Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Happyland does Hollywood

I love Happyland toys and you need to check out my amusing findings on one particular Happyland toy if you haven't seen it already. It will make you smile.

Yesterday we were playing with the Happyland cottage and fire engine when Miss C decided she was going to re-create one of THE comedy films of last year. Can you guess which movie she was re-creating?

If you don't know then I'll give you a clue. You may suffer with one of these the morning after the night before and usually a nice fry up is the cure.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

An itch to scratch

I've never posted anything for the Writing Workshop hosted by Josie over at Sleep is for the Weak. I do love reading the posts that come from the word prompts Josie gives and when I noised over to the prompts this week, the first one that caught my eye was ITCH.

Whenever I see the word ITCH, I start feeling really itchy. It is strange how a word can trigger something. Like happy makes you smile and love makes you feel a bit tingly inside.

ITCH reminds me of when I was pregnant with Wee Z. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I broke out in this horrible rash. It was terrible. It was all over my belly, my legs and was starting to spread to my chest. I couldn't sleep at night so I would be really grumpy all day. There would be nights I would get out of bed, turn on the shower and stand there hoping the burning hot water would sedate my itch for awhile. When that didn't work, out came the exfoliating scrub and I would literally stand and scratch my skin until it was red raw and bleeding.

Some relief came when I was given some Pirotin by one of the Doctors at the hospital. They had asked me to come in to have tests to make sure I didn't have obstetric cholestatis, a serious liver condition. I was 39 weeks pregnant, the size of a small elephant and pretty peed off with the whole thing. I just wanted the baby out. The day I took my Pirotin and came home, I fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours. It was the best sleep I had had in about 4 weeks.

Luckily I did not have obstetric cholestatis however the Doctor made the decision to have me induced. I think this was incase it did develop and to relieve me from my suffering. It was so uncomfortable, I honestly wouldn't wish it upon anyone. I had to endure another 2 days of itching and then Wee Z arrived into the world. I had my baby boy. The itch had stopped.

This post is for the Writing Workshop with the theme of ITCH. Visit and read some other great posts at Sleep is for the Weak.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Gallery - Black and White

A wedding photo
A baby belly

Mummy and her new baby Wee Z

Baby feet on a baby bump

A sleepy new baby Miss C

I love black and white photos. They're really emotive, stripped of colour except for these two shades. Anything looks beautiful in black and white.

This post is for The Gallery. The theme this week is Black and White. Check out some of the other great entries.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A visit to Santa's Grotto

On Sunday we saw a poster for Santa's Grotto. We decided to go and check it out depending on how busy it was. I've never taken Wee Z or Miss C to a Grotto before because they were both too young, Miss C I feel is still too young, to actually understand who Santa was and enjoy their visit.

Wee Z has seen Santa before, when he visited the kids at our mother and toddler group. The first year he came, Wee Z was about 18 months so he was a bit unsure, and didn't really want to go and collect his toy let alone sit on his knee. Last year, he went straight up to him when his name was called, up on his knee and told Santa his list for Christmas.

When we got to the Grotto, it looked quiet although there was a small queue. We decided to stay and opted for the joint package which was a photo with Santa and 2 gifts to the tune of £9.00. It was about a 45 minute wait. I was in 2 minds whether to stay and we did stay in the end because I reasoned it was only going to get busier and we didn't really want to have to come to the shops again.

The set up was really lovely. Fairy lights hung from the walls and ceiling. There were trees covered in lights and fake snow covering the ground. There were little animals everywhere. Pretend ones of course! Miss C loved the Pingu (penguin) and chatted happily to it for ages. Wee Z was happy to run around with the other children who were all excited to see Santa. It seemed like the kids were getting a good 5 to 10 minutes with Santa which I thought was great but maybe a bit over the top when there were so many young children waiting to see him. Luckily my 2 were happy looking at the reindeer and penguins but it was warm inside and I could see some children were getting restless.

