Wednesday, 31 July 2013

#MeAndMine - A Family Portrait (July)

I missed out on last months Me and Mine as we moved house and were without Internet for a while *weeps a little at the memory*. As it was, we didn't have time to take a family photo anyway as life was hectic - I would have had to use another Florida one taken at the beginning of June.

So, catching up on 2 months worth really. What have we been up to?

The holiday to Orlando was incredible. I finally got my first blog post about children's ages for Disney live the other day. 3 weeks after returning from holiday we moved house. We've been in a month now and...

...we love it here.

I'll be blogging about it at some point but the house is gorgeous. We love having so much room, the neighbourhood is lovely and we've made friends already - so has MC! We are perfectly happy here.

The kids seem to have settled into the new house brilliantly. They are growing up so fast. MC has finished nursery class and will be starting full time school in September. TC is starting to develop his speech more and is fast becoming a keen footballer already.

So, as I said, life has been full on. We don't get a huge amount of time together as a family of 4 anyway as every other weekend we have to see the inlaws (they live in Nottingham) so that always has to be considered when planning anything. This weekend just gone though, with the house pretty much sorted, we decided to have some much overdue family time.

With the weather warm and sunny we packed up a picnic and headed to Greenfield Valley Heritage Park.

I took so many photos of the kids enjoying the grass, the flowers, the abbey ruins and playing football. It was just so lovely to watch them having fun.

It was perfect.

So I decided to set up the timer on the camera to make sure I got a photo of all 4 of us.

It took it.

Then I checked the photo.

I immediately dissolved into a fit of the giggles.

In my rush to set up the photo with us all on the picnic mat I'd forgotten to move the cool bag from in front of TC*.

What appeared on the camera screen was hilarious. Matt and I couldn't stop laughing.

It so looks like TC is actually in the cool bag (he wasn't I must add, he was sat behind it)!

That was it... I'd got my Me and Mine photo instantly. I didn't bother taking another one.

There was no need.

To me, this is perfect and hilarious in equal measures.

*If I'd been even more picky I would've moved the pushchair too :)

dear beautiful

Monday, 29 July 2013

Waiting Until The Kids Are 'Old Enough' For Walt Disney World?

If you are then I have one question for you...

Why, exactly?

Now, before I get into this blog post I just have to say that I know for a lot of people that going to Walt Disney World (that's 'world', not to be confused with the smaller - by a miles - Disney'Land's' across the globe) is a once in a lifetime experience.

I get that.

Flights out to Orlando, Florida are very expensive. We're lucky that we get practically free accommodation out there which makes up for it. I also understand that tickets for Disney and the other theme parks out there are very expensive for children over the age of 3 and adults. The first time we went, last year, was just before MC's 3rd birthday. This year we had to pay for her, as she was 4, and her tickets weren't much less than adult prices. Ouch. Thankfully though, TC was only 13.5 months old so he was free. I know next time we go (there will be a next time - we love it too much) it will be very expensive as we'll be paying for both children.

If you are going as a once in a lifetime trip then I would say wait*. Wait until your children are old enough to remember the holiday. Wait until they can go on all the rides. Wait until they are old enough to entertain themselves on the flight.

I have to admit, I was a little worried about taking TC over there. Those of you who read my pre-trip blog posts will know. However, I needn't have worried at all.

He absolutely loved it.

I mean really loved it.

Some people were a little shocked we were taking him over there. All of those people, however, are people who have never ever been there before.

Until you experience Walt Disney World, Orlando you can't even begin to understand just how utterly amazing it is. You can't understand just how immense it is and you certainly can't understand how it caters for all ages. From the very tiny to the very old.

It is, in our opinion, the happiest place on earth.

Sounds cheesy but it's true.

We knew it was going to be a good holiday when TC managed the 9.5 hour flight (without his own seat) by only sleeping 2 hours and managing to entertain himself for the remaining 7.5 hours without so much as a whimper.

