Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Gallery - My Weekend

As Tara is lazy nosey busy, she's chosen a simple theme for The Gallery this week - My Weekend.

I should imagine more than half the entries this week will contain photos of conference halls, booze, Sarah Brown or dildos.  Blimey, I never thought I'd use Sarah Brown and dildos in the same sentence but there's a first time for everything!

Yes it was CyberMummy this weekend.  THE parenting blogger event of the year which was much hyped and talked about for many months and I'm glad to say I got to go.

I had a blast!

It was a whirlwind day and I didn't take my camera - just my iPhone and I'm actually gutted as I could have got so many great pics.

I deliberated over which photo to choose for ages but eventually I decided on this one, which sums up the weekend nicely.  I'm actually surprised there was any left after Jane's repeated visits to Rowan's table of delights!

I have (ahem) already taken advantage of the £40 off and I have 6 large bottles of beautiful prosecco that have just arrived on my doorstep.

Cheers! *hic*

For more on my CyberMummy experience you can read these posts:
I Laughed, I Cried, I Ate, I Drank...I Went To CyberMummy
Silent Sunday #24

Now head on over and check out all the other entries...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

I Laughed, I Cried, I Ate, I Drank...I Went To CyberMummy

Well, there will be a million and one posts like this appearing over the next week or so I'm sure but anyone who attended the fabulous CyberMummy this weekend is bound to want to share their experience.

I'm exhausted but I'm happy. Here is my tale.

At the beginning of this year I was wobbling. After a nasty experience with someone I met online at the end of last year I didn't know if blogging would be my thing. However, thanks to the marvellous support of everyone I've met in the last 6 months I found my blogging feet.

Back in April, when there were only 12 tickets left and in a panic that I was going to miss out, I nervously decided to bag a ticket for CyberMummy.

It was one of the best decisions I have made.

The Brewery in London is a truly amazing venue and I was completely overwhelmed by the organisation and attention to detail that had gone into the day.

I attended a couple of the talks/panels that were laid on throughout the day and they were great - I am so glad I attended the session that was led by Liz Scarff from Save The Children. It was a given considering my choice to become a volunteer for them back in February. Liz gave a truly inspirational talk on how bloggers can work with charities and use blogs to make a huge difference. Rosie, Sian and Josie talked about their work with Save The Children - thankfully Michelle was sat next to me and passed me a tissue! A firm reminder that blogging isn't all about freebies.

Now I don't really want to rave on and on about how fantastic the day was (it was) as I know there were so many of my blogging friends who couldn't attend for various reasons and that made me so sad - you know who you are. I do have to say this though - everyone I met throughout the day was amazing, lovely, gorgeous, funny, talented and downright bloody marvellous. I wish I could name you all but this post would be a mile long!  There were quite a few people I didn't get to speak to enough and quite a few I missed totally but it was a whirlwind day.

Everyone lived up to their blogging personalities and told me the same (although they may have been drunk?).  I did fox a few people with my new dark hair despite my CyberMummy Meet & Greet post.  Just for the record, I was the one with an inflatable panda who is hereby known as 'Percy the luckiest panda in the world'.

CyberMummy is, quite simply, made by the amazing bloggers that are a part of it.

This was cemented even further by the truly amazing Crowdsourced Keynote Speakers (Nickie made me cry for the second time!) who were the climax of the event...well, the climax not counting the big party afterwards.

My journey home the next day was the only downside to my weekend - Virgin and Arriva Trains you truly are rubbish - but when I was greeted on the platform by my husband and my daughter (who screamed "Mummy! Mummy!" all the way) the stresses of it all just melted away.

For anyone hesitating about attending next year...don't. Yes there are freebies (an obscene amount) but don't let that be the reason to book a ticket - you need to go to experience the awesomeness of it all and feel the sheer power of 450 talented women (and a handful of men) under one roof.

Go, have fun, learn, eat, drink and make new friends.  You won't regret it for a second - even if it is more exhausting than child birth.

Silent Sunday #24

Silent Sunday

Friday, 24 June 2011

Flashback Friday - Scary Bear

You think of childrens theme parks and you think of Disney World maybe...or perhaps the recently opened Peppa Pig World in this country. You have visions of people dressed in fantastic character costumes delighting the children!

