Thursday, 30 April 2015

Parenting Home Truths

I like to think I am pretty experienced at being a parent. I have lots and lots of advice up my sleeves (as well as tissues, baby wipes and other supplies.) Remember, everyone has advice for you and some of it you'll take - some you won't. Most of all, you'll learn as you go along. Below are my parenting home truths. Things that you WILL do.

Go on, you can say you won't to all of these - but I am telling you now - you will do these. (And if you don't YAY YOU here's a shiny gold medal...) So without further ado - have a read, go on.

.........................

* You will definitely use your finger as a tissue at some point (sorry)
* Microwave chips will be your friend (on occasion)
* You will tell lies to your child like "Peppa Pig is dead" to stop them dashing to the Peppa Pig supermarket ride  (Harsh - this was one of Warren's not mine.)
* The toilet is also your friend. You can hide in there



* Your personal grooming will suffer. In my case, I have hair and fashion issues...



* Your new nightclub is Asda or B&M. You will dance in the aisles. I promise.

* You will be irrational. Last week I found myself clutching the lava lamp and hiding in the kitchen - the kids had been gunning for it all morning and it had "smashed to smithereens" written all over it. I looked demented. See Exhibit A


Exhibit A


* Crafts will be A Thing. Oh yes. You're going to spend late nights trying to making Rapunzel out of a potato too, I promise you that.


* You'll do all of this. And then you will forget ALL OF THE NEGATIVES.


Because your children are TOTALLY* worth it. 



*apart from the hair situation - this clearly needs fixing, I have issues.

Monday, 27 April 2015

My Hit & Miss Crafts

Now you all know that I am not the best crafty Mum in the world. My Instagram photos are not going to win any awards, and I don't have Pinterest boards filled with genius bakes and creations and I don't even own any sewing needles.

However, what I do have is an interest in spending quality time with the kids and giving crafts a good go. My favourite craft has to be baking. Which is ridiculous considering my Slimming World #operationwobblybottom adventures - I just would never eat cake - certainly not the cake that I make - I know exactly how much butter has gone in!

However, I love watching the kids' creating and getting all messy and involved in stuff like this, so it's all worth it. Last week Emily was tasked in school to come up with a business plan, and to demonstrate it. So, long story short - I HAD TO BAKE A RAINBOW CAKE. Yes, her idea was about being some sort of baker - so I had to buy the goods and well....get creative. I have baked one of these before so I knew the amount of work that had to go in.

I basically had to bake five cakes, as you know if you've ever done this. Below are pictures of the final result. I'll be honest, I was chuffed that I have now baked this type of cake twice and got away with it - apparently it was gorgeous and most of it got scoffed in school.




Flicking through my old craft photos - I am a bit hit and miss come to think of it.

HIT

MISS

HIT



MISS

HIT

HIT...(What do you mean it's a "miss"??)

If you were looking for craft supplies, then Hobbycraft is always a great place to pick things up. We tend to have a wander around our local shop quite regularly and pick up bits and bobs for the kids.

Always remember, crafts are not just for Instagram and Facebook - just get involved, have a laugh and hope for the best. Sometimes the actual making is just as fun as the end product!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Our Family's Normal

When I read about family traditions it makes think "yeah whatever." People like reading books together and playing Monopoly and bla bla bla, I have this uncontrollable aversion to all things painted as picture-perfect - life is just not like that really is it.

However, when I start thinking about my own family - it is not all that different. We also have our family traditions, and our normal usual quirks. So, here is our normal - just a few examples. I'm sure you have your own too.

The Gravy Situation

Most Sundays we have a roast dinner. About half an hour before it is plated out, I have the kids "test" the gravy. I spend a while making it fresh, I thicken it with cornflour and make it thick and rich. I put a ladle into a bowl for the kids and ask them to check that it's OK. They say nothing, wolf the lot and ask for seconds.

*proud Mum-face*

Chief Gravy Testers
Bed Time

We have a good routine with the babies. Bath, cuddles, singing, story, bed.

Our latest "thing" is to dry them on Alice's bed, cover them in "snow" (talc) and get their pyjamas on. Then I tell them to lie down together nicely on the bed. Then I sing softly

When all the Mummy's are sleeping
And the sun has gone to bed...
UP JUMP THE BABIES AND THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID!!...

And at this point, both girls jump up laughing, holding each other's hands and mine as we sing the rest of Jingle-Jangle scarecrow together - both of them bouncing on the bed.

They go to bed as normal, then.

Alice Bedtime Snacks

Alice likes a bedtime snack. This is always a) Cheese or b) Ham

She is "Cheesy Alice" or "Hammy Alice"

If we forget the cheese supper, we might hear little footsteps coming down the stairs, she opens the living room door and says "Mummy! You forgot my cheese!"

Weekend Mornings

We don't lounge around in bed at weekends much. Well, to be fair - I tend to lie in more than my husband - but I stay up later. However, when the kids get up around 8am, they get in bed with us, and they say "Mummy can we have your phone?"

So I let them watch fully grown adults on Youtube unwrapping egg surprises and blind bags. It keeps them amused for about half an hour and means we can all cuddle in bed for a bit, (until Warren gets fed up being kicked and pushed out of bed and goes downstairs for some peace).

Red Wine

Me and Warren have to have THE WINE. Not much. Just some.





Friday, 24 April 2015

"A Mother's Sacrifice"

I hate the title of this already. I hate the wording, it sounds like some sort of obligatory ritual.