With the flight over with I was worried about the heat. We left a pretty grim UK in mid-May and headed to heat that was to be an average of 30 degrees celsius everyday (with a heatwave of mid to high-30's to follow).

He coped amazingly. Although I have to say that taking a great pushchair and the awesome SnoozeShade helped. We also purchased a Mickey fan that clipped onto his pushchair. I won't say he didn't get incredibly hot and sweaty when he had his naps, he was dripping sometimes, but it didn't bother him.

We are lucky that (usually) TC is a happy little boy. He's really chilled, loves his sleep and his food and absolutely loves people. Walt Disney World was a real amazing experience for his senses.

He loved all the sights, sounds and smells. I don't think he stopped smiling for the 3 weeks we were there. It was such a great experience for him and he even started walking over there. He loved the characters (some more than others, admittedly - it seems Wreck-It-Ralph and Chip 'n Dale were his favourites) and they loved him. In fact, everyone loved him and commented on how cute he was. I know I'm totally biased but he is. He has one of the cheekiest grins ever.

When I say Disney caters for all ages, I'm not lying. There are so many family orientated rides there - especially at The Magic Kingdom - which even the tiniest of babies can go on. He absolutely loved all of them. His eyes were wide open and his smile like he'd slept with a coat hanger in his mouth.

I know he won't remember the holiday but we all will.

We have some absolutely incredible memories.

Memories that will be with us forever.

My advice if you are waiting to take the kids to Walt Disney World?


Want a little bit of proof? I'll let a few of my photos (and these are just the ones from my iPhone) speak for themselves...

If you're planning a first time visit to Orlando then please make sure you check out my 'Beginners Guide To Orlando' post I wrote last year which is my most visited blog post of all time.

*Part of me wants to scream 'don't wait even if it will be a once in a lifetime trip'. You never know what life will throw at you and my 'Life's Too Short' post is testament to that. Today is a year ago that Kerry (aka MultipleMummy) fell ill. She was one of the loveliest and happiest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her blog comment from last year still sits at the forefront of my mind. What has happened to beautiful Matilda Mae (daughter of Jennie at Edspire) also weighs heavy on my mind as well as Tamsyn's (Anecdotes of a Manic Mum) husband, Alex. You really never know what life will send your way so make the most of it before it's too late.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Letting Go

My little girl is growing up.

She only turned 4 in March and I'm now facing a real emotional struggle.

A struggle of happiness and proudness but also a struggle of sadness at letting go.

We moved house just 3 weeks ago and it seemed this weekend, after the children finished school for the summer on Friday, that they all took to the outdoors. There are a lot of children of all ages living here and our next door neighbours little boy, who is 7, seems to really like MC.

They first met briefly on Saturday morning as I was popping out to the shops with her quickly. We hadn't been home long before there was a knock at the door.

"Can MC come out to play?"

Before long there were 4 kids in an out of our house and garden. Cries of "We are just going to so and so's house to play on the trampoline", "We are just going to the park","Can we have buckets and spades to collect some rocks?","Can we have ice lollies?".

It was exhausting but it was also lovely.

I know that this is now our life.

The children were 6, 7 and 8 so all older than MC but they were brilliant with her. I watched her play from the window. So grown up but also so small.

We are lucky that we live in a really safe community and we live right in the centre of a quiet cul-de-sac drive with a park opposite.

It doesn't stop me worrying though.

It all feels very alien to me. I don't know if I'm quite ready to be letting her go just yet.

She's my baby. I know she'll always be my baby girl but she's growing up so so fast.

Even tonight, at 7.30pm they called for her. Today I had the boy from next door here for lunch and then the boy down the road walking in the French doors later in the afternoon to come play.

I know that the summer holidays are only just beginning and she'll be making even more friends with the other children who are closer to her own age. I know she's got her head screwed on for a 4 year old but she's also easily led and distracted as any child her age can be.

