Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Decisions, Decisions...

Matt's interview in America went well - he did his best. Now all we can do is wait.

As I spoke to him last night the uncertainty of even going to the US for this interview has spilled over into what will be if he does get the job.

He's not happy with his work at the moment, he hasn't been for a while. However, his current work allows him to work from home in 'the den' so I'm lucky in respect that, most of the time, he's on hand to help me out. In the early days after MC was born this was a complete Godsend.

He applied for this new job never really thinking he would even get a first interview. To be honest, neither did I. The job looked very high profile (not that he's not, of course) and also more than one language. Being from Derby, Matt even struggles with the English language sometimes!*

So when he got a first telephone interview we were both taken aback. Then he got a second interview. Wow. Then a third one down in London. I thought maybe that would be the end of the line but no. He was due to give a presentation to the head office in Virginia over Skype. Next thing we know - they want to see him. They said they'd fly him out to spend the day with them. He could do the presentation in person and then would have 7 (yes 7!) one-on-ones with various people in the business.

So now here we are awaiting the result which should hopefully come by the end of the week.

He loved the company, loved the people (although he wouldn't be working directly with them) but he said to me last night "If they offer it to me and IF I take it".

"Er? Hold on! 'IF' you take it. What do you mean 'IF'?" I said to him.

MC on Skype with Daddy and Cousin Nick on Sunday.
This may be a more regular occurrence!
So he goes on to explain that he was told that he'd have to go over the the US once a quarter. Plus he'd have to spend some time in London and he doesn't know whether he can cope with that as he'd have to leave me and MC (and the new arrival) again. Thankfully we have relatives that live a stones throw from the US office (Matt spent most of his time over the weekend with them) and they've said that he can stay with them and they'd also love to have me and the kids come out too.

He also said that he never thought he'd get this far and now he has, he's apprehensive. So I asked him why he'd even gone out to the US if he wasn't sure about it. He said he needed to prove to himself he could do it.

So, here we are playing the waiting game. This isn't great when we have a baby due in just less than 5 weeks! If he does get it then last thing I want is him disappearing down to London or even worse, America when there's a new baby on the block!

I'm in two minds about what I want the result to be. I'd be thrilled if he was offered it as it's an amazing opportunity but at the same time I think I may be secretly thrilled if he doesn't get it and I think, from speaking to him last night, that he feels the same. At least then there will be no decision to make and I'll have a husband at home.

All we can do now is wait.

*Obviously a joke before anyone from Derby takes offence ;-)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Absence Really Does Make The Heart Grow Fonder

According to Elton John, 'sorry' seems to be the hardest word.

I'd like to challenge Mr. John (or should I say Mr. Dwight?) over that song. For me 'goodbye' seems to be the hardest word.

As those of you who read my Pregnancy Patter post last Monday will know, Matt had to go away for a short while.  He's still away now, as I write this, and I can honestly say it's been really hard.

It sounds so silly being so upset about him going away for what works out to be not even 5 days but he works from home so I'm used to having him here. Of course, he goes away on business a bit but he usually only goes for one night and the most he's ever been away in the past 8 years has been 2 nights. Also, the furthest he's ever been is Holland.

This time he's over 3,500 miles away.

In America.

We all had a last dinner out together before we
took Daddy to the station - this was just before
we left the restaurant to catch his train
Saying goodbye to him at the end of last week was really difficult. I hate the thought of him being so far away from us. Being 35 weeks pregnant is really making this so hard. I miss him terribly and every time I think about it I get all blubbery and snotty. It doesn't help that Mini Cheddar keeps cuddling me, stroking my hair and saying "It will be okay Mummy. Daddy will be home soon".  I feel like MC is looking after me at the moment! Thankfully yesterday we had 2 video calls with him on Skype which helped a lot.