In this day and age we have complete control over our fertility and we choose to have our children. I wouldn't have it any other way, I adore my kids.

However, just sometimes this whole "Mother's Sacrifice" concept runs through my brain and tramples my thoughts. On a bad day. An essay is probably due in. House jobs are stacking up and work is more than in the way. The eldest has probably told me she hates me, the youngest may have drawn on the wall and the middle child might have wet herself, and the floor.

Something like that.

That's when this whole phrase irks me. I look in the mirror. Silver flecks of hair, like wire sticking out from either side of my head. My glasses, plastic, cheap. Leggings - with spots of bleach on or holes in. My top, stained with vomit or something else. I try and remember the last time I went to the hairdresser's.

Then I think some more. When was the last time I actually went somewhere that wasn't work or home? When did I do something that didn't involve the children, other than work? I struggle to think. Then I struggle to push the bitterness away. This word 'sacrifice' tosses and turns in my mind and I feel guilty for feeling this way. I need new clothes. I need a hair cut. I cut it myself and it is a mess. I need to dye it but can't find the time or the spare cash - there is always something further up the priority list.

I go through this whole bad day, one of my days off work. I just do things. I wash up. I clean. I cook. Bath them, sing to them, read to them. Then when they are in bed I am shattered having done nothing for myself. Some days I am lucky if I get to talk to an adult. I tut and blow and carry on. There is an essay due in. I need to think about that. But I'm tired and more than a little down.

I wonder if all Mums get like this from time to time. I feel guilty again. I wonder if I will get the chance to have my hair done. I don't even know what I want doing, I'm ridiculous because I'm nervous about getting my hair cut because I have not had it done for ages. I need more time. I should give up my education too because that takes up time? I don't really have leisure time before 9pm. After 9pm I drink a couple of glasses of wine and go to bed. I can't remember what I did for leisure before I had the kids.

I complain. I need things:

* Time
* Money
* Space
* Time away from the kids
* Time to buy the things I need (without the kids there)

But there is none and I don't know what this thing called "me time" is.

The children follow me to the toilet. They follow me to the bath.

I feel guilty again for thinking I need space.

I write my essays with one child on my knee, one pulling at my hand.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

My Vote

I shall be using my vote in this year’s election. I have very carefully weighed up policies. The past 5 years under this coalition government have not been happy times for a lot of people. Personally, the government cuts policies undertaken in the name of “austerity” have affected me. Back in 2010 whilst working for the council, massive departmental cuts meant that jobs were re-evaluated. This caused stress, redundancies and changes to working hours and conditions. My husband has had his pay frozen for five years and his pension terms dramatically changed. The teacher's national pay and conditions agreement was ripped up by the former education secretary Michael Gove. There have been cuts to funding in the local council which means our library hours are under threat and activities for children are limited in our area.
 
I suppose these last 5 years I have “got away with it” compared to some. We are neither rich nor destitute. We just tick over and get by – there are many people who have been affected massively by austerity. In the first year alone council tenant evictions rose by 12%, and latest figures show that food banks were used by almost a million people in the past year.

Great Britain is the 6th richest country in the world. So what on earth this austerity is and who it benefits is beyond me. Call me stupid, but if cuts so deep damage society at its core, hitting the young, disabled and disadvantaged - putting people off education through the fear of the cost, leaving people homeless and without food, zero-hours contracts - affecting the standard of living of so many citizens...Why are these citizens paying for austerity? And what for? Once the deficit is reduced do we get rewarded for all our "hard work?" No. We don't. We only have one life - we are on this earth a very short period of time, and we should all have the opportunity to live it to the full, whatever walk of life we are from.

Once upon a time my situation was different – I was a lone parent, paying a mortgage, working full time and keeping up with all the other bills. I was badly paid and worked all the hours that I could to stay afloat. Labour saved me. The tax credit system was brilliant because it worked. I know that they over-spent, I know that the country is in debt. However, I was entitled to “welfare” and this is what me and my daughter needed. Childcare was provided free of charge, which meant that I could go out to work. The low wages I earned were topped up “by the taxpayer” to make my wage a living wage. (Incidentally I am also a tax-payer.) Without this childcare, and without the top-ups, I would have lost my home. I don’t really know what else to say about it. New Labour saved me.
 
Incidentally, did you know that the term “Welfare State” was initially coined by Hitler and was used as a derogatory term to describe the Weimar Republic (the previous one to the Nazi state), as being weak – hampering to the needs of its people. It was Britain's "Welfare State" that brought us the ever-pioneering National Health Service in 1948. Looking after the welfare of the people in my eyes should never be seen as a weakness, or a burden.

A Wasted Vote?
 
My own views are most in line with the Green Party. I believe in caring for our environment, and a good quality of life for all. However, I have some reservations regarding their policies. They seem to be an embryonic party in many ways. Very left, without enough consideration to economic provisions. They lack experience. And perhaps, rightly or wrongly, I know in my heart that they will not win the election. They are just too... left for Britain at this moment in time. The more votes that they get, the more left-wing the country will be pulled - there will be a shift. However, is a vote for the Greens a wasted vote if you absolutely categorically want an end to this current coalition government? I can't answer that. I don't know. 

