Friday, 29 May 2015

Exam Revision HELL

When you are revising for exams time stands still.

Nothing else matters.

You'd lock yourself away and thoroughly absorb yourself in your studies.

But you have three kids and a job and a life and a home.

So you can't.

Alice wants you to get her some cheese.

Emily wants to argue about something or other or ANYTHING.

And Rosie thinks that she quite fancies potty training. So she whips off her own nappy and does a dump on the living room floor.

And you have to go to work.

You think you might shave your legs, but you won't you'll save it until after your exam.

You might be going mad.

Pictures included.

"Can I do a degree if I have kids?"

Don't ask me.

Yet.















Sunday, 24 May 2015

Geronimo Family Festival - Tatton Park

We were very lucky to be invited to attend the massive Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park this weekend. Geronimo Festival is a huge family festival held this Bank Holiday weekend with lots of family fun activities and entertainment for children of all ages.

We were so excited to go - the kids are massive CBeebies fans and we knew that there would be lots of things for them to get giddy about!



Here are just a few of the attractions at Geronimo, most of which we got involved in, as you can tell from the photographs!

* Zip Line
* Circus
* BMX Display
* Petting Zoo
* High Wires
* Main Stage with performances by characters including Mr. Bloom and Swashbuckle
* Bouncy Castles
* Donkey Rides

Tatton park is huge - we had never been before and we really had great weather the whole day - we even caught a bit of sun! First of all we went to the main stage and watched Mr. Bloom entertaining everyone. He sang all the familiar tunes from his CBeebies show - the kids loved it. Then we decided to go for a bit of a walk round. Geronimo is huge - we were there all day and didn't do the same thing twice.



We had a walk round in the sunshine and stopped to watch the BMX show. They truly were amazing - the kids were hooked watching them balance the bikes on one wheel and jumping from platform to platform. We then headed to the bouncy castle area - we must have stayed here for about twenty minutes - the kids love bouncy castles and when they get on they don't want to get off - especially seeing as though at Geronimo there was no limit on the amount of time they could spend on there.



Next we had a wander to the petting farm. This was no ordinary petting farm - inside the tent were iguanas and huge snails, tarantulas and tortoises. The kids were allowed to touch and pet the animals and the staff were really helpful - teaching the children about the animals and their natural habitats and eating habits. Alice was amazed. Rosie is a bit squeamish about flies and ants, but Alice got stuck in, holding any animal that we was allowed to - crickets, snail - even the tarantula.

Next the girls went on a short donkey ride. They loved the animals and Alice said she was "a real cowgirl" now. Rosie was shouting "giddy up.".

After that we decided on a little lunch break. I had packed a picnic (slimming world friendly, of course.) So we sat on the grass and had our lunch and then sat on a bench and bought a drink each and Emily bought herself some food. There were plenty of food options to choose from; street food, pizzas, Indian or just plain chunky chips - all of it was reasonably priced. Emily decided on sweet and sour chicken with noodles, and we just sat in the sun and enjoyed our day.



Later we browsed some of the small businesses who were exhibiting there. Lovely hand-made gifts and clothes, cupcakes and popcorn. There is so much to do - when we were walking around we bumped into a few Disney Princesses - the girls absolutely loved them, so we had a quick picture!



All in all we had an absolutely wonderful day. I would definitely recommend this as a fabulous day out. Geronimo started on Saturday and is also on this Monday. You can purchase tickets from the box office on the day. Under 2s are free and a family of four ticket is £86. Once you are inside, all activities are free - you only pay for your food or extras like balloons (or ice-cream!) I think that the day is excellent value for money and a great way to spend your Bank Holiday. What I also loved was the organisation - the day was structured so you wouldn't miss out on anything. There were plenty of toilets and so much to do that the queues were never too big. On the way out the girls were given a little toy each to keep them amused in the car on the way home.

We loved our day - I think this picture sums it up for us.



We are official Geronimo Festival Bloggers and were given free entry to the event in exchange for this review. All words and views are our own.






