Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Tis The Season....

It's that time of year when....

Christmas songs and carols play on the radio from the 1st of December onwards and you're sick of them by the 10th of December.

TV channels start showing the Christmas movies.

It's not about the Christmas No1 but which company does the best Christmas advert.

You open and eat ALL the advent calendar chocolates on day one.

You forget to open the advent calendar and eat all the chocolates at the end of December.

You wait to see who in the street gets their decorations up first before you do yours. Unless it's the people who put them up on 1st November. They don't count.

The Christmas tree goes up and looks like you've sneezed the decorations over it.

No-one can remember whose turn it is to put the angel on the top of the tree so a fight ensues.

The trusty Argos catalogue returns to the house. It's just not the same on-line and the kids can't put rings around what they want.

The darling children have written their wish lists. You go shopping then convince them they wont get what they want so well  they change their minds.

You are all hot and bothered in the shops trying to track down the last "must have" toy of the year without losing your shit or paying 1500% over the odds on eBay.

Some smug bitch likes to tell everyone they were all shopped and wrapped by August 1st.

You take a picture of the Christmas Radio Times / TV Times next to your highlighter pen.

You record a load of shit and still haven't watched it by Easter.

You run out of sticky tape and/or wrapping paper.

You forget someones Christmas birthday.

You live on tenterhooks that the 10yo wont tell the 6yo Father Christmas isn't real in a fit of temper.

The kids are getting so excited by the preparations at school they can't sleep for the whole of December.

You hunt down the last King/donkey/sheep/camel/Mary/Joseph costume in the universe.

You go to the School play knowing you can't actually see your child in their costume.

You go to the school Christmas Fayre and spend more than the country's national debt and still come home with a bottle of cola from the tombola and a home-made jar of sweets.

You spend hours trying to remember the names of everyone in the class so the kids can write their Christmas cards... which take weeks. Start in the summer.

You feel like a pariah if you don't put into the teachers collection.

You feel like a pariah if you go rogue and your kids make their own present for the teacher.

You buy stupid amounts of chocolates and biscuits then eat them before Christmas arrives.

When it's over it's a relief, then you look forward to next year!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Keeping The Teacher In The Loop #MummyFail

So last week I posted about my momentous #MummyFail and the fact my day ended badly with tearing up the 10 year old's homework.

He was penalised for not having his homework which I knew would happen. I wanted him to face the consequences for his lack of effort.  I thought apart from needing to re-do the homework, his teacher could do with an explanation.  Yesterday I sent the following email.

and received this response:

I'm glad I made someone's day. He still didn't bring home the bloody worksheet with him!

Friday, 27 November 2015


I'm not going to be entered for any "Mum of the Year" awards. I know that.

Being a Mum is just not quite what I expected.  We're thrown images of women with babes in arms, looking lovingly whilst they're being fed. Of happy children playing in the snow, not crying because they are so cold and the snowman whose only about 1 foot tall wont stand up.

I'm shown adverts on television of kids happily playing board games.  I'm assuming these kids are not siblings otherwise one would be crying the other storming off after launching the game board in the air.  In these adverts houses are immaculate.  Mine's like a bomb-site. I'm sure the six year old carries pocket grenades around. No room is safe.

The 10 year old has a bad attitude is uncooperative and negative. I've already posted about our homework hell.  I hate the homework and the weekends of pain. Except now it's stretched out all week as he gets homework Tuesday and Friday.

His attitude to homework is lazy, slapdash and hap-hazard. Chuck in a couple of tantrums, pen throwing and shouting at the 6 year old and you're beginning to get the picture.

When my day ends like this, you know it's a #MummyFail.

What's not been your best parenting hour?

Life with Baby Kicks

Monday, 16 November 2015

Doctor Who?

When I was a child, Doctor Who was in my opinion, one of the best shows on television.  I put Worzel Gummidge in that bracket too so you can see how high my childhood bar was set.

Tom Baker was the Doctor of my young years. He ran around wearing a big hat and a long scarf. He had K-9 the dog and a male and female companion.  I don't remember too much really. There were Daleks that I could never fathom why they were so scary when they couldn't navigate stairs (they couldn't fly in those days). And of course the Cyborgs.  My older brother would hide behind a cushion but I would sit and watch. This gave me bragging rights over being braver than he was.

When Doctor Who returned in my adult years, I didn't bother. I didn't watch the Christopher Ecclestone and Billie Piper years.  When he regenerated into David Tennant I started to watch again. Now I've watched David Tennant regenerate into Matt Smith and again into Peter Capaldi.  

It always takes time to get used to a new Doctor. It's a bit of a shift. I'm mourning the loss of the sonic screwdriver to a pair of sunglasses . I bet the toy manufacturers are mourning this loss too.  But, I also feel like I just don't "get it" any more.  It's too hard to understand. I find it harder and harder to follow the plots and I certainly don't think my 10yo would be able to either. He's jut hit an age when it's suitable for him but it's not a children's show any more. You need a degree to navigate the plots, sub-plots and story arcs.

So it is with a little sadness I think it's time to hang up my sonic screwdriver, wrap my scarf around my neck and set the Tardis free.

It's been good knowing you Doctor.

Friday, 6 November 2015

In Sickness And In Health.

I met MrM in 1998. Our relationship progressed the way these things do. He proposed; I said yes and we married in a beautiful ceremony in 2001.

When we married, I took my vows very seriously. I may have crossed my fingers at the obey bit but overall, I meant what I was saying. Vowing before God and family and friends that I was marrying this man and this was it.