Local Elections

In my ward I have two options. Labour or Green. It is two weeks until the election and not one leaflet, not one appeal poster, flyer or representative has landed on my door-mat or knocked at my door. We are based in Kirkby, in Knowsley. Labour's seat is the strongest and safest in the country, with all 63 seats taken by Labour. Our town and its residents more than ever need to have confidence in its council. Only recently Tesco pulled out of re-development plans, having already bought-out the land and began reconstruction. When I walk through the town centre with our girls, passing the food bank along with way -  all I see is rubble, mess - there is an air of despondency and inevitable acceptance - that this is "our lot." 


We have not been informed of any changes. Certainly there is work going on, the whole town is dug up. Where are the promises from councillors? Or the plans? We don't have anything to hope for - there is no improvement. Kirkby is like a ghost town, a vast building site - half done; a mess. Where are The Green Party representatives telling us they will make changes? Where are these safe Labour representatives? Did they even bother to print any leaflets to win my vote?  The message I am getting is that they simply do not care. It is no wonder then that people are apathetic, let-down and aggrieved by politics; both locally and nationally.

So yes, I am voting. A tactical vote, if you like. Will a Labour government change anything? Certainly not locally - Labour have safely been in power here for years, and what has changed? Land has been sold, houses knocked down, and for what?

And nationally? In my eyes, my vote for Labour is a vote to get the Conservatives out of power. I have a burning hatred for everything they stand for, and always have.  It is not my intention to influence your vote; just use your vote as you see fit. What you read here is just a normal mother's opinion. I want my children to grow up with a government that cares about their welfare. I want my children to have opportunities open to them no matter what - education for all, jobs, confidence in their government, with kept promises and hope for the future.




Sources Used:

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk
www.trusselltrust.org
www.bbc.co.uk
www.theguardian.co.uk

 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Our Visit to The Norfolk Broads with Herbert Woods

We were delighted to be given the opportunity of a mini-break over Easter with Herbert Woods - a lovely boating yard in the heart of The Norfolk Broads. We have never been to Norfolk before - it is quite a distance from Liverpool, so we were well-prepared with lots of snacks, magazines and planned-breaks for the journey, which took around 5 hours in the car. The kids behaved really well and it was more like an exciting road trip than a long drive. As we started getting into Norfolk the scenery is really lovely, and we shared the driving - with little or no hiccups!

Arrival

We arrived at around 2.30pm and checked in with ease. Staff were friendly and helpful, explaining how to use the code for the secure gate for the car and showing us where our cottage was in the yard. We were also handed an information pack - this was really great as it contained lots of information and flyers including popular tourist destinations, a map, details on local restaurants and pubs, details of boat-hire and even a take-away guide! We also had a really cute Herbert Woods pen and keyring with a light on - Emily sharked both of these out of the pack straight away!



Our Cottage

The cottage was just a short walk from reception, situated literally on the river. There was a private parking space for us, and all gates around the property were secure - I felt really safe at all times. The cottage itself I can not rave over enough - it was literally a home from home. We stayed in Mallard - which is a two bedroom cottage. It has a long hallway with a downstairs bedroom with two single beds, and a downstairs shower room across from the bedroom. We set up our own travel cot in this room and the girls shared.



The living area was comfortable and warm, with two leather settees - perfect for chilling out with a glass of wine or two at night. Kitchen was brilliant - everything you would need to stay for however long you wanted. I had brought plenty of supplies with us for breakfasts - Coco Pops are essential in our house! So there were all kinds of utensils and pans and pots for us to use, as well as the usual items like kettle, toaster and a fridge. There was also a lovely dining table in the kitchen, but we didn't really use that. The double patio in the living area opened out onto the veranda overlooking the river - we ate outside on the bench most days - lovely and relaxing!

Upstairs there was a large double room with a double bed. Large dressing table - (quite the treat for me as we don't have room for one in our house at the moment!) The view out of the window was gorgeous, the sun beaming down and reflecting off the river, and boats making their way along the river. The pace of life was slower, more serene than normal. Just what we needed to relax. Upstairs was also a large bathroom with a bath and shower. I loved the fact that there was a balcony overlooking the living area - quite often the kids were messing around upstairs and laughing at us from there.

The whole house was tastefully decorated and very warm and cosy - the TV got well-used by us too - we don't normally find the time to sit and watch TV so this was something new for us I suppose!!

The Area

The area surrounding Herbert Woods is tranquil and relaxing. Based in the Broads, it is easy to while away a day walking around, watching the ducks and swans mulling about and the boats sailing. Herbert Woods do boat hire - this was something that we did consider, but then passed up on the chance. We thought that it might be a bit stressful with the babies being so young but this is something that we would love to be able to do when we go back.

Walking in the woods selfie!


Shops

There is a shop directly opposite the yard called Latham's - it actually stocks everything that you would ever need. Me being me, I had packed lots of things but had I done my research I wouldn't have had to take anything - you could buy literally anything from the shop (including Coco Pops!) at a good price - there were no high mark-ups, which is great. From experience I know that some resorts sell products a lot more expensive than you would buy normally, but this was not the case with Herbert Woods and Latham's.

Pubs and Restaurants

There are many pubs and restaurants within walking and short driving distance of Herbert Woods. We visited The Lion Inn in Thurn on the frst night. This was about twenty minute's drive and was a lovely country pub. We had lovely pub grub, the people were friendly and the kids loved it.

On the second night we went to The Greyhound Inn about ten minute's drive. This again was a lovely country pub, warm and friendly with lovely food. There is something about a real old school pub that just makes you relax and feel content - especially when the food is home-cooked and yummy!

We also popped to a couple of tea-rooms. The Flour & Bean across the way from the yard served ice cream for the kids and we chilled out on the front in the sunshine with a couple of drinks. Perfect way to unwind!

