Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 calendar giveaway, courtesy of WSPA

Image credit: WSPA
Before we all wake up tomorrow in a completely different year to the one we're in now, are you prepared for what 2013 might bring?

If you're anything like me the answer is probably, 'not quite'.  With so many things going on in my family's life - appointments, clubs, childcare arrangements etc. - I find that if I don't make a record of them anywhere, they can very easily get forgotten.   Plus, 2012 seemed to fly by so I'm probably going to need a calendar to help me keep track of the days!

Yes, something like a calendar is vital for us.   Of course, then there's the problem of whether you buy a 'celebrity' one (and risk looking like you're going through some sort of mid-life crisis, desperately trying to cling onto your youth) or a standard, non-descript one from your local newsagents (making you look ancient and boring to whoever may walk through your door).  Thankfully, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have produced their own charity calendars.  So not only will you get an attractive wildlife calendar, but you'll know you've donated to a good cause.

And for those of you who may not yet have gotten round to buying a calendar for 2013, I have three copies of the charity's Bears Wall Calendar to give away.  Interested?

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas 2012: The year the magic began

Christmas 2012It came.  It saw.  It went.  Christmas that is.  The big day that we'd been preparing for and building up to for weeks beforehand is over and a new year is fast approaching.

I'm a little sad to have waved goodbye to Christmas 2012.  For the very first time, Sophia understood about Father Christmas and was so, so excited. 

She became Santa's Mum and Dad's little helper throughout December; wanting to help get all the Christmas decorations out; set up the Christmas tree; hang up the tree ornaments; helping to wrap presents (not hers or Dexter's obviously because Santa and his elves do all that). 

The countdown to Christmas began on December 1st - the Christmas tree was already up and the re-usable advent calendars (which I love) filled to the brim with little treats. 

Friday, 28 December 2012

(Review) Holy Smoke Batman! It's The Dark Knight Rises DVD

Batman Logo
Image credit: Methodshop.com | Flickr
"Dinn-er, dinn-er, dinn-er, dinn-er, dinn-er, dinn-er, dinn-er, dinn-er, Batman!" 

I bet you were all singing along to that weren't you?  You don't have to pretend; of course you were.  And thinking of that old Batman joke I'm sure (why do you think I wrote the quote as I did?!).  

I used to watch Batman and Robin growing up.  What a camp, colourful delight of a TV show it was.  My favourite villain was always the Joker, although my sister being a little older than me admired Catwoman.

Tim Burton brought both of these arch-enemies to life in his first two Batman films as dark yet over-the-top caricatures.  I throughly enjoyed both films.  Then came Christopher Nolan, re-telling the Batman story in a way I didn't think possible.  Finally, we got to understand how Bruce Wayne came to be such an awesome fighter and owner of some very cool 'toys'.  He gave us a chilling and psychopathic Joker (much kudos to Heath Ledger for his performance) and now, in his latest (and supposedly last) Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, Catwoman joins the fray.



Monday, 24 December 2012

Santa Claus is coming to town

"You better watch out, you better not cry.  You better not pout, I'm telling you why.  Santa Claus is coming to town."

Ho, ho, ho.  Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus is coming to town

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Even our chairs are getting festive!

Elmo gets festive with Woody and Buzz


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas: "Show Real" video challenge

Earlier this year I began a video challenge linky - my bi-monthly "Show Real" video challenges - to try to encourage more people to experiment and have fun with video.  You may or may not have noticed that I've not actually set a challenge for the last few months; I've been rather pre-occupied with other ventures (like developing and building my Working Parents United website).  Sorry about that.

But, I can't let this year end without a Christmassy video and I thought, what an ideal topic for a "Show Real" video challenge!  So here we go folks - what does Christmas mean to you?  Do you have any particular traditions?  Any favourite songs?  Have you got any Christmas crafts you'd like to showcase in a video?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Edible Christmas wreath recipe (Domestic Goddesque guest post)

It's exactly one week until Christmas Day.  One week!  For me, work (in the employment sense) is starting to wind down and my thoughts are now well and truly turning to the big day.

We have our presents sorted, organised, wrapped and posted (where applicable), so we've nothing to worry about on that score.  It's just the issue of food now.  Not only are we making sure we have enough supplies to see us through until the end of next week but also that there are a few treats for us to enjoy too.  It is Christmas after all.

So here, with a fabulous Christmassy recipe is Kelly from Domestic Goddesque.  Not only does her edible Christmas wreath look yummy, this is a great crafty activity and one I shall definitely be trying out with Sophia.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

When work gets in the way

Image credit: David Castillo Dominici | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
You may have noticed that I've been a bit on the quiet side recently.  It's felt peculiar not posting anything on this blog for a whole week.  I wish I could say I've been off living the high life with my family, gallivanting with high society or having wild adventures.   Sadly it's none of those things. I've been working, plain and simple.  Working long days, sometimes 12-hours long, and it's taken me away from the things - mainly people - that I love the most.

