If it’s not fine food, it’s dancing and film-making that keeps the Hales going. The family of four from Wakefield all work and study from home. Chris Hale runs his own altitude training company and loves to cook which has recently landed him a place in the quarter-finals of MasterChef the BBC One cooking show. Meanwhile his fiancée Sophie Mei Lan, 27, works as a freelance journalist, blogger and dancer specialising in Bellydance, Samba, Bollywood and Hula. The couple have two daughters who they’ve started to home educate Jasmine Mei Hale, 4, and Arianna Mei Hale, 1. Their lives are documented in Sophie’s blog: mamamei.co.uk and on twitter: @SophieMeiLan @AllHaleChris @SophieMei @MamaMeiBlog
What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask?
Bribery often works. Our eldest is a tough negotiator she’ll make a good businessperson one day. But the offer of cinema, table tennis and Wacky Warehouse normally does the trick.
What family task takes you the longest?
Food shopping. I’m vegetarian and trying to be vegan, our eldest Jasmine has expensive taste, Chris loves to cook with lots of unusual ingredients and little Arianna just loves running around the store grabbing everything in sight.
What’s the weirdest thing your children have done/brought home/done to your house?
One of my old dolls has been mutilated by the kids and every time I put it in the charity bag it reappears at home. Often freaking me out.
Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why?
Jasmine surprises me everyday by being so well spoken, making me sound even more common. She often corrects my Yorkshire accent.
What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids?
Bogeys are not for eating or wiping on furniture.
What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done?
Dadda I want carrots, humous, olives and strawberries all on separate plates. (She regularly requests platters of unusual food). But Jasmine’s ambition is to work as a face painter in McDonald’s.
Mini moan - what really gets your goat?
Bedtime. Our kids don’t like sleeping, but we do.
Find out more about life in the Hales family at: www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk
What’s your favourite family day out?
We love the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield as there’s always lots of free family activities as well as an adventure playground and a nice coffee shop plus they have great street food fairs on. They also host Baby Raves and musical events. Anywhere with dancing, decent food and good coffee makes us a happy family.
What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately?
We all love watching and playing football. Chris coaches sport and I teach dance and act in our spare time. Jasmine and Arianna love gymnastics and being acrobats.
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?
No time to think clearly or sleep.
What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed?
We’re both self-employed so we have to cram in work when we can. I tend to write blogs most nights and chris works on recipes and his podcasts.
What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why?
We love Revolucion De Cuba for it’s delicious menu and mocktails in the day (I also perform there some nights). And we love Pizza Express in Leeds, Wakefield and everywhere we go. The menu is always fresh, the staff so friendly and kids have craft packs and are always welcome no matter how much noise they make.
What’s the best thing about weekends and why?
Quality family time. Dancing together on Saturdays and football and Yorkshire Puddings on Sundays.
What is your most treasured memory?
The fact that First Aid helped to save Arianna’s life when she stopped breathing aged 3 months. Plus she has recently been discharged from hospital care.
What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds?
The ring road. The amount of times we’ve got lost on it.
What’s the children’s favourite food/meal?
Jasmine’s favourite food is mussels in a white wine sauce and Arianna likes spicy food and noodles.
What’s your top penny-pinching tip?
We try to shop at Leeds and Wakefield markets as well as at the green grocers as it’s cheaper, fresh and you’re supporting independents.
You can always top up your shopping at the supermarket preferably later at night to grab some bargains.
One family member’s proudest achievement?
As well as Chris being successful on MasterChef, Sophie reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent with her bellydancing skills.
What one item can you not live without?
Our phones with our first aid apps and editing software on them.
What can your children not live without?
Fancy dress. They’re like their bellydancing mum and love dressing up.
Can you also tell me your kids’ favourite book and author.
We read Going on a Bear Hunt and Peepo to the girls when our youngest was in intensive care. They still love those stories. My personal fave is Avocado Baby.