Saturday, 30 August 2014

The last weekend before Back to School, looking back on how we all managed to survive the chaos, and boredom! A rare selfie opportunity from me! Operation house tidy commences asap plus a garden makeover on the cheap?!

So it's the weekend before Back to School Week. I still have one uniform left to buy and name labels to put on another uniform. I have days to go back written down as I have Thing 4 starting Reception class on Tuesday doing half days for three days, Thing 2 starting a new Senior School on Wednesday and Thing 3 starting back in Year 4 at her Junior School on Thursday. If I don't write it down I will have the wrong child at the wrong school on the wrong day!

Thing 4 trying out his new uniform for his first day at School

So we survived the holidays. It hasn't been all fun-packed and busy. It costs too much. We did a day out last week and it costs us £200 for just that day so even if you did one day out a week over the six weeks it would cost a fortune let alone going anywhere on the other days off! I know there are plenty of free or inexpensive things to do too. At the beginning of the holidays we went to the local park a few times, this was when it was very hot and it wasn't long before the children were moaning because they were too hot. It took an afternoon up though by the time we had walked there and back with a toddler in tow!

Days Out. Peppa Pig World and Harry Potter studio tours.

We also had a few birthday celebrations in August so we have been out having meals, birthday lunches and play area parties for friends. Thing 5 turned two and Thing 2 turned eleven on the same day so we had visitors and cake to keep us busy plus a trip to Nando's for lunch. Being a busy birthday month for us it gave us plenty to do to keep us occupied and also meant we caught up with friends and family over the Summer as best we could. Not forgetting the wonderful Harry Potter studio tour we went on for my Dad's 60th birthday, which was a fab day, followed by more celebrations over the weekend.


Things 3 and 4 went blackberry picking together and came home with a bag full of blackberries and some very stained clothes. I couldn't grumble as it was the longest time they had spent together without arguing. They had a lovely time and enjoyed themselves which was the main thing.

The OH only had two days off over the Summer, one day we went to Paulton's Park and Peppa Pig World which was a lovely day, although long and tiring the children really enjoyed it. The next day we did lunch for my Nan's birthday, although OH grumbled that we weren't doing something else on that day. I was a bit miffed to be honest, the previous day had cost us a fortune and on the two days off he wants to be entertained??!!

Eating out! Excuse OH's face, he will kill me for putting this up here! 

So apart from those two days I've single-handedly looked after the kids over the Summer, no days off, no cup of tea remained warm before I could drink it and no room remained tidy for more than two seconds.

So when the OH said that I hadn't done much with them over the Summer, apart from wanting to bash him over the head and send him to parenting classes I pointed out that we had survived the chaos, stress, boredom and fun and now look forward to the start of a new school year. Just because it wasn't six weeks full of days out, doesn't mean we didn't do anything.

Thing 2-4 eating ice creams on one of the hotter days of the Summer

Back to School also marks the start of operation house clear up. Now I am waving off another child to full time school and I am left with only one in the house this should be much easier. However, the one I'm left with resembles a human whirlwind most days and can untidy faster than I tidy, but I will accept the challenge. We also, STILL, have plenty of painting to do. a downstairs bathroom to complete and the front garden to tidy up. These are ongoing projects since the house extension last year but funds and time are telling us No even though OH wants them done asap, as do I. The front garden looks a mess and I would like to pull up to the house and see it looking half decent and not walk through mud to get the front door! Not easy when you need to buy paving slabs with a limited budget.

Finally, I'm adding my selfie. If you read my post a while back about my lazy eye here; Stupid Lazy Eye! you will know that I don't do pictures of myself, even though I would love to join in when photo's are being taken and I would love to take a selfie, lol! So here is a very, very rare selfie that I took on the morning of my Dad's birthday. I thought it was OK enough to share and I managed to get all the Things in the picture too.

Our group selfie with me joining in too!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

BREAKING NEWS. The Stokke True Black exclusive special edition Xplory is coming this Autumn. All black chassis and fabrics combination.

News just coming through from Stokke is the True Black exclusive special edition Xplory is coming this Autumn.

I know quite a few Stokke lovers who have been waiting for this for a long time! An all black Stokke Xplory chassis with black fabrics, although if you wanted to you could change the fabrics if you purchased a separate fabric set, but why would you want to.

