Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Monsters and Bangs

This weekend we had a fantastically spooktacular time.

My little Frankensteins
Cakes made by Kate at Buckleberry Bakes & Makes
On Saturday the boys were invited to a Halloween themed fancy dress joint birthday party for my friends daughters.  Not wanting to spend a fortune on a costume for them, my mum made them both a Frankenstein mask using her embroidery machine and I teamed that up with a black top and jeans.  I thought that they made a very cute pair of Frankensteins (but of course I am rather biased).

It was great seeing all the kids dressed up.  Every child got into the spirit of the were all dressed up.

We had a great time at the party.  There was a bouncy castle and other than for a bit of food, the boys didn't want to come off it!  My friend made a bat cake and a goth princess cake for her girls, they both looked amazing!

The weekend didn't end there though.  On Sunday we went off to Legoland Windsor to watch the fireworks.  I was working, so I met up with everyone a bit later.  Hubby, my sister and the boys arrived at Legoland about 12.30pm and had no problems with getting into the park.  We were worried that the park might be full, as the fireworks are very popular there, but it wasn't too bad.  The park was suitably decked out with pumpkins and cobwebs everywhere.
We went on a few rides and watched the pirate stunt show and the puppet show at the Duplo Theatre, both of which my boys loved.  At just after 4pm we decided to get something to eat, so headed off to the Pasta & Pizza restaurant for some food.  I do have to say, this did spoil or day a little.  It was quite busy getting into the restaurant.  I'm guessing that alot of people had the same idea as us to get some food before the fireworks.  We found out that the kids eat free offer had ended the week before, but luckily for us, they are still doing the kids eat free after 4pm offer for annual pass holders, which we are.  It would have worked out a very expensive meal without that offer and it wasn't exactly cheap anyway!  The price for an adult all you can eat meal has gone up to £11.95 per person.  We went up to queue for our food and this took about 20 mins to manage to get food!  As we had to take it in turns so that someone stays at the table with the boys, it took a relatively long time for us to all get fed.  It didn't help that other guests were pushing into the queue and there was quite a few stressed looking people! 

Eventually, we were all fed and watered and we made our way to find a good spot for the fireworks.  We were told by a member of staff that it was extremely busy in Miniland, but there is a viewing point in the Driving School attraction which was much less busier as less people were aware of it.  We decided that we would go in there.  We found a nice spot and waited for the fireworks to start.  Unfortunately, the rain decided to come down then, so we did get rather soaked!  Not long after the fireworks started, Noah fell asleep in hubby's arms.  The day must have worn him out!  Aled thoroughly enjoyed it though.  I was glad that my sister bought the 3D glasses, they really made a spectacular fireworks display look amazing!  The glasses have little pixels in them, which when you look at a bright light they give the impression of lego bricks.  Looking at the fireworks with the glasses made it look like hundreds of lego bricks falling from the sky.  It really was fantastic!  PJ took some fab photo's using his iPod.

We had originally planned on staying after the fireworks for a little while, until most of the traffic had left, but as Noah had fallen asleep we decided it was best to try to get him back home to bed as soon as possible.  We made our way back to the top of the park, along with the rest of the crowd and into our cars.  I was very impressed with how easy it was to get out of the park.  It took me 10 mins to get from the car park barrier at the top to the bottom of the hill.  The car park team had installed temporary traffic lights on the roundabout, which made exiting the park the easiest I have ever found it.

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend, although Noah has now got a chest infection, which I think may be a result of being out in the cold and the rain.  I'm hoping that it doesn't spoil our half term!

Jackie. x

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful (#R2BC)

It's been quite a while since I've taken part in this linky.  This week it is being hosted by Becky at Lakes Single Mum while Michelle is promoting the #OneMums campaign in which she travelled over to Ethiopia and met some remarkable people.

As you can probably tell from my last couple of posts, I'm feeling pretty rubbish at the moment and struggling with the boys behaviour.  This is why I have decided to take part on R2BC this week, to remind myself of the good things that going on.

  • Next week my hubby is off work for the whole week.  Whilst this might not mean that the school runs will be much better, it does mean that I won't be tackling them on my own.
  • Next Tuesday, my sister has offered to take a day off work so that she can pick the boys up from school so that me and hubby can have a day to ourselves.  I am really looking forward to it.  We're going to take advantage of my staff pass and head off to Thorpe Park for the day, where hubby will try to persuade me to go on all of the big rides!
  • Despite Noah's tantrums getting worse, Aled's behaviour is getting much better and his meltdowns are nowhere near as bad as they were a year ago.
  • Lastly, half term is getting closer.  I can't wait for a whole week of no school runs!
Well, that's me for this week.  Why not check out the linky below for other bloggers reasons to be cheerful this week. 

