boys in a bucket | August 2018 siblings project

We took part in the siblings project in July and shared the delights of a British heatwave and the simplicity of paddling pool fun. When Euan was little we simply filled up a tub with water and each year snapped a ”boy in a bucket” photo. The last time I shared one in 2016 Luca was a newborn and Euan had his first summer sharing his bucket!

Euan aged 0.5/1.5/2.5 years old in a bucket

I completely forgot to post a ”boys in a bucket” photo last year and looking back at the pictures I realise why – our yard had been stripped back to concrete ready for decking and they couldn’t both comfortably fit in one tub.  I’d persuaded them to take it in turns between the tub and a box with the help of a can of foamy soap.

Our summer holiday this year didn’t unfold as we’d planned and I had to be away from the boys a lot. It made me appreciate how precious it is that our boys are such good friends, making it easy to find people willing to look after them both. I could probably call every siblings post ”Best Friend Brothers” like I did in July. It makes it so much easier as a Mum to leave your children with other people knowing they will take care of each other. Euan is such a nurturing, kind and helpful big brother. Luca is a whirl of funny energy balanced by a gentle ”it’s ok” energy.  Every day I’m thankful I am their Mum.


September 15, 2018 at 9:04 am 5 comments

Love never ends – in memory of Mum

20 years ago today I walked down the aisle with my Dad to marry George.
We played this song as I walked in

Tomorrow I will walk down the aisle with my Dad to say farewell to my beautiful Mum. She died on the 18th August after bravely living with cancer and we were just not prepared for how quickly she would leave us.
Dad has chosen this song as we walk in.  I’m not sure how our legs will carry us but our shattered hearts threaded together as a family saying farewell will see us through.

Grief is a brutal process. There is very little space in the weeks that follow a bereavement with all the practical arrangements to be made. Feeling deeply or appreciating the depth of your loss, especially while parenting small children, is almost impossible. Eating and sleeping become things you just don’t seem to have time or need for.  Each day that passes in a whirl of ”stuff to do and calls to make” cruelly takes you further away from the memories of the precious last moments you desperately want to cherish and soak in.

20 years ago we included 1 Corinthians 13 in our wedding service and later found it comforting when we experienced the pain of miscarrying our first baby. It will be read at Mum’s funeral tomorrow as we focus on the love she had for us all and the legacy of love she leaves with us. ”Love long outlives us. The imprint of our love can’t be taken back; it marks the lives of those we encounter irreversibly” said a dear friend helping us to choose our readings.

Mum, you are so loved, so deeply missed and will always be remembered.

3 month old me and Mum (1975)

42nd birthday with Mum and Dad (2017)

(off to read my previous wedding anniversary posts now and hug George tightly)

September 5, 2018 at 5:48 am 15 comments

Connecting children with nature – a review of the Mud and Bloom subscription box

Dave's runner beans for sowing - the 8 years that I had my allotment I loved the time I spent there – the big expanse of sky as I walked through the gate, the fresh air, the swathes of colour, the neighbourly chats, the sweaty brow, the tired muscles, the fresh food on my plate.  Even just thinking about it as I sit on my bed at home, laptop hot on my legs, makes me smile (and sigh wistfully).  It was such a hard decision to let it go in 2014 after finding it too difficult to juggle the time it needed with life as a new Mum.  Fast forward 4 years and I’m so happy to be back on the plot growing on a small patch of soil on our allotment guardian Dave’s plot.  What really gladdens my heart is to be gardening with my boys.  I may not be as productive as I used to be but there’s nothing like seeing a child’s curiosity and excitement grow alongside the seeds-to-plants-to-food they help nurture.  Both boys are so willing to muck in, literally often, and I hope we may be seeding a life long love of connecting with nature through allotment gardening together.
brothers at the allotment
Not everyone has the opportunity to garden together so I know how lucky we are.  There are some great ways for engaging children with nature and our recent involvement with the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild challenge and Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count are just a couple.  Some of our favourite outdoor spaces often provide nature activities in the school holidays like the butterfly scavangar trail at Crickley Hill last year or the Nature explorers days held at Robinswood Hill.  For people who don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces there’s now a way of bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside with a Mud and Bloom subscription box, delivered to your door on the first day of each month.
Mud and Bloom subscription box image copy
Mud and Bloom nature crafts and gardening activities have been developed by Anja Ffrench who believes passionately in connecting children to nature.  Anja says:

