In the middle of the usual morning rush of trying to get up and through the shower before the kids awoke (which I failed at thanks to Little Miss C’s 6.30am wake up!) I’m pretty sure I heard Chris Evans say something about thunderstorms and torrential rain in London today. There was other stuff going on so I asked Mr C. Nope, he had no recollection of hearing it, so I just kind of forgot about the weather forecast. Bit of a big mistake it seems when you’re having a day out with the kids.

London Zoo trip

An old university friend of mine is currently over from China with his wife and one year old son, so we’d arranged to meet with them and other mutual friends at London Zoo. A perfect place for us as it’s easy to drive to and as we’re ZSL members (using Whipsnade regularly) we got free entry to the zoo itself and just had to pay for the parking (which was less than the train and tube would have been – and also much less hassle with two kids). So with the car packed with everything we might need (or so I thought) and a picnic lunch (thinking thrifty) off we headed.

London Zoo trip

I had a great time catching up with friends and Little Miss C had a ball with another girl who is only a year older than she is. Master C had a good run around – even if he did completely ignore several no entry signs and enjoy exploring a service area behind part of the Tiger enclosure before I caught up with him! – and seemed to enjoy seeing lots of animals that he recognised. It was a good opportunity to test out some of the words that he knows and also interesting to see how he interacted with people that he’d not met before.

London Zoo trip

As well as having fun it was also a pretty challenging day. Looking after two enthusiastic kids in a busy place like London Zoo can be hard work, but with Master C’s meal time “issues” I just knew that trying to eat with our friends in the restaurant would be pretty much impossible – hence taking a picnic with us. It made me feel rather sad though waving goodbye to them at lunchtime as we instead went and sat at a picnic bench in the kids play area and I tried to get Master C to eat any of the range of things I’d taken with me. In the end I think he just had a picnic egg, but I suppose that’s better than nothing. What he did do though was thoroughly enjoy the play area there. Once he’d mastered the smaller bit (aimed at under 5s) he then moved on to the over 5s one and impressed me as he managed a cargo net bridge with only small amounts of input from me. I swear that boy was a monkey in a former life!

London Zoo trip

Over lunch we felt a few spots of rain but it was in the early afternoon when the thunderclaps started and the heavens really opened. It probably wasn’t ideal that I chose to wear a white T-shirt today… We spent quite a while sheltering in the tunnel that connects that two sides of the zoo and then made a dash for the Aquarium for some indoor fun. As well as seeing the fish LMC and her new friend also found a desk area which they sat behind and suddenly they were role playing a zoo information desk and then a cafe serving cups of tea and ice creams to tired mums and dads. I love it watching kids use their imaginations like this.

London Zoo trip

We bailed out after the aquarium and decided to head back north before we ran the risk of Friday evening traffic on the M1. Both kids crashed out once we were on the road and I had the luxury of ten minutes sheltering from the rain and listening to the radio when I got home whilst they snored sweetly behind me. Us busy mums have to take any moments we can for “me time”.

So all in all a busy day and it’s left me feeling shattered. Adding to that exhausted feeling is the knowledge that our alarm is going to be going off before 3 tomorrow morning for Mr C to head to the airport for a crazy early flight to go to a wedding in The Netherlands. This is going to be fun…

It’s funny how just yesterday morning we were getting up to do yet another school run, yet this morning school runs almost felt like they were in another lifetime. Little Miss C has fully embraced the idea of getting up and not having to put her school uniform on and in that sod’s law kind of way she bounced out of bed without any encouragement at 7.15am and by 7.30 was dressed and raring to go. School morning’s normally take lots of me hurrying her along and yet the morning I don’t need her to get up on time she does!

Summer 2014 #CraftySummer

Thursday is the girls day here as Master C goes off to nursery for the day, so in that as it was a nice easy start to the holiday. LMC was keen to get stuck into the craft stuff the came from Craft Merrily yesterday and so I let her do exactly that this morning. It was her first proper attempt at following a Hama beads pattern and she actually did OK until something else caught her attention.

Summer 2014 #CraftySummer

She was very keen to try out the gel crayons, despite my best attempts to save them for Master C. Having had a very quick play myself I think these would be idea for him as they really don’t require much pressure to be applied to use them. I managed to make rather a nice effect with them, but LMC was keen to press down as hard as possible, leaving a bit of a sticky mess and a now blue oilcloth tablecloth in her wake. She had lots of fun though!