When we eventually got to the front of the queue, Wee Z chatted to one of the Elf girls telling her all about nursery and his friends. He seemed in really good spirits and excited to see Santa. We were called through by another Elf and into Santa's house we went. At this point, Wee Z started crying and Miss C, who was all smiles suddenly turned very shy. It must have been rather overwhelming to see this big man with a beard and a bright red suit but they were fantastic, really patient and talked to Wee Z to reassure him. When that didn't work, Santa magically produced some chocolate and all was fine. Zach chatted to Santa, telling him he wanted a Ben 10 scooted for Christmas and a blue bike too please. When he asked Miss C what she'd like for Christmas, we said a baby, but not a real one thank you Santa. We then had our picture taken with Santa and it turned out to be a lovely family photo which we will be able to hang up in the living room.

Santa gave the kids their presents, wished us a Merry Christmas (which set me in a very Christmassy mood) and off we went. It started off a bit shaky but the kids were happy and had had fun in the end.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Christmas Shopping...!

Yesterday we went to the shops to try and finish off our Christmas shopping. I've found it quite hard this year. Firstly, I have no idea what to get everyone. I'd love to be able to walk into a shop and see something and think, that would be perfect for so and so. Usually I end up asking everyone what they'd like and get it for them. Secondly, Wee Z is so much more aware of what is going on now that I can't just go into a shop, pile the trolley with toys and gifts with him sitting in the trolley playing with a receipt or my car keys. I thought about doing the shopping online but I like to see in person what I'm buying.

On Saturday, we managed to go to Toys R Us with Miss C whilst Wee Z stayed with his Papa. It was nice to have sometime alone with Miss C and we had great fun looking at all the toys. Usually we've been pretty disappointed when we've been to Toys R Us in the past, mainly because we found there weren't any good toys for Wee Z at the age of 1 or 2. This time we found plenty of things he would enjoy. It was a bit easier for Miss C as they have loads of dolls and prams which she can play with. We picked out a few things but it did feel like I was buying for the sake of buying. The kids have so many toys and half of them don't get played with. At the same time though, I want them to be excited on Christmas morning and I feel the only way we can do this is by having loads of presents to open. That's what I used to look forward to the most on Christmas morning.

So after a half successful shopping trip on Saturday, yesterday we went to the shops after lunch to pick up another few bits and bobs. We had both kids with us and Daddy kept them entertained whilst I ran around Early Learning Centre, again throwing things in the pram (no trolleys!) and paying as quickly as possible without Wee Z seeing. Miss C was playing with the dinosaurs and Wee Z was playing with the kitchen as usual. Daddy found a scooter for Wee Z, reduced, so we got that for him as his main present. He has been asking for a scooter for ages! At one point he wanted 10 scooters, one for everyday of the week and extra for the weekend so his friends could play too.

We took a walk up to another shop to try and find Miss C a Jessie and Bullseye toy from Toy Story 3 as she loves Wee Z's Woody doll and carries him everywhere so I thought it would nice (and to save the arguments too!) if she could have her own one to play with. They are sold out everywhere I've been too.

I've still got another few things to get for family and friends but Wee Z is pretty much done. I've a few more things to get Miss C as I'd like them to have the same number of presents to open. Then Husband can get them wrapped up and sent off to Santa. How much Christmas shopping has everyone else done? Do you start early or leave it until the last minute? Do you buy online or do you like going to the shops?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Gallery - Before and After

Having only come into the "digital" era some 4 years ago, I thought I'd give the Gallery theme a miss this week. I don't have a scanner so I couldn't scan any of my old photos on to my PC and then add my new recreated version.

Inspiration then struck me when I was talking to my sister today. She is 18 weeks pregnant and just felt the baby move for the first time today. It's all very new and exciting for her as this is her first baby. I started to remember all the things from my pregnancy with Wee Z. The first kicks, the first somersaults, the first pictures. This is why I chose this photo...

Wee Z Before

Wee Z After
It's amazing how they can go from being that tiny little baby growing inside you to the little monster I know and love today. And yes, the theme was to recreate the picture but there was no way I was going to be able to recreate that!

