Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A crafty afternoon making reward charts!

Its got to that point in the Summer Holidays where my children are becoming over tired, irritable and bored. The come down from our holiday probably hasn't helped, the last couple of days they have really tested our patience. This lead to us making them some reward charts yesterday afternoon.

I had some basic reward charts that I brought in the sale a while back. We used to use the butterfly system, which worked really well for Chester when he was younger. But for now I have decided to use this approach. 

Chester and Millie have a new found love of Dinosaurs, so yesterday I got them a Dinosaur sticker book each, and told them that if they were good, at the end of each week I would buy them a pack of stickers. They were very happy about this, so we set about making the reward charts, I wanted to make them a bit more personal, so I got the children to draw pictures and decorate them as they wished. 

Chester decorated them with dinosaurs, 

and Millie decorated hers with flowers and hearts! 

I have given them 3 goals each day, no tantrums, doing as they are told (meaning when I say don't do something.. stop doing it), and tidying up their toys. So they have 3 chances each day to get a sticker. 

I hope that as the week goes on, realistically going into week two, that they will start to realise that they need to make sure they are achieving these goals if they want the stickers!

Do you use reward charts with your children, do you find them to be successful?  

My 30th Birthday!

If you follow me on Twitter, you will probably know that I was most definitly not looking forward to turning 30!

I was really struggling to come to terms with leaving my 20s behind. They have been totally awesome, I married Craig, we bought a house together and had two children. So you can see why I look upon those years so fondly.

We also managed to squeeze in 3 trips to Walt Disney World whilst I was in my 20s, I think that this may well be the reason that I am so sad about leaving my 20s behind. As you well know I absolutely love Walt Disney World, I am obsessed with it, it is my happy place. Deep down, I know that there is no way we will be visiting my happy place as many times in my 30s. This makes me very sad. Short of a lottery win, I am going to be lucky to even visit Walt Disney World once during my 30s. As you can imagine, I am very upset about this!

But there was nothing I could do to prevent turning 30, so I decided to have my Birthday week down at my parents home in Poole, Dorset. I love it there, so knew I would be happy regardless of my age! I will blog separately about our lovely week away, so for now I will just tell you my Birthday story.

My Birthday was on the Monday, and we decided to go down on the Saturday evening after Craig finished work. It took longer than usual because Millie needed two toilet stops, first long trip with a potty trained toddler, and we knew it!

When we arrived my parents came out to greet us, help Craig, Chester and Millie take things in from the car whilst I carried on un packing. I needed to move my car into a parking space so didn't want to go inside first. I could hear Chester and Millie screaming with excitement, and thought nothing of it, they were so looking forward to the trip, I knew they would be excited to get there.

After moving my car, I walked into my Parents, to find my Sister, brother in law sitting there! I was in total shock! Then my Auntie jumped out from behind the sofa! I was so pleased to see them all, they all live close to me, so for them to travel all the way down to Mum and Dads was just lovely!

The Sunday I knew we were going out for lunch. Just before we had to leave for lunch My Auntie, Uncle and cousins family turned up, with my Nan! They all live in Southampton (aside from my Nan), so had to make a bit of a journey to come and see me too! 

I was so happy to see them and be able to have my birthday meal with them! We went to a chinese restaurant, which had a lovely, freshly cooked, buffet. It was a great meal, even Chester and Millie enjoyed it. I love that they are willing to try lots of foods, as I know I wouldn't of at their age.

When we got back to Mum and Dad's my Sister gave me my present, as they were leaving that afternoon. I was handed a great big box, which was packed with chocolate! She knows me so well! She then handed me two lovely new Pandora Charms for my bracelet. I was very happy, but cross with her for buying so much. Then she handed me an envelope, inside was a card telling me that we were going to The Ritz for Afternoon Tea and then to see Wicked the musical! It was from my Sister, my Mum and my Aunt. I couldn't believe it! I have enjoyed lots of Afternoon teas in the past, but never at The Ritz, and I have wanted to see Wicked ever since we didn't get a chance to see it on Broadway when I went to New York about 8 years ago!

I went to bed on a high from such a great weekend! Forgetting that when I woke up I would be 30!

My Dad knows me so well, he made me my favourite breakfast of Eggs Benedict, it was the perfect way to start my 30s!

I was then handed a bag of cards and presents from Craig and the Children. The cards were numbered so that I could open them in order. The first card was from Craig and inside was confirmation of a booking to Center Parcs! OH.MY.GOD he had booked us a holiday to Center Parcs! My favourite holiday destination in the UK! I was so happy! The next card had spending money inside, from Craig and other family members. The next two were from Chester and Millie and came with a present... some Monkey Nuts to feed the squirrels at Center Parcs! We will be enjoying that holiday later in the year, so will tell you all about it then.

