Thursday, 28 May 2015

Books My Kids Love and Some I Don't.

I have never liked The Hungry Caterpillar. 

I don't mind the story, it's the artwork I'm not keen on.  Something about it seems odd and I wish it was updated. Sadly it makes me not want to read it to my children.  Another one is The Tiger Who Came To Tea. It's not the artwork for this one and I quite like there's a 72 bus in there which I used to get as a child to go visit my Grandma.  I don't know why I don't enjoy this "classic".
I'm also sure I can't be the only one to think Roald Dahl was incredibly odd.  I've read most of his children's books and reading them as an adult, they are just downright weird!

I far more prefer rhyming stories, especially the Julia Donaldson ones.  The Snail and The Whale being one of my favourites along with The Giraffe Who Got In A Knot by John Bush.  The illustrations are superb and mention must be given to Axel Scheffler and Paul Geraghty for these two.  But what about our children and what do they like to read?

My 5yo is learning to read and she is very taken with the Biff, Chip & Kipper books from the Oxford Reading Tree.  We've bought a box set and are working our way through them. But there aren't any books she particularly returns to time and time again. We have Kipper stories, Wibbly Pig, Thomas The Tank Engine's, The Gruffalo, Princess stories, The Usborne Farm collection, Aliens in Underpants and many many more.

The 9yo sadly has no love of reading.  I've always read to both my children, bedtime stories are part of our routine and he will happily sit and listen to me read to him. We've worked our way through a Roald Dahl box set, currently on Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets and have a whole Michael Morpurgo box set to work through.  

What books do your children enjoy and what would you recommend?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ditching The Diet.

This is the time of year when I start panicking about the family holiday we've booked and the fact I still haven't shifted a single pound of weight this year.

I look in the shops at the swimsuits and bikini's and think to myself, I won't buy something until I've gone down a size.  Sadly I never seem to go down a size and then when I want to buy some clothes for my summer holiday the shops have decided that August is the time to get the jumpers and coats back out on display and I am left with the dregs of non matching bikini's on the sale rails.

So this year is going to be different.  I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. If you've not used it before, it's free on Android & Apple, you can log your goals, your daily food intake and exercise
even if it is mowing the lawn, moderate housework or walking the dog!  On looking back over my past 2 years sporadic weigh-ins, I am in no better place than I was then. Oh I've gone down by about a stone but inevitably put it back on again plus an extra couple of lb's each time.

Not A Bad Day
I have a 5 year old daughter, and whilst she has no body issues now, I also don't want her to be worrying about them in the future. Younger and younger children are starting to worry about their body image.  I am well aware that parents and in particular Mums are the ones who project their issues onto their children. If a parent is constantly dieting it's not healthy.  So I have decided to "ditch the diet".  This doesn't mean I'm not going to do my best to lose some weight but it means making healthy choices regarding what I eat.  I don't want my children thinking "diet" means you live on a lettuce leaf and half a tomato or drink a meal replacement shake.  I'm educating them that they need, a mix of everything including some fats and some sugars. A piece of chocolate isn't the worst thing they can eat, IF it's in moderation.  I chose to eat the same meals as my family in the evenings and showing my children a way to make healthy choices and hopefully a long term healthy life style.

Monday, 18 May 2015

I "AM" The Favourite Parent...

We have two children and MrM is their real, biological parent. He's always been present at home and until last summer before his job changed, did all morning school runs and so on.  His parenting style maybe a bit different to mine; he's more likely to shout instructions from bed in the morning whereas I will actually rise from the comfiness of doggy cuddles and a snugly duvet to supervise breakfast is actually being eaten.  I am the one who cooks dinner and feeds them. MrM is more likely to take them out to eat if I'm not around. I provide clean clothes, I fill up the food cupboards and treat them to hot chocolate and cookies in Costa or Starbucks if we are out. Taking two kids out for any reason is exhausting and I need the caffeine.

The 5year old is my mini-me.  Not only does she look like me, at evenings and weekends I'm allowed no respite.   In the mornings, if I am not in my bed, her first words to MrM are "where's Mummy?" Seeing as I seem to be the dogs favourite too (guess who feeds him). Her second question is "where's Ozzie?"  MrM will crack a joke we are hiding under the bed.  5yo gives him the silent "death stare" as if he's some kind of random man in our house she has to tolerate.  I've privately nicknamed him the Step Dad.

She does nothing for him, she refuses to get dressed, she ignores his requests to pick her toys up from her bedroom floor, she doesn't want him to run her bath, she doesn't want him to help her into her pyjama's, she doesn't want him to read the bedtime story,  she just point blank refuses everything.  

Mummy has to do it. 

How I'm not a slim woman I can't fathom. The amount of times I am up and down the stairs as I'm called to sort out cbeebies on the laptop, even if she is sitting right next to MrM, find her littlest pet shop dog plus referee both the kids fighting over the Lego or because the 9yo just wants her out of his bedroom.

Throw in an eight hour working day and the usual housey duties and sometimes, just sometimes, I wish MrM was the chosen one. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Boys Have Hormones Too!

