Tags: children's duvets, Vert Baudet
Autumn is coming and it’s actually really nice to not feel so bad about staying indoors and cuddling up on the sofa to eat sweeties and watch a family film! On this occasion, Dr Doolittle! Do you have regular family duvet or movie afternoons? As much as everyone says that too much TV is equivalent to damaging your child’s IQ, everything in moderation I say, and family movie days are really good quality time in my opinion – all children need down time. Are you enjoying the shorter days, cooler weather and opportunity to snuggle up on the sofa? Vertbaudet kindly sent us the North Pole boys duvet cover and pillow case set available from their website. We always find lots of great stuff for boys on the website, it’s nice to shop off the high street for more unusual styles and colours, cuts and finishes.
Tags: Brainiac Live, children's stage shows, Sky One, things to do in the holidays
Our five year old son, Bear has decided that he wants to be a scientist so next week we’re going to see Brainiac Live – Science Abuse and I think we’re just as excited as he is.
Do not try this at home folks – it’s based on the award winning Sky One TV show it promised loads of jaw dropping experiments and explosions.
So, the show is hitting the stage with a bang – and I’m intruiged to see what the hour will be filled with. Here’s a little more about the show..
Brainiac Live will bring mischief and mayhem to the West-End for 23 days across an incredible 50 shows during July and August. You can expect to see exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves, Airzooka challenges and lots of messy audience participation. It’s a no-brainer; it is the perfect summer holiday outing for girls and boys alike.
Andy Joyce, No.1 Brainiac and presenter of the show, says “I’m so excited about presenting the show in the West-End after doing over two hundred and fifty performances around the UK and I can’t wait to see the amazement on the children’s faces, when they see our daredevil experiments!”
Since 2008 Brainiac Live! Science Abuse has played to packed houses across the UK in theatres, holiday resorts and Science Festivals, blowing the minds of over 400,000 children and their families. In 2010 the show headlined the Big Bang Fair, the UK’s leading science-engagement event attended by over 55,000 young people and now, as it makes its West-End debut it will have children running back to their science lesson in September with enthusiasm and an eagerness for more explosive knowledge!
Tickets are still available, just Google Brainiac Live.
We’ll report back!
Tags: Art in Toilets, Howbery Park
Back in March I was delighted to discover a piece of free art in the toilets of a local garden centre. I had discovered Art in Toilets.
Ever since this happened, I’ve been promising myself that I would create my own piece of art and continue the great work of Nick Austin.
So, today I scuttled into the toilets on the stunning Howbery Park, the home of my office for Seriously PR.
And now, I wait, with baited breath for someone to find it….
Who will it be, and will they let me know….will they create their own art and continue on the tradition?
Tags: sports day, working mothers
The low point of 2013 to date.
I’m hoping other parents can feel my pain and help by sharing some words of reassurance and compassion. Maybe some shared experiences?
It’s a ridiculously unnecessary chain of events. Here goes.
I tried to fit in one extra chore before the school sports day – my son’s first ever one. We were both really excited. The chore was a trip to B&Q to return a radiator valve and buy a roll of wallpaper. My life is nothing but rock and roll DIY and other sexy things.
Unfortunately I’d taken a trip to the charity shop earlier that day with a load of old clothes and given them the radiator valve by accident. So after a return trip home trying to find it, followed by the light bulb recollection moment and returning to the charity shop to retrieve it, I made it to B&Q, exchanged it and got my wallpaper. I also had a look at sinks whilst there.
I made it to school. spent too long applying suncream to Sully and I, packed the change bag, chatted to another arriving mum, returned to the car having made it half way up the school drive to close the passenger door which I’d left wide open and finally made it to the school doors.
Which were locked.
With no way of getting in.
And, to my horror, by the time we were let in by the school office, the boys running race had taken place and the final heats were in progress; of which my son wasn’t a part.
I felt devastated. He asked where I was – why I didn’t see him running.
All for a radiator valve and roll of wallpaper. I’d never get that moment back.
I’ll be totally honest, it’s taken me a week to get over it. I’ve built my whole adult life and business values around one main principal – never miss a sports day. And I missed my son’s first ever sports day.
I did see him do a space hopper race which was pretty hilarious. And I did the mummy race to try and redeem myself. But I missed his running race and he knew it which broke my heart.
I decided to do something about it – I arranged a second sports day for us and two other mums who missed their son’s races because of the lock out or work commitments.
So we spent Sunday on the park near to our home doing running races, hopping races, shoulder ride races and more – we had medals, sweets and drinks and it was so much fun.
