Tuesday, 30 April 2013

#MeAndMine - A Family Portrait (April)

This was a last minute photo.

I suddenly panicked with a day to go, realising that I hadn't taken a family portrait for Lucy's 'Me and Mine' link up. It's something I really want to keep up with as this first year of Tiny Ched's life passed us all by with no photos of all four of us.

March was a busy month and April has been just as hectic.

I'm probably going to jinx this now by revealing this on my blog but...

...we are going to move house!

I didn't want to officially announce it until we had exchanged contracts (we haven't yet) but, at the moment, I don't see that anything is going to change *crosses everything* I haven't even told all my friends yet as I haven't wanted to say anything until it's all legal.

It's an exciting time but it's also scary. A lot has happened, both good and bad, over theses past few months but I'm hoping the future, for everyone, is going to be full of as much love and happiness as possible.

Our new house is gorgeous. It's so much bigger than the one we are in now and we are all looking forward to moving and making it our home. Our current house sold on it's first viewing which was amazing (it's so nice not having to worry about viewings with two small children messing the place up!) but it also pulled at my heart strings a bit.

This is the house that...

...Matt and I bought together 7 years ago
...we left from and returned to the night he asked me to marry him
...just 3 short months later (almost 6 years ago) we spent our wedding eve in
...we also spent our wedding night in
...we conceived both our children in
...we brought both our children home to after they were born
...we made a home


...has experienced so much love and happiness

I'm sure our new house will be filled with just as much love and happiness though. After all, they are only walls.

We are the essence of the house and home.

So this is a very poignant photo as, I think, it will be the last one of us all taken in this house.

We are due to move at the end of June...and we still have over 3 weeks holidaying in Florida to get through! We booked the holiday after deciding, last year, that we weren't going to move. Now we are doing both. Eek! Matt and I are totally knackered (as you can see) so I'm hoping a bit of sun recharges us - even if we could do without the holiday in the middle of all this.

Yes, life is very hectic right now.

But life, on the whole, is very good.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

In A Strange Place

I'm in a strange place at the moment.

I'm extremely busy, my head is all over the place. After a few rocky weeks, life is beginning to look good.

Really good.

So why don't I feel good?

I can't help but feel for others.

My heart aches for them. Literally aches.

I'm so busy but I'm finding it so hard to concentrate.

I have some friends that are going through seriously bad times at the moment. Times that you wouldn't wish on anyone. Times that no-one can really begin to understand unless you've been there yourself.

Really bad times.

One of my closest friends is facing a hard time. Her and her husband are the one of the nicest couples you could meet and her husband is great. Always willing to help anyone. A grafter.

A real grafter.

He's hands on with everything and, if you were going to describe him, he'd be the definition of 'diamond geezer'.

He's someone you want as your friend.

Anyway, they are on the verge of having everything they've worked so hard for taken away through no fault of their own.

It makes me feel mad.

It also makes me feel guilty.

I know I shouldn't feel guilty, but I do. Little pangs of guilt that everything is going so well for us while their world is being turned upside-down. It's just not fair.

I try to tell myself that everything is happening to us because we've worked hard for it. I like to think that Matt and I are good people. We are always there for our family and friends if they need us. We see our family and friends regularly. We both give monthly donations to charity and have done for years. I volunteer (although I am taking a small break at the moment but still doing bits from home) in my local Save The Children shop one day a week. We aren't religious but we lead honest and decent lives. In a nutshell...we do our bit.

But my friends work hard too.

They are good people too.

So why is this happening to them?

At the moment I can't make sense of the world. There doesn't seem to be any justice. News this year from a range of friends has just been awful. I look around at all the pain and sadness and I feel really angry.

And guilty.

There's that word again. Guilt.

Why am I feeling like this?

I should be happy.

But I'm not.

As I say, I'm in a strange place at the moment.

Friday, 19 April 2013

#MessyPlay - Rice And Oats Edible Play

Time is something really lacking in my life at the moment. Hectic is an understatement.

I couldn't join in with Jennie's lovely linky last week as we just didn't have a moment to organise some messy play and it's really been getting to me. My first messy play involved Mini Cheddar whilst her baby brother slept. I really wanted to involve him this time and so today, while his big sister was out with my parents, I made sure I had a day just dedicated to spending quality time with my gorgeous little man. Something I haven't had chance to do that much of late.

