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.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Christenings, birthdays, NFL football trip. Surviving 'storms' and the lack of juice crisis for a 3 year old! Oh and the joys of finding a local pumpkin patch!

It's Monday. The clocks changed yesterday morning and so we were given an extra hour to listen to the children fighting with each other.

On Saturday we had a family christening to attend in London so we were all up, suited and booted and out of the house by 8.30am. By the time we got to St Paul's Cathedral, Bovington Number 5 was tired. So I spent most of the christening outside of the chapel doors peering through the glass and trying to listen in on proceedings because of a grumpy and tired baby. It was a lovely service and I tried my best to stay in rather than out of the service but it wasn't working. Grumpy babies and official proceedings just don't mix! Afterwards we had Afternoon Tea at a tea room nearby where we had even more of a meltdown from grumpy and severely overtired baby and we then left. Bundled them all in the car and tried to get out of London! Baby was asleep within seconds of leaving the car park, the 3 yr old soon followed in having an afternoon siesta as did the 10 yr old. At least the journey home was quiet!

In the evening we went to a birthday party for a friend of OH's. Not realizing it was a sit down meal but handy that we hadn't eaten dinner! There was also a photo booth to go in and take pictures with various hats, wigs, silly glasses and props which was good. We got to keep four photo's and then the company are making up a whole album of the pictures taken for the birthday girl. A really fab idea I thought. I have heard about the photo booths but never been to a party where there has been one and would highly recommend them, it's a good laugh and will make a lovely keepsake to look back on too.

Our photo booth creations, it was fun and a fab idea for parties, weddings etc....

We have our own birthday countdown going on in the Bovington house. William is turning 4 at the end of the week. He has asked for a Darth Vader mask and Play Dough. We will have to wait and see! On the agenda is lunch out, a Batman cake and if William gets to choose it will definitely be bowling again with his Finding Nemo bowling ball. Just remember though, just because you walk into the bowling alley with your own ball it doesn't make you a pro!! It's William's favourite thing to do though and we end up there at every opportunity.

William ready with his Finding Nemo bowling ball

Yesterday the OH, our eldest and OH's bestie went to watch the NFL game at Wembley. They had a fab time, it was booked so long ago but the wait was worth it. They had a fab time, enjoyed some American food before the match and we heard all about it the next morning. It turned into a very long day but definitely one they would like to repeat I think.

Enjoying a Wiener before the NFL match

Having survived the first day of Half Term and the 'storm' that hit we are now looking forward to the rest of the week. The storm wasn't as bad as anticipated but we did prepare ourselves after all of the news reports. It's best to be prepared and then hopefully not need it. I remembered back to the storm of 1987, I was 8 years old and myself, my sister and my brother all slept on our parents bedroom floor because of the noise outside. I was fully prepared to have all of ours in with us but we were very lucky to not be hit as bad as other parts of the country.

With the OH off work I am going to try and put him to work with doing done work on the 'still not finished, ongoing project' aka the extension. It still won't be finished before the youngest child moves out at this rate. We have also found a local farm that does pick your own pumpkin so that is our activity for tomorrow which William is very excited about. It will keep them busy and much more enjoyable than buying one from the supermarket. I am sure we will come back with more than one pumpkin as well!

Another task to contend with has been finding bridesmaids shoes for my two girls to wear for my sister's wedding. Over the Spring/Summer it would have been fine but trying to find wedding shoes in the shops at this time if year is like a Mum trying to go to the toilet without a child in tow! My Mum and I traipsed around a shopping centre last week and had no luck in every shop we looked in. My usual shoe shopping enthusiasm is wearing thin very fast and I usually love shoe shopping!

So there we have it. A busy weekend followed by Half Term with a few things planned and a feeling of 'will he, won't he' when it comes to OH and the extension work that needs to be done!

Hopefully the rest of the week goes well, unlike yesterday when William asked Daddy for some juice, when he was informed that there was none he exclaimed 'You've ruined my life'. Errrrr, slightly over dramatic, let's hope that nothing more serious than running out of juice happens or we could be in for the end of the world!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Dare I say it? Getting ready for Christmas! It's that time of year, time to buy, hide and store presents and survive Christmas chaos (organised honestly!) Some presents purchased and Santa at Harrods booked, yippeee!

