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We’ve just come back from a little trip to the SeaLife Centre, one of Toby’s favourite places to visit. He literally loves it! It got me thinking, there are so many ways to teach kids about everything from science to basic preschool knowledge at the SeaLife Centre, without them ever even knowing it. I mean, you can be crafty about it yes?

So, a few things for new time you go to the SeaLife Centre (or indeed any other aquarium):

  • Count the fish

IMG_4010

Sounds daft and pointless but actually kids seem to get a right kick out of counting random things – similar to how we feel about counting the bottles of wine in our well-stocked fridge. If I ask Reuben to sit down and do some maths with me I’m met with the same foot dragging attitude that I feel when it’s time to do laundry, but if I casually drop in “Oh my goodness, what a busy tank. I wonder how many fish are in there, shall we count them?” He seems to have an abundance of mathematical know how. Go figure.

  • Set a task

Ideal for children that like to explore, set them a task to find something out. If they can read his is an extra bonus but if they are Reuben’s age it might be something they will have to ask a member of staff. So the last time we went, I asked Reuben to find out as much about Penguins as he could. He, of course, wanted to share the information with his Dad as opposed to me, I’m boring you understand, but he did pick up a few bits and bobs like what penguins eat, that they can be aggressive and that the SeaLife has Humbolt penguins which are small and not fans of icy climates like you see in movies.

  • Spot the colours

Colours are awesome at SeaWorld. They have this amazing array of fish and coral, you really can’t miss a single colour. It’s an ideal opportunity for toddlers to learn their colours, and for even younger ones like Edith to learn colour recognition such as “point the the blue fishy..” Etc.

  • Learn about pollution

This is something the boys learnt about way back, it was always a big topic for the SeaLife sanctuary team, so we had a good ole chat with them about it and they have picked up a lot. It’s a good way to I still the old “don’t litter” philosophy, in the hope that they will remember it next time and shove that grotty, half eaten lollipop into the bin (or your hand…).

  • Name the animals!

Did you know that animals make up a big part of the science curriculum for KS1? Well they do – it’s a huge part of science, from learning about environments that animals inhabit to learning about recognition of different animals and their wellbeing. It’s all in there, so if you go to a SeaLife Centre, take the chance to learn about different animals – from seals to otters – and how they are kept, their vulnerability status, if they are predators or prey… the list is endless!

So there you go, a few ways to keep up the learning when you’re visiting aquariums this summer!

H x

 

Last week Edie was sent a Britt bunny – a soft, cuddly and oh so adorable bunny cuddly toy that has fast become her must have snuggle companion. She has been nestling into her Britt bunny, which we’re simply calling “Britt” (I know, you don’t have to tell me how creative I am) every night, rubbing her face into it and tracing her fingers along the soft fabric.

The Britt bear was designed in Sydney, Australia waaaaaaay back (cos we’re all old now, you know that don’t you? Ancient.) in 1999 when a very lovely English born lady called Britt Collinson decided she wanted to create her own brand of baby toys and accessories. Her beautiful soft toys began their retail journey at Bondi Beach weekly market and fast became so well known that she expanded past her Australian home into the global market, providing bambinos everywhere with one of her beautiful keepsake teddies to love and cherish. I have no doubt that, had Edith had her Britt bunny from day one, it would have pipped Flora fox (her beloved bestie) to the top soft toy in her bed post.

The very best thing about Britt bear is their emergency bear service. Yep, like the NHS but for teddy bears and a whole lot cooler. Basically, if your little munchkin loses his or her beloved little friend or their sibling chooses to dissect the aforementioned teddy, Britt Bear will repair or replace it. I know that if anything were to happen to Reuben’s Harold bear or Toby’s Fudgy Bear it is possible that myself and Adam would never be allowed to a.) forget it and b.) sleep again through to sheer despair. I love the fact that Britt Bear understand that a soft toy really can become the most important thing in the world to a child, both a safety net and best friend all in one.

Koala_Britt @melijoe.com ivory_31£

This isn’t just a quick brag about how Edie has managed to get her frequently chocolate coated paws on one of these teddies, no sir. I’m offering readers the chance to win one of the iconic Britt Koala teddy bears in a colour of their choosing, simply by entering the rafflecopter competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!

H x

cinema must sees this summer

Have I ever mentioned before that we are TV lovers? I feel like I may have dropped it into conversation once or twice. Anyway, we are, we all love a good movie and as such we love the cinema. We pretty lucky when it comes to the cinema, we have a local, small family run cinema in our town that, quite honestly, top trumps the majority of large well known cinemas and costs us half the price. There is a sad side to cinemas now – for a family of four it can cost us anything from £40 to £70 which is pretty much the prize for a full day trip where we can guarantee the exhaustion of our children and, by proxy, their early retirement to bed and our early indulgence in alcohol. Not so with le cinemata… In fact, despite our love of the cinema, it is one sure fired way to get the kids excited and have them begging for a trip to Toys R Us for the latest totally overpriced loot to accompany the movie. Ahh marketing at its finest.

I’m not selling this cinema lark to you am I? Sorry about that!

We love it, most people love it and, despite the cost and subsequent begging for overpriced toys, it is something that the majority of us remember doing for the first time and look forward to doing with friends, family and, as kids, school.

At the moment the cinema is lighting up like a shining beacon of fun, filled with films that we are all just desperate to see, so I thought I’d share with you our cinema must-see for the next few months, conveniently broken down into for the kids and for the adults categories so you don’t scare your kids shitless taking them to see The Conjuring.

For the kids: (June/July/August 2016)

  • Ice age: Collision Course
  • Secret Life of Pets
  • Roald Dahl’s BFG
  • Finding Dory
  • Pete’s Dragon

The Angry Birds Movie, Zootropolis & The Jungle Book are now finished in a lot of cinemas but have moved to “mini movies” at discount showing rates

Just to note here a lot of cinemas offer film screenings of all these films and older ones at a discounted rate for people with very young children such as Edith or special needs children who maybe require a slightly adjusted screening to help them get the same enjoyment as other kids. Please call your local cinema and ask.

For the grown ups: (July/August 2016)

  • Ghostbusters 3
  • Central Intelligence
  • Now you see me 2
  • Suicide Squad
  • Batman: The killing joke
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • The Legend of Tarzan
  • Independence Day: Resurgence
  • Me Before You
  • Jason Bourne
  • Bridget Jone’s Baby (Sept)
  • Mike and Dave need wedding dates
  • War dogs

So, get your early Saturday morning cinema trips booked and your date nights planned, the cinema appears to be the place to go, and these are my movies to see at the cinema this Summer!

H x

197-Summer-Holidays

So the summer holidays are fast approaching and I have to say that I am actually quite looking forward to them this year! I am looking forward to having the chance to teach, enjoy and spend quality time with the kids – but with that comes the kind of planning that is rarely seen outside of the military barracks – otherwise how the hell will we survive. So last night I sat down with Adam and we went through all the different things we thought would be fun to do/try out with the kids over the summer. Will we get through them all? Ha, don’t be soft, we’ll probably get through a few BUT we will have so many options and each week I will be able to sit down and make a plan for the following week that will fit in around my busy work schedule and the kids, allowing me to really make the most of the holidays. Just to note as well, I’m not suggesting that they should have 24/7 entertainment – quite the opposite as I really think that boredom is good for kids, but we will have to do some stuff otherwise I will require more than wine to see me through…. So, without further a-do, here is the epic list of ways to entertain the kids and summer holiday activities!