Studies show there is increasingly a disconnect between children and nature, resulting in increased stress and leading to depression in later life. It is vital that children have regular contact with nature, with proven benefits including enhanced brain development, improved concentration and mental health – as well as helping them stay fit and healthy.  I hope the Mud & Bloom nature crafts and gardening boxes will help inspire families to get their children outdoors and more connected to nature and gardening.”

After giving up full time work Anja enrolled on an RHS Horticulture Course planning to set up a gardening business that would fit around looking after her children.  She began writing about children and nature on her Mud & Bloom bloom blog and was overwhelmed by responses from other parents wanting to find ways of getting their children into nature.  She saw a way of combining her love of gardening, crafting and being outdoors to create activities for busy parents to do with their children at home.  Anja’s boys had enjoyed a couple of monthly craft subscription boxes but there was nothing available based on gardening or nature.  And so Mud and Bloom was born and launched in December 2017. 

Mud and Bloom July subscription box

I contacted Anja to see if she would like Euan to try her subscription service and having seen what a diligent reviewer he is she kindly sent us the July box.  I intended to keep it aside for the school holidays but after sneaking a peep into the box decided it would make a wonderful Sunday afternoon activity for respite from the ongoing heatwave.  Although it’s aimed at 3-8 year olds I knew 2 year old Luca would want to get in on the action and I was able to pull together a few of our craft supplies to match Euan’s so they could work on it together.  It’s wonderful that the box provides everything you need for a seasonal gardening activity (instructions, quizzes, seeds and even compost) and a crafting activity (building materials, seasonal treasures, tiny tubes of glue or paint). Activities have been created by qualified teachers and they support the National Curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.
Mud and Bloom subscription box_growing seeds - nipitinthebud
The subscription box is really affordable at £7.95 per month including UK postage and there is no minimal subscription so you can cancel at any time.  You can also arrange delivery as a gift with a 3 month subscription which is such a fabulous feature or buy a previous box.  I’ve often looked at Magazine subscriptions or gift boxes as an alternative to presents for Euan but a year’s subscription becomes an expensive suggestion. The subscription box arrives addressed to your child which is so exciting and I love that the packaging is re-usable.

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This crafting activity was great for both boys and contrary to what people say about a toddler’s ability to concentrate Luca was absorbed in his gluing and sticking for nearly as long as Euan.  If it hadn’t been such a hot day I think Euan would have happily extended his Mud and Bloom crafting activity by decorating the delivery box with the leftover tape as a keepsake for his instruction cards.  I always appreciate it when packaging can be turned into a rainy day activity too!
Mud and Bloom subscription box_gluing toddler - nipitinthebudMud and Bloom subscription box_toddler button jam jar - nipitinthebud
If you’re still unsure about the value of a subscription box here are Anja’s top 3 reasons to subscribe to Mud and Bloom :

1/  Educational – The activities will help your children engage and connect with nature – helping them learn about and interact with plants, insects and the seasons.

2/  Fun – They will have fun growing their own fruit, vegetables and plants and creating their own crafts inspired by nature and the seasons.

3/  Easy – The boxes will be delivered to your door with all the seeds and materials needed for the gardening activity – there’s no need for you to have a garden or tools.  Nature craft activities are designed around things that can easily be found in parks and gardens!