Jackie. x

Monday, 15 October 2012

Product Review - Littlelife DriStore Daysacks

Inspecting the bag
We were sent a Littlelife DriStore Daysack to write up a review for The Baby Website.  I didn't tell the boys that it was coming, but when it arrived, Noah was home.  I let him help me to open the box and he was really excited to see the 'shark' bag inside.  According to the packaging and the Littlelife website, it is supposed to be a dolphin and when I suggested this to Noah he told me 'no, it's a shark mummy'!  I guess that's me told!

This is what Littlelife have to say about the bag:
Children can take an orca, crocodile or dolphin swimming with these new and practical water-resistant daysacks. They have a spacious 5 litre main compartment to store kit and towels and a secret coin pocket for after-swim snacks. These new bags are a must for trips to the pool or beach. 
Dristore Daysack Features
  • Water-resistant 5 litre main compartment
  • Adjustable shoulder straps with chest strap
  • Secret coin pocket
  • Internal name and address label
  • Top grab handle
Technical Specification
  • Weight: 185g
  • Capacity: 5 litres
  • Dimensions: 17x14x30cm
  • Suitable for Ages: 4+ years
Full change of clothes
and raincoat
I must admit, the bag looked much smaller than I was expecting.  Compared to Noah's usual school bag, it looks tiny.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find that actually, the bag could hold quite a bit.  The body of the bag kind of puffs out as it were, so you are able to fit more in.  We managed to get a full change of clothes plus a raincoat in ours, with room for more.

As it says in the information above, the bag is water resistant and on our first trip back from school with the bag, we ended up getting caught in the rain.  I can confirm that the clothes inside did stay nice and dry.  We've not yet gone swimming or had wet clothes inside the bag, but as the bag has a water resistant lining, I would be happy to have wet clothes in there.

The bag does have a chest strap, which I think is a pretty standard design of the Littlelife bags, but Noah was able to undo his pretty quickly.  The bag also have a loop for the Littlelife Daysack Reins to be attached to (not included), however, I felt that if I was to use the bag with the reins, I wouldn't feel very confident with them as my son would be able to undo the chest strap and take the bag off very easily.

All in all, the daysack has been a huge hit with Noah and when I asked him if Aled could have it, he flat out refused.  The design is very cute and it looks well made.  I don't think that I personally would pay the £20-£25 that it retails for, but I also don't think that the price range is that unreasonable.

Jackie. x

Disclaimer: We were sent this bag for the purpose of our review on The Baby Website, but all views are my own and written honestly.

Welcome to the troublesome threes!

When Noah had his birthday back in August, I thought great, we're past the terrible twos!  HA, no such luck!  In fact, the twos were a doddle compared to this!  Why don't we get warned about this?  We've all heard of the terrible two's, why didn't anyone warn us that the threes are worse?

Just this morning for instance, I go to pick up Noah from nursery and he's all happy and smiling.  We get outside and it starts off with him not holding my hand.  Fine I think, I will grab the handle on his backpack to stop him from running off.  But no, Noah doesn't like this, but he also won't hold my hand.  We carry on like this until we reach the point where we cross the road.  We stop and I ask Noah if we can cross.  To this he replies no, he wants to go to the park in the opposite direction.  Uh, no.  So now we have a sit down on the floor tantrum and let me tell you, a three year old is much more stubborn than a two year old!

I end up picking him up and carrying him over the road and further down the pavement, all with him kicking and screaming 'PUT ME DOWN MUMMY!'  Eventually I put him down and ask if he's going to walk nicely, but no, he's having another sit down protest.  We carry on like this until we reach the car park behind our block of flats, stopping a couple of times on the way.  Do you remember the days of putting the screaming kicking child in the buggy?  Well, they're all gone in the threes!  Let me tell you a three year old is pretty heavy and when kicking and squirming, it's pretty hard work to carry one!