The all black is absolutely gorgeous. Every component on the chassis is black to compliment the fabrics, apart from the usual white parts for folding, seat adjustment etc....

This will come as a complete package with carrycot, change bag, parasol etc.... this Autumn at selected retailers.

Stockists will include; Peppermint, Harrods, BabaBoom, My Crib Rocks, Baby Nest & BellBaby as well as Mothercare and Mamas & Papas stores,

No news on RRP as yet. 

Full details and images can be found here; Stokke Xplory True Black

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The downside of not giving your ADHD child their medication, even though there is also an upside to not giving them as well. What to do for the best?!

Our house at this instant, right now has a whirlwind running around it from room to room terrorising the other children. I thought that by age 17 I would never see my child. Not that I don't want to but I thought that teen boys slept in until late, sat on games consoles or went out with their mates for ages on end and only coming back for food or money. In this house it isn't the case, he is here, constantly. He's currently standing in the front room shouting random sentences out aloud and interrupting some quiet time that the younger ones are 'trying' to have. A few moments ago he was upstairs annoying Thing 2 who is quietly making various creations from loom bands. She was quiet until he went up there and then I have screaming and shouting before I have to go and tear them apart. 

Thing 1 who is 17 years old was diagnosed with ADHD with autistic traits at the age of 9. I always thought there was something underlying but throughout Infant School, although there was the usual comments of 'Oh he doesn't sit still', 'If he just concentrated a bit more during class time' 'He's easily distracted' etc..... nobody back then voiced any real concerns. Even through the first couple of years at Junior School he got into, what I would call, normal every day mischief. He got his name on the board, he didn't get on well with some other boys etc... but again nothing major. 

However by Year 5 things were going downhill rapidly. They tried many different things to see if they would help but by then it was too late. I was getting called into school most days. Some days I would drop him off and walk home and by the time I got home I would have a phone call asking to collect him. I will always remember the one day that they had new parents visiting and I was told not to take him into school, that's nice I thought?! 

The whole statement process flew by in a blur to me. Soon after his diagnosis the school were very helpful in getting him statemented as quickly as was possible but then at the end of Year 5 they also said they didn't want him back in Year 6, that's nice I thought again?! 

Anyway, he has flown through Senior School thanks to a fab team there and almost finished a year at college but gave up in the last few weeks, what a waste. So he is now stuck in a rut as to what to do next. 

I digress anyway as I was talking about the here and now. He didn't have his medication this morning, which is a bad thing as it really controls his behaviour, even now at 17 he is a live wire, he is running around the house liked a crazed toddler high on E numbers and generally being annoying. However, there is an upside to not taking his meds. When he isn't running around like a loon, he can be very chatty, A LOT more sociable and he eats. His meds surpress his appetite and he won't eat much at all during the day but then will eat constantly throughout the night, he doesn't sleep much at all. 

So there is no right or wrong. I'm wrong for medicating him according to some and I'm right according to others. You think that every now and again we will have a medication free day and by the afternoon you are really regretting your decision. 

I'm off to scrape him off the ceiling and try and calm down the other children! 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

REVIEW POST; Introducing the CYBEX Solution Q-Fix Group 2 car seat. From approx. 3 up to 12 years. Thing 4, aged 4 years was chief tester!

We recently received a Cybex Solution Q Fix car seat at the Mum of Five house to review and I have to say I am so impressed. With three children still in car seats and having used various makes and models in the past we were pleased to find one that was so easy to fit in the car yet so versatile in its use.

Thing 4, aged 4 years was using a high back booster seat before and I was looking at replacing it as it was looking a bit tired and worn. I also didn't like the fact that he never really look that comfortable in it and we never seemed to have him sitting and strapped in quite right, which isn't good when you are off out in the car. Car seat safety being at the front of every parents mind when it comes to choosing the appropriate car seat for their child.

The Cybex Solution Q Fix in situ in the car and with its chief tester.

When we were offered the chance to review the Cybex Solution Q Fix we accepted. From the information given it looked good and we couldn't wait to receive it. Once it arrived we took it out of the box. It was in two pieces, the booster seat style base and the back. Taking a quick glance at the instructions, which were very easy to follow, the OH fitted the seat in seconds. With illustrative pictures as well as written instructions in the manual we found it very easy to connect the two parts of the seat together and then use the Isofix points to fit it in our car, a 2014 Ford Galaxy.

