Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Green Toys Tugboat Review

Last week we were sent a really lovely water toy. The Green Toys Tugboat. It came in perfect timing, the weather was warm and the paddling pool was out!



The Tugboat is derived from 100% recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials, Earth-friendly, fully recyclable packaging that is easy for children and adults to open. It contain no traceable amounts of Phthalates, BPA or PVC, and no external coatings or paint. That is good to know.

So the Tugboat was put in the paddling pool and was an immediate hit! Both children loved playing with the boat. Not only did it bob up and down on the water, its handy carry handle and spout meant that it was perfect for little hands to grip and they could fill the Tugboat with water and pour it out. This became a fun game, between them they had lots of fun moving water around the paddling pool.


We have also used the Tugboat in the bath, again it has been a great imaginative toy for them to play with.



Its large spout also make it an ideal water pourer for hair washing. Unfortunately, Chester and Millie do not agree with me on this. I poured the water, and they screamed!!




I think that the Tugboat would make a great gift for any child under the age of 6. Aside from the hair washing, both Chester and Millie have really loved playing with it and I can see it getting lots of use, especially in the paddling pool!

The Green Toys Tugboat is available to buy on the learning resources website at a price of £11.94. Given its size, a lot bigger than an average water toy boat and the fact it is environmentally friendly, I think the price is a fair one. In my opinion though, if I was buying one, I would say £10 would be a more attractive price.

Learning Resources have kindly give me and my readers a free delivery code when purchasing from the Learning Resources website before 31st December 2013. All you need to do is enter the code   'BLOGGER 13' at the checkout when you place your order!

Having ordered from Learning resources before (mainly for their wonderful hot dots cards) I can happily say that they are a great company to purchase from, my orders have always turned up very quickly and well packaged.

Britain's best Skylander player

By now, everyone knows that Chester is a very big Skylander fan! Can you imagine his excitement when we went to France for the day a few weeks back and he spotted Jade Flashwing?! A limited edition that you can not buy over here?! If you ask him, he will claim to be the best ever Skylander player. To be honest he talks Skylander 75% of the time and he really does seem to know his stuff. But to be the best player, I am not sure. Although he certainly is the best player in our Family!


Today a rather exciting email landed in my inbox, I was so excited about it I wanted to share it with you, my lovely readers!

This August, GAME stores up and down the country will be hosting a competition to find Britain’s Best Skylanders Player! Each entrant (who must be aged between 6 and 12) can bring along their favourite Skylander and play in the knock out tournament, with the winner determined over the course of three battle mode games. The winning individual from each regional GAME store will be automatically entered in to the final taking place at this year’s Lollibop Festival at the Olympic Victoria Park, London on 16th August.  The winner of the grand final will then be given the coveted title of Britain’s best Skylanders Player as well as win a host of special Skylanders goodies!

To take part, parents must register their children in advance. They can do this by either popping in to their nearest participating store, or tweeting the store’s twitter handle to register their child for the event. The full list of stores and dates are below:

Edinburgh - 32 St James Centre, , Edinburgh, Lothian, EH1 3SL
@GAMEStJames1
7th August 2013
Swansea - Unit 2, The Pod, Morfa Retail Park, Swansea, SA1 7DF
@GAMEMorfa
7th  August 2013
Manchester - Unit 59, Arndale Centre, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 3AB
@GAMEMancArndale
8th August 2013
Bristol - Unit LR53, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, Avon, BS34 5GG
@GAMEcribbs
8th  August 2013
Nottingham - Unit 308A, Victoria Centre, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1 3QN
@GAMENottingham
9th  August 2013
Southampton  - Unit SU8, West Quay Centre, Southampton, Hampshire, SO15 1QD
@GAMESouthampton
9th August 2013
Birmingham - Unit SU312, Bullring, Birmingham, B5 4BU
@GAME_Bullring
10th August 2013
London (Hamleys)  - 188-196 Regent Street, London, W1B 5BT 
@GAMEHamleys1
10th August 2013
Watford - Unit 38, The Harlequin Centre, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 2TH
@GAMEWatford
11th August 2013
Thurrock - Unit 106, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Thurrock, Essex, RM16 1WT
@GAMELakeside
11th August 2013

Now Chester informs me that he would choose Drobot to take along with him and play. He says that Drobot has got the most powerful upgrades and always beats the opponent in battle mode. Who am I to argue with him?!  As you know, we will be going to Lollibop this year, we will be spending (like last year) A LOT of time in the Skylander arena. It was so good last year, this year we have Skylander Swapforce to look forward too and Chester can not contain his excitement!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Moneysupermarket budget bucket list

I received an email a little while ago from Moneysupermarket asking me if I wanted to take part in a budget bucket list competition.