This post is for The Gallery. The theme this week is Before and After.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Leaf Art

We had a lovely day in the park yesterday which I will write about in another post, however I thought I would share our lovely leaf art we did today. We collected some leaves during our walk and made some lovely art this afternoon whilst heating our hands up on hot cups of tea and eating chocolate biscuits. Who said cold days spent indoors could be boring?!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Our favourite Pasta recipe

One of my favourite meals to cook is pasta. We love pasta in our house, so much so we have it at least twice a week. It's cheap, it's quick and it's simple. You really can't go wrong with a good bowl of pasta and garlic bread.

Our favourite pasta dish at the moment is Pasta in Cheese sauce with smoked sausage, chicken and sweetcorn. Wee Z is still going through his fussy stage and this is about one of the only meals he will finish. Miss C is a bit of a grubber and she will quite happily devour 2 bowls.

The other appealing thing about this dish is, it really is very easy and very quick to make. The hardest bit is making the cheese sauce, which is a doddle!

Here's the recipe if you want to try it out and please feel free to comment with some of your own delicious recipes. I'm always on the hunt for yummy dinners!


2 chicken breasts cooked how you like
1 smoked sausage (I buy Mattessons smoked sausage)
1 tin of sweetcorn
80g of pasta per person

For the cheese sauce

25g butter
1 level tablespoon of flour
300ml milk
60g cheese (I use a medium or mature cheddar)
Optional to add nutmeg or paprika

To make your cheese sauce, melt the butter on a low heat and then gradually add your flour whilst stirring. Try to not let it become clumpy as this will make your sauce lumpy. It should be a smooth mix that moves around the pan easily. Add the milk gradually, always stirring and the sauce will start to thicken. Once all the milk is added and the sauce has thickened up, turn off the heat and add in your cheese. Stir until it has melted fully. Cook your pasta as directed on the pack and cook your chicken. Once your chicken is cooked, slice it up and add into a bowl with sliced smoked sausage and your sweetcorn. Drain the pasta and add it to the chicken mix and then pour your cheese sauce over. Mix it well and serve.

Now don't just take my word for it, these little faces will tell you how good this dinner is!

Tesco Real Food Cupcake competition

One of my favourite things to bake at the moment is cakes, in particular cupcakes. I guess it's because they are bigger than fairy cakes so there is more of them to eat!

Tesco Real Food are hosting a competition for 2 winners (and a plus one each) to enjoy an afternoon of baking with a top chef in London on Friday 10th December. Here's the fun bit for entering; you have to bake some cupcakes and upload a picture to their website by Monday 29th November and the 2 best looking entries will win this great prize. The competition is open NOW! Ten runners up will receive a cupcake kit from Tesco Real Food, which I have received from them and it includes the ingredients to make some lovely cakes as well as decorations, food colourings and an icing bag.

If you don't have a recipe for cupcakes this is the one I use and it always turns out gorgeous, fluffy, light cupcakes. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

150g of unsalted butter
3 medium eggs
175g self raising flour
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. For a fan assisted oven, that's about 160°C. Put all your ingredients in to a large mixing bowl and whisk for about 2 minutes until the mixture is light and creamy. Use a tablespoon to spoon your mixture in to each case. I find a generous tablespoon per cake case is about right. Put them in the oven for 18-20 minutes when the cakes should be golden and the middle of the cake should spring back up if you lightly press it. Leave them to cool before icing.

Here are some pictures of cupcakes we've made before!

The Tesco Real Food website is packed with thousands of inspiring, delicious recipes to suit any occasion. Whether customers are looking for a quick mid-week meal for the family or something for a special event, users are sure to find exactly what they're looking for. In addition, a range of step-by-step cooking tips and videos to help improve kitchen skills can be found, as well as healthy eating and a cooking with kids sections. To make shopping even easier, every recipe has a ready-made shopping list that can be used to add all the ingredients to the shopping basket in just a few clicks.

Good luck if you enter!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Only one season for Me

My favourite season is summer. The downside of summer is hayfever but other than that, I love the sunshine, the fresh air and the heat. I love the sunny evenings where you can still enjoy sitting in the garden when it's 8pm and I love waking up to warm mornings and getting a washing on and hanging it out to dry.