The car seat also came with a handy information sheet on all different makes and models of cars and where the seat can be fitted in each car when using the Isofix Connect feature. Ours, for example, can only have it fitted in the middle row of seats as there are no Isofix points in the back two seats. The chart was very handy though as we were unsure at first where it could be situated in our car.

The Isofix points in place in our car. They were very easy to locate and install, however you can also use the Isofix guides if needed.

 We have done many short journeys since the car seat arrived and one long journey in which Thing 4 fell asleep. Usually his head would be all over the place with the movement of the car and the lack of any real head support in his old car seat. There was none of this with the Cybex Solution Q-Fix. Thanks to its patented head protection and optimised reclining head rest, Thing 4 was comfortable whilst he snoozed and his head was nice and snug, so no achey neck! There is 3 positions on the head rest.

Alongside the headrest feature is also an array of other features including;

  • Automatic height and width adjustment (11 positions)
  • Optimised Linear Side-impact Protection (L.S.P. System Plus)
  • ISOFIX Connect System
  • Air ventilation system

In order to provide the best possible protection and comfort for the entire duration of use, the Cybex Solution Q-fix car seat features an integrated height and width adjustment - a new safety function for flexible and optimal alignment of the seat to the child's size. With a one-handed mechanism and 11 adjustment possibilities, the height and width of the seat can be adjusted simultaneously. The seat can grow up to 8 cm in width and up to 20 cm in height. The child thereby always remains in the optimal protection zone of the head and shoulder protectors and never feels constricted, even towards the end of the usage period.

The air ventilation system provides a comfortable seating temperature even on hot days. There is a mesh of ventilation channels that run through the backrest and seat components. Air can circulate through ventilation holes on the front of the seat and under the seat cover, and is channeled away from the child by additional openings in the backrest. This ensures a comfortable sitting temperature even on hot days.

The L.S.P System Plus is extra side impact protection that fits easily to the side of the seat. The new width adjustment as well as the L.S.P work together to systematically reduce the force of a side impact collision, at the same time the body's kinetic energy resulting from an accident is absorbed at a very early stage and the head is actively directed into a secure position.

Side view of the Solution Q Fix car seat. Here you can see the L.S.P side impact protection and the Isofix points. 

The Isofix Connect system is very straightforward and easy to use, with an easy one-click installation. They also fold away underneath the car seat base when not in use or for when the seat is used in cars where Isofix isn't available. 

We could have used the seat without the Isofix fitting. If we had put the car seat in one of the two back seats in our car then Isofix wouldn't have been an option but I preferred to make full use of the Isofix as it made the seat feel a lot more sturdy and fixed into the car, something that our old car seat lacked a lot.

There are two fabrics variations for the Q Fix car seat. The comfort version comes in ten cosy and comfortable colour combinations. Q Fix Plus comes with a more rugged, hard wearing twill effect in a denim look and is available in five different colours. 

Car seat specifications are;

·   Length: L 41.2 cm, W 52.9/61.2 cm, H 61.9-81.7 cm
·   Weight: 7.2 kg
Our overall verdict is that the Cybex Solution Q Fix gets a huge thumbs up from us. The Isofix Connect that was so simple to use makes it easy and quick to move it from car to car if need be and also means it has a secure fix when situated in the car. The fully adjustable seat height and width was also very easy to use and we could adjust it to the right level we needed to ensure Thing 4 was comfortable and the head rest was situated at the right height for him and would continue to do so as he grows. As it is also a Group 2 car seat it will also last up to age 12 years so it is a long lasting car seat when used in the correct way so well worth the initial investment. 

Full details can be found here at; Cybex Online. The RRP for the car seat is £190 and can be found at many leading retailers including Mamas and Papas and Mothercare. 

CYBEX have also recently been awarded 2 Which? Best Buy awards for the Autumn Gold Aton Q (with Isofix Base-Fix) £295 and the Autumn Gold Aton Q, £185 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

NEW Pink Lining prints for the Autumn Winter 2014 collection. Birdcage, Cream bows on red and Hydrangea arrive to grace the fabric of various Pink Lining bags and accessories.

The eagerly awaited NEW Pink Lining prints are here! There are three new prints to choose from called Hydrangea, Cream bows on red and Birdcage.

