Saturday, 31 January 2015

Me & Mine - January 2015

Every month I've loved seeing Donna's Me & Mine picture and this year I'm determined to join in and do the same.  There's only a handful of photos with all 5 of us in and this is the year I'm going to rectify that.  

I told Dave all about the project and how I wanted us to be able to join in and he was up for it - which was a relief as a monthly photo of all five us could have been tricky otherwise.

This photo was taken right at the start of the month and was actually our our first attempt whilst out for a walk down the canal, I noticed a bit of wall that looked high enough to put the camera on and we tested out the self timer for the first time!

The photo has taken a bit of editing as the right side was really bright leaving us, the supposed focus of the image, in the dark.  I messed about trying to edit if for a while and didn't really get very far but my friend Lucy had a go at altering it using some app or other - I'm pretty impressed with what she managed to do! 

So there we go. Our first family portrait of the year. Done.

dear beautiful

Friday, 30 January 2015

Geronimo Festival 2015 - We're ambassadors!

Always on the look out for a new and exciting family adventure we were really keen to learn more about Geronimo Fest - a brand new festival aimed at under 12s pretty much on our doorstep!  (Or at least within very comfortable driving distance!)

Taking over Tatton Park in Cheshire, Geronimo Fest 2015 will be happening across the course of May Bank Holiday weekend (Sat 23rd - Mon 25th)- which I'm hoping means we'll have some lovely weather but I won't hold my breath.

Describing itself as a long weekend of organised mayhem I can see forsee much excitement.  The festival aims to deliver an immense range of adventures and experiences to entertain and thrill children from ages 2 to 12 and their parents too! 

Ben's clearly going to be all over the Adreneline Zone with a high ropes course, tree climbing, den making and a 60kph zip line!!  (Pretty sure Dave will be enjoying that too!)   

My girls on the other hand will love the Groovy Zone with dressing up and dance classes!  

Personally I'm excited by the prospect of seeing Mr Bloom & Katy Ashworth on the Geronostage!

All set in the stunning surroundings of Tatton Park - I can't wait!  If you fancy coming along too then Geronimo Early Bird tickets go on sale on February 2 priced £16pp, with family passes starting from £75. To purchase tickets and for more information visit

Trunki Toddlepak - Review

Reins . . . we're huge fans of them and I've often said that I can't understand why more people don't use them.  Ben and Chloe always had them on as toddlers and there was never any question that we would use them for Amy too. 

Now Trunki have come up with the latest concept in reins . . . Introducing ToddlePak.  Seriously - how gorgeous are they!  I just love the range of cute characters and bright colours, a far cry from the boring navy blue bog standard reins Ben and Chloe always wore!  And infinitely more comfortable with the padded chest pieces and shoulder straps! (Especially if your child has a tendency to behave like a puppet when you put reins on them - Ben and Chloe both liked a bit of a dangle at times *sigh*)

Trunk Toddlepak

We've had our fabulous foxy reins sitting on the side in the kitchen since before Christmas and we've just been waiting for Amy to get her toddle on so we could really try them out!  Of course if you're going to learn to walk in January your opportunities for walking outside are limited so we've only tried the reins in the house at the moment - I will update the post with some more adventuruous photos at a later date!  The moment I put the reins on Amy she just forgot about them and carried on playing.  They were attached and seconds and she was clearly not at all bothered by them. 

Amy's models her foxy reins!

What we love about them: 
* The super cute fox design - obviously 
* The padding - so much more comfortable than your standard reins
* The option for different "leads" - a training rein for those first precarious steps and then a leading rein for when the need to explore takes hold!
* They're easily adjustable - so much quicker when you're swapping in and out of coats etc 
* You can leave them on and just reattach the reins when you need to - no messing
* The reflective detailing is a great addition (and something I know my Grandad would have loved!)