This is what they asked me to do:

Write your ‘Bucket List’ blog post. Include details of one ‘budget’ and one more extravagant bucket list item. Tell us what is preventing you from doing them and what it would mean to you to complete each of these items.

So this got me really thinking, to be honest I am still thinking. Not because I can not think of things for my bucket list BUT because I can think of too many! After putting in a lot of thought, this is my entry and these are on the top of my list......

Budget bucket list:

                                       

 This is pretty selfish as it is purely for me, but my top of my budget bucket list is to own an Ipad!! This may seem like a really silly thing to you, but to me it is something that I would love! We own no apple products in this house and I would love to find out what all the fuss is about! I see so many people use them on happy family days out, taking photographs, videos, posting to social network sites or emailing to family. Its not just about the photos, its about the apps too! I would love to be able to explore the app store and most of all I would love to be able to play candy crush on something other than my laptop!!! At the moment, buying an Ipad is just not in our budget, we have bills to pay. Not only that, but my children come first, so if I had the choice to save some money for a much wanted Ipad or take my children for a memorable day out I would choose to take my children out for the day. No question.

Extravagant bucket list:

                                        

Top of my extravagant bucket list is to visit China, not only China, I would love to do a tour around China AND Japan. I would love to explore the countries, both the cities and the lesser known parts. I would really love to sample some local food, I know it is very different from our take on Chinese/Japanese food and I would love to experience that. Get an insight into local cultures, how people live, what they do in there spare time. See the great wall of china, the terracotta army, learn about the history of the countries. Most importantly I would love to take the children to the Tokyo Disneyland! Being Disney obsessed I could not go to Tokyo Disneyland! Sadly this is something that will not happen for a very long time. By the time we manage to save for such an awesome trip the children will probably be in there 30's at least!! It has always be a dream of mine, and one day I really do hope it will be something that I can tick off of my bucket list. But until that time I will just have to dream!!!

I tag: Jennifers little world, A milk teeth Mummy and Life according to Mrs Shilts.

Diet Chef Week 2

So Week 2 of my Diet Chef diet has come to an end and I am now entering week 3.

Week 2 has been a really different to week 1 in many ways.

Firstly I am really surprised at myself, I never thought I would say this but I have not craved ANY chocolate over the past week! None at all!! Before this diet I would have chocolate at least once a day, I have got such a sweet tooth and thought it would be really hard not having any. Week 1 was extremely hard with headaches and real cravings, but week 2, I have not really given chocolate any thought!



Week 2 has seen a bit of a reversal in my cravings, as I have been really craving bread. Sandwiches to be exact. Not ever being a real fan of sandwiches this has surprised me a lot. Lunch times have been super hard for me, it has been so hot that soup is the last thing on my mind. Perhaps that is why I am craving sandwiches? I am not sure.

I did have a bit of a day off on Sunday. It was really hot, we went to a local PYO farm and had lots of fun picking strawberries and raspberries. We also came home with cherries and blackberries. Chester asked if we could make a crumble, so I caved in and had some. Along with hotdogs for dinner. I did however, notice a big change in my eating habits that day. Normally if I am offered BBQ food I like to try a bit of everything. But on Sunday I held back, didn't have any chips but chose salad instead. I also knew when to stop when I was full. This is a real turning point for me, so I can see that the diet chef routine is really starting to take effect.

With regards to weight loss this week I have stayed the same at 70kg. I suppose if I am honest I am a little bit disheartened about that. But on the other hand, I did lose 4kg last week (that's over 8lbs) so I suppose that was to be expected. At least I did not put any weight on, I am happy about that.

Food this week, breakfasts have been mainly porridge. Although it is really too hot to eat them, I am finding them to be delicious. Lunch has been soups, favourite this week being the sweetcorn and ham chowder. Which really surprised me. Snacks, I am really enjoying the oat bars and also the oat biscuits. I think this is because they are my one sweet treat. Dinners have mostly been positive this week, the chicken chasseur was really delicious, I was grateful for the Pasta Carbonara on the day I was particularly craving carbs, and the Chicken Fricassee really surprised me as I was unsure if I would like it or not. I was not too keen on the minced beef hotpot, I could see the fat on it and it did have a similar plastic taste to the lasagne. That was my only bad meal of the week though so I am happy with that.

What I am finding hard this week is microwaving all of my meals. As the only cook of the household I am cooking lovely fresh dinners for my family and not being able to eat them. I have found that I have picked just a little off of the childrens plates this week. Although most of the diet chef meals are nice, they obviously do not compare to fresh home cooked food. So this week I am really missing eating the same as my family.

