Saturday, 30 April 2016

Me & Mine 2016 - April


April started off so beautifully weather wise which got us all very excited for day trips at the weekend and playing outside after dinner every night. Now, as I look out my living room window, it looks like it could snow. What is going on with the weather?!

Our photos this month were taken when we went on a fairy trail at a park we had never been to before. It really was a gorgeous day although still a bit chilly so we had to wrap up.

I've not had my usual busy month of college work because I had two weeks off for Easter holidays, plus a long weekend at the beginning of the month. The life of a student! Having said that, I did have work to do which all got done thanks to plenty of activities for the kids and a very understanding Husband. The Xbox may also have helped out too. I had my first two days of paid work which was brilliant. I loved it and can't wait to do more once I finish up college in June.

Husband enjoyed the long weekend but he didn't have the same luxury of two weeks off a week later. He's been working hard, as always, and even doing some DIY work for friends. He was very excited that Game of Thrones started back up again this week!

Z has had a brilliant month in terms of Karate. He got his brown belt and did well at a youth development day, fighting against children from other Karate clubs. He loved the Karate camp, especially when they learned a new Kata. Kata is probably his favourite part of Karate because it's very precise and it's something to master which is Z all over. He auditioned for a part in the school's Summer show, something he would never have done last year, and got a part which he is thrilled about.

Miss C adored having Jocky for a week during the Easter holidays. A full week of horse riding is Miss C's idea of heaven. In fact, she loves horse riding so  much she said to me this week whilst doing her homework, "why do I have to do this rubbish when I just want to ride horses all day?" I mean, I can see her point in a way but I did explain to her that if she wants to be a horse vet when she's older, she'll need to go to university so she has to stick in at school.


Hopefully as the clock turns at midnight and we welcome a new month, the month of May, the weather will start to improve again. May is an exciting month for us because we have quite a few birthdays in the family, the arrival of (another) new baby and, most importantly, our little girl turns 7.

The Me and Mine Project

Friday, 29 April 2016

Funny Things My Kids Say #41

Gosh I haven't posted one of these posts in almost a year! That's not because my kids haven't been funny; they are an absolute hoot! I just keep forgetting to post and then I completely forget what they've said that made us laugh so much. I think I'll start keeping a notebook so I can jot them down as they say them.

Miss C has recently been enjoying creating her own paper and cardboard beds for her toy animals. After constructing a two-storey apartment out of paper, glue and sellotape, she decided to move on to cardboard boxes. At first she was making another house for her toy guinea pig but then she decided to take her creations in another direction.

Husband was watching her and she said to him, "Dad I don't want to make a house for my hamster anymore, I'm going to make a place for sick animals!"

Husband replied, "like an animal hospital?" 

Miss C carried on with her cutting and sticking and, quite matter-of-factly said, "yes, but for horses...a horsetipal!"


Thursday, 28 April 2016

One Month From 7

In exactly one month, Miss C will turn 7.

It seems crazy that my baby girl is going to be 7. It's still closer to 5 than it is to 10 but she's getting further and further away from those really young girl days and turning into a proper little girl.

It's hard to remember those baby days but at the same time, I have visions of her as a baby, cuddling in for a feed or babbling away to her big brother, who she found hilarious, and it seems like only yesterday!

Miss C gets super excited for birthdays and Christmas. She loves presents; who can blame her really? She loves waking up on the morning of her birthday and seeing what presents she has to open.

She has asked for horse related items which comes as no surprise to us. She has also asked for lots of blind bag type toys. She has a few big toys such as her Sylvanian Families house and her Our Generation horses but she loves playing with small, plastic...lets be honest here...rubbish. She loves taking her little toys dogs in the shower or, more recently, she has enjoyed building paper and cardboard houses for a very small guinea pig.


I'm still deciding what to get for her. We decided that it won't be as much as she has previously had because she doesn't play with a lot of the stuff she already has and because we just don't have the space. A big present and a couple of small ones will be enough.


Miss C has such a fun personality and is definitely the joker of the family. Her motto for life really is to have as much fun as possible and laugh lots every single day. I hope that doesn't change as she turns 7 and gets closer and closer to those teenage years.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Beginning a New Chapter

When I decided to embark on the journey to a new career, my dream job, I was nervous of what it would be like. How would I cope being a mother, wife and mature student? Would I find it hard to get back into studying and academic writing? Would I be able to cope with researching, writing reports and meeting deadlines? All of these questions were floating around my head and yet I knew that, if I wanted to change my life, our lives, for the better...I had to take that step. Or rather jump. Very big, scary jump. Because to go back to college and qualify as an Early Years Practitioner, I had to leave a job that gave me a monthly wage...security...and hope to the high heavens that I made it through the first year.

