Monday, 25 November 2013

Spent too much for Christmas, time to wrap presents & decorating the house!

As we are all watching it at the moment I'm going with a theme, 'I'm a Mummy, GET ME OUT OF HERRRRREEEEEEE'! Yes, it's one of those weeks. Only one month until Xmas, present buying is looking good, still got a bit to go but overall I'm pleased with progress. However, I've now put myself on a spending ban for the next week or two so I need to occupy myself and keep myself away from shops, the internet and Costa Coffee!!!

So, the plan is that by the end of this week the house will be spotless as I will have been stuck in the house 24/7, apart from my usual Tuesday night pub quiz, I can't miss that! I also plan to have most, if not all, of the Xmas presents wrapped. That means I have to buy some sticky tape, is that allowed on a spending ban or should I have given myself an 'essentials only' pardon?!!

This also leads us into the weekend and Sunday 1st December, advent calendar opening day and decorate the house day. No Christmas tree until the weekend after otherwise by Christmas Day it usually looks like a wilted mess and very sad! The children are excited to get all of the other decorations up though and we will get Daddy up the ladder outside to sort out the outdoor lights. Christmas music will be playing and I am sure it will be chaotic as everyone will be sooooo excited. 

Also on the agenda this week is finding us something to do on Christmas Eve. In the past Christmas Eve has always been that we go bowling then to Frankie and Benny's for lunch or early dinner. Its grown into a lovely family tradition, there are eight adults and eight children that go and we have a fab time. It passes the day quickly as the children are excited and waiting for Santa that evening and it gives them something to do. Frankie and Benny's is always kids eat free which is even better for us. Even with kids eat free we spend a good chunk of money on all of the adult meals and drinks etc...... and we always have a lovely meal and great service from our local restaurant. The children enjoy eating there as there is always something on the menu they like and everyone comes away happy and very full. 

My hubby giving Frankie and Benny's a Christmas thumbs up!

This year they aren't doing kids eat free on Christmas Eve and we are all very sad. :-( Not that I'm being a cheapskate but with Christmas approaching and eight adults and eight children to feed this was an excellent choice for us, and the fact that we like the restaurant too. So now we have had to change our Christmas Eve plans and I am stumped as to what to do or where to go. I'm looking for a reasonably priced alternative with similar food options. As I said previously we still spend a decent amount on the adults meals and drinks, sides etc....... Frankie and Benny's we are soooooooooo sad. :-(

Festive Christmas Eve family fun/chaos around the table at Frankie and Benny's. Everyone now full after a yummy meal and ready to go and win a game of bowling!

All the kiddies ready for their bowling game on Christmas Eve.

I would like to point out that Frankie and Benny's are doing 'kids eat free' on Boxing Day and if you are out and about then head over and you get one child meal free for every adult meal you buy. This is unfortunately no good to us but hopefully lots of you can make use of this offer. 

Oh well, at least that will keep me busy this week. Searching out a restaurant to cater for us all. Mission accepted and all that! 

Amazon Black Friday offers started for anyone not on a spending ban! There always some good offers to be had and a few amazing ones too but you need to be quick on the 'Buy' button! 

Also this week my son gave his gNappy gJingle nappy and gLegs combo a try out for size. We love it and with the reindeer jumper too it looked fab even if others didn't agree! He looked very cute and it will be made full use of over the festive period. :-)

So that's another blog post done. I'm off to keep myself busy so I don't end up on the PC again! Presents to wrap, housework to do. I'm sure there is a Christmas film on (or 2 or 3!) that I could watch.

A parting picture of my son in his gNappies gJingle nappy and gLegs. Let's get festive! :-)

gNappies gJingle nappy and gLegs, scrummy!

A cheeky Costa Coffee Babyccino, pre spending ban!!! Complete with festive cup.

Friday, 15 November 2013

What have you done all day said the husband to the stay at home mum. Here is my response!

