Tuesday, 30 September 2014

#MeAndMine - A Family Portrait (September 2014)

September has been a busy month. 

Really busy.

It's been a month of birthdays, nights out, days out, meals out and general madness. I feel like I haven't even got time to break wind right now. I'm also on countdown as I'm turning 40 in less than 2 weeks! Eep! I'm going to be revamping the look of my blog to coincide with my birthday too and I have some very special photographs to share. I am really determined to find the time to blog properly again.

Anyway, back to this past past month...

Matt and I have weirdly become closer than I ever imagined over this past month. We've always been incredibly close - we share everything - but this, this closeness is amazing and something I wish I could bottle and sell to every single couple I know right now. We are so thankful for a lot of things too. We have two happy, healthy and beautiful children. We have amazing family and friends and our house move last June was the best move we have ever made. We love our new house and have made some fantastic new friends from our neighbours. We are off for a third trip to Walt Disney World with the children next year and my parents are joining us for part of it too. I could go on.

We've lived in this area together for over 10 years now (I've lived here all my life). We are a stones throw from beautiful countryside, amazing cities and lovely beaches. We have the perfect mix of what we need at this time of our lives. We are also very close to Chester Zoo.

Because of this we have a membership which means we can go along anytime we like. Sometimes we will just go for an hour so the children can visit some of their favourite animals and play on the play ark for a while. We love Chester Zoo and I've written about it before we had a membership. 

What makes it so special now is that we have been watching the new BBC drama 'Our Zoo' which is based on the true story of the Mottershead family who founded the zoo in the 1930's. The series documents their fight to make Chester Zoo work, despite huge opposition from the locals of the village of Upton.

It's fascinating watching the history of a place I love and have known all my life. I was born just down the road from Chester Zoo too so it makes it even more special.

The only bad thing (for us) is that, since the series has aired, Chester Zoo seems to be a lot busier than it used to be. This is a great thing for the animals and conservation work they do though and I'm so pleased the series is such a huge hit. Thankfully, even when it's busy it's still a superb day out. If you haven't been then you should make sure you manage to visit. I may see you there!

I've been to Chester Zoo a couple of times this month with TC and friends but we went there as a family on Matt's birthday weekend. It was perfect weather - not too hot or cold - and there were plenty of animals to see and fun to be had. MC wanted to go on the monorail as she'd never been on it before. I decided that this was to be the setting of our family photo for this month.

Matt decided to yawn on the first take.

Then TC shut his eyes on the second.

But I didn't bother taking a third photo as both of these were enough. They show us as happy and together and that, for me, is the perfect photo.

dear beautiful

This post is not a sponsored post
I wasn't asked to promote Chester Zoo or Our Zoo -
I just love them both

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Get Ready To Check In At The Furchester Hotel!

My TV planner is all set to record tomorrow - Friday 26th September at 5pm.

On CBeebies!

We love it when anything new starts in this house but especially this.

This is very exciting!

MC is beside herself because she says she "knows the characters".

You see, back in May this year, we were both invited to CBeebies HQ in Manchester to get an exclusive preview of a new children's show which is a collaboration between CBeebies and the Sesame Workshop.

It was a brilliant afternoon.

Photo: BBC
The Furchester Hotel is a brand new series following the lives of a family of a cheeky monsters who own and run an 'almost' world-class hotel - Funella Furchester, her husband, Furgus Fuzz and their daughter Phoebe Furchester-Fuzz. Phoebe's cousin, Elmo (I know!), comes to stay at the hotel for an extended visit and the Cookie Monster (squeal!) gets the job as a waiter and room service attendant.

Each week the family encounters small problems that they need to solve so the series is designed with helping to develop problem-solving for three to six year olds. With their family motto of 'A Furchester never gives up!' the series will promote this skill each week with the monsters going out of their way to meet the needs of their hotel guests.

When we arrived at CBeebies HQ we were greeted by Elmo and Cookie Monster characters and were invited to colour pictures and have fun in a photo booth before heading upstairs for refreshments and a look at an unfinished episode which all the kids absolutely loved.

Not only did we get to see the sneak peek, we also got to meet the characters and their puppeteers!

I was unaware that this was going to happen (I thought the character meet was the big characters downstairs) and, I do have to admit, having a lump in my throat when they all walked into the room and all the kids (and adults!) squealed with delight.

It was amazing seeing the puppeteers working the characters and voices and it was fabulous to watch the children interacting with the characters themselves despite being able to see the puppeteers.

MC is a fan of Elmo so, as soon as she saw him, she made her way straight over to him and got the first hug in (please excuse the portrait recording).

We also got to go down to the studio between filming and walk onto the set itself. We couldn't take photos of the set itself but you can get an idea of just how amazing The Furchester Hotel is on this BBC news video. Who wouldn't want to check in here?

Photo: BBC
I was totally in awe at how huge and impressive the set was and the great work that goes into making each episode. I really do think that CBeebies and the Sesame Workshop have created something brilliant for both children and adults to enjoy and I, for one, cannot wait until tomorrow!

