22 September 2014

Changing the Record, Changing Me

I've had this post in the back of my mind for a few weeks now, as I've started to notice some changes taking place in me.

For the longest time I've been telling myself certain stories, replaying old records over and over again. You might recognise some of them (they might be stories you tell yourself too).

"This is too hard for me..."
"I could never do that..."
"I don't enjoy that..."
"I'm no good at that..."
"My kids would never go for that..."

Those old "I can't" records have been playing in my head for so long, I thought they were "me".

I truly believed that "I'm no good at confrontation; if I have to speak up I freeze and lose what I wanted to say." This meant that I let my husband do the speaking for me and asked him to fight way too many of my battles. I let my voice be swallowed up by fear of what others would think, and a desire to not rock the boat or be seen as pushy.

I accepted as fact the line that went "I don't enjoy baking and only do I when I have to" along with "making dinner for my family every night is such a chore." This saw me trotting out the same round of tired old dinners every week.

I struggled with so many aspects of having school-age kids, mainly because I believed the record that said, "I'm hopeless at helping the kids do their homework; I don't know where to begin." The whole homework saga was an endless battle on three fronts and as the children got older I experienced more and more anxiety (and guilt).

[Another sugar free baking experiment - banana, date and walnut loaf: I am ENJOYING BAKING!] 

I also fell for the story that went, "Healthy eating is so hard. My kids will never go for it. They're so picky and it would be a nightmare with battles at every mealtime. Plus It would mean I'd have to bake." As a result I took the easy option when it came to the kids' diet, being too scared of their reactions to try and make them eat healthier.

Above everything else, I believed the record that said, "I am crap at follow-through. I have great ideas but I don't stick at things."

And as these records played their negative stories over and over in my head, they became so deeply embedded that they became part of me. I believed deep down that I couldn't change these things about myself.

I believed nothing would change. I believed some things were too hard for me. Consequently NOTHING CHANGED and some things WERE too hard for me.

I lived my life restricted by those negative records playing in my brain, telling me stories I thought were true.

But lately I've noticed that some of the records have started to change.

Some have changed rapidly and dramatically, like the way my world was rocked by Nigel Latta's sugar expose which has transformed the way we are eating.
Others have changed so slowly and incrementally that it's only by looking back that I see how far I've come.

Instead of "I'm crap at confrontation" and letting my husband speak for me, I've begun to say to myself, "What's the worst that can happen? They can only say no..."
I've rocked up to school, asked for meetings, dealt with issues, and had conversations that have made a difference for my kids.
Another new story is, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil..." If I don't speak up for my kids, who will? Nobody, that's who.

I am now a squeaky wheel, a mum who advocates for her children. I've met with deputy principals, guidance counsellors and teachers - and boy did it feel good! I didn't even freeze.
I've changed the record to "I can do this."

[Dash's English project: a book report Conflict Chart that we worked on together: I am ENJOYING helping with homework]

Since I've begun working again, the old record has been silenced that used to say, "What could I do as a job? I can't go back to my old career and I'm not trained for anything..."
Instead I play the joyful tune, "This job is perfect for me! All the skills I've learned as a mother are being used in this job!"
My new job as a teacher aide has also given me the skills and confidence to help my kids with their homework.
I'm not scared of homework any more. I'm a homework-capable mum.

There are so many little ways the records are changing.
Ditching the "I don't enjoy baking" script and changing it to "It's a fun challenge to find recipes that are yummy AND healthy..."
Switching out "making meals every night is a chore" and changing it to "let's try something new".
Rejecting "I'm crap at follow through" and changing it to "I HAVE to do this, I CAN do this, it's important..."

As all these little changes begin to add up, that heinous old record "I'm a useless mother; I'm not doing a very good job" is getting fainter and fainter. I hardly ever hear it any more. It's being drowned out by "I'm making progress, I love my kids, I'm doing my best for them".

It's actually shocking how much has changed in me in the last while.
I speak up, I do things that used to scare me and I've stopped telling myself "I can't".
Changing the record is changing my life by changing me.
Bit by bit.

(Now I just need to find a way to stop the record that says, "Exercise is so boring... and so sweaty! I hate the way it makes me feel." Then we'll really be getting somewhere.)