Since then we've had many ups and down. All relationships do and we've always managed to work at it and are still smiling 17 years on.

But, there's one problem. It's MrM.  if he was a dog, he'd have been put down. If he was a horse, he'd be glue or put out to pasture.  There's always something wrong.  I don't mean he's a hypochondriac and luckily he doesn't have anything seriously wrong. It's just a series of things that are never ending.

I've lost count of the amount of operations he's had.  At least two on his ankles, one on his bum sphincterotomy - (only look if you're brave). He's been knocked off his motorbike, breaking his elbow and giving his knee a lovely scar. He had a chest infection and passed out DRIVING THE CAR! Luckily in a park mid morning in the week and no-one was hurt. He was hospitalised with severe food poisoning.  He suffered for years with IBS. Red meat was a factor so we spent a lot of time eating a white meat and fish diet.  Migraines; debilitating migraines until he saw a neurologist and is now on preventable tablets for the rest of his life.  Funnily enough when the migraines got sorted the IBS greatly improved too.  The list goes on.

At the moment Mr.M is sporting a cast on his right hand.  Playing football, a stint in goal and BAM! a fractured thumb, a chipped bone and torn ligaments. It may need surgery, we're waiting to find out.

I'm just hoping that our children don't inherit Daddy's knack for being poorly!

Life with Baby Kicks

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Writing Rant.

Joined up - "cursive" writing is part of the National Curriculum. This is what my the 10 year old's Year 6 teacher told me at last weeks parents evening when I also brought up my issue that he's not allowed to use the blue pen he has as it's "the wrong colour blue"  - I kid you not!

When they sit their KS2 SAT's they are marked down if they cannot display they are able to employ cursive writing.  

The National Curriculum states:

Pupils should be taught to:
Write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed by:
Choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters
Choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

It's recommended that:
Pupils should continue to practise handwriting and be encouraged to increase the speed of it, so that problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say. They should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes or a final handwritten version. They should also be taught to use and unjoined style, for example, for labelling a diagram or data, writing an email address, or for algebra and capital letters, for example, for filling in a form.

The 10 year old has neat writing, when it's not joined up.  When he adds curls and swirls and flicks and ticks it's an illegible mess.

I agree children need to know when to use capitals, how to speak and write using the correct grammar.  Don't get me started on how often the boy says "I am going FOR a toilet" instead of going TO the toilet!  Children need to know how to complete paperwork like job applications correctly for adult life but I disagree with the NEED for their written work to be joined.

When children get into their secondary schools the teachers don't care if their pupils writing is cursive, as long as it's legible. Is there any evidence that teaching joined-up writing early is necessary or useful? Do kids need to be taught any more than the basic stand-alone forms of letters? Can they not be allowed to develop fluency for themselves?

There are less and less professions these days where you actually need to physically write. I've even given up sending Christmas cards as it's too much effort to sit and write them.  Most of us already use whatever technology is available.  Even in Year 1 at school they use interactive white boards and iPads.  

If we can concentrate on the basics, the rest will follow and we might have a generation of Doctors where you can actually read what they have written*

What are your thoughts on cursive writing for children?

*All prescriptions and case notes are of course entered electronically these days.

Life with Baby Kicks

My Random Musings

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Judgement Call

This week, Rachel Stevens previously of S Club 7 fame was lambasted for leaving her two children in her car whilst she "ran some errands.  Reports are she left them for 10 minutes.  Her daughters are aged 4 and 18 months. She has been judged from all sides.  Rachel herself has maintained a silent view on her actions.

But haven't we all been there?  Have you NEVER left your child in the car to go and pay for petrol or to go and get the parking ticket to find the machine is out of order and you have to trek to another part of the car park to go and get one?  The two scenario's I just mentioned are something I have frequently done. Why would I remove a child from the safety of a five point harness in a car seat in the rear of the car to drag them into a shop for five minutes so they can see all the sweets and magazines I will no doubt refuse to buy.  Roll on the meltdowns.

Last year I had a similar situation.  I collected the kids from school.  They were in year 5 and Reception respectively.  I needed to go to a pet store and get dog food.  I parked the car in the stores car park. The 5 year old refused to budge.  I can't even remember what the reason was for.  She was having one of her moments and being the stubborn moo that she is, there is no persuading her otherwise. I was fighting a losing battle.  All I wanted was dog food. I didn't need to browse, I just wanted to pop in, grab exactly what I wanted and go.  She was shouting at me, I was shouting at her. The 10 year old and I got out the car and walked into the shop leaving the 5 year old screaming and crying at from the car.  Now I can see a crying 5 year old in a car doesn't look good but by the time I came out, approximately 5-10 minutes later she was sitting with a face like thunder but not crying. It was all over and by the time we were home, all was well with the world.

Or so I thought.

Until around 8pm when a knock at the front door presented us with the Police.  I was upstairs with the 5 year old having finished bath time and she was in her pyjama's ready for bed.  I have a unnatural fear of authority. I don't know why, I've never been in trouble but I have. I'm also a very emotional person who cries at the Andrex puppy adverts.  It doesn't take much to set me off.

I started sobbing and refused to come downstairs. I felt guilty, ashamed and horrified. The 5 year old didn't understand what was happening. The police asked to see her so MrM took the now crying child downstairs. She too thought she was in trouble.

The Police explained to MrM that ultimately it wasn't safe to leave a child in a car alone. She could have taken the handbrake off, she could have got out and got run over, she could have been abducted. There are any number of scenario's. They asked him to make sure I understood and left without taking any further action.

