Friday, 28 February 2014

Me & Mine #2

I can't believe we're another month down in 2014!

This month I've not been well and it has taken it's toll. I'm tired, sore and more tired. I have to take medicine to help my heart every day. I'll have to wait at least 3 months before I have my next lot of tests but at least I'm on the right medicine to help me until then. Also this month, I've loved buying pretty shoes and booking a very special and exciting holiday.

Husband has been working hard both at work and at home. He took a week off work to decorate Wee Z's room and the hall (hence the messy clothes). He did a fantastic job!

Wee Z enjoyed seeing The Lego Movie with his Daddy. He enjoyed being off school and building lots with Lego. He also had a great time at his best friend's bowling party.

Miss C has loved going horse riding and visiting Build a Bear for a special treat. She has also enjoyed playing Reading Eggs on the Kurio and learning to read letters and words herself.

dear beautiful

The Obsidian Pebble - Book Review

Wee Z received The Obsidian Pebble by Rhys A Jones to review. He loves reading stories like Harry Potter and Beast Quest so this book sounded right up his street.

The book is aimed at young teens but because Wee Z has enjoyed reading Harry Potter himself, I knew he'd enjoy The Obsidian Pebble. It's a story of friendship, adventure and mystery.

The book is about a boy called Oz, who lives with his Mum in a haunted house. His Mum wants to move house but Oz loves the house and the wonder and mystery it holds. It also reminds him of his Dad who passed away.

Oz and his friends, Ellie and Ruff, wonder around the house when they hear footsteps in one of the rooms. This room is Oz's Dad's study, which has been locked up since he died. They manage to get inside and Oz finds a parcel addressed to him, sent by his Dad the day before he died. Inside the parcel is the obsidian pebble which holds amazing powers and a clue to a big secret.

Oz starts his journey of adventure that tie the obsidian pebble, his father and him together. He's not the only one trying to solve the mystery of Penwurt. He also discovers much darker secrets than he bargained for.

We really enjoyed reading this book. Some parts Wee Z read himself whilst other parts I read with him. It was a bit slow to start with however, the characters were really well introduced and described to us and I felt like I got to know them well. Ellie and Ruff kind of reminded me of Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter.

I think both teens and adults would enjoy reading this book. It's a good mix of adventure, mystery and there are some funny bits thrown in for good measure. The mystery keeps you reading to try and find out what is going to happen and I think a sequel to this book would be well received.

We received this book for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Flashback Friday - Meeting Snow White

I was browsing through my photos, deciding which one to use for Flashback Friday, when I came across this one of Miss C at Disneyland.

In the Princess Pavilion, you can queue for a good hour, maybe more, to meet the beautiful Princesses from the Disney films. We queued every day we were in the park to see who we could meet.

On our second day, I was really hoping we'd get to meet Rapunzel*. Miss C was really hoping she'd get to meet Snow White. Having only ever seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs once, I wasn't sure why she wanted to see Snow White over any of the other Princesses but she did.

The best bit of the Princess Pavilion is that you don't know which Princess you are going to meet. There are always two Princesses on at a time and they are in separate rooms. You can show Cast Members your autograph book to try and avoid seeing the same Princess again though. They were pretty good that way.

When we walked into the room and saw Snow White, Miss C was delighted and her face was stuck in that huge smile throughout her meeting.

Her face is what made our Disney holiday magical.

*We met a family we knew from back home at Disneyland Paris (of all places) and found out that they had managed to meet Rapunzel that day!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Guilty Pleasures #TheGallery

I have quite a few guilty pleasures but none are as guilty as the pleasure I get from buying shoes.

I. Love. To. Buy. Shoes.

I have high shoes, flat shoes, tall boots and Ugg boots. I adore shoes. I'd happily buy a pair every day of the week. Of course, I don't need these shoes. I just love buying them.

At the moment, I am saving up to buy myself what I think is the ultimate pair of shoes...Christian Louboutins. Husband offered to paint the soles of a black pair of shoes red for me...It was almost an instant divorce.

I have such an addiction to shoes but because I can't always justify spending money on shoes like the two pairs of Carvela shoes I bought recently, I buy lots of shoes for the kids. Mainly Miss C.

Miss C currently owns around 11 pairs of shoes. She has a mix of boots, flats, high-tops, pumps and wellies. A girl needs a pair of shoes for any occasion!

My biggest guilty pleasure...buying shoes.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Top Dinosaur Activities for Kids in London

London is truly a vast city and the amount there is to see and do is staggering. ­By far the biggest city in the UK, navigating the attractions and seeing all the sights can feel like a mammoth task in England’s capital. For families with children, there are so many things to do clamouring for the attention of parents and kids alike that working out where to keep your kids entertained on your next trip to London can be tough. With all this fantastic variety and staggering choice, going in without a topic to focus on is madness, so here’s a list of some of the best options for fun things to do with children who love dinosaurs (so pretty much all children then!). There are plenty of great value London Travelodges to stay at in the capital, so if more than one of these great days out appeal to you or your dino-mad kid, you make a fun-filled weekend of it without the scary price tag!