What about you? Are any of these "records" familiar to you? What are the stories you tell yourself? (tell me I'm not alone!)
18 September 2014

Sugar-Free Spiced Carrot Muffins (Super-Moist & Delish)

Sorry to overload you with my sugar-free excitement, but I just had to share this delicious recipe for spiced carrot muffins with y'all.
This recipe is a winner on all counts: The muffins are easy to make, they are full of goodness and have no nasties, they are moist and delicious -  even the next day - and were gobbled up and raved about by those fussiest of food critics - my kids.

These muffins are refined sugar free (sweetened with honey) and even have an optional delicious cream cheese topping with no sugar.

I adapted the recipe from one for healthy carrot cake on Sugar and Cinnamon Blog, which was shared with me by a reader. I didn't have a few of the ingredients and I'm trying to make my baking gluten free where possible, so I substituted a few ingredients and these babies are the result.

I promise you will love them. xx

Sugar Free Spiced Carrot Muffins (with cream cheese topping)
adapted from recipe found here

1/2 cup of runny honey
3/4 cup yoghurt
2 eggs
the zest of an orange
1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of oats
1+1/2 cups of grated carrot
half a teaspoon each of: cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of mixed spice

  • Beat the eggs until they are pale and fluffy, then mix in the wet ingredients (honey and yoghurt)
  • Stir in orange zest, spices, carrot, flour and oats until just combined
  • Place spoonfuls of mixture into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers or silicon baking cups
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180oC  or until firm and golden.
  • Makes approximately 18 muffins

TOPPING (optional)
250g pottle of cream cheese
juice of half an orange
2 teaspoons of runny honey to sweeten

Whizz together the ingredients then spoon onto muffins once they have completely cooled. (This mixture is a little bit runny due to the addition of the orange juice, so you may prefer to use zest instead for a stiffer, thicker topping.)

Store muffins in an airtight container and pop them into lunchboxes for a healthy delicious treat that your fussy kids will not turn their noses up at. (They are still yummy without the topping and are less messy, so you might want to keep a few muffins plain for this purpose).


16 September 2014

On a Mission to Reduce Sugar (and wall bouncing)

MISSION LOG STAR DATE 0914: Our mission to reduce sugar in the inmates' diet has been under way for twelve days. This is a delicate operation requiring tact, determination and NASA-quality earplugs (in the inevitable event of whining and complaining). Phase One of our enterprise is almost complete ("Mission Reduce-the-Crap"). Phase Two ("Mission Replace-the-Crap-with-Goodness" is being met with some resistance, but we will persevere in our quest for reduced sugar, hopefully leading to reduced chaos. 
-----End of Transmission----

Hello earthlings and fellow sugar-reducers.
I was kind of blown away by the response to my Nigel Latta/Sugar Free story the other week - it would seem that a lot of you saw that show and had the same reaction that I did: A feeling of horror (at the amount of sugar in EVERYTHING) and a new determination to change things up and reduce the sugar.

I had so many messages from friends and readers who are passionate about healthy eating, as well as from those of you who are more like me (just horrified and anxious) and loads of people shared links to awesome sugar-free recipes; it was inspiring.

I did have to be careful not to be overwhelmed by all the information, and all the recommendations. My super-healthy friends (and those who had read the "I Ditched Sugar" website) recommended ditching ALL sugar, not replacing refined sugar with "better sugar" (e.g. honey). According to the website ALL sugar is bad. Get rid of it all.

But I know what I'm like.
I might lose the will to live if I eliminated ALL TREATS OVERNIGHT!
It has to be baby steps. Bit by bit. Layer upon layer. Phase by phase.

[In case you missed it the first time, here's my sugar-content graphic. Eek, right?]

Phase One is Reduce the Crap.
Instantly I stopped buying all the packeted stuff that gave me the heebie jeebies once I knew their sugar content. Goodbye Nutrigrain, Up'n'Go, and Uncle Toby's flavoured instant oats.
We're back to plain oats, Weetbix, rice bubbles and cornflakes for breakfast.
Knowing what my kids are like, I told them, "This is the last of the Nutrigrain/Up'n'go/flavoured oats; make the most of it cos when it's gone it's gone and I won't be buying any more."

See how I did that? My sugar-crazed brood would riot if I just ripped these things away. I gave them warning. Time to absorb the new regime. Time to savour that last bowl of sugar cereal, knowing it was goodbye.

Baby steps.
I know some of you braver souls would have tipped that evil Nutrigrain down the insinkerator as the sobbing natives looked on. You would have been able to stand your ground when the rioting started and pushed through to victory... but me (coward that I am) I choose a slower path with less resistance. We all get there in the end.

