Friday 28 October 2016

Settling Your New Puppy In

Dalmatian, Puppy

Bringing a new puppy home is a big event. Getting it right is important because it has a big impact on how well your dog will settle in, and get on with the family.

Get everything ready
The first step is to go out and buy everything you need for your new puppy. If you get yours from somewhere like Douglas Hall Kennels Scotland they will give you a comprehensive list of what you need. It is wise to get it all, and set everything up. The last thing you need to be doing is rushing out to get a bed for him or her, on the day they arrive.

You want everything to be as calm as possible for the first few days. The last thing a puppy needs is stressed out owners. They are going to be a little frightened and tense as it is, so it is best if you are not on edge as well. You need to radiate calm to help them to feel safe, and settle in as fast as possible.

Dalmatian, Puppy

Picking your dog up
When you pick your puppy up take someone with you. That way they can get in the back and keep the dog happy and safe. In some countries, the law requires you to put up a net between yourself and your dog, so he or she stays in the back and does not get in the way of the driver. If this is a requirement where you live, it is wise to set up the net before you go to pick up your pup.
You will also need a blanket for your puppy to sit on. Remember they do not have proper control over their bladder and bowels, so you will need to protect your back seat.
If you can, pick your new dog up in the morning. That way they will have the whole day to get used to you and their new surroundings.

When you arrive
Try to make the arrival of your puppy as calm as possible. The natural reaction is for everyone to rush out and greet the new pet. This is understandable, but if this happens, your pup is likely to feel overwhelmed.

A better approach is to take him or her straight through to the garden. This is a fun environment for them, and gives them a chance to relieve themselves.

Reward him or her with a treat as soon as they have gone to the toilet. Doing this sets the tone, and gives you a jump on the housetraining process. Once they have had a few minutes in the garden let everyone come up and introduce themselves to the dog, one by one.

Let your puppy explore, but in a supervised way. Make sure someone is watching them all the time to keep them out of trouble.

Dalmatian, Puppy

The first night
Put your puppy into its own bed, and go to yours. If they cry, it is kinder to move their bed to your room.

However, make sure he or she stays in their own bed. If they whine calm them with your voice, but do not touch them. Later, when your puppy is more confident you can move their bed out of your room, if you want to.

If you have other pets, you will find this article helpful, as well. There you will learn the safe way to introduce a new puppy to your resident dogs and cats.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

A Spooky Movie Night In

Halloween Vampires

It's half term this week and I had vowed that I would take the week off work and make the most of my time with that gorgeous little man of mine. Of course the world often has other plans, and today was one of those days. I got swept into work this morning, I made the mistake of looking at one email and it was like a domino effect, before I knew it, it was 3pm and the day was gone. It needed to be done though, I have had so much work on recently (which is good as I have also had one of those months where the bills are never ending!), but I really didn't want to be doing it all while I finally had Leo off school.

Tonight I decided to make the evening extra special, it was something we had planned for half term anyway, but after he had a day of boredom I decided we deserved a fun filled evening and some quality time. Leo adores Halloween, and with it now literally around the corner I decided to decorate the living room, pop open a number of naughty but delicious treats, and wrap ourselves up in the sofa throw while we enjoyed Hocus Pocus! 

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Halloween Movie Night HMV

As soon as Leo saw me decorating the lounge he got pretty excited and asked me whether we were having a Halloween movie night, which of course we were. HMV very kindly sent us a movie night in box that included everything we need to have the perfect spooky film evening. It was so lovely to sit down in our brand new living room, light the candles (that were fittingly a skull and black tea lights!) and sit back in the glow.

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Halloween Movie Night HMV

I love any excuse to sit back and relax with Leo, I am the first to admit that I let life run away with me. I know it can't be helped but it just makes me feel so guilty, especially when he is on half term and I should be spending that time with him, not sat at the laptop. Then I think about it and I realise how lucky I actually am to be in the situation that I am in. Not everyone get's the opportunity to work from home, not everyone get's to be off over the half term week. Some parent's have to be in the office and finding childcare for their little one's while they earn the pennies. I have been there myself, I know exactly what it is like, but it still doesn't help ease the guilt.