I love the flowers and the green grass and the smells of Bar-B-Qs in the air.

I love playing outside with the children instead of being stuck indoors when it's raining or snowing!

It's a shame we don't get a great deal of good weather in the summer but when we do, we definitely make the most of it.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Why is talking about miscarriage so taboo?

After hearing the news about Lily Allen losing her baby at 6 months into her pregnancy, I felt very sad for her. I hate hearing anything like this, especially when it involves babies. The press are still referring to her baby passing as a miscarriage but I don’t think this could be the right description for what she would have had to go through. At 6 months or 24+ weeks pregnant the baby, if born prematurely, would be classed as a viable baby and be able to survive outside the womb with special care. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be for any woman to be carrying a baby and be at the stage where the baby is moving and kicking and then to have to learn that your baby has passed away. It is just awful.

What this news has done is prompted a lot of women to talk about miscarriages or losing a baby which is still considered a taboo subject. I suffered a miscarriage at around 7 weeks pregnant whilst we were on honeymoon. I’ve talked about my miscarriage in a previous blog post but not to a great extent. In the spirit of awareness, sharing and for a bit of therapy, I thought I would write about it. You may find some of the things you read upsetting.

I expected it to be painful. I’ve seen people having miscarriages on TV drama shows and they are always doubled over in pain. It wasn’t physically painful but emotionally, it felt like a black cloud had descended upon me and I felt empty. The amount of blood I lost was distressing for both me and my Husband. Even the poor male nurse who was looking after me went a bit grey.

The most distressing part at time was that we were on honeymoon in Portugal. We had, hours before, just been told by my DR in the UK that I was pregnant. We were thrilled! What should have been a celebration of our marriage and our first holiday together was quickly turned into a nightmare. I remember being in the hotel room and saying over and over to myself “please don’t let this happen”. I kept thinking this is karma for all the stupid stuff I’ve done in my life coming back to hurt me.

The nearest hospital to our hotel was 65km away. We had to get a taxi as they refused to send an ambulance for me. Not that it would have made any difference. I didn’t have any sanitary towels with me but for some reason I had packed tampons so I used one of them and changed into black trousers. We travelled in silence and I remember looking out the window but not thinking of anything.

It was in the hospital reception that I felt something move inside me and then a gush. The male nurse rushed for a wheelchair and took me into a back room away from the waiting area. I don’t speak a lot of Portuguese and he clearly didn’t speak a lot of English but I think he worked out what was happening when he saw my trousers. They were soaked. I was taken to a room to have a scan so the DR could check what was happening. Thankfully the DR spoke English. At first I think he thought I was putting it on and I was just overreacting to a little bleed or that I had gotten my period, but when he performed my scan he could see that I was losing a pregnancy. I could see the screen and although it wasn’t very clear, I could see what looked like a sack and then a slight rip in it and then lots of little dark clots around it.

I was taken into a room with a bed and they started to prep me for going into surgery. I was in a shared room next to another woman and her husband who were also British. I kept listening to their conversation to try and distract myself from what was happening to me. My Husband wasn’t with me. He was trying to deal with the insurance and was having a terrible time. The hospital refused to do anything until he provided them with a credit card to pay for my surgery or until he got through to the insurance company. We don’t have credit cards so he had to worry about me whilst trying to contact the insurance company. At one point the hospital weren’t going to let him use their phone which was completely insensitive considering what was going on. Meanwhile I felt completely alone.

It seemed like hours had passed and then, finally, I was taken to surgery. My Husband still hadn’t been with me but the male nurse brought him to me just as they were wheeling me into the operating room. He had had to sign all the consent forms for my surgery and the anaesthetic before they could do anything. He told me after he was so worried that he was going to lose me.

I can remember being in theatre but not being aware of what was happening around me. The last thing I saw was the DR telling me to count down from 10. I think I got to 7 and then I remember nothing. When I woke up in my hospital room, it was dark. It must have been about 2 or 3 in the morning and I remember I was gasping for water. Then it all came back to me. Where I was and what had happened, it wasn’t a dream. It was real and I broke down.