I hear it a lot. 'What do you do all day'? As if having 5 children isn't enough, 2 of which are still at home during the day, I assume I'm a lady of leisure.

I won't harp on about the logistics of what gets done in the house and who does it (me) but I felt that a public response to my husbands question was needed.

It was evening, the children had just finished their tea and it was nearing bath time for the younger ones. Having only been in about 20 minutes from walking to pick up the 4 year old from nursery I was making good time on the evening schedule. Then OH came home. I'm probably being highly optimistic that one day he may walk in the door and ask how my day has been and acknowledge what has been achieved, but alas I still await that day!

First on his agenda is his stomach. 'Whats for dinner?' he exclaims. I'm not sure what's for dinner, my plans don't always factor in his fantasy of having his tea on the table as soon as he walks in the door. I had just finished feeding the children and was moving on to bath time and my schedule would rather we ate once the children were settled.  So grump number one developed.

Then came the burning question 'What did you do today?'. My reply was 'Nothing'. Now, contrary to what the word nothing actually means I had actually done something but when it's been a day where there is nothing of importance to report then it is easier to say this. My OH's response was 'Yeah I can see that'.

Looking back now my response should have been this;

Darling husband. My apologies for not having your dinner on the table when you got in from a hard days work and I'm sorry your pipe and slippers were not waiting by your favourite chair. I managed 2 trips to the toilet today, one with an audience in tow.  We survived lunch with only minimal mess control from a self feeding toddler and my last remaining brain cell just about survived the incessant reruns of the already seen Peppa Pig episodes. I'm out of my PJ's and the children are fed, dressed, changed, fed, redressed and entertained. Nobody got hurt, the house is still standing and I managed to drag myself out of the house to do the afternoon school run before coming back home to do previously mentioned children's dinner and bath time.  Today there were no school meetings, doctors appointments, food shopping to do, Xmas preparations to sort, sick children or I wouldn't have known what to do, phew.  There was a moment of panic when we ran out of blueberries but I just about coped with the mini meltdown from the toddler.

It was tough going. I know my usual day of laying in bed in my PJ's watching Jeremy Kyle followed by This Morning and Loose Women whilst the children fend for themselves was indeed my original plan of course. I am soon to teach the 1 year old to make tea so I don't need to move from the bed, I'm struggling to cope with the fact that I might miss a Jeremy Kyle DNA test result!

I'm also going to submit an application for Channel 4's Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners. We need their help as I don't do anything and the cleaning fairy forgets to turn up. I'm unsure how the children get fed, washed and entertained or how any of the housework gets done. I'm only assuming that we are meant to believe in miracles. I'm still unsure how you manage to find clean clothes all of the time. In the words of the singer Shaggy 'It wasn't me'.

So now my public apology has been written. My whirlwind week of meeting friends for coffee, spa days, getting my nails done, being a 'lady who lunches', spending hours in the shops frivolously buying copious amounts of new clothes and the new winter boots I need has frazzled my brain, as in so frazzled to think that my week would ever be as heady and carefree as that!

One final note. When your wife mentions the clothes that you don't put away and your reply is that you have nowhere to put them please don't expect sympathy from someone who wishes she had enough clothes to warrant a storage problem. New clothes and less of the slummy Mummy look would be heaven.

I hope my public apology is sufficient and my 'easy' life as a stay at home Mum continues.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Cloth nappy worries for the new user and my positive user review of the wonderful gNappies cloth nappies.

Another blog post, two in one day! This is for all of the cloth nappy users out there. I don't claim to be a cloth nappy guru. There are lots and lots of people out there with far more knowledge than me and far, far bigger cloth nappy stashes too!!

Our gNappy stash contained current colours as well as some old favourites that are unavailable with the current range but can still be found from other gMums. Our stash did grow to include some of the newer prints too!