Then my parents handed me a bag of presents too! I was starting to think that turning 30 wasn't so bad after all, and that maybe I should pretend I am 30 every year! My parents brought me National Trust family membership, my most favourite Pandora Charm ever... the Giraffe one (because it reminds me of my stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney), a photo book of some of the best Disney memories from our trip last year, a personal calendar with pictures of the children, some smellies and chocolate, and tickets to go and see Lee Evans in Bournemouth later that week! Lee Evans is my most favourite comedian of all time, I can watch his sketches over and over, and still laugh just as hard as the first time!

Because of the new National Trust membership we were going to head to Corfe Castle, but the weather was looking a bit ropey, so we decided to leave that for later in the week and head to the Tank Museum. None of us had ever been before, so aside from the obvious tanks, didn't really know what to expect. The tickets are a buy once use all year type and oh my gosh are they worth it! We spent all day at the Museum and still didn't manage to see everything! I wasn't sure if it was going to be my thing, but it was so interesting, they had so much to keep the children entertained too, with interactive displays and a tank show outside. Chester really enjoyed the Trench Experience, walking the footsteps of the WW1 soldiers. He was fascinated and asked so many questions. He also got to sit in the drivers seat of a tank that was used in WW2 whilst we were being told all about life on the tanks. Mille was happy to just follow her brother! It was the perfect day out.

My two best friends, who I have known since School sent my present down later in the week. They had brought me a new Pandora Bracelet and Charm. It really was turning into a Birthday week full of surprises!  They know me so well, I absolutely love the Bracelet and Charm, I am very lucky to have such lovely friends. 

WOW! What a lovely Birthday, fantastic memories. I have been thoroughly spoilt, I wasn't expecting any of it and I am truly grateful to everyone for the time and effort that had gone into making sure my 30th was magical. I had the most amazing few days. Thank you all very much!!!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Summer Holidays weeks 2 and 3!

So we are now nearing the end of week 3. I have to say it seems like ages ago I wrote this post about our Summer Holiday plans.

I have stuck to my decision to have a relaxing and unscheduled summer holidays, and so far, apart from a couple of blips, it has worked out well.

In Week 2 we had an impromptu trip down to Herne Bay, it was a fantastic, unplanned, evening out. The children keep asking when we are going back, so no doubt we will be down there again at some point before the end of the holidays! We had a great day out at Bluewater, first at the Cinema to watch Disney Planes 2, which Chester and Millie deemed 'awesome'. Then at the lovely Pizza Express for the best meal out as a family we have had in ages, food was fab and the children behaved themselves! Next up was Chester and Millie's first horse riding lesson, and they absolutely loved it! Thankfully they have not asked for a pony just yet but I fear its only a matter of time! We finished the week off with a trip to the park two days in a row to meet with Chester's School friends! Was great to catch up with the Mummies and for Chester (and Millie) to play with friends and burn off energy in the park, not forgetting swapping their world cup stickers! So actually week 2 was a lot more action packed than I would of liked, but nether the less it was great, the children had fun, and thats all that matters.

Week 3 has been more chilled out, as I think the busy week really took its toll on the Children. Not only are they tired, but they are grumpy and starting to become naughty. I think these things go hand in hand to be honest. So I have tried to keep everything to a minimum. We started week 3 with another trip to the seaside! This time Sheerness, we took a picnic and the children paddled in the sea. That was until I realised there were Jellyfish in the sea and quickly got out! We caught a Jellyfish in our bucket and the children were fascinated. I have only ever seen Jellyfish in aquariums or abroad so was it was interesting for me too. Chester of course questioned why the Jellyfish was not pink, anyone who has watched Finding Nemo will know why he asked that. We made our own pizza which the children loved. We had a day of shopping at Ashford Outlet. Then we had a couple of days of staying in and watching movies. Including the Lego Movie, which prompted some Lego building fun! Lastly, we have been too Chatham Dockyard. Its a favourite of ours, so much to see and do. Plus your ticket gets you in all year so we can enjoy the different exhibitions and holiday activities all year round. This visit was the commemoration of WW1 exhibition, Chester drew a picture for the memory board, its a submarine, a German soldier and an English Soldier. So he had taken on board what he had seen that day!

So we are now entering week 4 and it is going by quicker than I thought it would, lots to still look forward to including our holiday! As I mentioned before, blogging has slowed right down in the Summer so I can enjoy spending time with both of the children. But if you are on instagram you can follow me on there, where I will  be posting pictures of our Summer adventures daily!

How have your Summer Holidays been so far?