See I know my kids. They're a quirky bunch, emotional, volatile, stubborn. Sometimes parenting them requires all the delicate skill of a bomb defuser, and all the protective protocols of working on a nuclear reactor.
As I've mentioned briefly (so briefly you might have missed it) we have various spectrum issues complicating life round here, which leads me to believe that reducing the sugar can only help the level of emotional volatility. Energy and emotions often run high and reactions to small upsets can be truly nuclear.

I am so very curious to see whether having less sugar in the kids' diet will, in fact, lead to a calmer, less emotionally-volatile home. And oh boy, am I so very hopeful that it will.

So far, since we are doing things so slowly and the sugar is gradually reducing as the packaged crap runs out (never to be replaced) it's hard to know whether it's making a difference or not. Time will tell.

[Super healthy Oat & banana cookies with dark choc chips were rejected by my offspring]

Meantime, I am hard at work on...

Phase Two: Replace the Crap with Good Stuff.
This is where I have hit a few roadblocks, as I've tested recipes which held so much promise but were roundly rejected by most of the inhabitants.

I made the oat and banana cookies with high hopes (I'd added peanut butter and dark choc chips for flavour). They all made puking sounds and refused to touch them, apart from Dash, who put one in his lunch box (out of sympathy for my efforts, I think?). I might try tweaking that recipe, add some date honey for sweetness, try again. They are just too healthy (and EASY) to give up so easily.

I made my famous sugar free blueberry-honey muffins one morning before school. Yes you heard me. I got up early and BAKED. It was some kind of miracle, but it proved to be all for nowt. Two out of three muffins came back home, with complaints that "they were cold by the time it was morning tea". Well, DUH!
Dash though, he said, "Bake them for me mum! I love them!"
Bless. (He's been so receptive to this whole sugar-free thing which is amazing, given that he's always been such a fussy eater).

I made a loaf of Leonie's bread. Not in the breadmaker, by hand. It was easy to make, and it smelled amazing. I broke off a bit of the crust and it tasted divine. I had high hopes and thought "I could do this every day!"
But I took it out of the oven too soon. It was still doughy and gluggy in the middle. The kids tried it and made faces. "Your bread tastes funny mum," they said. I haven't tried making it again.

And then there were the cocoa & peanut butter cookies which looked so good, smelt so good baking... and then burnt on the bottom. The recipe DID say "keep a close eye on them cos they burn easily." Yep, they do. So When they'd cooled I scraped the burnt bottoms off and handed them round... "Yuck mum, they taste like peanut butter!" "They're not sweet enough, they need some sugar!" ("That's the whole point! I'm trying to reduce sugar!") "Well I like them, mum..."


["Date honey": a packet of dates + a cinnamon stick in a pot, cover with water and simmer
until liquid reduces then blend & keep in the fridge]

I will persevere, keep trying recipes, keep looking for healthier low sugar treats I can serve my family.
In the meantime we have made great strides on the lunchbox front in spite of my mixed results with the baking. I keep a box each of carrot sticks and celery sticks in water in the fridge, it can be easily accessed and grabbed as a snack. The level of fruit-eating has increased. They've started putting better ingredients in their sandwiches (ham, grated cheese, spinach).

As the crap options run out they're being forced to add healthier snack options, like crackers, popcorn, nuts. Smoothies are now made with plain yogurt and frozen fruit; plain cartons of unflavoured milk are replacing the sugary Up'n'Go and - get this - they have actually dished themselves up SPINACH SALAD at dinner time. And eaten (some of) it. Uh-May-ZING.

This morning as I checked their lunch boxes I felt a little glow of satisfaction. They are a world away from what was in them two weeks ago. We will get there. We are making lasting changes, bit by bit.
And if this Lazy Mother can do it so can you, my friend. So can you.

11 September 2014

Big Girls (and boys) Just Wanna Have Fun too

Our school's Quiz Nite is legendary round these parts and I've always wanted to go. Ever since I heard stories (and saw photos) of my friend Meg's team outfits, I've wanted to be on their team.
They go ALL OUT on the costuming and props. Last year they won Best Dressed. My kinda team.