It's really made me appreciate everything I have. Really made me realise just how much I love my husband. I've always loved him, right from when we first met, but this ache in my heart is horrible. I don't know if it's pregnancy hormones heightening everything (I think it is) but the distance and the different time zone that's between us right now is something I can't get my head around. It's also been hard that it's completely taken away our 'family time' at the weekend. Having inlaws in Nottingham means one day every other weekend is spent seeing them so it reduces our weekends together enough as it is.

All I could do last week when we parted was think about how it must feel for people (especially those with children) to be separated for long periods of time. I have a friend who's husband is in the US Army and they went for 15 months without seeing each other - they have 3 children. I just don't know how you get through that. I have a new found appreciation for all the people who spend long periods of time away from their families. Especially those in the forces who can't guarantee that their loved one will return home to them.

A final kiss for Daddy at the train station
I know Matt is finding it equally hard. He was fighting back tears (as was I) as he kissed us goodbye at the train station to get his train down to Heathrow. Before I'd even returned to the car he'd sent me a text saying "I just want to get off this train and come home with you". A couple of days before he was due to leave he started questioning whether he should go or not. He just kept saying "I don't think I can leave you both". The thing is, this is a great opportunity for him - if he gets the job. He's not happy doing what he's doing at the moment and I can see how much it's frustrating him. Problem is, if he does get this job it will eventually mean more travel as the role covers Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Thankfully his immediate focus will be in the U.K. but my mind keeps thinking about the possibility of being separated from him again in the future...and we will have two children by then.

I'm guessing what will be, will be. He has to get the job first.

For now I'm just concentrating on getting through the next couple of days until he's home safe with us again. I can't wait to pick him up from the station on Tuesday afternoon.

It's true what they say - absence does make the heart grow fonder. I didn't think it was possible to love my husband any more but I do.

I miss him so much it hurts.

Friday, 24 February 2012

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today I was excited.

A year ago today I was nervous.

A year ago today I started a new 'job'.

I say 'job' rather loosely. I don't get paid anything for the work I do but I absolutely love it.

My little corner of the charity world
Yes, can you believe it? A year ago today (well, okay, officially it's Saturday this year but let's not be picky) at this time I started volunteering at my local Save The Children shop every Friday. I honestly don't know where the year has gone - I've loved every moment of it. Volunteering gives me such a buzz and I love being able to help out and also share my experiences on my blog.

I was only supposed to volunteer between 9.30am and 1pm every Friday but most of the time I'm there until 4pm when the shop closes. I love the people I work with. I love the customers. Did I mention I love it?

My day can vary so much. Most of the time I'm customer facing - working on the shop floor sorting merchandise and working the till. Sometimes I'm upstairs sorting through donations and even steaming clothes (considering I very rarely get the iron out at home this is quite something!). There is always so much to do and no two days are ever the same.

I'm almost 35 weeks pregnant right now and my last official day at 'work' will be Friday 9th March. I'm gutted. I love that shop so much that they are even mentioned in my will that I made last November.

I am going to go back as soon as I can but it will be difficult for a while. I will continue as much as I can doing good through this blog and that will have to do for now. I'll have an update on that soon.

For now, I'm going to enjoy my last few weeks 'working' and feel ever thankful that I followed my heart and decided to volunteer.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Say Hello To My Little Friend...The Dummy Fairy

I always swore, even before Mini Cheddar was born, that none of my children would have a dummy. It was something my Sister and I never  had - although I ended up an avid thumb sucker until verging on my teenage years and then had to have two cemented braces to fix my wonky teeth. You've seen the photos of my youth before, I'm telling you... a Deirdre Barlow perm, mahOOsive glasses AND braces is not a good look.

So when, at the age of just 3 weeks old, my Health Visitor advised me I'd be better off giving a dummy to MC I was distraught. I knew I had to, I knew that I couldn't go on with her using my breast for comfort - I was exhausted by it. I sobbed when Matt put the dummy in her mouth and she took it and loved it.

She's been good with the dummy though and only had it for night times and nap times and eventually we cut out the day time nap dummy when she was old enough.