We've been having a lovely day.

We spent the first part of the morning leisurely eating toast and playing, then we practised his standing and walking with the help of his micro scooter and then I decided to get the Tuff Spot out whilst he had a little nap so it was ready for him when he woke.

I wanted to do something fairly easy as his first experience so when he woke I got some flavoured porridge oats that I had in the cupboard and put some of them in the Tuff Spot.

He was a bit reluctant at first...

But then he dived in and there was no stopping him. He loved raking the rice and oats with his hands and feet, making patterns. He loved picking the oats up and letting it fall onto his legs - he also loved eating it! I then added some paella rice I had left over and added them to the oats.

I then slowly poured the rest of the rice into the Tuff Spot. TC loved watching the rice fall and also loved trying to catch it. He got the small cup bath toys that I had added to the play and tried to catch the rice and he also started talking and saying "Ta" to hand them to me to help him.

He then grabbed the bag of rice off me and proceeded to shake it about to get the rest of the rice out. The result was bits of paella rice flying EVERYWHERE and his laughing so much. He thought it was hilarious.

He was cleaned off with a dust down and a vest and nappy change (ready for a bath later tonight) and he even smelled of apples from the flavoured porridge oats! I scooped the rice and oats into an airtight container to use again for more messy play and then I got the vacuum cleaner out to sort the rest.

The result - one very happy baby.

This was only the second messy play we've done but it just shows how simple it can be to give your children great play activities. I'm excited for the summer and some outdoors messy play!

Now head over to Jennie's blog and check out some amazing ideas.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Super Scooting Fun With Micro Scooters!

Double the fun!
You know when you have something that you really, REALLY want to try but you can't? You have to wait. And the wait almost kills you.

Yeah. That.

That's what the last few weeks have been like for poor Mini Cheddar.

Towards the end of March we were lucky enough to be sent two amazing scooters thanks to Micro Scooters UK.

Firstly, the 3 in 1 Mini Seat Scooter for Tiny Ched and the Mini Micro Scooter for MC.

There was no problem testing TC's scooter out as he gets plenty of use out of it around the house but with the 18.5" of snow (and illness) that hit us a few weeks back there was no way that MC could get out and about to really put her new wheels to the test.

The 3 in 1 Mini Seat kit
So we've had to wait.

But boy, was it worth it!

The 3 in 1 Mini Seat had already totally impressed me though. An ideal purchase for 1 to 3 year olds, the Mini Seat adapts into 3 different scooters for each age. A sit on scooter with an O-bar for 12 months plus, remove the seat for 2 years plus and then swap the O-bar for a T-bar from 3 years plus (probably up to the age of 5). All this is included in the price of £74.95* and, what's more, this is an award winning scooter. It won ' Best Toddler Toy at the 2012 Nuremburg Toy Fair'.

It's easy to see why.

TC loves it.

Loving it!
He's not doing so well with his walking - he's too lazy! His big sister was walking before her 1st birthday but TC is showing no solid signs, despite turning one at the end of March. He walks around cruising the furniture no problem and can stand unaided a little when he wants to but if you try and walk him, even holding his hands, he just sits down. The Mini Seat is helping him though, I think. He is actually starting to move his feet to walk whilst he's on it and it's great for a lazy boy like him as he can do it all sitting down.

Indoor scooter races - such fun!
The scooter is very well made. It's a Swiss design which is solid and sturdy and the O-bar has a great grip - TC also loves chewing on the O-bar and has become a teething relief! I'm seriously impressed with it and friends have commented on how fab it is and their babies love it too.

Moving onto the Mini Micro Scooter. As I said previously, we had to wait a while to test this scooter out properly as we couldn't get outdoors. We did, however, enjoy some indoor scooter races in the lounge which MC and TC both loved.

So, with a hint of Spring finally in the air it was time to take the Mini Micro Scooter for a test drive outdoors. Now I have to admit that MC isn't the best scooter rider. She tends to scoot far too fast and isn't co-ordinated enough to lean and turn properly but she got on great with the Mini Micro.