Jurassic Encounter Adventure Golf
On a grander scale than your average mini golf, the World of Golf Jurassic Encounter sends your family on a foray into a world filled with towering to-scale dinosaur models. There’s all the usual entertainment of the fun-filled nature of mini golf, and with no need for a booking you can pop in at any time, seven days a week. You can even book yourself a night-time golf session, but watch out – many of those dinosaurs move and roar! The whole setting is lushly decorated to make you feel like you’re on a Jurassic Park style adventure with your family, and kids are bound to love the dinosaur themed take on this classic family activity.

The Natural History Museum
For dinosaur mad kids or adults alike, this is the essential place to go when you visit London. Full of intricate detail about the beasts that walked the earth in prehistoric times, the fascinating displays are sure to capture the imaginations of children who have never shown an interest in dinosaurs before. This can be a real learning experience and you can gain a fascinating insight in o what the world was really like when dinosaurs were around. The Natural History Museum also run a sleepover service for a minimum of 5 children and 1 adult. Dino-snores is a great treat for dino-fans who want to spend the night surrounded by the museum’s towering skeletons and spectacular displays.

Walking With Dinosaurs Live
At the 02 Arena, the worldwide phenomenon show seen in 217 cities by over 8 million people is still going strong. The show boasts 20 life-sized dinosaurs in a display full of wonder and spectacular quality models. It’s the closest you can get to letting your children see real dinosaurs, and when you hear them roar and see them walk, viewers young or old may forget that they’re just replicas!

Many children are fascinated by dinosaurs, almost inherently, but whether you've got an adamant fan already or not, these amazing attractions are bound to capture your kid’s imagination and give them memories to cherish for a very long time.

Featured post

What's the Story? #22

This picture seemed fitting to post this week as my Sister announced her engagement on Saturday! This is my Sister and I on my wedding day and, some day soon, my Sister and I will have to take the same picture except she'll be the one wearing a wedding dress!

Congratulations Sis!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Week That Was #7

Last Sunday, Miss C had a horse riding lesson. She was so excited to see Jokey again and she got to ride him again. She did really well and tried hard on her "up, down". We came home and had pancakes for lunch. The kids spent the afternoon playing whilst I got on with the ironing and Husband got on with the decorating. I took the kids to their swimming lessons and we came home to chicken curry for tea.

On Monday, after a routine GP appointment, I ended up at A&E. It was a scary ordeal. Thankfully, Husband was at home, off work to decorate, and he was able to look after the kids. It's at times like these, I wish we lived closer to family.

On Tuesday, after more blood tests, I left hospital still no further forward but with lots of pills to take. I decided to stay off work for a few days to recover. Husband carried on with the decorating and Miss C and I watched TV and played with her toys. Wee Z had his after-school club and I took a walk down to the school to collect him. There's only so much sitting about a Mum can do!

On Wednesday, I woke up feeling a bit better. I took the kids to school and nursery and came home to chill out for a bit. By lunch time, I was ready for a nap and I fell asleep on the couch after lunch with Miss C. I woke up in time to pick up Wee Z and felt drained by the time I got to school. Some of the pills I have to take have an "excessive tiredness" side effect. As if I'm not already tired enough as a Mum!

On Thursday, it was a miserable day. I dropped the kids off at school and nursery and came home to get showered. Husband was busy with more decorating and managed to finish the hall and put my new curtains up. I walked to get Miss C as I really needed some fresh air and, thankfully, the rain was holding off. We spent the afternoon in my bed watching TV as I was so tired. It was raining when I had to pick Wee Z up so I took the car. We had a dentist appointment and we were all given the thumbs up from our dentist - thank goodness!

On Friday, I dropped the kids off at school and nursery and headed to the supermarket to get my shopping. It was another horrid and windy day! I picked Miss C up from nursery, we had lunch and then we chilled on the couch for the day. I walked to pick up Wee Z as I needed some air. Thankfully the rain held off for us. Husband carried on with the decorating and managed to get most of Wee Z's room done.

On Saturday, I went back to work. I was exhausted throughout my shift and felt really unwell but I think that may be the tablets I'm taking and if they are for life, I'll just have to accept them and get on with things. After work, I came home and collected Wee Z to take him to his best friend's birthday party. They were going bowling. I decided to stay and help out, not that the boys needed any assistance. They had a great time and all got on great. No one was fighting or messing about and we didn't have to tell them off once. Wee Z came second at bowling and really enjoyed himself.

Silent Sunday #8

Saturday, 22 February 2014

365 Project 2014 Days 47 - 53

Day 47 - Miss C saying hello to one of the ponies at horse riding
Day 48 - A trip to A & E for me
Day 49 - Miss C enjoyed helping Daddy with the decorating
Day 50 - My friend gave me a nice card and a pill box for my medicine!
Day 51 - Cuddles with my girl
Day 52 - Spider-Girl
Day 53 - Wee Z at a bowling birthday party

Walks and Raindrops #CountryKids

It's been a wet and wild week
After a week where we thought
Spring might be making an early appearance
But this week proves it might not

A few days we managed out 
To get some fresh air
And blow away some cobwebs
That literally messed up our hair

But after the rain has been 
Apart from leaving puddles a plenty
It leaves these beautiful rain drops
Glistening and so dainty

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 21 February 2014

Flashback Friday - A Mother and Daughter Moment

This photo was taken at a friend's wedding where I was a Bridesmaid. Miss C was just 4 months old.

