Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Autumn Winter clothes shopping for a fan of fashion toddler boy. Cosy knits and more from Asda, Mamas & Papas, Hugo Boss and more to suit all budgets

Yes I know. We are still in the Summer and it's hard to think about our Autumn Winter wardrobes when it is baking hot outside and the Summer sales are still on in the shops. However, if you look at retailers online stores you will find a lot of Autumn Winter 2014 stock is already making it's presence known across many, many websites.

I love shopping for Autumn Winter clothing. I much prefer it to the Summer season and so I decided to take a look at what was on offer this season for Thing 5, a nearly 2 year old boy. Once I started looking I soon realised that there is already a lot to choose from and I'm loving lots of items from various designer collections as well as some fab bits from high street retailers too.

I usually find it easy to mix and match high street pieces with a few designer items I like, I can wish for a full designer wardrobe but it's not going to happen. Plus there is still lots to choose from on the High Street and nothing is worse than worrying over a designer outfit that you don't want to get dirty or ruined, and that is so going to happen with a two year old boy!

So I've picked a few items from a variety of retailers and designers that I liked and at some point will hopefully end up in Thing 5's wardrobe! There is a vast array of pieces out there so be sure to check out all of the retailers websites and stores for more inspiration.

Up first we have some items from Asda. The chunky knit cardigan was the first item to catch my eye. I love my boys in cardigans. They look very smart but extremely wearable and cosy at the same time. The Grandad top I chose as I loved the colour. Thing 4 had a few pieces in his A/W wardrobe last year and it seems to be popping up this season again too. I added a simple pair of black skinny jeans which would make a lovely outfit with the burgundy top and stone coloured cardigan. I also found the very cute fox jumper for a bit of character fun and then the very gorgeous burgundy colour popped up again in the lovely coat which is also very practical for the Autumn/Winter weather.


I then popped over to Gap to see what they had to offer. I teemed the stone pinstripe trousers with the knitted jumper and I just loved the denim pea coat for a smarter jacket. The slub rugby top is ideal for wear with joggers or jeans and adding the baseball cap gives it a lovely casual look. I loved the leather look peak on the cap.


 Next also has their new A/W collection up on their website and I'm sure it is gracing the rails in their stores too. The black/blue colours caught my eye from their website and the trendy brace jeans with blue jumper to compliment the colour in the braces looks very cute. I picked the matching electric blue polo t-shirt to put underneath the jumper Adding in the very trendy biker jacket which is black with slight blue highlight colours and it makes for a very cool outfit.


Mamas and Papas also had a nice selection to choose from and the gilet jumped out at me in that gorgeous burgundy colour that I love. The dark stone trousers I thought complimented the tweed detailing on the gilet. I found 2 fab cowl neck cardigans which look fab and cosy. The deep red is a gorgeous colour and could be layered under the gilet on a colder day. The short sleeved top is ideal for warmed Autumn days whilst still being a cosy knit material.

Mamas and Papas

I just picked a couple of items from the current Tommy Hilfiger collection but there is much more online including yellow chinos to compliment the two pieces here. Yet again with have another cowl neck cardigan, these seem to be a favourite of mine this season. This Tommy Hilfiger one is a lovely grey marl with Tommy Hilfiger badge on the chest. I also picked the rugby top as I loved the yellow on it. Still bringing a brightness to the winter days.

Tommy Hilfiger

I picked a few items from the Hugo Boss collection as my last clothing pieces for this blog post. Thing 5 always has a couple of Hugo Boss pieces in his wardrobe and they are very good quality and hard wearing. I loved these dark jeans with the smart shirt, it's never too early to have a day when you want to step out looking a bit dapper! Adding in the knitted cardigan with hood for the colder Autumn Winter days. It is a lovely grey colour with black detailing and zip up front. I also picked the hat and scarf as I loved the colour. Thing 5 has a Hugo Boss winter hat from last season and he looked so cute in it. The turquoise colour on this set is lovely and would add a lovely but of colour the the black/grey Hugo Boss clothing I chose.

Hugo Boss

 Last but not least, boots!! I only picked a few pairs as I'm a shoeaholic and if I carried on looking I would have chosen far too many pairs to show you! Desert boots and Chelsea boots seem to be showing on a variety of retailers websites. I chose some pairs from Next and also the classic Kick Hi from Kickers in black or dark tan. Kickers boots are a sure bet for me when it comes to boys boots and you can choose them in a variety of colours too. Adding to the mix a pair of classic sand coloured Timberland boots and then the casual but essential Converse for those chilling back, relaxing Autumn days!

Boots from Next, Kickers and Timberland, Converse from all good stockists.

 So there we have my pick of just a few items that have caught my eye. Please head to the various retailers websites to find more Autumn Winter clothes for your little ones and many more retailers that I haven't mentioned.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Parenting dilemma. Are you their friend first or parent, how do you get the right balance between parenting and not making them hate you. Our current parenting dilemma and how can we overcome it?

I'm the first to admit that I'm not the Mum that gets excited about the start of the Summer Holidays. Whilst other Mums are rejoicing at no school runs and spending more time with their children, I am dreading it.