Who knew?!

When I popped out my first little darling it was a boy.  The boy is now almost 10 and man do I know about it.

I've always been proud of my children, they are well mannered, generally kind and considerate.  Yes they argue and I kind of see them a bit like Tom & Jerry, batting each other silly one minute but will have each others backs if a third party is to get involved.

Over the past year there has been a change in the 9yo. He's become very moody, extremely shouty and very teary.  He's like a pre-menstrual woman. It's hell!  I never expected this. I never gave it a minutes thought about boys actually having hormones. I mean, I know their body changes and things but this?

So here's my top 5 things to look out for if you have pre-pubescent boys.

1. Shouting.  If I simply ask him to put his shoes on and it's taken him 20 minutes to get one on which has velcro straps; not laces.

2. Thinking They are More Grown Up Than They Are: Telling the 5yo off like he is her parent.  "If you don't do this; then you're not going to so and so's party"  I have to keep reminding him he's not in charge of her and her parenting.

3. Crying.. at everything.  Can't do his homework, got a code one at school, Mummy took the mickey out of him, iPad has been taken away, thinking about the dog dying (in the future). The fish that actually did die.

4. Lying and getting caught which then leads to number 3.

5. Smelly feet.

And Just as he's probably about to come through the other side of the actual puberty bit, the 5yo is going to start. At least with a girl I'm more prepared and I'm hoping she wont have as smelly feet as my boy.

My Random Musings

Brilliant blog posts on

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Blissful Barcelona - Day Two

We woke early feeling.. strange. No dog on the bed, no children wandering in asking for breakfast. How we used to take those pre-children/dog days for granted!

Beat This Costa & Starbucks!
We hadn't ordered the breakfast buffet the hotel offered but decided to go down and have a look.  I must admit it all looked a little tired and dry.  Earlier the day before Mr.M and I had passed a number of lovely little patisseries so we decided to head out to one of them.  We found a bakery place called Pannus which offered great looking fresh pastries for unbelievable prices.  3 croissants for €1.50 and you could sit in to eat.  Mr.M and I are both pastry lovers so we stuffed ourselves with chocolate and custard croissants with coffee and a fresh leaf tea for me for €7.50

From there we headed straight off into the centre of Barcelona and towards Las Ramblas.  This is a tree lined pedestrian street, it has a lovely atmosphere with plenty of shops, restaurants, and street artists.  We followed the road all the way down towards the Gothic Quarter and headed for Barcelona Cathedral and The History Museum of Barcelona.

I love a museum, it's my idea of a perfect day out but not so for Mr. M.  We paid €7 entry each, collected a translator electronic thingy and off we went, charting our way through Barcelona's Roman history and onwards.  Unfortunately there is only so much museum Mr.M can take and after an hour or so of looking at Roman ruins he was looking thoroughly bored.   We made our way over to the exit and crossed the road over to the Cathedral.

Barcelona Cathedral
Real chickens!
Again not one of Mr.M's favourite pastimes but this was different, they had chickens, live real ones clucking about. Astonishingly I also spotted a man peeing up against a stone column! I was so shocked, he was in a house of God!  After walking past many statues of various Saints we left to continue our walk back up Las Ramblas and found ourselves in a restaurant sharing a paella.

Being suitably stuffed we needed to walk off lunch and caught the metro to Park G├╝ell.  This park is situated at the top of a gruelling hill. The walk up was very steep although we were helped out by a number of escalators on the pavements.  This is a residential area, the people who live there must be extremely fit.  Into the park itself which is one of Gaudi's major works and it is stunning. The views were amazing the architecture is out of this world.  I only felt it was slightly spoilt by the busker singing & dancing (badly) at the top of the monument and the amount of traders all selling scarfs.  I was pleased to find one seller with bottles of water as I definitely needed one after our climb.

We left the park and descended back for a walk towards the metro and back to the hotel for a much needed cup of tea and to prepare ourselves for the night's game.

Kick off was at 9pm so we left the hotel with plenty of time to spare. It was only a few stops on the metro. By the time we arrived at Camp Nou; it was already heaving with people.  We grabbed a bag of chips outside, no football ground is complete without it's burger stalls and team tat stalls outside.  We took photo's then went in search of our seats. 

Unfortunately they weren't quite as good as I'd hoped and we were high up. REALLY high up.  At least we could see the whole pitch.  The game started, Mr.M was happy as he was watching the great Lionel Messi play, alongside Neymar, Gerard Pique and Iniesta.  I was happy to see Fernando Torres, one of my ex Chelsea favourites.   The game was tense and Barcelona won 3-1. Mr.M ecstatic to see both Neymar and Messi join Suarez on the score sheet.

On leaving the ground, I had and probably never will see so many mopeds and scooters in one place.  It was like being at a mod rally in  in 1960's Brighton at night.  Eventually we found the way back to the metro station and arrived back at the hotel around midnight, ready for our 6am alarm call to fly home the next morning.

