Thursday, 27 June 2013

The day Millie got to swim with an Olympian!

Last week Millie and I were lucky enough to be invited to a lovely day out hosted by Huggies Little Swimmers. The plan for the day was to meet at Imperial College London go for a swimming lesson with Water Babies and also Karen Pickering, Olympic Swimmer! If that wasn't exciting enough we would then be taken to the lovely Milestone Hotel for afternoon tea!

I met with Emma from Life according to Mrs Shilts on the tube and we walked through to the Imperial College together. I had met Emma on a previous day out so it was nice to see a familiar face!

We went through to get changed and were given a Huggies little swimmers Hygiene Mat and some Huggies little swimmers swim nappies. The Hygiene mat is a new product from Huggies and I was very impressed!


The mat is durable and machine washable, so can be used time and time again. It also folds away into a cool and compact waterproof bag (either a frog or a penguin design) for easy carrying to and from the pool or beach. It has a non slip side so that you have peace of mind that your little one will not slip over once stood on the mat. Its RRP is £6.99 but actually it is on offer for £5.11 in Tescos or on Amazon at the moment. Having used the mat some more since last week, for both Chester and Millie I can honestly say that they are well worth their money. I have two and they are already mentally packed for our trip to Disney World later in the year!

So, once we were changed we went through to the pool, where Millie kicked up a massive tantrum because she wanted to get into the pool right away! I was so embarrassed! Luckily we did not have to wait too long before we were invited into the pool by the water babies teacher. She taught us the best way to get into the pool with the babies, we were joined by Karen Pickering and then the babies were shown how to do lots of fun things in the water, including Millie's favourite, blowing bubbles! We sang some songs and pushed some balls around the water and all too soon it was time to get out!

Although Chester does swimming lessons once a week, Millie, sadly, rarely gets a chance to go swimming. After this session I have vowed to change that. She loved swimming and when Chester starts School in September I WILL make time to take Millie swimming once a week!

After we were all dried and dressed (with help from the hygiene mat) it was off to The Milestone Hotel for a lovely afternoon tea! WOW it really was a lovely afternoon tea and I loved the fact that the babies were also given their own separate afternoon tea. A lovely thought, it was nice for Millie to have something all to herself rather than have to share with me! Her little eyes just lit up when she saw the cakes! I was sat on a table with Emma and also Becky from The nearly London Blog and Rachel from The little Pip. It was lovely to have a good chat with other bloggers and great to see our children interacting!

We were also given the chance to have a chat with Karen Pickering, she was really lovely and showed a real interest in our Children. I asked her a few questions about Chester's swimming and she was more than happy to advise.

All in all it was a great day, Millie and I went home exhausted and for the first time in a long while I slept really well that night!


Huggies have put together some top tips for baby swimming:

1. It’s never too early – your baby doesn’t need to be immunised before swimming so get them to the pool as soon as you feel ready

2. Planning your swimming trip is essential for ensuring a stress-free session. Put your swimming costume on under your clothes before heading out so you can focus your attention on changing your little one at the pool

3. Always put a swim nappy on your little one before going into the pool. Huggies® Little Swimmers® are made from absorbent materials that won’t swell in the water, have unique leak guards to avoid little accidents escaping and easy open sides to make change time as hassle free as possible

4. Stay by your little one at all times – not only is it safe, but it also helps to form a close bond

5. Maintain eye contact with your little one; smile, relax and drop down to the same level – your baby will love seeing you splashing too!

6. You may want to have your partner or a friend with you when you first start swimming, just whilst you get used to handling a wet baby – or even better, join a baby swim school like Water Babies to help with both yours and your baby’s confidence in the water

7. One of the best ways to get into the pool is to lay your baby safely on the poolside, enter the water and then lift them in – your Water Babies swim teacher can teach you the best way to do this

8. Keep your little one safe and hygienic at the pool side and avoid any trips or falls with the durable non-slip Huggies® Little Swimmers® Hygiene Mat, available in fun frog or penguin designs!

We have got the decorating bug!

Ever since I revamped our dining area a few weeks back hubbie and I have been even more determined to change and revamp other rooms in our house.

When we brought the house 7 years ago it was a new build. All painted in magnolia with lovely cream carpets and wooden floor throughout. Of course this was before we had even thought about children, so to us it was the perfect house!

Sadly it did not take us long to find out that 1. Magnolia does not stay nice and bright for long and 2. new build houses are not as well built as you would think!

Back in January we brought some paint for our hallway, but its still sitting in our kitchen floor! After revamping our dining area and seeing what a difference just a little bit of work had made, we vowed to get our house in order and make it more of a home! So this weekend, whilst I was away, Craig secretly started the decorating. He decided to buy a coving kit from B&Q to cover up the tape joints that were falling apart. I wise choice I would say!

Luckily Craig has lots of friends that were able to give him advice on how to put the coving up correctly. I know that others may not have this kind of knowledge to hand. So I found this handy little eBook on DIY entitled 28 tips on how to decorate. It offers step by step advice in plain English. From hanging wallpaper to polishing dull wooden floors, this free ebook has got it covered!

Downstairs is done, just the landing to go!
I shall keep you updated on our decorating phase, next on the list is our living room! I can hear hubbie in the background shouting let me finish the hallway first!