Summer 2014 Photography

The other thing that kept her very amused was playing with the camera that we were sent last year as part of a kids’ summer photography challenge. Not only was she busy snapping away around the house, but she also documented the whole car journey to the supermarket and all the clothes that I looked at whilst we were there. Much to the amusement of the staff running the M&S changing rooms today I did finally manage to convince her that taking photos of everyone in there wasn’t such a good idea. She did get plenty of old people stopping her to give her photography tips though which confused her slightly.

Thursday is also the day that LMC goes to her swimming lesson – something that she’s started to love again in recent weeks. Sadly today’s lesson was disrupted somewhat by the lifeguard spotting a suspect brown object on the pool floor and evacuating it for a “poo check”. Luckily one dad who was swimming with his family was pretty convinced that it wasn’t one and once they’d raised the pool floor up happily scooped it up in his hand and demonstrated that it was only a leaf. Still – five minutes of lesson wasted and it ruined the flow of the lesson for the kids somewhat too.

The day went somewhat downhill from there. I had a meeting scheduled at Master C’s nursery to talk to the staff about him and that threw up some real contradictions from our trip to the paediatrician yesterday. I finished yesterday thinking that I was somewhat on top of everything, but then it turns out that behaviours that I was worried about at home aren’t demonstrated at nursery at all, and things that he does or doesn’t do at home are actually opposite to what he does at nursery, giving them concerns that I didn’t have before. Suddenly it’s all got much more complicated that I thought and the rest of my evening tonight is going to be busy researching other things that I thought I didn’t need to worry about. Ho hum.

Combining this feeling of everything being different to our expectations yesterday with the heat we’ve had today and the kids’ exhaustion meant that bedtime tonight was a bit fraught, but we survived. Even if we did turn to cider immediately afterwards.

Tomorrow I’m going to brave taking them both to London in this heat to meet with an old friend. This could go one of two ways…

Well that’s it. Final school run done. Book bag assigned to the cupboard. School uniform all in the laundry basket Cute teddy bear gift from her teacher (another example of just how much I love this school!) cuddled up in bed with her as she’s drifted off to sleep. Little Miss C’s first year at our local infant school and her time as a pre-schooler is finished.

Whist in a way I did feel a bit sad dropping her off for the last time this morning to the pre-school class room I also shared the excitement that she felt for what is to come. A summer “playing with my toys” and “lots of sleep and films” is what LMC seems excited about – along with a trip to sleep on a farm (we’re visiting Coombe Mill next month too). I had been dreading the holiday somewhat, but now it’s here I’m really hoping to turn things around and use our time together to have fun and make some memories.

Now I’m one of those people who when asked on a Monday morning what we got up to over the weekend really has to stop and think. And on one occasion even consult my diary as I was sure we hadn’t just stayed at home all weekend, but I was damned if I could actually remember what we’d done or where we’d been. I’m determined not to let this happen this summer, so I’m planning to document our whole summer. What we’ve been up to, the games we’ve played, the crafts we’ve done and the places we’ve been.

It seems somewhat appropriate that the day that’s kicked off the holidays is also the one on which we took Master C to the hospital to see the paediatrician about all the problems we’ve been having with him. As expected, there was no magic answer, but her views did align very clearly with my own, especially after everything I’ve learnt from talking to fellow blogger Joy and reading her amazing blog The Sensory Seeker. It’s likely to be a long journey with blood tests, more appointments and I’m sure plenty of frustrations, but at least I now feel like it’s not all in my head and hopefully we’re now in a system to get some of the help and support that I think we need.

Summer 2014 Day 0 Summer 2014 Day 0

It’s not just been a day of hospital visits though. LMC finished school at 1pm and we then headed down to the local splash park where the pair of them ran around with LMC’s school friends and their siblings. They both had an absolute ball and it was so lovely seeing Master C enjoying his first visit there and being so so confident despite all the much older children running around too. It was also wonderful to see LMC spending time with the friends that she has made at school over this last year. She’s grown so much in confidence in that time and even just this last week again seems to have come on in leaps and bounds.

Summer 2014 Day 0

I’m yet to really plan our summer, but a couple of things have fallen into the calendar over the next week or so that the kids are looking forward to, and we’ve able been fortunate in that I’ve just teamed up with the wonderful Craft Merrily to be one of their crafting social media champions over the summer. Craft Merrily is where we buy all our Hama bead kits and boards and we’re all really excited to be working with them – wonderful customer service, great range, competitive prices, fair postage costs and speedy dispatch and delivery. And I would have happily said all that last week too. Today the postman brought us a wonderful box of goodies to play with and share on social media and not only did it contain some of our beloved Hama beads, but also some Fimo (which is completely new to us), loom bands, a Melissa and Doug stamp kit and some Staedtler gel crayons which look perfect for Master C. LMC is beyond excited.