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Halloween Movie Night HMV

Tonight really did make up for me having to pull an all day shift today though, and that smile on Leo's face made it all worth it. We have a fun rest of half term ready to go, a cinema trip, potential surprise visit to LEGOLAND and lot's of opportunities to see friends and family. I don't think he is going to begrudge me one working day out of the half term.

Leo is now tucked up in bed after a fun filled evening, now I just need to convince Luke to sit down with me and watch the Exorcist! Which just happens to be one of my all time favourite horror films!

Red Tractor: Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta
Week nights are especially busy for my little family, if it's not science club on a Monday or swimming lessons on a Friday, then we are busy doing our reading and spellings in preparation for the school week. We had Leo's first parent's evening of the year last night, and I managed to work myself up about it. I know it's not the most conventional thing to work yourself up about, but it makes me nervous to think about what the teacher is going to say, because I am so used to hearing about his set backs and I go in prepared to hear all about what he can't do. After the unnecessary worry, it was nice to hear that although he wasn't where all the other children are, he's doing well, he's a joy to have in the classroom and she loves that he gives everything a try!

When we have nights like this where we will be running around into the evening, I always like to have a fuss free dinner ready to go when we get home. Last night we decided to cook a Lamb Mini Roast. I don't usually cook Lamb so I thought it would make a nice change. It can be difficult at times because Leo is such a fussy eater, and the mention of a roast dinner is enough for him to give me the evils.

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

 With that in mind we decided to cook up an alternative kind of roast: A Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta. The recipe is from Red Tractor, who I am sure you are all familiar with. All Beef and Lamb carrying the Red Tractor logo can be traced back to the farms and the livestock that it came from. I like this as I rest easier knowing where my food has come from, and I like to know that I am feeding my family good quality meat.
Red Tractor
The Red Tractor logo means that we know that the suppliers who are producing the Beef and Lamb meet comprehensive standards that cover hygiene, safety, environmental protection and animal welfare at each and every stage from the farm to our forks.

My partner and I love Pesto, and although Leo turns his nose up at Green Pesto (because apparently it's green and slimey), we thought that we might have a fighting chance with the Red Pesto. Not to mention the Mini Roast being disguised along with the pasta, one of Leo's staple foods in life. Before I go full steam ahead with this post, I should probably explain what Leo dislikes about a traditional roast, and that is the amount of vegetables that accompany it. Leo dislikes Carrots, Peas, Brussels Sprouts and just about any other veggie you might care to mention. 

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

The joy about cooking up a Mini Roast is that it's quick and easy to prepare, you stick it in the oven and can go about getting other jobs done before you get swept away with the rest of the evening and Leo's bedtime creeps up on you. 

I set the temperature for the oven, seasoned the meat and put it into bake. While dinner was being cooked with the most minimal intervention from myself. I set a timer on my phone for 40 minutes, took Leo upstairs for his bath, got him into his pajamas and then came back to the kitchen to prepare the ingredients for the pasta while the roast finished up.

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Red Pesto Pasta

Red Pesto Pasta

I always use whole wheat pasta if I am cooking for myself, and I don't eat pasta very often these days, so this alone was a huge treat for me. I threw in pine nuts, chopped cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of spinach. The beauty of Spinach is that you can pretty much add an entire bag and it wilts down to nothing, it's packed full of Vitamins, Antioxidants and is a great source of vitamins A, B2, C and K. 

Now I can get Leo to drink a green smoothie, but presenting it in his dinner is a first for me... Suffice to say he ate around that, the cherry tomatoes and the pine nuts. However he did eat the Pasta in the Red Pesto. He even gave the Lamb a try (thanks to it not looking like a conventional roast!), he did think it was Chicken though, that boy thinks everything is Chicken...

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Daddy and I made up a smaller plate for Leo, and between the 3 of us we ate the entire Mini Roast. I would say it could easily feed 4 people (2 adults, 2 Children), and it was absolutely delicious. Luke even went as far to say that it was one of the best Lamb Roasts that he has ever eaten (which I am going to take as a compliment as that man loves a roast dinner!). 

I am taking this meal as a win, a big family win!