I work in PR and there are times when I work on press launches.  These involve organising a press conference, booking venues, writing briefing documents, advising spokespeople, 'selling in' the story to the relevant journalists etc.  It invariably involves a lot of time, effort, work and stress.  My most recent press launch was held earlier this week and saw me having to become single-minded in my work focus and working long hours to get the job done.

Although there is always an immense sense of satisfaction and pride when it all goes well, it doesn't thrill me like it used to.  That's because I know it's come at the expense of time with my children and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's having my precious time at home being stolen from me.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Win! Christmas ice skating at Westfield Stratford City

In London, one thing I notice about winter and the onset of Christmas, is the sudden appearance of outdoor ice skating rinks.  It always looks such fun and so festive with the Christmas lights lit up and a choice of whizzing (or stumbling in my case) around the ice or taking a break and warming your gloved hands around a cup of mulled wine.

So, with Christmas Day now only three weeks away - yes, only three weeks! - I'm offering one lucky reader a family ticket for four people (minimum of two children) to enjoy a spot of outdoor ice skating at Westfield Stratford City on the date of your choosing.  Ever fancied trying out some of those Dancing on Ice moves?  Now's your chance.

Ice Skating at Westfield Stratford City
Image credit: Westfield Stratford City.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

From woman to mother: The discovery of that first pregnancy

Image credit: Fred Jala | Flickr 
Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, who have announced that they are expecting a royal baby.  What wonderful news to top off a fantastic Jubilee year! 

I wish them all the best and hope the pregnancy runs smoothly.  Discovering you're pregnant is a magical experience and although Kate is reported to be suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum, I am sure they are so excited at the thought of the two of them becoming a three (or maybe more - who's taking bets?).

Their announcement took me back to 2008 when I first found out that I was to become a mother for the very first time.  Taking the decision to begin a family is a truly momentous step; a decision very easily taken but one that will change your priorities and identity for the rest of your life.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Review - Merry Stickmas! Card making kits for kids

So, today is the first of December.  There's no getting away from it - Christmas is well and truly on its way!   With that realisation comes the knowledge it's once more that time to set aside a number of evenings to commit to the writing of Christmas cards.

I must admit that I don't overly enjoy writing out Christmas cards - my wrist begins to ache after a while - but I do enjoy receiving them and hope that the cards I send can help raise a smile on the faces of those who get them.  When in comes to family in particular, I like to try and personalise cards as much as possible and get the children involved.  That way, the card is almost like a gift in itself to family members who we don't get to see as often as we would like.

And this year is no exception.  I was wondering what we could try and do this year - possibly some potato printing or a glittery, hand-drawn picture - when the offer of trying out some card making stickers landed in my inbox.  Merry Stickmas! Card making kits are aimed at children aged three and above and cost £6 per pack with free UK-wide P&P.  Each kit includes six sheets of stickers, 12 blank cards, and 12 envelopes in each pack.


Friday, 30 November 2012

What's the secret to being a good parent?

What sort of things make a good mother or father?  Is there a particular 'secret' to good parenting?  I've been pondering these questions since reading a column in The Independent earlier this week asking what makes a good parent.  This column, penned by Annalisa Barbieri, was itself inspired after the news of a couple who had their foster children taken away from them, solely for the fact they support Ukip.

So, what does make a good parent?  Ms. Barbieri concludes that it must be trust.  Trust in your child and also in yourself for doing as good a job as possible at this parenting lark.  And to that end, I agree.  But, I think the the 'secret' (if there is such a thing) is more than that; more complex, more difficult but also so rewarding.

Image credit: Photostock | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, back to the question; what makes a good parent?  Here are my top five thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

First haircut


Friday, 23 November 2012

Review - Le Toy Van Honeybake Cookie Set

Ever since Sophia was little, she has had moments where she's enjoyed role-playing games.  One of her favourites is hosting a 'teddy bear's picnic' and gathering her soft toys together to enjoy imaginary tea and cake.

I love watching her imagination take flight and I can see it begin to take root within Dexter's personality too.  I think it's really positive because I believe it helps to develop a child's creativity so I try to encourage role-play wherever possible.  That's why, when I was approached by Big Game Hunters to review one of their products and spotted the Le Toy Van Honeybake Cookie Set on their website, I jumped at the chance.

Le Toy Van Honeybake Cookie Set

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

BBC WM, working parents and me

Last Sunday, I was interviewed by Richard Wilford on BBC WM about the pros and cons of being a working parent.  It was part of their weekly 'Sunday Dilemma' slot and was inspired by the Government's announcement to introduce flexible parental leave for the first year of a child's life.