I love this photo so much. Miss C isn't too bothered by her Mummy giving her a big kiss in the photo but after it was taken she held up her hands to try and grab my face.

The wedding itself was beautiful and Miss C (and Wee Z) behaved very well even though it was a long day for us all.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Me & You #2

I went for something a bit different this month for Me & You. I decided to go with a photo of Wee Z and I. This was taken when we were walking home together, alone. Miss C stayed at home with Daddy. The opportunity to walk home alone with my boy...that's something that never happens.

Infact, alone time is something that rarely happens with Wee Z. When I'm not working lates, I put the kids to bed and I read them a book in their own room. That's the only time Wee Z and I have alone.

How crazy is that?

I spend lots of time just Miss C and I because she only goes to nursery for two and a half hours. I spend at least an hour and a half with her (if I'm working) before I have to collect Wee Z from school. She's had more one on one time with us than Wee Z has ever had even though he arrived before her.

We wouldn't change our little family, of course. We don't regret having Miss C when we did, NEVER. It just means we need to find some more creative ways to spend one on one time with Wee Z. And that day, to walk home, just me and him, was one of those creative ways.

We chatted and held hands and it was fantastic. If I could have found a longer way to walk home that day, I would have.

Learning to Read with Reading Eggs

We were asked if we'd like to trial the Reading Eggs programme, an online website designed to help children as young as 3 learn to read. Children can enjoy working through a one-on-one lesson so they can learn to recognise letters and read at their own pace. The lessons are designed to be fun and the idea of "learning whilst they play" is really promoted through the games in each lesson.

Miss C hasn't really shown any interest in learning to read. She loves to sit and have books read to her and she knows some words but she isn't keen on practising her reading or writing. We never push her as we know she'll do it in her own time. We also know that she knows a lot more that she lets on.

When I showed her Reading Eggs on the Kurio, (as the site can be used on iPad or Android systems) she couldn't wait to get started. She loved the little ant called Sam.

Children work through the lessons at their own pace. They can stop at anytime and resume their lesson where they left off. At the end of each lesson, children are rewarded with a new book and a new animal critter to add to their collection.

The lessons don't start by teaching letter sounds in alphabetical order. I wasn't surprised by this as when Wee Z started Primary 1, they started with the letter S as it does in the first lesson of Reading Eggs. This is to do with how frequently the letters appear in words so the children learn the sounds to read quicker.

Miss C is still working her way through the lessons and is really enjoying them. She loves the games and she is starting to recognise more words. I love that you can click on a word and it will tell you what it says and you then drag that word to the picture of the word. Your child also has to use their listening skills to pick up on what they are being asked to find.

Miss C was putting a sentence in the correct order after a few goes. It was only three words but to her, this was a big achievement.

We received an extended free trial of Reading Eggs in return for a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Day They Thought I was Having a Heart Attack

Monday started off as any normal Monday would in our house. I got the kids up for school and nursery, got my gym gear on as I didn't have to work until late and we went downstairs for breakfast. I made Wee Z his packed lunch, hung out the washing from the night before and got the kids in jackets and shoes and out the door.

It started to rain so we took the car to school. I rushed home to do my workout and get a shower before my DRs appointment at 10.15am. I'd made the appointment the week before. It was an appointment I'd been meaning to make for awhile because, for the last 2 years, I've been feeling unwell. I feel tired all the time, I get pains in my chest and down my left arm and I'm breathless after climbing the stairs or running after the kids. I'd mentioned it to the nurse a few times and she took some bloods so they could check me out. They all came back clear so I put it down to me being an exhausted Mum, who was probably just unfit.

So off I went to my appointment on Monday, thinking I'd probably have to have bloods taken again and wait for more results to come back saying nothing was wrong. But I think you know in yourself when something isn't right and you just need that one DR to agree with you.

I was seen quite quickly and the DR took one look at me and said, "Wow, you are super stressed right now aren't you?" She listened to my heart, took my blood pressure and as she did this, I started getting pains in my chest. She told me she was going to call an ambulance. I didn't want a fuss, I knew the pain would pass but she told me she had to phone one, especially with a history of heart disease in my family at a young age.

I had a spray of glyceryl trinitrate, which is spray under the tongue that basically helps open up the arteries in to the heart and pump more oxygen to it. The spray didn't taste of anything, so it wasn't unpleasant to do until I got the sorest head you could imagine. It just came on, straightaway. The ambulance was there pretty quickly and I was taken out, through the waiting room, to have a heart trace done. I was shaking. They couldn't do the trace so they set off for hospital.

I wasn't scared as such. I didn't think I was going to die and what would happen to the kids?! What would happen to Husband? How would he cope? No, none of those thoughts came in to my head. I worried about Husband remembering to pick Miss C up from nursery. I worried about the mince not getting taken out of the freezer for dinner the next day. I worried about not being able to go to work that night.