Thursday, 21 May 2015

Review: Promise Pets from Build-A-Bear Liverpool One

We were delighted to be asked to go to the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Liverpool One a couple of weeks ago. We were going to try out their new range of adorable Promise Pets. Like most children, ours are always asking for a real cat or a real dog, and seeing as though that is not on the cards for a long time - these Promise Pets look like the next best thing!

We had never visited Build-A-Bear Workshop before so we were so excited to go. The kids' faces were just priceless throughout the whole visit - they loved every minute. First off, we entered the shop and were greeted by friendly and very helpful staff. As we have never been before they explained the process and how it works. Basically, we were going to build our children their own furry friend - each member of staff had their own station and would help us along the way. We couldn't wait to get started.

The first task was to pick the skin for our animals. We let the girls pick their own pets themselves. Emily picked the golden Labrador, Alice picked a white cat, and Rosie picked the black Labrador. Next we had the option of sound effects - we chose to pass on this as the girls like to make their own noises for their toys - however, they had all different sounds to choose from and we had fun playing and listening to them all!

Next, we had to stuff the toys. Build-A-Bear staff were great - they were so encouraging and enthusiastic . Each girl was passed a small heart for their new pets and told to rub it on their heads to give their pet brains and to kiss the heart to give it love. Our girls really enjoyed it. Next the pets were stuffed and expertly sewn - all while we watched!


Once we had our stuffed pets we were free to pick and choose our accessories. I am not kidding when I say that the store has EVERYTHING that you could possibly need for your pet. I love the idea of keeping a pet forever, and then adding new accessories and outfits each birthday or Christmas. They even sold skates and football kits! 




We chose our accessories: leads, mats and feeding bowls. Once we had picked out what we wanted for each pet we got to write them a birth certifcate using the computers. We asked each girl to pick a name for their pet. Emily picked Buddy for her dog. Alice was quick in deciding that her cat would be called Lola, and Rosie being the youngest needed a little bit of help - Emily helped her choose the name Milo.




At the end the pets were given a little box and their birth certificate to keep. We were over the moon with our Promise Pets.

I bet Warren purchases some kind of Everton paraphernalia for them at some point
Our Build-A-Bear experience was brilliant. The kids absolutely loved it. Staff were so helpful and friendly making a fuss over the kids and explaining all about the process and showing them the various accessories. We were there around thirty minutes and left with our very own personalised pets. I am sure that we will be returning at some point for more accessories and outfits for them!

Meet Buddy, Lola and Milo!

We are so glad that we were invited to Build-A-Bear. The children were absolutely a joy to watch. Thanks so much Build-A-Bear!

If you would like your own Build-A-Bear Promise Pet do visit their website for your nearest store or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news!

We were given the Promise Pets free of charge for the purpose of this review. All words and views are my own.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Things I DON'T have Time For!!!

So it is exam time. Final exam time *cue Rocky music, running up hills and lifting small families in carts in Russia in the snow* - or something. Or nothing like that. Whichever.

I might be losing my mind but revising for exams is sending me a bit bonkers anyway. I have kids coming out of my vagina ears. It seems the more I tell them to leave me alone, the more they want to take a running jump at my head.

So without delay, (because I simply have no frigging time) here are the things that I don't have time for in my life right now. I apologise. I normally like things but today I hate everyone.

1. Flower Pictures

I haven't ever got time to enjoy flowers. Real ones in a field, yes maybe. Ones plucked from their bed and hanging in their death-bed of a vase waiting to die? No. Flower pictures, you can leave. I hate you.

This took me 8 seconds to do, I promise.


2. Telly

Man came to fix the TV.I don't even know how to use the remote control. I told him not to ask me any questions about the telly and then he starts banging on about aerials and wires and stuff. So I say, quite irritated by this point as he is impeding my reading. (Stupid frigging rhyme does it even make sense??)

"Look - I know nothing about the telly. I never watch the telly. I can't even work the remote."

He looks at me like I am absolutely mental.

"What do you do without the telly?"

I just shrug my shoulders and try to imagine a time when the telly was a "thing."