  1. Bake a cake
  2. Think inside the box with a giant box and some pens to decorate inside (mess prevention!)
  3. Have a day at work with a parent (for possible)
  4. Learn about a climate and the animals that live there (we’re doing arctic on one day)
  5. Bake brownies
  6. Pick some flowers to dry and press, then laminate
  7. Make your own candles
  8. Bake something we’ve never baked before
  9. Have a picnic in the garden
  10. Have a picnic at Wharram Percy (medieval village)
  11. Visit Dalby Forest and go on a nature trail
  12. Take a bike ride in Dalby Forest
  13. Visit the Railway Museum
  14. Visit Sewerby Hall and Gardens
  15. Take a trip to the beach and have fish and chips
  16. Have a day out with friends at Hunmanby Gap
  17. Learn an Olympic sport
  18. Visit Flamingo Land Zoo
  19. Watch a friendly football match
  20. Visit Chester Zoo
  21. Go stream dipping and see if you can spot fish
  22. Go for a walk and play pooh sticks over the bridge.
  23. Visit the Dinosaur Museum in Hull
  24. Visit Drayton Manor
  25. Visit Hesketh Farm
  26. Make splatter art with egg shells
  27. Chalk painting in the street
  28. Paint the playhouse
  29. Empty, clean and re-fill the pond
  30. Visit Playdales play park
  31. Visit York Maze
  32. Visit the Royal Armouries
  33. Visit Tropical world and Roundhay park
  34. Take a picnic to Roundhay park
  35. Make tye dye clothes
  36. Make jam
  37. Create a farmyard with your animal figures outside
  38. Make a wooden farm or zoo using craft supplies
  39. Have a garden tea party with your dolls
  40. Go strawberry picking
  41. Create a scrapbook each
  42. Go on a treasure hunt at the beach with metal detectors
  43. Go rock pooling
  44. Download printable fun worksheets and do them (take them to school at the beginning of term!)
  45. Create a holiday shoebox to save everything you’ve done
  46. Collect shells at the beach
  47. Have a movie night
  48. Go to the cinema
  49. Sleep out in the garden in a tent
  50. Go camping in a field
  51. Stay up late and sleep in the living room on a blanket bed
  52. Make popcorn and watch a film
  53. Visit the local pottery barn & make something
  54. Visit Goathland
  55. Feed the ducks in Pickering
  56. Visit Mother Shipton’s Cave
  57. Visit Knaresborough for a day
  58. Visit Brimham Rocks
  59. Visit Alton Towers
  60. Visit the SeaLife Centre
  61. Visit Peasholm Park
  62. Play football at the park
  63. Paint a wall picture outside
  64. Cover the kitchen floor with paper and design a mini world for cars/trains
  65. Visit a castle
  66. Take a day trip
  67. Visit Whitby
  68. Go to a country show
  69. Do some dog training with the puppy
  70. Make our own lemonade
  71. Make our own sausage rolls
  72. Visit Honeysuckle Farm in Hornsea
  73. Visit The Deep
  74. Do a car boot and sell some things
  75. Visit a local museum
  76. Visit a local art gallery
  77. Learn to knit with Maw Maw
  78. Buy some cheap trainers and design our own with fabric pens
  79. Fill up the paddling pool and spend the day splashing
  80. Create your own water pillow
  81. Make a puppet show and perform for Daddy after work
  82. Have a cultural food night and try something new
  83. Have a national themed day, learn words from that language & trivia about that country.
  84. Make some flavoured liqueur for Christmas hampers
  85. Practice letters on a letter hunt in the garden
  86. Make a fairy garden
  87. Make a milk bottle igloo
  88. Visit a birds of prey centre
  89. Visit Grandma & Pops
  90. Go puddle splashing
  91. Visit the local swimming pool
  92. Take a day trip to London and visit the British Museum
  93. Take a day trip to London and visit the Natural History Museum
  94. Visit Sheffield Tropical park
  95. Visit Yorkshire Wildlife Park
  96. Make stick wands & play wizards
  97. Make a lava pit in the living room
  98. Make pizzas and watch a movie
  99. Go on a moon walk at night
  100. Go on a bird hunt and see how many different birds you can find
  101. Create some ice art
  102. Visit York’s Chocolate museum and make our own chocolate
  103. Make Roald Dahl meals and tell stories all day
  104. Read a book collection (ours will be Harry Potter)
  105. Make firework art with paint and straws
  106. Make some flower bombs and plant them
  107. Dress up and have a pirate themed day
  108. Make a mud kitchen out of an old palate
  109. Create a new recipe
  110. Make a play dough kitchen
  111. Make play dough
  112. Play giant snakes and ladders in the garden
  113. Take part in a sponsored run, walk or bike ride
  114. Go on a bike ride with family
  115. Set off early and go walking on a planned Moor route
  116. Visit Thornton le Dale for a chocolate milkshake and to feed the ducks
  117. Spend a day being a photographer and camera man/woman
  118. Go to Creepy Crawlies or a soft play area
  119. Visit Clifford’s tower in York
  120. Visit the Jorvik Centre
  121. Learn about a historical event (we will be talking about several things)
  122. Make our own pasta for dinner
  123. Buy some hair chalks and dye your hair for the day.
  124. Learn 1-10 times tables
  125. Have a jelly baff
  126. Tidy up the front garden
  127. Visit the new Water Park at Scarborough
  128. Visit Bolton Abbey
  129. Visit the Festival of Archaeology between 16th – 31st July
  130. Check out the new Tree top nets in Lightwater Valley
  131. Set up a summer blog
  132. Go Geocatching
  133. Have a BBQ party
  134. Visit a trampolining centre
  135. Learn about a different religion for one day each week, visit a place of worship on each day.
  136. Go to a local crafting session put on through the holidays (literally all over)
  137. Have an olympics party
  138. Learn all about an animal
  139. Learn and write a poem
  140. Visit an outdoor theatre
  141. Enter into a family dog show
  142. Buy some body paints and go crazy in your swimwear!
  143. Go to a family disco
  144. Visit Legoland Manchester for the day
  145. Visit Cadbury World for the day
  146. Learn how to make bread
  147. Visit the local library for a reading session
  148. Make a flower crown
  149. Sort through toys/clothes and donate to a local charity shop or women’s shelter
  150. Sew a teddy bear’s outfit
  151. Visit a family-friendly festival
  152. Do an interview with family and friends on a topic of your choice
  153. Check the relevant curriculum and get a head start using teacher’s online resources
  154. Make our own cheese
  155. Make a collage from magazines
  156. Make some footprint art
  157. Make something with paper mache
  158. Make some handprint art
  159. Give in and go on a Pokemon hunt!!
  160. Go horse riding
  161. Go rollerblading
  162. Go bowling
  163. Go on a ferry to Amsterdam (not half as expensive as you may think!)
  164. Make a den in the forest using sticks, leaves and mud
  165. Visit a circus
  166. Make a worm house
  167. Have a movie day and watch films all day
  168. Have a day learning about Kings & Queens of England
  169. Learn and paint world flags
  170. Get some kinetic sand and play with sand on a wet day
  171. Attach chalk to your bikes and create some artwork!
  172. Make some animal footprint casts in the local forest
  173. Write a story
  174. Make a butterfly farm
  175. Learn how to juggle or do a circus skill
  176. Make an ant farm
  177. Make your own bubble bath or soap
  178. Make some mocktails and cocktails together
  179. Do some face painting together (let them do yours!)
  180. Learn about Vikings and dress up as them
  181. Design a cartoon character on the iPad (search apps – there are plenty, some paid, some free)
  182. Make a flicker book (cartoon flicker characters)
  183. Learn about Romans and dress up as them
  184. Plant some flowers in the garden – or do some simply gardening
  185. Make a dream catcher
  186. Learn how to play chopsticks on the piano
  187. Make a sun catcher
  188. Hire a bouncy castle and invite friends over
  189. Make a go kart
  190. Make ice cream or your own lollies!
  191. Play crazy golf
  192. Go indoor rock climbing
  193. Go zorbing
  194. Play foot golf
  195. Blindfold taste selections – guess what you’re eating (nothing too nasty)
  196. Have a Lego day – download some stuff to build and go crazy
  197. Get up REALLY early and visit a fish market (pick your dinner and cook it!)

Enjoy the summer holidays. I really struggle with this, especially as a self employed work from home mum – finding that balance is SO hard – but if you try to look at the holidays as a positive thing, something that lasts for a super short time you can step back from work with planning and enjoy it. I promise you can have a really good time learning, playing AND do it all on a budget.