The second day we went to Potter's Tea Room - again just across the way from where we were staying. I had a cuppa and Warren and the kids shared a lovely home-made chocolate and caramel cake - I was being good sticking to my Slimming World - the cake looked divine!

At the water's edge surrounded by ducks and swans!


Things to Do

There are lots of activities and fun to be had in the Broads. There is a zoo not too far away, you can have boat-trips, fishing, horse-riding and many other activities. We went to Fairhaven Wildlife Park and spent a good couple of hours walking along the nature trail. The girls loved it - the fresh air was great for them - Alice kept saying that she loves her holiday home!

We made a little vlog including most of our photos - I hope you like it.



Overall

We absolutely loved our break. The children had an amazing time. Me and Warren have discussed perhaps going back just the two of us and hiring a boat for a few days in the summer. I can just picture us cruising along, totally relaxed and wound-down. I would absolutely recommend Herbert Woods for a holiday. They have some great deals on at the moment so do check out their website.

http://www.herbertwoods.co.uk/

You can also visit their Facebook Page

Or follow them on Twitter

We were provided with a holiday cottage by Herbert Woods for two nights. All words and views are our own.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Sun Newspaper

Have you seen this?



The vile specimen Katie Hopkins has been mouthing off again. Normally I ignore this crap. She doesn't deserve the publicity she gets, and her opinions are attention seeking fodder. Ignoring attention seekers should be the way forward, but this can't be ignored.

This is inciting racial hatred and promoting violence against "these migrants" as she so eloquently put it. I'm not going ramble on about this woman. She is as dull as dishwater and I can see her meeting an awful sticky end.

However, what I am going to rant about is that useless excuse for a newspaper, The Sun. The very same bestselling newspaper in the UK with circulation figures of around 2m.

What????

Yes.

It's the best-selling newspaper in the UK.

The Sun have also published this "news":

"Straight Sex Can Not Give You Aids" (1989)

The infamous Hillsborough front cover (1989)

The support of Thatcher in her anti-society prime

"1,200 people killed by mental patients" (2013)

and also had several journalists arrested over corrupt payments to police and other officials in 2012.

I don't buy this newspaper. There is so much wrong with it I can't even begin or be bothered. The thought of the News of The World also makes me sick.

I don't support anything it stands for. If you buy The Sun, then you are, in a way, keeping it alive and funding all of this crap. Including Katie Hopkins.

Don't buy The Sun.






Friday, 17 April 2015

Mirror Mirror On The Wall...

This post was written in conjunction with Pebble Grey Bathrooms. All words and view are my own.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you look in the mirror often? I must admit that as I get older I am a bit more aware of my imperfections. The laughter lines on my face, the cracks and crevices. They don't make me feel sad, I wrinkle up my face to see how the years of laughter have made these strange creases.



Sometimes, I'm looking in the mirror to do my make-up, and I think I am absolutely bonkers. My face is quite ruddy and I blush quite a bit. So I cover up my face and blushing with foundation. Then guess what I do? I put blusher on. Just in the places that I want to blush. It is very odd behaviour, I suppose!

Lately I have been looking at my body shape in the mirror. This too is changing. If you  have been following my blog you will know that I have started with Slimming World and I have lost almost ten pounds. My body is slowly changing and I have stated to see and feel a difference. Not much - but I am changing. The reflection that looks back at me is a different one from a few weeks ago. There is a little bit less of me, I suppose.

However, the mirror can't tell us everything can it. It can't tell us how we feel on the inside. I am a mother of three girls - proud of each of them. I am busy and a little stressed at times - I have dreams and hopes and fears - the mirror can tell us none of this. I prefer to take people as I find them - how they look is not all-important to me. It is just one side of them.

We are in the process of having our bathroom tiled - a complete overhaul. It has taken longer than expected with us working and being so busy. However, this weekend we are looking at just adding the finishing touches to the room. These bathroom cabinet mirrors by Pebble Grey are ideal. However, when the bathroom is complete, and the mirrors are up - my thoughts won't change - there is more than meets the eye from the reflection staring back at us.



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Operation Wobbly Bottom: Slimming World Weigh-In #2

So - week two of Slimming World has come and gone. Time is flying by!

I have a brilliant new Slimming World Recipe Book, and it has been fabulous. We have cooked all different filling, colourful and delcious recipes. It is so easy and we have all been enjoying this lovely food - makes a great change from bolognaise and stir frys, which is what we used to live off!



Here are a few photos of what we have been cooking this week - Warren has been great also getting involved in the cooking while he has been off for half term.


I also went out this week with my friends, and was pretty good - ordering a yummy chargrilled chicken salad. I am trying to keep all of my meals syn-free so that I can have my little treats. I have had more wine than I would like on a diet this week. Easter holidays and indeed any school holidays always feel like treat time - Warren is off so shares the housework and kid-duties and everything relaxes around here. So we have been having the odd couple of wines here and there, but I have counted them in - I have not let myself feel out of control, which I think it very important. Everything I eat now is considered - I take more time over my planning, cooking, shopping - everything. I find that food has now become more enjoyable, and my fruit and veg intake has probably doubled.

So, how did I do?

Well...


This wobbly bottom has now lost 9½ lbs in two weeks. Which is pretty bloody fantastic even if I do say so myself.