3. Women on the "Ham Aisle"

I haven't got time for this. Women tend to hover around the ham aisle in Aldi. What is that all about? What is so difficult about picking ham? It's all reformed meat, mashed, stuffed with chemicals and sliced in a delicious natural square shape for you to whack on a butty for your kids with a bit of lettuce.

Just choose which type you want AND GET OUT OF MY WAY.

4. The Game of Thrones Opening Credits

*tuts*

I bloody love these opening credits. *Derrr DERRRRRRRRRR derr der der der der DERRRRRRRRRR*

Tough. Skip past them, fast forward (if I still lived in the 80s and had a video recorder, or just "video" as we used to call it. What do you mean "what's a video?" FFS.)

Warren can skip it to the start, in one go. Talent, that.

5. Blogging

I've just never got enough time to finish anyth-




Friday, 15 May 2015

Review: The Lighting Store Lava Lamp

On a Friday (and Saturday) night me and Warren like to just sit in and chill the FLIP out. Gone are our mad party days (mostly) - we just want to unwind, listen to some music or watch Game of Thrones and drink red wine. Probably too much red wine, but I digress...

We light candles and lower the lighting and try to unwind from the week. This is why we were over the moon to be sent a lava lamp from The Lighting Store. Lava lamps originated from the 60s and are a cool way to add some light and atmosphere to your room. We did contemplate putting it in one of the kid's rooms but then decided against it as we thought it would go with our candle on the fireplace when the kids are in bed - and we were not wrong.




This lava lamp stands at twelve inches high and is filled with orange wax. It doesn't take very long to heat up and in minutes the wax is slowly moving, glowing orange, my candle flickering away next to it.



It has a metal base where the halogen lamp that heats the wax is and there is an on-off switch on the cable. It just plus in like a normal lamp, you don't have to assemble it or anything and it also comes in pink or green.

So, in honour of our lovely new addition to our relaxing Friday night, here are our top 5  albums to go with a lava lamp. Warren has compiled this from his vinyl collection.

The Doors - Strange Days
Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Lady Land
The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band
The Who - Tommy
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of The Moon

Warren had a big massive list of albums. I told him that no-one would know hardly any of them so just picked out the best and the ones that I have also listened to - we recommend them. :)



We were sent the lava lamp free of charge for the purpose of this review, all words and views are our own.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Post-Election

I, like many others stayed up all night watching the election result unfold. It was like some sort of twisted nightmare - the majority victory for the Tories being the worst possible outcome. At first I was angry - very angry. Why have people voted them? Why didn't Labour do more to stop this? What will happen now? Then I was overcome with an incredible sadness. Such a dark sadness and fear for what might happen.

I am scared and worried for the future and the next five years.

This helps nothing. Moaning and then sitting around on social media doing nothing helps no-one.

So I have decided, in my own little way to say no. Small though it may be, I have decided to get more involved with my community, to lift my head out of the sand and to make this community our community. The election is over and done with. Five years of a Conservative government is here. Austerity measures are here. So here is what I plan:

* Food bank donations - I'm going to get more involved and donate once a week with whatever we have spare.

* Anti-Austerity protests in Liverpool - I am keen to show my support

* NHS protests - to continue to demonstrate in this way

Save our NHS campaign in Kirkby - earlier this year


They helped us hand out leaflets and collect signatures


* Local businesses - we're going to try to start shopping locally more often

* Strikes - supporting workers strikes wherever we can

* Charity - donating to local charities as much as we can

NUT Strike, Alice with her flag!

Teacher's NUT Strike 2014

One person can't change the world, but many can. I have a voice, we all have voices. I care about other people and I care about what happens in my community. I plan on doing everything I can to support it, and remain positive about people and the future.

Action not apathy.



