own upstairs when he really wants to be with us.

So that's what we are trying to do to prevent meltdown situations, what do you do?

Parenting Linky
Mums' Days
Binky Linky

Everything Mummy

|REVIEW|ChillFactor drinks bottle review

We were sent the ChillFactor drinks bottle for review recently, which is great as T loves any excuse to have a new bottle for his squash!

This bottle comes in 2 main parts, the rubber bottle and an internal water bag which you pop in the freezer before filling, the colour of the bottle changes when cold too.

The bottle is available in pink and blue and all parts except the water bag can be put in the dishwasher (always a bonus in my eyes!)

T liked using this bottle, although he did spill it a couple of times when he put it down as it's a little bit wobbly and as you can see from the photo it's quite large for him.  This product is suitable for ages 3+ so he is on the younger end of the scale and it would probably suit an older child better.  

There are 2 ways to drink, the straw and a flip top sip spout, T completely got in a mess with the sip spout, because the bottle is made of soft rubber he squeezed and tipped at the same time and got covered but had no problems at all using the straw, he was also able to easily open either which was nice as some bottles are a bit hard, particularly the straw ones.

I must admit I that I've used this bottle myself a couple of times and the chilled bag really does cool the drink well, I really liked it too.  I used both the straw and the sip spout and I actually preferred the spout.

I can see us getting a lot of use out of this over the summer, but it's not really portable so it will be left to enjoy at home. 

We really liked this bottle and I'm sure as T gets older he'll get better at not spilling it! Although at £12.99 I personally think it is a little on the pricey side for us.

Disclaimer: we were sent this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

|CAPTURE|children's travel journal

I'm showing you something a little different today for papery peep.

I found Hayden's travel journal from 2010 when we took the teens to the Isle of Wight for a weeks holiday.

I created the main book for each of them, provided some stickers, patterned paper, cards etc all in the envelopes in the pages, so that they could create a a record of our trip (we had also created similar more basic scrapbooks for previous holidays) 

Each night the children had some down time to write in their journals, they left spaces for any photo's that they wanted to include and used post it notes to a mark where photos should be.

I added some guidelines at the beginning of the book for them and to help them get the memories written down.

I provided areas, where they could draw and add photo comparisons.

It's funny to think that when the Teens were creating these, we had absolutely not idea that T was going to come into our lives.

Each date has its own diary day, with a journaling prompt to help them.  10 year old H was a boy of few words and was far happier drawing pictures to express his day.

There's plenty of room on each diary page for photos to be added.

I added some logs in the back including spending logs, places we ate, places we visited, wish lists etc.

In this particular journal I included a quiz and a map with stickers to denote where we had visited.

I created something similar although a bit more basic for T for our Bluestone trip.

I love having these books to look back on, I in fact have some from my childhood which I remember lovingly writing on our numerous caravan holidays.

I hope you've enjoyed this months papery peep, I've certainly enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

|LEARN|shaving foam number smash

I recently saw an idea on pinterest for an alphabet squish and knew instantly that I could put my own spin on it for a little activity for T.

We've been concentrating on numbers lately and this weekend we concentrated on the number 2, we did some activity sheets, looked for number 2's around the house and I created this number 'smash' for him.

The recipe I followed can be found in this post I added some red food colouring (grrrr which turned pink!) and a little gold glitter.  I was looking for a blue and red superhero theme.

I must admit, I expected it to be more of a shell on the outside, but T was chuffed to bits with the result so I was happy!

I put my foam on a large cutting mat, which was really easy to clean afterwards.

I decided to put numbers 1-10 on tiny bits of paper and number 2's on the rest.  The idea was that T would smash all the number 2's and then do the rest in order when I showed him a number on our gel window clings, he had to say the number, point to it and then smash it - which soon turned into a hulk smash (see video below!)

At first, he took it really carefully and just gently poked, but this soon turned into a smash when he realised he wouldn't get it all over his hands.

He ended up getting so excited he got up on the table for optimum impact!

He was very impressed when he was complete although he did tell me I need to make it green for the next hulk smash!

Do you have any advice for starting to teach numbers to pre-schoolers?

The Little Life of Ickle Pickle

|#toddlerapprovedtuesday|week 31 - 26 May

Hello again, and welcome to another #toddlerapprovedtuesday I can't believe how this week has flown by!  We had some new visitors again last week so welcome to all the new faces and hello to everyone we know!