Thing 1 and Thing 4 in a rare picture together.

Why? I have friends who work and are so upset that they don't get to spend the holidays with their children and I'm moaning about it. Five children, one of me and a rod made for our backs so it's entirely our fault.

I watch all of the TV programmes about larger families and I'm astounded at how well behaved they are, how much the children help out with the housework as well as the older ones mucking in and helping out with the younger ones. Yes yes I know, they probably only show the good bits and we don't get to see the bits they edited out where five out of nineteen children are having a tantrum and little Johnny hits the baby over the head with a rattle. Plus their houses are tidy, I have five children and my house is a wreck.

As mentioned earlier though we've caused this. Before anyone plays the old 'well you shouldn't have had five children then' card I just wanted to say, I wanted them and I love them all that does not mean that each day they drive me to insanity with their misbehaviour and blatant disregard for everything that I do for them and how spoilt they are.

My OH has taken to not saying No to anything, which leaves me to pick up the pieces when it comes to Mum actually saying No to something. The other day he let the 2 girls sleep in the same room, I can't be doing with the hassle of a late night, the girls making a noise and inevitably it ends with them arguing over something and actually Thing 3 doesn't want Thing 2 in her room any more, so I would have said No straight away. What happened? They did sleep in the same room and Mummy was the one that had to go in when it was late and tell them enough was enough.

Thing 2 and Thing 3 on a day out together.

Thing 2 was walking around with a can of Coke yesterday which I had said No to but she went to Dad and he said Yes, this then causes tension between us as parents and the Things are running the house without a care in the world.

Other things that happened over the weekend is their thinking that every time we go to the shops we have to eat out and they moan incessantly about it whilst we go around the shops. Thing 2 has also decided she wants a new dress for her birthday, a reasonable request, except on Saturday she decided to strop her way around the Superdry shop because I wouldn't buy her a dress from there. All with a price tag of £40-50 plus you can understand why she will not be getting a Superdry dress, when I was younger I was grateful for what I got. Now they seem to think it's ok to moan about what they don't have or don't get.

Anyway, the upshot of my whole blog post is this. The OH seems to have taken it that he needs to be a friend first and parent second. There is very little parenting when it comes to discipline and he prefers to take the say Yes always approach yet it comes back and bites us in the butt when it comes to me saying No and it's produced whingy, moany children with a lack of respect on the cost of things and not behaving or helping out in order to earn these things.

I have taken the parenting approach and think they should do a lot more around the house than they currently do, which is nothing. I am up for disciplining them when needed and to try and stop the late nights and whingy, moany attitude from being allowed what they want because standing your ground and saying No is not what you wanted to do at the time. The upshot of that is that they hate me, I am the bad guy and Daddy is the go to guy if they want a Yes answer. Or if the OH really doesn't want to say No he says 'Go ask your Mum'. However, the lack of discipline shows that I'm not doing a very good job of parenting at all so far.

I want to be their friend, I want to be there for when they need me and when they need to confide in me. I don't want to alienate them from me completely by being the bad guy all of the time but it's hard work when you are fighting against something that you've done yourself and it's your fault that they are the way they are.

Hopefully one day they will realise that being harsh but fair is all for their own good and they will thank us?!

It needs to change but I can't change it on my own. I need a wingman, someone who is willing to parent first and be a friend to them always but not if it jeopardises the parenting side of things to the extent that it has. We need to unite as a team and get back the five almost well behaved children we always longed for. I'm making them out to sound really bad, and sometimes it's not, however we need to regain control, we need to take the bad guy approach to get them to be good guys. They need to help out around the house more and be kind to each other in order to have a happy Mummy and Daddy who appreciate the time they spend with the kiddies when they do.

I'm hoping I have a wingman who agrees before I buy shares in Valerie Patisserie before the holidays are out!

Please comment with any tips, or if you are in the same boat. I would love to hear how you are tackling any problems. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Finally I went into Patisserie Valerie and made a purchase, it was a necessity but I apologise to my waistline!

I've heard about Patisserie Valerie in the past and whilst in London last year I passed a couple of their shops whilst I was in a taxi. That wasn't good and whilst walking back to Waterloo station later that day I decided I would stop at one. However, it was not to be. Could I find one on my way back to the station?! I had to get back so I had no time to stop and find my bearings in order to locate the gorgeous cakes that I had to lay my hands on.

My bag full of sweet treats

Over a year later and I finally found another store. Whilst shopping for a birthday present for my Dad, which I still haven't bought, I found it nestled on the corner of a street where I'm sure it's been for ages and I've probably never noticed. Being slightly stressed from shopping on a Saturday, having 4 children and an OH with me and still thinking that I still have 39 days until back to school I decided I needed cake.

As I stood in the queue I was torn. After having been to my Slimming World meeting on Wednesday myself and my friend had vowed to really get back on track with our weight loss yet at the same time the cake was calling me. They looked scrummy and I had been looking for this shop for over a year. I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by!

