Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Pumpkin edition..

This Halloween is the first one which has excited Boo, and he’s been eagerly dressing up a spiders and pumpkins for the last few days in preparation! 
I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween, just because I don’t enjoy the trick or treaters most of whom are in their teens and are erm..abrasive. There are some parents of younger children who organise trick or treating amongst friends, or people who they know, and I applaud them as it gets over the contradiction to stranger danger. Trick or treating at strange addresses is surely exactly what we try to teach our children from a young age not to do? I don’t know how I feel about encouraging my children to ask strangers for treats? At any other time of the year I’m fairly certain I would be condemned for teaching them that?

Anyway, this year Boo decided, he wanted to celebrate Halloween, and gave me a list of the things we need to do in order to celebrate it correctly. Unfortunately, having yet another dismal cold was not on his list, and after costume making, watching Tom and Jerry’s Tricks and Treats, and Pumpkin carving, he has taken himself to bed feeling and looking rather rotten. Poor Boo, full of cold again. I wanted to share his pumpkin carving efforts, and I suppose I’d best start thinking up spooky antics for next year.. Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Poppy Cat, Blast Off! Book Review

Poppy Cat is a big favourite in our house, both boys enjoy the adventures of Poppy and her friends, and will regularly ask for the stories to be read over and over again! We were sent a copy of the new Poppy Cat book Blast Off, to review and the boys were quite insistant we read it the instant it was unwrapped!
Blast Off! is a colourful board book from the Poppy Cat series. It follows the adventure of Poppy Cat and her friends on a rocket adventure, where they encounter asteroids and have a bumpy ride home! 

The story is short enough for even the most wriggly toddler to enjoy listening, and with enough action to keep an older child interested to. Each of the pages features brightly coloured images full of action, so my book mad 22month old has sat with fascination carefully examining each page. The story encourages team work, with Poppy rescuing Owl when the rocket door accidentally opens! It’s a lovely book, and an ideal size for carrying in your bag while you visit friends or family over Christmas! Published by Macmillan Poppy Cat Blast Off! Is available now from all good book stores.

Headphone Heaven!

In my heart I’m still a teenage music student, battling my way through Shostakovich’s symphonies and falling in love with his opera ‘The Nose’ (and no I didn’t just make that up!) Receiving a pair of fabulous Sennheiser headphones in the post was hugely exciting, I instantly felt ten years younger and I had a sudden splurge on music which I’d not heard in a decade! They even came with a 6.3mm stereo jack adaptor – cue me plugging them into the keyboard..and cue Boo announcing he wanted piano lessons..well at least with these head phones I could leave him practising his scales without having to listen to them over and over again…!

Unlike some head phones, these ones have a long lead enabling you to use them while you’re dancing around your kitchen – hey it’s a great work out.. I confess to being caught out on several occasions while I’m dancing like a loon but it de-stresses me so who cares! If your a fan of android phones like me (cue me coo-ing quietly over my glorious Samsung SIII) it’s worth carefully selecting  a pair of headphones so you can fully exploit all your phones functions while shutting out the outside world. You can get comfort and sound quality for under £30, Oh and they look good to!

Sitting on busy commuter trains I used to frequently find myself bored and attempting to read the newspaper of the person next to me, this was ok until they turned the page and I wanted to shriek “No! I’ve not finished yet!!” Now,  my commuting is less frequent, but, I can catch up with my favourite programmes or read my own paper on my phone.. When I get home I love taking the opportunity to clamber into bed to watch a film or listen to some music and not worrying about waking the boys up – it’s the ultimate winter chill out!

 I use my headphones for escapism, they’re seriously comfy and after a few minutes I forget I’m wearing them! Thanks to for sending me some fabulous headphones to brighten up my Winter evenings!

Toddlers..a Mummy Moan.

I need a tea break, and a moan. It’s OK, it’s nothing serious, yesterday I just had one of those days when I got to the school gates to drop Boo off, only to realise I have bits of Halloween confetti tangled in my hair, I got splashed by a passing lorry and so on.. The day progresses badly, with E deciding he won’t eat breakfast and come lunch time he is screaming with hunger, but the food isn’t cooking fast enough, so I abandon my plans for lunch and instead we partake in cheese sandwiches, a good recovery I think to myself. 

Falling asleep in his high chair, I breathe a sigh of relief smiling as E snores loudly. I start to drink a cup of tea, only to be disturbed by an automated sales call which promises to “claim back my thousands” (I wish!) which wakes E up abruptly and he begins to shriek.. I decide enough is enough, and we’ll set off for the school run ridiculously early and pop into the post office along the way as there’s always a queue. Well, today as it is miserable, there is no queue, the one day I am hoping for one, there isn’t one and we’re in and out in minutes.

 E is grumpy and using every opportunity to holler and screech, kicking his legs and rocking his pushchair – (Quinny Zap I loved you once, but now my 21month old son can rock you over if i let go of the handles for more than a tenth of a second..) – so there we are battling along, (and it is a battle, a battle of wills) and I’m determined I am not going to be standing in the centre of the village with my child upside down in his pushchair. As I battle, onward with a steely face, he looks up at me and smiles, he has a cheeky glint in his eye, (but this is nothing new) and he is placid as I wheel him back to the car and lift him out of the pushchair ready to pop back into his car seat. 