*please note that this post is in association with Local Traders, however all words and opinions are my own. The decorating is actually going ahead at the moment, I can hear my husband moaning that he should never of started it as I type!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Time for some Teapigs iced tea!

Now I will admit, I like tea. However my idea of tea is hot and great for dunking biscuits in! Actually I will also admit that my favourite cup of tea is one that has been made for me!

I have been following Teapigs tweets a lot on twitter recently and have noticed them talking about iced tea. I have never had iced tea before so they kindly sent me some samples so I could try it out for myself. Along with the samples was also a recipe card, which was handy because I really did not have a clue how to make the iced tea!

It turns out it was very simple. After lots of debating I decided to make a super fruits iced tea. All I needed to do was put my super fruits tea temple into a glass and cover it with hot water. I then left it to infuse for 3 minutes before topping it up with cold water and ice. Garnishing with a strawberry.

The verdict - My Teapigs Super fruit iced tea was delicious and very refreshing, just what I needed to quench my thirst on a (rare) hot afternoon. Taking less than 5 minutes to make, it was the perfect alternative to hot tea!

It was a hard choice choosing what flavour to have for my very first iced tea, Teapigs have so many different flavours, but I think I made the right choice! I am also a lover of peppermint and one of the tea temples was even peppermint and liquorice so I think I am going to use one of those to make some cupcakes with in the very near future, watch this space!

My boy is not so grown up after all...

Seeing as Chester will be 5 the day he starts full time School at the end of September, it is fair to say that he has long since outgrown Nursery School. He is really bored there now and they do not go that extra mile to stimulate him!

So yesterday he went for his first taster session at Primary School. For the first time in a long time, my confident Chester was nervous! He went all shy and quiet when his teacher introduced herself and went to shake his hand!

I left him in the classroom with 14 other new classmates (they introduce them in 2 groups, there is infact 30 in his class) whilst me and the other parents went into the School hall to chat with the headteacher.

When I came back through to pick him up, he was just standing by a desk. All by himself. Where had my confident boy gone?!! He looked so little! Way too young to be starting School! I will admit that I was holding back the tears a little bit!

After we said our goodbyes and got into the car I asked him all about his afternoon. He was very excited to tell me that he had made 3 new friends and that they had sung a song. He showed me a sticker that he was given for being good and was very proud. This immediately made me feel a little better, he had clearly liked his first official visit to School and was just finding his confidence again!

Who else has little ones starting School in September? Have they had their visits, did they react in the same way?!

REVIEW: Qhotels - Chesford Grange, Warwickshire.

A little while ago I was asked if I would like to review a 4 star family hotel, Chesford Grange, in Warwickshire. I of course, jumped at the chance. Sometimes what is needed is a little break away from everyday life and for me it could not of come at a better time. Craig could not get out of work so I asked my mum if she would like to come along instead. Perfect for her to spend time with the grandchildren.

As everyone knows I am an obsessive planner so before we went I had a good look around the Qhotels website and I have to say it looked lovely, although the pictures do not do it justice, especially the rooms. I was told that Chesford Grange has been given TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2013 - this award is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding reviews on TripAdvisor. So that gave me lots of confidence that the hotel would be great.

From Kent it should of taken around 2 hours but due to traffic it took almost 4 (including a stop to stretch our  legs). Despite being situated in a lovely country location Chesford Grange was not difficult to find with the help of our sat nav. This is what we faced when we arrived....

Beautiful, and what is very clever is that some modern parts of the hotel are very well concealed behind this lovely frontage.

Check in:
We arrived at 2pm which is an hour before check in time. We thought we should just let reception know that we were here and then we would head back out and explore the local area a little bit. The reception staff were lovely, they explained that our room was not yet ready and then they helped me out when I asked for advice on finding a local toy shop!

When we came back to the hotel, our room was ready and we were directed to our superior family room. We were asked if we would like help with our bags, but as we were staying for just one night I politely declined. Looking back now at how much baggage 2 children under 5 come with I should've said yes!

The room:

Our room was on the ground floor, the floor below reception. It turned out that it was the perfect location for us as the swimming pool was just a short walk down the corridor!

We had requested a travel cot ahead of our trip and we were very pleased to see that our requested had been noted and that the travel cot was up and ready when we arrived in our room.

The room had two very big double beds and even with the travel cot we did not feel cramped at all. There were two chairs at the window end, which the children found very useful for bunny rabbit spotting! The hair dryer was cleverly concealed behind a mirror which you could pull out further into the room.

The bathroom was very spacious, the bath was lovely and deep and the toiletries were a very nice touch. As well as towels we also had 2 dressing gowns, which came in handy when walking to and from the pool. The water in the sink would not heat up which was a bit annoying, however, the shower/bath water was lovely and consistent. The pressure on the shower was just right too.

Also in the room was a mini fridge, complete with complimentary water. Tea and coffee making facilities with a great choice of hot drinks (including a very yummy hot chocolate!) as well as dunkable biscuits! Plus a safe, which was surprisingly spacious for a hotel safe. The wardrobe was a lovely size, its only downside being that the door was made of glass and the bottom kept coming off of its runner (not great with small children).