Now, almost two years down the line, I'm a qualified Early Years Practitioner, and strengthening my qualification with further studying. There's a lot of talk in the news about whether Early Years Workers in England should have the minimum C grade in English and Maths in order to work with children in a nursery. That's a whole other post that I want to talk about but, here in Scotland, the steps are in place to make it a degree-led service. A Senior Lead Practitioner needs to have a BA in Childhood Practice by 2020 at the latest and if you want to have any sort of career structure, then you will need to have a BA before being able to move up the ladder.

I want a career structure. Whether I'll actually go in to management in years to come, who knows? But I'd like to have the option and, if all Early Years Practitioners are eventually going to need to have the degree, I may as well take the steps now whilst I'm still studying to do that.

So, despite being qualified from June 2015, I haven't been out working as an Early Years Practitioner. I continued my studies at college, however I was accepted on the Early Years Supply register in February which means not only am I a mature student, I'm employed again! Husband is thrilled that I am no longer a "lady of leisure". If only!

This is exciting because it means I can go out and actually work. I'm not "just a student"; I'm a person with responsibilities; there isn't the fallback of a mentor to observe me and help me out.

Tomorrow I will be working for the first time in almost 2 years and I'll be working in an environment I've wanted to work in since I went on work experience in a nursery at the age of 15.

I'm nervous but very excited. I'm not sure that it will be any different in terms of what I'm already doing as a student on placement, apart from being responsible for a group of children and wearing an ID badge. But this is the first step to the beginning of a new chapter for me; one where I love my job and feel like I'm doing something meaningful and rewarding with my work life.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Will Our Bathroom Kill Us?

OK so perhaps killing us is a bit extreme but our bathroom situation is certainly taking its toll. It's been a nightmare so far but hopefully the end will soon be in sight.

When the builders had to stop work because they thought that they had found asbestos in the wall despite Husband's pleas, we thought we'd be waiting until this week to get someone out to carry out an asbestos test. Who knew such a thing existed...it does. Thankfully, it was rushed through for us and a guy arrived on Thursday to take some samples.

As soon as the guy walked in to our bathroom he said, "oh yeah that's definitely asbestos! I'll take the samples of course, but you're looking at having the full thing ripped out if it is!"

Not being a good DIY person, physically or mentally, you would have thought the sound of ripping things out would push me to the brink of hilarity but it didn't. I have somehow made peace with my DIY issues and adopted the positive spin I try to put on everything else. I simply replied, "oh well, I'll have fresh everything in my bathroom then!" And off he went.

We were expecting the results yesterday at the latest but, of course, they weren't in. We actually got them today. I got a text from Husband at the end of my placement shift.

The results...negative for asbestos.

I had to laugh to myself. I shared the news with the girls. They had a laugh too when I said, "some professional asbestos tester that guy was...he was convinced it was asbestos!"

It was as Husband had said to the builders all along; the walls were crumbling and made it look like the dust might be asbestos dust.

Regardless, I can understand why the builders had to do what they had to do. I wouldn't risk my job over something that could potentially be a huge health risk and nor should they.

But, our bathroom has been sitting like this for over a week now...


We're just waiting for a start date which is really unlikely to be this week and I can't imagine it being next week which puts us almost 3 weeks behind an already well overdue schedule.

This bathroom better be spectacular when it is finished.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Importance of Play-dates

During the Easter break, the kids had plenty of, what we call "play-dates". Essentially these are days when their friends come over to play or they go to a friend's house to play. 

I know some people who find the idea of entertaining other people's children a complete horror story in the writing but I love them. I think it's great for the kids to have friends over to play.  The kids keep each other amused and it gives Z and Miss C a break from each other's company and my referee duties. I can see it being our house, in years to come, that will be full of teenagers on a Friday and Saturday night. Maybe even during the week too.

My love for play-dates seems to stem from when I was younger. When we stayed in Edinburgh, I loved having my next door neighbour over to play. During the school holidays and even after school or at weekends, she would come over just after breakfast and stay until tea time. Depending on the weather, she'd usually be back over until bedtime. We would ride our bikes up to the shops and back, play with our dolls and other toys or watch cartoons in my Gran's living room. 

Then we moved to Manchester, and I was a teenager by then so it wasn't so much about play-dates at the house but going out with friends. We'd go shopping in town, to the cinema or we'd have sleepovers at each other's houses.

The kids love their play-dates. During the Easter holidays, Miss C had a friend over to play at our house and they spent the day outside on the bikes and building dens for her horses. They sat together on the couch before dinner and watched a movie, and chatted away together whilst eating spaghetti and meatballs. On another day, she headed to her best friend's house and had so much fun painting and playing with the toys. Miss C is always asking when her next play-date or sleepover is. 