Back in June last year I said that the dummies were going completely when we returned from Italy. We didn't even attempt it though, following the superb advice I received from my lovely readers on my blog and Twitter (thank you) we decided to leave it until after potty training and until we felt MC was really ready.

MC was fully toilet trained by November last year but with a holiday to the U.S. planned for January, Matt and I decided that we'd wait until after that so she had something on the flight to stop her ears popping!

When we were at Disney World we bought her this Deluxe Tangled Figurine Set but didn't show it to her.

Picture credit
Being a complete Tangled/Rapunzel nut (her second addiction after Minnie Mouse) we knew she'd love it so it was to be her present for going cold turkey with the dummy at night.

So, when we returned (and had got over the jet-lag!) we started to talk to her about what was going to happen. We explained to her that little babies needed her dummies and that at the end of the week we would place her dummies in a box and the Dummy Fairy would visit. She would collect them, leave MC a present and take the dummies to other little babies that needed them.

To make her understand more we even went as far as to show her a You Tube video of a little baby crying. As soon as she saw it she said "He needs my dummies".

The scene was set.

D-Day was finally upon us.

We prepared an empty box and that night, before she went to bed, MC placed her dummies into the box without a problem. We went upstairs and got ready for bed. We read a story and then she said "There's something missing from my mouth".

We explained that her dummies were downstairs and the Dummy Fairy would take them to the little boy that needed them.

She seemed to accept that and went to sleep without a problem.

She woke about 2am and was a little upset for about 15 minutes but never mentioned her dummies. Then she went back off to sleep.

The next morning she was delighted to see the Dummy Fairy had left her such an amazing present!

The dummies were never mentioned again and she's slept through ever since that first night of the dummy 'cold turkey'.  She turns 3 on 11th March and I'm so proud of my little girl.

Will I use a dummy with my next baby? Yes, if one is required I'd have no problems this time. Dummies aren't the devil (as some people I know think), they provide a comfort to children and are easy enough to phase out - the Dummy Fairy can't take a thumb away now an he?

I know it's each to their own and what works for you but sometimes, just sometimes, a dummy is necessary. Without one in MC's life she wouldn't have had a fully-functioning Mummy in those early days.

Three cheers for the dummy and the Dummy Fairy!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Pregnancy Patter - 34 Weeks And Fighting Bad Feelings

I'm quite up and down at the moment.

Some days I'm fairly full of life and positive but there's something eating away at me which has been since 1st August when I first found out I was pregnant. This has only been fed more by some devastating news I found out on Thursday just gone.

Our neighbours who were expecting a baby a mere 7 weeks after our baby is due have recently lost their little bundle. I don't know the full details, I'm not sure I want to (as awful as that sounds) but they had to go through the birth knowing the outcome - their baby had died.

I can't begin to imagine the pain they must be feeling and they are constantly on my mind. We were only at their wedding in the early summer. It's just heartbreaking.

I know it happens. Only in 2010, my friends Sister lost her baby at 36 weeks. That was a complete shock to the system. I'm not stupid, I know so many pregnancies end in miscarriage but when it's so close to home it feels more 'real' if that makes sense.

The thing is, all along in this pregnancy I've been so much more nervous, so much more aware of the possibility of things going wrong. I can't quite put my finger on it but I think it's due to a number of things.  The miscarriages I hear about, whether in 'real life', in the news or through blogs I read. The fact having given birth to a beautiful daughter I am more aware of what I stand to lose if something goes wrong. The worry that I can't possibly be blessed with two happy, healthy and beautiful children. I just can't shake this bad feeling.

All these thoughts have been spinning around in my head for a long while now but the news last Thursday really brought them all up to the surface once and for all. I've shed a few tears and I try to keep busy to keep my mind away from bad thoughts but it's so hard. I've said before how active this baby is so when I don't feel any movement for a while I start to panic and it causes me really restless nights. So I'm either kept awake by the baby constantly kicking me in the ribs or I'm kept awake with worry about lack of movement. I can't win.

I feel drained.

I feel nervous.