Overall, we had a fantastic weekend. We packed so much into it and really made the most of it. It was also lovely to have a bit of "us" time without the children. We had a whole weekend without one of having to shout, or be annoyed, just laughing and joking and enjoying each others company. 

I think the mini M's enjoyed their  holiday staying over at the Grandparents too and of course loved the bits of tourist tat we brought back for them alongside their Barcelona shirts!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Blissful Barcelona - Day One

We don't normally "do" Christmas presents for each other.  We work, have a joint account and share everything. We'd rather the money went on the kids.
Except this year was different.  I saved in a secret Christmas Club at work and decided to treat the football obsessed Mr.M to a football match in Barcelona.  I chose Barcelona vs. Athletico Madrid, apparently I chose well.

Having arranged to deposit the kids with the Grandparents for three nights & the puppy at his friends we were ready.

Apparently we were already enjoying our new found childless state too much as we were the last to board the plane, they had issued the last call and were about to close the gates.  On boarding the plane people were sitting in our pre-booked seats,  I kindly mentioned it and they told me people were sitting in their seats. Being already flushed from the dash to the furthest possible gate in Gatwick I didn't feel I could cause a scene and start people jenga so MrM and I quietly sat down in "not our pre-booked seats".

We arrived safely and hit the ground running.  There was so much to fit in.  We couldn't check into the hotel until 2pm, it was currently 9.30am.  I marched us off to the Tourist Information bureau in the airport and promptly parted with €40 for two 3day travelcards and a map. These ultimately saved us a fortune!

I decided our first stop should be La Sagrade Familia, Gaudi's unfinished church.  It's breathtaking, if you can ignore the scaffolding.  We joined the queue (sans suitcase). It was going to be an hour or so. Luckily they have people travelling the queues letting you know you can book on line and come back.  So with the wonder of a smart phone with 4G and an International Booster pack. I booked two tickets for €15 each.  We walked straight round to the front of the queue, had our suitcase scanned and waltzed in.   The inside is beautiful, a blaze of colours yet so peaceful. You can take a seat and reflect or just wander around.  As beautiful as it was, I preferred the outside of the church to the inside and wasn't sure about the mish-mashed style of the decor through the last couple of centuries.

Opposite was a restaurant offering an all you can eat buffet for €11.45 each. Perfect considering we hadn't eaten since 5am.  After this we headed off for our hotel.  This proved to be a little trickier to to find than a great big church and we found our selves walking in circles a fair bit.  Eventually we found it and checked in.  Our room was basic but we only needed a base so after freshening up we decided to head off to the holy grail of Camp Neu.  (Barcelona football stadium to the uninitiated).  The game we were seeing wasn't until the next day but we decided we wanted to make sure we knew where we were going the next day and we wanted to visit the shop before 80,000 fans turned up! 

After needing a small mortgage to buy both kids Barcelona shirts and our nephew his birthday present, Mr M needed to find out the current day's home football scores. We managed to find ourselves an Irish Pub showing the Premiership results.  Boy did I need that beer by then!

After a lovely nap at the hotel, we spoke with the Receptionist for some food recommendations and ventured to a lovely restaurant just over the road. We both love Tapas so spent an age deciding what to eat. The problem with Tapas is you never quite know if you've ordered enough.  We had ordered enough to feed a small army.  It was delicious and  so filling. After stuffing ourselves and drinking with small abandon without having to have one of us as a designated driver, we headed back for a long nights sleep ready for our next days adventures.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Votes for Women! ....Nanna Was A Suffragette

You can't escape the fact that today is polling day in the United Kingdom and a chance for us once again to vote for a Government which no doubt promises us one thing and delivers quite another. 

I'm always quite surprised by the number of apathetic people who don't care, especially the number of women who fall into this category.  A study carried out by the House Of Commons Library showed that 9.1 million women failed to vote in the 2010 General Election.  Our poor Suffragette ancestors will be turning in their graves!

We all know about the Pankhurst's; Mother and daughter; Emmeline & Christabel who founded the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union). They encouraged their members to enter into hunger strike whilst imprisoned and into what was considered heavy militant tactics including arson, bomb making, attacking politicians, pouring chemicals into mailboxes and general disruption.

No-one knows if Emily Davison meant to kill herself when she threw herself into the path of the King's Horse at the Epsom Derby on 4th June 1913. There is a school of belief that she was trying only to disturb the Derby and attach a scarf to the horse highlighting the WSPU's cause. She had in her possession a ticket to a suffragette dance later that day and a postcard she sent to her sister in France indicating she was going to visit them a few days later.

With the arrival of World War I, the suffragette movement stopped almost overnight. The women put their campaign on hold to unite with the country against the "German Peril".  When the men were called up to fight for their King and Country, the women stepped into their jobs and kept the country going.   By 1918 the Government had no choice but to accept the hard work the women had put into the war effort and allowed women over the age of 30 to vote.  10 years on and the age restriction was lifted and both men and women could vote equally.

I'm not into politics in any way, however I do firmly believe women especially should not waste their right to vote when it was so hard to win. 

Get out there and make your mark!