Category Archives: Family

Holding back the years

No I’m not about to launch into one of those woe is me I found a wrinkle posts (I haven’t – yet!). The ten year old is growing up fast, yet it seems not as fast as her friends and I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not.

It’s my fault entirely, having worked for the police and seen the delights of unruly teens first hand along with dealing with cases of missing and abused children, I’ve kept her pretty sheltered to a certain extent in terms of where she can go without me and what she can have – although that’s more down to financial reasons and my archaic views. Having lunch with one of her school friends recently made me question whether keeping her as sheltered as I have done is a good or a bad thing though.

Although the same age, this girl exuded a confidence far beyond her years whereas my daughter although confident around people she knows is very reserved around those she doesn’t to the point where she questions her own abilities. My daughters friend is allowed out in the area she lives to visit other childrens houses etc whereas I don’t even let my daughter take the bins out (outside our gated apartments and across a road) and if she goes to a friends I expect her to stay inside that friends house. On one occasion she visited a friends house who lived near a park and despite me telling her she wasn’t allowed to go without her friends mum I knew full well her friends mum wouldn’t stay with them and I felt sick the entire time she was there. I think I have to learn to trust her, she is sensible the majority of the time, but I worry she will be led astray by other kids.

As for the material side of things I am a terribly unfashionable mum and probably cause her much embarrassment. She doesn’t have a mobile phone for a start – her little mate on the other hand had one resembling a blackberry that she happily tapped away on, updating her facebook page throughout our day out. I did promise I would let the 10 year old have my old phone, a horrificlly  old fashioned little flip phone that is worth about a fiver for when she goes to her friends houses and might want to contact me, however I then worry about her being bullied for not having a more fashionable phone.

She didn’t have a DS until she was 6, despite asking for one for 2 years and her peers having them much sooner, but I was determined not to let such a young child have a computer game. In an ideal world she may have only received one for her tenth birthday, but in actual fact she got a 3DS as the DS is no longer cool or something along those lines. Her friends all have iPads and laptops. She bought herself a cheap android tablet using her birthday and Christmas money and instead of accessing her facebook account on her behalf and relaying information to her to ensure she isn’t receiving any messages she shouldn’t be, I’ve let her access it on her own, however I still have it registered under my email address and can see what she does and what is sent to her etc, so I’m gradually letting go, even just a little. (Another instance of my being rather embarrassing is she wouldn’t have been able to have a facebook profile in the first case if we hadn’t moved away from all of her friends – twice, as I’m not keen on kids having them)

I really am feeling torn between keeping my little girl as a little girl for as long as possible or encouraging her to spread her wings and gain a little more independence. What do I do?

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Frugal & Fun: A Review

I actually begged to review this ebook from Cass Bailey, Jen Walshaw and Becky Goddard-Hill, with an 11 week summer holiday stretching before me I was desperate to keep my 10 year old entertained while retaining a grasp on my sanity. Two weeks in to those holidays I’m pleased to say that so far my daughter has been kept entertained (and not threatened with remaining in her room for the duration of the holidays) and we’ve planned a whole host of other things to keeps her occupied, both when she’s with me and while she’s staying with her nan for a few weeks with the help of the ebook.

The ebook covers a whole host of planning ideas and activities to ensure that the summer holidays will go with a bang and not break the bank. It starts with a planning section with a suggested activity a day to make sure that you know exactly what is available in your area throughout the holidays and to ensure you have everything you need to hand to keep the kids entertained. Although I try to plan ahead I never quite seem to manage it so having it laid out before me in such an easy to follow way really helped me to get organised and research what was going on in the local area, as well as getting the house ready for the holidays – well as much as you can when you have a 6 month old flying about in a walker and destroying everything you do!

One of the first things we did was create a boredom jar, I won’t ruin what it is by telling you, but it is an absolutely brilliant idea. One I’d never have thought of and has proved invaluable in keeping my daughter occupied. We also did a wish book early on too and are gradually ticking things off our list that we have done – there’s even a separate one for when my daughter is staying with her nan!

Having an older daughter I let her read the ebook and pick out activities she wanted to do herself. So far she fancies making a patriotic cake, building a den (it seems no matter how old kids are they still want to build a den!), and trying out the rest of the recipes in the ebook. We’ve had a BBQ and made Smores for the 4th of July, have a Mexican themed meal she’s making tonight, tapas at the weekend and she helped make a Greek themed meal (her favourite period of history at school is the Greeks apparently) last week too. She also made a photo collage of herself, her friends and our family, which living so far away from them was a really nice thing for her to do and she’s even used her pocket money to turn them into proper posters using an online photo company. That is just the tip of the iceberg, we have so much more planned and certainly no reason to be bored over the coming weeks and if she is, that’s when the boredom jar will come in handy (did I tell you how much I LOVE that idea?).

There are so many ideas to keep children of all ages occupied within the Six sections of the ebook, which are:

The Olympics

The Great Outdoors

Around the World

Heroes and Heroines

Home Sweet Home

Colours

The ebook is currently selling on Amazon for £2.99 and it’s worth every penny! I’ve saved money by creating fun activities at home using things we already have, finding out about local free events, I’ve not killed my ten year old (yet) or resorted to cracking open the wine by 4pm (again, there’s still time for this of course – I’m only human after all!)  and above all we’ve been having loads of fun. You can also find more ideas on the website Frugal & Fun which will be added to throughout the summer.

Please note I was provided with a copy of this ebook for the purpose of the review. For further information regarding my disclosure policy please click on the Disclosure tab above.