Yes it's that time of year already. If I had one present to buy I would be out on Christmas Eve dodging crazed husbands who have forgotten to buy what their wives had asked for and fighting for the last dressing gown or pair of fluffy slippers on the shelf, I'm sure the OH would really appreciate those fluffy slippers too!

However, I have five children to buy for plus family and friends. I have Christmas plays, performances and sing songs to arrange my social life around rather than drunken work parties and weekend Christmas meals and drinks with family and friends, waking up the next day and forgetting who you even spoke to the night before. What has my life become?!

Anyway, the present buying has begun. Not because I am super organised, because I am not. I am the most unorganised person ever. I am amazed I get out of the door in the mornings with my hair tied back and some clothes on rather than my PJ's, I do manage it just. Even this week I haven't managed to get out of my PJ's though but then that's due to poorly children and having become housebound for the best part of nearly a week. My new friends, the four walls, don't say much so I have been able to talk freely amongst my new found group of 'friends'!!

Onto Christmas though, I do love this time of year. I don't like the cold weather that has crept up on us this week but then I should 'just put a jumper on' said in a stern voice aka hubby styley. I love the build up to Christmas which nowadays seems to start at the moment the children start back to school in September. First the cards crept onto the shelves then the wrap and tags crept out of the woodwork and before long we are plunged into whole aisles of festive delight in the supermarkets.

I had to be on the Harrods website super early back in September to book to go and see Santa, again not my super organised skills but if you don't book at that time then you don't go! I managed to get a Saturday which was good and so now our trip to London has turned into going to see Santa plus a trip on the London Eye in the dark afterwards and Nanny and Grandad are coming along too. I do look forward to it, OH thinks it's going to be busy as it's the last Saturday before Christmas but it will be lovely and festive too. I look forward to walking through the Christmas Market as well with the stalls of gifts and the smell of roast chestnuts and people drinking hot chocolate or a nice cup of mulled wine. This is probably our last trip to see Santa at Harrods as, although it has been our Christmas tradition since 2007, our eldest really doesn't want to see Santa anymore so I am dragging him along to get one last family photo of all five children and my job is done. I will have to think of something else for next Christmas to take the younger ones to.

Harrods is always a great day though. We go up and see Santa, look around the toy section, have lunch out and have a lovely day. Last year we ate in the Disney Cafe in Harrods which is highly recommended. Combined with the atmosphere of it all and seeing all of the excited children waiting to see him it's just lovely.

Meeting the fairy at Harrods Christmas Grotto

Mickey Mouse pizza at the Disney Cafe

Bumping into Jack Dee in Harrods Toy Department!

So, as I said, I have started purchasing already. Argos recently had 3 for 2 across all toys so that was taken advantage of, as was Smyths Toys 20% off. Yet again I am trying to shop only with offers or discount codes and so far so good. Boots 3 for 2 Christmas has also started across all of their Christmas gifts, toys etc.... and discount codes tend to pop up for supermarket websites as well as places like Disney Store, Toys r Us etc.... I will hopefully be able to update with offers and discount codes on the lead up to Christmas.

Before Christmas we still have one birthday coming up. Even though our 3 year old is still poorly it hasn't stopped him from adding to his birthday list! Currently standing at a Darth Vader mask, a purple lightsaber, a Batman costume, some play dough and the all important Batman birthday cake.

Oh the excitement of it all. I will leave you with a small Xmas activity to get you in the festive mood. We made these last year and gave them to relatives as small gifts. Very effective decorations made with little hands. :-)

Recipe for Christmas gift success

One of our finished creations from last year

Multiple gifts ready to hang from the tree. Our youngest was only 4 months old and these were the perfect size for tree hanging Santas! 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

DISNEY PLANES MOVIE SOUNDTRACK REVIEW, Another must see from the Disney film studios and soundtrack from Walt Disney Records

Today's review is for the Disney Planes movie soundtrack. As with all Disney films they never fail to deliver. We thoroughly enjoyed the likes of Cars and Cars 2 and so we knew Planes was going to give us the same excitement and laughs too. For boys, girls, Mums and Dads of all ages it is a must see and the soundtrack that goes with it is just as well thought through.

