Monday, 29 August 2016

Realistic Milestone Cards

You know these beautiful baby milestone cards - the ones with the lovely design on that you put next to/on your baby so that you know where they are up to in their little lives, instead of just taking mindless photos? Well, for some reason that passed me by when I had my kids. I feel a bit guilty because I don't know the exact date the kids had their first bath, or said their first word. Then I got to thinking - actually, maybe someone should make these cards a little bit more realistic.

So here are mine:






What do you mean it's inappropriate??

Saturday, 27 August 2016

A Black Hole

6 years now.

6 years of working and studying and cooking and cleaning and caring for children. If I was a betting woman, I'd bet that they* were taking bets on when I would lose it.

*Whoever they are.

And by lose it, I mean totally lose my mind. A bit like Shirley Valentine, running away to Greece and having a wild affair to break the mundanity of life at a kitchen sink.

Well, if you made a bet then yes. 2016 is the year that I sort-of lose it. Probably not like Shirley Valentine though, I'm far too loyal for that. And not unhappy.

However, lately, just lately... this black dog has completely engulfed me. I am stuck in a black hole and I can't get out. Somehow life went too fast, much too fast. Seven years seem to have passed in the blink of an eye and I'm stuck in a hole, and nothing is wrong except it's raining, absolutely pouring it down as fast as the tears are rolling down my face. Faces, names, decisions made. Time. Money. Friends. Loneliness, emptiness. Lies. Truths. Tears.

It is some kind of wave of anxiety that engulfs me. And yes, it is now in 2016 that I have accepted that I am probably having some kind of meltdown. When I am in the hole, I am in the hole. Times - like now, I am OK, I'm out of it and I can breathe. Things are fine and I'm just plodding on.

And then...

Am I trapped? Is it my gender that has trapped me? My decisions? What am I doing and where am I going? What if everyone I have ever known has let me down and there is only me left? Complete and total mind maze and I forget who I am, and what I am doing. I can't breathe and I feel old and spent and everyone wants something from me.

But I emerge from the hole. Everything is fine. I have kids to see to, a pre-teen to argue with, articles to read, essays to write, work to attend...

This summer I have realised a lot.

I have lived a thousand lives in such a short space of time. I have squeezed so much in - and I need a rest. I need to take stock, be kind to myself.

At the same time, I must acknowledge that I am strong. Very strong.

This is what will get me through some very dark days and dig me out of these black holes.


Monday, 22 August 2016

Colours in the Home

In our house we enjoy using the items and furniture around us to express how we are. We have never really been a family of sticking to beige and cream colourings. Of course that is fine, and can be perfect for achieving a minimalist look in the home. However, we have so many books, records, nick-nacks and while the kids are still young, toys scattered everywhere! I like to think of our home as lived in rather than a big old mess!

Maybe once the kids are a bit older we will have time to think about coloured furnishings around the home. I love oranges and autumn colours, so a splash of that would be brilliant in our living room. Apparently you can tell a lot about a person by the colours that they use to decorate their houses. Calibre have created the following infographic to explore the psychology of colour. Check it out:





I especially like the idea of creating different colour zones within the home. I would love to have some lovely bright greens, oranges and even pink and blues in some of the rooms. I agree that colours can and do enhance your mood.

Maybe when the kids have grown bigger and we are rid of all the toys we can start to look at decorating with colour!

Disclosure: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Calibre, who provided me with this infographic for the purpose of this article. All words and views are my own.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Review: Blackpool Resort Pass #BlackpoolHasItAll

We were very excited to be invited to spend a full day in Blackpool. The summer holidays are a great time for us to really spend time together as a family and get out and about. We tend to sit in the house as little as possible as the kids get bored and that inevitably leads to bickering - much better to get out and have a good time!

Blackpool literally does have it all for a fun day out with the family, and thanks to the Blackpool Resort Pass, we could pick and choose from a number of Merlin Entertainments to visit on the day. We planned to visit Madame Tussaud's, Blackpool Tower, the Pleasure Beach and Sandcastles Water Park and Blackpool Circus - we also planned a picnic lunch and fish and chips on the front for our tea at the end of the day. We really did plan to cram!

We set off bright and early to make a full day of it. The weather was a bit cloudy but we had planned most of our activities indoors anyway.

Madame Tussaud's

First stop was the famous waxworks Madame Tussaud's. We had planned to spend just an hour and a half in here, but the kids had such a ball that we ended up staying a lot longer than we thought we would! We loved seeing all of the celebrities made of wax - Rosie's face was a picture. Her favourite was Lady GaGa and Emily was very impressed with Justin Bieber. We enjoyed The Beatles, Michael Jackson and a whole host of other celebrities. We had a pit stop break at the Rovers Return bar, complete with Deidre Barlow sat in the bar and a showreel of Corrie's best bits on the screen.



After this we then went to get our hands made out of wax! We loved this. Myself, Emily and Warren all had our hands dipped in the warm wax and then the mould handed to us. These are still proudly displayed on our mantelpiece!