Summer 2014 Day 0

So that’s the kids entertained, but luckily a bit later another delivery driver turned up with something to make Mr C happy – 16 litres of Westons Wyld Wood organic cider to review. Bingo! I’m sat here with my first glass right now and I’m pretty impressed. Watch out for a full review later in the summer – probably not immediately after we’ve drunk it all!

Day 0 complete then and just 41 days to go before the alarm will wake us and the uniform goes back on. In a way it seems like an eternity, but at the same time I’m sure it will fly by. Lots to do, lots we want to do, and lots of adventures to have. I hope you’ll join us for the ride.

Kids Go Free

There’s no denying it any longer – the summer holidays are here and across the country parents are desperately trying to come up with ways to entertain their little ones without blowing the household budget in the process. School holidays are perfect for days out, but it’s not a cheap thing to do. Entry ticket prices can seem very high and then you also need to contemplate the costs of getting there, plus refreshments whilst there (unless you’re thrifty enough to bring a picnic). Help is at hand though as CBeebies magazine have teamed up with Merlin Entertainments for a summer long campaign where parents can save up to £355 on top kids’ attractions across the UK with their kids go free promotion.

Kids Go Free

Every issue from 16th July until 7th October will contain two vouchers for children to go free to a different attraction – ranging from Legoland to Chessington World of Adventure and Sealife. Bearing in mind that the CBeebies magazine only costs £2.99 per issue, it’s a brilliant investment to save a whole load more money. Add on the fact that the magazine’s actually fantastic for children too – packed with great educational activities and loads of stickers, making it ideal to keep children busy during the car journey to the attraction.

Kids Go Free

Here’s the full list of which vouchers are available when.

  • Issue 409 (16th July) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)
  • Issue 410 (30th July) – Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)
  • Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)
  • Issue 412 (27th Aug) – Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)
  • Issue 413 (10th Sept) – Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)
  • Issue 414 (24th Sept) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

Full terms and conditions will be in the CBeebies magazine each fortnight, along with the dates for which the vouchers are valid.

If you’re planning to be out and about this summer (and into the autumn) with your children then CBeebies magazine will most definitely save you money.

Disclaimer: Compensation has been received for this post.

Ladybird Toddler Books My Day

I’m going through an 80s phase with Ladybird books at the moment. After ignoring all the glossy covered ones for years I’m suddenly finding some absolute gems in charity shops and in a big pile that a friend passed on recently. I thought I’d got my collecting habit nicely limited, but it seems maybe not.

Series 833 was called Toddler Books and they’re just perfect for Master C now that’s heading towards his second birthday. Now I think there were seven books in this series, but I have to admit that I’m not totally sure. I originally picked up one of these for 20p when Master C showed an interest in it – mainly as it had a digger on the cover – but I’m now actively trying to seek them out.

Ladybird Toddler Books my day

My day is a lovely little book to simply show a toddler what their day looks like in terms of the regular things that they do. Published in 1983 the day has changed a bit for some children, especially in terms of parents working or how often children go on trips out, but the basic shape of the day is very similar.

Ladybird Toddler Books my day

Obviously there’s no mention of toddlers being given an iPad to amuse themselves with whilst mum (or dad) cooks dinner or does some other job around the house, but I do find it quite interesting to see how much more children appeared to just get on and play without requiring input from their parents. Or maybe it’s just my children who demand my time a lot! I love this picture of a typical morning scene though. My only chance of a hot cup of tea in a morning is getting up before they wake – and even then it doesn’t always happen!

Ladybird Toddler Books my day

Being taken to the supermarket to do a “big shop” was often quite an event for toddlers. I certainly remember being taken round the supermarket like this.

Ladybird Toddler Books my day

Somehow it seems that if I try “being busy” with anything it’s a guarantee that one or both children will need my attention right then. Normally as one of them’s decided to do something dangerous, whilst the other one screams at me so I notice. Yet, if I’m trying to get them upstairs for bath time suddenly they’re capable of playing nicely on their own for as long as I’ll let them. Funny that. Did this not happen in the 80s then?