The TV in the room had the basic channels plus a few extras. As a family I would've liked more than one childrens channel, one with cartoons would be perfect. It was easy to use and just the right size for the room.

Chester and Millie were given a Quackers childrens pack each, which contained a badge, a post card, some activity sheets and a flag which cleverly concealed some crayons! This kept the children busy whilst I was busy checking out the room! A lovely way to get children more involved in the stay.

The Swimming pool:

I had not seen any pictures of the swimming pool before arriving so did not really know what to expect. I had seen people walk about the corridors in their dressing gowns so we felt comfortable walking down to the pool area in our swimwear/dressing gowns. This was especially handy with 2 children in tow! When arriving at the pool changing area we had to use our room key to gain access. I was really happy about this, makes me feel more secure with the children. The changing area was lovely and clean with lockers and hair dryers to use.

The pool area was bigger than I had imagined. There were two heated seats, and a handful of plastic seats around the edge. Then there was the the main pool, a steam room and a shower. Chester has just got his 5 meters swim badge, which is a good thing really because before I had even had a chance to get my dressing gown off he had walked down the steps and was in. Only to find that he could not touch the floor. The whole of the pool was 1.2 meters deep, there was no shallow end. That was its only downside though, we found the pool to be warm and spacious. On the times when adults were in the pool at the same time as us we just moved to one side and let them swim, there was enough room for us to do this and be comfortable that we had enough space to swim/play. The pool has an adult only session on Saturdays between 11am-3pm, I actually think this is a great idea, I can imagine how annoyed some guests may get with the thought of children constantly being in the pool! When we went swimming on Sunday morning we were lucky enough to have the pool to ourselves (most people were probably still in bed!) and both children were more than happy to spend over an hour in the water without getting cold.

The food: 

Some of the packages you can get when booking Chesford Grange have the option to include dinner and/or breakfast. Sometimes when hotels offer this kind of package you do worry about the quality of the food they are serving so I was looking forward to seeing what was served up here!

We had pre booked our table for dinner. The restaurant does not open until 7pm, I was not happy about this. As I am sure most parents of young children will agree 7pm is, or is very close to bedtime, so not an ideal time to feed young children. But as we booked in advance I tried to plan naps/lunch time around this problem.

We arrived to the restaurant at exactly 7pm and were greeted and taken to our table straight away. Within a few minutes of being seated a waitress came round to offer us rolls. This was a great way of distracting the children for a little bit longer! Reading through the menu I could see I would have a hard time choosing a starter and a main, there was plenty of choice and variety. Eventually to start, my Mum went for the soup of the day (curried vegetable) and I went for the beetroot and goats cheese salad. Now, anyone who knows me will say that is all lies! I am not a salad person at all and have never ordered a salad in a restaurant, but I do really love goats cheese so I wanted to try it! The childrens meal had fantastic choice too, a mixture of healthy and some child familiar foods. Chester chose to have Garlic bread to start and I chose the corn on the cob for Millie. Starters went down a treat, they were really very lovely. I can personally say if all salads were like that then I would live off of salads!

By the time we got to mains the children were both having a bit of a melt down and to be honest I was a bit worried that they were making a bit of a scene, especially Millie. Luckily it did not seem to phase the staff and the restaurant was not too full up. For mains my Mum finally chose the chicken pie (after debating for ages on the sea bass!) she said it was delicious and she was really glad she chose it. I went for the duck breast with noodles in a chilli and orange dressing. Oh My God. What an amazing dish! It was soooo yummy! The duck was cooked perfectly, still pink in the middle and the dressing was amazing! The childrens meal gave them the choice to choose a main plus 2 sides. Chester chose Pizza with chips and salad, I chose Sausages, mash and beans for Millie. Both were very nice and high above what I have come to expect from childrens meals!

During main course it was becoming harder and harder to keep the children entertained. They were just so tired. By now it was around 8.15/8.30pm so an hour and a half past their normal bedtime. In the past when we have stayed at hotels we have had an early dinner and then let the children calm down ready for bed back in the room. But here, they were hungry and very overtired. So I had a little word with the restaurant manager and he kindly allowed for our desserts to be sent back to our room. I am pretty sure the other diners were very grateful for this!

Back in the room I was able to get Chester ready for bed before the dessert arrived, knowing how messy Millie is I decided to not get her changed just yet! Our desserts arrived at exactly the time I had asked. With regards to the desserts I think that both my Mum and I were agreed that there was not enough choice. I think what the dessert menu was lacking was a traditional comfort pudding such as a summer fruit crumble or a jam roly poly (both with custard). I went for the baileys cheesecake, although it did not have the texture of cheesecake, it was delicious. My Mum had the ice cream sundae and said it was lovely but far too sweet for her. Chester and Millie both had the doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce which they loved. Thinking back now I should probably of ordered one of them the fresh fruit with mango dipping sauce.

The 3 course adult meal per person comes to £26 and I have to say that is 100% great value for what we got. If Chesford Grange was closer to me I would be broke as I would want to eat in the restaurant all of the time! I would be more than happy to pay that price for what I had eaten.