I keep telling myself I'm silly to dwell on things so much but pregnancy emotions really don't help.

It's also not helped by the fact that Matt is flying to the U.S. on Friday and he won't be back until the following Tuesday. This is the longest he's been away, plus he's never been away over a weekend before...let alone over 3,500 miles away! He has to go as it's a job interview and a superb opportunity - I've told him to go - but I'm nervous. I'll be 35 weeks and I'm just hoping I don't go into premature labour. I need him here. I want him here. He has to be here.

I'm guessing what will be, will be though and no amount of worrying is going to help me - or the baby.

I have the appointment with my consultant tomorrow which should determine the choice of birth. I'll let you know how that goes in my next update.

I'm sorry this is a depressing post, I just needed to get it all out - having a blog is great therapy sometimes.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

20 Questions...Well, 11 Actually!

photo credit
You know what? I haven't been involved in a good meme for a long while now. I've been tagged in them but most of them came when I wasn't feeling too great in this pregnancy and I put them off - then it got too late.

Then, the other day the very lovely Emma from A Matter Of Choice tagged me in quite a nice 'Questions and Answers' meme which is fun to do. Emma has written 11 questions for me to answer and then I have to tag some more lovely bloggers and write some questions for them. It's a great way to get to know fellow bloggers so indulge me!

Right, here I attempt to answer Emma's questions.

Would you like to live in a different country?  Why would / wouldn't you?
Yes I would LOVE to live in the US. I've visited so many places in the States and love it so much it would be hard to pinpoint exactly where I'd love to live though.  I won't because I couldn't leave my parents and my sister who live over here (and my closest friends) - it would break my it's really hard to get in over there! 

Are you doing what you thought you would be at this age when you were a teenager?
As a teenager I didn't really think about what I'd be doing in my 30's, I think I was too busy just enjoying myself. Damn that cheap white cider!

What is your biggest addiction, and does it worry you?
I don't really have any addictions. I'm not even addicted to blogging or social media - in fact I have only fairly recently re-activated my Facebook account and I'm not on it all the time like I used to be a couple of years ago.  I don't really drink much (can't at the moment anyway) and I don't smoke. I'm pretty boring really *sigh*

Do you speak a foreign language? Would you like to?
I've mentioned on my blog before that I'd love to speak Spanish. I'd also, after visiting Italy for the first time last year, love to speak Italian. My problem is that unless I actually sign up for a course that I have to attend, I keep putting my learning off. My MIL speaks 7 languages and I'm so jealous of that. 

What is your favourite holiday destination?  (either past or a 'dream destination)
Now this is a real toughie for me as I've been to some amazing places that I can't really compare. From A trip across Route 66 in America to a trip to the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights - there is no way I can choose. I have been to so many lovely places that I couldn't decide. I have just returned from Orlando and loved it but at the same time I've been to the islands of Hawaii and totally adored them. I honestly don't think I can pick. I know, I know, I'm rubbish!

What most annoys you?
A while back I wrote a post as part of the Listography about my '5 Pet Hates' and I stand by them all but bad manners and people who can't drive on the motorway really REALLY wind me up. Many a time I can be seen yelling at some idiot sat in the middle lane.

What is your dream job?
Being Gerard Butler or Ryan Gosling's personal bather. That's a job, right?  

What are you looking forward to this year?
At last, an easy one! Obviously the birth of our new baby - due 3rd April. Although, someone will probably have to remind me of that when I am propping open my eyes due to sleep deprivation.

How upset would you be  if you woke up tomorrow morning and the internet had ceased to exist?
Although I'm not addicted to blogging or social media I would be a mess if the Internet ceased to exist as I use it a lot. I have a great love of the Internet as it's how I met my fabulous husband, Matt.