I am really hopeful that I can loose some weight in week 3, although this week I have not lost any. My clothes are starting to become loose and I am seeing a change in my figure.

Keep an eye on my blog  for next weeks (week 3) update!!

LOLLIBOP BAGS BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT STARS!

As you all know, we are super excited about Lollibop this year! It features on our Summer holidays 2013 bucket list! Its only just over a couple of weeks away now and this information has just landed in my inbox!


LolliBop, the UK’s biggest kid’s festival, has announced Britain’s Got Talent finalists Preskool will be performing live at this year’s event.

The 12-strong dance group, all aged between 5 and 9, are making their very first live appearance since the hit ITV show and will perform daily for mini festivalgoers.

Choreographer Terry Michael, who runs the TDM stage school where the group meet and rehearse, said: “The children are really excited about going to LolliBop – there are loads of things they want to see in between performances!”

Everyone’s favorite fashion icon, Hello Kitty, is also confirmed to appear at LolliBop 2013.

Hello Kitty will be meeting her adoring fans around the LolliBop site and also as a special guest appearance during the official opening. Expect plenty of glamour, a sprinkle of Hello Kitty magic and all round super-cute fun!

LolliBop’s event manager Jenny Kane said: “Hello Kitty is an international icon and her fan base spans many generations, we know parents and kids alike will be thrilled to meet her in person.”

And the cast from Peter Pan the Arena Tour will be flying in to perform a medley from the hit show on the Lolli Live stage over the three days.

LolliBop, the UK’s biggest festival for kids, takes place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, August 16-18. The newest acts join an impressive bill, which includes Justin Fletcher, Cloudbabies, Dick and Dom, Skylanders, Rastamouse and Postman Pat.

LolliBop's live theatre tent – The Lollipalladiam - showcases performances from pioneering and internationally renowned companies and artists. Tween Town is especially for older kids, with cool activities like radio workshops, movie editing and

beatboxing masterclasses. Imagination Stations are situated throughout the festival for 3-10 year olds to get crafty, there's also a 3ft and under zone for pre-schoolers. The Enchanted Forest will host reading and stories and there's also a brand new Discovery Zone, Meadows area and Lolli Promenade.

LolliBop offers all the fun of a festival without the hassle of camping and all activity is programmed for the under 10s. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.lollibopfestival.co.uk.

How exciting! If i'm honest I am now most excited about Hello Kitty!!! I am slightly obsessed with the little white cat! No prizes for guessing what Chester is most looking forward too.... Skylanders!!!

Monday, 29 July 2013

A fun summer day picking our own!

Yesterday, we were going to have a chilled out day and not do a lot. It was much needed, because we have been busy every day for weeks. Although I will try not to moan about that because I do like to be on the go all the time!

Most of the day we did stick to that plan, but when I saw that the weather was sunny but not too hot, like it has been. I decided it would be a great day to take the children Strawberry picking. So we set off to a local farm, a 5 minute drive down the road.

Chester and Millie were super excited. Infact Millie could not contain her excitement that much that she ate more strawberries than she should of before paying. So we actually ended up paying for the rest of Millie's punnet before we had finished, just so that she could be happy and eat!




After spending lots of time picking strawberries, Chester wanted to move onto raspberries. This was fine by me so we then spent some more time picking fruit!



We had a great time at the PYO farm and came back with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. With so much fruit Chester and I decided to make a fruit crumble, I will hold my hands up and say that today has been an off day for my diet because I did end up having a little bit of the crumble with some cream (naughty me). But it was super yummy. Plus, I always find that the fruit is much more appealing if you pick it yourself so I just could not resist!




Shelby's snack shack game review

A little while ago we were sent a lovely game called Shelby's Snack Shack from Learning Resources. In fact we have been having so much fun playing it, I almost forgot to post my review, almost!

                                        Shelby's Snack Shack Game - Develop Motor Skills- From £23.94

Basically the aim of the game is to help Shelby find her bones which are 'buried' over the beach. Its great for helping to develop fine motor skills and early numeracy. The spinners tell you how many bones to find and then the bones are collected using the dog-shaped tweezers to pick them up. Of course there are ways to stop you getting bones, or to take them from other players. This makes the game more interesting, but it also helps children to learn that you can not always win. Which I think we seemed to of lost focus with over recent years (I mean how can you have a sports day where everyone is a winner?!)

Chester is 4 and this game is perfect for him, it is short enough to keep him interested, but at the same time long enough for him to get thoroughly engrossed in the game! He really enjoyed picking up the bones with the dog tweezers and he loved spinning the spinners and recognising the numbers!