As I said, we stop again when we reach the car park and by this time I don't have the energy or patience to carry him anymore.  So I put him on the floor and walk off a little bit.  I stop and look at him, to which his reply is 'bye mummy'!  I wait and I wait and I wait, but he still doesn't come.  I threaten to call the 'scary man' who's going to come and get him and still he doesn't come.  It starts peeing down with rain and we're both getting wet, still he doesn't come.  I give in and go to pick him up.  I carry him across the car park and to the block.  I open the door and wait for him to come in.  No 'bye mummy' is what I get.  To serve him right, I let the block door close, but other than screaming that he doesn't have the keys, he still refuses to come in.  I go to get him and he still refuses to come in.  In the end I pick him up again and carry him up the stairs.  I open our front door and carry him to his bed.

Well, this is where he really kicks in now!  We had a 1/2 hour screaming fit at the top of his lungs.  By this time, I'm pretty darn wound up and lock myself into the bathroom to calm down.  He comes banging on the bathroom door screaming.  I come out and he doesn't want me, he just wants to scream at me some more.  I end up going in the kitchen to make his lunch, so without speaking to him, I put his sandwich together, put a plum, packet of crisps and drink on his table and go back in the kitchen to make mine.  Yet another tantrums ensues.  This time over the plum, he doesn't want a plum.  Now I've got the neighbours banging on the ceiling at us, great!  I tell him fine, put the flaming plum in the bin, I don't care anymore.  To which of course he replies 'no, not in the bin'.  So I tell him to give it to me, I will eat the plum.  'No, Noah wants the plum.'  Well then flipping eat it!!!

Now, he is sitting at his table, having eaten his plum and the rest of his dinner and it's like the last hour never happened!  Aaarrrrgggghhhh!!  But still, I have at least an hour and a half now until the afternoon school run and it all starts over again!!

Jackie. x

Thursday, 11 October 2012

School Run

I used to enjoy the school run, it gave us the chance to chat about what Aled has been up to at nursery or about the world around us, but these days I dread it.

The morning school run is always a rush.  No matter what time we get up, we always end up rushing down to the school in the mornings to make it on time.  Usually the boys are not too much trouble getting to school, although I'm sure Noah knows the mornings we are running really late as these are the mornings he decides to play up the most.

Picking up time with Noah is normally pretty good as well, although occasionally Noah can play up on this walk home.  Like I used to with Aled, I ask Noah how his day has been and what he has been up to.  When we've crossed all the roads we need to and get to our road Noah is allowed to go off onto the grassy bit and is allowed to run home.  Normally he jumps and plays about.  On sunny days he might pick the daisies or hide behind cars.  It's all a game to him.  This is fine with me, we're in no rush to get home other than for lunch, so I let him get on with it.  This is the only place that he does have 'free reign' as it were, as he can't be trusted to walk without holding hands at any other time as he tends to run off or, on one occasion, run over the road (and nearly causing me a heart attack as I try to catch up with him!!)

When I get home with Noah from morning nursery, we take off his uniform to keep it clean for the day.  As Noah is something of a nudist, he refuses to wear a change of clothes until I make him for the afternoon school run.

The three o'clock school run to pick up Aled is a completely different kettle of fish and the one that I dread on a daily basis.  At about 2.30pm I attempt to get Noah dressed for the school run.  This normally ends up in a fight with Noah refusing to put on clothes.  As I get one trouser leg in, he's taking off the other one and it's a real battle to dress him.  Of course this starts us off on a bad footing and the rest of the school run is rarely any better.  Once he's dressed we then have the battle to get on his coat and actually get out of the door.  Half of the time I end up having to practically drag him down the school, sometimes kicking and screaming.  The other days I am having to bribe him with the promise of biscuits or sweets on our return if he's good.  I think I have now earned the sympathy of the lollypop lady who sees my afternoon struggles daily.

Of course, Noah's behaviour attracts the attentions of the other parents and I can feel their eyes boring into me.  This is nothing new to me anymore, Aled's social developmental issues and meltdowns have already got me well practised in attempting to ignore the looks and stares, the tuts and whispers, although it doesn't make it any easier.

By the time we get to Aled's class it normally goes one of four ways.