I felt better. Slightly less guilty and slightly more fulfilled as a parent.
I learnt two valuable lessons. 1 – stop trying to fit in too many chores and 2 – you can always fix things if you want to. Oh and 3 – children forget within minutes, you forget in time – when you let yourself.
Here’s to surviving parenting failures – and learning from them.
Tags: #declutterday, Ebay, Gumtree, how to sell secondhand items
I posted last week about my stuff getting me down – surrounded by clothes that don’t fit, excessive amounts of baby stuff, an overload of kitchen equipment and a garage stacked high with junk.
It’s time to do something – and that post stood out to one person in particular; someone who has become a driving force behind making this happen – the lovely Becca at Becca Lou Creates.
So, welcome – this is officially the start of #declutterday – want a piece of the action?!
What your problem is
Like me, you accumulate stuff. You only feel satisfied if your day includes a purchase – or two, or three. It might simply be groceries (including a new body scrub, baking tray or set of Sharpie pens). It could be clothes – usually impulse purchases, or it could be car boot bargains that you don’t really need and only bought because of the ridiculously low price. That’s my ultimate weakness – second hand steals.
Because of your constant accumulating, your house is overloaded. On a daily basis you are reminded of the mounting piles of useless tat, mistake purchases and things you really need to part with. The satisfaction you feel from buying what feel like treats at the time is far outweighed by the lurching feeling you get when you come down the stairs to see another corner festering with junk.
What you need to do.
Get on board with us – we’ve set ourselves a challenge – it’s called #declutterday – it’s a weekly event, every Thursday. Your challenge is to get rid of at least five things from your bulging house each week.
How to do it
Use any means possible to relive the pressure on your overloaded home – bring peace and harmony through space – clear house, clear mind.
Here are some of my favourites:
How to sell and give away stuff
- Gumtree – great for low value items that people need quickly and are searching for. The best bit, it’s totally free, people collect so no trips to the post office.
- Ebay – good for slightly higher value items and clothes (especially maternity); things that are easy to post. Try Gumtree first and then move onto eBay.
- Facebook groups – there are loads of great Facebook groups to sell items, especially children’s and baby items.
- Charity shops – stop hoping that you’ll get some money eventually for that Karen Millen dress. If you haven’t in three years, it’s for a reason. Give it to charity. Or give it to a friend. You’ll feel good for it.
- The tip – last resort, take it to the dump. There’s just some stuff that you can’t even give away. These days most things can be recycled.
My #declutterday challenge
I tried and failed for the entire week to kick start my #declutterday challenge. I kept accumulating more stuff and sneaking it into the house – a cute jacket from a charity shop for me, a few more Penguin books (my latest collecting obsession), and various other ‘must have’ items that I simply felt I needed.
And then I gave myself a shake and got started. Here’s what I did.
Left: A complete declutter of my wardrobe. Things I haven’t worn for years, things that don’t fit, are too short, don’t suit me – you name it. All ready for a frock swapping event at a local wine bar tonight. The event includes pampering, what more could I want? Yes, I will be swapping clothes for more clothes, but at least I’ll come home with new garments that I want to wear.
Right: Hangers. Boring, yes; far too many, yes. Straight into the recycling.
Left: a gorgeous leather bag from Boden now listed on eBay. I love this bag but I don’t use it – it’s too big and deep and I can never find anything in it. Bye beautiful bag.
Right: Baby carrier. Show me a woman who can carry a six month old baby on her front, look good, not get back ache and not sweat profusely. It doesn’t work for me – am happy with my Stokke Xplory – a baby should be pushed not carried. Listed on Gumtree.
Left: Barbecue – it was destined for the tip when I bought a new one for husband for our wedding anniversary (to make up for forgetting it); but I stuck it on Gumtree for £20 and a lovely couple came and got it today. I was late home and they were waiting for me so I gave them iced cordial to try and make up for it.
Right: Coca Cola tins. I got these from a car boot sale in a moment of ‘I must collect Coca Cola stuff, it’s valuable’ haze. I don’t need them. They’re now on eBay.
Finally, a HUGE bag of horrid, why did I ever buy them type clothes for the charity shop.
So, if my items sell, I will have done pretty well in my first week. Next week, a progress update!
Want to join in?
Get to work folks. Post your first #declutterday post next Thursday and you can add the badge to your blog too – here’s the link!
Ultimately, you’ll feel good – your house will be clutter free, as will your mind. Enjoy!
Tags: competition, iPad radiation, Pong iPad mini case, protect from wifi radiation
It’s hard to tear my four year old away from the iPad sometimes; especially when it’s time to come to the table for breakfast and he’s watching Tom and Jerry.