H x

muddy puddles dog4

We’ve had Yoda for a couple of months now, and it’s become a daily thing to take him out for a walk. When we were searching for a breed to give a home to, I was determined to buy a dog that wanted to go out on nice long walks and could keep up with the kids as they charged about like raging loonies. I wanted a dog that we could drag along to our local National Park who would see it as a bit of fun and not a chore, our 10 year old chihuahua would keel over if I suggested she ran about for 6 hours – heaven forbid. Or at least, I thought she would. Funnily enough, Yoda has inspired a desire to go on nice long country walks in all of us, including Barbie the chihuahua (yep, her name is Barbie… what’s your point?)

tobydogwalk

As delighted as I am that my mastermind plan worked and we’re inspired to go out in the great countryside and run about – free fun – I guess I didn’t think it through that I would be exclusively responsible for the safety and care of 2 dogs and 3 children under 6 (one of which can’t walk very far as she’s only 1)… something I find mind boggling when we are in the house and wrapped in safety gaff.

As you can imagine the question I get asked a lot (and I ask myself a lot) is “How do you do it?!”.

The honest answer is: Easy. No really, I’m not drunk or typo-ing, it is actually surprisingly EASY when you know how and you follow a few little tips.

Want my tips? Well, I’m going to share them anyway 😉

1.) A little bit of planning goes a long way

It might sounds a bit daft but planning ahead is a brilliant way to minimise upsets. PLEASE NOTE: One cannot plan for circumstances that involve sticks or rocks that your children fall madly in love with like Toby did on one particular walk that I wrote about last week… you just gotta roll with that shizzle.

I usually make a plan of where we are going, not always exact, but with an idea of what is surrounding me. I really do think if you have an idea of where you are then you can’t really go wrong, and in case of an accident or something, you will be able make decisions like turn back vs carry on easier. I strongly recommend keeping a dog walk for young children to between 1 and 2 miles, no more until they are used to the idea of walking. (it’s also not recommended to take puppies on more than a short walk due to bone development!).

2.) Don’t overload

Look, if it’s bright sunshine and 20C, you probably won’t need to take an umbrella and coats will you? Don’t go crackers and try to take everything you could possible need for a short walk, just take the bare minimum to get you by. If it’s unlikely it rains, but it does because we’re in the UK then rest assured your kids won’t melt in the rain like the wicked witch. The ultimate goal here is to get everyone out and having fun without you losing one of them or breaking your back in the process, if you take coats and all that jazz, you will end up being a pack horse as well as parent and responsible for dogs. I recommend grabbing one of those back packs that can attach reins to if you have a potty training toddler that can/will walk, and then roll up a small change of clothes. Also, keep a towel in the car with a change of clothes in case it rains or you decide upon a bit of impromptu stream paddling.

3.) Push it, push it real good… or not.

Ditch the pushchair and grab the carrier is my best advice for people with under 3s on any walk, there is just no pushchair in the world that will be fun on a woodland walk with older kids or dogs in tow. The truth is, and this is from a mother who has vast experience in selling pushchairs specifically for off-roading, you will set off with your pushchair and run into a fence or locked gate. Humour me, don’t do it!! Buy a carrier.

4.) Lead by example

Always have leads to hand. You can’t run after a dog with a baby attached to you or kids in tow. Unless you have a super power… Let your kids help with the leads, but be prepared to take over in the case of other dogs, people, rabbits and virtually anything that could inspire the pooch to leg it.

5.) Train the dog… and the kids…

Get your dog trained, be it through enrolling in training classes or training them yourself. It is a must if you plan to go on dog walks with kids, you simply can’t be the douchebag with an untrained hound belting around and untrained mini humans going feral as well. I also HIGHLY recommend getting the whole family involved in training, Yoda will now sit and stay for Reuben (age 5) which is super important because, despite the fact that he instinctually knows I am “alpha dog” he needs to learn he is never going to be the “beta” when the kids are present, even if they are small and non-threatening. To allow a dog to be dominant over any human is simply asking for bother.. Take some treats with you and train on the go. On top of training the dog, “train” the kids. Going out with the dogs has rules in our family, 1.) we don’t run too far ahead, 2.) we listen to my instructions and if I shout STOP it happens immediately, 3.) we never, EVER go near water without my say so and 4.) don’t approach other dogs or try to get involved if our dogs run off.

I know it makes me sound like a bore and I can almost feel their eyes rolling in their heads because I re-cap these rules every day, but it is simply for their safety and my sanity. We walk near rivers, we walk on popular dogs walk routes and I need to be sure (ish) that we will all make it home.

dogwalkingroo

Last of all, and most importantly, ENJOY! Do you have any tips for walking dogs with kids in tow?

H x

P.s – Just a tiny bit in love with Yoda? He has his own instagram account. No really, I’m not joking, Yoda is a bit of an IG star… check him our on instagram at @yodaandthebabes.

GARDEN GAMES

The weather. It’s something that, as Brits, we moan about a lot. You have to understand if you are reading this in another country, weather is something that unites us in it’s shitness over here in the UK… we have rain in Spring, rain in Summer, wind AND rain in Autumn and often rain that turns to black slippery ice instead of snow in Winter. I feel like you should be getting the vibe of rain. A lot.

Despite this awesome wetness, we do have those sporadic weeks that are filled to the brim with sunshine, and because it’s such an enigma to us we are outside like crazy people right from the crack of dawn screaming “sun, get on me!” and throwing our children at the paddling pools that we left out to be filled with rain water… there is truly nothing better than getting in the garden, especially over the summer holidays which are imminently approaching, much to the despair of neighbours everywhere.

The paddling pool, for all it’s rain filled glory, only carries a certain clout in the garden fun stakes, so I’ve put together a little list of garden games for summer that really are a must have!

Snakes and Ladders giant garden game £39.99

Garden chess set £47.99

Jumbo Connect 4 £89.99

In the ground 6ft trampoline £199.99

Canvas tipi wigwam £67.99

Personalised rounders kit £25.00

Colour in picnic blanket £37.00

Wooden crochet set £23.75

So what are your favourite garden games? Do you follow the philosophy of “chuck em outside and love the sun?”

H x

kiss victoria beckham

Earlier on in the week there was a news story that, quite frankly, I could only imagine breaking on a slooooow news week, or maybe the gossip columns of the Daily Fail. Thing is, this wasn’t a slow week for news at all – come on people, we got a new Prime Minister (who is a total cockwomble) and the political parties have been melting like candles in the sun, not to mention all the sports stuff that has happened (Ronaldo’s moth attack anyone?). It has been a pretty news worthy week, but rather than flip out over the invasion of Paris by moths or the very real, very important political shit tip that our country seems to be at the moment, Britain had a bitch fit over Victoria Beckham kissing her daughter on the lips.

Yup, you read that right compadre. Kissing YOUR child on the lips is, according to some of the masses, horrendous. News worthy even.

I’ll state right off the bat that I am neither a Beckham fan nor hater, I am what one would term ambivalent to the whole stardom thing (she wasn’t even my favourite Spice Girl #Gingerforlife) so my thoughts and feelings on this come exclusively from a place as a mother. Who the fuck doesn’t kiss their kids on the lips? I do, everyone I know does and I have never met anyone who has told me they think it’s weird… so where are these people? Come forth and announce yourselves so we can all tell you to get a grip.

This really is what worries me about our society, that anyone could sexualise a mother’s kiss is beyond me. It baffles me. Motherhood is pure, loving and all encompassing to those of us lucky enough to have taken that wild and wacky journey, but it is never and should never be a sexualised thing. Children should never be sexualised, and to a child a kiss is simply a display of affection from their parent. I can only imagine the horror if it had been David Beckham kissing his daughter on the lips as opposed to her mother – which I’d just like to point out is no different. A PARENT/child relationship should never be sexualised. Apart from the mind-boggling stupidity of sexualising a mother’s kiss, I am also deeply frustrated by the mother shaming that this scenario highlights. Is there anything that we, as mothers, aren’t shamed for now?