  1. Noah has calmed down and is his usually bubbly, hyper self, Aled comes out of school in a good mood and we set off for home with no further issues. 
  2. Noah has calmed down, but something has triggered off an Aled meltdown, so I end up having to try to console/calm down Aled while trying to control the bubbly hyper Noah.  Sometimes ended up with Aled screaming all the way home.
  3. Noah hasn't calmed down, so having to drag/carry him home, while trying to have a 'how's your day been' conversation with Aled.  We have also started to adopt the stand still until he's finished his tantrum method as well, or even walking off and telling him I'm going without him.  Unfortunately, this has backfired and Noah thinks that this is a game and will then stop every 5 minutes on the way home and tell me to go.
  4. Noah hasn't calmed down and Aled is having a meltdown, cue taking home two screaming pre-schoolers!
No matter what type of day we have had, I am exhausted by the end of the school run!  Some days are better than others.  Some days I feel like it's not too bad and I can cope, other days (like today) I feel like I'm the worst mother in the world and wonder why I can't control my children!  I look at the other mums and dads with their children walking nicely and wonder why can't I have that, what have I done wrong?

Please excuse the self pitying post, I normally try not to write them, but I just needed to get it out of my system!

Jackie. x

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Twilight Race for Life 2012 - Done!

Back at the beginning of August I wrote about the fact that I have signed up to Cancer Research's Twilight Race for Life.  This year was the first year that CRUK has put on the Twilight version of the Race for Life and it was only held in four different towns, Norwich, Southampton, Windsor and Swansea.  Being the closest to me, I had entered the Windsor one.

I had planned on upping my game this year and jogging the 5km course, however, the nearest I got to do any training was downloading the C25K app!!  Time flew away with me and somehow the Race for Life was here before I knew it!

My race number and back sign
Over the last few weeks I have been having problems with my feet, as I suffer from flat feet, meaning that I find it very painful to walk.  This is something that I have suffered with for a number of years, but normally the pain is manageable.  The last few weeks however, I have found that the pain has intensified when I walk. Nevertheless, I wasn't going to let this stop me (although I did think about it a couple of times!) and off I went with my sisters to Windsor Racecourse.

We arrived at about 7pm and after we parked up we made our way to the main area.  On our walk over the bridge we were met with a few of the volunteers giving out free glo-sticks, which I thought was a nice touch. Once we made it into the main area, the first stall we came across was one which you filled out a paper lantern bag with your message and lit a candle for them.  As well as the usual burger and hot drinks stalls, there was also a couple of stalls selling Race for Life and Cancer Research merchandise.  The were both reasonably priced, with a hoodie costing between £25 and £30 and a t-shirt with all of the participants names on only costing £15.
Me and my sister before the Race

I did find that the crowd wasn't as large as previous Race for Life's that I have attended, but I think that made it all the more special.  As well as the volunteers that we had seen on the bridge, there were loads of others going through the crowds handing out the free glo-sticks and bracelets.

At about 7.30pm the compère came on to spur on the crowd and then there was a speech from a CRUK representative about how the money we raise helps in the fight against cancer.  Then, at about 7.50pm a couple of local aerobics instructors came on for the warm up and then, before we knew it, we were lining up to start.

I found the first km the worst as my feet had already started to hurt after the warm up, but I persevered and soon the pain in my calves started to ease.  The course was lined with glo-sticks and it all looked very pretty.    I took it pretty steady and just kept to my own pace.  My sister had power walked off as I told her not to wait for me.  I felt pretty pleased with myself when I saw the 1km marker!  All along the course there were marshalls cheering everyone on.  Just before the 2km mark the route doubled back on itself and I saw the runners and joggers on their way back to the finish line.  It had only been about 20 minutes at that point and hats off to those ladies!

By the 3km mark I felt my toes on my right foot going numb.  I still didn't let this stop me and carried on, but by the 4km mark my whole foot felt swollen and numb, so I thought that it was best that I stopped for a few moments.  I circled my ankle and felt the blood rushing back to my foot.  Once it felt more 'normal' I then carried on.  At first it was a little painful, but not too bad.  I carried on and found that actually I was managing to walk at a slightly faster pace for that last km.  In around an hour I completed the 5km walk.  My sister had completed hers in about 45-50 minutes, so I wasn't actually that far behind her.  I was really pleased to get past that finish line though and collect my medal and goodie bag.  I was also pleased to see that I wasn't the last one to finish! lol.

After stopping with my sisters to pose for a finished photo all of a sudden my right foot filled with pain.  I assumed it was cramp at first and hobbled over to the car.  My other sister had very kindly agreed to be our driver of the night as she wasn't taking part with us.  When the pain didn't subside, I did worry a little about whether I have done something to my ankle, but seeing as I hadn't stumbled or fallen, I wasn't too concerned.  Having now slept and rested up my foot, the pain is not quite as bad as it was, but it does still hurt to walk on it.  I think I will just monitor it for a couple of days and see how it goes.