Have I done it since?  Yes.  Not because I want to flout the rules of authority but because sometimes, she asks if she can stay in the car. Usually if I'm popping into Tesco Express to get a loaf of bread. I tell her not to touch anything, I lock the doors. I'm in and out.  Anything longer than a couple of minutes then she's with me.

I'm not a bad Mum and probably like Rachel Stevens, just doing my best.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Random Musings

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The One Where The Boys Went Away.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook at all; you may not have failed to notice my posts about the 10 year old going away with the school for PGL (Parents Get Lost).  Did you see Mr.M was going with them? Silly man.  A week with a group of hyper 10 year olds. Good luck!

You may also have occasionally noticed how I mentioned the 5 year old mini Kim Jong-Un and the 10 year old fight like Tom & Jerry,
So I was wondering how this week would go. Would the 5 year old break down sobbing that she missed her big brother? Or would she run rampant around the house and steal his larger bedroom?

Well it's been a bit of 50/50 to be honest.  The first thing she did was claim the big bedroom. She's in a box room and still in a toddler bed (just). So she's practically moved right on in. Her duvet, pillows and  moo-moo have all moved in. The doll babies and night time teddies have all been given places. The clothes will no doubt be coming soon!  The first two nights she joined me around 4am but last night slept the whole night through. I had the whole bed to myself. Well, I share it with silly dog and for a small dog he takes up loads of room!

If you ask her if she's missing the boys she says she's missing Daddy but not the brother. Today is MIL's birthday so MrM & 10 year old called to wish her happy birthday. 5 year old jumped right on the phone to tell him she was missing him.  I've died of shock.

The surprising thing I have noticed is this.  She's playing more. Without anyone at home to distract her, and with no TV as I just don't often turn it on when we get home, she's really been using her imagination to play.  She's been on a bug hunt in the garden, played Vets with silly dog, Doctors with me and her babies, had the old hot wheels box out and the Lego.   These last few days have been lovely watching her imagination at it's best. She's been really happy and totally not deserving of the Dictatorship moniker I bestowed upon her.

It's almost a shame the boys have to come back!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Random Musings

Thursday, 24 September 2015

School..The Best Days Of Your Life?

I loved school. I loved primary & secondary and never understand people who didn't. I was never blighted by bullies, was intelligent enough to wander through in top or middle sets and made a couple of life long friends. I often take a nostalgic stroll looking back and sigh with a smile at the best days of my life.

But now I have my own school aged children and being a parent is nothing but a battle of wills. Homework, reading, pen licenses, projects and the worst thing to happen to my children; codes.

Codes are a way for the school to instill fear into the children so they don't misbehave. You get a code 1 for small misdeeds such as talking in class. Five code ones in a week is an automatic code two and you miss golden time on a Friday to see either the Head teacher or the deputy head. Either of these will meet out the punishment, usually writinga paragraph explaining what you've done and why.

Earn six code two's and its report.

So far the 10yo has sailed through primary fairly easily. He's no angel, his ADHD diagnosis makes fiddling an Olympic past time and he has a tendency to talk. usually ten to the dozen and a fair amount of rubbish.

However, not a month into year 6 and my boy who would come out of school on an even keel is now miserable.  Next week is PGL.  He's uber excited. Not just because Mr.M is attending as parent helper but because his class teacher ISNT GOING!

I've told him to keep his head down, try to keep his "thoughts" to himself, not worry about the codes as I'm not and have reassured him this doesn't get sent onto his next stage of school.

But what really worries me us this. What if his teacher doesn't like him? I know as adults we're not meant to say things like we don't "like" someone's child and teachers are supposed to maintain a professional standard. But we've all known a teacher who disliked a child in their class. What if my child is that one?

Year 6 is a big year for kids. Stuff the SATS,  its when they become a big fish in a little pond. King of the playground and should be the best days of your life.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

This Week I Will Be Mostly..... week 2

Listening to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off"

Not by choice.

It's not that I don't like it or Miss Swift's world takeover - there are far worse role models our youngsters can idolise and she's an extremely talented young lady. It's a problem because my 5 year old loves it. And plays it over and over again.

It's not even the Taylor Swift original but a cover version.  The 5 year old has found a Bieberesque type boy who sings & vlogs. It's called MattyBRaps and she is ever so slightly obsessed.

Thank God she's too young for twitter and facebook.

Matty can be found here MattyBRaps

My Random Musings

Friday, 18 September 2015


When I was 10, I was a precocious thing. A know-it-all with a penchant for back-chat.  Until I was firmly put in my place by my parents.

I have a 10 year old. Now they're not precocious; they're "TWEENS".  Moody, mouthy and with no respect for people or property.

This week, the 10 year old came home from school in a shirt and a pair of shorts.  This is not what he was wearing when I dropped him off in the morning.  It turns out after blindly dumping his bag on the playground floor in what turned out to be a steaming pile of fox poo. He picked up said bag, slung it over his shoulder and slung poo all over his clothes.  The school changed his clothes and put the dirty stuff in a bag for me to find later in the bottom of his school bag.

Both my children come home covered in pen.  Every. Day.  I keep all washing powders, washing up liquid and ASDA in business the amount I spend on trying to get rid of the pen and buying new polo shirts.  This day however; I noticed on the 10 year old it wasn't just the odd mark made by mad colouring in but a perfectly formed squiggle.   I asked him what it was and his reply.

"Oh I couldn't get my pen to work"

If you could just imagine the double take you see in cartoons.... that was me.

"Pardon? Did I hear you right? You couldn't get your pen to work so you just decide to draw on your clothes?"