When I got to hospital I was hooked up to the heart rate monitor. I had my blood pressure checked and I had an ECG. I had an xray of my chest and I had blood taken. I hate having blood taken.

I was admitted on to the ward and told I'd be kept over night to have my bloods done. It wasn't fun. I was surrounded by people who were not double but treble my age. I didn't feel like I belonged. I felt like a fraud. I'd had 4 aspirin and my glyceryl spray and I felt better. I wanted to go home.

The next day I had more blood taken and I waited for my results before I was able to go home. My bloods came back normal and thankfully, there was no damage to my heart.

I still have to have more tests done but I suspect I may have angina. We have a history of heart disease in my family so I think I'm bound to get it one day. I don't think the DRs want to confirm that as I am so young. I think they want to put it down to stress. I may be stressed at the moment but I haven't been stressed for the last two years.

When I was born, I had a heart murmur which prompted a scan on my heart that showed I had a hole in my heart. Over time it closed itself but because I didn't have scans once it closed, you never know what may be going on in there.

My next tests are the treadmill test so they can see how my heart responds to the exercise. It will be a test in itself for me to get on a treadmill. I'm also being referred to the respiratory clinic to have tests done there as I definitely shouldn't be so out of breath as I am now. I don't smoke anymore, I rarely drink and I'm not overweight.

I have to take an aspirin every day, 3 beta blockers a day and use my glyceryl trinitrate as and when I need too. I'm trying not to use that because it gives me such a horrible headache.

I'm just glad to be home with the kids and Husband. Can you imagine being told, under the age of 30, that you're being sent to hospital because they think you are having a heart attack? It has certainly opened my eyes and put life into perspective.

Weather #TheGallery

It's been great to finally see some sunny days this month after a rather dark and damp January. I'd quite happily live in a country where the sun shone all year round. I love it when we get a really hot Summer. You'll never hear me complaining that it's too warm after a few days.

I love this photo of Miss C on the slide. If she didn't have her big Winter jacket on, the blue sky and white clouds would have you believing it was Summer. I really can't wait for Summer to arrive now. If it's a Summer like the one we had last year, I'm looking forward to lounging by the pool and playing in the park.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Butterfly and The Birthday Surprise - Book Review

We received another book from The Fairies of Blosson Bakery to review; Butterfly and The Birthday Surprise. Miss C and I really enjoyed the previous titles we received, so we couldn't wait to read this book.

This book is about fairy Butterfly. She likes things to be done just as she wants so, of course, only she can do it. It's almost her birthday and Butterfly has been hard at work planning herself the perfect birthday party. Her friends want to help so Butterfly gives them some jobs to do. Everything has to be spot on for Butterfly to be able to enjoy her party. Her dress has to be perfect. Her cake has to be amazing. Everything has to go just as Butterfly has planned.

Sadly, it doesn't go to plan when it starts to rain and the fairies have to think quick to save Butterfly's birthday from being a complete disaster.

Butterfly and The Birthday Surprise is beautifully illustrated. It's very girly and pretty. It's a really nice story to read and shows just how important a strong friendship is through good times and bad times.

We can't wait to read the other stories in The Fairies of Blossom Bakery.

What's The Story? #21

I've been thinking about our cat Casper this week, who had to be put to sleep in May last year after he was poisoned. He would have turned 3 this year. Such a short life but I really hope he had the best of his short life with us. He was very loved.

I have always been around cats, ever since I was a baby. This photo is of my cat, Brigadoon. We had her when we lived in Mexico. My Stepdad was never a cat fan but living with three women who loved cats and a stepdaughter who tried to bring cats home with her (that was me!), he had to give in eventually. 

I think we got Brigadoon from a pet shop but I don't remember well. She was a house cat though, as when we got her, we stayed in a thirteen storey flat and we were on the top floor. When we moved to our new house, she escaped through one of the open windows. She came back a few days later and then a few months later, she had kittens. 

She had a litter of six kittens but only three of them made it. Brigadoon was quite young when she had her kittens, I think she was only a year, so still a baby herself. The three remaining kittens were gorgeous. I remember we called one of them Lightening because he was pure white with little grey stripes that looked like lightening.

When we moved back to the UK, we had to leave Brigadoon behind. We made sure she went to a good home and we heard she had another litter of kittens. I think she went to the vet after that and got dressed.

We Have A Little Horse Rider #MagicMoments

Miss C started horse riding a few weeks ago. She'd been asking to go for awhile but I wasn't sure she'd enjoy it. Horse riding is somewhat different from the pony rides you can go on for a couple of pounds at the park. For starters, these horses aren't Shetland ponies!

We took her for a half hour lesson to start. When they brought the horse she was going to ride out, I thought Miss C might panic and refuse to get on. She did get on him though. She was smiling and clapping the horse, who is called Jokey. A very Scottish name!

She had a leader beside her so I knew she'd be safe but we were still worried that as soon as she started walking, she'd burst in to tears. She didn't though. She was beaming all the way round. Half way through her lesson, she was trotting and practising her "up, down" and loving it.