I should also mention at this point that children are supposed to get a refillable juice cup for the duration of their say. Sadly for our visit they had run out of the cups. This did cause us a problem because children are not very well catered for with regards to drinking cups at the hotel. The staff did do their best to help us, but giving a coca cola pint glass to a 17 month old and a 4 year old was just not practical. The other problem with childrens drinks was the lack of squash. They only had cordial or fruit juice on offer for them.

Breakfast was in the form of a buffet, the choice was very extensive. Having a hot food counter and sections for fresh fruit, yogurt, toast, cereal, juices and pastries. Staff came round to offer tea or coffee. The ONLY thing missing from the breakfast was the option to order eggs benedict. There was the option to order poached eggs, omelet and a few other made to order items, but no eggs benedict. My ultimate favourite breakfast. Having hollandaise sauce on the evening menu I do not think it would be hard to add this to breakfast.

We all went a bit overboard at breakfast and I practically rolled out of the restaurant! The food was very fresh and delicious. The pancakes were the best I have tasted in a long while. We did not feel rushed and again, all the staff were lovely and friendly.

Other points:
Chesford Grange is set in 17 acres of ground, they have a nature trail but sadly we just run out of time to try it out! Check out is at 11am and I think this is perfect, we did not feel rushed at all. There is a lovely bar area, which extends outside, perfect for summer months. The bar menu looked very appealing, again, sadly we just ran out of time to try it. The hotel also hosts conferences, in fact one was on during our stay. However, as the hotel is so spacious we did not notice crowds and had no trouble at all parking.  I also noted that they have some offers on for School holidays, which I think is great seeing as most companies seem to do the opposite and up the prices for family peak times. Chester starts School in September so this is something I will remember for future holidays or short breaks away.

We came home from Chesford Grange feeling very happy. The room was clean and spacious, the food was delicious, the swimming pool was just the right size and it was clear to see that the staff have very high standards, giving every guest the attention they needed. As a family hotel Chesford Grange ticks (nearly) all the boxes for me. They just need to sort out their restaurant opening times and supplies of childrens cups! I would be more than happy to stay there with my family for a few days, not only was the hotel to a great standard it was in close proximity to lots of local attractions, with Warwick and Leamington Spa no more than 3 miles away. Its the perfect place to stay if you are planning to explore the local area as a family, although I recommend staying at least two nights so that you can make use of the hotel facilities too!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Chester's swimming achievement.

Chester attends swimming lessons at the local pool every week. He has been going for a while and is learning new things every week. In the holidays I sometimes send him to a weeks intensive course because it is included in his membership. During the last half term he attended the intense course and they moved him into the big pool.

The reason they did this was so that he would push himself a bit further in order to get his 5 meters (he is only 4). Sadly the teacher that week was not his usual one and she was not too interested in helping him. However, he did come out of it with some new skills. He can now float in the mushroom position and can sink to the bottom of the pool and stay there! He also learnt a little bit on diving into the water.

So I was a bit annoyed when returning back to his normal lessons he was back in the teaching pool. I felt sorry for Chester because he thought that he would be able to stay in the big pool now.

However, it seems that his time in the big pool did help him, as today he achieved his 5 meters! His little face, when he realised he had finally got it was amazing!

Looking very tired after swimming lessons......

I congratulated him and told him I was very proud of him. His response to that was "thanks Mum, but now I am going to get my 6 meters"! Typical Chester, he is so competitive! I of course had to explain to him that there was no 6 meters and that his next badge would be 10 meters!

So proud of him!

The best summer holiday songs

Well, although the weather doesn't seem to agree, the summer holidays are fast approaching! I have been busy gathering together activities for the children to keep them entertained for the summer holidays. Its not an easy task I tell you.

But something that I had never thought of was a summer holiday songs playlist.Wouldn't it be nice to have some music to listen too whilst we are busy playing in the garden or (what is more likely) whilst we are inside doing a summer themed rainy day activity.

Well luckily have put together a best summer holiday songs playlist. Now I have had a look at this playlist and at risk of sounding like my parents... the old songs really are the best aren't they?!

My personal usual choice of songs to listen to are nothing like the ones on this list. I see no Foo Fighters, Muse, Finch or Greenday! However, when it comes to feel good songs even I just can't resist singing along!

Now, being a mother of two children under the age of 5, the first song that jumped out at me on this list was The Wheels On the Bus! Yes, really, that is how sad my life has become! We sing this song alot, probably daily. So therefore I would not really class it as a summer song, more of an all year round song!

However, you can't deny that Cliff Richard singing Summer Holiday really is a perfect summer holiday tune, right?! This song totally reminds me of summer months at Primary School, when we were all forced to learn and sing this song in assembly!

Chester and Millie are both very musical children, in fact Chester normally sings his way through the day. If he is putting his shoes on he will sing about it, if he is playing Skylanders he will sing about that too! Some of these songs are classic feel good songs and I wouldn't hesitate to play them to the children during the summer holidays. Top of my list would be The Beach Boys, I love their songs. Much to hubbies annoyance I actually really love Queen. So Don't Stop Me Now would certainly be getting some serious playing!

What do you think of the list? Did any of your favourites make it?!

*This post was written in association with Cumbrian cottages, however all words and opinions are my own.