What I love about this game is that it is very portable. Most of the game is played in the base of the box, so it is easy to transport and play somewhere else, say on holiday or on a picnic during the summer holidays. We actually took it with us to a recent hotel stay and it was the perfect wind down before bed for the children.

Shelby's Snack Shack has an RRP of £23.94 and is available here . It is a great game, I would say I would be happy to pay £20 for it. For us, we have had hours of entertainment out of it, and it is still being played once or twice a week! 


Sunday, 28 July 2013

MoneySupermarket Home Improvement Hero Challenge!

I really love a challenge, and recently MoneySupermarket asked me the question, Is it possible to change the look, feel and even functionality of a room on a low budget? A budget of £50 to be precise. Well, knowing that I had a few ideas to make our living room feel more homely I accepted the challenge.

Here is our living room before (well to be honest part way through because I only remembered to take the picture after we had pulled the sofa and got the dust sheets at the ready!)


We have lived in our home (a new build when we brought it) for 7 years and a lot of the rooms are still magnolia, which, I think is really plain and boring. We had made half an effort with our living room and wallpapered a feature wall a couple of years back. But that is as far as we had got. As with lots of other rooms in the house, cracks had started to show between the ceiling and the coving joins. So first on my list was to ask Craig to kindly fill those cracks.


It was really easy to do, he just used some decorators caulk (we had some spare, so didn't need to buy anymore) and used a decorating gun to press it into the cracks. We then waited a couple of days for it to dry out before painting over it.

Whilst this was drying we painted a couple of tester pots of paint onto various parts of the wall, to see what the 2 colours we had narrowed it down to would look like in different lights. Wanting to keep it close to the flower colour on our wall paper we chose to go with Duck Egg.

So after carefully masking, the areas that needed masking we set to work painting the ceiling and coving white (using paint we already had) and then painting the walls Duck Egg. As the living room is a high traffic area and the children are still young we chose to go for Silk paint. Meaning that it can be wiped clean if necessary.



Next on my list to change the look and feel of the room was to change the blinds for curtains. The blinds looked nice when we moved in, but times have changed and I no longer like them. So I went and found some really nice curtains in the homebase sale. They are a cream colour with brown flowers stitched into the top. So go perfectly with the wallpaper.  As our house in newish the walls are made of plaster board, which can be a real pain when it comes to hanging things, as the plasterboard is just not strong enough to hold in screws. So here is what we did....


  1. Measure up and mark out where we were putting the curtain pole. We used a skewer to poke through the screw holes and mark the wall in the correct place.
  2. Using some Black and Decker hollow fixings, which are specifically designed for plasterboard, Craig hammered them into the wall.
  3. He then threaded the screw through the curtain pole fixing and screwed that into the hollow fixings. By doing this the hollow fixings would have sprung out from behind, clinging onto the plasterboard and making the curtain pole more secure. 
  4. Finally, we threaded the curtains onto the pole and placed the pole into the curtain pole fixing. 

We repeated this process to put the curtain holdbacks up.

The final part of our effort to change the look and feel of the room was to put up a picture frame we had been meaning to hang somewhere for a long time. Again, because of the plasterboard walls this does restrict a little. However we have found a really great product that makes hanging pictures really easy!

  1. Place 4 sets of large damage free hanging strips (they come in packs of 4) onto the back of your frame, two at the very top and the other two 3 quarters of the way down. Pressing down on each one for 30 seconds.
  2. Measure up and mark exactly where you are going to place your picture. 
  3. Take the backing off of each strip and carefully place your picture onto the wall. Again, press each one for 30 seconds.
  4. Stand back and admire how lovely and flat the picture frame looks against your wall!


We also hung a white wooden heart onto the wall in between the window and the wallpaper and I think that looks great. 

Our room now looks like this...





Totally different and really calming. We also turned the sofa around so that it didn't block out so much light (it was against the window). I love that we have made it personal with the photo frame and also that just by putting up some curtains and a lick of paint its made the room look so different!

So this was our total spends:

Curtains          - £12.42 (These were a bargain as should of been over £30!)
Curtain pole    - £6.78
Hollow fixings - £6.99
2x holdbacks  - £7.98
Paint               - £11.99
Picture Strips  - £3.39
Wicker Heart - £3.99

Total                £53.54

Ok so I came in at £3.54 over the £50 budget, but its still an amazing transformation for only just over £50!! Do I think I have succeeded with the challenge, YES!!! I set out to change the look and feel of the room and we have definitely done that! I feel so much happier sitting in our front room now, its a nice, cozy, welcoming room. Rather than a room that I was quite fed up with and embarrassed about!