Z's play-dates consist of Xbox or the PS4. He loves going for a sleepover and, on the first day of the Easter holidays, he headed to one of his best friend's house for his birthday. They went to a trampoline centre, had a McDonalds for tea and played Pie Face until really late! We had another of his best friends over at our house after Karate; most of their time was spent on the Xbox. And he had his third best friend over for tea and a play at the park because the weather was so nice. 

I do love our family time together and I cherish the moments and memories we make as a foursome every weekend. But I also love to see the kids enjoying their time with their friends because that's also an important factor in the memories they make of their childhood. These friendships, which may (hopefully) last way in to their adult lives, are going to see them through some of the best times, the worst times and the hardest times of their lives. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

366 Project 2016 - Days 108 - 114

On Sunday, Miss C and I were up early for horse riding and Z went off with Husband to a Karate competition. Miss C decided to ride Bobby, who she hasn't rode in awhile, and I rode Piper but she was being a cheeky mare. Z did well at his Karate competition, which was more of a development day, by winning 2 fights. He lost two but there was only a point or two between him and his competitor. We spent the rest of the day getting the rooms ready for the builders arriving to do the decorating and had a slice of chocolate cake as an afternoon treat.


On Monday, it was the harsh reality of back to school. We were up and out the door for before 8am. The day itself went pretty quickly but by lunch time, I was ready for a snooze. Luckily I had already made dinner the night before so it was just a heat up job and the chili with rice was ready. Delicious!


It was such a beautiful day on Tuesday. Husband had taken the day off work to be there for the builders arriving. He did a few loads of washing for me and got them out to dry. The builders came at 10am and left by 2pm because of suspected asbestos. The full thing has been a complete nightmare. The kids enjoyed playing out on their bikes after dinner which is what I love about the better weather coming in!


Wednesday was another beautiful day although, sadly for me, I spent most of the day indoors, working away on college stuff. The kids did get out to play again and Miss C decided she wanted to read her school book outside with Daddy. Quite right! It could be raining any time soon knowing our luck.


On Thursday, I nipped in to college to hand in some coursework, picked up some bits in town and headed home to wait for the asbestos man to arrive to take some samples. I was told he would arrive between 11am and 2pm; why can't they just tell you a time? Like an appointment system? Thankfully he was with me at 11am and away within 15 minutes. We should get the results back on Monday and then see what happens next. It was another beautiful day; perfect for wearing sunglasses!


On Friday, I headed to college after dropping the kids off at school. It was a busy but quick day. The kids had their first school disco; well the first one that happened outwith the school day. The parent council did a wonderful job of organising the full thing and the kids had a brilliant time. Husband went along as the bouncer a parent helper and was showing all the kids how to rave! I asked Z if he was embarrassed by his Dad's dancing and he said he wasn't. We'll give it a few years I think.



Saturday was a fairly quiet day filled with jobs and chores. I headed to Asda with Miss C to get our food shop. Before lunch, Husband and I washed the cars. We even did our neighbour's car for her. Our good deed for the day. I caught up with Masterchef whilst doing my ironing! We headed out to the hotel for the night, taking my Stepdad along with us. The cat wanted to come too but he wasn't allowed. It was a fun night of watching Britain's Got Talent and eating crisps and sweets.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Simple Smoothies for Spring - Recipe

As the better weather arrives, I start to feel like I want to eat healthier. I find it hard to just sit and eat fruit though so the best way I've found to try and get a good intake of fruit is by making myself some smoothies.

I bought myself a smoothie maker ages ago and I have to say, I've definitely gotten my money's worth with the amount I use it in the Spring and Summer. The kids love the smoothies too, especially if I pour some mixture into the ice lolly moulds and freeze them. A very healthy and refreshing treat for those warmer days.


My favourite smoothie is probably something with lots of different fruits in it but the one I've been having the most recently is a strawberry, raspberry, mango and banana smoothie. It's quite filling and really yummy.

Ingredients

7 strawberries
A handful of raspberries
1 mango
1 banana
1 teaspoon of honey
Half a glass of orange juice (you could use any kind of juice though)

I put all of the ingredients into my blender, press the smoothie option and let it do the work.


I know some people add ice, natural yogurt and even protein mix into their smoothies to fill them up even more but I like the juice because it makes it a bit smoother. I also don't like really, really cold drinks so ice is a no-go!

What are your favourite smoothie mixes? I'd love to find some different recipes to try!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Nightmare Journey to a New Bathroom

We've been waiting to get the work started on our bathroom for almost 2 months now. It's been a bit of a nightmare to be honest and I can't wait until the full thing is finished!