When her half hour was up, she came in to the middle to dismount and lead Jokey back to his stall. She was grinning from ear to ear. She said goodbye to him and came to meet me. She looked in to the barn where the lesson was still going on. She asked why she had to leave early and said she wanted to stay for the hour.

So yesterday, Miss C went for an hour. She hadn't been on Jokey five minutes when she came passed me and said, "Mummy, how do I make Jokey jump? When are we going to run?"

It seems we have a little horse rider in the making.

As a result of this, Miss C has given up karate. I was kind of sad she didn't want to go but she wasn't enjoying it and it was a battle to get her to go every week. Seeing her beaming as she was riding showed us just how much our little girl knows her own mind and what she does and doesn't like.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Week That Was #6

Last Sunday, we were up early for Wee Z's karate competition. Wee Z did really well and won all his fights. He went into a final and fought really well. It came down to a draw by the buzzer and it was first to a point which, sadly for us, the other boy got. We were super proud of Wee Z! After lunch, Husband got on with some DIY and then I took the kids for their swimming lessons. Wee Z swam his first length of the big pool. He got to the end and was ready to swim back the way!

On Monday, the kids and I were on holiday. In the morning we played a game of Cars Monopoly. Miss C got fed up halfway through however, as she'd already bought property, we carried on taking her turn for her. She ended up winning! After lunch we met a friend and her daughter and nephew at the park. The kids were covered in mud. Needless to say, my car needed a good clean! The kids had fun though.

On Tuesday, we met up with Wee Z's best friend, his Mum and his cousin at soft play. The kids had a great time running around and getting rid of some energy whilst we chatted over tea and coffee. After soft play, I took the kids to Pizza Hut for lunch and we had a nosey around the shops. When we got home, it started to snow. It didn't come to much though.

On Wednesday, the last day of the holidays, my Grandma came to visit. We went for lunch at a yummy Chinese restaurant and had a nosey in the shops in town. We had a coffee in our favourite cafe and then GG had to get her bus back home. The kids decided to decorate a cardboard box when we got home.

On Thursday, it was back to school and nursery for the kids. No work for me as I'm on holiday until Monday. I picked Miss C up from nursery and it was freezing cold outside. We ran home to get a heat. We had lunch and practised her reading on Reading Eggs. By school pick up time, it was pouring with rain so we took the car to get Wee Z. The kids spent the rest of the afternoon making sure the house was clean and tidy. I don't know what they were after but I wasn't going to argue with them!

On Friday, after going for my food shopping, I picked up Miss C from nursery. It was a really horrible day but we did manage to walk home from nursery. We had lunch and then I did some ironing whilst Miss C watched Doc McStuffins. By the time it was school run time, it was pouring with rain. We ran to school and ran back to the car but ended up soaked. It was home to a bath and jammies to warm up. Wee Z had his karate class which Husband took him too whilst Miss C and I stayed at home, cosy and warm.

On Saturday, we got up and dressed for karate. Husband went off to the DIY shops to pick up some things for the decorating jobs he has for next week. After karate, we came home for lunch and Wee Z and Husband played Wee Z's Lego Star Wars game. They said it was a bit like playing chess. Wee Z and Husband were off to see the Lego Movie, so Miss C and I dropped them off and we headed to the shopping centre nearby. Miss C's first stop was Build a Bear where she got a lovely multi-coloured bear called Lulu complete with shorts, t-shirt and backpack. We bought some cupcakes from the cupcake stall and then I decided to treat myself to some new Carvela Kurt Geiger shoes. Not one, but two pairs. A girl can never have too many shoes.

Silent Sunday #7

Saturday, 15 February 2014

365 Project 2014 Days 40 - 46

Day 40 - Bacon and egg roll for lunch - a runny egg is a must
Day 41 - Miss C was trying to clean her muddy water
Day 42 - Pizza Hut for lunch 
Day 43 - Waiting for Chinese to arrive - another day out for lunch
Day 44 - Walking home from nursery
Day 45 - Miss C got a Valentine's card
Day 46 - Coco Pops for breakfast - yum!

Acorn Planting #CountryKids

It was our week of Half Term
And on one sunny day
We went to the country park
For some air and a play

The kids found some acorns
Whilst searching the woods
They decided to plant them 
In the ground where they stood

They used sticks as shovels
To dig up the ground
They made a small hole
For the acorn they'd found

After the planting
It was on to the park
To have some fun on the swing
Before it got dark
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 14 February 2014

Flashback Friday - The One With The Gladiators

Back in 2009, we got to see some Gladiators up close. This is Atlas (on the left) and Warrior. We saw them at a local theme park. There was quite a crowd gathered around to see them. There were also some female Gladiators there, Amazon and Tempest. It was strange to see them in the flesh but also quite cool. Sadly John Anderson wasn't there to shout, "Gladiator, ready!"

I loved watching The Gladiators when I was younger. It was the highlight of our Saturday night. I always wanted to have a shot on the end assault course, the Eliminator. My favourite female Gladiator was Lightening and my favourite male Gladiator was Cobra although we all liked Wolf when he came on. Husband's favourite was Jet and he still has a thing for her if he sees her on TV now.

