Sunday, 30 August 2015

A fun family day out at Crystal Palace Park!

I feel like I have got so much to tell you about our summer! We have been very busy juggling work and enjoying some quality family time.

But whilst it's fresh in my mind, I will tell you about today! 

I have been wanting to go to Crystal Palace Park for ages, it's about an hour from us and from what I had heard it was a really good, free, day out! 

So this morning we packed a picnic and set off, not really knowing what we would find when we got there! 

The first thing we found was a lovely farm (which was free!) it was part of a college. We saw a pig, with her piglets, some ponies, some goats, llamas, ducks, geese, ferrets, sheep, birds, and lots of reptiles! 



Then we walked round the park hunting for dinosaurs! There were huge models that were actually built in the Victorian era, and it was really interesting to see how scientists imagine dinosaurs to look has changed over the years. 




Chester spotted the boating lake so we thought why not, but of course Millie and I were the passengers! 



We then stumbled across the play park, which was of course dinosaur themed and totally awesome! 



We treated the kiddies to coloured ice creams and wandered over to watch people race their giant remote controlled cars around a track, which both children would of happily watched all day! 



We spent the rest of the day exploring everything else that the park has to offer. It really was a fantastic family day! It was free (apart from the pedalo and the ice creams we brought) and kept the children entertained for the whole day. I really love days like this, and am very pleased that I can add Crystal Palace Park to my list of places were love.

I hope you are having a great bank holiday weekend, what have you been up to so far? 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Celebrating National Doll Day with Zapf Creations.

Honestly, the things I do for my children! I am sure I have told you before, but growing up, I was never in to dolls like most girls my age. I was more into football and scaletrix. I suppose I have my Dad to thank for that! Millie however, is very much in to dolls, in fact she is the exact opposite of me!

So when we were invited to help celebrate National Doll Day at the Museum of Childhood with Zapf Creations, I simply couldn't turn it down! I mean Millie would have never forgiven me!


We had a fantastic time looking at different dolls and doll houses around the museum, discussing how they have changed over the years.


Thank goodness dolls have evolved since the Victorian times, I simply wouldn't be able to sleep at night with those kind of dolls staring at me!


Then it was into a lovely room, that I can only describe as Millie's dream come true! It was full of dolls and doll related items. Ready for everyone to play with them! I don't think Millie knew what to play with first, she was so overwhelmed!


As the morning went on, it became clear that Millie really loved the Baby Born products. From the dolls, to the pushchairs she loved it all.




She became fascinated with changing nappies and clothes. In particular on the boy doll! I think because it had parts that she hasn't got, she really wanted to see how it went to the toilet!


Millie was allowed to choose a doll to bring home with her, and it was no surprise when she chose the Baby Born Interactive boy doll. He has since been named Chester (after her big brother) and he hasn't left her side! She has taken him to the childminders, to the park, around the grandparents houses. His 'cot' which she has made in her bed for him is full of blankets and teddies to keep him company at night, and just like a real baby he had a bedwetting incident the other day, meaning we had to change all the sheets! Millie found this hilarious!


I really love the fact that Millie really wants to use dolls and doll accessories to further her imagination and the way she plays. Its really lovely watching her create her own little world.

Do your children love playing with dolls too? Baby Born have got some fantastic products in their range at the moment and I will be telling you lots more about them very soon, so watch this space!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Summer holiday guilt of a working Mum

I was very aware when taking my new job, that sacrifices would have to be made in order for the new routine to work. I knew that the thing I would find the hardest would be the children's School holidays.

We are now 2 weeks into the summer holidays and I am finding it hard to put in to words the guilt I am feeling. It's a very strange kind of guilt, because I do not regret going back to work, in fact I am really enjoying it. But I do feel incredibly guilty that the children are being pushed from pillar to post so that I can go to work. 


As usual they have both taken it in their stride and so far have been amazing, not complained once. The only way I know that some days have been too much for them is when they either fall asleep early, get up late or have tired tantrums. 

I think the main reason I feel so incredibly guilty is that I remember when I was younger getting passed between grandparents and my mums friends all summer long, so that my parents could go to work. I desperately didn't want to repeat that with my children, but at the same time, I know it is the best option for us. I know that by working we will actually be able to do more fun things as a family. So in the long run it is for their benefit. 


It's slightly different for Chester and Millie, because we have no family (aside from my sister) near by. Sadly when we moved 40 minutes away from family a lot of them decided we were simply too far away to come and visit! My parents actually live even further away, in Dorset. 

So what we are having to do is pay for extra childcare and that has been a massive shock to the system! 

They are either at Millie's childminders or at Chesters after school club (which turns into a holiday club for summer). They are really enjoying the days and have so far been to Pizza Hut, the cinema, played golf and visited a farm! Not to mention all the picnics in the park! I know they are enjoying it, I just feel guilty because I am not doing it with them. 