Here’s a little run down of the basics: being gross for breastfeeding, being unhealthy for not breastfeeding, abusive for smacking, not strict enough for not smacking, shouting too much and creating anxious kids, not shouting enough and being a lax mother, not paying enough attention and being neglectful, paying too much attention and creating wimps, being wasteful and using disposable nappies, being a hippy and using cloth nappies, not losing weight fast enough and being lazy, losing weight too fast and promoting a bad body image to your child… these are just the few I have heard over the last week and could think of off the top of my head. There is literally no end to what you will be shamed for as a mother. And now we get to add kissing our children on the lips to the list…

Where does it stop?

If we teach our children now that kissing on the lips is inherently sexual, even when between a mother and a child, does that not sit that we are a.) sexualising children which leads to all sorts of worrying questions and b.) teaching them that every relationship is inherently sexual, and thus, moving back to point a, they are sexual beings? Surely that is going to lead to some seriously confused kids.

This whole topic really upset me, it just didn’t sit right at all. There is so much sadness and despair in the world now, truly it is one fucked up place, what is the need for us to find damage or destruction in something that is so simple and pure?

parenting playing

“Daddy can we build a track today?!”

It’s never mummy, and you know why? Because I can’t play. I hate it. I cook, I clean, I cuddle, I love, I bathe, I draw, I bake, I read stories, I paint and I even help with the set up of play… But I truly detest getting involved in imaginary play.

When I was first a mummy to Reuben, I used to kid myself that I didn’t mind. I could definitely enjoy a good play, of course I could, I would be thrilled to sit and play Raa Raa with you for 7 hours while you smack my hand with the Raa Raa figure for the millionth time darling. Of course.

Then the fucks train ran dry and I came to the realisation that “playtime” just isn’t my thing – and that is a-ok. I am not the mummy that will relish the chance to sit and set up track for them to knock down (like for real, I *just* built that shit, are you kidding me?!) or will play doctors or kitchens. I’ve had multiple kids literally on purpose to avoid having to go there (not the only reason…). I absolutely adore to take on the role of spectator but all I can think during playtime is a strange mixture of “kill me now” and “I could so be doing xyz instead of sat here banging a dinosaur up and down”. Which I think is sad because I really WANT to love playtime… I juuust don’t.

My husband is a total contrast to me, he loves playing. In fact, that man is a boss when it comes to the train track building, car driving mayhem that is playtime in our house. One could never say that it is not his “thing”. Many a time I have sat watching from the sidelines while he and the boys mastermind an elaborate track that has everything a child could possibly dream of. I have sat by and smiled as they have spent hours setting up wonderful zoo scenes for their animals and dinos, but I haven’t been even slightly tempted to join in.

With everything in life, we all have our own niche, things that we excel at and stuff we do upon occasion because there is no one else to do it and we feel we have to. Sharon in the office might be a whizz at accounting, but she ain’t no marketing genius like Janet, Janet owns that shit. The same is true for this parenting gig, some of it comes naturally – we excel at it and we can do it with our eyes closed, but other bits are a serious drain on the system. The difference, I think with parenting, is that unlike the daily grind of a day job, we actually feel a desperation to be good at it all, to rock out every aspect and that just doesn’t happen. I struggle to believe that there is anyone out there who can honestly say they are truly delighted with every parenting task, every angle of their life with their children and the roles they are expected to fulfil. It all boils down to parent guilt, that cruel and uncaring wench who hangs around our necks like a cheap scarf. Parenting guilt suckers you in and it becomes almost impossible to shake her off.

I used to look at Adam playing with the boys and bringing such joy to their little faces with his silly games and effortless fun, and I’d wonder why I wasn’t naturally like that. Then one day Toby fell outside and cracked his noggin on the concrete, as his bizarrely clumsy self is wont to do. He blitzed past Daddy who was supervising (please, dear reader, note that: it was DADDY on duty, not me *beams with pride*) up the stairs and into my arms while I was running a bath. It suddenly all clicked for me. I’m Sharon in the office, filing my accounting and doing it like a boss. Sure, I could do marketing but I wouldn’t do especially well at it like Janet. I have become quite happy to announce “ask your dad” when the boys ask for playtime, and watch from the sidelines, just like Daddy is content to eat the biscuits from our productive baking session.

What is your parenting fortay and what are you not a legend at?

H x

Mint Velvet Sale from Love the Sales

I’ve come to the conclusion lately that I don’t really like my wardrobe. You know when you suddenly take a step back and look at what you have, denouncing most of it as “I wore that before I had small humans that would lift it up or pull it down” and the old “geez, that is just laughing st my hips now”. Well, I’ve been doing that quite a lot lately, I’m not happy with my wardrobe for the most part and I’ve fallen in to that vicious mum cycle where I buy cheap supermarket clothes for myself in order to avoid “treating myself”… Like clothing is a freakin treat.

There isn’t anything wrong with that by the way, my favourite ever jeans were from Primark (another pair by contrast from White Stuff) and my current must have vest top is from none other than George at Asda, but that doesn’t mean that on a whole I want to cut myself back from wearing clothes that make me feel just that bit more special.

Mint Velvet Sale from Love the Sales

Then there is the question of budget. Moola has been short of late, I’m still in my first year of freelance and self employment, Adam’s company has had a change of hands and we’re saving for a holiday that, quite frankly, could have bought a bloody house. So yeah, clothing hasn’t really ranked high for me, especially when my ever fluctuating weight means £6 stretch leggings are where it’s at.

Then I discovered Love the Sales, a site that I am pretty much drooling over constantly. They stock everything from Dolce & Gabbana knickers to ASOS dresses, a total spectrum with one thing in common: everything is on sale. I am always a sucker for a good bargain (who isn’t) and I do love a bit of thrifting, but who the hell wants to drag three bored children around the shops when there is a sale on, or sit on the Internet for hours at a time trying to find the best sale items amongst full price garments that make you *wish* you were just that bit richer and not living hand to mouth all the time. I mean, there is something lovely about a £79 shirt (which is the price of my delectable shirt I’m wearing above) but doesn’t it just look so much better if you know it was £39 instead? Yeah, it does. It’s that feeling of knowing you got something you really love, really wanted, but couldn’t afford or justify at the better price… And even if you could afford it, grabbing a bargain is the honey to your monster.

Mint Velvet Sale from Love the Sales

If you aren’t a huge fan of shopping either, this is the perfect place for you, honk of it as a walk-in store that has a personal assistant that won’t judge you if you’re braless, in your slippers and sipping wine from a mug. You can put in your size (show it won’t show you what you could have if you didn’t like cake so much), price preferences, brand preferences and even break it down to style within garment range. So if you’re looking for a glorious white A line dress for that wedding that you don’t want to go to but want to look smoking for,  in a size 12,  for under £90, you can put that in (less the not wanting to go part, it can’t help you with that).

Better yet, love the sales is not just pandering to the fashionista inside us all, but rather stoking the fires of the electrical appliance lover (I see you there, getting excited about that 70% off washing machine… Hell, I am you) and even that wannabe interior designer. Everything is available, and still ALL ON SALE.

So fancy shopping the sales without the queues, distressing lighting and animalistic warfare over those shoes that you and that random girl grabbed at the same time? Me too!

H x

I’m wearing the lovely Ivory Longline Button Shirt from the Mint Velvet Sale collection

Disney (boutique) bambi swaddles

Disney (boutique) bambi swaddles

Disney (boutique) bambi swaddles

Disney (boutique) bambi swaddles

As you know I am a huge fan of aden + anais, they are a brand that I have always been really smitten with,  their awesome swaddle blankets, muslin squares and especially those amazing dream blankets are just so blissfully perfect – an absolute can’t live without for new parents (ahem and parent’s of five year olds too judging by Reuben’s theft of his baby sister’s dream blanket!