Mud and Bloom subscription box_flower jars - nipitinthebudI had fun decorating a jar too and will be using it for storing all the ice lolly sticks we’re collecting for an ”I’m bored” ideas jar.). We haven’t managed to do any artwork with our own nature paint brushes yet but there’s a terrific review at Lisa’s notebook that shows you how that might turn out.

Disclosure: we were sent the July subscription box free in exchange for a review. We were not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

August 4, 2018 at 7:48 am 12 comments

Me and Mine [July 2018]

We’re already a quarter of the way through the summer holiday and school term craziness is a distant memory (and a bit of a blur). We managed to book a last minute 4 day break to the Isle of Wight in the first week of the school holiday and it was just what we need. We had blue skies and sunshine the whole time we were there (I couldn’t help packing wellies and coats though ”just in case” even though they’d not seen the light of day for weeks at home). #MeandMineproject July 2018 -
Our ”Me and Mine” family snapshot was taken at the National Trust beach at Brooke Chine at 8 o’clock at night. We love that time in the evening when the beach is quieter and there’s less concern about sunburn. We’re resolved to maintain the practice of being more active after dinner now we’re home as the heat and light of summer evenings produces prolonged, sticky bedtimes anyway so we might as well be outdoors. On that note it’s after 6pm and we’re going to head off to our favourite local park Hillfield Gardens with boys, bike and scooter. Enjoy a few of our beach snaps before I go and I’ll catch up with you again next month.
#MeandMineproject July 2018_myboys -
#MeandMineproject July 2018_Mum and boys -
NT Brook Chine beach
Euan’s been enjoying the opportunity to use my camera and I think he did a terrific job of capturing the three of us outside our lovely Airbnb cabin in Brighstone.
#MeandMineproject July 2018 -
I love the #MeandMineproject for the prompt it gives to capture family time each month and the throw backs to previous years. Do you think we’ve changed all that much since last year’s Isle of Wight trip?

Click HERE to see our previous #MeandMine photos

August 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

gardening with kids (during a heatwave)

It’s over 3 weeks since our last Saturday morning allotment visit and we didn’t make it yesterday either. It’s been unseasonably hot in the UK for weeks now and our weekends are such a precious balance of down time versus adventure.  Yesterday was the first day of the school holidays and we relished sitting around […]

Continue Reading July 23, 2018 at 6:32 am 14 comments

Best friend brothers |July 2018 siblings project

best friend brothers -’ve had such a wonderful month of the most gorgeous weather.  It almost feels like we’ve had a summer holiday already as we approach the last week of the school term.  We’ve been making the most of our fortnightly allotment time and taken part in some wonderful activities in our home city of Gloucester.  I’ve not been brave enough to take my DLSR camera out with me on solo adventures into town with the boys so our pictures this month simply sum up the ordinary moments shared at home or on the allotment.  Luca is more easily containable that way as he’s definitely an athlete in the making with his fast little running legs and sense of adventure.
Best friend brothers in buckets -
Each year since Euan was born I’ve taken a boy in a bucket photo and last year with a 5 year old and 1 year old it became apparent that sharing a tub was no longer an option!  This year I used our Tesco reward vouchers to buy a little paddling pool and although it’s only 4 feet wide (our yard is not much wider) the boys have loved it.  I’ve appreciated the benefit of a small yard close to the kitchen when it comes to filling it and the boys spend hours in it because it’s easy to fill with buckets of warm water from the kitchen mixer tap.  I’ve even had a dip in it myself and pretended I was on a beach somewhere as I lay back with my knees up and out of the pool gazing up at the blue skies overhead.
Best friend brothers in the paddling pool - friend brothers in the paddling pool 1 - friend brothers in the paddling pool - friend brothers in the paddling pool -
Our allotment adventures this year are definitely more fun with two boys in tow (although everything takes twice the amount of time and patience with a wandering toddler).  It’s so lovely to see the boys working together on the plot, taking turns with the tools or to overhear Euan passing on gardening tips or gently cautioning Luca about what he can and can’t touch.  It’s been fab documenting our ‘gardening with kids’ growing journey and for the boys to be able to look back at my blog in years to come and remember their first season of growing together.
Best friend brothers at the allotment 1 - friend brothers at the allotment 2 - friend brothers at the allotment 3 - wouldn’t be an authentic summer siblings post without finishing off with another ice lolly snap would it. I could fill a whole blog post with a discussion about their favourite icey treats!
Best friend brothers_ice creams at school -