I smile a huge smile, full of love and pride that he’s worked through his tantrum and is now the cheery cheeky little boy I love. The image shatters rapidly around the time I attempt to load him into the car, when he decides to play ‘I will not bend any limbs..’ So, there I am with a growing audience of disapproving OAP’s who are watching in horror as my child is now begining to holler “No, No! I want my Mummy!!” by this stage I am failing to restrain the angry voice and I virtually spit the words “I am your Mummy! Now get IN your car seat!” still he is as straight as a board and hollering. “Pleaaaaaase! Get in your seat Mummy needs you to!!” I’m begging, and any anger has passed, I’m verging on tears and wondering whether I can abandon the car in the space for a few hours while I walk to Boo’s school and get a bus home. Just as I have given up hope, E smiles and clambers into the seat himself..I secure him and jump into the car not wanting to hang about incase he starts hollering again!

We make it to collect Boo, and home again without to much stress, the boys argue viciously at 4pm with Boo declaring his brother is “Horrid!” and I find myself trying desperately hard not to laugh. Dinner time passes with only one bowl of food being partial strewn across the table and one episode of Mummy breakdown when I’d mistakenly thought E was being extra good, but actually he was in the process of trying to use the telephone.. 

I’m not going to lie..I was relieved when E began to yawn and bedtime rolled around, I finally managed to sit down and drink an entire cup of tea!

21 months and won’t sleep…help!

E is 21 months, he’s been quite a good sleeper until recently but now it’s a huge battle. Bedtime is tears and screaming followed by climbing out of bed and throwing things. If we can get him to sleep he is waking in the early hours and screaming until someone comforts him. I have no idea what to do..

I’m exhausted, and I’m sure he’s just pushing limits but I hate leaving him to cry. With bedtime now taking the entire evening (2hrs plus..) I need to come up with a way to deal with the problem!
In addition to the bed time routine we have tried a nightlight, warm milk, an extra blanket and even audiobooks. He will sleep if we’re holding him, but as soon as we move away or attempt to put him into his cot he wakes up and cries.

Any suggestions or tips for dealing with a toddler who is refusing to sleep?

Halloween Cupcakes!

I’m the first to admit I’m not the best cook, but I really enjoy baking! In the last year I’ve had quite alot of practise baking with the boys, and while the offerings aren’t necessarily beautiful (presentation isn’t my strong point it would appear!) they’re certainly very tasty! 

With Halloween coming round quickly, Boo is for the first year excited about dressing up and having a day of monsters. We’ve had a practise run of some Halloween baking in advance of the big day! The recipe was easy to follow, and the only adjustment we made was to the suggested decoration and that was as Boo was in charge!

I stood back and let Boo take charge of making pumpkins to adorn the cakes, it was lucky we didn’t actually need pumpkins, as we didn’t exactly get any…

Well they’ll certainly fill faces with horror!! Seriously though, much fun was had making, decorating and then most importantly tasting the Halloween cupcakes!

Baking Mad are offering a fabulous prize of an Eric Lanlard Cook Book and a great new Baking Mad Apron:

To enter to win this lovely prize follow the steps on rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
In the meantime check out all the spooky Halloween Recipes on Baking Mad!

Make and Do – keeping little ones busy!

One of the boys favourite activities is “making”, most popular is cutting and sticking, and they will spend ages with torn up old magazines, bits of wool, toilet rolls and infact anything which inspires their masterpiece! We have started to keep a big box of oddments for (or Junk as Mr G calls it!) so whenever we want to be creative we have supplies ready! We seem to go through glue sticks at an incredible rate, and I order them in batches from Viking Direct as I love the ease of selecting what I want, paying with Paypal and getting free delivery when I spend £30. They have a great range of craft supplies which can be delivered to your door from wiggly eyes to air dry clay so it I find I easily spend enough for free delivery especially as they have some great gift ideas to!

The air drying clay can be purchased in a huge pack which makes it very economical, if you keep it air tight (wrap it tightly in clingfilm) it does last a few months or would be ideal for a crafty party activity! This half term we’re going to have a go at making some gift tags for Christmas and some Halloween Decorations from air drying clay (I’ll post our antics when I get a chance!). The joy of air drying clay is that it enables your little one to easily preserve their model, and the paint really easily! Boo made these monsters a little while ago:

This little monster still has pride of place on our sitting room shelves, I wonder what he will come up with this time? I rather like the monsters for Halloween, so maybe we can make them on a bigger scale? Or perhaps some Wizards? Time to get my thinking cap on!

Life changing, I’m failing.

You know that minute in time when you suddenly have your life turned upside down when you make a decision which changes everything? Yes that. Sometimes you have to take action, this week I stepped in to help and take over care of someone I care very dearly about who is struggling with physical disability and mental health issues.