For everything you need to know about beef and lamb, more recipe ideas and information about Red Tractor beef and lamb, please visit

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta

Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto
  Serves 2-3

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes (for medium)

1 x 400-450g/14oz-1lb lean lamb mini roast
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
15-30ml/1-2tbsp prepared red pesto
 For the Pasta:
175g/6oz pasta shapes
30ml/2tbsp prepared red pesto
100g/4oz cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful baby spinach leaves
25g/1oz pinenuts, toasted
Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Red Tractor Lamb Mini Roast with Red Pesto Pasta


  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark -5, 190°C, 375°F.

  1. Place the mini roast joint on a chopping board and make several slits over the surface and season.  Spread with the prepared pesto.

  1. Transfer to a foil-lined metal rack in a roasting tin and roast and roast for 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too quickly.

  1. Transfer the lamb to a warm plate; lightly cover with foil and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, 20 minutes if time allows. 

  1. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and return the pasta to the pan. Add the remaining pasta ingredients.

  1. Slice the lamb and serve with the pasta.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Halloween Etiquette

I actually have a child who wants to go out Trick or Treating on my hands. Like seriously... When did that happen!? It's funny because I always knew it was going to happen, he loves Halloween just as much as I did (or still do) as a child. I adored going out dressed head to toe as the scariest creation that I could find, so of course he want's to do it too. 

It's weird though, because I never expected for it to be a worry for me. It's an unwritten law that a child get's to trick or treat right? I just worry because it is a different world now. People are less tolerant of children knocking on doors. Who's doors are they actually knocking on? 

I obviously won't be letting Leo go out on his own, I will be there supervising and making sure that he is ok and keeping a very watchful eye, but even then I feel slightly wary about it all. 

With this in mind I have been thinking long and hard about Halloween etiquette. What are the rules for trick or treating? 

Bright Horizons day care in Fulham have shared this very helpful infographic with some great advice that is a great rule of thumb to follow this Hallows Eve.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Leo's Autumn Wardrobe

Dalmatian puppy and child

It is suddenly getting noticeably colder, as I type this I am sat in my coat after getting back from the school run, and I am trying my hardest to not think about how cold I am right now. The sun may be shining, but it does not detract from the general chill that is clearly felt in the air now.

I have dusted off my Winter boots as it is now officially that time of year once again, and while I am thinking about the Autumn clothes for myself, I am also pondering Leo's wardrobe. That little man of mine is constantly growing, and I can already see his jeans getting that little bit too short around the ankles. This of course means that I am going to have to start thinking about a whole new set of clothes for him to don during the colder says ahead.

I am biased, but Leo has the most beautiful face and he suits some really vibrant fun colours, so when I am choosing his new clothes, I always look for bright colour ways that in-keep with his cheeky disposition. Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about how I want to shake up his Autumn/Winter wardrobe with some attractive and out there additions, and after having a look at the Esprit Mini Boys Collection, I knew exactly where to go for it!

Esprit Kids

You will immedietly notice a colour theme (excluding one) forming within my shirts and jumpers selection, and that's the re-occuring use of the Blue. This is by far my most favourite colour on my little man. It's fresh, light, crisp and brings out the baby blue of his eyes. 

Shop the look - From Left to Right:

Long Sleeve Blue Check Shirt

I absolutely love a nice thick knitted jumper, they are always so thick and cosy. I rest easier knowing that my little man is always warm, and they make fantastic layers especially if you include a cotton t-shirt underneath, just to keep that extra layer warmth pocket protecting from the chill. Leo's Nanny is a pro at knitting and likes to spend a lot of her spare time crafting up new clothing additions for him. She uses the knitting patterns from Deramores and they always turn out beautifully.

Esprit Kids

I like Leo to look good, and I don't mind spending the pennies on buying quality clothing. I find that when I spend a little bit more, it will last longer, and as I always buy the size up so that he get's the most wear out of it, by the time we are finished with it, we have definitely had our value for money. Not to mention that I still have so many of Leo's clothes from his smaller sizes, they are all stored away in the attic because even after the amount of wear he has had out of them, it's been too good to give away or hand down to Leo's younger cousin. 