Little Us Dolls GIVEAWAY!

Little Us Dolls is a brand new range of enchanting dolls, each one with her own unique personality.  Which one is most like your daughter?– maybe it will be Chloe who likes everything pink, or Amelia who loves animals and reading, or perhaps it will be Ruby who’s just a little bit cheeky, or finally Millie, the tomboy of the group! Read the Little Us stories and follow their adventures on their Facebook page

I think that my Millie would be most like Chloe! Thinking back to my childhood (and even now) I would be most like Millie!

Little Us Dolls are available to purchase from Amazon and have an RRP of £9.99

The lovely people at Little Us Dolls have been kind enough to offer one of my readers the chance to win themselves a Little Us Doll of their choice! All you need to do is answer one simple question via the rafflecopter form below! There will also be additional ways to enter too but they are not mandatory.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Homemade moon sand

I have been planning to make our own moon sand for a long while. They make it at a local sure start centre and Millie loves it. Chester has some of the shop bought version and he likes it too.

So yesterday morning as it was dry and warm we went outside to make some moon sand. I didn't really want to leave the house to go to the shops today so I made do with what I had which was just under half a box of cornflour and then I mixed it with about a quarter of a bottle of baby oil. The smell was lovely. The texture was crumbly and soft.

I got out some silicone cupcake cases, some cups, small pots and some spoons. I also put a pot of glitter on the tray to add another colour.

I put the tray in the garden for the children to explore. Millie was far more interested than Chester, but I think this was because he was busy playing dens in his tent!

All in all it was pretty successful, next time I will use a full box of cornflour as I think they would've prefered to have more to play with. I love that we had a theme so I will carry that on next time we decide to make moon sand!

Have you ever made moon sand before? What's your kids favourite way to play with it?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

What a day!

Well I woke up this morning full of plans for today. We were to spend the day in the garden. It may not of been sunny but it was lovely and warm. Up until 1pm we were having loads of fun in the garden. Making Moon Sand and playing in the tent.

But then Chester decided that it was a good idea to stick a bead up his nose.

It was a bead from a kids bracelet that had broken the day before, I must of missed that one bead when sweeping up and sadly Chester found it. I tried to get him to blow it out but no luck. I had a look and I could see the bead but it was way too far back for me to try and get it back!

So off we headed to the local minor injuries unit. The first thing that I saw when walking up to reception was the white board with the wait time. 2 hours 30 mins. WHAT?!!! Well he needed the bead removed so what choice did I have?!

We sat down and I did my best (but failed miserably) to keep both children entertained. We were eventually called in exactly 2 hours 30 mins later. The nurse was really lovely, she admitted that she was dreading trying to get the bead out due to a past incident which caused her to be sick!! We had a little laugh and a joke about it and then she took a look. She was horrified when she saw how far back it was. She was wondering the best way to tackle it and wondered if Chester could dislodge it by blowing like we had done at home. She was very patient with him and eventually he blew. In fact he did such a good job he blew the bead out!!!

So we had sat in MIU for 2 hours 30 mins for Chester to blow his nose?! I was so annoyed I just laughed! The nurse was really sympathetic. She sat Chester back down and explained why it was not a good idea to put things in his nose (or his ears for that matter) she then took him off to choose a hospital bear for being such a good boy (she hadn't seen him in the waiting area) and gave one to a now sleeping Millie for having to be dragged along!

Not the best way to spend an afternoon, but I am thankful that Chester is ok.

Kids Grow Wild

A little while ago we were sent a lovely kids gardening kit from Brit Mums. It was sent to me as part of the kids grow wild challenge, so this post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge

Chester and Millie were both very excited to receive the pack. Craig and I will hold our hands up and say that we are not very keen gardeners. I say we are not very keen, but perhaps we would be if we took more time to find out how to make our garden grow?!

The pack contained a lovely garden tool bag, with a trowel and a fork. It also contained a pair of gloves and 3 packs of seeds.

I took Chester and Millie to some local shops to choose a plant pot each, they actually chose 4 each! Then we picked up some soil. We also got a bit distracted by a solar powered gnome and ladybird so we brought them to make the bigger pots look pretty whilst we wait for the flowers to grow.

Between us we decided that Chester's big pot should contain a sunflower in the middle and then a scattering of mixed flower seeds around the outside. Millie's big pot would contain a sunflower in the middle and the pansy's around the outside.

So we poured and scooped the soil into the pots and started to place the seeds into the pots. Chester was very keen to do it all by himself, so I did let him lead. He had so much fun arranging his seeds in the pots!

I was actually surprised at how interested Millie was in the planting of the seeds, she was really keen to join in. She very carefully placed her sunflower seeds into her pots, I think it took her a lot of willpower to not eat them!

Later that evening we watered the flowers and I explained to Chester and Millie that we would need to water them every day and then once a week we would mix some special plant food into their water to make them grow big and strong.

The next day the first thing Chester did was go out to the garden to say good morning to the flowers. It was so cute! Over the next few days he sung to them and blew them bubbles. All to help them grow some more.

A few weeks on and the flowers have started to come through, we had a few days of slight panic when Millie's pansy's did not come through. I thought we had done something wrong but it turns out they just take longer to grow than the others!