While I didn't manage to slip a mention of Chez Mummy into the interview, I did talk about my other website, Working Parents United - huzzah!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Review - CuddleUpPet Pink Poodle

Look out - there's a new breed of blanket!

One of the things I love about winter is cuddling up with my children on the sofa snug under a blanket, watching a film while the fire roars and the cold, winter wind rattles the windows from outside.  Or, when you're feeling under the weather and you can snuggle down beneath a blanket, curling up on the sofa while others bring you tea and snacks, and generally just taking care of your every whim.  Or perhaps that latter one is just wishful thinking...

If you can't tell, I think blankets are, in general, ace.  There's something really lovely about wrapping yourself up in one.  As a parent, they come in so useful when your children are ill and I should know; in the last few weeks both Sophia and Dexter have battled through chickenpox only to succumb to winter coughs and colds (which they've just so happened to pass on to me, joy of joys).  My children have therefore spent an inordinate amount of time, snuggled under a blanket on the sofa, while I dutifully take their temperature and bring them drinks, snacks and medicine.

The other thing when children are ill, of course, is that they don't have the energy to do much (hence the reason for spending so much time lying on the sofa).  And let's face it, even the widest DVD collection isn't going to stop it getting pretty dull after a while.  Well, there's a new blanket in town that will keep kids snug and could help guard against any illness-related boredom. It's called the CuddleUpPet.  Check it out...

CuddleUpPet Pink Poodle

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Flexible parental leave: Will it work?

The Government has announced plans to introduced flexible parental leave in place of traditional maternity and paternity leave.  The idea is that mothers and fathers will be able to choose who stays at home and for how long during their child's first year.  At the moment, women can choose to take up to 52 weeks off work for maternity leave but under new proposals, this could be shared equally with the father, in whatever way the couple chooses (apart from the first two weeks, or first four weeks for manual workers.  This is to ensure the woman's body has some time to recover from childbirth).

Image credit: Stuart Miles | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Review - Cbeebies The Album

Cbeebies CD AlbumThere are a few numbers that, as parents, seem to have magical properties.  Take the number five for example.  If I want my children to help tidy up the man-made (or rather, child-made) sea of mess and chaos, or do some other sort of task, all I have to do is count to five (for some parents this magic number may be three).  More often than not, whatever it is I want my children to do, will be done by the time I've reached that number.

Likewise, if my children are being rowdy, restless or having an all-out, scream-the-house-down tantrum, the number 71 has calming properties.  It can quieten them and sometimes even succeeds in raising a smile or two.

Magic.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Could you survive on the UK's State Pension?

How easy would you find it living off nothing but the UK State Pension?  This is a question I've been asked very recently.  According to a survey from NOW: Pensions, only one in two adults admit to saving towards their retirement.  This is despite the fact that we're all living longer and could potentially face 20 or more years of life without a wage.

Image credit: 401(K) 2012 | Flickr

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Date night

Last night, my husband and I had a rare date night.  It was spontaneous, carefree...and so much fun.

Image credit: Sklathill | Flickr

When you become a parent, your world naturally shifts focus.  From that point onwards, it revolves around your child; making sure they are safe, secure, happy and healthy.  It can be easy for your relationship with your wife/husband/partner to take a back seat - after all, you're a Mum and Dad first and a couple second.  That becomes the natural order of things.

So it was a real surprise when I arrived home from work yesterday evening to be told by my husband to get my glad rags on.  We were off for a night at the cinema to watch the new James Bond film, Skyfall.  I got almost giddy with excitement.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Review - Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure

"You're hanging out with us now, pal.  Dignity has nothing to do with it."
- Sid, Ice Age ( 20th Century Fox, 2002)

The Ice Age cometh.  To be more precise, it's already here.  England and Wales has seen areas freeze over and it's slowly reaching other parts of the world.

No, I'm not talking about snow and no, I'm not getting all environmental you.  I am, of course, talking about a brand new show created for arena audiences and featuring all your favourite prehistoric animals: It's Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Don't forget your winter flu jab

Now that Halloween is behind us and Guy Fawkes Night is almost over for another year, my thoughts are turning to winter.  The winter coats, gloves, scarves etc. are now hanging up and ready to be used, to keep us warm as the temperature drops.

As we all begin to prepare for the onset of winter, the Government is launching a new advertising campaign to encourage everyone who's eligible for a free flu jab to go and claim it.  The Department of Health says it's because the numbers of people who are getting their dose of the flu vaccine are down on this time last year.  It might be because the weather was still relatively mild at this point last year, or it might be because it can be easy to forget to make the appointment.  But, whatever the reason, if you're eligible for the free flu jab - please go and claim it!