The main aim for the next 6 months is to keep warm, so that means we need to pack the shorts and t-shirts away and replace them with jeans and warm winter coats. 

Shop the look: Left to Right

I have to admit that I do really enjoy sorting Leo's wardrobe out, and I know that in the next few years there is going to come a day where he isn't going to allow me to do that any longer. So I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Ready to learn

Leo has been back at school a month now, although it has to be said that it feels like so much longer. We have settled back into a routine, which is in fact a whole new one since we are now in our own home together, and this new set up is proving to be really helping that beautiful boy of mine, he's flourishing in a way that makes my heart sing.

In 4 weeks the little boy who never wanted to sit and read to me, reads each evening without any fights or any upset, his eyes sparkle when you cheer him on and praise him, and he just keeps going until he reaches the very last page. The little boy who didn't ever want to practice his writing, loves to show me the new letters and words he is learning to put together, he smiles as he perfects the technique and marvels at the markings he has made on his art easel. The same little boy who used to stay by my side in the school playground now parades himself around with the other children like an aeroplane.

They are just simple things to outsiders looking in, because these are all things that their children did in their reception year, but Leo didn't. In Leo's reception year he was classed as being globally delayed, and we had to jump through hoops just to even keep his attention on the task at hand. This new school term he is a completely different child, it's as though a switch has been flicked inside his head, and he's suddenly ready for school and he's ready to learn. 

When I got back home with Leo last night, I checked his reading record just as I always would. I opened it up and had a look at the notes that the teacher makes about how Leo has read at school that day. The words almost jumped off the page at me 'Leo read this really well. Leo made his sentence!'. The book was called 'The Play', and it's got some longer sentences than he is used too, so to see that he has not only given it a try, but read it really well was like all my Birthday's coming at once. 

Leo read the book twice last night, once to me and then later on to his Daddy when he arrived. We both sat there listening to our little boy reading. Really reading. Hearing how his voice flowed as the words left his lips, watching the expressions that danced across his face was just beautiful. 

When you have a child who is behind the other children, you grow a thicker skin. Parent's evenings, teacher meetings and educational psychologists all drumming it into you that your child is not achieving the same milestones as other children his age, it penetrates your skin like a knife and it cuts deep, really deep. It hurts and you really have to fight back those crocodile tears and save face to just get through those meetings. I have become so used to hearing what Leo can't do, I am always so taken a back when I hear positive feedback. Not because I don't think Leo is worthy of it, but because I am so used to hearing the concerns and worries, that now when I hear positive and encouraging feedback, I feel like my heart could burst.

I was talking to the head teacher of Leo's school yesterday, as I haven't really heard anything since Leo has gone back to school, I didn't know whether they were seeing the same changes in him that I was, I didn't know if they could see him really trying his hardest. The conversation was a positive one, and they too can see that Leo is suddenly taking flight. They can suddenly see the willingness to learn, and they are grabbing the opportunity with both hands. Just like we are at home. 

They are talking about letting Leo spend a few mornings in reception, just to help him catch up with his peers a little more. Now that he is actively absorbing information it will be beneficial for him to go over some of the lessons from last year. I am so happy that he is getting the opportunity to catch up, and I cannot be more thankful to the school for all that they have done for Leo.

We have implemented so much at home and I am always trying to find ways to make learning fun for Leo. I think the biggest change for us, and the biggest factor that has encouraged Leo to give learning his best shot is a mixture of things. We have given Leo the time, to ready himself, we have purchased fun learning aids such as the easel, we now live in a quiet home just the Two of us, where we can spend quality time without any disruptions. We have reward charts in place and at the end of this month, if Leo carries on doing the very best he can, we are purchasing him his treat. 

I made a promise to Leo before he returned back to school at the end of the summer holiday's. I told him that if he really tried his hardest and allowed me to help him, I would find the biggest Nerf Gun I could get my hands on for him. This incentive has really driven him, and as he has fulfilled his end of the bargain, I most certainly have to make good on my promise and deliver.

Incentives seem to really drive Leo to try, so I am going to make sure that we keep setting these exciting goals for him, and in turn he will not only reap the rewards of learning, but he will get a treat from Mummy and Daddy too.