It all started in February when we discovered that water had leaked into our downstairs bathroom. It turns out we had had a slow leak from the pipes in our shower which just happen to be concealed behind the tiles in the bathroom upstairs. Husband had to take one of the tiles off the wall to fix it and disaster struck; the wall came off with the tile and the wall behind the shower was falling to bits. Clearly this slow leak had been happening for awhile.

We called our home insurance company and they arranged for a surveyor to come out and check the damage. After paying a hefty excess (because it was loss of water), we eventually saw the first surveyor (yes, there was more than one) about a week and a bit after instigating our claim. They inspected the damage, which had also gone in to my office downstairs and partially out into our upstairs hall, and said that it would all be replaced and repaired.

We were hoping to hear back with a materials list and conformation of the amount we could spend on flooring, tiles and paint but they came back to us and told us they were fully booked for 6 weeks and would pass the work on to one of their sub-contractors so they could get in and do the work sooner.

We heard from this second company about a week later and they said they would have to come out and do their own survey. This took another week. So almost 4 weeks down the line, we still hadn't had any work done.

The second surveyor came out, inspected all the damage and left with their report and photos.

We waited. And we waited. And we waited some more.

Husband was calling the first building company back pretty much every day. The report hadn't been received was the general excuse. Promises of it being chased up. When he called the second company, he had no joy either. It was like pass the buck between the two. No one wanted to admit fault. We found out after numerous phone calls that the second surveyor had sat with the report, waiting to email it for 2 and a half weeks!

At this point we were just about to begin the Easter holidays. Of course, with me being off for the full two weeks, it would have been pretty handy to get the workmen in then. But after making a huge complaint to the insurance company (who couldn't believe that the work hadn't started), we eventually got a start date for yesterday. Ironically, had we stuck with the first builder, the work would have already started about a week and a half ago.

It's been a complete hassle with Husband having to phone back and forth between three different companies (the insurance and two builders) and having to arrange to take time off work to be at home when the builders are in. We've got alternative accommodation after another company had to step in and handle the full thing but we still have a massive complaint in because it has been so poorly handled and very inefficient. The most frustrating part is when people say they'll call you or have a manager call you and then don't follow through with this. We've had this from all three companies.

So the workmen arrived yesterday to start ripping our bathroom out, putting up new walls, new tiles and new flooring. Husband had taken the day off and I was scheduled to take the rest of the week off to save Husband taking unpaid leave. They arrived around 10am by which point I'd already done almost half a shift at my work!

When I got home at 4pm, the builders had gone already. I couldn't believe it. But then Husband dropped the asbestos bombshell.

Apparently the builders think they've found asbestos behind the tiles. When Husband explained that it was actually the stuff used to put the tiles up on the wall and not asbestos, they wouldn't entertain him which, I can understand. Obviously they have to think of their jobs and health of all of us. So they left at 2pm and all the work is currently on hold until it can be tested. My bathroom is, well, not a bathroom any more. The bath is out, the toilet is out and the sink is out.

Of course, I'm now pretty pessimistic about the whole thing. I'm not good with DIY; I've said that many times on my blog before. I don't like the upheaval and mess it brings. I'm more than happy with the end results but it's the getting to that bit that makes me feel a bit crazy. I don't pretend or deny this fact' I do not cope with with DIY. I had Husband phone all three companies to make sure that reports had been sent that afternoon so that the person who tests these things can be out to us within the next day or so. Once they come out, it can take 2-3 days for the results to come back and then what happens next depends on the results.

Thankfully we have two toilets or we'd have been moving in to a hotel (paid for by the insurance company) until it was sorted. We do also have a hotel room booked until the work is completed so we can use it as and when we need to shower and the kids are excited to go for a sleepover and breakfast at the weekend. I guess it is also a blessing that we have good cover in place for these eventualities. I am annoyed though that in this day and age of technology, emails and so on, communication (or lack of) is still a huge issue for customer service companies.

Our new bathroom will come, it's just taking a lot longer than I wanted!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Charm Works - Review

I recently received a beautiful sterling silver charm bracelet from The Charm Works; an online company who specialise in charm bracelets and charms. They also stock necklaces, rings and earrings.

I don't often wear jewellery apart from my wedding and engagement ring and occasionally I'll wear a watch. However a charm bracelet is a very sweet gift to receive because you can completely personalise it for the receiver of your gift from a large selection of different charms.


My bracelet, which is a very simple silver chain style bracelet with hoop and t-bar fastening, came with a horse charm (since I love to go horse riding), a butterfly (as I love butterflies), and my favourite one, a love heart personalised with our initials.