Even now with holiday parks such as Haven and you think of lovable characters such as Rory The Tiger or Bradley Bear. Ah, how fabulous.

So, what was on offer at our holiday park when my Sister and I were kids?

A big moth-eaten scary old bear that's what!

My Sister and I sitting on the lap of a very scary bear

I'm useless with ages but I'm guessing that I'm about 5 or 6 in this photo (I'm the one on the right) which would put the year at about 1979/1980.

Every time my Sister and I see this photo we end up in hysterics laughing at the state of the bear.  This was obviously taken in the days when you could sit on a bears knee to have your photo taken (what a shame!).  I do believe there is another take of this photo where my Sister and I are looking totally horrified but I can't find it.

I'm not surprised we were looking horrified, just look at the state of the bear. Look at his shoes sticking out the bottom of the costume. Look at his eyes! 

It's a wonder we didn't have nightmares if I'm honest.

Now head over to Cafebebe and check out the other entries and why not join in yourself?  The link up has been struggling a little the past few weeks - I know I've not joined in because of holiday and other commitments - so let's keep this wonderful linky alive!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Gallery - 3 Word Gallery

That Tara over at Sticky Fingers has come up with a gem this week (not that she doesn't always, obviously).  She's pinching using the idea from Simon Mayo's radio show - he does a 3 Word Thursday where listeners give 3 words which sum up their day/week/life. That's it, just 3 words.  So Tara is having a 3 Word Wednesday today.

Simple for me.  Please don't hate me but my 3 words are:

Want Another Holiday

I know, I know... I've only been home a week!  I'm not a greedy person but I need to say it as it's how I'm feeling.

The only downside to going on holiday is coming home. Obviously I love seeing my family and friends but I always suffer badly with 'holiday blues' after a great trip abroad.

The thing is though, I'm not the only one with holiday blues.

Mini Cheddar keeps saying to us "Go back to Italy".  Here's why...

Mini Cheddar And Cat

Mini Cheddar And Daddy

Mini Cheddar And Her Friend Rhiannan

Mini Cheddar her Friend Ryleigh Stroking A Baby Chick

Mini Cheddar Chatting To The Locals

Mini Cheddar And Mummy

Mini Cheddar Dancing In The City Of Lucca

Mini Cheddar Feeding Ringo The Goat

Mini Cheddar Excited About Ice Cream

Mini Cheddar Mid-Play

Mini Cheddar Playing In The Dirt

Mini Cheddar Post-Swimming

Now head on over and check out all the other entries...

Monday, 20 June 2011

How To Keep Your Kids Content & Calm When Travelling

Having blogged about a great child-friendly holiday already, I know that a lot of people out there can struggle travelling with the kids.

It comes from trying to keep them entertained in cars, at the airport, on flights and so on.  Last year when we went away Mini Cheddar was only 13 months old but fast forward just over a year and I felt a bit jittery about our recent holiday to Italy.  How was I going to keep a 2 year old entertained on the plane?

Tray Kit Image Showing Packaging
I wanted some new fun hand luggage for Mini Cheddar. I went out with the intention of purchasing something like a Trunki but they looked quite bulky for hand luggage (sadly we were travelling on a budget airline with limited space) when I saw them in the shop. Then I saw a product called the TrayKit.

It looked just what we needed - something small and practical.  I hadn't heard of it before so I did some research and found out the product had appeared on Dragons Den and secured the financial backing of Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden.  I was intrigued so I contacted them explaining that I was surprised I had never heard of the product and they very kindly sent me one for Mini Cheddar to trial on her holidays!

TrayKit With Tray Open
The TrayKit is designed to be a carry-on backpack which you can use by strapping it trays in trains and planes and you can also attach to the back of the front seat in the car.  It provides an extendable play surface with raised tray sides so the toys don't fall out on the floor.

TrayKit All Packed UpI bought a couple of new books, a doodle pad, some new crayons and pencils and a couple of new cheap toys to keep Mini Cheddar entertained.  I added a few of her old favourites like Bobsie Rabbit and her Minnie Mouse sunglasses for when we arrived in the sunshine!