So I made my purchase. I carefully carried them around the shops making sure they got home in one piece until I had a chance to sit in peace and devour them. I've yet to hear the peace and quiet but whilst Thing 2 and 3 were out playing I snuggled with Thing 4 in front of the Lego Movie and we shared a huge slice of double chocolate gateaux. It was extremely scrummy and I let Thing 4 have more than I did!

Double chocolate gateaux with profiterole on top. Ideal for sharing with Thing 4 as we snuggled. 

I also purchased a slice of cheesecake, a slice of strawberry mousse cake and a mixed fruit tart. I've let OH have the cheesecake as there is no way I could eat four cakes. Well actually, I could but I want the scales to be nice to me next Wednesdsy too. That means if I eat the cakes I may have to he extra good with everything else I eat and maybe exercise too, eeeek!!!

From left to right; Cheescake, strawberry mousse, double chocolate and mixed fruit tart at the bottom. 

Let's just say that it's a good thing that this shop isn't close by as it may just be my favourite shop over the school holidays.  My waistline wouldn't agree though, or my Slimming World consultant!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Surviving the summer holidays. Our recent Selwood Oriana Prestige climbing frame purchase from Climbing Frames UK has ensured they get out in the sunshine more.

So as the first full week of the Summer Holidays creeps up on us we have today retreated into the house due to a full on storm that pounced on us as we were heading back from the shops. I put the Lego Movie on for the younger ones to watch which Thing 4 was happy about. Thing 5 sat and watched and seemed interested too then fell asleep on the sofa for the third day in a row!

My tumble dryer packed up on me a couple of days ago and after mocking together some washing lines I got quite a bit of washing done yesterday. However today I had 3 lines of washing out and it was soaked through before I could get it in. I cried for a few minutes then prayed that the OH could fix the tumble dryer tonight. I enjoyed using a washing line for all of a day but when the rain hits you realise that line drying just isn't for you!!

Anyway, every other day so far has been gorgeous and extremely hot. Yet the children were always in the house. So myself and OH made the decision that we should buy something for the back garden that will hopefully get them out in the fresh air and playing outdoors.

I spent ages looking into what we could get and I decided that I wanted to get a wooden climbing frame. Something that should last a good few years and that they can all use and play on together. I found a website with fab prices on climbing frames and my only issue was which one to go for. Which one had the best combination for what we wanted/needed plus would fit in the garden with room to spare! I showed Thing 4 what climbing frames there were and he obviously wanted the buggest one. Unfortunately our budget didn't cover the £10,000+ climbing frame and I'm sure the neighbours wouldn't have appreciated us using their garden as well as ours to put it in!

Unboxing and Thing 5 got slightly excited even though we had a long day ahead!

After spending almost 2 weeks browsing the Climbing Frames UK website and trying to decide on what I wanted we finally chose the Oriana Prestige climbing frame, although no longer available on the website it is very similar to a few others that are available on there now. It arrived within a week of ordering and it was delivered at 7am in the morning on a day I had chosen. I was so pleased as it gave us most of the day to get it put together before the children came home from school. There were three large boxes, the slide and the telescope. I opened the boxes straight away to find the instruction manual to set to work on the construction, I was more excited than the children!

 The start of the construction process, Thing 5 was 'helping' Uncle David. The tower starts to take shape. 

I enlisted the help of my brother, sister in law and their son to help with the construction process. Whilst awaiting my brothers arrival I started sorting the wood into piles of which parts were required for each page in the instruction booklet. This really helped the whole process as I am sure if we hadn't of done this most of our time would have been spent sorting through all the wood to find the correct pieces.

These 2 were far from helpful, I'm not sure that is how you use a slide but Thing 5 couldn't wait so he had one go and was held on to tightly!

There were hundreds of screws/bolts etc... in all different sizes. Again with these I found it easier to get all the screws/bolts ready that were needed for the next page of construction whilst my brother was working on the previous page, this meant we were all ready and prepared when each stage was complete and we moved onto the next one.

My brother worked hard all day to make sure it was complete by the time the children finished school.

The whole process took around five hours with my brother working on the main construction with myself and my sister in law working on sorting all of the pieces for when he needed them. This routine worked well for us and it helped that it was a lovely sunny day too.

The climbing frame was well worth the investment and the children are out in the garden most days. They like to sit up in the tower part of the climbing frame. The girls will sit up there making loom bands or Thing 5 will sit up there and play with his cars. The swings are very popular, if only we could get a frame with 4 swings on there would be no arguments! I was going to purchase a baby swing seat for Thing 5 but the yellow swing seats shape around his bottom really well and he holds on to the ropes as we swing him gently. The only problem we have is getting him to get off the swing to let someone else have a go. Thing 4 was excited to see I had purchased the telescope as an extra, it was one of his requirements when looking at the climbing frames!

The main tower is finished, complete with telescope!

We would like to add the wrap around playhouse to it at some point but for now they are very happy with the climbing frame and it will definitely be used for years to come.

The finished Oriana Prestige climbing frame complete with Thing 3 and Thing 4 trying it out.