Monday, 11 August 2014

Moshling Collection Plush toys, review & giveaway

A couple of weeks ago, we popped along to Bluewater and stumbled across a fun looking Moshi Monster area. Chester, a massive Moshi Monster fan, was very happy! He got to meet Diavlo, get a 'tattoo' and a mask. It totally made his day. 

Since then these Moshling Collection Plush toys have arrived in the post....

As you can see Chester was VERY happy about it! The plush toys give another play dimension to the small plastic figures he is used to. The Moshlings he received are; Iggy, Mr Snookums, Jiggles and ShiShi. Most of you will know about Millie's baby Panda obsession, so with ShiShi being a Panda, Millie just had to have that one for herself! 

Just like the plastic figures you get a special code. The ones on these moshlings unlock their character in-game on Moshimonsters.com. This was (according to Chester) totally awesome!  

The Moshling plush toys have an RRP of £6, I think an acceptable price considering the enjoyment the children have already had out of them, and the fact you can use their code for your online game. They can be found in Clintons, Smyths Toys superstores and all good independent toy stores. Both Chester and Millie love the Moshling Collection Plush toys, I can see a new Moshi obsession coming on in this house!

So, how about a giveaway?! 

The lovely people at Carte Blanche have kindly given me a bundle of 4 Moshling Collection Plush toys, to give away to 1 lucky winner. All you need to do is fill in the rafflecopter below. There is one mandatory entry and then you can gain extra entries if you wish, however, they are not mandatory. The giveaway will run until Midnight on  25th August, all terms and conditions can be found on the rafflecoper form.

Good Luck everyone! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway “SuperLucky
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Saturday, 9 August 2014

We shopped til' we dropped at McArthurGlen Ashford!

Living in Kent, we are very lucky to be only 20 minutes away from McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Ashford.

If you didn't know, McArthurGlen is the European leader in designer outlet retailing. They bring consumers their favourite brands at 30-70% less everyday. Not only do they offer a place to shop, they also have a wide variety of places to eat and a play area to keep the kiddies entertained. So, as we found out today, it really is an all day shopping experience!

Today, we were invited for a day out at McArthurGlen Ashford. My sister came along with me and I decided to bring the children as well, as they needed to be fitted for new shoes. I was a little worried about taking the children, as I know how easily they can get bored on a shopping trip.

When we arrived Millie was asleep (a rare occurrence these days) so we let Chester have a play around on the lovely play area. It was the perfect mix of climbing frames and slides for both younger and older children. It was nice to use it as a bit of a bargaining tool as well. If the children were good, they could have a play in the play area at the end too! If you pop into guest services, they have a treasure hunt, where you have to look out for animal stickers in store windows, if you manage to find all of them you can pick a prize from the lucky dip! They also have McArthur cars that you can hire out for £2, this all makes the shopping trip that bit more exciting for Children.

I arrived with a small list of things I needed to buy; trainers for me (mine are literally falling apart but I love them), shoes for Millie, trainers for Chester, and possibly School trouser for Chester.

With 70 stores to choose from, we were spoilt for choice! We started by looking in Hamleys, we then headed into The Works to keep the children happy and purchase some all important Loom Bands! They had a fantastic offer of 3 packs for £2, plus they had coloured s clips and a loom board too. I also made use of the buy one get one free offer on the School English and Maths workbooks, perfect to prepare Chester for year 1 in September!

We had Chester and Millie's feet measured on the Clarks ipad fitting experience, Chester thought it was totally awesome that an ipad could measure his feet!

We browsed around a few more stores, making sure we brought some yummy Lindt chocolate to keep up our energy! Some of the discounts were just incredible, in French Connection for example, they had dresses down to £19.99 from £139!

It was then time for Lunch. They have a variety of counter service eatery's such as Mcdonalds and Harry Ramsdens. Then they have a cafe, a Wagamama and a Pizza Express. We chose to eat in Pizza Express as we know it to be very child friendly. We met with Jon, McArthurGlen Ashfords Marketing Manager, so it was a great chance for me to quiz him about the outlet over lunch! Let me tell you, there are some big plans for the Ashford outlet, including a multi story car park, which I think is a fab idea! I also found out that the Abercrombie & Fitch store, which opened last year, was the first of its kind to open in Europe, and it has since paved the way for openings across Europe. Chatting to Jon, its clear that the McArthurGlen group are constantly checking the market and making sure that they are meeting the demands of the public.

Lunch was fab, the staff were great with the Children, very patient with them, even when they were getting a bit noisy by the end of our meal! Chester was given a 'winner' sticker for finishing all of his dinner, that totally made his day! I was surprised to hear that last orders are taken an hour after the shops close, so after a long days shopping you can sit down and enjoy some scrummy food. I have made a mental note of this, so that Craig and I can go back and enjoy a child free trip and a meal out one weekend!