We are having a few days away this week at a lovely cottage in Norfolk, but I have planned my breakfasts and dinners, and the evening meal will be a treat - a sensible treat - I want to keep on with this way of eating and keep on with what I am doing.

With less wine this week.

Maybe.

:)



If you would like to join me in #operationwobblybottom visit Slimming World's website here to have a read around and join me on my little path.

Toddler Teeth-Brushing For National Smile Month!

This post was written for National Smile Month. All words and views are my own.

National Smile month begins on 18th May - smiles are not something that we are generally short of in this house. The children are so funny - you might have noticed on some of my blog photographs in the past - whenever I say "Smile!" or "Say Cheese!" with my iPhone or camera pointing at them - they all pull a really strange cartoon-like smile. It makes me laugh. If I want to get a more natural smile from them for photographs I have to catch them unawares!

Exhibit A (cartoon smile!)
I love their smiley faces, which is why I think it is so important for the children to be taught to brush their teeth from a young age. We encourage them to brush their teeth once in the morning and once at night. It can be difficult to get them to comply, but we have managed to get them into a good routine. They have their little Peppa Pig or cartoon toothbrushes and they follow our instruction. They sometimes do it in the bath - they can't escape our instructions in the bath! Rosie has a wide handled toothbrush but she has not quite mastered using it - we tend to intervene with Rosie and give her a helping hand.

To be honest, it's the eldest who we have the most problems with teeth-brushing. I find myself constantly asking her if she has brushed her teeth properly. I think it is because we know that she is going to have some work done next year. Her teeth are quite crooked and the orthodontist has said that from next year she will have to wear a brace once all of her baby teeth have fallen out. I had years of having a brace and I know how difficult it can be to take care of your teeth with a brace on - brushing in all of the crevices takes more time with a brace. This is why I am quite keen that she gets into good habits now and doesn't get lazy with it.

I have to have some work done on my teeth soon too. I have to have a filling on the front of my teeth - the brace I had when I was younger was not the best - when they removed it they scraped the enamel from my teeth and it has gradually worn away. Once I have had the fillings I will then need to have them whitened so that they are all the same colour - I'll be honest I am not looking forward to undertaking all this, but I suppose it will have to be done - when my finances will allow it of course. The Centre of Advanced Dentistry Yorkshire offers all kinds of treatments for teeth, including whitening. This is something that I will have to read up on when I decide to undergo the treatment.

Oral health is very important - to me and my children. We will be keeping up with our teeth-brushing and dentist appointments to keep our smiles looking tip-top - cartoon ones or otherwise!


Monday, 13 April 2015

Review: JustMyLook - Kaleo Rebalancing Facial Care Set

Like most women I enjoy a bit of a pamper session. This happens almost never, but what I do like to do is take care of my skin. I do all the cleansing, toning and moisturising – it’s one thing that I do take the time to do every day. I was really chuffed to be asked to review the Kaeso Rebalancing facial care set from JustMyLook. I don't have a lot of time to take care of my skin, but I do spend some time every day looking after my face.  I was excited when the postman dropped off a lovely package all together with everything I need a for a full face care routine.
 
·         Cleanser
·         Toner
·         Exfoliator
·         Face Mask
·         Moisturiser



 
First of all I cleansed. The cleanser comes in a pump action bottle, which is great – no mess. It is a lovely light consistency, and removed my make up quite easily with the help of cotton wool. The toner was also light and refreshing and swept easily over my skin, removing the remaining impurities and sort-of waking up my skin!

The overall smell and texture of the products I found great - the scent is uniform for all the products in the box -  it has a light cucumber-fragrance – very refreshing.
 
I loved the fact that the moisturiser is in a pump action bottle. Some of my favourite moisturisers come in tubs, and I always think that it’s not very hygienic sticking your fingers in tubs and then putting them on your face – this pump action is great. The moisturiser is very light and I would say great for every day use. I would say that it is quite deceptive - it's very light but it actually keeps my face feeling very moisturised. I do have dry patches on my T-zone across my nose (are you impressed with my knowledge of my facial area??!) - but this moisturiser really does do the trick.
 
The mask is great too. Really soothing, light – no tingly sensations like you can get with some masks. I prefer a lighter mask. I have used this mask a few times now and I love it. Afterwards my skin always feels refreshed.
 
I know that you are wanting to laugh at me in a face mask, so here you go here is a photo:


 
Overall I really like these products. I think they are great if you want to start a real routine going. I am pretty good with my face. I do get the odd spot and my skin isn’t perfect but I do like to know that I have done my best with it, and these products really do the job. I also like the price of these. For £19.99 you get a complete package so it is definitely worth the money.

I also really like the JustMyLook website. They sell all kinds of beauty products so definitely worth a browse if you are looking to treat yourself - or better still getting someone else to treat you!

You can also keep up to date with JustMyLook products by following them on Twitter @justmylookcouk

I was sent the Kaleo products free of charge for the purpose of an honest review. All words and views are my own.
 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Gender-Specific Toys: I've Changed My Mind...

A while ago I wrote a post about gender specific toys. A few of you were surprised to read that I wasn't too bothered about the whole "Let toys be toys" - the upshot was that surely we can just rise above all the labelling - let our kids play with whatever they like! Signs for "Boys" and "Girls" toys don't matter - there are much bigger fights to be picked.

I was wrong.

Alice is a very "girlie" girl. She likes all things pink and when she grows up she wants to be a fairy. Everything is good or evil in Alice's mind. She is a Princess and one day she will find a Prince. We have not put any of this in her head - it's just the way she is. She loves Disney. At the end of the day she is only three so this idealistic vision of hers is all fine and perfectly healthy for now, I'm sure.