This week I've got a great learning game for you called 'number smash' or if you are my 3 year old 'hulk smash'

My showcase for this week are:-

An aquarium visit from Natalie Knight I love aquariums and never miss an opportunity to look at pictures of beautiful fishes and wildlife.  I loved the turtle photos in this post.

And some fabulous vegetarian meals from Tickle Fingers, sorry I can't show you a pic as I couldn't imbed the video :( I'm really trying hard to get my brood to eat the odd vegetarian meal so I'll be turning to some of these recipes in the coming weeks to see if we can all enjoy the same meal for once.

This week we are changing things up a bit so here are the new rules:-
1. Link as many posts as you like (well with in reason!) BUT please remember to paste the #ToddlerApprovedTuesday badge on each post you would like to link up. No badge, no comment, no share, and your posts will be deleted.

2. Pop by and comment on two or three other posts, more would be great if you can!

3. OPTIONAL: Share your post and the linky party (using the hashtag #ToddlerApprovedTuesday) on your social media, Leandra and I will retweet all your posts via Twitter (make sure you mention us in your tweets @3princess_1dude/@larabeeuk). Even if you don't have a blog, please do join in by using the hashtag for your toddler approved tweets & Instagram posts, they will still be counted for the showcase! We have changed the way we share your posts, it takes so much time to pin and tweet and comment etc, so heres what is going to happen: We are opening up the Toddler Approved Tuesday Pinterest board to you guys too. Just send myself or Leandra an email with your Pinterest name and we will add you, there is no limit on how many you add, it doesn't just have to be the post you link up with.

4. We will now only be RT'ing posts Tweeted to us, and our showcased posts will also be RT'd too. We also have a fab new Facebook group for the Toddler Approved Tuesday community. Pop over and join us, share your posts, share any photos from inspiration you have gotten from a Toddler Approved Tuesday link up.

We also thought we'd give you the opportunity to follow each other and us over on Pinterest and if we follow you, we can invite you onto the board!  So as an added extra there's also a linky for you to add your pinterest link.  Please do follow at least 2 before you and Becky and I.  I hope you are enjoying the social media sharing, it seemed to go down well on Facebook group this week.  We'd love your feedback so is it a good idea?  Is it something you'd like us to do again maybe?  Instagram or Twitter for instance?

So without further ado, over to the linkys...

|FOOD|vegan yoghurt crunch recipe


I've got a lovely simple and delicious breakfast recipe from Guest blogger Sophie who blogs at www.cottonclotheco.co.uk

Really, how good does this look?  I can't wait to give it a try, I'd love to become vegan but know I'd never be able to do it, but I'm looking forward to picking up some great tips and products from www.cottonclotheco.co.uk

Vegan Yoghurt Crunch Recipe
This recipe is perfect for breakfast, but you can also have it as a snack or dessert!
You will need:
- Vanilla Alpro soya yoghurt 
- Chia seeds
- Linseed breakfast topping (I used Helen's linseed blend with cranberries and almonds - found in the free from isle in asda)
- Dark chocolate (optional but super tasty!)

1. Pour one cup of vanilla soy yoghurt into a bowl 
2. Cover with the breakfast topping and 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds 
3. Grate or finely chop your dark chocolate and sprinkle desired amount ontop
4. Serve with a vegan smoothie (you can find recipe here) and enjoy!

Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

You can find Sophie at:-

Cuddle Fairy
Post Comment Love

|ACHIEVE|weekly focus 25 - 31 May

Yay! I'm posting this on the right day!  ;) I hope everyone had a super productive week!  We had a lovely relaxing one making memories in Wales.

Onto this weeks weekly focus

Join in 2 new linky's (apart from this one) - yes actually 3! #pocolo #sofolo & #brilliantblogposts are the ones I've chosen and will be using
Post in Facebook groups - yes have now been using the #pocolo one, linky one and joining in with social media follows on ones I already use.
Use Klout more - c/f
Respond to comments within 48 hours - this is my nemesis! c/f

- New for this week -
Keep monthly page views above 8k
Work on more worthwhile content
Drink water - ummmm no c/f
Use commute more effectively - no! I had 4 hours each way to wales and didn't do anything!  Back to work this week so c/f this one.
Be more patient with T during tantrums - we only had one this week, we have been trying distraction techniques and actually talking to him to avoid them, so far so good!