What day / period of your life would you like to re-live?
I'd like to go back to when Matt and I first met and re-live those first 6 months. We lived 100 miles away from each other at that point but used to see each other every weekend. I remember only about 6 weeks after we first met he went away for 10 nights to Texas and we missed each other like mad. I knew when he was due back but we weren't supposed to see each other until the following weekend. I remember being out with friends and he text me to ask when I'd be home and to stay safe. When I replied I had booked the taxi he replied "Good, as I'm at your house" (he had a key) and it was the most amazing feeling ever! He'd driven up, still jet-lagged, to see me. It's moments like that.

If you could travel in time (you know, without buggering up the space/time continuum thing) would you go forward or backwards?
I'd definitely go backwards. I'd visit all my Grandparents and spend more time with them as I feel when I was in my teens I didn't spend as much time with them as I should have. That makes me sad.

The Rules:

  • You must post these rules.
  • Each person must post 11 things about herself on their blog.
  • Answer the questions the “tagger” listed for you in her post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
  • Choose 11 people to tag and link to them in the post. 
  • Let each blogger know that you have tagged them.

So, here are the questions I would like the people I've tagged to answer:

  1. What's the worst present you've ever been given?
  2. If you could go on holiday anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
  3. What's your most embarrassing moment?
  4. If you won £45m on the Euro Lottery (like that young couple did the other week), what would you do with the money?
  5. If you weren't with your partner/boyfriend/husband/significant other (or, if you aren't with anyone right now - bonus!) and you could have one date night with someone else, who would it be and what would you do?
  6. Football or rugby?
  7. If there was a film made about your life, which actor/actress would play you?
  8. Do you prefer a wild night out or a quiet night in?
  9. Is there one television programme that you couldn't live without in your life?
  10. If you could turn back time, what would you do differently?
  11. What's your guilty pleasure?

Here are the fabulous bloggers I am tagging (apologies if you've already been tagged). I would recommend you pay each of their blogs a visit - they totally rock!

Looking For Blue Sky

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Beginners Guide To Orlando and Walt Disney World

Have I mentioned I spent 3 weeks in Orlando, Florida last month?


I feel it may have been mentioned a few times *ahem*.

I know I am bloody lucky to have a husband who wanted to whisk Mini Cheddar and I away for a last blow-out holiday before Baby Lucas no.2 arrives. Yes, he's a keeper!

We only booked it at the end of October and flew out 4th January - so what with Christmas to cope with we didn't really have much time to plan it. There are people who plan this sort of holiday a couple of years in advance and I never really understood why. Now I can.

Orlando is immense.

As someone who's visited a large number of places in the US (oooh get me!), if you'd asked me 3 or 4 years ago if I'd ever go to Orlando and Disney World I would have laughed in your face. Seriously. It was a place that never appealed to us. Put it this way, we are not big on overly touristy places...we can give or take New York, we disliked Los Angeles and we absolutely hated Las Vegas. Plus, I'd already been to DisneyLand in Paris and wasn't too enamoured with it.

However, put a beautiful almost 3 year old with a massive Disney addiction into the mix and feelings change. Also put a gorgeous, large and practically free condo into the equation and it's an offer that's hard to refuse!

I read a book before we travelled (more on that later) and it's closing line is something like "we will guarantee you will be back". Yeah right, I thought.  Matt and I have fallen in love with many places in the US - Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, Lahaina and San Diego to name a few - but we've never been back. When there's so many amazing places in the world to discover we've always felt we need to keep going somewhere new.

That was until now. We are already planning to go back in about 3-4 years. I know it's a long time away but we want to wait until no.2 is old enough to get something from it. The wait is going to kill me though.

We both loved Orlando. Even after 3 weeks we didn't want to come home. For Matt, that's really saying something - I usually have to beg with him to go on holiday for longer than a week anywhere.

Maybe it was the gorgeous weather? Maybe it was the amazing food? Maybe it was the friendly people? Maybe it was the superb shopping? Maybe it was the amazing Disney theme parks? Maybe it was seeing MC loving every second?

I have a feeling it was all this...and more.