My Mum has taken a week off of work next week and has offered to have the children down there, then I will join them a week later. I am incredibly grateful to my parents for offering and it has really helped us out, not just financially but for peace of mind too. Chester and Millie are extremely excited about their trip to Nannie and Grandads. 

Craig's Mum works in a School so has the whole summer off, so I have asked her if she wouldn't mind looking after them a couple of times too. This helps me out when I have a couple of things going on at work that mean my days have to start earlier. 

I know in my heart that going back to work full time was the right thing to do, for all of us, and I don't think I would be normal if I didn't feel a little guilty. But I do think the long 6 weeks summer holidays is going to take a lot of getting used to! 

Are you a full time working parent? How are you coping with the holidays so far? 

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Summer Holiday essentials with Chemist Direct

I don't know about you, but when it comes to holiday shopping, the last thing I want to be doing is trapesing round loads of different shops either trying to get everything I need or trying to get the best value on everything I need. I would much rather spend my time planning the holiday!

This year, we are very fortunate to have 3 holidays planned. I firmly believe that Holidays are fantastic memory making opportunities for my children, and I will always work hard to ensure we have at least 1 holiday a year. 1 of our holidays this year we have already had, back in April when we went to Cornwall and I really wish I knew then what I know now. 

What I know now is that there is a fantastic online company called Chemist Direct. It's a website where you can purchase all of your holiday essentials. From Suncream to antiseptic cream, they have it all! 

I placed an order for all of our holiday essentials, for the fantastic price of £50.57p this is what arrived



It was all very well packaged and nothing was damaged or broken. What I really loved about ordering from Chemist Direct is that they do branded AND own branded things. So for me, things like paracetamol and ibroprofen (both adult and child versions) I am happy to buy non branded. The children's ibroprofen is just £1.05, which is a huge saving on what I would pay for the branded version. When it comes to vitamins I always purchase Bassetts soft and Chewy vitamins, as they are the only ones Millie will eat. They cost just £2.05 which is a great price. 



Suncream is obviously a summer holiday essential and sadly, I only have to look at the sun and I turn the shade of a tomato. So it is always top of the list of essential purchases. Chemist Direct sell this Riemann once a day sun protection. Which claims to give 10 hours sun protection and is very water resistant. It cost £11.99 and whilst that is more than I would usually pay for sun protection, if it does what it claims to, it will be worth every penny. 


I was very impressed with the selection of product available, some products are usually behind the chemist counter products so I had to answer a questionnaire to ensure that I needed those products. The website was easy to follow and even after I had ordered I was kept upto date with the order status via emails. 

I think we are now set for our summer holiday to Dorset, some things may even last us for our Autumn holiday to Paris. 

What do you think, would you order your holiday essentials online? 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Another School and Nursery year finished!

I can't believe how quickly the School year has gone, it only seems like yesterday that Chester was beginning his journey in year 1 and Millie started Nursery School.

During that time both children have grown in so many ways. 

I will begin with Chester. 


Year 1 was always going to be a shock to the system for Chester. He absolutely loved Reception, he loved the structure and the play to work ratio. I think it took a good few weeks for him to realise that year 1 was going to be a lot more about work and a lot less about play! So in that respect it did take him a while to settle in. His teachers have got the patience of saints, I take my hat off to them, it's a boy heavy class and full of big personalities so at times it has been a bit, well, testing. 

Chester's knowledge just keeps growing and growing, he seems to pick things up so well. He starts every new project with enthusiasm which is really lovely to see. I think a highlight of the year for Chester has to be Pottery Club, he loved that so much and came home with some excellent pieces of pottery. He is a very creative person, his report even highlighted that fact only last week! My amazement comes from his reading and writing this year. He has really stepped it up a gear and has gone through several reading levels. Sadly, he is finding some of the School books a bit of a bore now as they are simply not challenging enough for him, however, he clearly gets his love of reading from me and loves to spend time at home reading stories to me. I only hope his love for books continues. 

During the last few months we have seen a massive change in Chester's personality. Not all of it I am happy about, as he seems to have lost some of his confidence and is less likely to speak up for himself or give his opinion. He has changed his friendship circles, which isn't a bad thing. As you know he is very interested in Football so he tends to hang around with the children that also really like football. I think some of his changes have been down to simply growing up, and I believe that others are more to do with his awareness of the world around him. He is definitely more concerned about what people think and likes to please people, where as before he would of pleased himself and not given a thought about the conciquences. 

He has ended the term happy to be having a break and excited for what September and year 2 hold for him! I am pleased for him and proud that he has done so well. His report gave 'Excellent and Very Good' grades so his hard work has paid off! 

Now on to cheeky Millie. 