Flu fighter gets the flu jab
Image credit: NHSE | Flickr

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review - Bags of Love Photo Canvas Print

In my youth, I was never one for taking many photographs.  My attitude was ‘why stand still, taking photos of your life when you could be out there living it?’.  It's a motto that stood me well...in my youth.

But now, as a mother, I am becoming obsessed with photographs.  The one thing about children is that they grow up so fast.  I want to document my children’s path in this world, from mewling newborn infants to know it all teenagers and beyond.  These are memories, like my wedding day, that I cherish.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Let's get flexible

A couple of weeks ago, after more than eight months of holding down my full-time, Monday-to-Friday-in-an-office job, I decided that enough was enough.  I handed in a flexible working application.

Image credit: Stuart Miles | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I work 7.5 hours a day, five days a week and I have a commute that takes up another 2.5 hours in total (on a good day).  They're long old days.  I leave the house after having a quick breakfast with my children and come home just in time to give them a bath and get them into bed.  If I'm lucky, we get about half an hour of playtime in there too.  Then, once Sophia and Dexter are in bed, it's time to crack on with housework, this blog and, of course, my Working Parents United website.

I'm shattered.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Tips on caring for children with chickenpox

We have The Pox.  Of the chicken variety.  Poor little Dexter is slowly getting covered in spots, although is still able to carry a smile (my brave little boy!).

Chickenpox is one of those illnesses that I suppose it's inevitable children will get at some point.  I was just hoping that they wouldn't catch it so soon.  At the moment, Dexter doesn't seem to letting his spots trouble him, which is good news.  But, I'm on alert and gearing myself up for Sophia becoming ill.  She's fine at the moment but I'm sure that will change at some point fairly soon.  Because she's older, I'm certain it will be more of a battle to stop her scratching her skin.

What is chickenpox?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Review - Legoland Windsor Resort

With half-term fast approaching, have you any ideas about how to keep your children occupied?  Have you thought about Legoland Windsor as a 'day out' destination? 

The end of last month was pretty hectic for me, not least because of the launch of Working Parents United.  There was a lot of work involved behind the scenes (and still is) and the launch was tiring yet exhilarating in equal measure.  So it was with great relief that a week off from work fast approached.  My husband and I planned lost of fun activities for the children – it was going to be a real getaway for us all – and Legoland Windsor was amongst them. 


Monday, 15 October 2012

Children and stage shows: Tips for an enjoyable experience

Last year when I started this blog, I wrote about the Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy show that my husband and I took Sophia to watch.  I described how she was mesmerised by the vast majority of the show while Dexter stayed at home with his grandparents because he was only around seven-months-old or so at the time.

But, one year on and things are different.  One year on and both Sophia and Dexter have grown so much.  They're both taller for starters but that's not really what I mean.  Their personalities are getting more distinct every day, they are able to do more and more complex tasks and they are also able to sit and watch their favourite films from start to finish.  One year on and I think both of them would enjoy sitting through an eye-catching, fun, spectacular show.  And, as luck would have it, there's a new show in town which I think they will love and can't wait to take them to see - Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The newest member of the family


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Getting a cat? What to buy...

In a few days time we will be welcoming a new addition into our family - a beautiful, little white and blue kitten.  There is much excited anticipation here in the Chez Mummy household and we've been busy making our home cat-proof, ready for his arrival. 

There's so much to think about when getting a pet and so many things to buy.   Here's our must-have list of essentials when preparing your home for a cat...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Review – The Vampire Diaries Season One DVD boxset

The notion of vampires intrigues me.  I enjoy the mythology in which vampires are steeped; the historical truth behind them; the superstitions from whence they sprang.  I even wrote tens of thousands of words on it for my major dissertation at university (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show to be more precise).

The fairly modern idea of teen supernatural dramas – of which I believe Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the first – brought forth an interesting concept of high school as the stage for metaphorical battles and issues which teenagers face every day (such as ‘fitting in’ and being accepted by peers, being popular, bullying and teenage romance).  If you think about it's quite fitting - vampires are sexualised beings and adolescents have raging hormones of their own as they deal with puberty and, inevitably, sex.

