Keeping safe on the roads

A couple of weeks ago we took our car in to get a bearing fixed. Little did we know we’d be walking out with four new tyres! All our tyres had a lot of wear and two were below the legal limit. It’s scary to say the least. We drive round in these big old metal boxes and sometimes it’s so easy to forget what’s at stake.

The mechanic was a lovely guy but said the tread on tyres has a huge impact on stopping distance, ability to drive in icy conditions and loads of other heart stopping stuff. We know this, of course we do. But I don’t about you, I’m so focussed on car seats and seat belts that I sometimes forget about the actual mechanics of keeping us safe. I’m keeping a few names and numbers handy, I guess they are as important as my dentist or my massage therapist! One of the leading tyre networks is Point S! They have a presence across the country from down south to Point S Leeds.

We do so much in the car as a family, holidays, camping, days out and the one place I really need to feel safe in in there. You can’t do anything about other drivers but you can make sure everything on your car in in tip top condition.

Last year I spend hours cruising the Internet looking for the right car seat – it’s hugely important but if there’s something I can do to stop us getting into an accident in the first place then that’s exactly what I’m going to do.we all go to places like Halfords for car seat fitting so why not pencil in a service or get them to check your tyres, while you’re there.

MOTs lull us into a false sense of security, it’s once a year – a lot can can happen in 12 month. So if there’s one thing I’m adding to my New Year’s resolutions this year it’s to think outside the box – big metal box I get in and drive around with my baby in the back. I’m going to get my tyres checked every six months – why wouldn’t I?

Post- Christmas Slimming World update

It’s been two weeks since I skulked back into Slimming World wearing very little – anticipating the heave of the scales as I huffed my post – Christmas body on board.

“Two and a half on” said Jean – who’s newly trained on all things weighing following a complaint to head office about the lack of expertise in our little Saturday morning group. Apparently one old age pensioner who’d attempted to join had been unable to buy the SW highfi bars as no one was on ‘shop’ duty, plus his weight had been written down incorrectly.

Quite frankly the bit that stayed with me was it was a little old man who’d emailed SW head office – it was a little cloud of comedy and while others were scowling at this outrageous accusation, I was having a little chuckle to myself.

Anyway, back to the two-and-a-half poundage.

“Well done”, said Jean. I could tell from the sparkle in her eyes that every gain she registered today made her own horrendous Christmas pudge a little easier to bear. I know this because during holy communion ( group discussion) she said she was going on a refresher course following a slight gain. For this I read HQ had ordered her to explain her bulging waistline and no doubt force a six week boot camp under threat of having her SW posters torn down from all lamp posts.

I was quite chuffed with my gain.Curly Wurly hidden in jumpers woman put on five pounds and one, it has to be said humongous lady gained nine. I fear I may have clapped in the wrong place when this was revealed because. Well because that’s just bloody impressive! The woman who stopped taking her depression medication has not been seen for weeks – I suspect she may be under a duvet with a large bar of Dairy Milk preparing poison pen letters to Jean using cut outs from this month’s SW magazine.

So here I am, I’ve lost that weight plus another three and I’m on a roll. I just have to make sure it’s not a sausage one.

Bunny Jump review

This week it’s mostly been about Christmas films and games in our house. So when we were asked to try out Universal Games’ Bunny Jump gam it seemed a perfect addition to our Christmas countdown. It’s proved a big hit with boys big and small! The premise is a bit of a take on the old classic, Kerplunk.
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A little bunny resides over his fields of carrots and you are each given a basket. The idea is to keep your nerve and remove the carrots for the field, until the bunny jumps. Each player spins for a go and to see how many carrots you need to remove from the field.
Arthur loved trying to catch the bunny when he jumped up – it did mean some of the rules of fame were lost amid the excitement but hey ho, we had fun!