What we're not so keen on: 
* At £17.99 they're around three times the price of the ones I used to by Ben and Chloe so you don't want to be accidentally leaving them attached to a high chair in a cafe, not that I ever did that you understand? Ok I did it at least twice . . .  Anyway, yes they're expensive but I do think they're worth the investment.

I can't wait for the weather to improve so I can take Amy out and about exploring the big wide world with her fabulous new Toddlepak.

*Disclaimer - We were sent the reins free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own* 

Valentine Ideas for Him

*This is a collaborative guest post* 

Valentines Day is right around the corner! If you are frantically searching for gift ideas for your partner you are in the right place. No matter what you partner has interests in you will easily be able to find him the perfect gift and here are a few classic gift ideas that men love.

Car Experience
One of the most popular Valentine gift ideas for men is a car experience. Whether it’s a day driving a vintage car or pounding the tarmac behind the wheel of a powerful sports car, you can guarantee that your man will have an unforgettable experience.

Dinner Date
A traditional approach to Valentines Day is going out for a meal but you can really push the boat out here by organising something a little different. Rather than a trip to your local Chinese or Indian, why don’t you book a trip to a posh restaurant in the city or look for something a bit quirkier?
If you are working on a budget there are countless voucher websites that will have discounted dinner date options for you to look at. You’ll enjoy an intimate evening for the fraction of the usual cost.

If your partner is partial to the odd cigar, even just on special occasions, one of their favourite cigars could be an ideal gift. Cigars vary in quality just like any other product, so make sure that you know the brand that your partner likes before you commit to a purchase.

Sports Tickets
Is your man a sucker for sports? A pair of tickets to see his favourite team in action is a gift that will always be well received.

When you book events in advanced make sure you check your partner’s calendar to ensure that they don’t have anything else already booked on that day.

If you live with your partner there is nothing wrong in buying a gift that the two of you could enjoy. A perfect example is furniture; if your current sofa is looking tired, think about buying a beautiful contemporary sofa to take its place.

Your partner will enjoy it and so can you.

Does your partner have a shop that they frequent? If so, you can always look into purchasing vouchers for them to spend on items of their choosing. Vouchers are the perfect gift if you are struggling for a physical gift to purchase.

One useful tip to remember is that many shopping centres now sell vouchers that can be spent at a number of the stores on site. If you aren’t sure of a specific store that your partner likes this might be a better option.

Photo Credit: Celso Flores via Compfight cc

Mini Break
Everyone loves a good holiday, don’t they? The chance to get away even for a few days is always welcomed and this is something you could bear in mind if you think your partner could do with a break from work.

Mini break prices are increasingly competitive so you are bound to be able to find a good deal at a moment’s notice. Sites like Groupon, Last Minute and Secret Escapes are good places to start if you are looking for an affordable package but don’t want to compromise on quality.

Something different
We live in a creative time and products are more innovative than ever. Sites like Not on The High Street are packed full of unique and personal gift ideas that are bound to put a smile on your partner’s face. Have a look and see if anything pops out.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Grandparent Shape Hole

Earlier in the most I wrote about how I was missing my Grandma.  Over the last few weeks I've thought about my Grandma and Grandad a lot and found myself easily brought to tears. 

I know they say time is a great healer & that in time you get used to people not being there but sometimes I think the passing of time only serves to make you miss them more.  The more time that slips by the more things they have missed. 

When each of my grandparents died there was an element of relief.  We knew they were ready.  Grandad particularly had been deteriorating for many years.  His dementia had seen him living in a home, a decision which was incredibly hard for my Grandma.  He'd have hated it if he knew - if he knew what he was like.  Such a strong, healthy & active man reduced to sitting in his chair, mumbling to himself & not really knowing what was going on.  That's not how I remember him though.  No.  My Grandad is pottering in his shed (goodness knows what he actually did in there with his balls of twine made from old tights & jam jars full of nails), my Grandad is down the garden in his greenhouse growing tomatoes, he's wearing his flat cap, he's picking up coins off the road to save for us and he's tricking me into getting out of his favourite chair with the promise of a Kit Kat waiting for me in the kitchen. 