“Protest is when I say I don't like this. Resistance is when I put an end to what I don't like. Protest is when I say I refuse to go along with this anymore. Resistance is when I make sure everybody else stops going along too.” 
― Ulrike Marie Meinhof

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On Finishing My Degree

It has been such a long road. I have been studying History now for six years. I submitted my final essay for the Open University just two days ago and I am eagerly awaiting my mark. The six modules that I studied were:

AA100 - Exploring the Arts
DD101 - An Introduction to Social Science
A200 - Exploring History - Medieval to Modern
A218 - History of Medicine
A326 - Empire
A327 - War, Peace and Modernity *Current Module*

I only have an exam to do, and then I am done and it will be party time for me. 

Post Grad

But only for a few weeks - I have signed up to do a Masters at Liverpool. I'll be honest, I am absolutely bricking it with excitement. I feel like I will always be a student. I'm not the cleverest or the wisest, but I always put in my best effort and I am my own worst critic. I have loved studying with the Open University. I can honestly say it has changed my life. This year is a strange one - the prospect of not studying makes me feel scared - I signed up for my Masters as soon as I could.

Funding

Funding has always been an issue for me, as it is for most people. I was very lucky in that I signed up to do my degree before the coalition government of 2010 decided to lift the cap on tuition fees. So I have had my degree at a good price. This is a good job, as I don't exactly have masses of savings or an offshore bank account, as nice as the thought is. I work so I pay my own way, usually in instalments. It's the way it is for me, and I am happy that my studying is my treat, I don't spend a lot of money on myself.

Mature Student?

I honestly feel like my studying and my research has not yet begun. I still have a long road ahead of me.  I am so excited to be actually going to uni - it's going to be strange for me. I might feel old. I might feel stupid. (I'll definitely feel stupid.) But it doesn't matter. I'm looking forward to it so much.

And I wouldn't say I'm very mature. I'm pretty old, but not mature!

I feel weird saying that I am about to finish my degree, when I feel like I am just starting. I'm not sure if I'm ready to leave the OU behind. 

I suppose I am confused. But that's normal for me.

As is this:


And will continue to be so. 



Friday, 8 May 2015

Blog On 2015 - Blogging and Belonging

Last week I went to one of my favourite blogging conferences Blog On in Manchester. I went last year ane met loads of other bloggers - some of whom I now consider good friends! I was so excited to go - it's a chance for bloggers to meet up, chat, schmooze with some brands-type people and also learn a lot about blogging itself!

Them's me best handwriting....



Hungry House supplied us with this absolutely gorgeous cake that I have on good authority was lovely. However, Operation Wobbly Bottom is still on, so I swerved the cake and went for wine instead....of course...



Gorgeous Nicola from Monsters Fun House


Me and Phillipa from Sounding Like My Mother - we were the naughty ones wagging the last class and drinking wine, along with Ally - Messed up Mum and Emma-Louise - Emma-Lou Look At You



My Highlights

* Nickie O'Hara - From Typecast. Nickie gave us some good tips on blog organisation and making videos

* The cake looked amazing. But I didn't eat any. #operationwobblybottom is a-go

* Advanced Blogging Skills - Turns out I am not as advanced as I thought ha ha.

* Lorraine from The Un-Cheshire Wife reading her brilliant poem about blogging

* Ooh Co-Op Prosecco. Lots of. Sorry/Not Sorry

You can tell as my photographs get blurry that I might have consumed a bit too much wine. But it was all good fun!

Me, Jane and Nicola
The brands that were there were great - we left with an enormous bag full of goodies, which the kids promptly raided as soon as I got home!

The best thing for me about blogging is the friends that I make and the time that I spend with them, reading their blogs and getting to know them. They make me feel like I belong,  I don't have to pretend or worry that I am going to trip up or that my knickers will be stuck in my dress. Bloggers "get" me, and I like to think I get them too. We all just sort of accept each other for who we are and what we do. It's such a brilliant supportive community. I had such a fantastic day, got the train home with Ally from Messed Up Mum and fell asleep on my suitcase. There is photo knocking round of that on Instagram somewhere.

Had an absolute ball. Can't wait until next year BLOG ON is BOSS. Thanks to Laura from Tired Mummy of Two for organising, she does a great job.