Where Buffy began, others have followed and the Vampire Diaries is one of the most recent in this line of American teenage vampire angst dramas.  I’ve come to this particular television show relatively late – its fourth season is about to begin on ITV2 tonight, while I’m still languishing in the midst of season one – but it’s an interesting one to watch.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

ONEMums in Africa: Show your support

As you know, I am a ONEMums Ambassador - part of a group of bloggers (who are mums, obviously) who support ONE, a grassroots advocacy organisation dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

Two of my fellow ONEMums have been lucky enough to be asked on a trip of a lifetime to go to Ethiopia and see first-hand how ONE is helping third-world communities in need.  They are Michelle from Mummy from the Heart and Jen who writes over at Jenography and is a co-founder of BritMums.  They jet off tonight for two weeks and will be joined by a bunch of American mommy bloggers and an Ethiopian-born model and philanthropist to see the good work that is being done.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Jingle Puzzle review and giveaway

Sophia is mad on jigsaws, she has been since she was about 18-months-old.  You can see she gets a thrill out of putting a picture together piece by piece and I enjoy seeing her co-ordination and mental agility develop as a result.

So, when we were given the opportunity to review a new kind of jigsaw - a Jingle Puzzle - I thought it sounded like the sort of thing Sophia would love. 

Jingle Puzzles are made by Music for Kids and is sold by the website Musicroom.  Each set (of which there are currently four) includes a music-based puzzle, a sing-along CD with bonus story and an activity booklet and stickers.  These puzzles are aimed at three to six-year-olds, to engage them with their first ‘hands-on’ introduction to music.

We were sent an Old MacDonald's Farm Jingle Puzzle to review and, you lucky readers, I have one to give away too!


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Forget the blame game, the priority is to find April Jones

On Monday 1 October 2012, five-year-old April Jones from Machynlleth in Powys, Wales got into a van at around 7pm and hasn't been seen since.  Her parents are naturally said to be "shattered" by her disappearance and the whole community is in shock, with large numbers of people turning out to help search for the little girl.

Stories like this are heartbreaking, especially as a mother to two young children.  I hope April is safe and unharmed, and quickly.  When I was a child, my family used to holiday regularly in Machynlleth, staying at a caravan park just outside of the town.  Although I haven't visited the town for around 15 years, I certainly remember it as a small, quiet, sleepy, market town nestled amongst large Welsh hills.  It's one of the reasons why April's disappearance has particularly affected me.  I remember Machynlleth as being a place where nothing ever really happened; it was so ordinary and so safe.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Set4Sport: When Chez Mummy met Judy Murray

Earlier this week there was a glut of media coverage about new research from Oxford University which highlighted that children who are of school-age and obese are at a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack when they grow up compared with children of a normal weight.  Stories about childhood obesity abound, along with the obviously important messages around leading a healthy lifestyle and incorporating exercise into our lives, ideally from a young age.  As a mother, I'm keen to get my children interested in sport to help keep them fit and healthy.  A lot of mothers, I am sure, share this opinion and there's one in particular who is helping families introduce sport in a fun way.

That mum is Judy Murray.  And I'm pretty sure she knows what she's talking about - she's raised one Wimbledon tennis champion (Jamie) and one Olympic gold medallist and US Open champion (Andy) after all.  Judy is passionate about getting children involved in fun, physical activity, to improve fitness and develop hand-eye co-ordination.  She's developed an initiative called Set4Sport to do just this.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Dialect Dilemma

Please note: this post includes words that are spelt phonetically.  They are not spelling mistakes!

I love hearing my children talk.  Their grasp of language is improving each day.  Dexter’s vocabulary is increasing all the time and he'll also happily chatter away to you in his own special little language, looking at you like he’s holding the most important conversation in the world.

Speaking of conversations, I love holding them with Sophia and listening to her telling me about her day.  Her use of language is coming along in leaps and bounds and her accent is now starting to develop.

I should have been prepared for this; we live near London; my husband was born and raised in the South East; all of his family hail from the area and have fairly regular contact with Sophia and Dexter; the children were born here for goodness sake.  And yet, it has still taken me by surprise.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Time to unite: A new adventure

I have news, exciting news.  I’m stepping out on a new journey; a new adventure that has the potential to change my life as I know it and redefine my version of ‘normal’.  It will affect my whole family, of that there is no doubt, but I’m really hoping that it’ll enrich our lives even more. 

I have two fantastic children, I really do.  But, I feel it’s time for another baby.  And now I have one...of sorts.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Review - Zoflora concentrated disinfectant

Anyone who knows me - I mean really knows me, in real life and stuff - knows that I'm rather house-proud.  Pre-children I would always spend one day each weekend washing, scrubbing, dusting, hoovering, disinfecting, tidying...you get the idea.  I always wanted my home to have a 'show home' quality to it, an ideal that would infuriate my husband from time-to-time.

Since children entered our lives, I've found it much more difficult to keep the house clean and tidy to such a high standard, but I try my best and still strive for that 'show home' feel, especially when I know friends or family are visiting.  So when the offer to review a type of "3 in 1 action" concentrated disinfectant that claims to be "the only disinfectant range that kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, eliminates odours and has a range of twelve fabulous long lasting fragrances", I thought 'why not?'