The prints are available across most of the styles of bags including the Yummy Mummy as well as the mini Yummy Mummy plus the Twin Bag, Mama et Bebe messenger bag and more.

Birdcage design is a cream background with blue birds and birdcages with a yellow and pink floral pattern repeated over the whole bag. It is very vibrant and a pattern that really stands out. The turquoise bluey colour of the birdcages and birds is lovely.

Birdcage design on a Yummy Mummy bag

Cream bows on red is another twist on a classic. I have the navy bows a few years back and it still remains a firm favourite of mine. The red is very vibrant too with the subtle cream bows all over it makes for a very eye catching bag.

Cream bows on red on a Mini Yummy Mummy bag

Hydrangea is a lovely bluey green colour on the background, not overly bright but gorgeous enough to make the pink flowers pop out from the fabric. With a lush purple colouring to the shoulder strap and to the cupcake on the Yummy Mummy bag, this is another gorgeous design too.
Hydrangea on a Bramley Tote bag

Prices range from £15 for the bottle holder, £25 for the wallets right up to £85 for the Twin bag with prices varying in between for the other styles of bags.

These bags are well worth the price and with other designs available across their range such as Pink Flamingo, In the Mews and Wise Owl as well as the gorgeous Grape Bows and other prints there is so many bags to choose from with both style and print combinations.

Visit Pink Lining here to view the full range, the bags are also available from other Pink Lining stockists.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Watching the Duggars, 19 kids and counting. The other side to family life that is never shown on the surface and life is never always what it seems in any family. Raising children the best way we can.

I admit to being a fan of 19 kids and Counting. Going right back to the first episodes of  '14 children and pregnant again'! I love seeing how the family has grown and the older children have progressed with their own lives.

I also love to see how the whole family work together both with the running of the home and looking after the children. Something that my family doesn't do! I sit there as I watch and I think 'My children don't do that' and 'My house doesn't look like that' and I only have five children to look after.

However the Duggars aren't what others would call a typical family. They have strong beliefs in a faith that I will be honest in that I don't know a lot about it. Some say it is almost 'cult like' whereas others agree with it and others don't. If it works for the Duggars and always has done then it is not for others to judge on another families beliefs or culture. What I do know is that this belief and faith that they follow has been instilled into the children and remains very much part of their lives in all that they do.

Not knowing much about the Duggar faith I did a quick Google and most of the links that came up from typing in 'Duggar faith' came up with mostly negative things about the way they live.

I'm not one to judge others on the way their children are raised. There are so many different faiths, religions, cultures and ways of life nowadays that children all over the world are raised with a different view on life learnt from their parents, family and influences around them. So what makes others feel it's ok to comment on the way the Duggars raise their children? Or on how any one of us raises our children?

For years the Duggars have been in the public eye due to their successful TV show. Of course, as with most reality TV shows, we only get to see the edited versions. I'm often commenting to the OH how their children are so well behaved and you never see a tantrum or a meltdown from a young Duggar. However, this probably happens quite a lot but it's just edited along the way.  Also, even though it is well known about the Duggars faith, it is never widely spoken about in detail on the TV show. Whilst they discuss certain aspects of the way they live and tell us the reason why, there isn't ever a full disclosure on the faith they follow.

However, why should they have to explain themselves? I watch the programme to see a couple raise their 19 children. To see what day to day life is like raising a family that large and the challenges they face. I enjoy seeing the children grow and how far the family have come since I started watching all those years ago and Yes I do sit and wish my children were better behaved and more helpful around the house like the Duggar children. Some believe the Duggar children do too much, that the older ones are raising the younger ones whilst Mum and Dad are just making more babies to add to the brood. However, although I kind of agree that it might be the case I think there should be some helping out along the way. It's responsibility, it's growing up, it's part of being an older sibling. The children should help out, they should have chores or they end up like mine. No help at all, messy, lazy and unwilling to do anything for themselves.

Regardless of what others think about  children raising children, the Duggars views on contraception, the homeschooling, the lack of social interaction, the unusual courtship routine or the children sharing rooms, this is the way the Duggars have decided to raise their children. Even without the faith that they follow there are many families out there  that home school, that don't let their children interact with others and many, many large families who have multiple children sharing rooms.  If this is the way they choose to raise their children then why is up to others to say what is right or wrong.