We know very little about the harm of things like wi-fi raditation and because it’s not a tangiable threat, we bury our heads in the sand a little.
The new case for the iPad mini®, Pong® reduces this risk by up to 82% and cellular radiation by up to 91% by diffusing harmful emissions away from the body. Both may mean very little to you and I, but I expect in years to come it will become a weightier issue as we start to learn more about it.
It also has a wealth of other functions including the fact that it extends battery life and enhances wifi reception.
- Enhances Wi-Fi reception by up to 2.2X and Wi-Fi range by up to 1.5X.
- Boosts 4G signal strength by up to 13.2X compared to any other case.
- Plush NanoLiner interior cushions your iPad Mini® and durable leather look and feel cover contains automatic sleep/wake technology.
- Accelerates upload speeds by up to 5X compared to any other case.
Now is your chance to win one of these cases which retail at £84.
Simply leave a comment letting me know what your children most like to use your iPad mini for. A winner will be picked at random on Tuesday 21st July and notified via the comments section and directly.
The boring small print.
– No cash alternative is available.
– Judges decision is final and will be selected using random.org
– Winner will be emailed directly.
– A new winner will be selected if the first winner cannot be contacted after three days.
– A postal address for your prize must be supplied.
Tags: How to declutter, how to get rid of stuff
We just returned home after two months of living in a rented house and bunking with my lovely parents whilst we had the downstairs of our house renovated. It was a mini adventure.
One of the biggest things I noticed was how liberating it was to live with the bare essentials – especially while we were in unfurnished rented accommodation. A bit like indoor camping. Indoor camping with wine and hot water.
The kitchen drawers contained the must have items – can opener, sharp knife, wooden spoon and a couple of forks. A few plates, bowls and mugs, a pan and not much else. No clutter. No whizzy dicers and slicers and certainly not four different colanders which all achieve exactly the same thing.
Likewise, the bedroom – we lived with five pairs of pants and three pairs of socks each. Plenty. One hair product – amazing how many different styles mousse can facilitate – no serums, cremes, de-frizzers or fuzzers.
And the ultimate freedom – no stuff. No piles of clothes waiting to be ironed, sent to the charity or squeezed back into – one day. No broken toys waiting to be repaired or binned. No unanswered bills or invites. No unread newspapers, unpolished shoes or unloved gym backs. Everything we had with us was needed, utilised and looked after.
Now, we’re home, and chaos has descended once more.
Yesterday my husband announced that he had taken a huge box of books to the charity shop, and a rice cooker and baby bath seat to the tip. The tip! I felt a sharp volt of electricity shock through my body as a I processed the loss. Then I collected myself and realised he’d actually done me a huge favour.
I was going to sell the books in batches by author or genre. When?!
I was going to Gumtree the bath seat. When?!
I was going to car boot the rice cooker. Or start using it again. When?!
It’s hard to let go of stuff, but it can start to take over your life.
You go up to bed and see the pile ‘to be sorted’ on the landing. You visit the garage and the boxes to car boot (that didn’t sell on the previous two attempts) are there to taunt you. You go up to the loft and all of the clothes that no longer fit tease you for being slightly rounder than you once were.
Why do we hang onto it all?! Even if we made a few pennies from gradually flogging it over time, is it worth the little torturous jibes each time we walk past the overwhelming towers of unwanted crap?!
What would you do? If you say bin the lot, I promise, I shall….. a bit at a time….
On a closing note, on reading the title of this post, my husband proclaimed the answer to my dilemma - ‘stop buying sh*t’. I wonder if he has a point…. No, he doesn’t.
Image courtesy of Stock Xchng
Tags: bath seat reviews, Kiddicare, Swivel bath seat
We’ve been putting the Swivel Bath seat from Kiddicare to the test in our most recent round of reviews.
It’s suitable from six months but I confess that we’ve been using it from five months. It’s very supportive so I had no concerns about Sully being too small.
It’s really handy because it means that baby can be upright and join in bath time with older siblings, and you can have the water deeper than if you’re using a bath sponge or reclining seat. I was finding that from about four months of age, Sully was wriggling his way out of the plastic reclining seats.
The seat swivels on a base which sticks firmly to the bottom of the bath. It provides a snug seat with plenty of support. It’s light and portable so comes with us when we stay with friends or family. It’s even handy out of the bath!
The only tiny downside is that water collects and remains in the base so you need to unsucker it from the bath and drain out the water.
Overall this is fantastic, a real bath time helper. The best part; it’s only £8 from Kiddicare at the moment.