I have tried various different brands of cloth nappy and have had varied success from all that I have used but gNappies has to be one of my favourites. I tried my first gNappy when I purchased the gorgeous gRegal nappy that was brought out at the time of the birth of Prince George. In a gorgeous deep regal purple with the gNappy logo embroidered in gold on it I was in love. However, looks don't help a cloth nappy to work well, it's all about the inside, but looking good on the outside is always a bonus!

Looking good in a Go Aloha

A few older, but very popular colourways. Including glacier, globetrotter, Street, gJoy and Wave.

gNappies work with a fabric outer, a pouch that snaps inside which then holds your booster cloths. They are a sized nappy starting from newborn sizes they then do Small (3-7 kgs, 8-14 lbs), Medium (5-13 kgs, 13-28 lbs), Large (10-16 kgs, 22-36 lbs) and XL (15+ kgs) gPants.

Alongside their popular gPants they also sell the pouches, disposable or reuseable inserts, gLegs, matching tops for some of the gPants, gTote bags and many more besides.

After buying my first gNappy my stash quickly grew. I was really impressed with this nappy system and coming from a place where some other brands had left me doubting whether I would continue with cloth, gNappies quickly gave me my cloth confidence back. As well as selling the more widely available block colours such as yellow, red, navy, green, orange etc.... they also have certain prints that have recently been released and these have proven very popular and some sell out very quickly. The most recent releases being girls rock, grand tartan, gLotus, greyhound grey, gVeggie and grecian fig. All of these colours/prints are gorgeous and look fab on the bum as well as doing the job they are intended for very well.

Another plus point for the gNappy is that the velcro fastenings are on the back of the nappy. This is a very big plus point for anyone with a toddler that likes to undo their nappy!

Alongside the current solid colours and prints there is a whole world of older prints and colours that people are after and there is a big resale market for. I am currently part of this and the range of colours and prints is amazing and very addictive, as my pictures will show. My favourites being Street, good vibe boy and the festive gJoy version.

As well as looking amazingly gorgeous, nothing beats a lovely padded cloth bum, cloth nappies obviously are serving a purpose. Taken from the Veolia Enviromental Services website it says that;

Currently in the UK about eight million disposable nappies are thrown away each day, which accounts for about three percent of our household waste. Using real nappies can dramatically reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill and minimise our impact on the environment.
Disposable nappies in landfills take hundreds of years to degrade, but also have a big impact through the manufacturing, transport and chemicals they require. Real nappies not only reduce this waste dramatically, but they have an overall lesser impact on our environment.
Taking this into account I felt we should do our bit. I'm not going to go around forcing the issue. If people don't want to cloth and prefer to use disposables that is fine. However, I do feel that their is a need to show that cloth nappies aren't as hard work as some people think and it can be done, even when you are already using the washing machine to clean 7 peoples clothes too! I dry pail which means soiled nappies are kept in a lidded nappy bucket with no water in it. Before putting the dirty nappy in the bucket, any solid waste is disposed of down the toilet. To keep the nappy bucket smelling nice I discovered a good tip from one of the various nappy forums I am on. Stick a panty liner to the inside of the nappy bucket lid and pop a few drops of scented oils onto the liner. This will keep things smelling nice!
gNappies sell a newborn starter kit which contains 12 nappies to get you under way on your cloth journey. I found as they get older 12 was a good number to stick to. I washed them every other day and 12 nappies kept us going between washing, drying etc.... gNappies also recommend the following care guidelines; 
gPants: Remove the gPants pouch. Close velcro tabs. Machine wash 30˚ or 40˚with like colors. Machine dry.
gCloth inserts: Prep cloth inserts before first use by washing 3x on hot, no detergent. Dry in between washes. For regular care, machine wash 30˚ or 40˚with a small amount of cloth-safe detergent. Avoid added enzymes, whiteners, or fabric softeners. Simplicity is best. Machine or line dry.
Pouches: Machine wash 30˚ or 40˚. Air dry. Avoid excessive handwashing. No vinegar. No bleach.

A gNappy washing day!