The charms are a good size on the bracelet; they aren't heavy so my wrist doesn't feel weighed down when I wear it. It fastens quite easily and feels secure once fastened. The chain isn't too long either but there is enough give in the length that it isn't tight on my wrist.

Quality wise, these aren't charms like the ones you'd get in a high end jewellery store however, they are well made and the detail of each charm is lovely. Because they aren't overly expensive, a charm bracelet from The Charm Works would make a lovely gift for a friend or family member. Maybe a bracelet for a Grandmother from her Grandchildren? Or a gift from one best friend to another?

The bracelet was beautifully packaged and comes in its own bracelet box with dust cloth to clean it with.


There are lots of beautiful charms to choose from over on The Charm Works website and I would definitely look at making a purchase from them in the future. Which ones are your favourites?

I received the charm bracelet for the purposes of a review. All opinions expressed are my own. 


Monday, 18 April 2016

Surviving Going Back to School After a Half Term

The alarm clock rudely wakened me at 6am this morning. A harsh back to reality given that for the last two weeks it had been set for much later in the morning. Alas, it was time to get up and get ready to go back to school (for the kids) and to work/college for me.

I guess if you aren't off during the school holidays with the kids, it's pretty much business as usual without the school run (often a blessing in itself really) or if you are a stay at home parent then it's maybe a welcomed relief to get back to some sort of normality. But for me, being off when the schools are off, well it can be a tough task getting back in to it.

It's all about surviving the first day...

Avoid the snooze button

This is pretty dangerous territory for me. I don't like a snooze button; it's like leading the body into a false sense of further sleep security. I'd rather just get up and get on with it. But this is tough, especially when you are reducing your sleep time by almost 2 hours. And going to bed early the night before really isn't an option...see further down this post as to why.

Stay off the social media

Usually I'll wake up, check the weather report on Facebook (only expect this if it is snowing) and see if anything exciting has happened (it never really has since the last check at 10pm). But this eats in to your getting ready time and unless you want to be screaming like a banshee when you have two minutes to get out of the door, it's best to check the Facebook once you have safely delivered the children to school. You could set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier but for me, that just imposes on valuable sleep time.

Coffee. Lots of coffee

I don't really need to say much about this. Just. Drink. The. Coffee.

Be prepared

Packed lunches, school bags, school uniforms, school shoes, work stuff, college stuff...get it all ready the night before. If you do this, you can spend an extra 5 minutes in the shower trying to will yourself to get out and get dressed.

Have an afternoon snooze

You know that feeling when you start going cross-eyed and you can feel your head dropping? I get that a lot but especially on the first day back. So a few minutes shut eye is always necessary to get through the rest of the day. I mean, obviously this depends on where you are at the time but for me, it's either a "come and read a story" situation or a have a snooze during the lunch break situation. Just a few minutes seems to help me power on.

Go to bed early

Celebrate the end of the first day back after the holidays by falling into bed at around 8pm, going to sleep and then waking at 4am. Toss and turn for a bit before finally falling asleep at 5.30am. Ah well, it's only 4 more days until the weekend. I mean, I'm sure we all have good intentions of going to bed early but then that darn second wind comes...

Start a countdown to the next holiday

This helps me power through; a countdown to the next bank holiday, in-service day or half term break. I only count working days because weekends don't matter. Only 9 working days until our next long weekend! Woooo!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

One on One Time

Something that happens so rarely once you have a second child is one on one time with either of those children. It can be tough juggling your attention between your children and I know it can make you feel pretty guilty, especially when your first born spent some time having all of your attention. Your second child doesn't ever really get that one on one time either, unless you have a first born who is in nursery or school when your second is born. That wasn't the case for us; Z wasn't even 2 when Miss C came along and for a few days I was worried she was going to arrive on his birthday. She didn't but 4 days before makes for an expensive middle of the year.

When I went back to work after having Miss C, it was actually Husband who spent most of the day with them, doing the nursery run for Z and keeping Miss C entertained on very little sleep (him not her). It wasn't until Husband changed jobs and hours that I ended up being a home a lot more with Miss C, who was in her second year of nursery and Z, who was in P2.

I so enjoyed my one on one time with Miss C. It wasn't something I'd ever really had with her. We'd spend the couple of hours before I had to pick Z up from school doing fun things at home or going out to our favourite cafe for lunch and cake. Of course, now they are both in school, one on one time is something of a rarity! Miss C and I read a book together every night and then I'll listen to Z read a chapter of his book to me and whilst it's only 10 minutes of the day, it's 10 minutes I love.