All in all though, despite the pain, I really enjoyed the evening.  I was caught up in the excitement of the evening and the feeling of doing something good for charity.  If I do sign up again next year, then I will definitely sign up for the Twilight one again.

In the meantime though, if anyone would like to sponsor me, there is still time.  You can do so by clicking the button on the right or by texting JCRO58 £2 to 70070.  :-)

Jackie. x

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Hello, hello, hello!!!

I bet you'd all forgotten about me, it's been so long!!

Those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter have most likely seen my posts to say that I have now moved flat.  We finally, after 3 years of waiting, have been given a three bedroom flat.  And yesterday, after waiting two weeks, we finally have our internet installed, yay!

It was all very last minute and rushed.  On the 11th September I got a phone call from the local council asking me if I would like to view a property the following day.  After waiting on the list for a bigger place for three years I jumped at the chance.  I was told that it was a multiple viewing, so there would be others from the waiting list viewing the flat at the same time.  So, the next day, myself and Noah went over to the flat.  It was only the next street over from where we were, so we walked over.  There were another family there also to view it.  The flat was very similar to what I already had except it has an extra bedroom.  Perfect for us.  I asked the lady from the council where we were on the list and she informed me that we were in 4th place for this particular property.  Knowing how hard it is to get a place in our area, my heart sank and assumed we wouldn't get it, but I put our names down as interested.

The next day I got a phone call saying that families 1 and 2 had turned the property down, but family number 3 had accepted it.  This wasn't a huge surprise to me and I had already accepted the fact that we wouldn't get it.

The following Monday (17th Sept) at 11.30am I got a phone call from the lady at the council telling me that family number 3's application didn't go through and am I still interested!  Hell yes!  She then advised me that she had to do a property inspection of my current flat and the application form.  Can she come out this afternoon!  Eek, panic stations.  The appointment was made for 1.30pm, leaving me 2 hours to tidy up my flat that had looked like a bomb had hit it!!  Thankfully my mum took pity on me and came over to help.  We managed to get the flat into a fairly presentable state just in time.   The lady came over and the first thing she noticed was the damp problem.  I told her that we have had this for a number of years and have been fobbed off by their repairs company every time I called them.

Eventually she finished the inspection and passed us for transfer.  She did state that we had to remove everything from the flat, including the flooring etc.  She went through our documents and said that my housing officer needed to sign it off, but we will most likely be signing the new tenancy agreement and get the keys by the end of the week.  Oh my word!! From no flat to getting the keys in the space of a few days!

I got the phone call the next day (Tuesday) to say that my housing officer has signed off the application and that the only appointment he had was the next day.  As we had to pay 2 weeks rent in advance and I didn't get paid until the Thursday, I said that this wasn't possible.  The next available appointment was the following Monday.  I took the Monday appointment, but after speaking with hubby, I remembered that we had a cheque book that we could use for the rent, as the cheque wouldn't get cashed until after payday.  With this in mind, I called the lady back and made the appointment for the Wednesday.

The following day, I met hubby outside of the council offices and we went in to sign our new tenancy!!  We had the keys, we actually have a three bedroom flat!!  Up until that moment, I never really thought it was actually going to happen.  We were lucky in that by signing the documents on a Wednesday, the council only start new tenancies on a Monday, so we effectively had 5 days rent free to get all of our stuff moved over.

Due to hubby working all week and myself working nights, we only really had the weekend to move, but between us we managed to get a few things over to the new place during the course of the week and hubby got the flooring down in the living room before the weekend.  My sister was also kind enough to spend her Friday painting the boys room, so that it was dried and ready for them to move in there.

With the help of my mum, sisters and brother-in-law, we managed to get the majority of everything over on the Saturday, including all the big items.  (By hand I might add, as we didn't have a van!)  Sunday was spent getting the rest of the small stuff over and clearing out the old flat.  After 6 car trips to the tip and alot of to-ing and fro-ing, by 7pm the Sunday evening we had moved!

After two weeks in the new place, we are all pretty much settled in.  The new neighbours are all lovely.  PJ is happy to have his own bedroom and the little ones love their new room.  We do still have some unpacking and a little bit of decorating  to do, but to be honest, I'm in no rush now that the bulk of it has been done!

I now have alot of blog posts to catch up on now that we have the internet back on (over 200 posts are waiting for me over on blogloving, you guys can certainly write alot in two weeks!! lol), but you will hear from me soon.

Jackie. x