She starts full-time school in September and I was going to struggle a bit letting her go then, but it seems I've lost her already.

I'm letting her go but tonight I'm holding her tight.

As I sit here typing this she's in my bed, still awake, as we've stayed up to watch Toy Story and the Royal Baby coverage whilst Daddy is away.

I don't think I'm really ready to let go just yet.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

First Builders By Mega Bloks - Making Our New Build Move Easier

I knew moving house was pretty stressful. I'd done it 5 times before.

However, I'd never moved with children before.

So to move with a 4 year old and a 15 month old was hard going. My parents (thankfully!) had the kids for us the night before and the day of the move but we still had 1 or more of them almost everyday leading up to that. Everyone who knows me knows how stressed out I was before the move.

I was also wondering how the kids would settle in the new house and how on earth Matt and I were going to unpack with them both running rings around us.

In all the stress I'd completely forgotten to buy the kids a couple of 'new house' toys.

That's when The Entertainer came to our rescue.

We absolutely love Mega Bloks in our house. Mini Cheddar had the play table, lots of bags of bricks and an In The Night Garden play set when she was a year old and beyond. We'd not long put them away before TC arrived on the scene. Around his first birthday I got them all out again and he loved them. Surprisingly, so did MC.

So imagine the delight when The Entertainer sent us a bundle of the new Mega Bloks 'First Builders' toys to put to the test.

First Builders are new learning blocks aimed at 1-5 year olds and I thought both the kids would love them. I just never realised how much.

We were sent the following:

First Builders Big Building Bag
First Builders 1-2-3 Count!
Lil' Vehicles - Dylan Dump Truck

They have been perfect for keeping the kids occupied safely whilst Matt and I have been unpacking boxes (although I fear we'll still be unpacking by Christmas!).

As with all the Mega Bloks range they are bright, chunky and easy to assemble.

MC was actually first on the scene and was eager to unpack the blocks. I thought she may be disappointed that they were 'baby toys' but she loved them straight away.

I have to admit, that at 15 months, TC was more interested in the bags - which, are now environmentally friendly PVC bags - and loved putting taking the blocks out and putting them in again. He then discovered he could do the same with Dylan Dump Truck and, what's more, the truck could tip it's dumper so the blocks came out which amused him greatly! It also came with a few blocks which was a bonus.

The1-2-3 Count! bag was my favourite (apparently they do a letters version too) as, not only were there 30 blocks included, there were also over 50 stickers containing numbers and pictures to stick on the blocks. MC is due to move up to reception in September and has already started learning to add and subtract so these blocks are perfect. We got the Mega Bloks table out to stack them on and had fun practicing sums.

I think it's a great and interesting way to teach sums for pre-schoolers and I know we'll be getting a lot of use out of these over the summer holidays which start tomorrow. Yay!

Of course, the Big Building Bag was great too - 60 blocks of various shapes and sizes which have been primarily either thrown around the room (TC) or built into the tallest towers ever (MC).

All in all, we think these new range of blocks from Mega Bloks are fun and educational. What every pre-school toy should be.

You can buy the First Builders range from your local The Entertainer store or online ( for the following prices*

First Builders Big Building Bag - £15.00
First Builders 1-2-3 Count! - £10.00
Lil' Vehicles - Dylan Dump Truck - £10.00

We are part of The Entertainer review team and were
sent the Mega Bloks First Builders toys to review 
but all photographs, words, views and opinions are entirely my own.

*prices correct at time of writing

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Saturday Is Matilda Mae SkyDive Day #MMSkyDive

This coming Saturday is a very special day.

It's also a very scary day for 9 amazing women.

They are jumping out of a plane to raise money for The Lullaby Trust in memory of beautiful Matilda Mae.

However, it's nowhere near as scary as every Saturday that Jennie faces.

If you follow my blog or are part of the blogging community you will know the story of my friend, and fellow blogger, Jennie. We shared our pregnancy journeys together - me with Tiny Ched and Jennie with her miracle daughter, Matilda Mae, who was born just a month after TC.