Who is raising their children the right way? Is there a right way? Did I miss the handbooks being handed out after I gave birth telling me that there was only one way to raise children and I had to conform to what I was told was right or risk being dragged through the wringer by others who felt it ok to comment on the way I parent?

This has kind of turned into a ranty post and I didn't mean it to. My point being though, why do others feel it's ok to judge on the way others raise their children just because they don't agree with a particular aspect of their lives? I'm sure if myself and OH were in a TV programme we would be inundated with negativity on our lack of discipline for starters! Yet whilst the children need more discipline they are not lacking in love, warmth and support in their lives and we are raising them to the best of our abilities.

There are many families out there living differently to what we do but neither us nor them are doing it wrong, just in a different way.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Our first, and certainly not the last, Livie and Luca shoe purchase, the fox grey shoes. Autumn/Winter collection now online too. They are a must have for any toddler winter wardrobe.

In the past week I have shouted from the rooftops about our recent purchase but I am so in love! I am shoe obsessed so I am always on the lookout for something different, something eye catching yet still comfortable for a toddlers feet.

A couple of months ago I was undecided about whether to buy a pair of shoes I had seen on the Livie and Luca website, in the end I opted for a trip into Clarks and got a pair from there. I was disappointed that I had done so as Thing 5 ended up in the same pair of shoes as most other toddlers his age, or so it seemed. They were a lovely looking pair of shoes which is why they seemed to be quite popular I suppose but I should have bought the Livie and Luca's!

Anyway, two months later and Thing 5 has grown a whole size so I was faced with another shoe purchase, it's a hard life! That's when the fox grey shoes on the Livie and Luca UK Facebook page caught my eye. They were so cute and certainly something different from other shoe styles around. We had to have them.

The Fox Grey that we purchased, showing our Livie and Luca love! Thing 5 was being destructive and tipped the red heart glitter on the floor moments before I took this picture but it worked out well in the end! 

Livie and Luca's tagline reads 'adorable shoes for adorable feet' and they certainly live up to that tagline. Made from brightly coloured leathers with flexible soles there is a design to suit every style and occasion. Each shoe is handmade and they use remains of high quality leather that would otherwise be discarded, making each pair of shoes as unique as the child that wears them.

The fox grey shoes are adorable. With blue and cream leather, as well as the gorgeous red fox on the side of the shoe with his tail wrapping around the back of the shoe and onto the velcro fastening. New for this Autumn/Winter is the new fox navy shoes. The same gorgeous design but with navy leather and a brown fox rather than red. This style is equally as scrummy with just a colour adjustment for the new season. I would definitely recommend this style for the Autumn/Winter season.

New Fox Navy colour for this season.

I now have my eye on a pair of boots to complete our Winter footwear wardrobe. The Hungry Mocha, nom nom nom!! A mocha leather exterior with white chomping teeth on the back of the boot, natural leather lining and velcro fastening.

Hungry Mocha, is definitely next on my list. Hopefully soon we can get our hands on these gorgeous boots.

With a gorgeous array of girls shoes too, Blossom Grey and Hedgie Navy are just two of my favourites, they cater for boys and girls both young and old so head over to the website for shoes that are full of character and lots of fun.

See the full range here at;

Friday, 15 August 2014

Back to School time. The vital piece of uniform that always lets you down, or falls down anyway! Introducing LITTLE GRIPPERS socks, the socks that stay put! Ideal for school, sports and also a baby & toddler range.

So here's how it goes. You go into school on your first day, brand new uniform, perfectly plaited hair, neatly packed book bags and your Mum crying because you're still her baby.

On the way out you look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards, you've lost your new cardigan, you now have one plait and the other side of your hair is loose and then your Mum spies your socks.

Those gorgeous knee length socks that looked so perfectly lined up at the knee and pure white are now slouching around your ankles and grubby grey and your Mum puts her head in her hands!

My Mum was obsessed with knee length socks but then 'back in the day' I think we all wore them. I spent most of my school days pulling them up to my knees again as they kept slipping down my legs and they would soon end up overstretched due to all of the pulling on them and they just fell down even more. So we then took to rolling them down anyway because they were so annoying.