The other two kids are totally different. Rough and ready types. Rosie is two and is The Destroyer of Worlds. She likes to climb on everything and throw her breakfast on the floor, milk and all.

Anyway, the reason my view has changed on the toy issue is because of something Alice said the other day. She was complaining that she had a rough day in pre-school - apparently all the boys were playing "Police Officers" and Alice wanted to play "Fairies" and all the boys kept putting her in jail. She was quite upset about this and in her mind it was a big deal. So we sat and had a chat. I suggested that she too could be a Police Officer - a good one who saved people from crime. I thought my idea was perfect, but was shocked by her response.

"Ha ha ha!! Mummy! Girls can't be Police Officers!!"

She was laughing at me like what I had said was a total joke. Can you imagine the look on my face? I know she is only three, but I am constantly passing on the message that my children can do ANYTHING with their lives. It doesn't matter what your background, what cards you get dealt in life, and certainly gender is completely irrelevant - you can chase your dreams no matter what.

And here is my three year old sat in front of me, laughing at the suggestion that a woman could possibly be a Police Officer.

We buy toys for both genders. I thought that we remained unaffected. We clearly are not. Small minds are clearly influenced by advertising and shops, toys and everything else we are bombarded with. It is not enough to have me explain to them and to show by example that women are not confined to any particular vocation, or to the home for that matter. Clearly, my message is being lost.

And maybe, just maybe - the gender specific toys, all the pink, the dress-ups, doll's house, cleaning-up toys - are sending my children messages that aren't helpful. And these are toys with the label "GIRL."

I take back what I said in my original post. I wrote that "Marketing only controls us if we let it." I was wrong. Children don't have the capacity to remain unaffected.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Voices in My Head For a Week

My head is full of noise. Sweary noise usually. Sometimes the endless inner monologue consumes everything - especially when I have a lot on. I am sure this is entirely normal. Shut up. See what I mean?? Permeates everything. Can you relate? Here is my week and my head.

Day 1

Rosie is poorly. Vomitting, diarrhoea. Crying. Husband greets me at 7am – what’s going on? He’s wearing my dressing gown He looks like an extra in The Rocky Horror Picture Show what’s going on? What time is it? It’s bloody Easter what’s wrong? “Rosie has been up since 2am vomiting – it’s your turn now.”

Oh.

Carrying baby downstairs, it’s easy to see why he was dressed in fluffy pink. Rosie has vomited on everything. He has done two loads of washing, it’s chucking it down outside, washing hangs limply around the house – heating on full blast in an attempt to dry it. Crap. Rosie vomits all over me, all over the floor. A bit later she fills her nappy with mustard-coloured water, which leaks all over the floor. Great, we’re all going to get this, we’re all going to end up shitting ourselves.

Day 2

Urgh I feel ill. Belly growling. Not right, not right. But not sick. It’s OK. “I’m taking the baby to the walk-in” It’s my husband again as I lift my heavy lids, unable to move, aching all over. He’s gone, and so am I, drifting off on the couch. Sweaty. Shivering. Where are my babies? What day is it FFS? Then he’s back, it’s a virus, nothing serious. Rosie vomits again. More washing.

Babies in bed. Later, we watch Batman because it’s “something to switch your brain off to” – I am in and out of shivering consciousness. Why does Batman have to dress like a bat? Why can’t he just save the world like a normal person? Why does no one know it’s him, and where is frigging Robin and all the BOOM! KAPOW stuff?

Sleep.

Day 3

I feel much better. Rosie is much better because she is asking for Coco Pops and cheese. I check my bank account, I got paid yesterday and now I have zero cash. Bloody marvellous isn’t it. We’re still trying to tile and fix up our bathroom and that takes AGES because we both work so many hours. But I’m waiting on a decision on some funding for my post grad studies – if that comes off – YAY! I also have a viewer on my house in Manchester on Saturday – if that comes off YAY and goodbye financial hardship and f*ck you! – work DOES PAY!

Email pings

“We regret to inform you have been unsuccessful in your application”

F*ck you then. I’ll do it the way I have always done it, the hard way. I got to the final round so there is some hope in that. I can try again for my PhD. DICKS. Alice keeps telling me that she loves me. This is strange, is she OK?
Emily wants to show me all the dances she learned at dance camp, I am trying to read about women in West Germany circa 1960, Rosie is back to normal and Warren is still tiling the bathroom. I have an essay mark due in, but it’s late and that makes me nervous anyway. Exams soon, you’re going to choke. F*ck you.

Day 4

Alice is sick. Same bug, different child. She is OK. Just needs cuddles and water and Mummy and Daddy.  I go to work. I check my email. I have to do something with a QPS report. What even is a QPS report and why am I even involved in this shit? My brain buzzes. F*ckssake.

Warren is tiling the bathroom. Why do all my tights have holes in? Can I afford new ones? No. I need new clothes. Tough. I need to have my hair done. Tough. Do it yourself. Email pings about this blog we’re going to the theatre in June. YAY. But I can’t get excited yet because I have no money and there is a hole in my tights and we’re going to see The Cat in the F*cking Blanket. I mean The Tiger That Came To Tea. I don’t know. Labour email me. Am I voting Labour? Probably Hell Yes. Hell Yes WTF.