Even Millie checks on the flowers daily, she gets really close to try and smell them! If I had known how easy it was to grow flowers we would of been doing it a long time ago! Its so rewarding watching the children explore and dig the soil, planting their own flowers and showing a real interest in them!

I think this picture sums up just how much the children have loved growing their own flowers....

We will certainly keep up gardening with the children!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

3 pictures one theme

Its not often that I post a very short blog post but I just wanted to share with you this picture.....

These 3 pictures were taken at the same time, only in different years! The first picture is in June 2009, Chester was 9 months old! The second one is in June 2011 and Chester was 2, then the third one was taken today, June 2013 and Chester is 4!

Oh how my chunky baby has grown!

What a lovely weekend

I have had such a lovely time this weekend that I really do not want it to end!

Saturday was Craig's Birthday, he was working during the day so I arranged for his family and my parents to come around in the evening for a takeaway. Chester and Millie were very excited to give Craig his presents, especially as Chester had chosen ALL of them! Craig is a big kid at heart so I knew he would love the presents. Chester chose him one of those new slushy drink cups, a belt and buckle with the mario mushrooms on, an Iron Man t shirt, a game for the xbox and a transformers blu ray. I was right, Craig loved his presents. He was also thrilled to receive a baker days cake (which I will be blogging about separately so look out for that).

We had a lovely evening full of laughter and food! Chester and Millie really loved having all of their grandparents here and they really loved being allowed to stay up late! As usual they had everyone wrapped round their little fingers and almost certainly ate far too much cakes and treats!!

Today of course was Fathers Day, we had planned to have a bit of a lay in. With the children staying up extra late the night before we were certain that they would wake up later.

How foolish we were to even think that!! Chester was wide awake at his usual time of 5.45am!! Millie did not wake until almost 9am though so she made up for what her brother lost! We had just planned to have a bit of a chill out day. But after breakfast and the giving of fathers day gifts (chocolate, sweets and some avengers smellies) we all decided to have a stroll around a local boot fair. I will admit that I used to be a total bootfair snob but in recent years we have picked up some awesome finds at boot fairs and I have learned to love them. However, today it was not really full of treasures, more full of tat. Apart from the lovely brand new coasters I picked up to match our place mats. For the bargain price of 50p!

So after the unsuccessful trip to the boot fair we decided to go to a fairly local country park, Cobtree Manor. It is on the outskirts of Maidstone, just off of the M20 so very easy to get to. We visited last year and loved it, sadly until now, we never found time to go back.

On the way Craig spotted a Beefeater restaurant and we decided to stop for lunch. That turned out to be a mistake, we should've known when it wasn't busy that there was a reason. Craig's salad had a hair in it and from then the rest of the lunch all went a bit downhill!

So, back on track to the country park. We arrived and were pleasantly surprised to see that they had built loads of wooden play areas/equipment. around the picnic area and also dotted around the park! Chester and Millie could not contain their excitement! We spent lots of time flitting between all of the swings, slides, climbing bits and seesaws! We ended up being there a lot longer than we thought we would, it was a really lovely afternoon and we will most certainly be back lots more over the summer!

The weather had gradually improved throughout the day so by the time we got home the sun had certainly got its hat on! I decided to get the kids Madagascar tent out. It was the first time we had used it, I won it earlier this year and was waiting for the opportunity to get it set up. It is a proper tent so I am planning to keep it up for the summer for them. Chester and Millie were so excited that we actually ended up having a little tea party in the tent! It was so cute!

So that was our weekend, what did you get up too. I would love to know!

The changes have started to happen...

So the other day I wrote a post saying something has got to change. I thought that by actually writing it on my blog that I would stick to it.

I am pleased to say that I have stuck to it.... in my own way. I shall explain.

I have not got round to weighing myself, perhaps that is because I am not particularly bothered about my baby weight I know that will come off. Eventually. I may weigh myself I may not I still have not decided. But as you know my main reason for trying to watch what I eat was because I am fed up of eating rubbish and countless amounts of chocolate daily!

On Wednesday I went to the farm shop, like I said that I would, and got a lovely selection of fruit, veg and salad. I would say the bulk was fruit because we already have lots of frozen veg at home. I spent just over £10 on FOUR carrier bags full of lovely fresh food. I then stopped off at supermarket and picked up some healthier cereals (apparently sugar coated child like cereals are not good for you?!) and some crackers.

Wednesday evening I had already planned to meet friends for dinner so I stuck to that plan, but rather than having pizza I chose chicken, veg and potatoes. Very unlike me on a meal out! I did however have apple crumble for pudding!

The end of the week I did really well, I stuck to my plan and had fruit for snacks. Dinners were delicious, home cooked and healthy. Although Chester did grumble that I had replaced his veg with salad. Apparently at the age of 4 he doesn't do salad?!

I did hit a bit of a problem though, and I can see this being a problem for at least a week. It appears I have had some kind of sugar and junk come down as I felt truly awful from Thursday afternoon onwards. Really bad headache has stuck until this morning. I will keep at it though as I am certain it is going to be a good thing for me.