Sittingbourne, a lovely Kentish town.

We have called Sittingbourne our home for the last 7 years. However, before we moved to the good sized Kentish town we knew little about the place. For some reason I had always assumed that Sittingbourne was a coastal town, it is not. Although we are only about 20 minutes away from the nearest beach!

                                   

Sittingbourne is an industrial town in East Kent. Its name comes from the fact that there is a small stream or "bourne" running underground in part of the town. It is conveniently situated midway between Dover and London, with fast trains to central London only taking 1 hour.

Since moving to Sittingbourne we have discovered lots of plus's to the area, especially since having Children. We make so much use of the 4 Sure Start Childrens Centres, we attend at least two groups a week, they provide so much for the Children to do and also a great place for parents to meet up! There are an abundance of parks, including Milton Creek country park. We spend many a day over there, whatever the weather. In the summer it's perfect for Picnics and in the autumn its lovely to go on a nature trail and explore! With easy connections to both the M2 and the M20 we are only a short car journey away from Howletts or Port Lympne Zoo's, Bluewater Shopping Centre or even Ashford and Canterbury. Being an industrial town, there are lots of factories and industrial estates, enabling lots of people to find work.



We also have a light railway which the children absolutely love. This unique line was built in 1905 for the transportation of the raw materials required for the manufacture of paper. In 1965 when a study of internal transport was made, it concluded that the transportation would be better done by road transport and in 1969 the railway was handed over to the Locomotive Club of Great Britain's Light Railway Section, which became the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway. A return for a family of four is only £16 and it is a really great day out!



Thinking back to when we first moved here, some of the attractions for us as a couple in our early 20's included, an abundance of takeaways that delivered, some really lovely pubs and restaurants within walking distance and a town centre that had more than one supermarket! Sittingbourne also has a handful of farm shops either in the town or a very short drive away, which are really great for picking up some local, fresh food at great prices.

Craig and I both grew up in (or in my case in a village surrounding) Sevenoaks. Now whilst Sevenoaks is a lovely market town, it was a bit too quiet for us. Not enough going on to entice us to stay. Another major factor in helping us make the decision to set up our life away from our childhood homes was house prices, we could get a lot more house for our money if we brought outside of Sevenoaks. Being first time buyers we did a lot of research into house prices and we also used a mortgage calculator for UK lending costs . This was a very handy tool for us, we had never really considered rates, fees and extras!

Whilst researching, we came across Sittingbourne. East Kent was never somewhere we had really considered before, but after lots of research we realised it was only around 45 minutes from where we were living and seemed to have lots going for it!

We took our time and looked around A LOT of different houses, we added, and took away things on our must have list. Within the first weekend of looking we realised that a garage was a must (at the time Craig had a motorbike) and that an en suite really was not essential! One thing I do regret though was letting people persuade us that we only needed two bedrooms and not three. This has made things a lot harder for us now, having two children and only two bedrooms. With me working a lot less hours than I used to, moving now is pretty much impossible. So my main piece of advice for first time buyers is look carefully at your options, and really think about your future plans. If you are planning on starting a family but are looking at one bedroom flats, is that really the right thing to do in the long run?

Sittingbourne is a lovely town, with lots going on and lots planned for the future. It has a real mix of new and older properties of all types. Everyone is very friendly and we have never had any problems. We are really happy with the School choices available and are more than happy for Chester and Millie to have their childhood here. So if you are considering moving to a lovely Kentish town, then I would thoroughly recommend Sittingbourne. With average house prices being £165,000 you could snap up a real bargain!


Friday, 26 July 2013

A sneak peak at the Tickety Toc toy range!

Last weekend, we were invited to Hamleys to a secret Tickety Toc toy testing event.

Tickety Toc is a show all about twins Tommy and Tallulah, who live inside a clock. Every hour the clock has chime time and they have to work very hard to make sure everything runs like clockwork. Its shown on Nick Jr and Milkshake (channel 5). Chester and Millie are big fans of Tickety Toc, its a fairly new programme and as soon as they saw the previews for it they were hooked! It has a fantastically catchy theme tune, as soon as they hear it they are at the TV and ready to watch it!

So you can imagine how excited they were when I told them we were going to meet Tommy and Tallulah! Well I suppose Millie is a little too small to understand what I was telling her, but seeing Chester get excited made her very excited!

We set off early on Sunday morning, arrived into Charing Cross in plenty of time, so took a slow walk round to Regent Street. Chester and Millie were excited to see all of the sites along the way. We had to queue outside of Hamleys for a little while, but to my surprise neither child complained about that!