To use it as a backpack was a bit difficult for Mini Cheddar as she's only 2 (the TrayKit is recommended for 3+ years) but she was able to carry it with the handle on the top.  So I would say the backpack element would be more appropriate for slightly older children.  The size of it (27cm x 8cm x 34cm) is perfect for travelling but it holds a lot.

Mini Cheddar Using The TrayKitOnce onboard the plane Mini Cheddar was eager to trial her new TrayKit and it was a great hit.  The fact the tray had sides meant her crayons and pencils didn't roll onto the floor which would have been a nightmare on the plane.  Unfortunately we didn't get to extend the tray on the plane as we flew with Ryanair and they aren't renowned for their leg room!

The toys and books in the TrayKit kept Mini Cheddar entertained the whole flight and she loved it.  We would heartily recommend this product to anyone who travels.  Even if you don't travel abroad it's great to use in the car (there is a strap included to attach to the seat in front) - we even used it in the car in Italy.  I should imagine it would be great on trains too.  We've also used it to take to other places where Mini Cheddar can use it on the floor.

You can purchase them for £26.97 from the Content & Calm website and I know they also stock them now in Sainsburys and Boots as I've seen them there since.

Finally a short clip of Mini Cheddar enjoying her TrayKit:

This is not a sponsored post.  
We were sent a TrayKit but all views, opinions, photographs and videos are entirely my own.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

It's Bumpy!

Everyone in Italy loved Mini Cheddar.

She would get so much attention from waiters, from hotel staff, from general public - from everyone.

Bumpy In His Napkin BedOn our last full day we were in Pisa and had some lunch at a pizzeria right next to the leaning tower. Mini Cheddar caught the eye of one of the waiters so much so that, before we left, he ran to the market stall next door and bought her a little Pinocchio* keyring.

Mini Cheddar was delighted.

As she danced Pinocchio from her fingers on the walk back to the hotel she was in her buggy ready for an afternoon nap. My husband pushed her through the cobbled streets.

Later on, nap done with (for all of us!) we were ready to head back out.

Bumpy Dancing
"Where my Bumpy gone?"

"Where's what sweetie?" I said in reply to Mini Cheddars question.

"Find Bumpy please Mummy"

Cue confused looks between my husband and I until eventually it dawned on us.

As my husband had pushed the buggy with Mini Cheddar and a dancing Pinocchio through the cobbled streets of Pisa he'd said something...

"Ooooh it's bumpy" were the words from his mouth, trying to have a laugh with our daughter about the cobbles.
Bumpy Eating Ice Cream
"Bumpy!" squealed Mini Cheddar as she continued to dance Pinocchio.

We still haven't the heart to tell her his name is actually Pinocchio so he's still called Bumpy and always will be.

*The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi (Lorenzini) from Tuscany, Italy.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Gallery - Dads

The Gallery took a holiday last week which was very lucky as so did I!  How lucky am I that, as yet, I've not missed a gallery (lucky or sad)...I only got off the plane from Italy at 5pm yesterday so it's been a bit of a scramble to get this post prepared.

I didn't want to miss this as it's 'Dads'.

I could write about what a great Dad my husband is to Mini Cheddar but I think that I've talked about that a few times.

So this is a post dedicated to my Dad.

My Dad is a great man.  He's done so much with his life and I'll always be proud of that - he's run local committees, been a local councillor and a core member of the community, he's even been to the Queens Garden Party (oooh get him!).  He has strong opinions and can sometimes be set in ways but he's the first to admit that and I love him for his honesty.  I love the fact he loves his golf and has himself a hobby that keeps him fit and active.

He has always worked hard and looked after his family financially.  Mum and Dad always went without when we were younger and they didn't have much money to splash about.  Now my parents are financially secure and they are loving their retirement...and I love them.

He's also the perfect Grandad to Mini Cheddar and she loves him dearly.

If I'd known about the Gallery theme before today I would have easily captured the perfect moment yesterday at Liverpool airport.  Dad came to pick us up and 10 nights without Mini Cheddar seeing her Grandad sent her into squeals of excitement and stamping of her feet and then a mad run towards him for a big cuddle.