"Yes, it's alright, it's not my top"

This is the point I got a bit "bug-eyed" and decided that he needed to appreciate how to respect things like property and drawing willy nilly on clothes was unacceptable.  So I told him he has to pay for a new polo shirt to give to the school.

We moved onto homework.  You may have seen my post last week about Homework Hell. This week took us to new limits.

He had 15 (yes 15!) new spellings to learn.  To start with I give him the spellings book alongside a dictionary. All he has to do is find the word. He has it written in front of him, he knows his alphabet. Apparently it's too hard.  We had tears, almost every word wasn't in there he declared. It's an Oxford English Dictionary... I checked. The words were in there.

After at least half an hour of crying, moaning, shouting (me) and general grumpiness he was flicking through the dictionary with such bad grace he ripped out a page.  I managed to point out he will now need to replace that alongside the school shirt.

Let's just say it didn't go down too well.  But how else will he learn that I don't have a bottomless purse and can replace everything that gets lost, ruined or broken?

It might teach him a little respect.

Modern Dad Pages

Friday, 11 September 2015

Homework Hell

I hated it as a child and I hate it now I have my own children.

I know they need to learn how to read and write.  How to spell, add up, multiply and divide.  That's why I send them to school for teachers WHO ARE TRAINED to show them.

Why do teachers feel the need to send my children home with a slip of paper telling them they need to do a two week project and spend x amount of hours on it?

What they mean is; they want me to spend two weeks nagging the child to make a plan and get on with it. I no doubt will have to make a trip to Tesco to print some photos, nip into work early to print it off or just do the damn homework myself.

We've made a bear in the woods. (He was in grizzly bear class). A paper mache Titanic, a large canvass of the planets, posters... plus other things I feel I have blanked out.

Don't get me started on when the bloody class mascot comes home!

It's a paper mache Titanic!

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Modern Dad Pages

Thursday, 10 September 2015

This Week I Will Be Mostly....week 1.


Podcasts. Yes I know they've been around for 10 years but I'm a bit slow to join the party.
So for anyone else who hasn't given them a thought, here's my recommendations.

I particularly like the Frank Skinner radio show, which is the chatty bits from his Saturday morning show on Absolute Radio with his co-hosts Alun Cochrane & Emily Dean. Frank is extremely quick witted and coupled with Alun's almost deadpan presence and Emily's reminders she was in "Day of the Triffids" it makes for a fun hour.

I've also made a start on The Archers omnibus, so far 4 weeks in and I still have no clue who anyone is!

This week I also discovered Titanic Letters. These were letters sent from passengers and crew on the Titanic in the days before she sank and again sent from survivors on the Carpathia. Each one was only about 3 minutes long but fascinating.

What have you discovered this week?  A favourite tea, a song, TV Programme?  Let me know what you're "mostly into"

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Book Review. Hales Fire by Carl Harwood

A book about dragons.. or is it?
So often when people think of a sci-fi book they say "oh it's not for me". If they gave this book a go they would be pleasantly surprised.
Hale is an orphan accused of being an arsonist. He has been held in a mental institution since he was 14, days before he turns 18 he meets Valder and his whole life changes. He is asked to re-think his whole life, find out the truth about his parents death and deal with a life changing discovery.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a real page turner, I cared about the characters, cheered them on and felt their frustrations, and happiness. The ending was perfect and there is so much more that can become of many of the characters whether it be prequel, sequel or a complete spin-off series.
For me this is on par with "The Hunger Games" trilogy.
As the first in the series I can't wait for the next installment. Don't leave it as long as George RR Martin!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Book Review - Letting You Go by Anouska Knight


What if tragedy struck and you only had yourself to blame? How do you move on from the past?

Alex Foster lives a quiet life, avoiding the home she hasn’t visited in eight years. Then her sister Jaime calls. Their mother is sick, and Alex must return. Suddenly she’s plunged back into the past she’s been trying to escape.Returning to her hometown, memories of the tragic accident that has haunted her and her family are impossible to ignore. Alex still blames herself for what happened to her brother and it’s soon clear that her father holds her responsible too. As Alex struggles to cope, can she ever escape the ghosts of the past?

I loved this book. At first I wasn't sure if Lorraine Kelly was a good enough endorsement and I started the book with a little trepidation. How wrong I was! 

From the very beginning I was hooked. Alex returns home to a fractured family, dealing with the ghosts of the past and a tangled web of lies. Soon she's caught up with the feelings of guilt she tried so hard to escape. 

I went on an emotional roller coaster reading "Letting You Go" . It was like watching TV and wanting to shout at the characters (in a good way!).  

Anouska Knight is joining my list of authors to look out for and I suggest you read this and do the same. 

A copy of this book was given to me from the publisher Harlequin UK via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Book Review: I Don't Want To Talk About It - by Jane Lovering

Winter Gregory has written a surprise best seller, about dead people. About their graves, their lives, how they may have lived and what their life could have been like. Her twin Daisy lives in Australia but they still talk all the time. Now Winter's left London and gone to North Yorkshire to write the follow up book.  All is going well until Dan, Winter's ex boyfriend and publisher arrives in Yorkshire causing confusion and anger for Winter. She finds herself embroiled in the life of the Hill family. Gorgeous Alex who has a trauma induced stutter and pony mad Scarlet, his eight year old niece.

As with the other Jane Lovering books I've read, I really enjoyed this story. (This is book 5 of the Yorkshire Romances).  Jane writes with such easy style and you are drawn into the world of her characters with ease. You can tell she cares for them and in turn it makes you care.