From above the world of "Cars" comes "Disney's Planes," an action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure featuring Dusty (voice of Dane Cook), a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty's not exactly built for racing—and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty's courage is put to the ultimate test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar.

Hitting the cinema screens back in August 2013 it has already amassed a huge amount from box office sales and continues to do so, with the release of the Planes DVD due just in time for Christmas.

The Planes soundtrack album, released in August 2013 is jam packed full of amazing, catchy songs from the film. It features the original score composed by Mark Mancina plus 4 original songs and one bonus track.

Track List from the album is as follows;

1.      Nothing Can Stop Me Now Performed by Mark Holman
2.      You Don't Stop (NYC) Performed by Chris Classic and Alana D
3.      Fly Performed by Jon Stevens of The Dead Daisies
4.      Planes Score
5.      Crop Duster Score
6.      Last Contestant Score
7.      Hello Lincoln/Sixth Place Score
8.      Show Me What You Got Score
9.      Dusty Steps Into History Score
10.    Start Your Engines Score
11.    Leg 2/Bulldog Thanks Dusty Score
12.    Skipper Tries to Fly Score
13.    Dusty & Ishani Score
14.    The Tunnel Score
15.    Running on Fumes Score
16.    Get Above the Storm Score
17.    Dusty Has to Ditch Score
18.    Skipper’s Story Score
19.    You’re a Racer Score
20.    Leg 7 Score
21.    Skipper to the Rescue Score
22.    Dusty Soars Score
23.    1st Place Score
24.    A True Victory Score
25.    Honorary Jolly Wrench Score
26.    Skipper’s Theme (Volo Pro Veritas) Score 
27.    Love Machine Performed by Carlos Alazraqui and Antonio Sol
28.    Ein Crop Duster Can Race Performed by Carlos Alazraqui and Antonio Sol (Bonus Song)
29.    Armadillo

With amazing 29 songs from the film this album doesn't fail to deliver. From the fast paced lyrics of Nothing Can Stop Me Now to the bopping, get you dancing tunes of Fly which really gets you thinking back to the flying scenes from the film. Running on Fumes and Get above the Storm also set the tone for the movie with the effort and gusto of the music tempo translating into what is happening in the film. With 29 songs to choose from these soundtrack will keep you dancing for a long time. There is nothing better than a good soundtrack to take you back to your seats in the cinema and take you through the whole film again whilst getting you on your feet and dancing at the same time. 

If you don't have the soundtrack, get it. The songs are catchy, fun and fast paced and delivers what you would expect to hear to accompany the Planes film. A well composed score to a fab film. 

CAUTION Stay away! Sickness bug, Five children and It, It being a frazzled Mummy and a Daddy who says he feels ill, argh! Oh and my rare day/night out, afternoon tea and Rock of Ages.

So I nosedive head first into a blog post whilst I have five children under the influence of a sickness bug.

As if my washing machine doesn't see enough action as it is, it is currently working 24/7 covering extra shifts for his washing machine friend who has yet to grace us with his presence in our utility room.

Poor OH was left on Saturday so I could enjoy a rare day out for my besties birthday. I left him with one sick child and all he had to do was make it to bedtime with all of the children still alive. By the time I had reached London and was heading to Afternoon Tea in Covent Garden he was already messaging me to tell me that he had a man down! Our poor 3 year old was now being sick, OH did inform me that he had sat said 3 year old in front of the cricket and I came to the conclusion that this is what may have made him sick, either that or cricket tends to induce sleep!

Anyway, Afternoon Tea was lovely even if it was spent receiving messages from the OH with updates on the emergency hospital he had set up at home. We went to The Crusting Pipe in Covent Garden. It was soooo busy in Covent Garden itself, everyone was enjoying the various street artist or wandering around the market looking at the various treats on offer. There were 9 of us ladies who lunch in total and a fab afternoon was had. Afternoon Tea consisted of crayfish sandwiches along with buffalo mozzarella and tomato, salmon and cream cheese and also ham, cheese and pickle. Followed by scones and petit fours, or fancy nom noms as I said! All washed down with a couple of cups of tea. We chatted for ages about work, home, wedding plans, weddings just been,  and the all important birthday celebration we were there for, its not often your bestie turns 29 (again!).