The finished product on display

As time had ticked on, we realised that we wouldn't have time to go up the tower. We were happy to save this for another time. It is a shame that we did not have time to go - the Tower experience looks great.

We took the tram back to the car to collect our picnic. As it was raining, we ended up picnicking in the car! It didn't really matter - we were just re-fuelling the kids after the excitement of Tussaud's.



The Pleasure Beach

Again, we went over our time at the Pleasure Beach! There were queues for the rides, but not any longer than you would expect. As we had the two younger children with us, we spent a lot of time in the Nickelodeon section. We enjoyed a few of the rides such as the Rug Rats Log Flume. We enjoyed walking around the Pleasure Beach and stopped for coffee and ice cream on the way round. Warren braved the Revolution ride. I had watched it from the ground - I think it is fair to say that I am not a thrill-seeker, but Warren really enjoyed it.




Sandcastle Waterpark

After our time at the Pleasure Beach (and being slightly damp from the log flume!) We decided it was time to go to the waterpark. The kids were the most excited about this - they absolutely love swimming. We had packed their floats and armbands and were all set to have a great time. The waterpark itself is huge and has many exciting slides, some of which go outside of the building in tunnels. As a self-confessed non-thrill-seeker (if such a thing exists) I was happy to just swim with the kids while Emily went on the bigger slides. We enjoyed the rapids and just generally having a lot of fun in the water! We spent around three hours here all together.

After Sandcastles, we were meant to go to Blackpool Circus - however, the kids were very tired and very hungry, so we decided to leave the Circus for another day. We grabbed some fish and chips and enjoyed our meal with our damp hair!

The Ticket

The Resort Pass is ideal if you are looking to visit a number of attractions in Blackpool over the course of one or more days. The cards are shown at each attraction on entry and it makes everything a lot easier and also saves money. As we are very busy over the summer holidays and have other plans, we had to cram our fun into the one day. As a result we did have to miss out on some attractions - however, the tickets do last a week, so if we could have, we would have definitely returned and maybe had three or four brilliant days out.

Information


  • The Resort Pass starts from £55 but can be customised to add extras. It lasts for seven days, helping you to budget for your trip.
  • Visit Blackpool and Merlin Entertainments have teamed up and launched a summer campaign to prove #BlackpoolHasItAll for families, showcasing Blackpool's collection of world renowned, family attraction brands and offers.
  • You can follow Visit Blackpool on Twitter to keep up with the latest news and offers.
Disclosure: We were invited to visit Blackpool using the Resort Pass and were given tram tickets for the purpose of this review.  All words and views are our own.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Review: Sylvanian Families Doughnut Shop

Alice and Rosie were delighted to be asked to review this gorgeous little Sylvanian Famililes Doughnut Shop. At aged 4 and 3, Alice and Rosie enjoy playing with all kinds of toys and games and this little figure set is just perfect for them.

The set includes Bear Mother as well as a selection of doughnuts and cakes, coffees and muffins for sale in the little shop. It also comes with a table, a teapot and cups as well a tongs to pick up the doughnuts with and little take-away boxes.

The set is so cute - and the doughnuts and accessories are so life-like. The girls have already spent a long time playing with this set - it is definitely a firm favourite in our house



As you can tell, Alice really enjoys playing with the set. As there was only one set we spent a lot of time teaching the girls sharing and role-play. They took turns being Bear Mother and customer. Of course there were some minor altercations, but that's learning and growing - overall they did great.

The set is aimed at children aged 3+ - I definitely wouldn't let a younger child play with this as the parts are very small. As our girls are that little bit older, they are aware that they have to play with them and not put them in their mouths.



This is a lovely set. Our girls absolutely love it. We are very much looking forward to reviewing and playing with lots more Sylvanian Families toys!

Information

* The Doughnut Shop is priced from £17.99 and is available from all good toys shops.
* To keep up with the latest Sylvanian Family news follow them on Twitter


Disclosure: We were sent this item free of charge for the purpose of this review - all words and views are our own. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Summer At The Albert Dock

I have lived in Liverpool for about eight years now. I love it here. I moved here to be with my husband, and we have created a family life here just outside the city. I work and study here and I'm planning my PhD around Liverpool and its rich history. We were delighted to be invited to spend overnight in this beautiful city - two full days in the summer at the Albert Dock. Even though we live here it is hard to visit the city as a tourist. Sometimes your home-town just becomes the usual run of the mill place, but when you just look up at the skyline, the beautiful buildings and places you see the city for what it really is and uncover some of that rich history - places, people, feelings. It's all there.



The Albert Dock was created in 1846 as a series of warehouses used for unloading cargo from ships from all over the world. The present day sees a vibrant and colourful dock, full to the brim and buzzing with people; the number one tourist site for Liverpool.

The kids were really excited to be having a little "holiday" in the city.



We planned two full days and an overnight stay, visiting as many places as we could along the dock. First stop was Matel Play! This is a huge child's play area on the dock, with three themed zones for the kids to have fun in; Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam. As you can tell from the photos our girls had a great time. Emily even got involved although she probably was a bit too old for the play area!