So, after a first trip I'm by no way claiming to be an expert - far from it. However, I can offer some small snippets of advice for those taking the plunge:

1. Buy a really good guide book
Whenever I go on a big trip I almost always buy a good guide book so I don't miss out on anything. Sure, you can do research on the Internet but nothing beats a good book and I think it's vital for a visit to Orlando. We bought The Brit Guide To Orlando by Simon & Susan Veness and can heartily recommend it. It's packed with absolutely everything you will need to know!

2. Plan, plan and plan!
I can't say it enough. We planned in terms of booking a couple of character meals (these can book up 180 days in advance so don't leave it until the last minute) and we also planned out when we would be going to which parks pretty much. Use the guidebook to look at the 'busy day guides' so you try and avoid certain parks on their busiest days. We went in the quietest month and it was still very busy. It sounds awful to say you need to plan, after all, this is holiday and the last thing you want to do is have a military style schedule but a rough plan of action will save you so much time and energy. It's especially important if you're going for 2 weeks. We went for 3 weeks and we still never managed all of the main theme parks!

3. Look at your ticket options and shop around for the best deals
Access to the theme parks can be costly (£50+ EACH a day plus £10 parking a day!) so it all adds up. There is an option available only in the UK I'm led to believe for an 'Ultimate Ticket' (7, 14 or 21 day) which gives you complete access to all the Disney Theme Parks including the Disney Water Parks and Disney Quest etc.  We were lucky enough to purchase ours in advance in November when you could buy a 14 Day Ultimate Ticket for the same price as a 7 Day Standard Ticket. So keep your eyes open for offers. Child prices aren't that much cheaper than adult prices really but if you take a little one just before they turn 3, like we did, then they are free! I don't buy all this "wait until they are old enough to remember" - I know even at 2 years a 10 months MC will remember it through the endless videos and photos we have. Which brings me nicely onto my next tip.

4. Get a Disney Photopass
All the Disney theme parks have dedicated photographers who will snap pictures of everything. They are dotted all over the parks and it means that, if you want, everyone can get in the picture. All you do is pick up a photopass card from the first photographer you see and then make sure you hand it to them every time you are snapped. If you lose your card you can just pick up a new one (just make sure you register the card online). We ended up with a total of 602 photographs - Disney also supply you with amazing bonus content free of charge! We also took advantage of their pre-visit offer and pre-paid for a CD for $99 (about £60) of all our images. Also, if you pre-pay but decide you don't want your photos you can get your money back so you won't lose anything. We ended up downloading them all. £60 for over 600 hi-res images is an absolute steal and so much better than paying out big bucks to get Disney to print them for you. You can also add borders and special things to each photograph if you want and the photos are all yours to use as you wish (apart from commercial purposes).  For us, the photopass is a MUST - they really captured some amazing moments for us.

5. Sign up to The Dibb
This is another MUST.  The Dibb can be found at and holds a wealth of information on planning your trip. Someone told us about it so now I'm telling you. It's the UK's biggest Disney and Orlando planner online. You can find all the information on parks, you can find busy day guides, you can find everything - plus the site has extensive forums where you can get advice from people who have 'been there, done that' and they are so friendly and helpful. They even have people who have uploaded their extensive holiday packing/check lists online which you can print off - saves so much time!

6. Remember the little things
By signing up to The Dibb or buying a guidebook book you will realise there are so many little things to take into consideration with your holiday - things that you wouldn't ever have thought of. Like, for instance, taking an autograph book and pen so that the characters can sign it for you. Yes, they sign autographs!

7. Wear comfy shoes
If your scraggy, dirty trainers are the comfiest footwear you own - wear them. The entire Disney World Resort area covers some 30,000+ acres (over 25,000 more than DisneyLand Paris if you've been there) and obviously there's more to Orlando than that - that's not taking into account Universal Studios, Sea World, Islands of Adventure, Lego Land and so on. Also, Floridians don't tend to do dressing up smart. I took a couple of nice tops and some smart linen trousers for evenings out - I never took them out of the suitcase. I love the fact that it's always casual over there.