Scrummy Afternoon Tea thanks to The Crusting Pipe, Covent Garden

Afterwards we walked through the market, and on to our theatre destination. Being slightly early we found a bar nearby to have a drink, who wouldn't?! By this time I had an update from OH that the baby was victim number 3 to the sickness bug, he had blessed Daddy with the honour of being puked all over just so Daddy knew for sure that he was unwell. I was doing my best to reassure OH via text message that all would be OK, I couldn't say I was going to be home soon because I wasn't and hope the evening goes as well as it can?!

The show was amazing, Rock of Ages, go see it if you haven't already. Full of songs that everyone knows even if you didn't think you did. We were singing along and lots of laughs too. The evening was ended by eating chinese in a box, which the bestie was really pleased that we found and it tasted good too. Our journey home was spent discussing what our super hero power would be, a very important issue to discuss right??!!

Rock of Ages cast, they were all brilliant

So from Saturday onwards myself and the OH spent our time playing doctors the various sick children, as well as a full on clean up operation every time one of them was sick. (Yuk!). This has gone on from Saturday until it ended (hopefully!) yesterday. Today, Thursday, is the first day that our 3 year old has woken up looking half human, it hit him hard and the poor wee one has been ill all this time. Mummy was hit by it on Tuesday and I spent the day trying to die in bed whilst dealing with everyone else being ill too. OH came home from work slightly early to help out and, luckily, hasn't been inflicted with illness yet. A) because we needed one well person to help everyone else and B) there is nothing worse than an ill man!!!!

Next blog post will be much cheerier and I refuse to let anyone else be ill in this house for a good few months at least!!! :-)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

DISNEY Premiere of Teen Beach Movie featuring Ross Lynch & Maia Mitchell. Teen Beach Movie soundtrack review

So, its been about 6 weeks since my last blog post, I am really slacking and am jumping back on the blogging before I completely lose the ability to write anything interesting after spending the past 5 weeks of Summer Holidays only communicating with my children, which I am sure has killed the last few brain cells I had. So this review is slightly late although this is still showing on Disney Channel and the Disney Store currently have some fab products in store for all those Teen Beach Movie lovers out there. I started this review about 4 weeks ago and it has sat as a draft since then, my apologies for not getting it out there sooner but I am hoping that it encourages those who haven't already seen the movie, or even the sing along version to watch it very soon. 

Last week my 7 year old came home eagerly awaiting the Disney premiere of Teen Beach Movie. Apparently it was the talk of the playground amongst her friends and the excitement was building.

Teen Beach Movie has Ross Lynch, more known as Austin from Disney's Austin and Ally, and Maia Mitchell as the 2 main cast members with Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton, Jordan Fisher, John Deluca, Chrissie Fit, Kent Boyd and many more co-starring. 

The storyline is; Brady and McKenzie are first seen having fun at the beach. After coming back inside, McKenzie (Mack) sees that Brady is a fan of the film "Wet Side Story", a film set during the 1960's. In the film, bikers and surfers battle for control of Big Momma's, a local hangout. Brady later learns that Mack made a promise to her aunt that after her mother died she would attend a private school and they were to leave the next day.
Mack goes and surfs but seeing that the waves are too strong, Brady goes after Mack, who is still in the water. The two are swept away by the waves, and find out they've been swept inside the movie "Wet Side Story". They decide to play along with the plot, which is a war between bikers and surfers over control over Big Momma's, a local hangout. They suddenly change the movie when the movie's lead man, Tanner, falls in love with Mack, and Brady catches Lela, when she falls off the stage. This interferes with the movie's plot, in which Lela falls into Tanner's arms, not Brady's. Brady and Mack decide to make Tanner and Lela fall in love.
Lela and Tanner fall in love with each other while waiting for Mack and Brady, but soon realize that they have been kidnapped by Les Camembert and Dr. Fusion. They go to Big Momma's and convince the bikers and surfers to team up and save Mack and Brady. They go to the villains' lair and destroy the machine that they made.The movie's plot returns to normal, and Mack and Brady return home.
When they return home, Brady allows Mack to surf the giant waves, and she safely returns back to shore. Mack decides to spend the rest of her life on the beach with Brady, seeing that it would make her mother happy.