Having only joined the gNappy community recently I know there is still a lot more to discover, learn and encounter from this company. There are always new releases, as with any company, that keeps us waiting in anticipation and always buying more than the original 12 nappies that we said would be fine!
gNappies currently offer £10 off  if you spend £100 or more on your first visit to their website gNappies and they are also sold on the Ocado website. 
Having recently sold off a lot of my gNappy 'stash', I'm looking to rebuild it very soon with some help from the gNappies website as well as the gMums community that I am pleased to be part of, not only to share our love of the product but they are always a wealth of help and support about cloth nappies and for every other worry that comes with being a Mum.

A DVD storage unit makes a very good cloth nappy storage unit.

Following on from previous blog posts and their 'festive' themes, I am anticipating a gNappy festive release. No promises, but I would love to get my hands on one if and when the time comes. I will keep gFans updated! 

Halloween & Half Term over & out. Christmas preparations, writing list & present buying commences. My rundown on Lego, Monster High, Play dough, Little People Super Friends, Vtech & Leapfrog Leapreader purchases so far!!!

So having just about survived spending Half Term with five children and a husband I can announce that no extension work was undertaken during this time!!!

We made it to the pumpkin patch last Tuesday and we loved it. The children had a lovely time at Crockford Bridge Farm choosing their pumpkins. There was also a play area, face painting, apple bobbing, a fairy tale walk through the woods and an area to carve out your pumpkin if you wanted to. It was busy but lovely to walk around looking at all of the different colours and shapes/sizes of pumpkins.  We chose 7 pumpkins in the end and we headed home to carve them. This turned into more than just your average pumpkin carving as you can see from the pictures!! I also made a pumpkin pie which I was told was nice. I've never made one before but it turned out well.

At the pumpkin patch, there were so many to choose from!

Our finished pumpkins, very proud of our efforts this year.

We also celebrated William's 4th birthday last week. He got lots of presents including his Darth Vader mask, a purple lightsaber, a Batman costume, Fisher Price Little People Super Friends and lots of Play-Doh which he had been asking for. The Little People Super Friends are fab and very cute. For someone who is just getting into the whole Star Wars/Batman/Super Hero side of things these are great. He can name them all and it's just a cute little set of seven figures including Batman, Robin, the Joker, Superman etc... He also got the Play-Doh pull along luggage case which is packed full of cutters, moulds, rollers and plenty of play dough too. It's a very good size case and he can fit all of his things in it to transport around with him for when Play-Doh making is needed wherever he goes! We also went out for lunch and then we all ate a piece of the lovely Batman birthday cake. He had a lovely day and now we have passed his birthday and hit November it is official countdown to Christmas time!!!
Play-Doh suitcase.

Fisher Price Little People Superfriends.

My Christmas present buying commenced in September and I am happy with progress so far. Both girls have their Christmas lists saved on the PC and William has taken to saying 'I want that' at every toy advert on the TV! I have lists started and ticks against a few things already, the Christmas present storage cupboard, aka the downstairs bathroom that hadn't been turned into a bathroom yet, is filling up slowly and I'm happy with what I have bought so far.

First up is a Lego Minecraft set. Minecraft is an online game where you build a virtual world using various different materials and then survive in this world by making other materials, weapons etc... It keeps our 7 year old entertained for ages as she builds, makes, rebuilds, combines materials to make something else and it's amazing what she does on there. Anyway, although I was initially disappointed at the size of the Lego box even though it says there are 400+ pieces I am sure it will entertain our daughter on Christmas Day and beyond. Our 4 year old also wanted Lego so we opted for a large tub of assorted bricks for him to make his own creations rather than one of the proper kits. We felt he was slightly too young for a follow the instructions set but thought that a 1000 piece tub should hopefully get his creativity flowing! We also got the Large Lego Head storage to put the 1000 pieces in, it looks fab and a funky piece of storage compared to a boring square plastic tub! Alongside a bargain Lego ideas hardback book from the bargains that can be found at The Book People, we think this lot should keep everyone busy for a while!