We watched the new series when it came on TV a few years ago but it wasn't the same as the old one. It was still fun to see some of them in the flesh and to see Tempest pulling her pants out her bum. I didn't get a picture of that though!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Why I Quit Smoking for Good

Smoking has been in the news a lot recently. There are talks to make it illegal to smoke in a car when there are children in the car. I don't understand why you would even think about smoking in a car with a child in the back or front seat but obviously people do this and I do agree that it should be banned.

I used to be a smoker, many moons ago. I gave up before we decided to start trying for a baby. I was never a heavy smoker, maybe 10 a day if I was lucky, so I didn't really think of using anything to give up. Not like Husband, who has tried patches, gum and the newly popular Vype electronic cigarettes. One day I just decided to stop and I did. I didn't want to be pregnant and still be trying to give up smoking. I wanted my clothes to stop smelling of smoke. I wanted to taste food properly again!

Of course, it was hard. There were mornings when I had my coffee and my fingers were itching to hold something alongside my mug. When we went out to the pub, I craved a cigarette the more alcohol I drank. I stayed strong though and I've not had a cigarette in 9 years.

Husband is still a smoker but it doesn't bother me. I'm used to the smell. We send him outside to smoke though. It's one thing smelling it off him but it's quite the other to have the house stinking of smoke. Whether he'll stop one day is up to him. I wouldn't force him as he has to want to stop. For me though, it was the best decision I ever made. I know I've made the best decision for my kids too.

Featured post.

Miss C's Picks From the New Playmobil Catalogue

Wee Z is our Lego fan whilst Miss C is a HUGE Playmobil fan. She adores her Pony Farm she got for Christmas from Bella and Pops and constantly plays with her campervan Santa brought her.

Last week we received the new Playmobil catalogue. We are Playmobil Playologists so we were excited to see what new toys Playmobil have in store for their fans in 2014.

They have not disappointed.

Miss C was straight on to the couch with the catalogue and her pen, circling everything she wanted for her birthday and for Christmas. That was pretty much everything! She is mega organised since her birthday isn't until May and Christmas has only just been.

Her favourite ranges are Country, City Life, Wildlife and Summer Fun. She also loves all the little animal sets you can buy. She has quite a few of those.

Miss C's top picks from the Playmobil catalogue are as follows:

The speckled horse with stall set. Miss C loves her horses and she says she'd like this one because, "I want a spotty horse!" Can't argue with that really, can you?

The campsite. This set looks really fun with the tent, the toilets and the kiosk. Miss C already has the campervan so a campsite would be a great addition to her collection. Miss C also likes it because there is a black and white cat included, who looks a bit like Felix. (Miss C will spot the animal in a Playmobil set before anything else!)

The Grande Mansion. This is a really impressive house. It should be at how much it costs! However, I don't mind spending the money on Playmobil because everything is so well made and durable. I remember lusting over one of these houses back when I was a kid. I'd admire it through the perspex display case in the fancy department store we used to go to. I never got one, sadly. Whether Miss C will have this from Santa depends on how well behaved she is. And how much overtime Daddy does.

The Furnished Shopping Mall. This set is seriously impressive. It isn't available to buy until July and it's another investment toy but it looks so fun! I'm sure I read that the cash machine actually dispenses Playmobil money! How cool is that? It also has a lift just like the Playmobil Hotel (another one on Miss C's Christmas list!) and you can buy extra bits for it including a woman walking her dogs which was the first thing Miss C spotted, naturally.

Last on her top picks is the Animal Ark. It's not available to buy until April so it's a definite possibility for her birthday. She loves it because of the animals. It looks a really good set and you can buy extra animals such as meerkats in their den or an African Savanah with lots of other wild animals.

Looks like I better get saving!

Do you have a Playmobil fan? What are your favourite toys from the new catalogue?

Hedgehugs - Book Review

We received Hedgehugs from Marverick Books to review. This book is written and illustrated by husband and wife team, Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper who also run an online business called Lucy's World.

Hedgehugs is the story of 2 hedgehogs, Horace and Hattie, who are the best of friends. They do everything together, although, they do spend some time apart doing their own thing. The one thing they can't do though, is share a hug. They are just too prickly!

Horace and Hattie try to think of ways to hide their spikes so they can have a cuddle. They try fruit and end up all sticky. They also try leaves but the leaves are too rough.

When they spot some socks on a washing line, Horace has a great idea. He puts one on and makes a hole for his face to fit through. Hatties copies him. Their spikes are covered by the sock and they can finally have a hug!

Hedgehugs is such a sweet book. Another favourite for Miss C as she loves animals. I loved how the story went through the seasons as the hedgehogs tried to find things to cover up their spikes. The book is beautifully illustrated with lovely pastel colours which make it very calming to look at. The story is easy to read too. It's a lovely bedtime book!

We received Hedgehugs for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Biff and Chip? I'd Rather Read Harry Potter Mum!

Wee Z loves reading. He'll read anything. I dread walking in town where there may be some obscene graffiti because Wee Z usually reads it and asks me what the word means!