I am simply amazed at the change in Millie since she started Nursery back in October. Whilst she has never been a particularly shy child, her confidence has grown more and more as the year has gone on. She is a happy, bubbly, easy going 3 year old. She gets on with everyone and sees everyone as her friend. A progress report that was recently sent home said that she is happy and confident to play with everyone, each day going in and picking a different friend circle to join in with. I could not be happier for her, she has really benefited from playing with people her own age. 

Nursery recently told me that they think she thinks she is age 12 and all of the children around her are 2! She loves to mother everyone, a very caring and kind child (but she will dob you in if you have been naughty!). I love this side of Millie's personality, the excitement on her face when she gets to nursery and tells me who all her friends are, she is clearly happy to play with them all. 

What has amazed me recently with Millie is that she can now write her own name! Yes it might be a little messy, but she can do it! She also recognises her name if it is written down for her! 

I can't thank Millie's Nursery teachers enough, Millie absolutely adores them all, and she talks fondly about them all the time. 

As a little end of term treat yesterday I took Chester and Millie to the Cinema to see the new Disney film, Inside Out, and then on to Frankie & Bennys for dinner. It was the perfect end to the School Year, I think they both really deserve the break now, so it's 6 weeks of fun times for us! 



Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Chester's Sports Day & Millie's Ballet Recital!

When I woke up this morning I knew that, time wise, today was going to be a bit of a struggle. All because the children had events going on that almost overlapped in time. Luckily Craig has Wednesday's off, so that immediately took some pressure off of me. I can't be in two places at once, as much as I would love to.

So it was decided that Craig would go to Sports day and cheer on Chester, and I would go to Ballet and watch Millie's very first show. 

I took a half day off of work and as it turned out I was able to come and watch Chester's sports day, I presumed Millie and I would have to leave before it finished, but luckily we were able to stay until the last race. Just! It was a race against time to get to Ballet, but it was worth it! Chester was in the football dribble team race and then the relay race. He did very well in each, with his team winning the relay race. He is a very competitive boy so took the whole afternoon very seriously! It was great to cheer him and his other team mates on, and Millie even got to take part in the toddler race! 

                             

So, on to Millie's Ballet. We arrived just in time (with Chester and Craig following 15 minutes later) and I was lucky enough to get a front row seat next to my friend. As it was Millie's first Ballet Recital I had no idea what to expect. It was super cute and all of the children behaved so well! They did a mixture of traditional ballet moves and nursery rhymes. We are not normally allowed to watch them at Ballet lessons, as understandably, it is too distracting for the Children. So it was lovely to be able to see what usually goes on behind closed doors. Miss Tina is so good with them, it's clear she has a lot of patience and knows exactly how to be firm but fun with them! 

                              

Apologies for the lack of photos, the ones I took were amazing. But as I am sure you are aware, I really can't put pictures of other people's children on my blog without their consent! 

I am super proud of both of my children today, they both did an amazing job. I am also very happy that we all got to see both events. 

Have you ever been 'double booked' where your children are concerned? I know that personally I find it very hard to find a balance sometimes! 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Kent Police Open Day.

Social Media is a wonderful thing, isn't it?! I mean, I am certain we would not do half the stuff we do if it wasn't for the fact I had seen it advertised on Facebook or sometimes even Twitter.

Today was no exception, I have got Facebook to thank for letting me know that there was a Kent Police Open Day at the headquarters in Maidstone. It was a free event so I thought what have we got to loose, let's go down and see what it's all about. 

Well, let me tell you, it was FANTASTIC! The police had worked really hard to make it a fantastic day, full of fun and information. 

Soon after we arrived Chester got to try out the body worn video recorder, he was asked to walk around and film what was going on, then we got to watch it all afterwards! The police officers were amazing with him and explained how great it is to see it all through a child's eyes (height). 



Millie was very impressed with the Guide dog puppies, it was great to show the children what the puppies are training for. 


There were lots of colouring in opportunities, which is always a bonus when you have children, it also meant that Craig and I could chat with the police and gain a bit of knowledge about what is new in policing and how they are moving forward thanks to technology etc. Also lots of dressing up opportunites which Chester thought was great! 




The kids thought it was hilarious when an officer locked us in a cell, albeit a little shocked at the fact the prisoners toilet was right by the bed and there was no TV! I think experiences like this are great, they have gained so much knowledge and also realised that its not much fun being locked up in prison! But above all, they have learnt that the police are very friendly and approachable people who they can trust and go to if they ever need to. 



Millie was very impressed with the ice creams too! 


All in all it was a fantastic day, I could literally go on for hours telling you about everything we saw and learnt, we spent 4 hours there and managed to do so much! So well done and a big thank you to everyone involved in making it such a fun and informative day, no doubt you have put a lot of your own time into it, and it's certainly paid off!