8. Don't miss the Disney parks at night
The Magic Kingdom is amazing at night. They have the night time Electrical Parade twice a night in addition to the amazing 'Wishes' fireworks display where Tinkerbell (a real person on a zip line) flies from the castle turret and across the crowd. They have also started what is called the 'Magic, Memories and You' display on the castle twice a night - a selection of videos and photographs of moments from that day is projected in a fantastic light display on Cinderella's Castle - it's breathtaking!  In addition to this EPCOT have their amazing 'IllumiNations: Reflections Of Earth' display each night. This is a amazing mix of fireworks, lights, fire and lasers across the World Showcase Lagoon. Another one not to be missed!

9. Write a list of what you need to take with you to the parks each day
Sounds simple enough to pack for a day at a theme park but, when you've got kids, you're bound to forget something. I had a list I used each day. Top of the list - a bottle of water from the freezer. Yes, even in January it was touching 30°C on occasion.

10. Eat & Play
Look at buying an Eat & Play Card. This is a credit card style card which gets you superb discounts 10-50% off food, shopping and attractions. For a simple payment of $25 (£15) you can enjoy these discounts for up to 4 people on one card! Just have a look at where the card is accepted here. They also do a card for New York visitors.


You can't help but be wrapped up in the world of Disney. I think I cried a fair few times over the 3 weeks with the pure joy of MC experiencing everything. Everyone is so so SO friendly, even the people who take money for your parking and say "Have a magical day" with the biggest smiles ever. Remember to go to the City Hall at The Magic Kingdom if it's your first visit and pick up your '1st Visit' badge. The cast members at the park will make an extra fuss of you. They also do badges for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries etc.

So those are all my top tips - apart from the obvious 'take LOTS of money'...Disney merchandising is VERY hard to resist. The good thing is, it's so much cheaper over there than the UK for Disney merchandise. Take for instance a large Toy Story Jessie Doll which retails over here for £35 at Toys R Us. This was a mere £15 in the US!

If you're thinking of going my only advice is GO. If you are going, don't tell me...I may cry with jealousy.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Pregnancy Patter - 32 Weeks And It's All Starting To 'Kick' In

Well, this post should now bring me up to date and back on track after last weeks 28 and 30 weeks double catch-up post.

I'm 32 weeks today. 32 weeks. That's just under 2 months until EDD. Eek.

I really can't believe how quickly it's going. Maybe it's because I have Mini Cheddar to look after now and what with the holiday last month it's all systems go in the Lucas household to prepare for the new arrival. We have MC's 3rd birthday in just under 5 weeks so I have that to organise too which will keep me busy, as well as continuing my freelance work.

I went for a routine midwife appointment last Wednesday and all was fine. Measuring well and the baby was head down at the time, although that could change on a minute by minute basis for a while.  I know the baby was breech on holiday as the kicks were really low down exactly how I carried all along with MC and I knew it had turned because the kicks are under my ribcage now.

I mentioned last time that the baby is a lot more active that MC was - well, it's not letting up. Sometimes the kicks are really painful and the weird shapes my stomach makes are quite freaky. The Braxton Hicks contractions are really something now too - so much so that last Friday evening I had one that was so intense that I did think for a few minutes I was about to go into premature labour.

This has prompted Matt and I to organise my hospital bag this week. We bought new born nappies on Sunday in readiness and I already have items of clothing for the new baby so it is starting to come together. I just need to wash all MC's old newborn items and tidy up the nursery and we are almost ready.

I say almost because we have a bit of a problem with the cot.

MC was using it as a cot bed up until November so we need to convert it back into a cot (and buy a new mattress). When we made it into a cot bed we put the screw set for the cot somewhere safe. Somewhere a little too safe unfortunately. Luckily we are able to order a new set of screws for it and we are waiting on delivery - just hope they come soon.

It's really starting to hit Matt and I that we are going to have two children soon. It's a strange feeling sometimes. I know when I was on holiday last month there was a time when MC was asleep in the buggy at EPCOT and I was on my own with her for a while. I just sat there looking at her and thinking about how I'm going to spread my love across two children. I know I will. I know I will love this child just as much as I love MC but I can't help but cherish these last few months with my darling daughter.