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Giveaway! Google Chromecast

I am useless with technology. There. I've said it. I can't use our remote control for the TV, I am not the best on social media, I get hashtags wrong and I am a bit silly because I just can't learn either. Call me old fashioned but I just liked it when telly was numbered channels one to four. OK, five...at a push!

Anyway - something has changed because we now have use of a Google Chromecast and guess what - even a fool like me can use it. It is a brilliant little device that allows you stream whatever you are watching on your laptop, phone, ipad - straight to your TV. It's brill - especially if you have children that like to watch videos on Youtube of people opening egg surprises - or if you are like me and never get to sit down and watch something when it is actually on - I am always watching things on catch up!





So - JNB Aerials are working with me on this little giveaway for you to win on of these brilliant little devices.

To be in with a chance of winning just fill in the Rafflecopter form below.

Good luck!


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Parenting Wins/Fails This Week

WINS

* Rosie has shown "interest" in the potty. And by interest I mean sitting on it fully clothed and declaring loudly that she is "doing  a wee"

* Emily has started confiding in me much more. "Well he said that she said this and then I said NO WAY and then she said....."

* Alice said "Mummy all the kids pretend to play with guns in my school - I don't like guns because guns kill people."

* I have managed to sweep the floor EVERY DAY this week

* I submitted my final essay for my degree without too much hassle and without being used as a climbing frame for the kids

FAILS

The Conservatives have another five year term. 

They will fail my children 100% in every area, of that I am absolutely certain. Education, health and welfare - down the pan for the next five years.

In five years, will the NHS exist?

How much will it cost for my kids to get educated?

Will they have to do community service if they can't find a job?

This is the worst type of fail that will have a devastating effect on poorer families and communities.

Gutted, here.









Tuesday, 5 May 2015

An OPEN LETTER to My Pre-Teen

Dear Daughter

I know you are entering this nightmare teen phase. I know. I get it. Believe it or not I was young once. Don't roll your eyes at me young lady. I would like you to read this letter (I don't do OPEN LETTERS willy nilly so consider yourself lucky with this one - I'm even going to do it in bullet points because I know that you "can't be bovvered" to read anything more than a few lines of what I write.

So, here you go:

* As your Mother and Cleaner and Cook and everything else, I am more than happy to do your washing. However, it would be helpful, if, on occasion you could see fit to removing your underwear from the gusset of your dirty jeans BEFORE throwing them on the floor at the top of the stairs.

* I HAVE GOT SWAG. That is all, I just wanted to clear that up

* When I give you advice, it is for your own good. It doesn't matter to me if you don't brush your teeth. It doesn't matter to me if you hand your homework in late or if your hair is straggly. These things will AFFECT YOU. Which is why I mention it.

* You take after me. So when you thought you'd get changed for PE in the showers and then the showers were motion sensored and they came on and you got soaked and had to come home in lost property clothes three sizes too big....well, that was just the start of it. Laugh at yourself. It's not the end of the world.

* I HATE REPEATING MYSELF. If I tell you to do something, it would be nice if you would just do it. Otherwise, I am close to the point of recording my instruction and playing it on loop. Please. Just do as I have asked. Generally whatever it is I ask you to do will take less than ten minutes of your swag-filled life.

* I can totally use the phrase YOLO and get away with it

* Me and your Dad like to sit on the couch together at night watching crappy telly. ALONE. Just give us a bit of space. A private conversation is not always about you, you don't have to "check up" on us - we're fine. We're drinking wine. The hours for you are between 9am and 9pm. After that... GO AWAY.

* I don't appreciate you sneaking up on me when I'm reading in the bath. Or actually looking through what books I have on my Kindle. I was reading Harry Potter, despite your Fifty Shades of Grey accusations, madam.

* I know EVERYTHING. Everything. Don't try and pull the wool over my eyes, love. Just so you know. Whatever it is...I KNOW.

* It is not acceptable in any way whatsoever to teach your baby sisters to twerk

* If something is what you term "nowadays" then I can do it/use it/wear it. I am living in "nowadays" too - your generation does not have the monopoly on TODAY.