It wasn't long before Tommy and Tallulah came out to meet us all. Which resulted in Millie pointing and screeching WHO'S THAT WHO'S THAT WHO'S THAT repeatedly!


On Sundays Hamleys is shut to the public until Midday, so it was very weird walking into an empty store! We were ushered up to the 5th floor where we were treated to some yummy milkshakes whilst we waited for the fun to begin.


It wasn't long before we were all gathered around Milkshake presenters Kemi and Olivia, who were teaching us the Tickety Toc dance! Both Chester and Millie, who normally love dancing, were a bit overwhelmed so decided to let Mummy dance instead!


Next we went into a secret toy testing room to have some fun playing with all of the new Tickety Toc toys. Chester and Millie were super excited! Chester headed straight for the Clockhouse playset, the biggest toy! It is a lovely set that includes a pufferty train to go on the track with small Tommy and Tallulah figures. You can open the door with cogs and a key, it seems like a great toy to fuel imagination. The RRP for the clockhouse playset is £29.99.


Millie beelined for a musical TV, you know, one of those ones that you press and a picture scrolls round and a tune comes out. The simple press button was easy for her to use and it was chunky enough for her to hold with ease.


The Musical Pufferty Train (RRP £22.99) was another well played with toy, you press his funnel to play the Tickety Toc theme tune and then push him along to see Tommy and Tallulah play on their see-saw, and watch Tooteroo spin on his perch. Both of my children respond well to noisy toys so this along with the talking Tommy and Tallulah toys (RRP £14.99 each) they were in toy heaven!



After all the fun and excitement of the toy testing room we moved on to the craft area to make some headbands! Sadly Chester and Millie were way too over excited by this point so I ended up making a very rushed one before we all had a look around at the toys on the shelves!

I finally managed to get them to settle back down for a Tickety Toc story time, they sat for a whole 5 minutes. WOW!



We ended the morning with some more singing and dancing with Kemi and Olivia and the children were given a goody bag each which included a lovely Tommy soft toy for Chester and a Tallula soft toy for Millie. They were thrilled to receive these, Millie has barely let Tallula leave her side since!

The Tickety Toc toy range go on sale tomorrow (Saturday 27th July 2013) and will be available from Argos, The Entertainer, Smyths, Amazon and all good toy shops/online.


Summer Holiday 2013 bucket list!

I have seen a few tweets on Twitter about Summer holiday bucket lists and thought it would be a great idea if I did one.

All too often I say to myself oooh we will do this or we will do that, and it never gets done. So at least with the bucket list I can tick it off as we go along and hopefully not miss anything out! Craig now has Wednesdays off, so we will make use of this and look to do lots of family days out midweek. This is Chester's last Summer before he goes to Primary School so I would really like to spend some quality time with him, I am really going to miss him when he is at School 5 days a week come September! This does not mean that Millie will be left out, I just mean I would like to fit in a couple of Chester and Mummy days. Perhaps whilst Millie is doing something fun with Daddy or Nannie and Grandad?

So, in no particular order, here is our Summer Holiday 2013 bucket list ....

  • Picnic's, lots of picnics! Both of the children love being outdoors so what better excuse for some summer picnics?!
  • Make some ice cream bread! Having seen it on twitter and pinterest I am determined to give it a go with the kiddies. 
  • Take the Children to see Disney Planes. In fact I have already booked this. We are going to a charity showing of it at our local Showcase cinema. All proceeds are going to charity. 
  • A treasure trail, we had so much fun doing this one last year that I would love to do it in the summer, especially now Millie is older.
  • A day out to Hastings. Both children loved it when we went a little while ago so would love to take them again.
  • Mummy Mishaps Brioche, oreo and chocolate pudding. It looks sooo yummy and has been on my list ever since I first saw it!
  • Lots of summer themed arts and crafts including a sun made out of hand prints that I spotted on pinterest the other day.
  • Pool Scrabble. Well an easy phonics version for Chester and Millie! The idea is that you write letters on sponges, throw them in the paddling pool or bath and get the children to make some words.
  • Take Chester to see Monsters University, I said that I wanted to spend some quality Mummy and Chester time and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.
  • Go to the Lollibop Festival! We went last year and Chester talks about it on a regular basis, so we can not miss going to something that has made such a huge impression on him! Even better that we will be going on my birthday, what a fab way to spend the day! Skylanders Swapforce will be there so we are super excited about that, Poppy Cat will be a favourite for Millie. Plus there will be so much to do to keep all of us entertained for the day!
  • Make sure the Children (and I) spend lots of time with my Sister, as she is going traveling for a year in September. Chester is particularly close to her so its going to be tough when she goes. 
  • On Chester's request, we must visit 'the place that does make your own ice cream with sweets' he means Pizza Hut! So I will make sure that we have a nice family meal at one of their branches!
  • Go Swimming! As a family I mean, its hard for us all to find time to go together and I feel that Millie really misses out on Swimming so we will make a big effort to all go together this summer. There is a lovely pool not far from us that has some great outside pools, perfect if this weather stays nice!
  • Another of Chester's requests, we need to make a pretend tv (out of a cardboard box) so that we can have a cinema room and have a buffet. I love his imagination, so I am going to go with this idea!
  • Something I have seen on Pinterest, a make your own pretend currency. Both Chester and Millie are really into pretend play at the moment, Millie is a fan of playing restaurants and Chester loves to sell you anything and everything. So I thought making our own money (and then evolving into our own pretend shop) would be great fun for them!
Phew! That is quite a long list! I am sure this will keep us busy for the whole 6 weeks (well 8 weeks until Chester starts Primary School). 