So when Meg said one of their regulars was unavailable I saw our chance and took it. We were in!
This year the theme was "Battle of the Bands" and our team decided to go as 80's Rock/Pop Stars.
I knew we had to make this good if we have any chance of being invited back, so I started googling for inspiration and up popped a picture of Cyndi Lauper.
I can do that! I thought, and dived into our dress-up box.

My initial attempt was posted on Instagram - and apparently I reminded a few people of "Jem - truly outrageous". Haha, not quite what I was going for.

Our wardrobe seriously needed augmenting after Mr G refused to go as "that perv" George Michael (a costume I could have put together for him with my eyes closed). Hubby decided to go as his childhood pop idol, Adam Ant - much more complicated but I reckoned we could nail that one with a bit of help from Save Mart.

I think we managed it, don't you?

I found Cyndi's tutu for $6.99, a silver leopard print top for $5 and the red wig for $4.99. Corset, belt and beads all from my dress-up box. Adam's wig was originally all braids (which I cut off leaving just a few strategically placed ones); his jacket was plain black but I added the gold ribbon (double sided tape) and the cape was $2.99 - all from Save Mart. Add a bit of white face-paint and voila, Adam Ant.

 We had a great laugh, and true to their rep, our team went all out...

Left to Right: Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, Adam Ant, Joan Jett, Willie Nelson, Siouxie Sioux and Madonna.

The very creative Joan Jett went all out with our table props, which included a gold lame tablecloth, flamingo and pineapple (Miami) paper staws, a (fake) box of Miami Wine Cooler and a diamond studded mirror with some icing sugar... (you know what that was meant to be right?)

We were finalists in the best team costume. (A Mariachi band won the prize, though some totally unbiased byanders said we were "robbed").
Boy George won best Male costume.
Cyndi Lauper got an honourable mention (finalist) which kinda made my day.

As for the actual Quiz? Weeeeellll.... we DID get a prize - for coming second to last. Ha!

But winning doesn't matter (as I tell my kids) the main thing is that the big girls and boys
all had LOTS OF FUN!

(and looked amazing too)

05 September 2014

"Nigel Latta for Prime Minister!" (going sugar-free)

Nigel Latta rocks so much it's not funny. (Apologies to my non-New Zealand readers who haven't been able to experience the awesomeness of Nigel.) For those of you who don't know him, Nigel Latta is a down-to-earth New Zealand psychologist who has written brilliant, hilarious helpful books on parenting and fronted in-depth investigative TV shows on everything from NZ's criminal element to family violence to... sugar. He's not reactionary, he doesn't have an axe to grind, he understands humans and he just plain makes sense.

Hubby and I have been recording Nigel's latest (brilliant) series and watching it together. Last night's show rocked our world. It was all about how much sugar is in our food and the health effects and cost to the country of diabetes, tooth decay and obesity caused by the sweet stuff.
According to Nigel and the various health experts who shared their knowledge on the documentary, sugar is hidden in almost everything, because it's cheap.
The low-fat revolution made everyone want fat-reduced, but as Nigel's expert said, "When you take the fat out, stuff tastes like cardboard, so they had to add something. And what they added was SUGAR."
And sugar, apparently is way way worse than fat.
It's yummy, it's a treat, it's in all our favourites (chocolate, icecream, lollies) and it's addictive. (Our brain craves more and more of it).
Sugar has been added to tomato sauce, mayonnaise, yoghurt and baked beans. It's even hiding in Marmite!
Of course the worst culprit of them all is pretty obvious: Sugary drinks. Fizzy drinks. Coke. Cheaper than water, these fizzy drinks are easy to drink and cheap to buy. Kids love them, and they star at every birthday party (oops).
As a country we are fatter and unhealthier than ever before. 60% of New Zealand adults are obese and 30% of children! Eek!

Mr G has been niggling me about the amount of sugar in our kids' diet ever since a couple of our kids have been diagnosed on various spectrums (we have a crazy happy mix of aspergers, ADHD and dyslexia in our clown-house, something I have not blogged about because the kids don't want me to. I'm telling you this without naming names - and I'm on that list too).
Diet is something that can make a big difference, apparently. But I've been dragging my heels because the easy options are... easier. And I am not a fan of spending hours in the kitchen baking (you know that, right?)
I am not the mum who bakes her own bread (I have an abandoned breadmaker sitting neglected in my cupboard who will back me up on that). I pull out my favourite recipes for parties, I occasionally dabble in new recipes when entertaining, and I struggle to get excited about producing a nutritious meal every.single.night.
I follow lots of people on Instagram who are always baking and sharing their latest sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free efforts and I think, Wow, good on them, as the guilt taps me on the shoulder.
Being a self-confessed Lazy Mother is not a guilt-free state of mind. Shortcuts are not usually the best option for healthy living.