If Grandad were here now he'd be round at my Mum's doing all the faffy little jobs that my Dad has neither the time nor the patience for.  He'd be walking the dogs, polishing shoes & making cuttings to grow new plants in the conservatory.  I like to think that he'd have had a soft spot for Ben. I know he'd have loved all three of them of course but I think he'd have particularly enjoyed spending time with his great grandson - teaching him things.  I'm sure he'd have saved all his shiny pennies for them too just the way he did for us when we were little.  Ben and Chloe thank him when they find pennies on the floor shouting "Thank you Grandad Joe!" and it always makes me smqaile to know that they know things about their Great Grandad even if they didn't get the privilege of meeting him.

If your grandparents are still with you then cherish them.  Cherish those precious moments and make the most of the time you've got.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Bedtime Nightmares or Simple Slumber?

*This post is based on a syndicated press release* 

How was bedtime in your house tonight?  Straight to bed without a fuss or endless requests for another few minutes, a drink of water, sheets tucking in, a cuddly toy, a bit more of a story?  You know the score right? 

I was really shocked when I got an email this week entitled "33% of Parents find Betimes Unbearable"  Unbearable?!  Heck that's a strong word isn't it?  Apparently, according to some new research carried out by Blinds2Go, a third of us find bedtime to be one of the most stressful times of our day.  The survey of 2,118 people with children aged 5 and under pitched bedtime as the top stress factor followed by shopping (28%) and eating out (18%).  At least shopping and eating out can be avoided to a point if they're tricky for your family but the bedtimes just keep on rolling around don't they?

Now I must admit that for me - the most stressful times in my week are the hour or so from getting up on a Wednesday or Thursday morning to setting off to work after I've dropped everyone off at childcare, and coming up a close second is swimming lessons on a Tuesday night.  Trying to get everyone where they need to be at the right time and in the right clothes with a smile on their face is hard work believe me.  (And the smile doesn't always happen that's for sure!) 
Bedtimes have had their moments, they don't always go like clockwork, however I wouldn't say they've ever been particularly stressful *touch wood*.  From Ben being just five weeks old we started a pretty solid bedtime routine and have stuck to it ever since, each child just finding their own place in the routine as we adapted it to accommodate their changing needs. 

Aside from the regular structure of our bedtime routine I think the other really important factor in our bedtimes running smoothly is that it's a team effort.  Even when it was just Ben we treated bedtime as a bit of quality time, we did the bath together, got him ready for bed together and really enjoyed the quiet time.  With three it's more of a necessity that we do bedtime together - usually with one of us getting Amy ready and the other sorting the big two, finding them their pjs and getting clothes sorted for the next morning. 

Bedtime is pretty early in our house with us going upstairs around 6.30pm and everyone being in bed for about 7pm.  Ben and Chloe might not always get straight off to sleep but they are happy to chat to each other or look at books if they're not quite as tired.  Another factor mentioned in the Blinds2Go research is that parents are missing out on the chance to spend some time together of an evening by children refusing to go to bed.  I'm really grateful that thus far this isn't something we've had a problem with.  By the time we've got everyone settled in bed we're more than ready to sit down and enjoy our evening meal together, not to argue with our children about them going to bed.  I can see exactly why this would make parents feel stressed! 

What really surprised me was that of the 33% who answered that Bed Time was so stressful, when they were asked how they handled the situation 74% admitted to giving in to their child's demands for an easy life.  Really?! Talk about making a rod for your own back?  Have they never watched Super Nanny?  Perhaps I'm being too harsh having never been in the situation myself but I do think you need to stand your ground and be the parent.

What do you think?  Is there a point in your week that makes you want to tear your hair out without fail?  How many of this list of top 20 most stressful moments do you agree with? 


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