I am really looking forward making lots of happy memories with the kiddies this summer, how about you, what have you got planned?!


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Nursery School's out for .....ever

This week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

Chester has been at Nursery School since he was 18 months old. He started going to Nursery just 2 mornings a week, I put him into Nursery because we hardly knew anyone in the area and I felt he was getting a bit clingy just being with me during the days. Then when he was 3 his hours were increased to 3 full days (9-3), and he really loves it.


On Monday, Chester had his Nursery School graduation. All the children had to wear black trousers and a white top. They then performed a little show for us, singing and dancing to Madness' Baggy Trousers, Our House and It must be love. Its was so sweet, the dancing was so funny and then when it came to It must be love Chester rounded up his 2 very best friends, held their hands and sang with them. I was so choked up!


Then on Wednesday it was his very last day, after just over 3 years his time at the Nursery had come to an end. I dropped him off, he gave out some cards that he had made. Then I explained to him that it would be his last day and left him to have fun.

When I went to pick him up, he seemed fine, I explained that he needed to say goodbye to everyone as that would be the last time he would see them. No one from his Nursery got into the School we chose for Chester so he will be starting a fresh come September. He gave them all hugs and off we went.

So on the way home Chester was happily chatting to me about his day and the dramas of which child did what when as usual! I thought to myself it was a bit strange that he had not really mentioned it being his last day but didn't push the matter. But later on, in the evening, Chester all of a sudden burst into tears. I asked what was the matter and he replied with ' I am never going to see my friends again, I am not ready to leave Nursery'. Oh, I felt so very sad for him. Craig and I chatted with him about it and tried to cheer him up, I think he felt a little better, but I suppose he had only just let it sink in that he was actually leaving and going to big School. Somewhere totally unfamiliar to him, a place where he would have to make new friends.

Today though, Chester got a letter addressed to him in the post (brilliant timing). It was a letter from his new headteacher saying that she was looking forward to welcoming him to the School in September and also enclosing a picture of his 'buddy'. Basically all reception pupils have a 'buddy' from year 6 who help them get used to School life, they take them into assembly, hold there hand down to church and show them where they need to go if they get lost. I love this idea and I hope that Chester's buddy will help him to settle in with no problems. Chester seems happier after receiving this letter, so hopefully he will be fine now. We may have a wobble next week when he realises he has not got to get up to go to Nursery!

Did any of your little ones have this kind of meltdown? If so what did you do to comfort them?


A credit to our community?…I’m not so sure

Last week I went to a consultation at our local village hall. The consultation was about plans for development on a patch of land just across the road from where we live.

We live on what is classed as a new estate, our house was on the last phase to be completed and it is almost 7 years old now. We own our home, well I say we own it. After jumping what seemed like endless hoops with mortgage brokers, solicitors and credit rating checks (you can check yours when you open this link) we managed to get the mortgage required to buy our house. But I know that lots of the estate is taken up with buy to let properties.

I went along to the consultation with high hopes that they would be developing the land into a much needed mix of retail and leisure facilities. Our town is a big one and we have to drive out of town if we want an evening out. There are no bowling alleys, cinemas or any chain restaurants. Well that is actually a lie, we do have a Pizza Hut. But that is it. Building these types of things would be a real credit to our community, and really help boost the local economy.

But sadly, that was not what was presented to me. Instead I was shown around lots of artists’ impressions and big information boards about yet more housing. 220 homes to be exact, just what we need. NOT. Aside from the leisure facilities that we all long for, practically, what is already desperately needed is another School (I am thinking Primary but I know others are looking at Secondary) and a Doctors surgery. Surely creating homes for 220 more families is only going to fuel the problem even more?