Without wanting to give anything away, there are many plot twists, enough to keep you going and plenty of drama. You'll feel like a wrung out rag by the time you've finished laughing and crying alongside Winter.

A great choice as a summer read on the beach or curled up indoors. Just make sure you have those tissues handy.

Monday, 10 August 2015

A Kind Word Can Go A Long Way

Once upon a time there was a Mummy a Daddy and two children.  One child was 5, the other was a few months old.

It had been a miserable day weather wise, the Mummy was on maternity leave and thought the five year old needed to get out and spend some of his energy running about. What's more fun that a soft play on a wet day?

The 5 year old was having a lovely time running around.  The baby however wasn't.  She was fractious and tired.  The baby needed to sleep, she was screaming and crying. The Mummy was rocking the buggy but the baby never slept in the buggy, life was far too interesting.

The Mummy rocked, she tried feeding the baby, she checked the baby's nappy. She did everything she could think of.  People were staring.  People were glaring. And tutting. The baby continued to scream, not a quiet cry. Huge racking screams.

Beneath the glares of other parents, there was no sympathy. Just looks of condemnation. "How can she let that baby cry for so long? Why doesn't she do something?"  Not one person who looked over as if to say "hey, we're all parents, we've all been there". No concern apart from one elderly gentleman, possibly a Grandparent who just said "It gets easier".

At the back of the soft play, the Mummy cried, She gathered up her happy 5 year old, the screaming baby and left. She cried all the way home.

Sometimes we all need a gentle word or even a kind look.  Just a half smile to acknowledge you recognise what someone else is going through.

A kind word can go a long way.

My Random Musings

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Dawn of Responsibility.

I'm sure as a child I was walking to school on my own by the age of 7-8.  I was certainly left in the care of my older brother (2 years 9 months older to be exact).  All day in the summer holidays we were out. We lived in a ground floor flat and my Mum used to leave packed lunches for my brother and I on the balcony so we didn't have to go indoors. At the age of 5 I went camping to the Forest of Dean with the local youth club, sans parents (or older brother).

Things are so different now to when I was a child in the 70's and 80's.  These days we seem to be molly coddling our children until  BAM! they are  teenagers demanding to be more grown up than they really are and often left to their own devices.

Mr.M and I are giving the 10 year old some more responsibility.  We've started letting him walk to and from school on his own.  It's about 10 minutes, there's no major roads but a few busy ones especially with parents trying to find parking spaces and zooming about in their bloody great four x fours that are needed for the wild suburban Surrey streets.

I've started letting him pop up to our local Tesco Express for milk & bread essentials - and letting him keep the change. He's walking the dog around the block, ensuring he has poo bags and doesn't let the dog off his lead.

I've also been leaving him for a short while too.  I make him promise not to open the door to anyone. Any of us who need to be in the house have keys. A list of important phone numbers written down and the telephone.  I'm not talking hours on end, usually only about half an hour or so. I take the 5 year old with me of course.

I didn't realise there was no "legal" age on leaving children. Although you cannot leave them if they may be at risk.  I found this link here.

It's so hard trying to find the right balance of letting your babies grow up and start to spread their wings.  

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Loving London Zoo

As I only have one day off a week, during the summer holidays I like to try and actually "do something" with the kids on this day.  However cost is also an issue.  I decided to take the tiddlers to ZSL London Zoo.  I checked on their website for the prices.  As non-members it would cost us £62.50 for one adult and two children.  As luck would have it I've been saving my Tesco Clubcard vouchers. If you didn't know you can boost your vouchers up to 4 times their value. So £15 of vouchers gave me £60 to spend.

I hadn't been there since the 10 year old was a toddler in the buggy, he doesn't remember going and the 5 year old has never been. It's a bit of an epic journey for us on public transport. There is a car park at the zoo which costs about £14 a day and is outside the congestion charging zone but I decided to chance the public transport. The kids were very excited as we drove to the train station, got the overground train, then a tube, then a bus! All we needed was an aeroplane and we've have the full set.

We arrived at the zoo, surprisingly there weren't any queues. Using the vouchers was easy and I was happy paying just £2.50 in cash for our entry.

As soon as you get in you are greeted by a photo opportunity of a great brass statue of Guy the Gorilla. The 10year old asked me why he was famous. I didn't have a clue, just that he was when I was a child. There's also plenty of toilets near the entrance which is great when you've been travelling a while.  We dumped our bags down and set about the map deciding which way we wanted to go.

The first port of call was Penguin Beach. where there was to be a talk at 11.30.  There was plenty of viewing action and the kids loved the round window
where one of the penguins enjoyed swimming near them.  We watched the talk and the naughty seagull "Dave" who pinched their food. He obviously knew what time it was!

From there we wandered into Butterfly Paradise. From the outside it's like a giant bouncy castle. Inside it's a humid spectacle full of the most amazing butterflies flitting around. I happened to be wearing a butterfly top and had a couple land on me to the 5 year olds delight.  Inside you can pick up spotters guides to help.  My two were very interested in the cocoons which are kept in a glass case hatching and drying newly emerged butterflies.

After the butterflies we naturally progressed onto the BUG section.  This is an amazing development and the 5 year old did well not to scream and cry her way round the ants, tarantulas and glow in the dark frogs.  In one section you can walk through with real spiders around you.  This part is optional so the 5 year old and I waited outside for the 10 year old to finish his bravery quest.
We followed the paths and went onto Meet The Monkeys and into Animal Adventure - the children's zoo.  This is where the meerkats are and a firm favourite with small children. There are tunnels the children can enter and pop their heads up meerkat style into their territory.  There's also a fun play area here for kids with a splash zone near a small cafe and much needed toilets.