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Make A Wish

Once upon a time there was a little girl called May.  She was a sweet little girl and the apple of her mum and dad's eye.  But, a cruel twist of fate saw little May diagnosed with a rare form of cancer - Rhabdomyosarcoma - and sadly, this was a fight she would not win.

Back in 2010, the charity Make-A-Wish UK (which grants magical wishes to children and young people aged 3-17 fighting life-threatening conditions) did something very special for May.  She wished to be a princess for a day and the charity made this dream a reality.  May passed away just a couple of months afterwards.  She was five-years-old.

Ever since May's wish was granted, her family have been involved with Make-A-Wish, raising as much money as they can to help other families going through similar experiences.  Now, May's dad, Neil, has made a short video about his daughter to try and encourage as many people as possible to support the charity.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

There may be trouble ahead



Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Review - Dallas (Seasons One and Two DVD Boxset)

Tonight's the night.  After a 21 year break, Dallas is back on our screens.

Does this mean we'll finally find out who shot J.R?  Wait...what do you mean we already know that?  *Googles 'who shot J.R'*.  Oh, right...

I, for one, am really looking forward to the new series of Dallas.  The original ran from 1978 until 1991, lasting for 14 seasons and was the most successful show in the history of television.  It followed the exploits of the Ewing family and was filled with underhand dealings, intrigue, backstabbing, feuds (not just within the Ewing family itself but also with the Barnes' and others) and let's not forget the big hair!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Pets

My husband and I have been talking about pets for a couple of years now.  We have both grown up with animals and really want our children to know the joy that owning a pet can bring.  But, with a young family, when’s the right time to get an animal?

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A tender moment



Friday, 31 August 2012

Review - Cocoa Boutique luxury chocolates

As a mum and having precious little time to myself, it is the simple pleasures that can mean so much.  Like an indulgent, luxurious bubble bath once the children are in bed.  Or sharing a box of chocolates with my husband (if he deserves it!).

So when I was offered the opportunity to put a new chocolate company through its paces, how could I possibly turn it down??!!

The company in question is called Cocoa Boutique and it prides itself on the quality (and pedigree) of its chocolates.  Their website names Barry Colenso as their British Master Chocolatier (he was part of the team who made the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding cake) as well as other Artisan and Master Chocolatiers (including from Belgium) and the tag-line on their home-page reads, "Forget Willy Wonka...This is your golden ticket to chocolate heaven."  A bold claim indeed.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Dexter's christening and a font full of water

Last Sunday, was a special day.  Not just because it was a bank holiday.  Nor was it because of the news that a lion of all things might just be on the prowl in the English countryside (something tells me it was a slow news day).  No, what made Sunday a special day was the fact that it was Dexter’s christening.


That’s right, my cheeky little boy was being baptised.  It was a big occasion; people came from far and wide to celebrate the day with us, some travelling for hours to make it.  But come they did, and my husband and I were so delighted to see so many friends and family members that had made the journey.

Friday, 24 August 2012

A working mother's guilt

Guilt.  It's an unwelcome emotion that has the ability to charge through your body, ripping your heart out and stomping all over it, leaving a bloody mess in the kitchen that you not only have to mop up the best you can, you have to do your best to stop your children slipping in too.

It can take you to you dark places.  Places that you’d never choose to go.  Places that you desperately want to keep your children from.  It can sneak up on you, pouncing when you least expect it.  It did to me this week.

I’ve been a working mother of two for nearly seven months now.  I’ve written before about how tough I've found it and certainly much harder than when I was a working mother of one for some strange, inexplicable reason.  I thought I had found an ‘autopilot’ of sorts to steer me through the working week.  But, no matter how good your ‘autopilot’ is, it seems there are always bumps in the road that can take you off course.

Image credit

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review - Peppa Pig Sports Day App

As a nation, we've been gripped with sporting fever of late what with the spectacle of the London 2012 Olympics and now the Paralympics set to begin in one week.  It appears to have re-awakened an interest in sports for many - local cycling clubs are reporting a swell in membership, for instance - and we're not the only ones getting into the sporting spirit. 

Yes, Peppa Pig's putting on her running shoes, hopping on board her bicycle and going for gold in her very own Peppa Pig Sports Day app.

Now, while I much prefer my children to get outside and engage with sport directly to get - and keep - active and fit, I figured an app like this might be useful in the evenings to help them wind down after a busy day while also giving me the opportunity to talk to them about basic sports.  So, I downloaded the Peppa Pig Sports Day app to my iPad to try it out.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Surviving toddler tantrums

Dexter is nearly 17-months-old now.  He's a lovely, funny, chatty, relaxed (most of the time) little boy...with the most amazing ability to throw the most dramatic tantrums ever.