So when my hero NIGEL started shining the light on the hideousness of all that sugar in our diets, I started squirming a little.
Hubby was prodding me from the other couch: "Are you listening to this?" "Did you get that?"
Oh yeah, I did.

When the programme had finished and I sat reeling from the images of two-year-olds who had been bottle-fed Coke, having their teeth extracted under general anaesthetic ("Did you see that?" hubby said. "But our kids teeth are GOOD!" I replied)...
...after seeing Nigel himself fail a blood test when he considered himself a healthy eater who exercises regularly ("And you don't exercise," hubby reminded me "HMNFHHH!" I muttered.)
...after watching people who had gone sugar-free drop dozens of kilos and have loads more energy and still be able to eat delicious-but-healthy food, and seeing Nigel himself go sugar free and improve his blood results after three months...
...well I couldn't ignore it when Nigel said it, could I?

Hubby dragged me out to the kitchen and proceeded to quiz me on the contents of our pantry.
"How many teaspoons of sugar do you think is in this?" he asked, waving a yoghurt pottle.
"Um, three?"

"How many teaspoons in this?" (Up'n'Go liquid breakfast drink)

And so it went on.

Almost everything I thought was OK to put in the kids' lunch boxes (or give them for breakfast) is loaded with sugar.
The recommended healthy level of sugar is just seven teaspoons per day.
SEVEN! (and nine for adult males).

I'm in trouble here, people. Seriously big changes need to be made.
I'm going to have to research sugar-free recipes, natural sweetener alternatives and ditch the easy-option nasties.

I'd love to have your help, all you sugar-free health gurus, who make your own gluten-free bliss balls and homemade muesli bars. Sugar-free cookie recipes - do they exist?
Homemade yoghurt toppings (I'll be buying plain yoghurt from now on) - I need your recipes.

Please share your recipes with me and my readers! Leave a link to your healthy recipe blog posts on the linky or in a comment or email me (greatfun4kids@live.com). I will be eternally grateful.

P.S. I sure wish Nigel was standing in the election. I'd vote Nigel Latta for prime minister anyday.

10 Tips for Packing healthy School Lunches (on BlogHer)
Children's Breakfast Cereal Sugar & Health Guide (on The Parents Jury)
02 September 2014

When Good Ideas Fall Flat... (Kiwiana theme night)

Sometimes you get a great idea, a flash of inspiration, an urge to turn the ordinary into the memorable. Sometimes you drag yourself off the couch and attempt to turn a boring rainy day into something a bit special... and  sometimes in spite of your best efforts it just plain doesn't work.

There was nothing wrong with the idea: you tried, you did your best. (You could have stayed sitting on the couch but you didn't).
The reality is that sometimes, in spite of all our best intentions (and hard work), good ideas fall flat.

This happened to me on Saturday night, when I attempted to rally the troops and have a bit of at-home Kiwiana theme night fun.

Mr G was heading out on Saturday night with some guy friends (a stag do) and me and the kids were staring down the barrel of a rainy Saturday night, at home on our own. I'd grabbed the "Footrot Flats" movie from Fatso, remembering it as a good laugh (and a Kiwi classic), and as I pondered our fate, the cogs in my brain started whirring.
"How easy would it be to do a Kiwiana theme night?!"
"How fun would it be to introduce the kids to Wal Footrot and The Dog?!"
"We could invite friends to join us - that would be even more fun!"
"Kiwiana food is simple - fish n chips, hokey pokey icecream, L&P, pineapple lumps!"

A plan was formed and the call went out on Facebook. Who is dadless like us and wants to join us?
By the end of the afternoon it was clear that everyone was busy with plans (or a dad) for the night, so we were on our own. Oh well. Never mind, right?
We'll just forge ahead and do it anyway.

Before we dashed out into the wet to drop dad off and pick up the fish'n'chips, I set the table, all ready for our kiwiana dinner. The L&P was chillin in the fridge, the icecream was stashed in the freezer and the pineapple lumps were lying in wait on top of the pantry.
We were on our own but we could still have fun.