We received this product to review. I stick to the Bloggers with Integrity code to post honest, open reviews.
Tags: 40th wedding anniversary, marriage, secret to a happy marriage
This evening has been somewhat of a struggle. It’s roasting hot for a start. Don’t curse me, I love it, but my post-baby thigh-wobble was rubbing slightly.
More irksome that the slight sweat rash was being home alone for the start of the weekend, and what feels like the start of summer.
I fed and watered two over-tired and clammy boys. One projectile-gobbing strawberries across the length of the dining table in some kind of very British show of support for the tennis and the other moving food slowly from one side of his plate to the other, complaining of a tummy ache (overdue poo). At the same time he’s wailing in some kind of tones not even a primary school violinist could match, moaning that the ache would go if he was presented with a Tangle Twister. Or just a Twister as they may now be called.
After scraping the discarded pasta, bread, rice cakes and cheese from the (brand new, slightly overpriced) floor, the Tripp Trapp, the table (new, not overpriced, but still new) and my once white and pale blue sequinned t-shirt, I thought ahead to bath time.
It would have to be a shower. Flying solo on a Friday night, pre open bottle of wine is always a little daunting. I sometimes find myself floating into a daze where I fast forward past the bath, bottles, teeth brushing, stories, loo trips, tucking in, even the kisses – right through to me sitting at the table eating something that involves pastry, a rich thick sauce and possibly something sweet and chocolately afterwards.
The entire process is far easier when you are two. And I am very lucky to be one of two. Some days it can be kind of hard to appreciate that fact, but for the vast majority of the last ten years I’ve felt very grateful. Especially on that April day in 2005 when my now husband and I decided to set our differences aside and make a go of our relationship after a desperate and desolate six week break when we reviewed our differing goals and desires for our lives ahead.
The initial reason I thought about writing this post was down to the fact that there’s a party in store. It’s the eve of my lovely parents 40th wedding anniversary celebrations.
Tomorrow, 80, yes eight – zero friends and loved ones will join them to toast everything that they’ve achieved since they married as 21 year old sweethearts all those years ago.
Marquee, disco ball, band, food, dancing – the whole shebang. Well, it’s not every day you make it to this kind of milestone.
Forty. That takes some doing.
And knowing that I’ve inherited both good and bad traits from both of my parents, as well as having spent the past month during our house renovations living under the same roof as my dear mum and dad, I know two things.
One. There must be days when they both say ‘bloody hell you’re driving me around the twist’.
Two. There are must be days when they smile to themselves over their ritual soup and a roll lunch and think ‘bloody hell I’m so lucky to have found the one’.
Tonight I’m going to bed alone but tomorrow my husband will be home. I must remember point two when he returns tired and irritable, wanting his bed and using the ‘shall we tidy the house a bit today?’ approach. Because we all know who the ‘we’ in this house is.
So I’m not necessarily leaving you with this, but reminding myself of this. If my marriage is over what would I miss?
1. Laughing uncontrollably and asking him to carry me to bed. Followed by further hysterics when he actually agrees to do it.
2. Posting things down the back of his trousers when he’s not looking. Like the sopping wet washing up sponge.
3. Sitting in an Oxford cafe on a Sunday morning eating a full English.
4. Him seeking out the window seat so we can people watch.
5. That he tells Sky that we watch rom coms….oh and action films.
6. The tolerance of my car boot bargain addiction. Or the fact that he pretends not to see my haul. Or that he doesn’t tell me I’m stupid for not checking the printer in the box was the same as the picture on the box. We learn from our mistakes.
7. That he finds me attractive after two children with zero attempts to diet my way back to being a lollypop head.
8. That he holds open the door.
9. That he posts Instagram photos for me with our own hashtag when he’s away.
10. That he always asks how my day was. And listens.
We all know that no marriage is perfect. If you think you have one, you’re in denial about something or other. So I will leave you with this.
Things I wouldn’t miss.
1. ‘Where else is my wet towel supposed to go?’
2. ‘Shall we think about cleaning this carpet?’.
3. ‘I’m going to pop to the gym’.
4. ‘How long will dinner be?’, ‘5 minutes’, ‘Can I eat a snack very quickly? Just a sandwich?’
5. ‘Can you take the baby, I can’t sort two children at the same time’.
6. ‘Is there any milk?’
7. ‘There’s no milk’
8. ‘I haven’t got any clean pants, are we doing a wash today?’
9. ‘I can’t put it away, I don’t know where it goes’
10. ‘Have we got my mum a birthday present?’