The Siblings Project - Dear Beautiful

Keeping it real logo - copy



July 16, 2018 at 9:14 pm 11 comments

foraging wild garlic in Cranham woods (and a tale of a tick bite)

Cranham woods_toddler lifting log -

When Euan was 3 years old we went for a bimble in Cranham Woods and stumbled upon a fabulous patch of wild garlic surrounding an ancient gnarly tree. I vowed to return each year but you’ve probably already guessed that we didn’t! I was reminded of both my love of foraging and the opportunity to recreate special trips with Luca when a friend asked me if I knew of anywhere she could find wild garlic to make pesto. Having sent her my blog link from my visit with Euan it tickled my memory bank and I decided to visit with Luca, albeit a year younger than Euan was first time around. If I visit again next year when Luca is also 3 I’ll have to track down Euan’s coat and really go to town with recreating the trip down memory lane!

Cranham Woods_toddlers running -

Luca and I explored the woods with a new Mum friend and her toddler and I think we found that same gnarly tree. It seemed further away from the road than I remembered and much bigger than it seemed last time but I guess that’s nature for you and 3 years growth (I really don’t trust my baby brain recollections these days). The toddlers were in their element bimbling about picking up leaves, dragging along giant sticks and blowing out dandelion clocks.

Cranham Woods_gnarly tree -

Cranham woods_tree climbing toddler -

Cranham woods with toddlers -

Cranham woods_dandelion clock -

Woods are such a good option on a hot day but the shaded canopy from the trees made for rather yellow photos. As we walked back towards the car we spotted a rape seed field and found a break in the fencing to check it out. I love the sight of swaths of golden yellow flowers.

Cranham Woods - rape seed field -

A few days after visiting Cranham Woods I found an engorged tick on Luca’s neck. During our bimble we’d had a conversation with a couple out on their daily walk in the woods about the deer they often see so it was a fair assumption Luca’s wading through the grass may have been the cause of being nibbled on. And as it was likely to be a deer tick I was a bit concerned about the possibility of infection, most notably the development of Lymes disease.

Cranham Woodstoddler picnic -

George removed the tick with tweezers using this method as soon as we spotted it but it was 3 days after our woods visit . I did some reading about the the symptoms to look for following a tick bite and was relieved to find nothing to be concerned about and no rash around the bite. 3 days passed and then Luca developed a runny nose, napped for 3 hours and come the evening was starting to feel really hot. He was running a fever when I put him to bed. When I spoke to a friend on the phone that evening she mentioned her son had a tick bite and her homeopath had recommended a precautionary dose of Ledum immediately. Only then did it occur to me that Luca’s body might be fighting an infection from the bite he’d received 6 days earlier. I did a little more research and found this article by homeopath Kelley Callahan ,”Ease Lyme anxiety: Homeopathic treatment of acute tick bites” , particularly reassuring.

”The Ledum is stimulating the body to effectively respond to the bite; which may in turn also neutralize the Lyme bacteria and prevent the development of an infection. This is the same principle by which you give someone with a high fever Belladonna; the remedy stimulates the body in its response to whatever infection or stimuli is causing the fever, often enabling the immune system to complete its work, without moving into a full-blown illness be it cough, flu, croup, etc.

I think its important to emphasize that Ledum is treating the *tick bite* not Lyme disease. There is no Lyme disease when you get a tick bite. Yes, it *may* develop. And you *may* get the flu from someone at the grocery store. But, you might not.