Sadly, Matilda was taken away from Jennie, at just 9 months old, on Saturday 2nd February by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)... more commonly known as cot death.

A cot.

Somewhere you expect your baby to be safe.

But for many parents it isn't.

Each year, in the U.K., over 600 families are torn apart because of the devastating loss of a precious child to SIDS.

Each year these families go through the unimaginable pain that no parent should have to go through.

The Lullaby Trust work tirelessly to help support these families on this terrible journey. Their work is vital to not only offer this support but also to raise awareness of SIDS and do all they can to help prevent it.

Anyone who's followed Jennie's personal story will never forget Matilda Mae. I think of her every day and I never had the pleasure of meeting her - I'd only met Jennie before when we were both pregnant. I've spoken publicly about Tilda twice now on behalf of the blogging community and all the beautiful photos Jennie took in her 9 short months are etched in my memory.

Beautiful Matilda Mae and Jennie
A little girl with such a short life but a little girl who has left a lasting impression.

A legacy to be proud of.

A legacy to shout about.

A legacy to raise thousands of pounds for The Lullaby Trust.

A legacy to jump out of a plane for.

How amazing!

Yes, Saturday is a very special day.

The Matilda Mae Sky Dive will be incredible. These women, a few I've never met and a few I have a couple of times (and now are lucky enough to call friends) are doing something so amazing, something so brave, something that deserves to be shouted about.

Something that deserves to be sponsored.

Also, one of these ladies has a very special place in my heart.


We both attended Matilda's funeral back in March. Although we had met previously, it was only once when we were both pregnant. We then spent the best part of 2 days together, sharing tears and support (and an amazing roast dinner made by her lovely mum) and becoming friends. Suzanne's blog post really sums it all up. We held each other up when we stood up and spoke about Tilda's legacy. Then we did it all again last month at BritMums Live. Suzanne and I always shed a tear whenever we meet up now, as we remember, but we also share smiles and laughter. And hugs. Lots of hugs. I've made a friend for life.

She is an amazing lady, and I know the other 8 (also amazing) ladies jumping with her will look after her for me as I can't be there this weekend.

These 9 ladies are going to jump into the sky.

The sky is somewhere I look when I think of Baby Tilda and on Saturday my eyes will be up in the air most of the day...remembering Tilda and thinking about what these incredible women are doing to raise money.

Please can I ask that if you haven't already sponsored them, can you? Even the smallest amount will go a long way to raise money for The Lullaby Trust. Can I also ask that you spread the word by mouth, by social media, by email...hell, even pick up the, whatever you can to get people to raise money.

The link for Team Matilda Mae Sky Dive is here. Please sponsor and pass it on.

If you're using social media, please use the hashtag #MMSkyDive. Please let's make this hashtag trend on Saturday. Also add in @LullabyTrust to Twitter to raise awareness of the charity. Shout about the sponsorship, let's make as much noise as we can!

Let's help raise as much money as we possibly can for The Lullaby Trust and their incredible work. Let's support these 9 amazing women as they take to the sky on Saturday. Let's continue the legacy of a beautiful little girl lost.

Lost but never EVER forgotten.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Making My New Kitchen Perfect Thanks To LakeLand Furniture

You know when an email drops in your inbox and even though you're in a public place you actually squeal slightly with delight?

Well, that happened to me a few weeks back now. It was before we moved house and my thoughts were consumed with moving and making our new house our future home. Anyone who knows me will know it's been at the forefront of my mind for the last month or so.

I had a list of things we needed to buy and a pair of red barstools was written on that list. Our new kitchen has an island (*squeals* I've always wanted one) and part of it is a breakfast bar.

So imagine my delight when Lakeland Furniture emailed me asking if I'd like to review a product for them. They specialise in reproductions of modern classic furniture and have a huge (and I mean massive) range of barstools and chairs.