Problem: Not everybody was as enthusiastic as I was.
The natives were revolting. Protesting their tiredness, they were begging to eat the fish'n'chips in front of the TV (instead of at the thoughtfully-decorated table I'd prepared earlier).
They refused point-blank to dress in our national colour (all Black) or even put on their gumboots or jandals.
Plus there was grumbling about my choice of movie...
"It looks dumb! What is it anyway? A dumb cartoon about a DOG??!"
"It's a kiwi classic!"
"Well it looks LAME!"

The negativity had worn my patience thin, and my own enthusiasm had waned rapidly. (Plus I was on my own so there was no backup; no bad-cop to my good-cop). Finally there was one negative word too many and I snapped. I confess, I shouted a bit...

"You kids are so ungrateful! I'm TRYING to give us a fun night, to make an effort when I could have just done nothing and we could have had another boring old night watching TV, but no I'm trying and what do I get? No appreciation! Nothing but whinging and complaining! Why do I even bother? WHY.DO.I.EVEN.BOTHERRRR?!"

There was a rush to make amends...
"Sorry mum, you've done a great job - hasn't she guys? Mum do you need a hug?" (Dash)
"Mum, I wasn't complaining, I LIKE fish n chips. And the movie looks OK." (Scrag)
"Well I still think the movie looks lame." (Girl-who-remains-nameless whispering under her breath)
"Hey! At least mum is trying! Come on mum, we appreciate it, honest..." (Dash again)

As we sat around the table, slurping our L&P and glumly chewing our fish'n'chips, it was not exactly the happy scene I'd pictured (no-one even wanted to sing the National Anthem in Maori, not even for a pineapple lump). It was a great idea, I had the best of intentions, but it just fell a bit flat.

Sometimes that happens.

Does that mean I won't try doing this again? No.
Does it mean I will give up making an effort to create fun times out of ordinary at-home nights? No way.
Was it a bummer? Yeah.
Does that happen sometimes when you try? Heck yeah.

Sometimes you just have to push through. Sometimes nights that start off lame and grumpy and niggly can end up being awesome despite a rocky start.
After my rev up, the kids did pull their socks up and we snuggled up to watch the movie:
"Footrot Flats - A Dog's Tail Tale".
[PG, 1987, animation based on cartoons by Murray Ball; music by Dave Dobbyn and Herbs]

Truth be told it wasn't as awesome as I remembered it. The kids didn't really get it (they'd never heard of Wal and Cooch and Rangi and Pongo, the Dog, Horse and Jess). There were a few low-grade swear words scattered throughout (which I hadn't remember from all the way back in 80's) and which gave my grumpy female movie critic more ammo...

"Mum, I don't know how you can let us watch a movie with bad words!"
"Mum, this movie is a FAIL."

Sigh. You can't win em all.

Sometimes you try, and it just doesn't come off.
Would it have been better if friends had been able to join us? Almost definitely.
Would the movie probably still have been a fail in some people's eyes? No doubt.

Do I still think a Kiwiana theme night is an awesome idea? Heck yeah. But next time I'd pick a different movie. (The previous week we had a home-made pizza night WITH FRIENDS - no dads - and watched Whale Rider. Now THAT was an awesome night).

Why am I telling you about our failed theme night? Why didn't I just edit out the reality and inspire you with the fun? Because the reality is that sometimes you can try to create something awesome and it just doesn't work. Some theme nights work better than others.
We've had plenty that fell flat. I remember our first two attempts (Spanish and Indian) where we put in loads of effort but both nights ended in tears! There was a Star Wars night that fell apart as well if I remember rightly and more fire-nights than I can count which started off with niggling over wet wood and unhelpful kids stuck on gadgets, but ended with snuggles round a roaring fire, stories and awesomeness.

Sometimes it depends on the kids' frame of mind, energy levels, tiredness, and what's happened during the day/week.
Sometimes you can put in a load of effort and things just fall flat or - worse - blow up.
But that doesn't mean the idea isn't worth trying, or that next time you do it it won't be awesome.

So if your first attempt at a family theme night doesn't turn out as expected, take a leaf from our book - keep trying, do another one, push through... and let the good times roll (eventually).


If you have fond memories of the Footrot Flats movie  (as many of my Instagram followers seem to) you can get it on Fatso.  Use the code "FAMILY 45" on the signup sheet and get a month of free DVDs (a special deal for my readers from my blog partner Fatso.)