Easily goes under the pushchair
Again, it's really sturdy and well built and the handles are really comfy to grip for her. Obviously the best thing about it according to her was "It's pink"! The best thing about it from my point of view is the sturdiness of the design. I also love how easy it is to take apart and put back together. This means it fits easily underneath the pushchair so I can take it to and from school when I drop MC off or pick her up.
Lean and turn

The scooter is turned by leaning left or right with the handle which MC struggled with at first (she must get her co-ordination from her Daddy *cough*) but in no time at all she was whizzing up and down and loving it. The Mini Micro is the perfect size for her and I have no doubt it will be keeping her happy for the next couple of years. She's just turned 4 and I think the scooter is perfect for her age. They are marketed at 3-5 year olds and the one we reviewed was priced at £49.95*. The next size up scooter (the Maxi Micro) is marketed at 6-12 year olds so I think she may be a little bit too small yet.

Tongue out for added effect
It certainly is a hit with her and now she's discovered that there are lots of super cool scooter accessories and cool bits to add on. She already has a bike helmet so we will be using that with it to keep her safe but I think I'll have to buy her a zooter - how cute!

Scoot scoot!
What's great about Micro Scooters is there's a whole community to explore so you can really get involved. You can really tell that Anna & Philippa (the two mums who set the company up) have a real passion for all things scooter. They even have a community and blog which gives ideas on where to scoot and things to do so you really can get the most from your purchase. I can't wait to try out the Hen & Eggs scooter game which looks like great fun for young kids.

So, if you're looking for a great quality scooter for your kids then Micro Scooters UK definitely have the best scooters out there in our opinion. Super fast delivery and friendly service too. What's not to love?

We've already recommended them to quite a few friends and will continue to do so as we think they are fab!

This is not a sponsored post.  
We were sent both scooters to review 
but all photographs, words, views and opinions are entirely my own.

*prices correct at time of writing

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Lullaby Trust - A Beautiful New Name

Today marks a historic occasion.

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) is changing it's name. The charity was founded well over 40 years ago, in 1971, so this is a big deal.

From today the charity will be known as The Lullaby Trust.

Beautiful name isn't it?

So very fitting.

A kiss goodnight for Tiny Ched
You hear the word 'lullaby' and already you feel an overwhelming sense of calm. Lullabies have been used to soothe babies to sleep throughout history and some of the ones we still sing now are hundreds of years old.

I have to say that Twinkle Twinkle Little Star has always been a favourite in this house. I still sing it to Mini Cheddar, if she's poorly or just wants comforting, even though she's 4 now. She will also sing it to her baby brother, Tiny Ched. Whenever I am comforting TC it's always the lullaby I choose.

The lullaby has more significance with me now though. I can't sing it without thinking about Matilda Mae, beautiful daughter of Jennie, who was taken away at the age of 9 months to cot death or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Cot death.

Two words that strike fear into any parent, especially those with young babies.

It's something that has always been in my mind during the early months of both children. Something that will now stay with me forever having a friend who's experienced the pure devastation of losing a baby.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of Jennie and her family. I know that I'll never listen or sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in quite the same way.

The work of The Lullaby Trust is so important. No parent should have to say goodbye to a child, especially not a happy and healthy baby taken without warning. The Lullaby Trust is there to offer families, like Jennie's, the support and guidance they need to deal with the loss of a baby to cot death.

It is hoped that the new name will be a gentler approach to help more families access support and information. Apparently more than 600 healthy babies in the U.K. die without warning every year. Shocking statistics. That's 600 devastated families. The Lullaby Trust are striving to reduce that number to under 200 by 2015 then further again.

Please take a moment to help spread the word about the name change for The Lullaby Trust and the amazing work they do. Blog it. Tweet it. Facebook it. Talk about it. Help raise awareness now.

I, for one, think the name change is beautiful...just like Matilda Mae.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Tilda Star xx

This is MC's favourite version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - she loves to watch the owl and the star dancing together.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Messy Play - Pirate Volcano

I'll be totally honest, we haven't done a lot of messy play before. We do a bit outside in the summer and we've had small indoor table top versions of painting, play dough and snow fun but never proper messy play on a larger, indoor scale.