I’ve run a few giveaways with aden + anais in the past, but never one that has excited me *quite* this much!

Disney (boutique) jungle book swaddles

Disney (boutique) jungle book swaddles

Disney (boutique) jungle book swaddles

Disney (boutique) jungle book swaddles

If you follow the blog on a regular basis you will know that we are taking the kids (cos it’s all about the kids you understand) to Disney World in September. The Disney excitement in our house is strong at the moment so when I was offered the chance to tell you all about the fabulous aden + anais collaboration that has just launched, I threw myself at it with gusto! Two of my favourites, together? Hello!

Now, I have a little confession, I’m not a big fan of Disney clothing or blankets (or any brand for that matter) as they are often rather garish, in your face or just not my style, but that, well, that is just not the case with this delightful range.

Disney (boutique) winnie swaddles

Disney (boutique) winnie swaddles

Disney (boutique) winnie swaddles

Disney (boutique) winnie swaddles

The products are exactly what you would expect from aden + anais – soft, stylish and a little different. This collection includes burpy bibs, musy muslin squares, dream blankets and swaddles, all in the most beautiful Winnie the Pooh, Bambi or Jungle Book styles. I suppose what I like the best is the fact that these are neither garish nor boring and bland pastels but a mixture of eye popping colour, sweet Disney characters and the softest fabric imaginable.

So, get to the good stuff yeah?

Disney (boutique) bambi swaddles

Disney (boutique) bambi swaddles

Well, I’m offering you the chance to win a pack of aden + anais’ classic swaddles in a style of your choice. Just enter the rafflecopter competition below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

H x

I had big plans for a competition post today. It will have to wait until tomorrow now, because I need to get this off my chest.

I woke up yesterday morning to Adam telling me that further tragedies have occurred in Dallas, Texas with police officers shot in the line of duty. I hadn’t even switched on the news that day so hadn’t heard why the riots were taking place. Irrespective of the reason for rioting, I could never condone or understand anything other than a peaceful protest and the fact that police officers have been murdered is heinous. That discussion ends there.

Naturally I then clicked off my news app and headed over to twitter, where a very poignant post had been shared by Scary Mommy written by a black mother, asking her son’s white friend’s parents to help her out in keeping him safe. Essentially she was asking that they make their kids aware that a.) skin tone DOES matter because of institutional racism and b.) if they see an example of her child being picked on or treated differently for the colour of his skin then they need to point it out and stand up for him to help.

This sounds reasonable to me. Perfectly. Yet, within a matter of seconds, there was “this shouldn’t be about race, it works both ways” and “what about my white child?”. Sound the bullshit buzzer loud and clear people, because this just doesn’t work. I couldn’t believe the plethora of “white lives matter too” comments, “I’m sick of hearing about racism” comments and “my child is bullied because he’s white” comments.

Just stop.

I felt that frustrated that I sent out a tweet that simply said ” Sheesh, waking up to “white people experience racism too” all over. It’s time we had a talk about individual vs INSTITUTIONAL racism.” with a little angry emoji because, well, I do love a good emoji. Who doesn’t? Who do you think picked this up? A nazi account, that’s who. When your tag line reads “Deport all africans”, “white power” and “viking blood” I can feel confident in the fact that we won’t be sharing sippy cups of wine any time soon. I was sent stats on black crime in the USA to “prove” that it isn’t institutional racism, rather a simple fact that blacks are baddies.

I think the truth is that we NEED to have a societal talk about the difference between individual racism and institutional racism. We need to talk to our kids, especially if we are white, about white privilege.

Individual racism can, and does, happen towards white people. I have experienced it – I remember walking down the street in St Kitts in the Caribbean, we got lost and ended up in a small town that was having a street party. The music actually stopped and people stood and stared at us, and not in a nice way. Not even slightly. It was scary, it was racist and it was horrible. BUT IT WAS ONE INCIDENT. One isolated, I’ll-never-forget-that-day incident. It was not a constant factor in my life.

And it never will be, because I am white and we live in a world where that gives me, my husband and my children, a certain privilege.

I’ve always told my boys not to look at someone’s skin tone – it’s irrelevant – you can be black and be an asshole, you can be white and be an asshole… but in doing that I have made a mistake. The truth is worse than that, because skin tone does matter and in order to make the world a better place for their generation I need to teach them that it DOES matter. It matters a lot, not to the person they will be, not to the outline of their being but because without the understanding that skin tone matters, my children won’t grow up to understand that they have a certain head start in life purely because of their skin. They won’t be able to understand that in life, they are safer, more likely to get a job, more likely to be treated fairly and more likely to be considered a “good citizen” BECAUSE they are white. My boys need to understand that as white, middle class males they will be in a position that they can use to open a dialogue about how we live in this society, or they will be in position that they can abuse. Just look at the case of Brock Turner, a convicted rapist who was given 6 months for his crime because a ‘prison sentence would severely affect him’ as he was going places. A classic case of white male privilege.

I need them to understand that their black friends (of which they have none right now because the area we live in is totally skewed in it’s representation of ethnicity) will be automatically disadvantaged. They will have to be better, work harder and push more, just to be on a level.

Like it or not, it’s the truth. Fortunately for my children and myself, we’re in the UK, and we don’t have nearly half the issues with racism that are prevalent in the states, but it’s naive to think we don’t have it. With the current climate in the UK, it’s naive to think it won’t get worse too.

Every country suffers from an institutional racism. EVERY country. In order to move forward from that, we need to accept white privilege and teach our kids so that will have the tools to put us in that world where skin colour truly does not matter and we ARE equal.

H x

Saturday siblings :: New Linky and IG community from Toby & Roo and Someone's Mum.

Welcome back for another #saturdaysiblings linky with myself and Danielle from Someone’s Mum.

We want to see your candid shots, perfect staged shots and everything in between of your little siblings. Share with us your siblings stories and link up old posts or new photo posts. We will comment on as many as we can – usually both of us do over the course of a month, and then we will be able to share our favourite picks on social media and on the following linky.

This week, I have chosen these beauties as my favourite posts:

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From My Mummies Pennies, this beauty say’s “let nature be our teacher” and I couldn’t agree more. So much love for this.

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Sharing her “N O T   S O   I  N S T A” post is Sprog On The Tyne – this really made me smile as I have taken soooo many shots like this in an attempt to get the IG winner! Ha!

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I can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful back drop from Momma A Day when she took the kids to Himley Hall Country Park.

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Lastly there is this precious moment showing the difference but similarity between Confessions of a Crummy Mummy’s two. One eating skips, one eating carrot… both with the same expressions!

So grab a badge, link up, gram and hashtag and we hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as we know we will.

The linky opens at 9pm.

So grab a badge, link up, gram and hashtag and we hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as we know we will.

The linky opens at 9pm.

 

Saturday Siblings
A Few Rules

If you link up here:

  • Please comment on both the host posts and another of your choosing, more if you can.
  • Please grab the badge above and add it to your post.
  • If you would like Danielle or me to retweet your posts, please do add and tweet us on Twitter (@tobyandroo and @MumSomeone) and we will oblige!

If you join us on Instagram:

  • Please tag your post #SaturdaySiblings
  • Have a look around the hashtag and like and follow some posts and people you enjoy (We are tobyandroo  and someone_s_mum )
  • Generally share the love, however you join us.
  • And that’s it! Happy linking. We can’t wait to see your photos!


saturday siblings 10

You might remember a few weeks ago or so I wrote about our trip to Thomas Land, and with a blogger friend of mine re-visting the place after reading our review, I was thinking about how the boys both loved it so. I thought it might be something to discuss for this weeks Saturday siblings!

When Toby turned 3 back in November, he was given a tonne of dinosaurs – that’s his “thing”, he is truly obsessed, but his brother has never been even remotely interested. As Toby has grown into himself, he has really started to love his brother’s trains and train track – it’s now an obsession that they share. He still loves his dinosaurs with the same ferocious burning love that I feel for sleep and chinese food, but he’s watched his brother and developed a similar passion for trains, purely so that he can join in the play.