We'd brought a packed lunch so this is where we decided to stop and rest with a well earned sandwich.  Once we re-fuelled we came to Tiger territory. The enclosure is huge with wall to ceiling glass and a high up viewing area. From there we saw the Galapagos Tortoises and then possibly the main attraction, Gorilla Kingdom.

I was quite sad the gorilla's weren't outside as it was a lovely warm day, however they've just had a new baby addition to their troop.  The alpha male silverback - Kumbuka had just woken from an afternoon nap and funnily enough looked rather similar to MrM in the mornings!

By now it was time to have another little rest, there was a children's puppet type show on in the amphitheatre,  and after that the 5year old went on the carousel and then they both went on the large bouncy castle slide. I sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet with a well earned cup of tea.

By now it was mid afternoon and we'd had a full morning. I wanted to see the giraffe's and the 5 year old wanted to see the kangaroos.  To reach giraffe's you have to go via a tunnel to the "Into Africa" area.  Again there are highly raised platforms to view the giraffes but it was very busy so small children might not get such a great view.  The 5 year old was starting to get a bit fractious, probably because her little legs were aching. It's a lot of walking. 

However, the 5 year old was determined to see the kangaroos so we walked back through the tunnel to go to the "Outback". The kangaroos weren't doing too much but the wallaby's had a burst of energy with one finding himself in with the emu's where a bit of a stand off occurred. 

By now it was time to go. As with all places the exit is conveniently located via the gift shop.  I managed to get out spending only £10 and took my tired but happy little monkey's home.

ZSL London Zoo is a lovely place to visit.  There was so much to see and a lot of thought is not only put into the animals enclosures but for the visitors. Plenty of toilets (yay), plenty of things for children to play with and interactive displays for older ones.

Monday, 3 August 2015

The One With The Bumped Head

Grandad.M and Nanny.M live close to a recreation ground which has a very nice and often busy playground. Grandad M will take the 10 year old, the 5 year old and the silly dog.  10 year old will go and play on the football pitch, silly dog sits by the railings and 5 year old and Grandad.M play in the playground.

On Monday morning they'd all been to the park. Grandad.M left the playground via one gate, 5 year old decided to choose another the other side of the playground. Unfortunately the pathway had been very poorly kept, the 5 year old's foot went down a hole and she fell forward and struck her head on the metal gate.

Apparently there was a lot of blood. The 10 year old reached her first and she was holding her head. Grandad.M sprinted over. He scooped her up and carried her all the way home.  She was cleaned up and plaster stuck on.  Then Grandad & Nanny.M called me at work. I thought she'd be alright as long as she wasn't sick or fall asleep.

Later on, Nanny.M posted a picture of the 5 year old. The cut looked deep. I hadn't realised how deep it was. I felt she needed to go to hospital.  I called Mr.M, we left our work and took her up to the hospital.

The children's A&E was busy, mainly with children with bumped heads. 5 year old was triaged and her observations checked. Heart rate, blood pressure, eye reactions.  All seemed fine.  She's odd and does like going to the Doctors and hospital. She was so brave, even when they were cleaning the cut with saline solution. Not a whimper from her at all.  Eventually she was seen by the Doctor. They decided gluing was the best option as it was very neat. So she was laid on a bed with one doctor holding the cut together whilst another glued. Steri strips were put over the top and we were given instructions on what to do if she started to vomit or appear listless or out of character.

4.30am and she woke up, she felt sick. This went on for the next two hours, every 10 minutes she'd have a wave of nausea until around 6.30am when the vomiting started.  The hospital had advised if she was sick more than three times to bring her in. By 8.30am we decided to take her back to the hospital.

Once again, she was triaged and vital signs all checked, she seemed alright apart from the vomiting. She continued vomiting until 10am. The nurses checked all her vital signs every half hour. luckily they'd put us in a side room, however there are only so many games of eye spy and rock, paper, scissors you can play before losing the will to live.

If you watch Casualty on TV, you'll know A&E have a four hour turnaround before you "breach" ours was 12.30. As 12.30 arrived, we were taken up to the children's ward.  This way A&E don't look like they've broken the guidelines and we then get another few hours wait for the Paediatric Registrar We needed a change of scenery anyway. Cynical? Me?

Eventually the Doctor arrived around 2pm.  She did a full assessment of the 5 year old, checked all her reflexes and muscles and movement. She was happy to let us go.  I was happy we could go. The 5 year old had stopped vomiting, was like a jumping bean in the room and complaining of being "starving".  Normal service had resumed.

It was a stressful couple of days but I'm pleased she is all in one piece.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Book Review: The Bones Of You by Debbie Howells

Rosie is dead. She knows she is dead.  What we don't know is who killed and her and why.

Kate is the Mother of one of Rosie's "acquaintances". Rosie doesn't have friends.  Rosie would spend time quietly at Kate's yard helping with her horses. She had a natural affinity to the animals who can read your innermost thoughts and feelings.

The investigation into Rosie's murder is slow.  Kate becomes friendly with Jo, Rosie's bereaved Mum and needs to know for herself what happened to the quiet, shy girl.  Who caused the change in their idyllic village.

Dinners were burnt and my children went to bed late when I was reading this book. I just couldn't put it down.  Whilst firmly away from the traditional  crime thriller; you are lead through what happened.
At first I was reminded of "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold with the way Rosie tells her story. She starts with flashbacks to her childhood and builds the picture of her life but chapters are also included by Kate and Rosie's younger sister Delphine.  The story is heart wrenching. You can physically feel the pain in their lives and that's a testament to how well written it is.