His love for reading and his ability to read so well means he loves reading books like Harry Potter at home. He's read all of The Secret Seven books and also enjoys the Beast Quest series.

You can imagine his frustration at having to read Biff and Chip books for homework. He enjoys reading them to me but it's often met with, "Do I have to read this? I'd much rather read Harry Potter!"

The thing that frustrates me about his homework books though is, the school knows how well Wee Z can read. I also hate Biff and Chip and the Magic Key. I have, on occasion, fallen asleep listening to Wee Z reading the books to me. Whether this is through sheer exhaustion or boredom, I'm not entirely sure.

Whilst reading his latest homework book, The Strange Box (a stage 11 book), I decided to test Wee Z. The homework books do have questions in them at the beginning of the book, a mixture of comprehension questions and word recognition questions. We cover these off but I also like to test Wee Z on his knowledge of words to make sure he knows what a word means. The word sinister came up. I asked Wee Z if he knew what the word meant. He said, "It means threatening or..." I proffered evil and, just before I finished saying the word, Wee Z came out with "...Ominous"

And that was why we only read his homework book once that week and read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the rest of the week.

HP Slate 21 - Review

Just before Christmas, we took delivery of the HP Slate 21 HD tablet to review. I set it up myself before Husband came home from work. As soon as he walked through the door, even though he was soaking wet and still in his bike gear, he was straight over to it to have a shot. The kids were fascinated with it too.

The HP Slate looks great in glossy white with a silver trim. It was really sturdy once set up but it isn't as heavy as it looks.

So what is the HP Slate? It's a 21 inch, all-in-one desktop that comes with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It has a 1080p IPS panel touch screen and it's really bright and clear to look at. It comes with 8gb of storage, which I felt was a bit small for a tablet-come-desktop but you can buy a memory card as it has a memory card slot. It also has 3 USB ports so you can upload pictures from a camera on to it and it has an Ethernet connection so you could plug in to your main Internet connection instead of using WI-FI.

How easy is it to set up and use? It's really simple to set up. I managed it myself! You take it out the box, plug in the power cable and switch it on. It works best on a flat surface so we put it on our kitchen counter. Although it has tablet features, you couldn't carry the HP Slate around with you or sit it on your lap like a regular tablet. It comes with a kickstand attached so you can adjust the HP Slate to suit you. It can also be mounted to a wall to save space.

The touch screen response is fairly good. Sometimes we had to touch the screen a bit harder for the touch to register and other times it was really sensitive. You can enlarge and minimise the screen as you would on a normal tablet or smartphone.

What features does it have? Because it has the Android system built in, you can download apps from the play store. The first one we downloaded was Candy Crush. I also downloaded some cooking apps as I think if I were to buy the HP Slate, I would mainly use it for checking out recipes and following them on screen. YouTube was another popular one for us as the kids loved watching all the funny animal clips and listening to the Frozen songs!

The HP Slate has a 720p front facing camera so it's great for using Skype or for video chats or Google+ Hangouts. The sound quality was really good and we found that having it set at a volume level of 30 was loud enough for us still to hear the Slate from the living room.

What did we like about it? I found it was really handy if I needed to just check my emails before dinner or for linking up a blog post to something. We used the Chrome app to surf the web and I used it for checking train times for going to the City Centre and for prices for Husband's PS4 for his birthday. The kids loved playing "giant Candy Crush!" and watching Frozen songs on YouTube. Husband just loved having another gadget to play with.

What didn't we like about it? There wasn't anything we didn't like about it. The only thing that would put me off buying one is the price and the lack of it being portable. At £329.00 (currently) it isn't cheap and I'd probably spend that sort of money buying a really good 10 inch tablet that I could carry around with me, take on holiday or use for keeping the kids amused on long journeys.

The HP Slate is a great idea but with so many other gadgets out there, I'm not sure the HP Slate will be at the top of the technology list.

We received the HP 21 Slate on loan for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Our Little Karate Champ

On Sunday, we were up early for Wee Z's karate competition. The competition was an in house one to encourage the kids and give them the competition experience. Wee Z has been to a few now and always does well, but has never won. He's come in second a few times though which is a great achievement!

The competition is put together by height categories. At 3 foot 9, Wee Z is the tallest in the 3 foot 9 and under category for the boys. He has been in the category since he started his competitions and I think he'll have moved up to the next category by the time his next competition comes around.

Wee Z was the only orange belt in his group. The rest of the boys were yellow belts or white belts. All of them were shorter than Wee Z. One of them was the same height as Miss C! We didn't think it was fair on the other boys however, until he grows an inch, he can't move to the next group with the boys his age and at his ability.

He won his four fights and went on to the final against a yellow belt of a similar height to him. It was an amazing final fight. The boy scored a point and then Wee Z scored a point. By the the time the buzzer went, they were drawn at 8 points each. It was first to a point. By this time, the boys had arrived for the next lot of competitions and his friends were shouting his name and encouraging him. Wee Z was fighting so hard, he had tears streaming down his face but he kept going. The referee, who is also their karate teacher, was really getting into it and I think he could see how much Wee Z wanted to win. We could see how much he wanted to win.