MC and I were invited to CBeebies HQ and were
given light refreshments, a tour of the studio, an 
episode airing and character meet.
I was not asked to write this post and all photos, 
videos and words (unless otherwise stated) are my own.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

"What Do You Do?"

It's a question the rears it's ugly head once in a while.

It's a question that I sometimes answer with a passion. Ready for a fight that never comes.

It's a question that I sometimes answer with weakness and dread. Then I kick myself for not being proud and not fighting my corner when that question I dread is asked of me.

"What do you do?"

Such a simple question.

It should be a simple answer.

"I'm a stay at home mum" comes my reply.

It's either met with enthusiasm or jealousy...

"Oooh how fabulous!"

"You're so lucky! I wish I could afford to stay at home with the kids - they are only little for such a short time"

...Or it's met with misunderstanding or ignorance.

It happened to me again the other month.

An older brother of an ex-boyfriend I hadn't seen in years.

"So what are you doing now?" he said eagerly.

"I'm a stay at home mum".

"Ooooooh" he laughed "A lady of leisure!"

"Ha, yeah" came my feeble response as I wasn't prepared for a fight…but then I never am. "I wish!" I added on the end and then quickly changed the subject.

I'd like to think I would be ready to stand up for myself but I never am. I then spend the rest of the year month week day kicking myself for not being stronger and standing up for something I believe in. Something I love.

It makes me feel like crap.


Why should I have to explain myself?

Why should anyone judge me for giving up a career to be with my kids?

Why should anyone think that being a stay-at-home-mum resembles the lifestyle of a WAG?

I don't judge women who return to work. In fact I salute them. I'm not entirely sure I could do it, especially full-time.

But this isn't going to be one of those posts that gives all the pros and cons about working versus staying at home. It's been done thousands of times over and the same divides remain. It's quite tiresome actually.

I just know that I hate being judged for the decision I've made. I hate people thinking I swan around each day meeting friends for coffee, having my nails done or going shopping.* It can also make me feel like some kind of second class citizen. Like I don't belong if you know what I mean?

The fact remains, I hate the "What do you do?" question and I don't think that feeling will ever change.

However, I love being a stay-at-home-mum (the clues in the blog!). I love that I am here for my kids and I can watch them both grow. I know that I have these feelings on my side and all the people who are ignorant to my decision can, quite frankly, do one!

If they want to think I lead a WAG lifestyle then let them. The thing is, I lead a lifestyle far more richer than any WAG. I lead a happy and healthy lifestyle with my children and that's something I'm mightily proud of.

* I still have spa vouchers I was given as a gift in March that I haven't used yet!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Works Of Heart - A Bit Of Disney Magic In Our Home

Every now and again you discover something amazing. Something that you know you will love and you will want to treasure forever.

It's like this a lot of the time when MC brings home her artwork from school or sits down to draw something at home. She loves drawing and I have a large folder full of her work that I just have to keep.

The thing is, apart from the ones I display on our 'This week at school' board and the ones I have framed in the play room, they do just that, they sit in a folder never really to see the light of day.

This makes me sad.

Luckily my wonderful artist friend Minty has created something very special that every parent of young children should know about. I remember Minty testing the idea on Facebook and quite a few of us thought it was wonderful….

Take a piece of your children's precious artwork and bring it to life!

How amazing does that sound?

Well, wait until you see the actual work from 'Works Of Heart'. It's even more amazing.

Minty has a very special creative talent. She didn't demand I wrote this blog post but her work deserves to be shared.

As soon as I saw Minty's new 'Works Of Heart'' venture I knew immediately which piece of artwork that I wanted re-created. Regular readers of my blog will know how much we adore Orlando, Florida and our love for The Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World. We first went in 2012 when I was heavily pregnant - it was meant to be a last big holiday before or baby boy was born. We loved it so much we returned in 2013 with a 4 year old and a 13 month old and we are going back next year too. We are all completely hooked.

MC often draws pictures of Disney characters and earlier this year she drew Mickey and Minnie Mouse and I loved it.

One wall in our dining room was still blank. Awaiting the perfect picture or photo to sit opposite the family gallery on the other wall. I wanted Minty to re-create MC's Disney picture larger than the original so I asked for A3.

I sent over a digital photo of MC's creation and simply told Minty that I wanted it to show our love for Walt Disney World, Florida. That was it. She did the rest.

What I received was beautiful.

You can't really tell from the photograph of the artwork but Mickey and Minnie, all the flags and hearts actually stand out from the background. There is also so much sparkle on the artwork too and I love the fact Cinderella's Castle is the backdrop. It's amazing and I love it so much.

I knew I wanted to pay to have it professionally framed immediately. I took both MC's and Minty's artwork to the framers and they said it was incredible - asking who had done it. The framer put a large mount around it and, with some left over paint from our kitchen and dining room, painted the perfect frame. He even mounted MC's original drawing on the back so the two will always be together and I want to pass this picture down through the family over the years.

It looks absolutely amazing - far better than the photographs show.

It's now a fantastic talking point over dinner in our house!

Please head over to Minty's Works Of Heart Facebook page and see all the other incredible children's artwork she has recreated.

Please contact Minty at Works Of Heart for all size options and prices


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...