Lego Minecraft set 21102

Our 7 year old is also Monster High mad so next on the list was Monster High dolls. With so many to choose from and a decent collection at home already it was hard to search out the ones she wanted. It's this time of year where you get certain toys that are the must have toys and they are sold out everywhere but they are selling on auction sites at higher prices then RRP. As parents we are torn between buying them what they want but not paying over the odds. I was lucky enough to pick up a 2 pack set in a local shop the other day which included Clawd Wolf, one tick off the list! We also got Catty Noir, headless Head Mistress and Heath Burns hiding out ready for Christmas Day. She also has a Monster High scooter and the Monster High 13 wishes Room Party and Spectra on it's way.

Monster High dolls are made by Mattel and sold by many various toy stores, online shops etc... Created in 2010 the dolls are inspired by monster movies, sci fi and various demons etc.... There is also a TV series, direct to DVD movie and a whole line of stationary, toys, bags, keychains and books written by Lisi Harrison.

Monster High dolls are very addictive and like any other fashion doll there are the hard to find ones, collectible ones and the ones that send Mums and Dads into an Xmas frenzy as the children really want it but it's the one that everyone else wants too!

There is a huge global market and fan base for Monster High and their success is huge. The toys are well made, the detail on each one is well thought out and they have caught a good chunk of the fashion doll market.

Catty Noir Monster High doll

Among the goodies for our 1 year old we have the Vtech My First luggage. As always from Vtech it is full of lights and sounds and very well made. It is a pull along suitcase so it's perfect now that he has just started to walk. It also opens so he can put little toys inside, or the TV remote, car keys or anything else you lose and it's the last place you would look! This toy has two modes of play; travel or music. Learn different country names and their famous landmarks as well as learning about things you would pack as well as popular transport names and sounds. In music mode there are 20 melodies to choose from and the various buttons on the front make noises when pressed.

VTech My First Luggage

We also have Gadget the Robot from VTech. He is a fab sturdy size and has many features.

Come and meet your cool robot friend – Gadget. He will teach you all about letters, numbers, objects, music and more.  Pop in a computer chip, turn his nose and watch as his eyes and eyebrows move!
You can also twist his ears and eyes for fun sound effects and phrases. Gadget will even dance for you and react to your clapping. Includes  LCD screen, 6 modes of play, 26 letter/object chips and 4 funny chips.  He teaches letters, numbers, objects, music and more and will be a very welcome member of the family! 

VTech Gadget the Robot

Our 4 year old has got the new Leapfrog Leapreader system. He got the Leapfrog Tag Junior reading system a couple of years ago and he loved it but he is getting a but older and the Leapreader system seems to be our next step. I have bought a dinosaurs book and the Monsters University book to go with it which I am sure he will love. The Leapfrog range of reading systems have always been a favourite in our house. The Tag Junior system has also served us well and they teach a wide range of topics from a range of popular characters, Leapreader is the next step on the reading and learning side of things from 4 years upwards. Please see an earlier blog for a Tag Junior review; Leapfrog Tag Junior review  He has also asked for lots more things too but we have to stop somewhere. 

Leapfrog Leapreader system

The eldest two children are more difficult to buy for. Our 16 year old wants an NFL jersey, receiver gloves etc... But I am going to say 'wait and see'! He told me the other day that he read a bit of my blog, so I will keep quiet about what he is (or isn't) getting!!!

So far Christmas shopping is going well. I still have lots more to buy and all of the relatives presents to buy too. However, I am pleased with progress. None of these presents have been bought without a discount code or on an offer or money off weekend/week from various retailers. Currently running is the Argos 3 for 2 offer but I have found over the past few days that Amazon have been dropping their prices on toys too so make sure you shop around before hitting the buy or reserve button! Happy Christmas shopping and more festive updates coming soon. I'm off for a cup of tea and a mince pie.