How will I afford my Masters if I don't sell my house? Joanne on Facebook informs me that some women sell used tights on ebay for £8 a pair. What is this madness. I consider this. I wonder if they will like leggings with bleach on too? Is it a bit to prostitute-y for me?

Ping. Email from - work? Uni? "You are suspended from the library until further notice" Oh FFS. What have I done now? 

I return my books. Then see this on the library wall in Blu-Tak. Yes, I totally f*cking win. And I didn't even do the frigging thing.



I paint my nails five different colours, follow my slimming world plan and definitely avoid wine as a consolation prize.

Day 5

I still have no essay result and I need that before I can continue on to my next one. I like the feedback. Just get on with it. Why has your reading ground to a halt, you've been sat reading that Fifty Grades of Shay crap in the bath every night on your Kindle, don't talk to me about not having time to read. Rosie draws on my books. I finally undo the 2015 calendar so that we can get organised and put it on the wall. A new cake recipe every month, Oh no. I'm losing two stone. Eat an apple. You are so shit. Things are all falling down and because you juggle so much stuff when you drop one thing you drop the lot and then you feel like the biggest pile of crap to walk the earth, go on list your stupid analogies:

rubbing rag
worthless piece of crap
shell
husk
used tissue (same as a rubbing rag - you can't have that one twice) You can't even come up with a decent frigging analogy you idiot.

Yay lost nearly half a stone in one week on slimming world. I see my former midwife when we take Rosie for a check-up - she says I look well, lost weight. I'm still wearing one of my dresses I wore when I was pregnant. Not only with Rosie but with Alice too. I need new clothes. I have no money. Lose two stone first then buy clothes? Will they take used tights instead of cash in Debenhams? WTF. Shut up.

Can't get into anything. No essay mark, no reading. Work part time, can't throw myself into work because I need to be back for the kids. The kids keep crying because they have a bug. I'm just jumping from one thing to the next hoping that I don't land in any shit, sometimes literally when it comes to these kids.

Day 6 

Ping. Email from uni. Essay mark in. YAY. You bloody did it, well done! Nearly there! Ping. Emails. Blog emails. Emily is lay on the couch. She has The Bug well at least she's not screaming that she hates me - FFS it's like living with that kid out the Omen at times. "Emily do you need anything?" She goes to bed, belly making noise.

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, This is so shit and such a waste of time. Too much on. Who cares? Just get it done.

Warren is still tiling.

I go up for a bath and find he has left me a lovely romantic note on the wall before he puts the last tile in.




It makes me smile. The dickhead.



Review: Brewers Fayre Chapel Brook, Huyton

We love taking the kids out for dinner (as if you didn't already know!) and we were delighted to be asked to visit Brewers Fayre in Chapel Brook - this is a quick car ride away from our house - perfect for an afternoon out with our lot.



Like a lot of families we like to try and get out and about in the Easter break - Brewers Fayre is ideal for a lovely affordable lunch or dinner - chuck in refillable drinks, some lovely food, a Play Zone and we have three happy kids and as we know, the golden rule: if the kids are happy then so are we!

The refillable drinks are great - I had two coffees and Emily had about three diet cokes. They were served from the dispensers that you use yourself so this was really handy - no faffing around.

The food itself was spot-on. I loved the menus at Brewers Fayre - there is plenty of choice, a huge variety of sides, salads, mains, or even just snacks. I chose the Chicken and Bacon Salad - (sticking to my Slimming World, of course!) Warren ordered the Spicy Chicken Ciabatta. The kids menu was also great - they can mix and match their sides and have the options of starter and dessert in with the meal. The two babies both chose macaroni and cheese with garlic brad (their favourite) and Emily chose a burger with some tomato soup as a starter. (She must have been hungry!) We also ordered a side of onion rings - these were demolished in about five seconds flat by my lot!



We loved the food. We ate most of the food - the babies usually can't eat a full plate so we let them off - the portion sizes on the kids meals were generous and great for the price.



After the meal - of course we had to visit either a) The Play Zone - and indoor play area with tunnels and ball pools - or b) The outside play area. As it was a lovely sunny day we opted to take them to play outside, and in any case, Rosie was already running for the door as soon as she had eaten enough!


All three girls were excited to be playing on the climbing frames and sliding down the slides!




The cost of the meal came to just over £30 for the five of us, that was with drinks included. I think this is a great price - the menu even offered two meals for £10 on some of the meals. Sadly this did not include my salad, and there was no way I was deviating from my plan! I think that the cost was great for all of us - we spent a good couple of hours there eating and playing in the sunshine over dinner time. The kids had a ball - I'd definitely recommend it. The indoor Play Zone also looked great for the kids. This would be great when the weather turns - the cost was £2 per child for an hour, which again I thought a fair price.

We really enjoyed our day out, and will definitely be returning at some point. If you fancy a meal out over the Easter period I would definitely recommend Brewers Fayre. Lovely, affordable food with plenty of things to entertain the kids.

We were sent a voucher to cover the cost of our meals. All words and views are my own.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Operation Wobbly Bottom: Slimming World Weigh In #1

How exciting - a first weigh in.

What I loved about this week was the variety of food that I have eaten. I would definitely say I have eaten more food than I normally would - but more of the good stuff. A typical day has been:

* Banana, yoghurt and bran flakes for breakfast
* Tuna pasta salad for dinner with an apple or tangerines
* Chicken stir fry with noodles and loads of super speedy veg

In between I have been snacking on fruit and drinking coffee and tea with milk from my Healthy Extra Option - put plainly, I have never gone hungry. I also managed some wine at the weekend.