I guess if I’m keeping lists I may not make it to 40 years.
Happy anniversary mum and dad – I’m extremely proud of you.
Oh and finally, by some strange, binding coincidence, I’m currently on chapter two of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which is about marriage. This quote stuck with me.
“The atmosphere of my marriage set the weather for my whole life”.
And now we are in a heat wave. Hopefully a marital scorcher too. Full circle. Which reminds me of something my dad said in his father of the bride speech about him wanting me to meet and marry a man I loved. I did Dad.
Tags: days out UK, Family days out, LegoLand Windsor, what to do with kids in summer holidays
We’ve reviewed quite a few family days out over the years, but none quite as exciting as LEGOLAND. For weeks before the trip our four year old was asking how many sleeps to go. By the morning of the trip he was beside himself with excitement. He wasn’t disappointed – and neither were we.
We visited on the opening day of the Duplo Valley Splash Park – and the sun shone hot and beautifully all day for us.
We started at the Star Wars exhibition (at The Beginning) – I confess to not being a fanatic but found the models fascinating – the atmosphere, lighting and sound effects were totally transporting and magical. Within moments of being inside we felt like big kids – husband and I beamed at each other, excited to find out what was around the next corner.
From there, we explored the park and rides. We were lucky to have Q-Bot passes so we didn’t have to queue for any of the rides, although the park wasn’t overly busy either so it would have been ok – if you’re planning to visit, avoid inset days – we went on the last Sunday of half term and it was relatively calm – maybe people assumed it would be manic. Q-Bot isn’t cheap so visit the Q-Bot page to find out more.
Our favourite rides included the Fire Academy (in Traffic) which you pump to move along in your engine to the house and then pump water to put a pretend fire out – it’s a race against each of the other engines. We also loved Laser Raiders (in Kingdom of the Pharaohs) – you travel around in ghost train style carts with laser guns shooting at targets above the skeletons heads. Four year old thought it was amazing – he shot nothing but had no idea and thought it was the best thing ever!
The Pirates of Skeleton Bay show at The Harbour was fantastic – true stuntmen (stunt people?) with flips and jumps off the tallest towers into the water with flames and all sorts – we were all gripped and it was a nice pitstop before lunch. We ate at Burger Ranch – I had a falafel burger which was huge and tasty – enough fuel for the rest of the afternoon and being ruled by our stomachs as a family, we were ready to sit and eat something filling. We did give in and buy one of the kids refillable drinks bottles which was pricy at £7 but we bought it late in the day so didn’t really get to use the refills – I can’t remember if they were free, I think so. There are lots of tea and coffee stops which is really hand.
After lunch we visited MiniLand which is just amazing – mini model towns and cities from across the UK, Europe and US made of Lego. The London attractions were stunning, as were the docks and US space centre / NASA areas – you felt like you were getting a true birds eye view of these somewhat classified places you’d never get to visit. We could have wandered around for longer but we were more interested than Bear who was desperate to get to the Splash Park. I went to find a cash machine for ice creams while the boys changed into their swimmers. They didn’t play for long but the sprinklers were a hit and the warm weather enticed more people in to play. It was well supervised and although it looked a little precarious in parts you could see that the surfaces were all non-slip (paranoid parent). I packed my cossie but didn’t feel I was missing out by staying at a safe viewing distance – I’m still covering up the body of a busy mum with a six month old and a chocolate habit.
We also managed to squeeze in a 4D viewing of a Lego Chima movie which was fab – the fire, smoke, rain and snow took us all by surprise and I admit to squealing slightly. Opposite there, in the Exploratorium you can sit and build Lego Heroes which was a great chance to stop and do something quietly for 20 minutes. After that, husband took Bear on the Atlantis Submarine Voyage which sounded amazing and I wished I’d been on it too – a real deep sea adventure complete with sharks.
So as well as a Pirate Boat ride, panning for gold (which you receive a medal for), balloon flights and more, we finished with a quick look around the shop where I secretly got Bear a Lego watch for his fifth birthday, as well as buying myself a bright pink Lego Box for my desk. Well….I still love Lego too.
The service everywhere was really good, everything is really clean, there are plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities – everything is very well planned and laid out. Thumbs up.
All in all we had an incredible day. It’s well worth the trip, the ticket price (maybe not the Q-Bot ticket so pick your day wisely) and I would absolutely guarantee taking home shattered but very happy children. Enjoy.
We were lucky to be given free entry and Q-Bot passes. I stick to the Bloggers with Integrity code to post honest and open reviews which are informative, useful and hopefully inspiring.