My daughter was hooked. Having been too young for the High School Musical movies when they first aired it was time to get in on some Disney musical action. She thoroughly enjoyed the film. From the story line to the songs mixed in with the wonderful characters. The songs are extremely catchy and ideal for the summer time. Having got the soundtrack CD we have had the songs playing many times whether it be for a full on dance session or just in the background whilst playing.

This has certainly been the soundtrack to our summer and the movie was recorded to our Sky box so we can watch over and over again whenever we want to. With a fab song list as follows; 

  • Oxygen" Performed by Maia Mitchell
  • "Surf Crazy" Performed by Spencer Lee, Keely Hawkes, and Cast
  • "Cruisin for a Bruisin'" Performed by Ross Lynch, Grace Phipps and Jason Evigan
  • "Falling for Ya" Performed by Grace Phipps
  • "Meant to Be" Performed by Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Grace Phipps, Spencer Lee, and Garrett Clayton
  • "Like Me" Performed by Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Grace Phipps , Spencer Lee and Cast
  • "Meant to Be (Reprise 1)" Performed by Grace Phipps and Spencer Lee
  • "Can't Stop Singing"  Performed by Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell
  • "Meant to Be (Reprise 2)" Performed by Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchelll
  • "Surfs Up" Performed by Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, and Cast
  • "Coolest Cats in Town" Performed by Spencer Lee, Grace Phipps, and Jason Evigan
  • "Surf Crazy Finale" Performed by the Teen Beach Movie Cast
  • "Surf's Up" (Instrumental Version)
  • "Cruisin for a Bruisin" (Instrumental Version)
  • "Falling for Ya" (Instrumental Version)

Favourites so far are Oxygen, Cruisin' for a Bruisin' and Coolest Cats in Town, I think the repeat button is quite worn out as well as the replay all button. However all the songs are catchy, full of energy and all done to the same Disney standard you would expect from any of their fab musicals, films etc..... The kids will have you singing and dancing in no time. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Internet shopping without spending money, my baby is nearing 1 year old already, summer holidays are in sight and endless clothes washing!

I have decided that going from a utility room where the roof was falling down, the floor was horrible, it was cold, there were cobwebs and it was generally an unpleasant place to be and moving into a lovely spacious water tight, double glazed one isn't the idea of 'fun' I had in mind. In fact, I didn't think it was going to be fun in the first place. Yes I was sadly excited at the prospect of not having to run out there, chuck the washing in the machine and running out again and then doing the same when it needed to be transferred into the tumble dryer. Then once it was done I brought it into the living room to be folded and sorted and the whole place ended up looking like a Chinese laundry. However, I now feel like I spend my life in the utility room. It's all done in one place. I wash, tumble, fold and sort in one space which is fab for keeping it out of view and organized, but I now feel like I run my own launderette. Apart from the lack of curlers, tabard and fag hanging out of my mouth I resemble Dot Cotton, and half hope that Jack Branning might walk in and hand me his 'smalls' to wash!

No plug sockets, no paint on the walls, no worktops and no flooring but the washing still has to be done! (I must sort the washing out and put it away!)

This also means that the building work is done and the house has been plastered too. The builder has left, tea bag consumption has lowered considerably since the workmen departed and we have been left to paint, lay floors, install bathrooms and decorate the rest of the house. It still looks like a bomb has hit and there is still so much to do, yet we have come a long way too and very pleased with the build and also glad it is over and we can go at our own pace with everything else.

Our daughters room, almost complete!

The teenagers room is getting there too. 

With the summer holidays looming I might get the kids to join in with the washing but there is more chance of my teenager keeping his room tidy! Occupying kiddies in the summer holidays, I did think of summer school!  I have now decided that each child can choose a day out and we will do that once a week for 4 weeks, I am sure the 1 yr old doesn't have a preference to anywhere just yet so he will just have to tag along! Our 3 year old has already said he wants to go to Peppa Pig World and to see Thomas on the Watercress Line. I did say one day out each so it will be a tough choice for him, or we see how funds go. Days out are so expensive these days. I saved loads of 'pay for a child and get an adult in free' from Kelloggs recently only to find that kids prices for theme parks are almost as much as adults and tickets alone would still cost £100. The perils of not being able to buy a 'family ticket' even though we are a family but family to most places is still 2 adults and 2 children like it was way back when I was on outings with my parents! I am wondering if we could get a new family ticket created. The XL family ticket, for families who like to live larger!!