Ladybird Toddler Books my day

With a little one who still refuses his food, it’s actually quite nice to see similar happening in this picture – although to be honest if someone who looked as creepy as that was trying to spoon feed me something I think I’d refuse too!

How can you not fall completely in love with a bit of 80s nostalgia like this?

If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!

Pop Goes Your Name

As a parent there are times that I just find myself marvelling about how my children can find something relatively simple so, so amazing. I have a friend that is a DJ on our local community radio station and whenever he’s on air and I’ve got the radio on in the car or the kitchen Little Miss C is always amazed that it’s the same person that we’ve been out for coffee with. When she once heard him play a request for me she was all “Mummy, mummy – it’s you. He’s talking about you. The man in the radio knows your name and your favourite song. Wow.” It was a very similar reaction when she first heard the personalised CD that Pop Goes Your Name sent her to review.

Pop Goes Your Name produce a CD of pop style, upbeat music for your little ones and it is personalised with their name in the songs – as long as their name is in the list of about 800, but seeing as there are names in there that I’ve never even heard of, you’re probably in with a good chance. Both Little Miss C and Master C’s real names are pretty common (meant in the nicest possible way!) so both were on the list and we were sent a CD for each of them.

LMC sat down to listen to hers first and I initially hadn’t told her what to expect. The first track is an introduction one so doesn’t include their name, but as soon as we got to the bit in the second track where her name was included she sort of paused and I could see the puzzled look on her face. The second time it was replaced by a smile, and the third time she asked “Mummy – how does the CD know my name?” Since then it’s become very much her music and she’s been asking for it on several times.

Master C, being younger, has just had a bit of a bemused response to it all. He seems to really like the music and bops around the living room when it’s on. He’s just in the last few weeks started to say his own name and become more aware of the concept of that being his name, so when he’s heard it I can see him looking a bit puzzled at the CD player, but I’m not sure he totally understands yet. It’s similar when he’s come across characters on CBeebies  that share his name.

As for the music itself, well I actually quite like it. Earlier today I found myself tapping my foot along with it as I was working and it definitely doesn’t scream “children’s music” to you in the way that some CDs do. If I had to find a (very small) downside it would just be that the child’s name is not on the CD itself, only the packaging. If you’ve got more than one child it can make things a bit confusing, especially if they are trying to find the CD themselves. Only a tiny thing though.

Overall I was really impressed by the CD and I’ll certainly be making sure they go with us the next time we do a long car journey together. The sings are good, the production’s well done and I like the concept. A Pop Goes Your Name CD really would make a lovely personalised gift for a child and it’s definitely something a little bit different.

I will leave you with Little Miss C’s final thought: “Mummy, if the CD is clever enough to know my name, why is it singing that it’s my birthday when it should know that my birthday was last month?”

Disclaimer: We were sent two Pop Goes Your Name CDs for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

Ladybird Packed Lunches

I have had the most amazing couple of weeks when it comes to finding vintage Ladybird treasure. So much so that I have a pile of six new titles sat here on my desk waiting to be written about, and that’s in addition to the shelves full upstairs. The book that caused the biggest response when I posted a picture of it on Instagram is the one I’m going to feature though – Packed Lunches.

Ladybird Packed Lunches

Forget your modern day Bento Box lunch that everyone’s busy posting photos of all over social media – we’re very much talking 1980s packed lunches here as this book was published in 1983. It’s part of series 824 which featured several coking books. I’ve already found a copy of Cooking with Mother, but I’m desperate to get my hands on Making and Decorating Cakes and Party Food. All the books just have a glorious 80s feel to them and they remind me so much of my own childhood food.

Ladybird Packed Lunches

Packed Lunches is equally practical and hilarious if you know what I mean. There’s a page of “exciting” sandwich fillings which today all look rather dated and also suggestions of some 80s style garnishes too. Whilst I fully appreciate the value of a Thermos flask so I can have a cup of decent tea when out and about I also had to smile at how the book embraces what was then I think quite a new thing. I’ve seen plenty of people putting soup or sometimes pasta in them before, but the idea of using one for a baked potato or ice cream was completely new to me!

Ladybird Packed Lunches

There are loads of recipes inside and I think I’m actually going to try out some of them – cowboy pies, shortcake whirls and bran loaf for sure – and I’ve actually taken away a bit of inspiration for packed lunches to take on days out with us over the summer too. Maybe I’ll try a whole picnic based on the book. The kids aren’t quite old enough to disown me quite yet!

