Monday, 24 August 2015

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers

If like us you're trying to fit as much fun into your summer as possible and have a toddler in your possession then a trip to CBeebies land feels like an absolute must! 

I'm returning to work in September and although when I go back it'll only be part time I'm trying to fit as much into my remaining time with the girls as possible and I thought i would try to blog about some of our trips and activities to share our fun and hopefully give  other summer holiday crazed parents some ideas of what to do with the kids.

For those of you who haven't heard of CBeebies land (how?) it's a part of Alton Towers in Staffordshire and is aimed at pre schoolers as the attractions are all themed around their favourite characters and shows. 

This summer CBeebies land at Alton Towers are celebrating summer with some fantastic opportunities to meet some of your kids fave characters. They are also running a competition where you can win some ace prizes if you tweet a pic of your children with the favourite character. 

This event is running now and until the end of August and would be a great way to round off the summer hols. The can be found in the CBeebies interactive land as well as making special guest appearances in the Cbeebies photo studio. Have a look below at the dates for the remainder of the month.....

15th - 21st August - Mim-Mim

22nd - 30th August - Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy

For more information on the events and on visiting CBeebies visit their website

We're visiting next month and I can't wait to see D and Fs faces when we arrive. Daisy is a big fan of pretty much every CBeebies character and Freya has developed that unmissable love for a certain Mr Iggle Piggle. Secretly I can't wait either! 

We'll be posting a full review on our visit so keep an eye out for an unimaginable number of photos of Freya literally losing it at the In The Night Garden attractions. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Eating Out With The Smalls - Carluccios, St Albans

I've been on maternity leave this summer and have therefore had the luxury of being a stay at home mum to my girls. This has meant lots of outings, picnics and the occasional meal out. I absolutely love eating out and we've always tried to ensure the girls grow up comfortable in a restaurant environment as well as knowing how to behave when eating out. The transition from eating out as a couple to eating out with our first child took some getting used to, in the early days it was fine as she just slept but as soon as bedtime routines / weaning and toddlerdom hit things became very very different. When number two came along last year it was a complete game changer - we still eat out but I'm not going to lie it can be exhausting, the girls eat well but the continual task of keeping them amused, picking up dropped cutlery/napkins/crayons and repetitive toilet trips don't exactly make for the most relaxing of experiences. However what can make a difference is the restaurant itself, the staff, their kids food choices and accessibility. If a restaurant or cafe gets its right it can be the difference between me enjoying a family meal out, feeling pretty normal and in control or me leaving having hardly eaten a thing and vowing to stop off for a much needed bottle of wine on the way home!

So with this in mind I've decided to do a series of posts on eating out with kids (in particular in my case with a toddler and baby) obviously to give you this insight I'll have to subject myself to many a meal out, tasting delicious foods at my leisure but don't forget it all in the name of blogging!

The first I wanted to do was after a lunchtime meal at Carluccios in St Albans. We've visited Carluccios a while back when living in London and when Daisy was a baby so I knew the adult food was delicious but hadn't been with both the girls and with them both eating off the menu. When we arrived for lunch we were given a lovely warm welcome and shown to a large table with plenty of room for a highchair. The restaurant has a safe to store buggies so we were able to relax with plenty of space around us. Freya's highchair was the usual wooden affair both most importantly was clean with working straps!

I was given a menu and the children were given a sealed envelope. This contained their menu, a booklet to colour in, a postcard to colour and a  paid of glasses to colour and make. Having something to colour as part of the kids menu isn't a new thing as we know, it's done in pretty much every family restaurant but I was impressed with this one, the fact the kids had to open to envelope to find out what was inside was great and there was a real variety of bits and bobs to keep them entertained.

Fabulous Carluccios Specs, Pat Butcher ear rings (models own)

We ordered some olives and bread and the girls were given some breadsticks while we had a look at the menu and decided on what to eat. I have to give a shout out to the bread selection we were given it was amazing as were the olives although as usual I barely got a looking with Daisy my little olive fiend. The kids menu contains a decent variety of pasta meals as well as chicken and a toasty. We were also told that they can order from the main menu and a small plate will be made up which I think is a great idea. We went for Macaroni cheese for Freya and Pasta and Meatballs for Daisy. I opted for a goats cheese salad from the main menu.

The restaurant was pretty busy with lots and families so I didn't at any point feel self conscious with 2 rather noisy little runs at the table. Probably due to the fact they were busy we did have a bit of a wait to order our mains which normally I would't mind but with kids can be hard so I had to ask the waitress as she passed if we could order.