Sittingbourne_Proposals

Of course I put my concerns to the developer, and they told me that those kinds of concerns were simply not their problem! It was down to the council to decide if those extras are needed within the community. All the developer was interested in telling me was how it was going to create some more much needed homes.

I do agree with that in some respects, as they were telling me that some of the homes will be for shared ownership affordable properties. It was explained to me that these types of homes were essential to help first time buyers to get onto the property ladder. It was also explained to me how so many first time buyers, who after checking their credit are struggling to get mortgages with low deposits or struggling to even get mortgages at all. Having gone through similar when buying our home I can sympathise. So by offering shared ownership it will give more of a chance to get people on to the ladder, and in turn that will help the housing market. Actually, before I had the children, I was a Secretary for an estate agent so I do agree with that.

However, I do not agree that they need to cram so many houses with so little parking facilities onto that area of land. From the plans I could see that just like our new housing estate everything was carefully squashed in to fit as many homes as possible. I actually think this is very greedy of the developers, they are already making a good profit per home so why not make it more spacious so that people have better parking facilities and feel less cramped?! 


Why cant the Council and the developers look at the bigger picture and work together to come up with a solution that will be good for everyone?! Surely it would benefit both parties?! 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Diet Chef - Week 1

So last week I told you how I was going to be on the diet chef diet for the next month. I won't lie, week one has been incredibly tough for me.

For most of the week I have suffered with headaches, I put this down to lack of chocolate and all things sweet. I have really craved those things and I really miss them. I also really miss sea salt and balsamic vinegar Kettle chips. Surprisingly though I do not miss takeaways and most days I am feeling full!

A food routine has also been tough for me, I am a nightmare at remembering to eat breakfast and rarely have time for lunch. However I have made a conscious effort to eat all 3 meals and 1 snack a day.

Week 1 thoughts on the food...


Breakfast was a little shocking at first, Day 1 and I poured my Muesli into one of Millie's plastic cereal bowls, it didn't even cover half of the bowl. In Fact it barely covered the bottom and Alpen it wasn't! The rest of the week has not been bad regards to breakfast though. I really am enjoying the different flavour porridge's with the strawberry one being my favourite. The breakfast cookies have saved me when I have woken up craving something sweet!

Lunch has been a lot tougher than I thought. This is partly my fault, I chose mainly all soups because I didn't like the 'salads' and I was not allowed the milkshakes. I have also got some protein bars and looking back I should of chosen a lot more of those. Every single soup I have tried has been delicious, in fact the soups are my favourite meal of the day. However, it is just not a practical lunch, I am a very busy Mummy and sometimes being somewhere that has a microwave around lunch time is just not possible. So if you are considering this diet I would recommend you choose some shakes and more protien bars too as they are much more portable!

Snacks, I have been having in the afternoon at around 3pm. They have been lovely, the popcorn in particular is very filling, the sweet and salty being my favourite. The oat bites are really moreish! I wish they sold them in the shops I would buy them!

Dinner has been a real mixed bag. The portion sizes are just right in my opinion. I loved the cottage pie, sweet and sour chicken, macaroni cheese and the sausage casserole. The lamb hot pot was ok although the fat along the top put me off. The Sausages in Onion gravy were not as nice as the sausages from the casserole, although they were edible. The same can not be said for the lasagne. It tasted really plasticy and was part of my major meltdown on Wednesday!

I shall explain... I had been on a picnic with the children and some friends on Tuesday. I took a protein bar for me. So on Wednesday when I was volunteering at a local Nursery I didn't really want to waste another protein bar I really should've ordered more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it?! So what I did was have my porridge as normal and then I decided to take my snack of popcorn for my lunch. The plan was then to eat my soup when I got home at snack time and have a slightly later dinner. What actually happened was that I didn't get round to eating my soup as I was unexpectedly busy picking up Chester's School uniform and other errands. So come dinner time I was starving and I decided to have Lasagne as normally it is one of my favourite dinners. However, this Lasagne was disgusting. It tasted really plasticy and really did not look nice and white. I even got Craig to taste it incase I was being too harsh mid tantrum! But he agreed, it did not taste nice at all. So instead of doing the right thing and just cooking a different diet chef meal, I made myself a sandwich and sulked for the rest of the evening!

Its safe to say that Wednesday was a bad day for me!

However, despite my ups and downs the week has ended on a real high! I have gone from 74kg to 70kg! That is over 8lb loss in my first week!! I am really happy with that, and although I realise it will start to slow down now, it has really motivated me to stick with it! I even managed to get comfortably into a pair of shorts I have never been able to wear! So chuffed!

Keep your eyes peeled for my week 2 update next week!