Sadly, I didn't capture the moment but I'll share with you one of my favourite pictures I took of Mini Cheddar when she was only 6 months old and her Grandad - my wonderful Dad.  It's not exactly highlighting my photographic skills, far from it, but I love it for the look on my Dads face and the touch of Mini Cheddars hand on his face.

Mini Cheddar And Her Grandad

Now head on over and check out all the other entries...

Monday, 13 June 2011

Anything To Avoid The Housework

I should have been busy sorting the house, trying to tidy up and get organised after having our bedroom re-decorated.  I should have been cooking.  I should have been cleaning. I should have been packing for the holiday which I may be on by the time you read this.

I was doing none of these.

What was I doing?


Wood Train Set

"Aw, playing with Mini Cheddar though, that's good" I hear you say.

Well, it would have been if Mini Cheddar hadn't have been taking a nap. Yup, I was playing with her train set without her. I think I need help.  I'm 36 but clearly I think I'm still 6.

Sod it, the housework can wait, I've got a train to loserville to catch!

I must remember to put Scalextric on my Christmas list.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Arrivederci Dummy!

A dummy
Photo credit: Carlos Porto
When we get back from Italy things are going to change.

The dummies are going!

Even before Mini Cheddar was born I vowed I would never give her a dummy.  I didn't like them.

However, it's strange how feelings change when your child is actually born and using you as a human dummy for comfort.  I breastfed Mini Cheddar from the word go and within 3 weeks I was exhausted.  I was feeding on demand but I soon came to realise that a lot of the time she just wanted me for comfort.

My health visitor came to visit around that time and found me in a bit of a state. She persuaded to me try Mini Cheddar with a dummy. My husband got one and we tried her with it, she was happy.

I, however, sobbed my heart out.

Some children just need comforting more than others so I was told there was no shame in using a dummy and when I realised that it was the best for both of us, I soon came to love that rubbery little thing!

We have kept her dummy just for bedtime and naps and the only other time she may ask for it is when she's really upset.  As someone who grew up sucking her thumb until a late age and spending countless hours at the orthodontist (having my cemented braces tightened) as a result (probably) I'm actually glad now that Mini Cheddar ended up with a dummy.

However, I want to try and phase it out now she's turned 2 years old (in March).  Is it best to phase it out? Or does the elusive 'Dummy Fairy' work best?  Or should I leave her a little bit longer as it's only at sleep time?

I'm after your tips... thank you.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sleep Envy

It's not until you become a mother that you really understand and appreciate the power of a good sleep in helping the human body work.

Sleep deprivation sucks.

Big time.

I remember the lack of sleep induced haze of those early days, weeks and months with Mini Cheddar.
She didn't start sleeping through properly until I stopped breast-feeding her at 6 months and even then it could be a bit hit and miss due to the dreaded teething.

When she was 5 months old someone really upset me. I remember her, a mother of a 2, saying to me with a look of half horror/half smugness "She's not sleeping through yet? Both of mine slept through at 8 weeks old!".

Woman Frustrated Unable To Sleep
Photo credit: graur codrin
Well, whoop-de-bloody-do for you! Thanks for going out of your way to tell me that, no seriously, I really appreciate it. That's what my best sarcastic voice was screaming inside along with thoughts of stamping on her toes!

Obviously I didn't. I just smiled sweetly and mumbled something like "well, they are all different aren't they".  I didn't sleep that night.  This time it wasn't Mini Cheddar's fault either. The comment had wound me up.

Why do others feel the need to compare their sleeping angels to the sleep devil you've been blessed with?  Why do they feel the need to tell you exactly how 'Little Johnnie' sleeps through every single night without so much as a peep and emphasise how amazed they are that yours don't?  I'm sure she didn't mean any harm.  I'm sure she was just trying to be 'helpful' but at the time, comments like that are anything but.

Every now and again (thankfully very rarely now) we have a spell when Mini Cheddar has a small block of disturbed nights, usually when she's ill. It ruins us. We had one the other week and it made for a hellish day the day after.  My heart goes out to anyone who's little one doesn't sleep through, it really does.