I will blog about the weekend in another post as it was Craigs Birthday AND Fathers Day so I did go off track a bit, with a takeaway and some crisps. I am fine with that because I know that tomorrow morning I will be back on track. I think going off track has made me realise that it is ok to have a treat, but not every day. Once a week is fine for a little treat. Once a month is fine for a takeaway.

I shall update about how I am getting on some more in a couple of weeks, typically we have a really busy June so there will be a couple more times that I will go off track. But I am feeling really positive about it all, I know I can stick at it. My next challenge is that I STILL need to work out what exercise I am going to do.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Something has GOT to change.....

Last night whilst at work I was thinking a lot about how I am feeling recently. As usual I have been busy, I am not really complaining about that as I like to be busy. A few things have not quite gone my way, but hey ho life goes on. I am very aware that we have lots to look forward to this year, my main priority being Disney World.

I was thinking about how tired I have been recently. I find it a real struggle working until 11pm but what keeps me going is knowing that I am doing it to enable us to go on that trip to Disney World. I do think working late does take its toll as I find it hard to get to sleep on those nights. However, if I am being honest, over the last month or two we have been a bit lazy with our diet. I think we have had one too many takeaways.

I am not trying to make excuses but I think we are kind of going round in circles at the moment. The tiredness is affecting me so by the time it comes to dinner time I just can't face making a meal from scratch. So occasionally we have been having take away or I have fed the kids then Craig and I have had snacks for dinner.

Up until a couple of months ago I was doing really well loosing my baby weight. I am not someone who will be pressured into losing weight, despite having a parent who constantly harps on about weight and thinks everyone should be a thin as her, I was a happy size 12 before having Millie. I always knew losing the baby weight would be a slow process, because quite frankly, I do not have loads of spare time to go to the gym or attend classes. I lost all of my baby weight and more by the time I fell pregnant with Millie ( 3 years after Chester was born) and I was happy with that time scale. Mille is now 17 months and like I say I was doing really well. Even though I have not weighed myself I know I have put weight on in recent weeks, I can just feel it. So although I am not in a rush I also do not want to be putting weight on. I am certain the types of food we are eating are what's causing most of my tiredness too.

I came home from work full of great ideas for healthy eating and how to up my exercise a little. This morning those great ideas have certainly not been put into practice. Actually I am eating a magnum whilst typing this! I have never blogged about my weight or fitness and its not something I thought I would ever write about, but today I am writing about it because I am so annoyed at myself. I think that by blogging it I am going to be thinking about it more, which will make me feel guilty if I do not at least try and change our habits.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going on a super strict diet. But I am going to change my (our) eating habits. Then personally, whilst i'm at it, I am going to change my exercise habits too. I work evenings and find it hard to find some 'me time' as it is, so exercise time is going to be hard. But I am sure I will find a way. My main goal on the exercise front is to tone up my tummy.

Right, so thats it. I have said I will do it publicly on my blog so I will do it. tomorrow I am going to head to our local farm shop for a supply of fresh fruit and veg. I will then be sure to come back and tell you what plans I have to get me started on the food front!

If anyone has any words of encouragement or ideas to help me along I would be very grateful if you could mention them as a comment on this post.

Girl’s Night: All is Revealed!

I'll admit I do not get that much time to do anything without the kids these days. Given that hubbie works full time, it’s not very often that I have the chance to put my feet up and have a few minutes quiet to myself. But when I do get the time, one of my favourite things to do is to get together with my girlfriends. I have a handful of what I would call close friends that I like to see once a month if I can. I read a survey by Ladbrokes Bingo about girls’ nights in and out, and wasn't too surprised by the findings. It turns out that 70% of ladies preferred a night in with the girls than a night out on the town!

To be honest, I'd probably be one of the 70%. I don't care so much for squeezing into packed nightclubs only to pay a fortune for a drink and have it spilled down my dress. Dinner dates with my girlfriends are much better – and I find holding them at home are just as much fun!

Of course one of the best things about having the girls round for a dinner date is that you don't need to worry about a babysitter!

I do not like leaving my kids alone for too long, so hosting a girls’ night in is always a great idea for me to let my hair down without worrying about the little ones.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

17 months old (tomorrow) and the best EVER new saying.

My little baby Millie will be 17 months old tomorrow. Where has that time gone?! Each and every day I am amazed at every new thing that she does. She is developing fast now and with each new day she it is doing new things. Somedays its cheeky little things like learning how to climb up Chester's midi sleeper. Sometimes, like yesterday, is is making the right sounds to mimic me when I am counting to ten. But today it was something really special.

You may remember last month, when I told you about Millie's new milestones, that Millie told her dolly that she loved it. Well today she told me that she loved me!!!

Over the last month Millie has spent A LOT of time saying Mum, MUM, MUM, MAAAAM. She says it so much that I will hold my hands up and say, that I do not always answer her. But I do answer her with 'yes Millie' about 30 times an hour! Today after saying MUM, MUM, MUM, MUM x50 I said 'yes Millie' and she replied with 'love yooooooou'.

It took about 30 seconds to sink in that she had actually said it, I looked at Craig and he confirmed that she did indeed just say love you. My heart just melted. I, of course, then replied with I love you too. She gave me the biggest smile ever totally acknowledging the moment we had just had. She has since said it a handful of times this evening so I think it is her new favourite set of words. I love the fact that she seems to understand what she has said.