I find it really interesting the way that children interact, children’s psychology has always been somewhat fascinating to me – how their little minds work and what makes them tick. It’s all the more fascinating when you have multiple children to watch the way they learn from their siblings and how they adapt to their surrounding.

While my kids all have their own “things” – Reuben is still a big lover of transformers, Edie adores her princess figures and Toby has the aforementioned dinosaurs – they really are little copycats, and they take their lead from each other, usually Reuben. Going back to the train thing, Edith has now started to collect the boy’s trains and carry them around with her in a bid to get involved with their play – something that frustrates them no end, but they are too fearful of her epic temper tantrums to tell her no, rather ladening me with that burden (and I have to admit I fear this temper too…). It doesn’t just stop with toys either, oh no, their whole being is based around being a copy cat.

Edith has started throwing full out temper tantrums (something she would obviously have done minus the siblings) but she mirrors the hand movements and sounds the boys make. Crossing of arms, slapping of thighs and shouting “hey!” are all behaviours that have started to emerge and are now very much a part of her hissy-fit routine. It is both hilarious and frustrating at the same time, depending on what level of coffee I have indulged in that day.

I suppose as adults we do it too, depending on our peer influence. I know as a mother I have changed what I planned to do or how I planned to react/behave because of peer influence. It’s only really now I’m getting older that it happens less and less, but it’s how we learn and how we respond to our friends.

Do you find this? Are your children prone to copying each other?

H x

stick wand

stick wand 5

Last week when I took the kids for a post-school run dog walk, we had what I have now affectionately termed “stick-magedon”. Toby, my middle son, managed to locate the biggest, sharpest stick in the field, not to mentioned that it was coated in sheep shit. It was almost the same height as him, but with several branches pointing off just waiting to skewer him like a kebab on a drunken Saturday night out.

stick wand yoda tobes

A bond was formed with this stick, a bond so fierce it left him in a fit of hysteria when I told him he couldn’t bring it home. Mama is a mean, cold hearted woman, and there was no way that stick was coming in my car in case I had to break sharply. I kind of like my kids with two eyes and my upholstery sheep shit free and unripped. Call me crazy. I posted the whole thing on my Facebook page and we all had a good giggle at his expense, but as I sipped my well earned wine on that evening I couldn’t help but dread tomorrow’s dog walk and the continual sniffles of “mr stick” as we went along. Ever the cunning mother, I devised a plan to grace his lordship with a stick craft – provided the stick was shitless and under a foot big.

stick wand 1

stick wand 2

We (by which I mean pinterest and I) decided to make some stick wands! We’re taking the kids to DisneyWorld and Universal Studios in September so I thought this might help to excite them about Harry Potter, and if not, it would feed my desire to shout Stupefy at them when they wouldn’t shut up or were scraping.

Want to make a stick wand with one of the bajillion sticks your little beastie has collected this week?

Here’s what you need:

  • Sticks (around 20cm are best – I urge you to avoid the shit covered variety)
  • Twine, ribbon or string (you can use tape too, but it will most likely come off early)

To decorate:

  • Flowers, I think cow slips are perfect!
  • Feathers
  • Leaves
  • Grass
  • Corn
  • Coloured paper

stick wand 4

Take your stick and give it a clean. It needs to be a relatively decent diameter, too thin and it will snap, too thick and you will have more of a stick in fancy dress than a wand.

stick wand3

Take your chosen decoration and wrap around the end of the stick, securing with the twine or string. If you have used a paper decoration then I would suggest securing with tape first and then wrapping the string over the top of that so it doesn’t come undone.

Make as many as you like and let your little one’s imagination run free! The boys did turn theirs into swords… and guns… and then clubs to beat each other with, but hey ho, the effort was there. Oh and FYI, Stupefy doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. If all else fails it makes a good dog toy for around 2.4 seconds.

H x

swing review

The weather hasn’t been amazing her of late, but between the down pours we’ve been trying to get out into the garden to make the most of it all. You understand it has absolutely nothing at all with saving my sanity from being couped up in the house with slightly rabid children under the age of 6. Not at all.

Anyway, we are lucky enough to have a playhouse and swing set outside that my mum bought for the kids when they were tiny, so every chance we get, we want to make the most of it – use up all that imaginary goodness and play. The boys have a fascination with climbing up and hurling themselves down the spiral slide whilst Edith tries to figure out what will sprout more grey hairs on mummy’s head; teetering over the side of the upper floor to the playhouse or playing dogems with the boy’s legs when they are full pelt on the swings. The one thing I do think our swing set is missing is a throne for madam to sit in, where she can join in the brazen swing-fest.

Well, that’s what we have now!

Swinging it’s way into our lives (sorry!) is this rather gorgeous wooden baby swing from Big Game Hunters  (not to be confused with the lion shooting variety) which we have all become rather fond of pushing Edie in, even Toby.

The swing itself is made of wood (obvs) with a decorative beading around the front to entertain even the grumpiest of tinkers. There is a secure belt in the swing too, which means you can strap your little darlings down whilst their siblings swing them into next Sunday, just to be on the safe side and all.

For us, having a baby swing means that we don’t have to listen to Edie having a meltdown every time that she sees her brothers having a good swing, but also that we don’t have to worry about her and do that ridiculous skittering thing that parents do when they suspect their child is about to injure themselves. Best of all, as she is secure, her brothers can push her back and forth, so we can sit back and enjoy whatever little sunshine we have in good ole Yorkshire on that day.

If you have a swing set, or you’re thinking about getting one, then I can’t recommend a baby sit for the under 3’s enough. It’s tough, durable and means you will have fewer panty-liner requiring moments than without it.

H x

Stop-Smoking

When I first met my husband, Adam, he smoked. Not quite in chimney-esque style, but enough. It never really bothered me, it wasn’t something that he ever did in the house nor would I have let him in my home, but it was back in the day when you could smoke in pubs, bars and restaurants (though he despised smokers in restaurants and would always go outside to “respect other’s food”).

When the “new” law came into effect to stop smoking inside public places, it put a bit more of a curb on his habit, after all where is the fun in being the one who has to go and stand outside in the pouring rain while your mates enjoy a drink in the pub? It didn’t stop him though, and for a few years he continued smoking, right through my pregnancy and then after Reuben was first born.

I guess for him, he had never been an indoor smoker and never smoked near the baby or pushchair… But he always said he felt guilty with every drag, worried with every cuddle that he would smell of smoke and it just suddenly felt like a habit that he wanted to boot.

So he did.

To give him credit he bought a pack of fags like a child with his last sweetie packet and cut down in less than a week from 10 per day to 1-2 a day and then nothing at all within a matter of 2-3 weeks… Something I’ve never been able to replicate with cake. Like, ever.

I asked Adam about his tips for quitting smoking and like the obliging husband he is, he gave up the goods so that I could pass them on.

1.) Start slow and have a plan.

He bought 10 packs instead of 20 and tried to make it last as long as possible for those first few weeks. It became a bit of a personal challenge to see if he could make that 10 pack last a full week. It wasn’t easy but to look in the pack and see 2 left made him question if he *really* wanted another.

2.) Get help.

Do it with a friend, change to nicotine gum (which made him vomit like a teenager on a bender) or try switching to vaping – which is what he does now. You have an addiction and allowing yourself to accept that is the best way to be. Over time, try pushing the addiction on to something else – running, vaping, sports, blogging – whatever.

3.) Don’t expect perfection.

Funnily enough he had tried quitting plenty of times before and it was vaping that made it possible for him to kick the habit, he just couldn’t stick it without something to substitute the cigarettes and that is ok. It’s normal. He also slipped off the wagon from time to time in the very early stages of quitting smoking – again, totally normal and OK. You aren’t on trial here, so make like Elsa and let it go if you have a slip up on a night out. Old habits die hard and all that jazz yeah?