Ladybird Packed Lunches

If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you’re feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!

Dr Beckmann

Ok, ok, I admit it. I probably got you here under false pretenses. With a post title like that you might have been hoping for a juicy bit of gossip or similar. But no, quite literally I’m going to be talking about my dirty laundry. Which I hadn’t actually realised was all that dirty until I was asked to try Dr Beckmann’s Colour & Dirt Collector!

Now, the main aim behind Dr Beckmann’s is to prevent colours running in the wash, allowing you to wash coloured clothes with whites, with no fear that you’re going to end up with your husbands work shirts turning a nice shade of pink due to a rouge red football sock.

In this house we seem to generate a lot of laundry, certainly more than I think four people should, so it’s rare that I don’t have a full load of whites at any one time, yet there are occasions where I need a clean school shirt for Little Miss C and the only other stuff in the laundry basket is dark in colour. What I usually end up doing in this situation is quickly strip a bed and throw in a load of white bedding too, but there are times when I just wish I could cross my fingers and put it all in together. My own experience of accidentally dying one of LMC’s school socks pink has put me off somewhat.

When I was asked to test out Dr Beckmann’s Colour and Dirt Collector they also sent me a link to a new video they’ve just done with fellow blogger Jen from Mum in The Mad House. I was amazed at just how much colour Dr. Beckmann’s collected and wanted to give it a go myself.

The other thing that intrigued me was the thought of just how much dirt there was coming out of my clothes (or more accurately my kids’ clothes!) that was then just sloshing around in the machine when they were supposedly getting clean. I know that LMC’s shirts are no where near as white as they were back in September, but I just put that down to be being a kid. Maybe I could have been doing something about it after all.

I’ve done quite a few washes now with Dr Beckmann’s Colour & Dirt Collector in my machine and I’m gobsmacked by the results. I’ve even sadly been keeping the dirt sheets on my desk to look at as I write this post. They are far far dirtier than I ever imagined.

Dr Beckmann

Here I’ve got three Dr Beckmann sheets. In the middle is a new clean one straight out of the box. On the left is the one that was in a load of washing after my kids had been playing out in the garden – shorts, T-shirts, towels for after using the paddling pool, socks etc. On the right one that was just in a normal load of the family’s laundry. Yikes!

If this is just a normal load of laundry then I’m glad I don’t put my whites in there too, but at the same time I’m rather relieved that I at least know how much dirt and colour there is washing around in there. So for those emergency night before school shirt washes I’ll be prepared with Dr Beckmann Colour & Dirt Collector when the new term starts in September!

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of Dr Beckmann’s Colour & Dirt Collector for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

10. July 2014 · 5 comments · Categories: Books · Tags:

Thanks to the great response to my first shelfie last week, I’m now back with more.

This time I’ve moved downstairs and am looking at one of the bookcases in my front room. See if it gives away which railway station I listen to, or what as a child I wanted to be when I grew up? Worryingly it also seems to give away just how many books I own that I haven’t got round to reading yet!

So what’s waiting un-read on your bookcase for you?

Vimto Squeezy

Who doesn’t love Vimto? That fruity taste that you can’t quite put your finger on just reminds me of childhood summers every time I have it. When I was emailed to ask if I wanted to try their new Vimto Squeezy I was therefore intrigued.

I’ve seen the TV ads for these new “water enhancers” as they are called and I wondered what all the fuss was about. The main target market is people, in particular children, who just don’t like the taste of water on its own. You can then carry with you one of the small bottles and add a squirt of it to water when you’re out and about and hey presto it’s just like having a drink of squash or cordial instead.

Each 50ml bottle can make up to 25 drinks (assuming you have about 2ml in each 250ml glass of water. If you’d adding it to a bigger water bottle then it obviously doesn’t stretch quite so far.

I really liked the taste and can definitely see how Vimto Squeezy can help keep children hydrated if they’re not so good at drinking water on its own. Mr C didn’t like the taste as he thought you could taste the sweeteners in it (there’s no added sugar – but then again you can’t compress sugar in the way you can sweeteners). I didn’t notice the sweetener taste though and Master C was more than happy to drink it. As for Little Miss C… “Mummy, I just like water on its own!” Well you can’t always please everyone.

Disclaimer: We were sent Vimto Squeezy in original, strawberry and cherry flavours for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

Vimto Squeezy comes in a 50ml bottle and has an RRP of £2.49. It’s currently available in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Co-op stores.