*ahem*



 I didn't eat pasta pasta pasta every night ha ha, this is over the week

I have also loved the fact I have been cooking every night - different foods and recipes. I made a gorgeous pasta sauce made from lots of super free veg, roasted and blended with tomatoes. It's freezable too so handy to throw over pasta - and also great to hide vegetables in sauces for the kids! If you want any recipes or anything just ask - I am happy to post any recipes that I pick up along the way!

Of course this week there were many many possible ways for me to stray - especially with it being Easter. But I recorded them on Facebook and vowed never to be assuaged in this way by all the evil people I live with:




So...what was the verdict? Well, a picture always says it best I think. A wobbly-bottom picture.




I was very chuffed. The first week of a routine-change usually shows the biggest weight loss. So next week I am looking for another 2lbs and to get to my half-a-stone. 

Like I said, I will do this. Because, where there is wine, there is a way, people. 

*flexes muscles*


If you would like to join me in #operationwobblybottom visit Slimming World's website here to have a read around and join me on my little path.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Review: Beauty and The Beast At The Epstein Liverpool

We were thrilled to be invited to watch Beauty and The Beast at The Epstein Theatre in Liverpool yesterday - we have never been to a pantomime as a family so we were really excited about this!


We decided it would be better if I took Emily and Alice and leave the youngest, Rosie at home with her Dad. I thought that Rosie might enjoy it but I knew that at her age she would be VERY fidgety and might just run away like she does in most other situations!

The theatre itself is lovely. Big enough for a great atmosphere but intimate enough for any seat to be a "good seat." Alice was really excited - she is three so I knew I might have to keep an eye on her if there were any "mild peril" moments!

The panto itself was brilliant. We had an absolute ball. There were plenty of jokes and enough double entedres to keep the adults entertained too. Michael Chapman who played the cook at the Beast's house was absolutely rip-roaring hilarious - I was honestly laughing my head off - the kids were too. The panto obviously didn't take itself too seriously, so we just had a real fun time. The storyline was punctuated by loads of modern chart songs as well as a few oldies in there, so that kept us dancing and singing along.

Ritchie from Five was HOT. Hell yes.

*ahem*

He played the wicked Prince who wants to marry Belle. He was very funny (as well as being hot.) He also did a few Five hits managed to squeeze in a few Five lyrics as love poems to Belle - this was so hilarious The Beast was quite scary. He had a voice changer on, and I had to explain to Alice that he was a lovely prince underneath but that Belle had to love him to change him back. She responded with "Oooh do you think that they will fall in love?" So I knew she understood.

There was also plenty of audience interaction - volunteers were called for to sing on stage and then water guns - well, I don't want to spoil it all for you if you want to go yourself! I also loved the dancers - the dancing cast was mainly made up of children - they were fantastic.

We also got to take some pictures with the cast at the end.



All in all we had an absolute fantastic time. Cinderella is on at Christmas so we are hoping to get to that - Warren and Rosie too - I know that they would both love it.



If you want to see Beauty and The Beast check out the listing times and ticket prices here.

A family ticket is £54 which I think is a good price for such a fun day - I would absolutely recommend this - we absolutely loved it and seeing the kids enjoy it so much made it a perfect day for me.


We were provided tickets free of charge for the purpose of the review all words and views are my own.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Operation Wobbly Bottom: My Slimming World Journey Week 1

First thing is first - there is nothing wrong with a wobbly bottom. In fact I quite like mine. But there comes a point where you think, "I need to lose weight for my health"

(and also I would like to wear other clothes like jeans and stuff instead of being stuck in leggings.)


I know, I know. I KNOW I said I was going to lose weight on my own. I know I was following a 1200 calorie limit and all that. But the truth is I can't do it on my own and I need a bit of help. I want to lose my two stone this year and I will do it. So I have called in Slimming World to help me.

If you read this blog then you know that this won't be a "normal" journey. Look, I've even invented my own hashtag and that.



Looks like an album cover doesn't it. Is it my wobbly bottom?? Well I'm not going to steal someone else's wobbly bottom and write all over it am I?? Or am I??

Anyway, bum-identification aside, on Tuesday I went to my first Slimming World meeting in Kirkby. I'll be honest I was desperate to get it over with. The first week is hard - starting something new, and just facing the scales. However, when I got there I was immediately set at ease and made to feel welcome.

Now I have done Slimming World AGES ago back when it was Red and Green days. These days it's all Extra Easy - and it really is simple to follow. I don't have much time to worry about food, and there is very little weighing and measuring involved in this plan so it suits me down to the ground. The main thing that stuck in my mind from Jackie, the lovely rep was that it needs to fit in with my own lifestyle. There is no point in leaving out all of the things that I love - I won't stick to it. I just need to factor them in and count them.

*cough*

Wine.

*ahem*

I enjoy my wine, and I'm afraid any diet or lifestyle choice that involves me having to not drink is not going to get on well with me in my life. So - I am factoring in the wine as an extra, and working around. We all have our little treats and wine is mine.

At the moment I am still getting my head around the books - my aim is to meal plan for a few weeks ahead, get the shopping in to go around my new eating habits. I am excited. Me and my wobbly bottom are looking forward to all this.

If you would like to join me in #operationwobblybottom visit Slimming World's website here to have a read around and join me on my little path.

I'm doing it this year - two stone off, I swear!

I'll be posting about my first weigh-in next week.




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