Lately, Jennie has completely inspired me with her messy play blogs. She is the Queen of Messy Play and I love seeing how much her beautiful twins, Esther and William, get from it.  So Jennie has inspired me (and a lot of other bloggers) to order a Tuff Spot or a cement mixing tray.

It wasn't supposed to arrive until next week but it arrived yesterday! Just in time for the launch of Jennie's Messy Play for Matilda Mae link up which started today.

I hadn't told Matt so he was slightly taken aback when a 'table top', as he thought it was, got delivered when I was out. Oops.

We have a really busy weekend this weekend but I didn't want to miss Jennie's first link up. I didn't have anything prepared or have any ideas so I just threw something together and hoped for the best.

MC absolutely adores Jake and the Neverland Pirates and she has some of the characters along with a HappyLand pirate ship so the theme was easy. TC hasn't been too well lately and now he's teething so we did the messy play while he was having his afternoon nap but I really want to include him next time.

So, what did we come up with for our first messy play?

Well, first off, I bought some instant mash. I grabbed a small tin of pasta shapes in tomato sauce from the food cupboard, mashed them all up and added some red food colouring. I put the Tuff Spot down on a blue plastic sheet which would become the 'sea' and made the Tuff Spot into an island hosting a beach and...

a volcano!

I sprinkled the left over instant mash to make the beach and then we got some crackerbreads which MC added to the beach as driftwood.

She was beside herself with excitement.

It was a joy to see.

At first she was a bit reluctant to get really messy and kept trying to flick any bits that got on her hands off but in no time at all she was in the thick of it.

As well as playing pirates and finding some treasure we had lots of fun.

I then sat back and watched in amazement as MC did the following:

* Dipped Cubby in the volcano
* Buried poor Cubby alive in the sand
* Made sand angels with the characters
* Wrote her name in the sand
* Ran her hands back and forth through the sand
* Picked up the sand and dropped it like snow
* Dipped Izzy in the bowl and made lava footprints on the Tuff Spot
* Made lava footprints on her leg
* Dipped Izzy in the sand to get all gloopy
* Put more lava into the volcano
* Made hand prints in the sand
* Sat and sprinkled sand on her legs
* Made patterns in the sand with the driftwood

I couldn't believe how simple it was to create and just how much joy MC got from it and now I'm asking myself why I haven't done this sooner?

I'm totally sold on messy play now and I think Matt is, even though he wasn't impressed at first he saw just how much MC got out of it.

The bonus? It was also simple to clean up.

If you are thinking of doing some messy play...my advice? Don't think. DO! 

The rules of messy play? There are no rules. The only boundary is your imagination.

Susanne has written a great post with some links to ideas from herself and Jennie so you can go there and get plenty of inspiration: Messy Play for Matilda Mae: 14 Posts to Help and Inspire You!

Here's to more messy play in this house!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

#MeAndMine - A Family Portrait (March)

I posted a family portrait on Instagram last night.

Nothing new there, I hear you say.

Those who follow me on IG know I love it so much. I spend more time there than any other social media I think. I love sharing captures of family life and getting insights into friends lives.

This photo was different though.

This photo was the first photo of us as a family of four.

Can you believe it?

It was taken on Good Friday (29th March) by my brother-in-law. The day after Tiny Ched's 1st Birthday. It took us a year and a day to get a photo of all of us. I feel so unhappy about this. My photos are usually of the kids and occasionally of me and the kids or Matt and the kids.

Never of all of us.

I said it was something I wanted to change. 

So the lovely Lucy saw my photo and words and asked me if I'd like to join in with the #MeAndMine challenge. Take a family portrait each month for the year so here I am. I think it will be a great way to make sure that I capture family photos that I can treasure. I wish I'd heard about the link-up sooner (my own fault for not being about much this year).

The month of March has been an up and down kind of month (much like the year so far) full of lots of illness, hospital visits and the kids celebrated their 4th and 1st birthdays. TC was actually ill the day this was taken and Matt and I were completely knackered and emotional but I still love it.

We are determined to have a happier month during April. The Florida holiday is fast approaching and we also have something else happening which could prove great for our family if it all comes together.

Here's to our next family portrait!


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