Last week, Miss C went to her best friend's house for a play date so it was just Z and I for the afternoon. Z is getting to that age where he'd rather read a book or play Xbox than do something with me but I had errands to run and Z had to come with me. It wasn't anything particularly exciting for him so when we finished, we popped in to Costa to share a hot chocolate and have a cake each.


It was so nice to sit with my boy and just chat about how good the cake was, how good the hot chocolate was and about the latest Xbox game he was playing. When I asked him if he had enjoyed spending the day with me he said, "yes, it's been brilliant!"


Life is so busy with all the things we have to do that it can be hard to find that one on one time with the kids but for them, it's the most important thing in the world. Something as ordinary as a cake and a hot chocolate to you and me is "brilliant" in the eyes of a child.

Linking up with The Ordinary Moments at Mummy Daddy Me.

366 Project 2016 Days 101 - 107

On Sunday, it was a beautiful day. After a lazy morning and pancakes and smoothies for lunch, we decided to take a drive to a park we have never been to before to go on a fairy trail. The kids enjoyed looking for the different fairy doors and exploring the woods. They played in the park whilst Husband and I enjoyed the sunshine. When we got home, we had some delicious strawberry and white chocolate cake.


On Monday, Miss C had a friend from school over to play. It was a really windy day; perfect for doing lots of washing and getting it hung out to dry. The kids had a great time playing outside, building dens for the horses and bouncing on the trampoline. They were shattered by bed time.


On Tuesday, Miss C, the social butterfly that she is, went off to her best friend's house for an afternoon of playing and dinner. This meant Z and I got to spend the day together which doesn't happen very often. I had to go in to college to print some stuff off and we headed in to town so I could get my ID badge done for work (exciting times!) I decided a treat in Costa was due for my boy being so patient and helpful. We shared a medio hot chocolate complete with cream and marshmallows and we each had a cake; salted caramel muffin for Z and lemon cake for me. Yummy! The last stop was the library where I picked up Zoella's first novel to read.


On Wednesday, I decided to give Miss C's room a good tidy up and clear out. Not that we got rid of much. Miss C is a hoarder. Her room was much tidier by lunch time and, after giving Z's room the once over, I snuggled down with my book and read whilst Miss C played with her Playmobil and Z read a book of his own. I love that Z will just pick a book and lie in bed and read. It's just what I used to do when I was his age. I managed to finish my book by bedtime! I haven't read a book in a day in a really long time!


The sun was out on Thursday which meant I got a washing on and out to dry. This always makes me happy. Z had a friend over for the afternoon. We picked him up and headed to the park to play. We were there for a good hour and a half and then walked home for a cup of tea (for me) and a packet of crisps (for the kids!) It was so nice to get out in the sunshine again!


After cleaning the house top to bottom on Friday, we spent most of the day chilling out, watching TV and just being a bit lazy. Miss C did start painting her shoe box for her STEM project at school which she is making in to a horse box, of course!


On Saturday, we woke up to find it was a beautiful morning. I got the washing hung out and another load on. I dropped Z at Karate and dashed to the shops with Miss C to do our food shop for the week. After lunch, we walked in to town to get Z a haircut for going back to school. Because it was such a nice day, we decided to go to the ice cream shop for a cone. Miss C had Oreo, Z had Galaxy Caramel and I had Ooey Gooey which was caramel ice cream with marshmallows, honeycomb and fudge. It was really, really good!


Friday, 15 April 2016

Sibling Moments #28


Half term means these two spend a lot more time together. Sometimes they get on great and they'll play away together for hours and hours. Other times, they argue or moan about each other and I often have to play referee (or hide in my office).

For the first week of half term, they hardly saw one another. Z had Karate camp and his best friend over 3 out of 5 days and Miss C spent the full week at the stables. When they met again at tea time, they chatted excitedly about their days.

On Sunday, the sun was shining so we headed out to the park and went on a fairy trail. Z lead the way and Miss C followed. She was more excited than Z was about finding fairies but he was great at helping her read and give her clues as to where she might find the next door. When they are like this together, it is so sweet and makes me so happy and proud.


The second week has been a lot more chilled out. We haven't had to rush to get ready in the morning so I've enjoyed a fair few lie ins. The weather hasn't been great though which has meant we've spent a lot of time indoors meaning they've been in close proximity of each other. They have squabbled loads. They are both as bad as each other when it comes to being stubborn and raising their voices. I think it's because they are both Gemini and have that split personality thing going on! It usually ends in tears from one or the other.

But I wouldn't change their relationship. They argue and fight just like any siblings should but they always, always make up within a few minutes and it is as if nothing ever happened because they are so close.