We spent a long time walking along the water front. We had a mixed bag weather-wise. A bit of rain, lots of sun and at one point lots of wind. It is usually colder near the water though and in any case we were glad for the fresh air.




We wandered along past the love-locks. These are padlocks that people have put along the chains by the water. The padlocks - thousands of them - have inscriptions, engravings or just an old fashioned sharpie scrawl of lover's or loved ones names. I love it there.

Next we spent time at the Museum of Liverpool. This museum is relatively new and reveals Liverpool's history. I particularly love it here for obvious reasons. The kids really love the museum and we spent a long time in here, although Rosie is starting to be a bit naughty and we have to chase her around a lot. As it was raining we stayed in doors and explored the museum. It covers some of the maritime history as well as cultural history like music and football. It is right up our street.

Next we stopped at Revolution for some food. The kids were ready for some food by then and we were more than ready to sit down - chasing after Rosie and Alice is hungry work! We had a lovely meal. Warren picked a burger and I had a pasta dish. Em opted for ribs and the kids had pizzas - all rounded off with ice cream of course. I swear that 98.5% of my kids' summer days off all include pizza and ice creams! I can think of worse ways to spend days, I suppose.


I opted for a cocktail. Well, it would be rude not to wouldn't it?



After our lovely meal we walked along the docks again before heading to our hotel for the night. The Holiday Inn Express was the perfect hotel for us. Situated right on the dock, we had a family room with a wonderful view of the dock.



We settled the kids (OK - it took us quite a while - they were so excited to be on their "little holiday"!) Myself and Warren spent a good while just watching the water outside, and feeling grateful. For each other, for the kids, for the city. For life in general. Strange how some trips can make you slow down, stop and think about what it is you have. Sometimes life has to slow down, taking a break can do you the world of good - even in your own city.

The Albert Dock has a lot of summer fun activities to do with the kids over the summer. There are the traditional family rides, the Tate Liverpool, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum and The Beatles Story, There is also the Big Pirate Festival on the Dock which runs on September 10th and 11th this year. One thing is for sure if you visit the Dock this summer, you won't be short of things to do - I wholeheartedly recommend a trip!

Information

Visit the Albert Dock Website http://www.albertdock.com/ or follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest news and events.

Disclosure: Were we invited to enjoy our day out at Liverpool Albert Dock free of charge for the purpose of this article. All words and views are our own.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

BABY Born Sister for #NationalSistersDay

Our two girls absolutely love all kinds of toys. They like toy kitchens, bikes, role-play, dress-up - they will try their hand at anything. They are only 18 months apart and are very close, and with no plans for any other babies they do provide each other with good company. You can imagine their excitement when I told them that the rather large package that had arrived for them was their new baby sister!

The release of this doll coincides with National Sister day. Our girls are very close and although they do have their moments, they do love each other very much.

We unpacked the box careful and Rosie shouted "WOW!" Alice was just as excited as we took her out of the packaging. BABY Born is an interactive doll wearing a smart outfit and sporting very long blonde hair - our girls were only too excited to get to review her!



The doll itself stands up on its own and has flexible joints, so you can move her arms and legs about. Her hair is super long and easily styled. BABY Born also has a little water bottle that she drinks from. She can also cry real tears when you squeeze her arm. My kids were absolutely over the moon with this as they squeezed her arm and in a fake American accent cooed "Awww baby gurl don't CRY!"



As you can see our girls have been having lots of fun with the doll. They have named her Alice Rosie and they take her wherever I allow. She has even been in the little toy prams them have and she also gets strapped in the car when we go out anywhere. They did bicker over her for a while, but they do seem to have their own little system now where they do share and take turns playing with her.

BABY Born can also be played with using a variety of accessories that are available such as the BABY born bed or bathtub. I am sure my girls would love these!

We love our BABY Born doll. She can be bought from all good toy stores prices start from £44.99.

Disclosure: We were sent the BABY Born free of charge for the purpose of this review, all words and views are our own.

Back to School Essentials with BIC

As a student I often buy new stationery to see me through the school year. Recently I was chuffed to receive  Back to School pack with BIC. I do love BIC pens and this set contained absolutely everything that I need for my new school year, including highlighters, pencils, pens, glue and erasers.


As I also have the three kids, it would be obvious that I would have to share my new stationery products. *tuts* I gave Emily a couple of the funky pencils, and I gave Alice and Rosie one pen each (what do you mean I'm tight??) The rest were packed away into my little stationery box that I keep in my huge book box away from the kids.

I absolutely love my new and set, and I am sure that it would make a great gift for children (or even adults of course) who are going back to school or university in September, I know I can't wait to get back!


Look how organised I am !
Now all I need to do is think about buying the kids their back to school packs - from September all five of us are back to school! Happy days.

The packs are available from Asda, B&M, Staples and other outlets and the RRP is £9.99.

Disclosure: I was sent the stationery pack free of charge for the purpose of this review, all words and views are my own.

Disqus for Wife, Mum, Student Bum