Although aimed at 5+, it was very easy to play with a three a dabble year old and it held his interest. He loved the idea and once he’s seen it jump up he was hooked! It has that element of surprise which even managed to keep me and Jonathan occupied for a few games too.

Easy to assemble and quick to get up and running it’s a great addition to our family games and one we’ll definitely be getting out over the Christmas holidays.

It’s that time again – gym mats at the ready!

So, it’s January 1. The television has turned from warm scenes of festive treats to a berating barrage of Activa yoghurt and that Flora stuff that lowers your cholesterol. Oh how it laughs at our pudgy self- induced slumber, knowing at a flick of an adman’s switch,it’s all yoga mats and gym memberships.

Enough of my anthropomorphic relationship with the TV. I was planning to write my New Year’s resolutions but I can’t really be bothered. I know what I want to do but I’m not quite ready to let you all know. So, in a shameful fit of laziness here’s what I wrote this time last year…the disclaimer still stands.

NEW YEAR…here we go again.

So it’s over. The tree is down in some kind of symbolic needle-fuelled end to the festivities. My bank balance is a quivering wreck and my thighs are hoping for a speedy detox before the increased chaffing causes a small bush fire.

Now it’s time to get through January and yes, yes, there are brisk walks and ooh, everyone loves it when it’s sunny and frosty and bright but it sucks. It’s the motel month to November and December’s sumptuous 5star hotel. It’s ages until anything good happens and February is just as awful. Toddlers and bad weather is another reason to want to run into the arms of Spring. Already this week Arthur has rolled in dog pooh- not directly January’s fault but still.

Plus all he wants to do is go outside and splash in puddles and mud. According to many a Pinterest board this is fabulous but the reality is shed loads of washing you can’t get dry anywhere and constantly having to wear your ‘big’ coat and being on the look out for mud relating incidents.

So while I’m in such good spirits here are my New Year’s resolutions:

1 Sleep as much as possible through January – if it’s good enough for tortoises and all that.
2 Invent a mystery illness that prevents my going outside
3 Increase the level of guilt I place upon Arthur’s dad to take up the mantel and do stuff outside.
4 Buy unashamedly large pants in which to tuck Christmas until Spring when I regain motivation
5 When someone asks what I’m doing this weekend I want to have the courage to say: Nothing, I’m desperately sad it’s January and will be inside until it passes.

*Please note this post is in association with a tongue firmly placed in my cheek.

My favourite Christmas things

A few of my favourite Christmas things

1.My mum. Plain and simple this woman cooks up a storm. Not only was there full on Turkey deliciousness but dark chocolate infused Christmas pudding, Merry Berry’s White choc and ginger cheesecake. Love her.

2.Boxing Day morning, still a generous sprinkling of Magic but it’s shed the manic blur of wrapping paper. It’s the more thoughtful sibling, allowing play and contemplation and, perhaps most importantly, Christmas dinner tastes better the next day!

3.Undercover chocolate annihilation. This may just be me, but refers to the overwhelming urge to steal chocolates from all available pots, boxes and trays. The real key is to achieve this state of chocolatelyness when no one else sees. Melting a whole Lindor ball in your mouth with no one suspecting a thing is not to be underestimated.

4.The freedom a little light bad parenting brings. Want chocolate for breakfast? No problem, it’s Christmas. More tV? Of course please pick from the 6000 films I’ve recorded for you. In fact I’m writing this while Arthur watches Horrid a Henry again.

4.The anticipation of the new slim fit me that will begin to emerge from mid January. It’s something I hold dear every year.

Happy New Year to all, may your knees last you a lifetime and your resolutions at least past lunchtime.

Center Parcs – a fantastic winter wonderland

In the height of summer I decided to book us a little Christmas family weekend to Center Parcs.

Fast forward a few months and we arrived at Elveden Forest laden down with food and boots and coats and a sense that Christmas was about to start. Center Parcs, Eleveden is nestled in the woods, and as soon as you arrived I could feel the festive levels ramping up!