The wonderful people at Little Grippers have solved the problem! This is how it works;

Little Grippers “Stay On Technology” is a performance enhancing, natural, adhesive silicon applied to our products by robots. It gently adheres to skin leaving no residue. It sticks rather than grips, thereby minimising pressure and discomfort, moving and stretching, acting as a second skin.It is hypoallergenic, 100% natural, and is dermatologist approved providing no skin sensitisation or irritation. Our “Stay On Technology” is anti slip, long lasting and renews itself with each wash. It is machine washable and proven to survive extensive wash and wear tests.
Not only do they do school socks but also sports socks, baby and toddler socks and baby gifts. I was sent the school socks to review and thought it perfect timing to do it now so we can all get prepared for when September and Back to School comes around. Thing 2 and Thing 3 were my helpers for this review and we were sent shoe sizes 8.5-12.5 and 12.5-3.5. When they arrived I unpackaged them and gave them a good stretch and a feel! They felt really soft and comfy and are made from 74% Cotton, 24% Polyamide, 2% Elastane for the black, white and navy colours and 47% Cotton, 29% Polyester, 23% Polyamide, 1% Elastane for the grey marl colour. 

L-R; navy knee high. nlack over the knee and white knee high socks

Each sock has the size clearly knitted on the sole for easy pairing, something that I hate doing in this house especially if everyone has the same colour socks! They also have the Gecko knitted on the bottom of each sock too.

The bottom of the socks are clearly marked with size

The big test was, do they really stay up all day?. After spending my school years as mentioned above I didn't believe that there was a sock capable of staying put but Little Grippers really do stay put. Thanks to its Stay On Technology it really works. Thing 4, aged 8 years, says that when she first put them on it felt a bit weird but she soon forgot about the silicon strip inside the sock and the socks did stay up, all day. There was no pulling up of socks, no itchy legs as they slipped down.

Thing 4 tried them out and loved them.

As well as ankle socks I have also found in the past that there are also ankle socks that like to slip down and into the back of your shoe making walking very uncomfortable and so Little Grippers also do ankle socks as well as stay put baby and toddler socks. Hopefully stopping the pulling off of socks but little ones who then like to throw them on the floor when out and about and you end up with odd socks all over the place and not a pair to wear! 
I would highly recommend these socks for all ages. I love the knee high socks as they look lovely and smart for school and I'm also keen to get my hands on some toddler socks for Thing 5 who is forever taking his socks off!

All available at Little Grippers

                                                     Some of the baby socks that are available.

Unisex sports socks are £9 a pair and available in red, royal blue, navy, black and white. 
Girls knee high socks are £4 a pair and available in black, navy, grey and white. 
Boys knee high socks are also £4 and available in grey and black. Boys short socks are also £4 and available on grey and black. 
Girls over the knee socks are available at £5 a pair and come in navy, black, white and grey. 
Baby and Toddler socks are available in 22 different colours and designs and vary in price from £3.50 for plain colours, £4 for patterns and £5 for warm and cosy socks. They also come on gift sets of 3 pairs in various colours and designs per pack. In sizes Newborn up to 2-3 years.
In December 2013 Little Grippers also won a Hat Trick of awards from Bizzie Baby including a Gold award for their girls knee high socks and Silver awards for their boys school ankle socks and also the baby/toddler socks.

Sports socks are also available. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Relying too much on having your phone close to hand rather than concentrating on the things that really matter. Reducing 'tech time' for everyone.

I am one of those people I will be the first to admit it. It's constant phone checking, checking emails, checking FB and Twitter. The constant need to see what's going on, what others are up to. For me it's a constant link to the outside world when you are stuck at home with 2 young children.

However, it wasn't always like this. I should be taking those two children and going out and meeting people or if it's a day in we should be in doing something productive. How times have changed though. If my parents went out for the day they were uncontactable until they arrived home at night. If we as children went out we gave a specific time we would be back and that was it.

If we went out to a restaurant with friends we all had each others undivided attention throughout the whole meal. No football scores checking or making sure the babysitter is getting on ok. No googling to check that what you just said was right, usually because your relaxed night out for a bit of gossip has been turned into a heated debate fuelled by alcohol and everyone at the table is right!