We continued our shopping trip, sourcing out bargains, both children managed to get new shoes/trainers, Sarah managed to get some beautiful Wellington Boots in the Croc shop for a bargain £11.99. I sadly didn't find any trainers that I liked, but thats not to say there wasn't plenty to choose from, in fact I was amazed at the amount of choice. But our biggest bargains came from our favourite shop, GAP. They had a lot of 30-50% off sale items, which made for some great buys. But on top of that, we had a 30% off for this weekend voucher (including sale items) by being signed up to the McArthurGlen newsletter (so well worth signing up). So I bought a jumper and 2 t shirts for Chester, a hoodie and a dress for Millie and a top for me, saving a massive £56.68 and only costing £40.26. AMAZING!

One other thing that really impressed me about the outlet were the toilet facilities. They were amazingly clean, plenty of them dotted around. But the icing on the cake, for Millie, who as you know has recently finished her potty training, was the family toilet within the toilets. They had a full sized toilet alongside a child sized toilet. Millie was so happy that she could sit on a 'big girl toilet' all by herself, it was a nice little touch.

We ended up spending nearly 7 hours at the outlet, so its no surprise that by the end the children were getting very tired and grumpy. My sister and I were exhausted, so they must of been shattered! We let them have some time in the play area before heading home, it was only fair!

Some of our bargains...

We had a great day, with some fantastic bargains. With ample parking right in the heart of the outlet and wide walkways, which make it very pushchair friendly, I would certainly recommend that if you have a McArthurGlen near to you, to go and give it a visit. The locations can be found on their website here. This particular one in Ashford is only 37 minutes on the train from London, with free shuttle buses to the outlets front door!

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. We were given a £100 voucher to spend at McArthurGlen Ashford and provided with lunch at Pizza Express for the purpose of this review.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Coffee Coffee!

I can almost guarantee that anyone with children aged 5 and up will be saying the title of this post in a Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show style! At least, I hope so, I mean I can't be the only one that has to watch this every day after School?!

Anyway, onto the important stuff...

I love coffee, really love it. I would love to say that its what wakes me up in the mornings, but sadly I am the worst morning person ever, so I barely have time to make sure the children are fed and dressed in the correct attire, let alone drink a cup of coffee!

If we are at home, my coffee time is when the children are in bed. Its my time to chill out, snuggle on the sofa with a large mug of coffee and a good biscuit or two three. Before this year, at home I would just have a regular instant coffee, but at the beginning of the year I treated myself to a Tassimo coffee machine, so now only the best will do!

This is my coffee drawer...

 please tell me its not just me that has one?!

 I really love strong coffee, but I also really love flavoured coffee. My favourite flavour combination at the moment is salted caramel, so when making up my Caramel Macchiato I do add a sneaky drizzle of caramel sauce and a pinch of salt. Although it doesn't come close to my Starbucks favourite, its very yummy for 'homemade'.

I also have a very weird (so my husband say's) love for cold coffee! I can't drink things that are too hot, so often I will wait for them to go cold before I drink them! My Tassimo is perfect for this because, unlike a kettle it doesn't seem to make my drink boiling hot, so it means less time to wait for my coffee to reach my temperature perfection!

Curry's have written this very interesting post about our growing love for coffee. I would have to agree with most of it. I loved the mention of the latte art, its something I look forward to every time I visit a coffee shop, however I have never had the confidence to try it at home!

Over the years we have become a bit more spoilt for choice when it comes to coffee. Where as I used to be satisfied with a instant coffee, I find myself craving more adventurous and flavoursome coffee's. The Gingerbread Latte that Starbucks have every Christmas period is undoubtedly my favourite. I would love to recreate that at home so that I could have it all year round! I think its the smell that makes it so wonderful, it takes me back to my favourite place on earth.... Walt Disney World! Everything has that warming, sickly sweet smell there!

How about you, do you love coffee? Do you have a favourite flavour like me?

This post was written in collaboration with Curry's.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Horse Riding!

Ever since Millie had a ride on a pony at Chester's School Fete, she has not stopped going on about ponies and horses. She really loved it.

So my Friend kindly arranged for Chester and Millie to ride her friends Horse yesterday. We took our other friends children with us and it was a really fantastic morning.

They got to brush Missy (the horse) ...

They got to feed her...

and then they got to ride her....

Both Chester and Millie loved it. They both listened to instruction and did exactly as they were told. Millie didn't stop smiling the whole time she was on Missy.

So I think I better start looking for a Pony Club for Millie, and maybe even Chester! More Expense!