This time last year I was busy pestering all of my Facebook friends for votes in a photo competition. It had to be a picture of our baby bump and of course I took baby 'bump' literally! Our picture was one of the winners and we won a fab Mountain Buggy Duet courtesy of the lovely people at Mountain Buggy and of course everyone who voted for me. Everyone was very glad when it was over though so I stopped hassling them! How time flies though, yes I sound old! This year has flown by though and I can't believe that our youngest will be turning 1 year old next month. He is still my baby but at the same time he is at the stage where he has been crawling for months, he has sprouted teeth, he is eating well and now he needs to go out and find a job. Wait, wrong child, I mean he needs to learn to walk that's the next challenge. He has been standing up and walking around the furniture for ages so only time will tell as to when he turns into my 'toddler' and no longer my baby. Sad times.

               Before 'bump'!                                                             After bump. :-)

So that's us for today. Impending doom of the summer holidays where the kiddies spend all day moaning that they have nothing to do, wind each other up, stress Mum out and a day out costs a small fortune whatever you decide to do. I am off to carry on my internet 'window' shopping, if OH asks I am shopping for a bathroom, however those shoes and that handbag would compliment the new bathroom colour scheme very well.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Finding time to blog, the extension is almost complete (well almost?!), poorly babies, a trip to Marwell Zoo and GCSE exams/prom suit shopping!!

It feels like ages since I last wrote a blog post, well apart from reviews it has been, I apologise. Lots has progressed with the extension work. We now have a roof, windows and the floor screed is done and 2 internal walls and plasterboard is going up as I type! The builder is working really hard to get things done as we have the plasterer ready to start in a weeks time. I am keeping him well supplied with cups of tea and, after a chat about how our weekends went, he was ready to crack on with his work!

We had a minor set back with the floor screed when my 3 year old decided to go into the utility room and dig some of it up. The builder was not amused, but he filled the small hole that had been dug up and my son hid from the builder for the rest of the day!

From the outside it looks fab and we are really pleased. We are now looking forward to getting the inside done and plastered so we can get children into their new bedrooms and reclaiming my dining room that is currently being used as a teenagers bedroom, yuk!

I am ready and waiting to turn into a Laurence Llewellyn Bowen type interior designer and paint, accessorize and drag my house back into life after the upheaval of all the work, at the moment it looks like a bomb hit!!

View down the road of the amazing roofers at work!

Whilst most weekends have been taken up with endless amounts of extension work we decided this weekend we would take a trip out to the zoo. We had a fab day at Marwell Zoo and spent 4 hours walking around in the sunshine looking at all of the animals. All of the children really enjoyed it and it was nice to get away from the house and not think about it all for a few hours. 

Saying Hi to the giraffe

William insisted on posing for the camera

A Fossa, everyone had heard of it apart from myself. You know, like in Madagascar!

The girls turn to pose.

Lost count of how many people stood here and said Compare the Meerkat or 'I wonder if his name is Aleksandr'!!

Our youngest woke up with a temperature on that day but seemed ok in himself, just quiet and cuddly so we packed up the car for anything that could or may happen, it felt like we were going on a weeks holiday. Anyway, it turns out, 2 days later and a trip to the doctors, that he has tonsilitis, poor baby. He has been so good, very high temperature, sleeping loads and cuddling when he isn't asleep but he has hardly grumbled at all. He is all better now and back to his jolly, chirpy self and he has certainly regained his appetite!

With our son's GCSE's finally done and out of the way we don't have to stress about getting our son out of bed on time, well fed and concentrating on his exams our next mission is to find a suit for the impending prom in 2 weeks time. Shopping with men is a nightmare, shopping with a teenage man is even worse. Fingers crossed we find a suit in the first shop and I can come home and rock in a corner to recover. Dragging a baby and toddler along probably doesn't help! I may have to stock up on chocolate to help with the recovery process.

So our next big occasion is our daughters 7th birthday next week. It has gone from no party this year to having 7 friends round for tea, whilst the plasterer is here trying to work and the house looking like a bomb has hit. I may make painting and decorating into a new party game, it could work, right??!! I am thinking the delivery of sweets that just arrived from American Sweets Online will either keep them quiet or send them into hyper overdrive!