- New for this week -
Take packed lunches to work
No alchohol
Lose at least 2 lbs

Back now so better add some! 

- New for this week - 
Keep the house tidy!
3 x 30min purges
Help T make his bed everyday like he did in Wales
Leave T's clothes out so he can get ready before going downstairs in the morning.

Back to work, better add some.
- New for this week -
Make sure I only work contractual hours.
Single Mother Ahoy Goals for Greatness

|FUN|8 minging things I've seen at the swimming pool

These are real things I witnessed this week at the swimming pool!  Apologies if this offends anyone but this is how I roll.

1. Budgie smugglers, let's be honest, there's not many men who can carry these off, really there were far too many with these on, cover up - purlease!
2. Love bites, really??????
3. Skimpy bikini's, yes, you have a lovely body but there really is a time and place and a family pool is really not the place for your tiny triangular bikini on your double cup boobies!
4. Hair, please if you are going swimming, have a back, armpit, leg or bikini wax, excess body hair in public is gross.
5. Manky feet, if you have a fungal nail infection, please don't go swimming YUCK!
6. Breast feeding in a very unsupportive bikini, now, I'm all for breast feeding anywhere you like, but I did feel as though it was a bit too personal seeing a woman breastfeed in a bikini - felt like she was in her underwear.
7. Heavy petting, there's a reason the signs have been saying it for years, there's a time and place for this too - get a room!
8. Shorts that could fit your 10 year old, why do some men think that wearing too tight shorts is a good thing?  Unless you are David Beckham, please don't! 

I hope you're still with me and not running for the unfollow button.

For those people who are with me, can you add anything to the list?

Mums' Days

|ACHIEVE|weekly focus - 18 May

Oh b*gger I'm late again! I'm linking up to Vicky's Goal setting for greatness linky again albeit a couple of days late!
This weeks weekly focus
Use editorial calendar and plan posts - Yes must continue this!
Continue to schedule tweets this works so well, need to ensure I do it every day. - this really is working well for me, carry on as I am.
Respond to comments within 48 hours - must try harder c/f
Schedule posts for next week whilst we're away, 1 each day! - didn't do this but so far I'm ok, 3 days down 3 posts published.
Arrange visit to Studley park for Monday - scrapped this as can never get through to the contact. :(
- New for this week -
Join in 2 new linky's (apart from this one)
Post in Facebook groups
Use Klout more
Take lunch break - most days I did this!
Make packed lunch - I did but the Hibs didn't! 
Drink water - ummmm no c/f
Use commute more effectively - no
Catch up on podcasts - yes
- New for this week -
Be more patient with T during tantrums

Make packed lunches every work day - on there twice!
Plan clothes for Bluestone next week - yes
Plan meals and food box for Bluestone next week - yes
Find camera charger - yes
Create T's holiday journal - yes
- New for this week - 
Nothing!  We're on holiday ;)

Get there, get the job done and get home!
Don't sweat the small stuff!
- New for this week -
Nothing!  We're on holiday, what's work???
Single Mother Ahoy Goals for Greatness

|FAMILY|Road Trip Activities

Continuing with our Bluestone preperation posts today I'm showing what we put in T's backpack for in car activities.  

I'm so sorry, you are going to have to bear with me on the photos, my original ones were really blurry so I've just had to re-take them.

There are a million and one things you could put in a child's road trip bag, but we stuck to our magic number 5 and put together a bag of things for T to do if he got bored on the journey to Bluestone. 

First, the good old iPad (mini) I downloaded some of T's favourite shows, but I can also use my phone contract to watch as an absolute last resort.

Travel bingo which I found online here the links don't work, but if you click on the picture you can print that off nicely! I added stickers and put it on a clipboard to make it easier for him.

A new book, this book was just £1.50 from sainsburys T loves a new book, just make sure you are on hand to read it!

The Storytime app, we love this app, we first saw it reviewed at our blogging buddy 3princessesand1dude and we love it!  Always able to occupy a good 20 minutes with this app!

'New' colouring and activity books and colouring pencils.  Whilst these are not strictly new, T hasn't used them yet so they will be fresh and exciting for him. I NEVER let T use felt tips in the car, colouring pencils and wax crayons don't leave marks!

For a great 'creation station' tutorial ideal for road trips check out this post from 3princessesand1dude (again!) 

All of our Bluestone preparation posts can be found here.
Binky Linky