The car park had a huge snow-covered tree and in the distance a while sleigh sat driverless among the trees. “Where’s Santa?” Arthur asked. “ He’s here, but he’s waiting for you in his workshop.” Oh my god I was ridiculously excited and so far so

Arriving was an easy process, I had been warned there could be big queues and long waits once the barriers were open for people to get to their lodges. But we cruised through – I have a sneaking suspicion Jonathan drove down a one-way road – but hey ho.chrimbo5

Our little log cabin was hugely impressive – it’s not cheap but inside it’s everything you could wish for. We booked the Woodland Lodge but there are loads of options. It has two good sized bedrooms, a bathroom with toilet and separate toilet plus a spacious living area and fully equipped kitchen. Our first afternoon was spent wandering around and finding our feet, we had an early dinner in Huck’s American Diner and then headed back for a cosy night in front of our real fire.

The rest of the time was filled with swimming in the fantastic pools, riding bikes through the forests, spotting deer and squirrels from our huge windows in our little cabin and basically having a fantastic time.

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On Sunday Arthur met Santa in his workshop and they’d done a great job with a magical post office, wonderful scenes with elves and a real sense of wonder – the present was good quality too. We booked in advance and for £11, I think it was good value. There were also some reindeer waiting outside to say hello and you could feed them and find out all about where they lived and what they liked to do.
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The pool area is faultless, despite being very busy it was spotlessly clean and really easy to navigate. In my excitement I managed to take Arthur down a, slightly faster than planned, water side. This resulted in a momentarily upset little boy who spent much of the day saying: “Mummy why did you make me go on the slide and push me under water?”
The children’s area is amazing with loads of slides, water squirters , splash areas and fun stuff for little people. I loved the lazy river and the secret pools around the edges which offered a chance to warm up before heading back in for more fun.

Jonathan tried out the Cyclone water slide which apparently was ‘very fast, quite quick and at one point left me free-falling in the air’. Earlier that day I’d queued up behind a woman who told me she’s been on and it was the worst five minutes of her life – I quickly decided it wasn’t for me. We cooked in our lodge two nights and on the Sunday there was a brilliant free fireworks display early evening so all the little people could enjoy it too.

I loved it and can’t wait to go back. Yes the activities can be expensive and I’d recommend planning to take at least some food with you – although to be fair their supermarket was well stocked and about the same prices as a normal supermarket.
But it’s perfect for families, there was a real sense of Christmas and the decorations were fab. Our accommodation was faultless and we enjoyed three great days together as a family – what more can you ask.

Bingo – not just for the golden oldies!

Bingo halls used to be filled with purple- haired old ladies with a ever-ready supply of time and dabblers. But, let me tell you, the world of Bingo is changing! Take a look below – us Bingo players are getting younger. Online bingo has exploded and let’s face it we all want to try our luck winning some cash from the comfort of our own home.

It’s not for everyone but for the occasional dabble with Lady Luck you can’t beat a bit of Bingo! Click here if you want to see what all the fuss is about.
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Pop Goes Your Name CD review

Arthur loves music – in fact one f his favourite pastimes is to spend hours breakdancing!

So when we were asked to review a personalised CD from Pop Goes Your Name, it seemed like a great idea. The CD, it comes with twelve songs, all personalised with your child’s name.

There are 800 names to choose from so it’s really flexible and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it sounded. You have to confirm pronunciation as well so you’re happy with how your child’s name will sound. Obviously the names are just dropped into the song but it flows really well and Arthur so was chuffed.

“Mummy,are they all singing about me?”
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Let’s face it, most pre-schoolers are the centre of their own world, so to have a whole twelve songs dedicated to him was a win/win situation! He loves the Rockstar song and the blues-inspired song about being hungry. I’ve got a soft spot for The Wiggle song – purely because he looks so cute when he dances to it! He’s already requested the Happy Birthday song for his party in March. The songs are very catchy and I can often be found wandering around the house singing “Arthur.. this is your special day…let’s celebrate.”