I thoroughly recommend this book and would encourage you all to get out there and support this budding author.

You can find out more about Debbie Howells on her website www.debbiehowells.co.uk

Thursday, 23 July 2015

What's In Your Search History?

Yesterday whilst using the internet to search for something random; I commented to MrM if anyone could see my search history what would it say about me? 

I thought I'd do a little experiment and look up the last 5 things on my search history and see what it's all about.

So this is my search history:

sky.com - We are off on holiday soon and in my quest to keep my sanity and hand luggage weight down, I want to know if I can download stuff to 10 year old's iPad & 5year old's Galaxy Tab as we have SkyGo.

countries with double taxation agreements with the UK - This is a work thing. I work in finance and lots of countries withold a percentage of the payment but it can be reduced with certain forms. Sometimes filled out 5 times, double sided paper that must not have been looked at on a day that has a T in it.... 

The Tudor Room + Egham - A restaurant I want to take MrM to for his birthday. 

The Fat Duck -Heston Blumenthal's restaurant that we can't afford at £225 per head. 

Itchy Anus - This was for the 5yo.  Complaining of itching. Told her to go and wipe it with a wet wipe and I'll put vaseline on it. She apparently knows better and said vaseline doesn't work. I ended up giving her antihistamine! 

So that's mine. It could and has been weirder.

What's in your search history? Let's compare who's got the most strange! 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Where Does Time Go?

Where does time go?
Really; I'd like to know.
This time last year the youngest one
Had finished nursery,
It was over with. Done

Now the first year of school has come to an end,
She's been a duckling, a mini-beast and a best friend.
She's learnt to read 
With alarming speed
And writes her name on everything.

She sings and dances and makes up games,
Mastering a skipping rope is her next aim.
She stood up in assembly, tall and proud
and spoke a sentence clear and loud.

From that little girl; all quiet and shy,
she runs into class without even a goodbye.
And now her first year at school is over.
And time has flown by in a blur.
Her teacher is leaving for pastures new
What we would like to say is:

Thank You.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Let Battle Commence

We live in an average 3 bedroom house.  Our third bedroom is a box room without enough room to really fit a full size single bed.  The 5yo is still in a toddler bed but it wont last much longer. 

Earlier this year we looked at moving but we wouldn't be able to get anything better than we already have within our budget. Add on conveyancing costs, solicitors and estate agent fees and it's a small fortune.  So we thought we'd look at having a loft conversion. 

We had a couple of builders round to quote. We were recommended another builder who came to see us. I'll call him G. We both immediately got a "good feeling" from him. He was pleasant, sociable and professional. He chatted with us for a long time about what we actually wanted; ie more space. After a while it was decided that rather than losing our loft, we could possibly extend both downstairs and upstairs leaving us with our loft and the ability to store amazing amounts of stuff I swear I will "car boot" one day.  Surprisingly there wasn't much difference in the cost of a loft extension and a two storey extension and both were cheaper options than moving.

So we had plans drawn up and have to apply for planning permission.  G recommended we speak with our neighbours as a courtesy to let them know what we are planning.  We are on nodding terms with one side, the other; not so much.  I'll have a chat in the front garden but she doesn't get on with Mr.M.  He's not as happy as I am to "keep the peace" and not moan about things. They have clashed over the past ten years we've been there. 

Our conversation went like this:

"Oh I'm glad I caught you.  I just wanted to let you know we are planning on having an extension at the back of the house"
"oh yes"
"It's a two storey extension"
"There wont be any side windows so we wont be overlooking you or anything. I thought I'd let you know as you'll be getting a letter from the council"
"Well, obviously I'll object. I'll lose light"
"Ah, OK. Well you'll be able to see the plans"
"I'll get my son in law to look at them, he's a surveyor"
"Well I just wanted to let you know"

And I shuffle off with the kids into the house.

Last week the local council sent out the letters to the neighbours. They received them on Saturday and by Sunday she'd filed her objection on line. It's obvious her surveyor son in law has written the letter, it's far too professional. However they are objecting on 9 points! 

The council has until 26th August to decided yes or no.  I'm on tenterhooks already and will probably keep checking the planning portal at least 100 times a day.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Book Review: Born In A Burial Gown by Mike Craven.

DI Avison Fluke runs a team of "oddballs" in the FMIT department. His team are the best and follow his lead. But he's lied to them and implicated someone in a crime they don't even know about. When a body is found dumped with a bullet in the back of their head, it's up to Avison and his team to find out who she was and what happened. But will his crime catch up with him first?

For a first novel this was gripping. I originally found out about Mike Craven through twitter. I downloaded "Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything" which introduced us to DI Avison Fluke and his team with a series of short independent stories. A perfect taster of what was to come in his full novel. He was shortlisted for the 2013 Crime Writer's Association Dagger Award.

The story was engrossing. It made me invest in the characters without boring me with minutiae. The plot turns were timed perfectly urging me to stay up late and turn the page for "just one more" before bed. It was an exhilarating read and I can't wait for book two.

The highest honour I can bestow on this book was that I told my husband to read it. He only reads books on holiday and only reads crime stories. He's hard to please. This is perfect for him.

Born In A Burial Gown is available on Amazon on both Kindle and paperback here

It's also available from Waterstones and probably many other book shops!

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Recycling Rant...