I did actually squeal when I looked at their website and was very excited!

We knew we wanted red for the new kitchen and so the search commenced. The Lakeland Furniture website was simple and very user-friendly. Just selecting 'red barstools' on the website brought back a choice of 52 barstools. We couldn't believe the huge choice.

We finally settled on 2 Mars Red Padded Barstools (priced at £45 each*) which we thought would be perfect. We were also impressed they come with a 2 year warranty.

There was much excitement when they arrived. I'd expected the box to be much bigger but when I opened it I realised how well they'd been packed.

The chrome plated steel bases were really well packaged inside too so they didn't get damaged in any way.

The instructions of how to assemble the barstools were really simple and even TC wanted to help mummy.

It was simply put the pole with the footrest into the base, then screw in the pole with the gas lift handle onto the bottom of the seats (4 screws and Allen key provided) and then slot the two together.

Hey presto!

Even I managed to put them together effortlessly in no time at all.

I have to be honest and say that the colour of them is a lot brighter than how they appear on the Lakeland Furniture website but they still look amazing in our kitchen.

Most of our visitors to the new house have immediately commented on them and said how comfortable they are. I do have to say that they are extremely comfortable (they support your back unlike others I've tried) and are easy to clean - a must with 2 small kiddos. They are actually the most comfy barstools I've ever sat on...and I've sat on a lot!

We'd really recommend Lakeland Furniture if you want good quality products at great prices. Delivery is totally free within mainland UK which is great. I didn't realise, until I visited their website, that they supply to the TV industry. So when you see Mr Blumenthal in a fancy kitchen you know why.

I'm in love

Yes, it's totally an excuse to give you a sneak peak inside my new kitchen but forgive me *wink*

We were sent the two bar stools to review 
but all photographs, words, views and opinions are entirely my own.

*prices correct at time of writing

Saturday, 6 July 2013

In A Stew About School

Those of you who follow my blog will know we moved house just over a week ago.

It's gone great, even better than we expected in fact (blog post to follow when I come out from under boxes!). We are totally in love with the house - it's perfect. It's one we have coveted since before TC was born. It's right next to where we used to live before our last house so we know the area very well and it's lovely to be living back here. We have everything we need and more. I'm happier than I've been in a long time.

Apart from one thing.

I'm in turmoil over Mini Cheddar's school.

We have only moved a couple of miles or so away. It takes a few minutes to drive down the road to our old house. The school that MC has her reception place at is near our old house. It's a really lovely school and she's been very happy there of a morning in her nursery class.

I thought when we moved I'd be happy for her to continue at this school. It means a short car journey - it's a bit too far to walk now - but it's been no bother.

The thing is, there is a school right around the corner from our new house. It's a smaller school. A lot smaller than her current one. Is smaller better?

The official reports say that her current school has the edge but people seem to rate the local school very highly and argue that this isn't the case.

I'm having sleepless nights at the moment trying to decide what to do for the best. The decision may be taken out of my hands - it could be that there aren't any places at the local school. I haven't checked but I'm going to investigate on Monday. In a way I'm hoping the decision is out of my hands, as selfish as that sounds.

I know MC wants to stay at her current school but she's only 4 years old and the reason she gave me (when she heard Matt and I discussing it last week) was that "the local school doesn't have a slide outside". The slide is in the nursery section anyway so she wouldn't have access to it in September - I've not broken that one to her yet!

Anyway, I'm worried that if she stays at her current school that neighbours children will be going to the local school so she'll have difficulty fitting in. I worry that in bad weather we won't be able to get into school. In the snow in March it was great to be able to sledge to school! I worry that when TC is old enough he won't get into the school as we live outside the catchment area and I would like them both to go to the same school. I worry that she may be missing out on more one-on-one education from a smaller school. Her recent school report said she's shy in school (anyone who knows my daughter in real life knows she's far from shy!) and I don't know if a smaller class would be better for this.