I'm not sure how 7 weeks of Summer holidays is going to go but what has been lovely from spending this half term with them is seeing them talk and play so well together and being grown up enough to say sorry to one another when it hasn't gone so well.

The Me and Mine Project

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom - The Best Bits

When we booked up to go to Disneyworld, the park I was most excited to visit was Magic Kingdom. It really is the flagship theme park of the Disney enterprise. I was mostly excited to see Cinderella's Castle but also to see Fantasyland and Main Street. The attention to detail in Disneyworld is just magical precision.

As soon as you step off the bus, ferry or monorail at Magic Kingdom, not only are you captivated by the sights, but the smells in the air evoke so much excitement. It's a sort of sweet candy smell that just makes you feel so happy. It is such a happy place, you don't mind queueing to go through security or to scan your MagicBand to enter the park.

Make sure to pick up a map and a list of character meetings, show times and special events! You can also pop in to City Hall and pick up a badge such as a Happy Birthday badge, a Just Engaged badge or, the one we went for, a First Visit badge.

On entering Magic Kingdom, you are greeted by Main Street. It is amazing. Of course, the best sight when you come in to Main Street is the Castle at the very end. It is just stunning and brings happy tears to your eyes.


There are four lands within the Magic Kingdom where you'll find rides and you've got Main Street USA and Liberty Square for shops and restaurants.

Adventureland

If you walk right up Main Street and take a left, you'll spot the sign for Adventureland. This is where we decided to start on our first day in Magic Kingdom. Within this land you'll find the themes of movies such as Aladdin, The Lion King and The Pirates of the Caribbean. What I love about each land is, in the shops you can only buy gifts in the theme of the movies of their land. So in the Pirates of the Caribbean area, you can only buy pirate themed gifts. It makes it super easy to find the perfect souvenir!

Our favourite rides within Adventureland were The Pirates of the Caribbean (Fastpass) and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin (perfect for small children). We didn't manage to get on Jungle Cruise because it had a huge wait time but if you can get a Fastpass for this one, then do it.

The show we most enjoyed in Adventureland was The Pirates League. It was fantastic and Z was so happy to be chosen to take part and battle with Captain Jack Sparrow!


You have to try a Dole Whip if you are in Adventureland as it is the only place within Magic Kingdom that you can get one of these gorgeous ice cream and pineapple deliciousness. Get one from Aloha Isle. Yum!

The Enchanted Tiki Room was probably our least favourite part of Adventureland. It's a tropical bird show which might have been better if they were real birds but they aren't. It's a good place to get a seat for 20 minutes though, if you have time to waste. But not a show I would hurry back to.

Frontierland

From Adventureland you can easily walk to Frontierland. Something else I absolutely love about each land within Magic Kingdom is the change in scenery and flooring whenever you enter a new section. The best bit to see this is in Fantasyland where the ground changes from circus themed to seashells to horse shoes. I love it! The cast members wear completely different outfits not only around each land but at each ride and apparently they can never cross over in to a different land!

Frontierland is probably the smallest land within Magic Kingdom but it boasts two of the best rides; Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. You can also catch the Walt Disney World Railroad in Frontierland which is a train that takes you to Fantasyland or to Main Street USA. It's worth a ride!

Splash Mountain was one of Z and Husband's favourite rides in the whole of Disneyworld. They went on it quite a few times. If you get to the park fairly early, you'll get straight on without the need for a Fastpass. Later on in the day, you'll need a Fastpass. I'd say the same for Big Thunder Mountain which we all enjoyed apart from Miss C. You have to be 102cm or taller to ride this and even though Miss C was tall enough, she wasn't that keen. It might be worth trying Seven Dwarfs Mine Train if you have younger children before jumping on this coaster.

Handy to know, you can get free water from any refreshment stand within Disneyworld, not just Magic Kingdom. We used Westward Ho a lot for getting free cups of iced water. It was never busy and not out of the way either.



Tom Sawyer Island is worth a visit, again if you have some time in between Fastpasses.

Liberty Square

I know I said that Liberty Square was one of the places to eat and to shop however, it is also home to one of the best rides in Magic Kingdom; The Haunted Mansion. We queued up for this one and got on within 15 minutes but it wasn't particularly busy that day. On a busy day, the queues were upwards of an hour. Definitely get a Fastpass. Anyone can ride this and it isn't scary as such but if your children don't like the dark then it might be worth avoiding this one. My two loved it though.


A place we ate a lot was Columbia Harbour House. It's a quick service restaurant with plenty of seating and really tasty chicken nuggets. You can feed a family of four for around $30 in there.

You can also board the Liberty Square Riverboat or visit the Hall of Presidents but these didn't appeal to us.