I have surprised myself. I'm a bit of an Eco Warrior!  I never knew I'd be concerned about recycling my old tat. But I am.

At home I split my paper from my plastics and cardboard and my glass and tins into something else, another container for food waste. We're overflowing with different boxes for recycling. I try to give the 5yo as much as she can take to school. Boxes, plastic containers, yogurt pots, all with instructions not to bring it all back as a spaceship/house/bus.. insert whatever rubbish creation your child makes here.

At work we have LOTS of recycling bins all over the building and only a couple of general rubbish bins in the kitchens. The idea being people will actually put their cardboard, paper, plastic, sandwich wrappers and plastic cups into the recycling waste.  Oh how wrong!  Apparently it's too difficult when two bins are side by side to decide what to do so it's easier to chuck it all in the general rubbish.

This is annoying.

Now I'm not sure if I'm getting annoyed because it's not being recycled or just because I'm a bit of a stickler for the rules and want things to be put where they should be. (I do not have any type of needing to keep everything tidy issues) The problem is; I keep ranting about it at work. So now I think people are putting the recycling in the general waste because it winds me up and in some perverted way it gives them some sort of enjoyment to watch me pulling rubbish out of the bin moaning.

I'm stuck in a never ending loop.

Life with Baby Kicks

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Mis-Adventures of A Silly Dog. 2

Silly dog has hip dysplasia. He's almost two and this was found when he was around 18months old.  He was in excruciating pain.  You can read about it here.

Since then we've been aware of his condition, if he's had a particularly long run one day, it'll be a little less intense the next as he can be quite stiff. We're also mindful of keeping the weight off as he's a greedy little bugger and a typical spaniel; hoovering up whatever might come his way. Edible or not! See the Mis-Adventures of A Silly Dog.1

He' also incredibly spoilt, he is my baby and sleeps on our bed.  I "NEVER" let the children sleep in my bed but the dog.. well that's different. He's fluffy. I'd like to say he doesn't kick, but he does, he takes up all the foot space and snores like a congested walrus.

Last night he sat up, started to have a bit of a scratch and promptly fell off the bed.  He seemed to very confused how one moment he was sitting on the bed and the next he was on a heap in the floor. He looked at me like I'd pushed him off and gave me that disdainful spaniel look before leaping back on the bed, huffing and puffing before taking the warm comfy spot I vacated to check he was alright.

No doubt he'll now use this as an excuse to take up even more space and worm his way up the bed between me and Mr.M.

Monday, 29 June 2015

My Children Need Their Sleep.

The 10yo is not happy with the bedtime arrangements in our house. Admittedly if I was 10 I probably wouldn't be too.  Seeing it from the point of having been "the little sister" I'm on the side of the 5yo on this.

Ever since he was born, he was a great sleeper, all night through by 11 weeks (yes, I am smug). However I paid for that by him waking every day at 5am.  He would have 10 hours sleep, no more, no less.  I despaired of the 5am wake-up call. I would crawl out of bed, slump on the sofa and nod off to endless episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine.

When he started school, he shifted forward to 6am. The Gods smiled, I breathed a sigh of relief and then found out I was pregnant with No. 2.

Luckily when No. 2 arrived I was blessed again with good chunks of sleep and a baby that slept through from 12 weeks. (I am super smug).  Luckily No. 2 didn't have the 5am wake-up call, 6am is so much more civilised.

Roll on 5 years and this is where I'm at.  We have a good bedtime routine, bath/shower, PJ's, teeth brushing, story & bed. This is for both.  The 10yo does everything at the same time as the 5yo, albeit about a 10 minute rollover.  The 5yo is usually settling down for sleep by 8pm.  I personally feel it's late for a 5 yo but I just can't get it any earlier.  The 10yo is usually in bed for 8.30 at the latest.  Here is where his issue is.

None of my friends go to bed this early.

He clearly feels hard done by. Apparently none of his friends have to go to bed at this time. It's practically the afternoon.  Summer evenings when the bedrooms are bathed in sunlight isn't helping. Hearing the neighbours (younger children) still playing in their garden doesn't help. 

If he's playing his xBox with his friends, he often has to be the first to leave the game. I don't care. He needs his sleep.  

I am not saying no for the sake of it or "just because I said so".  We leave the house at 7am. The kids are deposited at their grandparents and MrM and I head off to commute into work. I firmly believe 10 hours helps with his concentration, (his ADHD puts him at a disadvantage in the concentration stakes), helps with keeping him healthy, his body growing strong.

 The 5yo is all about the "fairness" of it all.  Being a highly competitive madam, she can't see why she must go to bed earlier than her big brother.  They are equal. If anything she feels superior to him a fair amount of the time I'm sure.  I remember being the little sister and wanting to do the same things at the same time as my big brother.  Bed-time and pocket money were big issues in our house when I was small.

It looks like history is repeating it self.

What time do your kids go to bed? Is 8.30 early or late for a 10 year old?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Flush The Bloody Toilet!

The 10 year old has been toilet trained for the past seven years, give or take a few months.

For some obscure reason he finds it impossible to remember to flush the toilet.  Or to lift the seat and wash his hands.  It drives me nuts!

I know it's not for effort on my part.  I spend a good part of my day re-directing him back to the bathroom to wipe the seat, flush the toilet and wash his hands. I'm like the toilet police.
Surely it should be like second nature by now? You do something enough you don't even think of doing it, it just happens. Muscle memory. I've driven home from the in-laws or sometimes and have no recollection of the actual journey. I could do it blindfolded. 

So why, oh why, can't he flush the bloody toilet!?

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