4.) Have a reason.

You simply don’t stop for stopping’s sake. You just don’t. So have a reason. It can be pregnancy, trying to conceive, a new baby, a new healthier you etc but have a reason. Keep it in mind and remind yourself of it every time you struggle. In the same way I have a picture of Adriana Lima on the fridge to ward me off the old cakeroos you need to have a goal in mind.

5.) Have a realistic time frame.

Going cold turkey hasn’t worked for Adam before and it doesn’t work for most people. Work your way down slowly over a few weeks, especially if you’re a heavy smoker. You might be able to “kick the habit” if you are vaping or using nicorette patches, but don’t expect to be able to just go cold turkey unless you have something that will help you stop.

6.) Put the money you would have spent away.

Do you realise that pretty soon a packet of 20 cigs is going to leap to the record price of £10 per pack? Yeah!! So, you smoke 10 a day, that’s one pack every other day, £10 every other day. No joke. Add it over a 30 day month, it works out at £150, which means in 3 months you would have £450 – enough for a holiday. Put the money away and GO ON HOLIDAY. Make it your goal, just try to to spend all the extra spending money on bulk buy cigarettes…

7.) Ask friend’s to help.

Like sucker punch the one bestie that keeps offering you a toke while you sit their gagging. For real, that’s such a dick move. So either, avoid aforementioned friends or ask them to help you out by not lighting up or offering you one.

Former smokers, share your post smoking stories! How’d you quit?

H x

Image credit: In London Hypnotherapy

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Relationships are a funny thing aren’t they?

When you first start out, you put your best face forward – you clean your teeth before the date, you wear something nice, you smile a lot and you hide the gnarly shit that would make any sane person run for the hills. You hide parts of yourself, and don’t you dare say you dont, because we all do – unintentionally too.

I think that’s what happened with me and Adam. When I first met him, he was madly, irrevocably in love with me. Or was that lust…? It could well have been, but that is a different (totally unnecessary) story. We were virtually inseparable for the first 3-4 months, and it was both overwhelming and blissful. Adam always made it clear that he was a sports-a-holic, as addicted to his sports as I was to chocolate and cheeky vimtos (shhh, it was cool back then…). What he didn’t have was a season ticket to watch his football team, sky sports or even a signing to a team.

Slowly but surely, these things have changed in our marriage, he started playing for a local football and cricket team, giving up the football when he could afford his season ticket. He would go to every match, every day of the week if he could and I would just become someone to warm the bed, cook the food and occasionally wash his shit. This didn’t change when we had kids, but rather it became more frequent.

If I’m honest, going back to putting that best face forward, it’s a good job he wasn’t all about the sports when I met him because I wouldn’t have married him. 19 year old Harriet wouldn’t have stood by and played second fiddle to sports, but nearly ten years on, I *just* don’t have the energy to do anything but accept my second place trophy to this sporting obsession with a poor grace and that aforementioned slab of chocolate that I am still into – though my tastes have evolved from Cheeky Vimto to “proper” cocktails that won’t make your stomach feeling like one of those exploding volcano science projects.

This may sounds very self centered, but it genuinely isn’t. The truth is, football (or sport in general, but especially football) is more important to my husband than I am, despite the protests he has made to attest that fact. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” had been applied so very often. When I had our first son, Adam went to football the following day while I was in the hospital, he went to football when I had Noro-virus 8 weeks after giving birth to Toby and, most recently, he went to football when I had a D&C. He could probably list you every match he has ever missed in order to stay with me through something or other, but by that very virtue he would prove my point. He would know he had been made to miss something he wanted to do, even if it meant being there for the birth of his child, a birthday party (in fact, he has left his own children’s birthday parties early to go) or just an evening out with his wife and friends. It feels like an inconvenience to him, you can see that in his eyes whether he admits it or not.

I could say I don’t resent this. I could tell you a small part of me doesn’t wish I had known before I married him and had children who idolise their daddy. I could tell you we haven’t almost separated over the issue many times and I haven’t sat in floods of tears wondering why I’m not important enough to miss football for, especially in the moments I truly need him. But that wouldn’t be true. A lot of our marital issues stem from sports related arguments, and if I had known the extent to which sports would govern my life and emotional wellbeing, I think I would have run for the hills.

It’s not all doom and gloom, this is one part of our marriage. Like every marriage there are so many facets, I do know that deep down Adam loves me and no one can equal him as a father in my eyes or the eyes of his children.

In addition to the bullshit, there are the amazing things – the giggling that only Adam can pull from the pit of me in my darkest hour, the way he can make me feel like the most beautiful woman on the planet with just a smile or a whispered word, the way that we know each other better than anyone, better than we know even ourselves. There are the moments that I watch him with our children, and the adoration in their faces is reflected and magnified in his, and the everyday moments where we can sit in quiet companionship, snuggled together and quietly content.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that my family is filled with love, from my husband and towards him.

I just have to check the fixtures list to know whether or not we’ll be made to feel it that day.

I guess the point to this is to say it’s ok to have those things about your marriage that DON’T work. That make you feel unhappy, that suck. The kicker is making sure that you have that balance and ultimately, the happy out ways the not-so-happy moments.

H x

Remember last week I wrote a Saturday siblings linky post about how Toby and Edith suddenly seem to be growing closer in their relationship as brother and sister. Toby has always been a touch obvious to his sister, seeing her more as a bit of a usurper than a positive addition to his daily grind.

I also wrote a few weeks ago about Reuben and his reaction to his sister being “picked on” (and I use the term lightly because the little one was very young and it was more the parent at fault for not rectifying the incidents) at playgroup. Now I guess I’m combining the two posts, and talking about a few issues I have here.

Edith, like a lot of youngest siblings, has learnt that if she asks, her brother’s will get it for her. If she asks, her brother’s will give in to her and if she SCREAMS every body will give into her to save their ear drums and make for an easy life. Now, unfortunately, we are having to try and be stricter with her after she took to throwing dramatic fits that would leave an oscar award winning actress pining after her talents, but the boys… not so much. They still give in.

Edie grabs Reuben’s finger and takes him to the cupboard, so I find him gently placing chocolate in her mouth while she waits, resembling a baby bird, mouth open and sweet looking. Toby will fetch her ball at playgroup for a good 10-15 minutes until she decides she is bored. Essentially, Edith is what modern society would call a “legit boss”… until it’s not one of her brother’s or exhausted, over worked parent’s she is requesting from.

This week at playgroup there was a little boy who was playing sweetly with a laptop style toy. He had it first, the other children were waiting around him and sat watching him play with it, sharing in the fun but not trying to snatch or swipe it from under him. Not so with Edith. Edith, in her oh-so-delicate, 2 foot tall manner, wandered over and made to snatch the toy. Perfectly normal, right? I told her no, she screamed at me and all was well… until she remembered her brother was there too. She swiftly made her way over to Toby, babbling and pointing at the offending toy in what can only be described as dictator style fury. The poor kid with the toy clung on to it while watching the display with a bemused expression that questioned what would happen next and Toby, bless his heart, looked like a lost lamb. He knows it’s wrong to snatch and take toys when someone else is using it, but (again like a lot of siblings) he is so used to doing as Edith says now. His master was demanding he infiltrate the enemy and perform his duty!

As amusing as it was to watch, I stepped in and took Edie off, which lead to a slightly less amusing temper tantrum that lasted a whopping 10 minutes and saw the throwing of many a toy.

It did lead me to question, when will this little girl come to learnt that she can’t manipulate her brother’s into doing her bidding? On a slightly more serious note, is this little lady going to grow up thinking that boys and eventually men, will do her bidding?

Only time will tell, but for now, there is a dictator in our home, and the minions are all male, all related and all very scared of her wrath.

Please join in with me and Danielle over at Someone’s Mum blog to share the sibling love! You can join in on IG too using the tag #saturdaysiblings!

H x

Sports day, why it should be optional.