In addition to this I happened to marry a man who's a bit of a sleep-o-holic. He can say he's not tired (usually waking me up in the process) and then within a couple of minutes he's fast asleep. Maybe it's a man thing? Maybe us women are wired differently?

I'm usually trying to get to sleep whilst thinking about any number of stupid, unimportant things.  I just can't seem to switch my brain off at night anymore. So, if my husband is really tired, he will snore a bit.

Cue me getting REALLY irate!

I don't swear but put me in a situation when I'm tired and someone else is sleeping soundly then the air turns a tad blue.

"STOP F'IN SNORING"...normally coupled with a wild waft of the duvet and a full-on stamping stonk into the bathroom just to make sure I've woken him up properly.

Sleep envy really can make even the relatively calmest of people turn into a monster.

I know.  I am that monster.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Top Trumps

Well I've already blogged about dog poo, baby poo and vomit on my blog so it was only a matter of time before I blogged about wind.  Actually, now I come to think of it I have already blogged about wind a while back. The complete set!

However, there's always room for another story of flatulence. Oh yes.

Come on, stop squirming it's only natural.

Trumps, farts, guffs, boffs, squeezing cheese, air biscuit, flatulate, break wind, bottom burp, parp, leak gas, play the band (my Dad always used to say that one!), letting rip, brown cloud, toot and so on. Any more or are you too grossed out?

Mini Cheddar Laughing
Well, it seems Mini Cheddar (must be in the name) is fascinated by trumps. Oh the shame.  I swear she can detect the most quietest of trumps from 100 metres!  She must have an in-built air biscuit radar.

We were away in Hampshire for 2 nights the other week and Mini Cheddar was in our hotel room with us but in her own bed.  She went to sleep fine and my husband and I even watched a film as she slept until it was time for us to call it a night.

Teeth brushed and undressed we climbed into bed.  We lay there in the dark listening to the sound of Mini Cheddar breathing.  I snuggled up to my husband and at that point he decided to let one go.

How romantic.

There was about a 2 second delay before Mini Cheddar decided to shout out "truuuuuuuuump" in a rather amused voice from her bed.

My husband and I must have laughed in bed for about half an hour.

She can even detect them in her sleep. Our daughter is clearly a gifted young girl!

I'm so proud.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Gallery - I'm Grateful For...

As our blogging friend Chris over at Thinly Spread embarks on her epic journey in Mozambique for 'Save The Children' this week, it's time for The Gallery to reflect on the things we are grateful for.

But before you do anything, if you haven't already done so head over to the Save The Children website and sign the petition to plug the funding gap for vaccines for children across the world.

Thank you!

There are a lot of things I'm grateful for in this life, such as the health and happiness of my family and I'm grateful for the lovely home and things we have to fill it - although material things pale into insignificance compared to the love and happiness that's inside the walls.  I know that sounds naff but it really is true when you sit and think about it.

For me though, there is one thing that stands out that I'm grateful for.

I'm grateful for my family and my friends.  I don't know what I would do without them.

I'm grateful that I found an amazing husband and that we were able to have Mini Cheddar together. I've already mentioned on this blog that my parents went without when my Sister and I were younger so we could have things we needed or wanted and I've be forever grateful for what they did for us and how they continue to love and support us even now we are in our 30's.  I'm grateful for my older Sister who is like my best friend and she is a brilliant Aunty to Mini Cheddar.  I'm also grateful for the fact I got to have 4 Grandparents in my life for such a long time.

I'm also grateful for my extended family, even though they are a strange mixture of characters sometimes!  I'm grateful for my young Brother-In-Law (pictured below) who makes me laugh and Mini Cheddar adores him - he is fantastic with her.

I'm grateful for all my beautiful friends who I've known for years and who have supported me through the good times and the bad. I love them all dearly for various reasons.

So thanks to my family and my friends I'm grateful for the love and happiness that fills my life.

I'm grateful for a lot.

My Brother-In-Law Spinning Mini Cheddar In The Park

Now head on over and check out all the other entries...


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