On the first day we had it, we took it on a long journey and Arthur insisted on playing it over and over again and when we get home from nursery he goes to the shelf and gets it himself. It’s become a bit of a night time ritual to have the Wiggle song before bed!

The CD looks great and all the songs are nice and short so perfect for little attention spans. At £12.95 I think it’s a really affordable way to give your child a personal present.

Enhance your space this Christmas

It’s official. The 1st of December and I’ve decided to have a declutter.I still absolutely believe that when I go to sleep Arthur’s toys multiply, like some subversive force of nature I wake to find piles more crowding my sitting room!

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Well no more. In anticipation of the Christmas toy overload I’m taking a firm hand to my house and getting organised. Firstly I’ve taken everything out from behind the sofa where it lives in higgledy piggleydy boxes and organised them into toys he no longer plays with, toys he loves and toys I have no idea where they came from. I’m being tough – I’m not asking him because this will lead to a meltdown. I’ve managed to see some of them on Gumtree so making a few pennies for Christmas too – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and there’s usually someone looking for what you’re selling so definitely worth a try – and it’s free.

It’s good for the soul to have a clear out. If my house feels organised then my head somehow follows and in turn I’m just a bit nicer all round – especially this time of year when space is of a premium. I want to get to Christmas with a house that feels ready, no one groaning at the seams in anticipation of yet more ‘stuff’.

I’ve spied some fantastic children’s toy boxes and storage in trusty Ikea so I’m going to make a brave pre-Christmas trip there next week. I like the stacking boxes and it means the evening tidy is so much quicker.

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Next on my list is a trip to B&Q for a new bathroom cabinet because, along with Arthur’s toys multiplying, it seems my bottles and jars of dubiously potent beauty products have also been doing the same! I’ve been trying to cram them into one wicker basket but I need something with a lid. In fact that’s my ultimate top tip – storage with lids! Out of sight out of mind is so true when it comes to decluttering.

We have a massive loft which has been converted but it’s still a dumping ground and because it feels so far away I never really go up there. Yesterday, as part of my epic declutter, I braved the stairs and wow – we certainly know how to hoard! Now if I had storage options from somewhere like http://www.warehousestoragesolutions.com It would have saved me loads of time and meant I could shift all the clutter into their storage until I needed it – if ever! Then I have the whole loft to  store all the camping gear, climbing gear (other half’s) and generally remind myself what the carpet looks like while keeping everything neat and tidy. It would be perfect for the big bulky items we have up there.

 I’m on a roll and by 15 December when my decks go up I’ll have a decluttered haven – that is unless Arthur discovered the toys are missing then it could be a very different story!

Time for school

My hand hovered over the send button for some time.

My baby’s school application was almost sent but I needed a moment to breathe through the last three years and just adjust, to let his hand sit a little looser in mine.

I thought of all the times I’d felt short tempered with him, all the moments I’d asked him to wait while I finished a text and my heart hurt. Because in less than a year he won’t be all mine. Yes he goes to nursery but somehow that’s cocooned in a preschool bubble of safety – there are babies and nap times and  cuddles.

Do they even get cuddled at school? What if he gets worried and forgets where the toilets are? What if someone says something that upsets him? Will someone help him with his lunch if he gets in a muddle?

I pressed send because life has no punctuation. We can’t pause for a year or two – it’s a continuum of constant change. Some is seamless and some leaves me bereft and slightly lost. Will he still call me mummy when he’s at school? Will he want his hair cut short because someone older says he should?

I’m used to that little piece of my heart that escaped when he was born, dancing around the house, playing at nursery and splashing in  puddles. I know I’ll get used to the next bit but for now I need to indulge my sense of loss because, quite frankly that send button was the  moment I saw him dancing on his own.

 

I just hope he can open his bloody lunchbox!