Husband was allowed to stay in the hospital with me but I don’t think either of us got much sleep. When morning eventually came, I was desperate to get out the hospital. I was discharged about 11am and we drove back in the same taxi that had driven us the previous day. What I found really strange was, after having the operation I didn’t lose anymore blood. I remember going to the toilet for the first time and dreading it and yet there was nothing. Well, except this black dye which I had no idea what was from. I was scared. I’d just had an internal procedure to remove everything from the pregnancy in a hospital in a foreign country. What if they had done something to me? I mean, what if they had damaged something? Would I ever be able to have children? You hear about these horror stories of operations going wrong, could I have fallen victim to this?

When I miscarried, we were half way through our honeymoon. The next 3 days were spent mostly inside the hotel room because I wasn’t allowed to be in the sun for any length of time. I was scared to go swimming in case anything came out and I wasn’t in any mood to do anything. On the Friday before we were due to leave, I had to go back to the hospital to have a scan to make sure everything had been removed. I was seen by the same DR and he performed the scan which showed everything was clear. Everything was gone. He told us that sometimes these things happen and we were both still young and that there would be no reason why I couldn’t go on to have children in the future. I know he probably had to say these things because if they become emotional about these things they wouldn’t be able to do their jobs properly but I didn’t think there was any need for him to say the following “We’ve written a letter and documented everything for your DR so they don’t think you came to Portugal to have an abortion. We see this a lot with young women, because they think it’s cheaper to have it done outside the UK. This will show that you had a miscarriage.” And he handed me all my paperwork and off we went. I was dumbfounded. We were genuinely upset that we had miscarried and he thought we’d gotten a flight to come and have a cheap abortion. Although, it could explain why he was so off with us when we first arrived in the hospital.

We were glad to get home. The holiday had been a huge let down and it was nice to come home and get back to normal. The best way for us to deal with the miscarriage was to look at it as my body’s way of telling us that something wasn’t right with the pregnancy. It was as nature intended. It was how we coped. Nothing could have prepared me for the following month when I got my period though. It was heavy and full of clots. However it was a sign that perhaps I was fine inside. They hadn’t damaged me. When I came home I had to go to my DR to hand in my documents. At the appointment I was offered no leaflets, no place I could go to for support. I was simply told, again, that these things happen and we were young enough to try again in a few months.

I don’t think a lot about my miscarriage anymore. I feel it could be hard to talk to someone about it unless they had gone through it themselves. They could be scared they’d say the wrong thing. This is probably the first time I’ve told anyone everything that happened. I felt like no one would want to talk about something so sad. However, since becoming a mum, I have started talking to more and more women who come out and tell me they have also suffered miscarriages. One in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage and yet no one really wants to talk about it. I was glad to hear that I wasn’t alone. Maybe knowing that there are other people out there who have suffered a loss of a pregnancy will make us want to talk more. It has certainly helped me.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tummy Ache Board Game Review

I love board games however Wee Z isn't at an age where he could really understand games like Monopoly, Cluedo and Trivial Pursuit. This is why I love some of the games made by Orchard Toys. They are something a bit different, made especially for the younger children.

My Mum recently bought Wee Z a game called Tummy Ache. This is a fun filled food game where you have to be the first to complete your place setting for dinner. You can choose a drink, some vegetables, a carbohydrate, a protein and a delicious dessert to make up a lovely, healthy meal. Whilst doing this, you need to avoid the Tummy Ache cards which are bits of unhealthy food covered in yucky bugs!

This is a great game that we have all enjoyed playing together. There is a real excitement about who is going to finish their board first and a group moan when someone has to shout out "Tummy Ache!" That's what I love about board games; we can all join in and play together. And the fact that there are games out there suitable for Wee Z's age group is fantastic.

Tummy Ache is also a good learning game as it is helping Wee Z learn about the different food groups and what healthy food is whilst still having fun. The game is suitable from ages 3+ and for 2-4 players. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone.

This review is purely of our own. We haven't received anything for writing this post.

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