Seriously.

The term, "terrible two's" is misleading.  It lulls you into a false sense of security that these toddler tantrums won't begin until your child actually turns two-years-old.  But, as any parent to a child older than this will tell you, that is categorically not true.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Our London 2012 Olympic Adventure

It was exactly three weeks ago that the best thing in years to happen to London - heck, this country - began. 

I am, of course, talking about the London 2012 Olympics - what else could I possibly be referring to??!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Review - Diet Chef

A couple of months ago now I was contacted by a company called Diet Chef, who were hoping for a review of their weight loss programme (the premise is that you pay for chef-prepared ready meals and snacks to be delivered to your door therefore controlling your calorie intake).  Now, I'm pretty happy with my weight, not ecstatically over the moon about it, but happy enough.  My husband, on the other hand, has put on a few pounds over the years and is always talking about shedding them.  So, when I told him about the Diet Chef opportunity, he offered his services.

We were sent a menu and my husband picked a day's worth of food to try.  All the food sounded yummy in my opinion and my hubby eventually plumped for treacle and pecan granola (breakfast), spicy tomato and beef soup (lunch), mild chicken tikka masala (dinner) and an apricot and orange bar (snack).  If I'm honest, that sounds like more food than I currently eat so I was pleased that my husband was trying this out instead of me!


When the food arrived I thought it was well packaged but I won't start giving my review as I wasn't the one doing the taste test.  Here's what my husband thought...

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Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Lightning Bolt


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Green fingers and a race against hunger

One thing that I love about having children is seeing how they grow and develop their own personalities.  They have an uncanny ability to surprise you with new traits; passions; opinions.  This is true of my daughter at the moment.  She has surprised me with a real interest in gardening and is getting to be quite green fingered.

It's not something she's inherited from me or my husband.  However, both sets of grandparents grow their own vegetables and she regularly spends time with her more local Grandad helping to water his plants and watching Peter the Potato, Percy the Pea, Clive the Cucumber (and so on) grow big and strong.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Why I love River Island

I heart River Island.  I frigging love them.  To be precise, I love their PR team.  They are my new best friends (okay, that last one might be a slight over-exaggeration but you get my drift).  Yes, I think River Island is the nads.  I have come to this conclusion because of the way they treat, respect and value bloggers.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Music: "Show Real" video challenge

A lot's been going on since my last "Show Real" video challenge; I didn't win the video award in the Brilliance in Blogging (BiB) awards *sob*; I've become one year older *double sob*; and we're having a mega summer of sport (all together now - yay!).

If I'd been better prepared I would have set a sporting theme for the video challenge this time round.  But I wasn't and I didn't.  Major fail on my part, I would've loved to have seen people filming themselves trying to do the long jump / 100m sprint / hammer throw etc.

No, the theme I've chosen instead is...music.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

And relax...


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Hi-de-hi, ho-de-ho, off to Butlins we will go!

What do you think of when you hear the word 'Butlins'?  Amazing holiday venue?  Red coats / blue coats / green coats / technicolour dream coats?  Wet T-shirt competitions and the like?

I've never been to Butlins myself but I've always had an idea that it's just like the fictional holiday camp portrayed in the 1980s sitcom, Hi-de-Hi.  However, I've been hearing rumours that this may not be the case...Maybe it never was.  So, I've decided to go undercover and bring you the truth about Butlins.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Olympic balls and the worst day of my husband's life

Many moons ago, my husband and I entered the ballot for tickets to the 2012 London Olympic Games (yes, LOCOG I'm daring to use this phrase but you can't throw me in jail because it's part of an editorial article. I have read your branding guidelines - ha!).  Lo and behold, we were lucky enough to acquire a handful.

I thought at the time that it would be wonderful to take the children and involve them in this very special event taking place in our country which would only happen once in our lifetime.  So, my husband dutifully booked tickets for the children to one or two events.  Our tickets came and, looking amongst them, it turned out we were to have a full day of Olympic action on 31st July (yep, that's the Tuesday just gone).

Friday, 27 July 2012

Get set for a sporting summer

Tonight's the night.  The 2012 London Olympics officially begin.  A truly momentous, once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

Is anyone excited about this sporting extravaganza that will be taking place across the capital (as well as other parts of the country)?  This summer has so far been an amazing one for our sportsmen and women; Andy Murray making it to the final of Wimbledon; Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France...who knows what will happen next??!