* I like embarrassing you. It's so easy. Chill out and lighten up girl, what's your issue?

* I like spending time in Claire's Accessories with you. It gives me all the swag and makes me YOLO.

So that's that. Take heed young girl.

I'm watching you!

LOLZ.


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Operation Wobbly Bottom: Weigh In Week 6

Well - still loving it, still getting on. I've been experimenting with cauliflower rice this week. I know - it sounds horrible, but it's great. I just chop cauliflower up like rice, and replace half of my rice with it. It makes my plate contain more veg and cuts down my rice - it really works and it fills me up.

Cauliflower rice :)

I have stuck to the plan this week with only a slight diversion. I went to a blogging conference on Saturday, and I was really good - I took a packed lunch and an apple and avoided the amazing cake and sandwiches. However, that was where my innocence ended I'm afraid - at 2.00pm the Prosecco was flowing and well...who am I to say no?! Now they say that once you have had a drink all of your inhibitions go out of the window and you start eating loads. For me, this isn't usually the case - I am pretty good. However, when I got home I absolutely wolfed my tea and had a low fat pack of crisps. I also had a TINY BIT of Easter egg.

Aww give me a break, I was a bit drunk. I'd also had no breakfast. This was one of those days where I failed to prepare properly. However, that's life. I picked my poison, and that was wine. I don't get out much so I deserved the treat!

That was just one day - every other day I stuck to the plan.



So for next week?

I am hoping to exercise more, get moving and try and tone up. I am feeling better and if the weight comes off slowly and steadily then that's fine with me. I have lost 12lbs now. It would be nice to lose 2lbs next week to make it one stone.

If you like my blog I'd appreciate a vote in Purflo's Blogger of The Year. It's a Facebook one-click vote and you can vote every day - I'd appreciate your support :) CLICK HERE TO VOTE



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.

Keeping Fire Safe with #MoreThanFireSafety

Safety in the home is something that we are always concerned about. Having the three children around makes it even more important. I like to think that we do have the bases covered when it comes to safety in the home and especially with the kids. However, we can never be too careful and accidents do happen. More Than have created a little video showing you how you can be safe by preventing fire in the home. This is something that we are quite vigilant with - we do check our smoke alarm regularly, and we do have a "in case of fire" family plan.

Below are some of my safety tips. These are just what we are aware of - do check out More Than's video for some good safety tips and further information. You never can be too careful.

Candles

We LOVE candles. However, we like to stay safe and we actually never light them around the kids. We make sure that the candles are in holders, and that we blow them out safely before we go to bed. I suppose it's something that you wouldn't really pay too much attention to - it is only a candle, but naked flames are an obvious fire-safety issue.

Cooking

I cook using a gas hob with naked flames - it is very important that I am on the ball with this. Of course there have been occasions when my pans have bubbled over and I have ruined many meals by being a bit shall I say...distracted! However, I have always managed to catch this in time, and really it is no laughing matter. As the kids get older it is easier for me to switch off when I need to as the kids are less demanding. This is something that I am getting better at, and I ALWAYS make sure that the gas is off after I have finished cooking,

All four on the go at times!


Emergency Plan

We do have a family plan. I depends on where the fire is, but our plan is that we would grab one baby each and then make our way to Emily's room, smash the window and jump onto the ledge underneath. I know this sounds a bit over the top and a bit Jack Bauer, but I really think making a plan helps - we know our escape routes and have an idea just in case the worst does happen.

Checking Smoke Alarms

Every Sunday. It takes three seconds, and is very annoying. Just do it.

Turning Things Off

We are pretty good for making sure our plugs are switched off. This also saves energy and money too - something that we are quite keen on.


So - I hope these tips have helped. Staying safe with our kids is really important - the devastation that a fire in the home can cause is awful - if we all take just a few minutes to make some simple checks, test the smoke alarm, we can minimise the risk and help to keep our loved ones safe.

This post was written in collaboration with More Than. All words and views are my own.



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