When the food arrived it looked great, we were warned the kids meals were a little hot so the waiter bought out side plates to put some on to cool which was thoughtful. Carluccios also provide small cutlery for the kids which I liked - it's the little things! The food was great and the girls tucked in, they then both had a fruit salad for pudding which looked delicious.

You can tell she's mine, wanted to take a pic of her pudding!

All in all as a mum on her own with a baby and toddler the experience was pretty relaxed and dare I say it enjoyable. Yes I had to pick up Freya's water cup up 746 times but that's standard and yes we had to all visit the toilet just at the mains arrived because that the only time Daisy ever needs a wee but I can handle all that if I get to enjoy a meal without the need to order wine! I never felt rushed by the staff de spite the restaurant being busy and our waitress Izabella was an absolute star. So friendly and really chatty with the girls. Looking back Carluccios don't do anything crazy special but they just make sure that the children aren't a second thought, good menu, plenty of highchairs, kids entertainment and a relaxed environment - works for me!

We were invited to Carluccios for lunch for the purposes of this review but all opinions and words are my own. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Moozels Babygrow - A Review

Now babies are cute we all know that but a baby dressed up is just ridiculously cute. So you can imagine I was pretty happy when Moozels Sent F a brilliant Cowboy romper to try out and review. 

Since having the girls I've been amazed by the extent to which toys, games and books push gender stereotypes. When D was a baby we promised ourselves our house wouldn't become a sea of pink plastic but over the years it's been inevitable and now with F I don't expect things to change anytime soon.

So when the romper arrived I loved the fact that it wasn't a standard 'girly' outfit. Girls can be Cowboys too - check out Jessie in Toy Story! 

The Romper is really well made, great attention to detail and if anything a little generous on sizing. Fs a little lacking in the long leg department so it was a little large to start with but for me generous sizing is never a bad thing! The Romper also washed really well which was a very pleasant surprise, no fading or shrinkage. From a comfort point of view F seemed happy and to be honest it just looks like a regular baby grow albeit a super awesome one. 

Moozels has a brilliant range of baby grows, Hoodies and accessories all of which add a bit of fun to everyday kids outfits. The baby grows are 100% cotton and come in sizes 3-6 months up to 18-24 months. Moozels are a new brand and I am sure they are going to be a huge success, I for one will be keeping an eye on their range as it grows 

We were sent the Moozels Babygrow for the purposes of this review but all opinions and words are my own

Friday, 31 July 2015

Camping with the Small People

We've had 2 lovely holidays this year, one to the fabulous Bluestone National Park and most recently a week in beautiful Cornwall. In both cases we had fantastic accommodation, everything we needed to hand, ensure bathrooms, hot water, comfy beds and in Cornwall our own pool!

So with all that in mind I can only guess our latest booking is the result of lack of sleep / a breakdown / too much wine? Probably all of the above but hey it's booked now and in the middle of August we will be taking the toddler and 10 month old camping! Yup you heard me CAMPING! 

Before you think I've completely lost it I must confess this is a Eurotent ready pitched affair but I'm still getting a tad jittery about the trip, what do I need, will the girls sleep, what if it's freezing / raining? 

I know a few of my readers have been camping with kids, either as holidays or at festivals so please, please, please shower me with your tips, hints and general positive vibes. I want to love camping with the kids and would love to take them to a festival one day but this is our baby steps first attempt to see how this wimpy, far too comfortable in hotels, middle class couple cope! 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

9 Months update

So when I was pregnant with F I remember making promises to myself I would do regular updates on her growing up on the blog, marking milestones, achievements blah blah blah......