I was sat in my parents garden at the weekend enjoying the sunshine. My Nan turned up for afternoon tea and as usual she had brought her crossword with her. This is a crossword that has been puzzling her all week. She's done a good job so far but she's stuck on the last few and she HAS to finish it. So we were all sat around and the crossword gets passed from one person to another. Making myself sound really old I'm going to say 'Back in the day...'! However, back in the day you would all have a go at the crossword and hopefully finish it for her but if you didn't you had to wait for the next weeks magazine to know what the answers were. There I was with my phone in my hand checking the answer to the last part of the crossword she needed to complete. Cheating, actually cheating!! Rather than using my brain, or anyone else using there brains. I know it meant that my Nan could put the crossword down as she loves it when it's finished but that wasn't the point!

Also in the evenings I often sit and look around at what everyone is doing. Two children on their iPods, one on her Kindle, one on the Xbox and the OH on the PC. I'm usually watching TV or using my phone or the laptop to write a blog post etc.... Where is the family time? The time where there was only one TV to huddle around and only 4 channels to choose from. The board game evenings because those four channels had nothing to watch on, or heaven forbid that we might actually sit and talk about our day instead of tweeting about it or updating our FB status telling everyone else instead.

So I'm calling the shots. Restricting tech time and more family time. You don't realise it until it's too late and you're all sat in different rooms of the house staring at PC screens or creating Minecraft worlds, flying imaginary space craft through a made up world full of grown men who I'm sure think it's real whilst you talk over mic's to people who you've never met but you have more conversation with in an evening than you do with anyone else in your own home.

It's madness, it's unsociable and it's not healthy. Everything in moderation they say, that includes tech time!

Double, triple, quadruple birthday celebrations. Thing 2 and Thing 5 celebrate their birthday on the same day and our busy August birthday month. We all have one of those months, right?!

Double, triple, quadruple birthday celebrations!!

The birthday cake, if you have a Costco card you must buy these cakes. Extremely scrummy and fab value for money. They are huge and it's still staring at me every time I open the fridge door!

Yes so I didn't plan that one very well did I and so on her ninth birthday our daughter got a baby brother for her birthday! I didn't gift wrap him but he was there ready and waiting for when she woke up that morning. Not quite what she asked for but certainly something a little different?!

I knew their birthdays were going to be close, my due date was August 11th although Thing 4 was 2 weeks late so there could have been a slight gap. However, Thing 5 decided to make an appearance and completely upstage Thing 2's birthday. She didn't mind, we had a very chilled out day as I had just given birth that morning. We went to the hospital around 11pm, I gave birth at 1.29am and we were home by 5.30am so I was slightly tired. If I remember rightly I sent the OH for Macdonalds for everyone for lunch and we spent the day with visitors for both the birthday girl and new addition of the birthday boy.

She didn't mind that day, she had a new baby brother and enjoyed having cuddles with him whenever she could. Also showing him off to the visitors that had come to visit her on her birthday. However, the past couple of birthdays she has expressed her annoyance a bit more. It's difficult. Last year we went bowling and out for lunch and we all had a good time. Five children makes a small party in itself and they had fun, ending up with visitors coming and going throughout the afternoon/evening to help share the birthday cake.

Thing 5 with the balloons that he refused to share, his gorgeous birthday nappy from Tots Bots and his Henry Hugglemonster Roarback toy that he got for his birthday. 

This year she wanted to go out, she wanted to see friends and ideally didn't want to share her day! We still had a good day and we went out for lunch followed by a birthday tea party at home with various relatives popping in and out with presents and plenty of cake eating went on. However, she really wanted to do something just for herself. It's a difficult one as Thing 5 is still small and so days out that would suit the other four wouldn't be suitable for Thing 5. They wanted a trip to Gravity Force, an indoor trampolining centre but we couldn't dump Thing 5 on his birthday and go off and have fun without him.

Nando's for lunch. It seems Thing 5 thought his toy tasted better, present opening and Thing 4 enjoying his chocolate frozen yoghurt.

It's also my brothers birthday on the same day as well as a few friends so it makes for a very busy day. We made it fun and we made it a special day for them both but I know as they get older we will have to have separate parties, outings etc... on different days with their different circles of friends.

Trying out the birthday hair chalks, best £1 ever spent! 

We all have that one month where it seems to be everyones birthday that we know and we walk out of the card shop with a box full of cards rather than a bag! August is our busy month, my Dad, my Nan, my brother, two children, two cousins and lots of friends too.

Which month is your busy month?! Do you have children that share the same birthday? 
Super Busy Mum

Friday, 8 August 2014

Our visit to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio tours. Birthday celebrations and a fab day had by all. An amazing day out.