However, I'm worried that if I move her - she won't like it. I'm worried I'll regret it and then we are stuck.

What would you do?

Do you have any experience or advice?

I just can't seem to concentrate on anything else right now.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The BabaSling Lite - The Perfect Travel Companion

In a mad panic before our recent holiday I took took to Twitter (my saviour for advice) wondering if anyone could recommend a great baby wearing sling or carrier for our Florida trip.

You see, I'm not a baby wearer. It just doesn't come that naturally to me. Maybe I've just been unlucky with my carrier choices.

4 years ago, when MC was born, we bought an all-singing, all dancing carrier. It was one that could be worn in many different ways. MC hated it. I hated it. It was difficult to set up and when it was, MC just wasn't happy in it at all. Not on my back, or my front. I ended up selling it unused.

I tried a new one when TC was born last year but neither of us got on with that either.

With the forthcoming holiday I knew a sling would come in really handy though. Anyone who's travelled to Orlando International Airport with a small child will know that the layout of it doesn't favour those with buggies/strollers and, with TC still not able to walk unaided at this point, it made sense to try and find an appropriate sling. Also, I was unsure of what the queue times for the theme park rides would be. We'd have to leave the buggy in the designated 'stroller parks' whilst queuing and I didn't fancy the idea of having to carry TC for a huge amount of time.

Well, as usual, Twitter came to my rescue. There were a few slings and carriers that were mentioned but one that kept being mentioned and looked fabulous - just what I was after. Then, as luck would have it, the people at BabaSling were alerted by tweets from people recommending and asked if we'd like to review the BabaSling Lite.


It sounded perfect for our holiday so we thought we'd put it to the test. What better test for a sling designed for travel? A 3 week holiday in Florida.

At Orlando International Airport
So, we picked a gorgeous turquoise colour sling (there are 5 more to choose from too) and it arrived super quick so we were able to give it a go before the holiday.

As soon as I opened it I knew it was going to be great. The material (100% breathable cotton) was lovely and the colour was stunning. It also comes in a carry bag too.

Tiny Ched took to it straight away and I loved the simplicity of it. A few adjustments (the tutorial videos are excellent) and we were pros in a matter of minutes. I actually felt like a 'baby wearer' for the first time in over 4 years. The sling has 5 different carry positions but, I have to say, that 'side saddle' works best for both of us given TC's age. It can be used up to 2 years - I just wish I'd found it sooner! As someone who breastfed it would have been brilliant as you can breastfeed discreetly with it too.

Loving the sling in the Florida sun
As the BabaSling Lite is more lightweight than the BabaSling Classic and the BabaSling Cozy it's perfect for doing jobs around the house with a clingy little one. Thankfully TC is happy to just follow me around the house but to test the BabaSling out before the holiday we tried it out. He was more than happy to be in it and I loved having him so close as he loves cuddles.

Queuing at The Magic Kingdom
The sling really came into it's own on holiday though. It was perfect for the airport. We whizzed through immigration and on the trams, up escalators  and to baggage claim with ease with him in the sling. It was a brilliant start and he didn't get too hot even though the weather in Orlando was baking. We also used it a few times at Disney theme parks - although not as much as I thought as the queues for rides were in our favout.

The BabaSling is my ideal sling. We really love it. And, what's more, it goes in the washing machine with ease and still looks brand new.

It's main use now we are home from holiday is when I need to mow the lawns and I can't have TC (who can now walk perfectly) running everywhere in the garden. He really enjoys mowing the lawn with me.
Mowing the lawns with mummy

I think it's a must have for an extensive travel holiday but also it's great for around the house.

We really wish we'd found it sooner.

The BabaSling Lite retails at £39.99* and can be purchased direct from BabaSling or from other retailers.

We were sent the BabaSling Lite to review 
but all photographs, words, views and opinions are entirely my own.

*prices correct at time of writing


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