There’s that word mental, that word I associate with playground taunts or a word which meant cool back in the 90’s. That word that fills people with concern and thoughts of being institutionalised (or is that just me). Mental is a word that fills this person who is struggling with fear and tears flow as they say “I’m not mental, life is just getting me down.”

There’s been so much crying, much of it by me. I’m tired and these people who are meant to help are often quite exhausting. I’m sick of being addresses on a first name basis by people who call me expecting me to know what they are on about. They frequently fail to tell me who they are and express annoyance when I ask. Yes it matters to me exactly who you are, I don’t care you are part of the team.

The next problem, no one is offering any answers, I keep being told it takes time, I understand it takes time, but where is the plan to show this person that they can rebuild their life? Where is the realisation that with the exception of phone calls they are leaving me unsupported, as the visits just result in questions which they won’t answer. My home is not a permenant solution, my children are already feeling the strain of the crying and broken routine, how long can we continue? I don’t know. There are so many problems and struggling to sort someone elses life is already meaning our lives are suffering with poor diets and sleep deprivation – this is just at the end of week 1. Let me find the strength for week 2.

With a little help from my friends.

I have to admit, at times I’m not the best friend I could be, I get absorbed in family life and sometimes I forget to arrange that coffee, or reply to that text. I’m not intentionally neglecting my friends, i’m just still the forgetful fool I’ve always been, just this time with a grown-up life thrown in.
I have to confess, for reasons I shan’t write about right now, life is challenging at the moment, and I have had the urge to be an ostrich hiding my head in the sand and waiting for everything to pass, this has meant I’ve been even more rubbish than usual!
This weekend, some of my closest friends indulged me with their company and I suddenly remembered what it was like to be me. I smiled, laughed, made plans, felt alive. Listened to their worries one by one, hugged them and reminded them I am always here, and made a promise to myself that I will answer that text inviting me for coffee, and perhaps I’ll be better at sending them to? No, I will be better at that! I’m great at chattering about challenges faced as a mother, i’ll be the first to whinge about being woken up 5 times over night or the tantrums, but when it comes to talking about whatever it might be that is stressing me out which doesn’t relate to children..I’m my own worst enemy. My mantra needs to be ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ so thanks to my lovely friends for making me smile, and making me realise I need to share, it’s true, I need a little help from my friends.

Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 – Stage 1,2,3 Car Seat Review

Several weeks ago we were sent a Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 car seat for Elvis to try out. I was intrigued by the car seat, as it doesn’t use a five point harness, and instead utilises the seat belt to secure an impact shield for Group 1 children, which holds the child in place and keeps them safe in the event of an accident. Group 2 and 3 children just utilise the conventional seatbelt without the impact shield, due to a clever bit of technology ‘the kiddy shock absorber’ which takes the braking force in the event of an accident. As Elvis is a houdini, and manages to wriggle out of his harness, I was keen to try a seat without a five point harness!

We were amazed at how easy it was to pop the seat into the car, but I have to be honest it wasn’t easy convincing Elvis to sit in the seat and let us put the impact shield infront of him, in truth he screamed so loudly the neighbours came to see if there was a problem. Once secure in the seat, for the first 3 or 4 outings, Elvis screamed and cried, clearly very upset, and I did wonder whether we should give up and go back to his original five point harness seat. We persisted with the seat, making sure Elvis had something to hold while we put him into the car seat. He soon realised that he had far more freedom in the Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 and started to make use of the impact sheild – driving his car along it or perching his teddy on the edge! The screaming ceased, and now he can’t wait to clamber into the car seat, I think the problem was the unfamiliarity of the car seat, he had spent 6 months in a conventional car seat and so the change was a little frightening. The impact shield is cleverly shaped to mould around your childs body and legs, so while it initially looks a little strange, it is clearly more comfortable than a conventional five point harness as there is no fear of any pressure on the shoulder area.

The seat it seems is incredibly comfortable, judging by the way Elvis falls asleep in the seat so easily and for longer periods (he’s just woken up in the photo above!). There are no more issues with us having to stop the car to put his arms back into the straps, as there are no straps! He is now happy to climb into the car seat, and most importantly, it is so easy to fit the car seat that we can take the seat out and leave it with the Grandparents when the boys go to visit knowing they can easily fit it without a huge fuss! It is incredibly easy to clean the seat, I was worried as E managed to get hold of a bar of chocolate and wipe it over the impact shield, but it wiped clean! The rest of the covers can easily be machine washed, so even when we reach potty training all accidents are covered!

Is the Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 worth the investment? Yes, I wish we’d discovered it sooner! No more bucking child as you try to secure them, no more having to stop to re-secure them! It’s really ingenious, and I’d urge anyone looking for a new stage 1,2,3 car seat to take a look! As with any car seat do check the seat is appropriate for your car and your requirements! For all safety information check a good independent guide e.g Which!

Disclaimer: I received the Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 free of charge for the purposes of an honest review, we have trialled the seat intensely for almost 6 weeks and the opinions stated above are based on our experiences during that time.