My little baby is growing into a very sweet little girl, and this is by far one of my favourite Mummy Daughter moments.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bug crafts

Over the last few days, after seeing a ladybird, I have been thinking about how I could create some bug crafts that both Chester and Millie could do, seeing as Millie loves to do everything her brother does at the moment. Yesterday I came up with this idea...

Much to Chester's disgust I actually gave this idea a go whilst he was at Nursery School! I know, cruel Mummy. But now that I have realised how easy it was to make we will be making them again by the end of this week!

It was really easy to make, all I did was:

  • Cut a toilet roll tube in half lengthways and then in half again but widthways. Making 4 'bug bodies'
  • Cut up lots of small squares of brightly coloured paper
  • Paste some pva glue onto the bug body
  • Stick the paper squares onto the bug body
  • I then decorated with sticker dots and googly eyes
  • I punched 2 holes on each side of the bug body
  • Thread through pipe cleaners (cut in half) to make legs
Voila!! It really was very easy, I will be updating this post letting you know how Chester and Millie get on and showing you how their bugs turn out!

So as promised this is how much fun Chester and Millie had making the bugs....

As you can see both Children had lots of fun! Chester went a step further and named all of his bugs, also giving them a background story of how they came to become bugs! I love his imagination! Millie really surprised me, she is almost 17 months now and I thought she would not really be interested but she loved it. She totally knew what to do with the glue and the paper, although she had more fun peeling her stuck on paper off!!

Here are their finished masterpieces....

I linked this post up to...
Yellow Days

Monday, 3 June 2013

2 (possibly 3) parenting fails today...

This afternoon I have made some bad parenting decisions.

The first one was deciding that as Millie enjoyed walking around the Dockyard all day yesterday, she would be just as happy to walk half a mile up the road to the local shop. Oh how wrong was I. Chester had asked to bring his scooter along and I said yes (that is the possibly 3) of course this meant that Millie and I had to walk a bit faster to keep up with him. As Millie is walking more and more to places now I put her in Chester's goldbug monkey reins. She screamed the place down before we had even left the driveway! I should've known then that it was a sign, a sign she should of been in her buggy! But instead I coaxed her to walk a little bit at a time. By the time we reached the 5 minute journey to the shop, a good 20 minutes had passed and Millie was in my arms! My back was in so much pain!

The second one was in the shop itself. We had initially been going to the shop to choose an ice cream each but because of the dramas getting to the shop and the fact that Chester had his scooter I decided that maybe a little sweet would be a better option as we could eat it at home. Millie however, have very different plans. She did not want a sweet, she wanted a cake. She took it upon herself to scream the place down when I said no and then said the word cakey as clear as anything. So one of her first 10 clear words is cakey. Great. What a fantastic mother I am. I was so ashamed of the whole situation, I actually ended up buying the cakes just to get out of the shop as quick as I could.

Needless to say, Millie didn't walk the whole way home. Chester fell off of his scooter 4 times and my back is in serious need of a rest!

Lots of lessons learnt today! Lets see if tomorrow can be less of a disaster!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

A great start to June with a fun family day out

We are very lucky here in Kent, we have lots of great attractions nearby. One of the attractions that is only 20/30 minutes away from us is Chatham Dockyard. So today when we got up, the sun was shining and decided to have a nice little day out. We are lucky that we have Art passes at the moment and that grants us free admission to lots of places including the Dockyard. But after that expires we will still be visiting, as we do several times a year. The reason we can afford to visit several times a year is because Chatham Dockyard is one of those places that you pay once and it gives you entry for a year!

Millie loves to walk everywhere at the moment, so it was nice for her to be able to walk around. She loved following Chester she was almost running to keep up with him! What was really sweet was that because we had been lots of times before, Chester had a great time teaching Millie all of the things he already knew. A lot of the information he was giving her was all about the Lifeboats because that is his favourite part of the Dockyard!

As it was the last day of half time they still had some childrens activities going. So Chester and Millie got to make a medal and a mask each. They also got to listen to a story about a lady called Grace Darling who braved all weathers to help save lives from a shipwreck. To my surprise Chester was happy to sit and listen and even agreed to participate. He took on the roll of Grace's Dad, he was very good at rowing the boat quickly! Millie entertained herself by sitting on every single cushion on the floor over and over again! Giggling to herself every time she plonked her little bottom on one!

We had lots of fun exploring the Ships, Chester was asking loads of questions and worrying about where the crew were. Of course by crew Chester actually means Pirates. He really does believe that Captain Hook is the Captain of ALL ships! Millie was happy enough to point and ask what's that at every opportunity.

The last port of call before hometime was the soft play area. Chester made my heart melt in here, he took Millie's hand hand helped her all the way. She wanted to climb upto the top so that she could go down the slide. Chester could see that she was struggling and he climbed back down to help her! Both Children love the ball pool so lots of time was spent in there!

We had such a great family day. I am amazed that Millie refused to get into her buggy the whole time (apart from the all important ice cream stop), and needless to say there were no arguments at bedtime this evening!