Oh, and as a follow up to last weeks bump pic - I found an even better one from holiday which really shows off the size of my belly! This was actually taken 10th January at Chef Mickeys - so I've grown even more...needless to say, I'm struggling to stay in my size 8 maternity jeans now :(

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Perfect Start To The Perfect Holiday - The Virgin V Room

Well, it all seems a bit of a blur right now but 3 wonderful weeks in Florida have been and gone.  To say we are all gutted is an understatement. Normally I struggle to get Matt to spend more than a week away from home so I was very surprised when he turned to me a few days before we were due to fly home "I don't want to go back home".

I'll be boring you all blogging about our trip over the next few weeks but firstly I want to talk about our journey over there. Going on holiday with children can be a daunting prospect - I know a few parents who put off taking their children abroad because they can't bear the thought of the airport and plane with a little one. To me, it's a shame - children get so much from travel. I've actually blogged before about a totally perfect child friendly holiday. It was the first holiday we took MC on at 13 months and it was wonderful - in fact, someone I know booked after seeing my post and photos on Facebook. They had an amazing time and are looking to go back! My work was done :)

The Virgin V Room
Anyway, as usual, I digress. Having flown to the US on numerous occasions now and experienced American Airlines, Delta and Virgin Atlantic I have to say Virgin win every time.* So imagine how delighted we were when Virgin very kindly offered us the chance to try out their new 'V Room' at Manchester Airport!

It's run by Virgin Holidays which are the UK's leading holiday specialist for Orlando. Following the success of the first V Room at Gatwick, they opened this one at Manchester during the summer. The V Room is the only airport lounge dedicated purely to people going on holiday so you won't find it full of business people so it has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere about it.

No, that's not Pepsi that MC is drinking -
it is orange juice in a Pepsi cup
Entry to the V Room is priced at £20 per adult and £12 per child (aged 2-11) when booked in advance. Infants are free.

You can use the facilities 3 hour prior to departure and what facilities they are!

We arrived at about 7.45am (our plane was leaving at 10.25am) and we had the place to ourselves for a while. The attentive staff showed us the vast array of hot and cold food available for breakfast and obviously Matt and I went for the cooked option whilst MC had her usual 2 Weetabix!

The X Box Kinect Room
The V Room has plenty of seating options for everyone - from tables and chairs to eat to large comfy swivel chairs and sofa benches. It really has a lovely relaxed atmosphere about it and puts you in the mood for your holiday and it's situated over-looking the Virgin departure gates - they will even let you know when your flight is ready to board.

There's a huge virtual games room offering the latest X-Box Kinect games. There's a room full of laptops for surfing the web (the room also offers free wifi so you can use your own laptop or mobile phone) which is great for older children (and adults) and also has a colouring station and a football table.

Obviously the part that was loved most by us was the room for the very young children. MC loved it the soft play furniture and the magnets - and they were even showing CBeebies on a flat screen TV so she was able to watch if she wanted. As the play room had glass walls, Matt and I were able to relax outside on the comfy chairs without taking our eyes off her.

Play time for MC
Even the bathroom facilities were superb with images of holiday destinations and Disney music being piped into them.

All in all Matt and I thought that the V Room really made the start of our holiday and was such a lovely way to relax before the 9.5 hour flight to Florida. Usually hours spent at the airport before a flight can be a bit boring (and sometimes stressful) and I believe the extra money spent to experience the V Room is definitely worth it.

If we ever book with Virgin Holidays we will definitely be heading back to the V Room.

Laptops and more games - perfect for the older kids

This is not a sponsored post.  

We did receive complimentary access to the V Room
but all photographs, words, views and opinions are entirely my own.

*We did not book a Virgin Holiday Package but we did book our flights with
Virgin Atlantic. However, if you wish to book the V Room you must be part of
a Virgin Holidays Package.


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