Sadly, the other boy got a kick in and scored the first point and won. As the ref called the winner, Wee Z's friends cheered for Wee Z as did their parents and grandparents. We were shouting for him and clapping for him. He may not have won but he did a fantastic job of taking second place.

We are so proud of Wee Z. He fought really well and it's just unfortunate it came down to the first to score as Wee Z would have won on overall points in his category . He has come on so much since his last competition and maybe next time, he'll come home with the trophy!

Monday, 10 February 2014

What's the Story? #20

Husband is in the throws of decorating again. He's just finished mounting the TV in our room and changing our bed around and will soon start work on a fully fitted wardrobe with mirrored doors. Then he's on to Wee Z's room.

Because of this, I felt a picture of my childhood bedroom would be appropriate.

This is my bedroom in the house I grew up in in Manchester. This is how it looked before we decorated it in a much nicer shade of baby blue. 

I loved Winnie the Pooh when I was growing up so my bedsheets had to be Winnie the Pooh. I also had a Tigger rug on top of a hideous teddy bear carpet. It was soon changed to a lovely blue one! 

My walls were adorned with posters of boys. Boys from boybands such as 911, 5ive and Backstreet Boys. There were some Friends ones on there too. And Kenny from South Park...he was my favourite. 

My cupboards were filled with books. My shelves held my cuddly toys, make up, nail polish and ornaments. 

I had a desk in my room where my TV and my CD player sat. I very rarely watched TV but I always had my CD player on. I still prefer music over TV. 

My childhood bedroom holds many memories for me. It's where my friends and I would gather for sleepovers, girly gossips and getting ready for parties. It's where I did my homework, listened to music and watched TV. It's where I'd hide if my Stepdad was home from work, not because he was bad to me or anything, just cause I was a teenager and I wasn't his biggest fan then. It's where I fell in love for the first time. It's where I cried when my heart was broken for the first and last time. It's where I discovered my love for writing and for taking photos. 

I have a lot to thank my childhood bedroom for. 

Sibling Moments #2

Sometimes my two get on like a house on fire. They are so considerate of each other. So loving towards each other. This photo is one of those moments.

They were lying together on a huge swing at the park and I told them to put their heads together so I could take a picture of them. Miss C put her hand up to pull Wee Z in closer. My heart melted.

The next day they argued a lot.

Life always has to have balance I suppose.

dear beautiful

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Week That Was #5

Last Sunday, we took Miss C for her first horse riding lesson. She loved it and can't wait to go back. We went for lunch at McDonalds and did some car window shopping. The kids had their new swimming lessons. Miss C did brilliant in her new class and Wee Z enjoyed being in the big pool for his lesson. He even got to jump in at the very deep end of the pool!

On Monday, it was back to school and nursery for the kids and back to work for me. When I got home, Miss C had been enjoying some snacks in bed whilst watching TV. Night shift is so hard for Husband when he has to watch Miss C before I get home from work. I wish we could afford childcare costs to help him out but it's just not an option so poor Husband survives his 13 hour shift on 4 hours sleep.

On Tuesday, when I got home from work, I had my lunch and then did my workout DVD. We picked Wee Z up from his after-school club and then Miss C started her Reading Eggs course (that we are reviewing) on the Kurio. She learned the M and S sounds. She definitely knows more than she lets on to us. She really enjoyed working through the games.

On Wednesday, Miss C wanted to play more games on Reading Eggs. She usually isn't bothered with numbers or letters so I was happy to hear she wanted to practise. She was very quickly putting a sentence in order! Amazing! We had a quiet afternoon when Wee Z came home.

On Thursday, it was my day off. I had an appointment at the Doctors to get my blood pressure checked. It was fine even though I'm really stressed out at the moment. I've to have a cholesterol test next time I visit which I'm a bit nervous of. There is a history of heart disease on my maternal side and having started to get slight pains in my chest and breathlessness, I think I'll have to suck up my fears and get on with it. Better to be safe! After my appointment, Miss C and I went into town. We got a Greggs for lunch and then did some shopping. We took Wee Z to karate after dinner. Miss C has decided she doesn't want to go back to karate. She prefers horse riding!

On Friday, the kids were off school for the February holidays. I think they've been back 4 weeks?! We went shopping to Asda in the morning and the kids had a great time helping me get fruit and vegetables and weighing them for me. After lunch, we headed down to the park as it was such a nice day. I even managed to hang my washing out! We met up with Wee Z's best friend and they played football with another boy from school whilst Miss C had me helping her on the zip-slide. We were covered in mud when we got home and we were freezing. We had a quick wash, got jammies on and had pizza for dinner. Wee Z went to his Friday club with his best friend. He didn't wear his jammies though!

On Saturday, I was working until 2pm. When I got home, Husband had made me a toastie and cup of coffee which I really needed. We went DIY shopping afterwards (not my idea of fun shopping) as we're going to be building some wardrobes in our room. Well, I say we, I mean Husband. The kids enjoyed watching Stitch The Movie after dinner with Wee Z going as far as saying it was better than Lilo and Stitch. I love Disney films but the sequels are never better than the originals...well, maybe Toy Story could be the exception...

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