This is part of changing your mindset. We need to sever the cord of tick = Lyme always”.

Cranham woods_toddling -

Luca had a high fever all night and kept scratching his neck where the tick bite had been but there was still no rash. He woke to nurse frequently and I gave him some Ledum when I went to bed and in the morning. The next day he still had a low grade fever and I thought it worth getting him checked over by the GP given the possible cause of his infection. I’m not keen on the use of antibiotics but will use them if there is an urgency around treating an infection where slow natural healing may result in complications. As Luca was no longer experiencing any symptoms and his temperature was normal the GP was happy that his immune system had dealt with the infection from the bite and there was nothing more sinister to be concerned about. I was relieved that not only had his body’s fever response done the work of burning off the infection but that the GP hadn’t been quick to prescribe a ”just in case” dose of antibiotics which I’ve known to happen sometimes for other parents. It’s 6 weeks now since our woodland adventure and Luca never did develop any further symptoms. It just shows what the body is capable of when we let it respond naturally and are nourished and rested like children are.

Cranham woods_running toddler -


July 6, 2018 at 1:33 pm 12 comments

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About Nip it in the bud

Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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One of our favourite annual traditions in Gloucester - the lantern procession through the city to @gloscathedral. It gets bigger and better each year with amazing creations from school children and community groups.
Technology saves the day - G googled this while stood in @sainsburys with E feeling minifigures packets. Successfully identified the two that he wanted (double win as series 18 are £1.50 at the moment so he unexpectedly got 2 for his hard earned £3)
Bus number 2, hanging out up the back this time. Luca succumbed to bus-itus and is sleeping blissfully :0) @stagecoach_bus
Woohoo, this boy is practically flying off his seat with excitement at being on the front seat at the top of the bus! @stagecoach_bus
We live in a street of HMOs where tenants come and go and we are in the only family home. We miss the neighbourly-ness we see friends have in their streets. But when it matters the kindness of strangers comes through. We found a note on our car this morning from someone who had witnessed a bus crunch into our car early this morning and drive off. I've no idea how the driver plans to explain away chunks of paint missing from the bumper (fragments of which are now in Gs pocket as he walks round to the bus depot to ask them to investigate).
Happy Friyay dear ones. I'm putting a skip in my step by wearing my fab Happy Days top from @thismumindevon . Never fails to lift my mood. Sending you all love and light to get you to the weekend.
Euan's favourite story books are the "Dogman" series by @petey_haw_haw. He loves the comic strip style and sense of humour and the "how to" guides at the back for drawing the characters. Es teacher was telling us how the school are going to buy some comic strip books to encourage the reluctant writers in his class. E was quick to lend her one of his books to read complete with a hand made Dogman book mark. I reckon they could inspire reluctance drawers too. #6yearoldartist #dogmanfan #childhoodunplugged
And here he is! Keeping a somewhat serene pace on the pavement (versus super speed at the park). 2.5 year old L on a @3stylescooters sized for 7+ years. He's the bomb! #scooterkids #scootingtoddler
Joy summed up. Little brother sneaking a ride on big brothers @3stylescooters wheels after school drop off
Luca enjoying hugs with "Nana bear". A beautiful momento made from one of Mum's shirts by the @sueryderleckhampton sewing group. They give their time freely to make the bears in exchange for a donation to the charity. They made two bears from one shirt and the other is providing comfort to my Niece in Germany 💕
So this has become our after dinner thing - "park in the dark" with scooters. We love Es @3stylescooters with light up wheels
We love our @nationaltrust membership for fab days out. These two love their binoculars which you get free when you sign up (thank you for our second pair to ease the pain of trying to share when you're two and think everything belongs to you). Our top NT pick this month is @ntcroome , perfect easy afternoon out from Gloucestershire or a pitstop near Worcester just off the M5

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