Well she's now 9.5 months, it's been many months since my last update and this has happened. (Yeah I know it's not a heartfelt diary entry but no one told me that looking after a 3 year old and a baby is like putting myself through a spin cycle on a daily basis, I'm shattered!) 
  • She's now pretty much eating what we do and loved fruit, corn on the cob and peanut butter. She's also developed a mean sweeper for when she's decided she's had enough!
  • She's crawling! Crikey no one prepares you for this one 2nd time round. It's pure chaos in my house right now. Unlike D who in hindsight was a piece of cake, F is into everything especially is D happens to have it.
  • She said her first words. We've been doing the Dada, Baba sounds for a while now and possibly a hiya but after spending a couple of days at a friends house who had a cat, we finally had our first proper word. Cat, cat everything is cat!
  • She's cruising. Yep crawling is so last week we want to walk now and we've been scaling the furniture and waddling around with the walker, she's not going to be long.........
  • Cleaning. Freya has decided she loves cleaning things, nothing pleases her more than a wet wipe to clean the house with, keeps her amused for ages!
  • Pointing. F loves to point. Fact
  • Kissing, there's nothing like a baby kiss, full open mouth, slobbery tongue kiss and we're get them by the bucket load
  • We've got teeth, admittedly only 3 and a bit but blimey she knows how to use them! 
  • Dancing. If there's music she'll dance! It really doesn't matter what the music is but that  chubby little booty starts bouncing around the room at the slightest sound of a beat. 
  • She's a proper little water baby. F is amazing in her swimming lessons and loves being in the water. we didn't do swimming lessons with D as we could't afford them at the time and I seeing the difference it makes with F I really regret it. That said D is only 3 so we've decided to get her going with lessons as well. 
  • She's like Velcro! Yep with all the amazing developments we've also hit the bugger that is separation anxiety. I can't leave the room, attempt to leave the room, even think about leaving the room without the quivering bottom lip and sad sobs following me, hanging on to my trouser legs and if Im really lucky leaving a delicious slug trail down my clean black jeans!
The best bit of watching little miss mischief grow up though is watching her become so close to D, They adore each other and literally no one can make F laugh like her big sister does, it's amazing! She wants D as soon as she wakes up and D goes straight to her for morning kisses and cuddles. I can already see glimpses of the trouble they are going to cause me over the next 20 or so years, definitely a devilish duo! 

So 9.5 months in I'm a knackered, sleep deprived loon but I'm totally in love. My girls rock! 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A Sunny Day at The 100 Acre Wood

Yesterday we visited the lovely Aldenham Country Park and went down the 100 Acre Wood trail looking for Winnie the Pooh and his Friends houses.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Soft Play Parent - Which Are You?

Daisy loves a bit of soft play and although like most parents I would happily rather gouge my eyes out with rusty spoons than hit the multicoloured parent prison we frequent our local place every couple of weeks because 

1) I have a membership so it's free and 

2) it's easy(ish) entertainment, tires kids out and like I said D loves it!

One thing I do love about soft play however is the fantastic people watching opportunity, crammed into a huge warehouse, fuelled on sugar and caffeine you quickly realise everyone has their soft play persona - so come on be honest, which are you? 

The Competitive dad - we've all seen them, pushing terrified three year old across cargo nets, forcing them down the tallest steepest slides - it's like military training for a toddler and pretty much always ends in tears from the toddler and arguments between the parents!

The Big kid - I actually love the big kids, the ones who's eyes widen as they step though the door and their at the top of the biggest slide before their kids have even got their shoes off. 

The Kindle / magazine reader / serial texter - this one finds a comfy corner, orders a latte and promptly sends the kids off to play while they settle down for some quiet time. This is the women we sneer at while in reality we are green with envy, why won't my kids go off and have fun without the need to drag we through plastic pipes 15 foot above the ground!

The Knackered grandparents - Bless them and bless them again! They're looking after the kids for day and someone suggested the soft play place. It starts off fine, kitted out in leisure wear, determined to keep up with the fruit shoot fuelled chiddlers but 30 minutes in the cracks are starting to show and they leave looking at least 20 years older. After all there's only so many times a 65 year old woman can crawl up spider webs 20 foot in the air before plummeting down the 'death slide'

The Shoes on but follows kid around parent - This one always makes me giggle, they manically rush around the outside of the netting, gawping at their kids like animals in zoo, Shouting orders at staff to rescue the toddler who has changed their mind at the top of the biggest slide. Get your shoes off and get them yourself ya lazy arse!

The super mum - One kid swinging on the highest monkey bars, toddler clambering up the slide the wrong way and new born sleeping (or probably bloody breastfeeding, she's THAT good at multitasking) in a sling and she's managing them all without breaking a sweat. (bitch)

Reluctant birthday party attendee - Your kids been invited to a party, they desperately want to go but you quite frankly would rather stick your head in the oven than sit around making small talk with parents you don't know at 10am on a Saturday morning while your kids run around like wild animals. There's no easy solution, if you don't talk you look aloof (and not in a cool way) but if you have to hear again how well little Hugo is doing at Mandarin you might throw yourself off the highest slide. 

I must confess I'm a bit of a big kid who would secretly love to be the magazine reading mum - I can't wait till the girls are old enough to entertain themselves while I indulge in a little peace and quiet with a rank tasting coffee and the sound of children's manic screams ringing in my ears - ahh that's the dream