This is probably one of the best places to catch the parades. Most people tend to head towards Main Street USA but we found a great spot to watch the afternoon parade and it meant we could get going whilst it was still on meaning we avoided a lot of the crowds coming back up Main Street.

Fantasyland

This is probably the biggest and most popular land within Magic Kingdom. It is located directly behind Cinderella's castle and, when the castle doors are open, you can easily pass through for Main Street. Unfortunately they were working on the castle when we were there so we had to enter either via Liberty Square beside the Haunted Mansion or via a side entrance just up from Tomorrowland.


Fantasyland is just that; pure fantasy and magic. So many of our favourite rides are located in Fantasyland; there are too many to mention. The ones we enjoyed the most were Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, Prince Charming Regal Carousel and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Aside from a few rides that have height restrictions, Fantasyland is probably the best land to go to with toddlers or young children. Having said that, each land does have something suitable for babies, toddlers and young children but Fantasyland definitely has the majority of rides that are most suitable.




Storybook Circus, which is part of Fantasyland but is kind of sectioned off on its own, is another great place to visit with toddlers and young children. We loved The Barnstormer; it was Miss C's favourite ride. There is an amazing water area called Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station and, of course, Dumbo the Flying Elephant which also has a brilliant indoor play area you can play in until it's time for you to go on the ride. Saves you queuing in the heat!

In terms of shows, you have to go and see Enchanted Tales with Belle. We went to the show whilst people were getting ready to find spots for the parade so we didn't need to wait long at all. You can Fastpass it though. This is the only place in Magic Kingdom where you'll get a photograph with Belle in her ballgown and the show is interactive so you might be chosen to star in the show alongside Belle. It was brilliant and even the walk through and interactions with cast members before the show were brilliant.



For food, top of the list is Cinderella's Royal Table followed by Be Our Guest. Both are highly sought after table service restaurants and book up from the 180 days ahead. We ate dinner in both and we had some of the best meals of the holiday. For quick service, Pinocchio Village Haus has some of the best pizza I've ever eaten.




Tomorrowland

If you like all things futuristic and space-themed, Tomorrowland is a great place to find both. It is accessed from Main Street USA if you turn right and cross a bridge or if you come down from Fantasyland.


Our favourite ride was definitely Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. This is such a fun ride for all ages and releases your competitive streak. We also really enjoyed the People Mover for just being a chilled ride, taking you right round Tomorrowland with audio description about the land and each ride. Miss C and I went on Astro Orbiter which was brilliant because we could see the full of Magic Kingdom whilst flying through the sky. Tomorrowland Speedway was another favourite, with Husband letting Z drive him around the track.

We went on Stitch's Great Escape which again, if you have children who hate the dark, this isn't for them. Miss C got a bit upset at first but she was fine once the ride began. It wasn't really what we expected; kind of a sensory experience with Stitch running around and spitting water at you.

We didn't manage to catch Monsters Inc Laugh Floor show nor did we go on Space Mountain or Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress. Z just didn't fancy Space Mountain and Miss C was too small.

Lunch at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe was good. We enjoyed the chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches there but it was really busy. Probably because it is quite central between Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street. It is a quick service location though and again, you can eat as a family of four for around $30.

Main Street USA

This is the busiest walk way within the Magic Kingdom. Not only is there traffic by foot, there is traffic by old fashioned car. The parades also come down Main Street. It is really, really busy. If you get in to the park early, say for a breakfast reservation before the park opens, it is great and you can guarantee a picture in front of the castle without anyone in the background.



As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the smells as you come in to Magic Kingdom (and throughout the park) are just amazing. Main Street has some great places to grab a snack or a drink (no alcoholic drinks are served in Magic Kingdom, other than Be Our Guest). It's also a great place to grab some souvenirs or gifts. Miss C and I bought some gifts in the Emporium where there was a choice of gift for everyone.

We made a breakfast reservation at the Crystal Palace which is a Winnie The Pooh character dining experience. It was brilliant and the food was really yummy.


Main Street gets even busier around parade times, sometimes up to 2 hours before the show starts. This is also the place to catch Wishes at the end of the night. However we managed to get a spot right at the entrance (or exit) around 30 minutes before the Electrical Parade began. You can get Fastpasses for these shows if you want but I'm not sure it's worth using up one of your Fastpasses on these shows.



During our 15 day stay, we visited Magic Kingdom 6 times. Most of these visits were full day visits and we got lots done however on the days we only did half days we also managed to fit in quite a bit. A good tip is to go to the park later in the day when people are getting ready to leave or are getting ready to find a spot for the parades. The queues are a lot shorter.

Magic Kingdom is a definite if you are planning a trip to Disneyworld. It's so magical and there is something for every family member to enjoy.

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