Both my husband and I are both keen for our children to get involved in sport.  We think it's important for them to be active and learn about healthy lifestyles.  It can be very easy to slump in front of a TV all day, or be driven around instead of walking but we want to encourage our children to have the sort of childhoods we both had; running around with friends, cycling, or playing football or rounders in the park.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Review - Mandara Spa Island Paradise Pampering Bath Soak

Pre-children I always used to love treating myself to a luxurious evening bubble bath once a week or so (yep, I certainly know how to live it up!).  Nowadays, as a mum, I find these moments few and far between; I don't think I've managed to take a long bath in peace and quiet since 2010!  So, when the offer to review some Mandara Spa bath products landed in my email inbox, I jumped at the chance - the perfect excuse to force me to make some time for myself.

I was sent their Island Paradise Pampering Bath Soak to try and I have to say, when I opened the box, I was struck by the look of it.  The jar is made of turquoise glass with a gold lid and, with 500ml of bath soak inside, it's a good sized jar that feels weighty in your hand.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tesco fail at car insurance

Update as of 30th July 2012: Since writing this blog post I have received a response from Tesco in relation to my family's awful customer service experience.  I'd recommend taking the time to read the full post including Tesco's response (which I have included at the end of this post) before you pass your final judgement... 

Need car insurance?  I have a tip for you; think twice before going with Tesco.

It's not often I'll be so publicly critical of a company but I think it's warranted today.  They have left me and my family up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

You're not cross are you?

I'm being asked this question a lot at the moment.  My three-year-old wants to know.

What I want to know is, what am I doing wrong to make her continually ask me this question?  How do I stop her worrying?

I don't want her thinking I am cross all the time.  I'm not.  But, whenever a drink is spilt; some food thrown; heck, even just a toy strewn across the carpet, or when I walk in through the door after a day at work, there it is.  That question again.

"You're not cross are you Mum?"

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sink or swim? Tips for introducing swimming lessons

My husband and I have decided that it's time for our three-year-old to have swimming lessons.

Sophia has always been a bit of a water baby.  Ever since her dip in the pool at six-months-old she has loved it.  She's lucky in that her grandparents have their own swimming pool and she can spend hot summer days splashing around and having lots of fun with inflatable rubber rings and the like (apart from this year of course).


Sunday, 8 July 2012

A Birthday Meme

The lovely Susan K Mann tagged me back in March to do an "On My Birthday" meme.  At the time I toyed with the idea of doing it for Dexter's birthday but then time passed and now it's July - oops!  Thankfully my birthday is this month so I can still join in and pretend that I left it this late on purpose so as not to feel like a total and utter failure. 

The rules are that I have to answer some set questions about my very own birthday so, without further ado, here goes...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sweets. How do you eat yours?

I was messing about on twitter on my way home from work last night as I usually do.  I was eating some Fruit Pastilles at the time and thought I'd tweet about my habit for picking out the strawberry and blackcurrant ones and leaving them until last (I mean, you have to or the world will end...right?). 

To my amusement, it sparked a flurry of people owning up to all the weird and wonderful ways they like to eat their treats.  Here, in a nutshell, are all those 'guilty pleasures'...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

First shoes

Last week, I took my one-year-old son on an adventure – shoe shopping!  Sadly the browsing and purchasing of shoes was not for me, oh no, but for Dexter.  The need for the outing was obvious and not before time; we had reached that ‘first shoes’ milestone where socks or comfy slippers no longer cut the mustard with Dexter being 15-months-old and now firmly on his feet at all times, even wanting to walk outdoors.

With Sophia safely at Pre-School, off Dexter and I went on our little jaunt.  I’m of the opinion that first shoes are a big deal and not just because it’s another sign that your baby is growing up far too quickly.  I believe it’s important to visit a reputable retailer to get those little feet measured and buy a proper fitting pair that will support growing feet.  So, where did we go?   I’ll give you three guesses.  Which shop do you think of first when it comes to buying shoes for children?  Yep, you guessed it, we went to Clarks.

Monday, 2 July 2012

A sick child and a hospital dash

Have you ever experienced one of 'those' days?  The ones where you wake up in the morning and everything seems fine, only for it all to disintegrate the further into the day you travel and by the end of the evening it is total chaos?  I have had one of those days today.  When I woke up this morning the last thing I expected was to find myself in my hospital's A&E department come 5pm, cradling a poorly little girl - my poorly little girl - on my knee.  But that was exactly what happened.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

I scream for ice cream



Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Highs and lows of BritMums Live 2012

At 1pm on Friday 22 June, I shut down my computer, cheerily waved goodbye to my colleagues, skipped out of the office (in my head) and hurried along to one of the most anticipated events of my year; BritMums Live!

A massive conference (there were 500 people there), it had a busy schedule of workshops and discussions, stalls to look over, style advice to take, goodie bags to claim, competitions to enter, PR people to speak to and other bloggers to meet.  It was a day and a half long, intense and immense!

BritMums Live Agenda Header

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