It was my Dad's 60th birthday celebrations last weekend and on Friday, the day of his birthday, we had arranged to take all of the children to the Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tours.

The entrance to the studios

The Great Hall doors and Grandad with Thing 3 and Thing 4 standing in front of the cupboard under the stairs.

It was booked a couple of months ago and when I told Thing 4 where we were going he asked constantly how many sleeps until we go. Thankfully he forgot for a little while and then when we had a week to go I reminded him of our trip and we counted down until the big day.

Our journey to our destination was surprisingly quick. Having to use the M25 we set off with enough time ahead of us just incase we hit traffic. We sailed down the motorway though and we were there with over an hour to spare. Once we had organised everyone out of the three cars that travelled down and the children had a drink and a snack we headed round to the entrance.

A couple of images from the Great Hall

All of the wands and a picture of the Gryffindor dormitory

I quickly nipped to the ticket office as I was told that I could get a birthday badge for my Dad which he wore with pride all the way around the tour. We didn't have to queue for long before being ushered through some double doors into a big room with a large crowd of other visitors. Once inside we were given a quick talk by the lady on the rules of the tour and what we were about to see and do as we went through Building J and K. On the walls there were screens displaying all of the different posters from all of the films and in all different languages from the posters that were shown around the world too. Once that quick talk was finished we went through 3 doors into a cinema screen room. We all took a seat and waited to see what was going to be on screen. The lady joked with us that we were about to sit through every single film back to back, which I'm sure plenty of Harry potter enthusiasts in the room wouldn't have minded! As we sat through a short talk on screen from Harry, Hermione and Ron I couldn't help thinking how everyone in the room that had just walked through three doors were going to leave through one single door to the right of us (I had my practical thinking head on!). As the film finished we were all surprised to see what happened next and lets just say that the entrance to the tour was magical. As it was my Dad's birthday he got called up to open the large doors that led into the Great Hall, which he felt very privileged to be doing!

The Great Hall was amazing, it felt so good to be standing there looking at all of the props, costumes etc.... On exiting the Great Hall you follow around into the main building which house so many room scenes from the film. The Gryffindor dormitory and common room, Hagrids house, costumes, props, broomstick making demonstrations, one of the large staircases and much, much more. It was here that you could have a go at flying a broomstick or sitting in the flying car. All done on green screen but the results are fab and the children, plus my Dad and the OH, all loved having a go at this and we bought the pictures to show they flew on a broomstick!

You really have to take your time through this section as there is so much to look at and as they tell you at the beginning, it is one way so you can't go back so make sure you take your time to look around. From this building you head outside where you can try out some Butterbeer, not alcoholic! My Dad described it as a caramel flavoured cream soda with cream on top. It needs to be tried!

Diagon Alley, including Ollivanders wand shop amongst all of the other shops.

Outside is also the night bus, the wooden bridge, the Weasleys house, the old Potter cottage and more. It was a lovely day so it was nice to get out in the fresh air before entering the next building. There is also the opportunity to grab something to eat and drink in this area. Eating and drinking wasn't permitted in the tour which is understandable.

In the next building was all of the drawings and ideas from the making of the film, the different masks and faces of characters, Diagon Alley and at the end of the tour is the most amazing model of Hogwarts. Showing so much detail of every aspect of the whole school it really was breathtaking and you really need to stand back and study it from every viewpoint to take it all in.

The amazing Hogwarts, these are just two pictures of so many that I took from different view points, it was amazing.

A quick trip through Ollivanders wand shop at the end leads you into the gift shop. And yes, I did try pulling a wand box off of the shelf just to see if they were all lose. Who doesn't try it?? It was just floor to ceiling shelves full of wand boxes.

Wands, wands and more wands!

There is so much there to see that I can't write about it all and I took so many photos that I can't include them all on this post, unfortunately! It is a day trip I would very highly recommend, if you ever get the opportunity then I would defintely say do it! I would definitely go again as I am sure that there are so many different things that I would see that I maybe didn't see last time, there was so much to take in.

We had a group of six adults and seven children ages ranging from 2 years to 60 years old and they all enjoyed it. Everybody saw something different and were calling each other to come and see things that they liked. My Dad had a fab day, he loves watching the films and so to see everything at the tour was really special.