Sports day. To steal Jon Snow’s phrase – It is coming. Unless you’ve already had it in which case you may well have had some tears, temper tantrums and overall stress. You may have had some serious excitement too, it’s not all doom and gloom!

I despised sports day at school. Hated it with such passion that I would use any excuse not to go. I remember one year, back when it was acceptable to bully children at school, the teachers told our year group that any form (class group) that didn’t have full attendance would be disqualified, so any child that won anything would lose it because of their peers that didn’t turn up. As you can img sine that was a particularly awful week for me, especially as I didn’t turn up. I wouldn’t have been able to do much anyway, I had spent so long being bullied for being “fat” that I could play sports in front of anyone in the end. I have been with my husband ten years this year and I have only just started running with him, trusting him not to ridicule me for “jiggling” everywhere. The darkest times during all of this bullying centred around sports day, and caused so much trauma.

To me, sports day is outdated and unnecessary. It should be optional, and is definitely not something that I think children should be taken out of class to practice for. You can run the three legged race? Awesome, but you missed that part of the curriculum because of it? No thanks. Now, I’m not an idiot, I realise that for a lot thanks is a world of fun for a tonne of kids. Adam was one of them and the boys seem to really relish the chance show off and enjoy a bit of sport! Physical activity is important, and I do think that sports day gives children the chance to really try out sports that they maybe would have known about otherwise. Reuben loves running, he hates cricket and football at the moment, much to Daddy’s heart break, but he loves running. He loves to race, like a lot of young boys, so for him, there is an excitement in Sports day.

But what if he, like me, hated it?

In a modern day where we know how unacceptable it is for children to be made to feel victimised and bullied, I really don’t think that there should be such pressure around sports day. It SHOULD be optional.

I know that might come over as whishy-washy and people may say “well why not make maths optional” or any other subject you “just don’t like”, but I think this is different. Physical Education is not optional, it is mandatory and it is vitally important to keep our children active and get them out there trying new sports that they may well love. Sports day is not like that. Sports day is a whole afternoon, or in some cases day, of sport. Of showing off your skills or lack there of to parents, friends, strangers. It’s intimidating, and it’s too much for some kids. While it is an opportunity to teach our children about kindness, humility and the that it’s ok to lose sometimes, I would challenge anyone to tell me they haven’t seen at least one child being laughed at at Sports Day. Trust me, that will stick with them for life.

I love watching my son’s sports day, he is so pleased with the opportunity to run, jump and try out new things, but I would be a liar if a small part of me didn’t cringe inside every time I hear the words “Sports day”, it holds so many bad memories for me. If there comes a time that any of the children feel that Sports day isn’t for them, then I won’t make them participate.

What are your memories of Sports day?

H x

A couple of weeks ago we visited Drayton Manor in Tamworth. The boys have been begging and begging for months to go back, but to be completely honest, I’ve been telling them no because we are saving for our big trip to DisneyWorld. They can’t have it all, which is something that both frustrates and perplexes them… money grows on trees, right?

Anyhoo, we finally caved and I organised for a day off school for Reuben to have a surprise trip. Why I hear you cry? Well, the last time we visited it was both the school holidays AND a weekend – never again. It was so busy that you couldn’t move and there is no option to buy a fast pass for Thomasland, so we spent over an hour queing for a 2.4min ride. Not. Cool. Says the lady going to DisneyWorld where 4 hour queues are common… Anyway, for this type of day trip, I would recommend going during school term time and definitely mid week, there were no queues, no hassle and it was generally quiet and easy to navigate with a child, toddler and baby in a HUGE pushchair.

To further on that point, recommend Drayton Manor and Thomasland I most certainly would! There really are very few places with something for everyone – our very own theme park Flamingo Land, which is literally biking distance from our house, has a few rides for smaller kids and a fabulous zoo, but nothing to equal Drayton Manor for it’s entertainment for the under 10s. I feel like this is the type of place I will be able to take my children for years and years to come, somewhere my husband and I could visit with our mates instead of our kids and not feel like we are being thrown the questioning eye as to why we are there.

Thomasland is obviously the huge attraction for my boys, there obsession runs almost as deep as mine with wine and cake. They are 5 and 3 now so for them the fantasy and reality is still combined, the excitement clear on their rosy cheeks when they see Thomas, Percy and the gang.

To give you an idea of what we went on, we trialled pretty much every ride in Thomasland, with the boys declaring their favourites in rapid succession depending on which ride they had been on last. Reuben took some coaxing to go on the Troublesome Trucks roller coaster but then decided it was his ultimate favourite and rode it three times. In succession. Toby preferred the more relaxed ride on Percy, which took you from the Zoo back to Knapford Station, the throbbing heart of Thomasland. This time we ran out time to visit the soft play area, but that was a firm favourite too when we have been before and ideal for parents who want to sit down, chill out or need to feed a hungry baby *waves*. The only ride the boys can assure you they hated with a fiery passion was “Cranky the Crane” because of the loud noises it made as it dropped the rider down from a 10-15ft height. It freaked them both out and they wouldn’t go within the vicinity again.

It’s not just Thomasland that appealed to my boys, there are arcades nearby and plenty of little rides that aren’t Thomas themed that are suitable for them, like Ben 10. There is also the Yogi Bear 3D cinema which they have refused to go into every time, an adventure golf area (something we’ve never tried because you just don’t have time in one day) and the zoo, which was the ultimate fun for Edith, who promptly jumped out of her pushchair and splashed through every puddle she could. I find the animal enclosures at Drayton Manor are a little unloved and forlorn looking. I like zoo animals to look like they are well kept and happy, and sadly this wasn’t the case with all of the animals there. The tiger enclosure has very little privacy and I thought it was pretty small for such a large cat, but then, a zoo is going to have it’s limits. In addition to the Zoo there is a massive Dinosaur area, which we just loved and all three of the kids learnt so much there.

For the older kids, there was plenty and this is really why I feel the Drayton Manor tips the balance of theme park awesomeness in it’s favour.

I am not a theme park kinda gal, gone are the days of feeling peer pressure to ride the “big ones” until I threw up whatever additive packed food I had shovelled in my teenage chops 15 minutes beforehand, but having three kids, I can see that I will soon be joining the back-patting parents of kids who have indeed succumbed to the “big rides”. There are plenty of big rides at Drayton Manor, especially for thrill seekers.

My only complaint was The Grill Inn, where we went to eat around lunchtime. The day we visited was clammy and wet, it poured with rain two or three times, so there was no way we were going to sit out in the rain eating food from a kiosk. Nope, we chose to enjoy a “proper” meal. To be totally honest, I wish we hadn’t. The food was nice but totally overpriced – though I expected that with such a captive audience – my issue wasn’t with the food, rather with the staff and their lax attitude. We were the only people in the restaurant when we went up but it still took 25 minutes to get drinks, and over an hour to get food. We ordered a burger, fajitas and 2 chicken nuggets with chips and peas because they were out of beans. Hardly the type of food to take so long to cook. The waiting staff were absent at best, and deliberately ignored you at the worst. I can honestly say I wouldn’t recommend eating at the Grill Inn at all, a total waste of time you could have spent in the fabulous theme park, not to mention £55 for a basic meal that would have no doubt been better or just the same at the burger bar in Thomasland.

So to summarise Drayton Manor in a quick way for those of you flicking through:

……………………..

Park (out of 5, 5 being the best):

Overall: 4.5

Zoo: 3

Thomasland: 5

Friendliness of staff in the park: 4

Cleanliness: 5

Range of things to do: 5

Child friendly: 5

Ease of pushchair use: 5

Dining options: 4

Cost: 4 – bit on the high side, but worth it.

……………………….

The Grill Inn Restaurant (out of 5, 5 being the best):

Overall: 2.5

Food: 3

Friendliness of staff: 1

Cleanliness: 5

Cost: 2

Menu options: 4

Location: 1

…………………………

I hope this inspires you to give Drayton Manor a visit, it’s not just for Thomas the tank engine fans, but it is pretty awesome!

H x

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