Flying with a baby

Having just got back from a week long trip abroad with a 10 year old and a 5 month old, I thought I’d put together a few tips to get you through flying with a baby. It seemed to do the trick for us and I was left with a baby that slept for both take off and landing and was happy in the airport, which is a bit of a result as I’d been absolutely dreading the flight.

  • Make sure you have everything you need for baby in one bag to avoid confusion at both security (when you may have to taste the baby’s milk) and when in the airport and on the plane.
  • Try to book flights that fit in around your baby’s nap times. I didn’t intentionally do this but it really worked and I was left with a baby who was asleep for 80% of the plane journey.
  • Change baby on arrival at the airport to keep him/her comfortable and also just before you get on the plane. Airplane toilets are tiny and made even smaller with changing tables so if you can avoid changing baby while on board – do! Of course if h or she decides to do a huge poo while onboard the plane there’s little you can do to avoid it.
  • On arrival at the airport make sure baby is fed, to keep him/her happy for the duration of your time in the airport. This may reduce time to stock up on duty frees but it will be worth it when you arrive on the plane with a happy rather than screaming and hungry baby.
  • Remember you can take as much milk/juice/water/food to the airport and for the duration of the flight through security in your hand luggage. Keep it together as you will be asked to remove it from your bag and place it in a tray along with your other belongings.
  • Look out for a family assistance lane at the airport, like they have at Gatwick. You bypass the normal queues for security and get through in minutes rather than half an hour or more. If you aren’t sure what you can take through or what you have to take out of your bag, there is someone on hand to offer advice and in my case remove my boots when they had to be scanned as I couldn’t bend down with the carrier on. (bless that poor woman having to touch my boots!)
  • You can take your buggy right up to the plane, it will then be checked and stowed at the last minute and brought up to the plane for you as you disembark. I chose not to do this and wore a carrier instead and this worked well for us as baby boy was reassured by being close to me yet able to look all around and get a great view of what was happening in the airport.
  • To avoid pain in baby’s ears at take off I had a bottle in his mouth as we were going up the run way, taking off and climbing and he was asleep before we’d even finished ascending. Likewise for landing, as soon as I felt my ears starting to pop I gave him a bottle and by the time we landed he was asleep again. No tears, no fuss and above all no pain for baby boy.
  • Keeping him occupied was relatively easy where he was asleep for so long during the flight, but we packed a few of his favourite toys which he played with quite happily. He loved poking his head above the seat and looking all round at the other passengers and even being held in the aisle so he could get a better view of everyone, not to mention fluttering his eyelashes at the air hostesses.
  • Make sure you check baby’s hand and hold baggage allowance. On the flight out he wasn’t allowed to take anything unless it was paid for, on the flight back he was allowed 10kg for free to go in either our luggage or his own separate bag. We were also allowed to take two items out of a list of several including a car seat and pushchair.

We were incredibly lucky with both our flights in that baby boy had no problems with pain in his ears and was easily occupied. I hope that if you follow the above tips you can have as stress free a flight as we did!

Photo Books from Pixum

Having recently had a baby the chance to compile an album of photos of him and his big sister was something I couldn’t wait to do. As with all new mums I’d gotten rather snap happy with my camera since the little ones birth, yet due to the age of the digital photo (which wasn’t around when I had my daughter 10 years ago unless you could afford the astronomical prices for a digital camera back then!) they were all on my netbook, rather than in an album or in frames.

I’ve since rectified that by creating a beautiful photo book of my gorgeous boy, incorporating photos of him from birth until he was 14 weeks old and it is something I will always treasure.

The book itself is a large 26 page hardcover book, in powder blue with 4 photos of my baby boy running down the length of the cover, along with his name and date of birth in the centre. Inside the pages are a mixture of powder blue pages and patterns in the same colour, with groups of photos arranged exactly how I wanted them. I really am pleased with it and the quality of the photos and the finish of the book are fantastic, it looks like it should cost a fortune, yet it was just £24.99. I could have just bought a normal photo album and ordered prints of the photos, but it would have cost the same and wouldn’t have the same professional look. A photo album would be at least £10 – £15 for a proper baby one, plus £9.36 for the amount of photos I had to be printed and that’s not even factoring in p&p so I think the price is pretty good when I compare the two options.

As readers of my blog will know I don’t feature images of my children here where they can be identified. This photo has therefore been taken from the Pixum website.

The photo books from Pixum would make an excellent addition to any family album collection. Whether, like mine they are to capture the first few months or year of your new baby’s life, your favourite family photos, holidays, your wedding or even just an amazing day out, they’re perfect to capture those all important memories within and so they aren’t just confined to your computers files and folders. They’re also easy to put together, with a step by step guide to help you arrange your photo book exactly how you want it and if you’re worried about photo quality there is even a widget that will tell you if the photo quality of a certain sized photo will be too low, which is handy. There are plenty of editing tools available too, along with themed pages, not to mention different sizes and styles of photo book. Plus they start from just £5.99 so suit pretty much any budget!

Another image from the Pixum website – makes me fancy a trip to Ibiza actually!

Please note I was given a voucher to the value of £25 with which I purchased the above mentioned photo book for review purposes. For further information regarding my disclosure policy, please click on the Disclosure tab above.

14 weeks old

Well 14 weeks and 4 days if you’re counting! My gorgeous little monkey is growing by the minute! At 3 months (13 weeks) he was 64cm long, a 10cm gain on his birth length and he’s definitely filling out too, going from a skinny legged baby to one with those adorable little rolls of chubbiness – I love those little legs!

He’s desperate to sit up unaided and pulls himself up when he’s in his playring and shouts in frustration when he can’t quite hold himself up there as long as he wants to. He does the same while on your lap and unless he’s tired he doesn’t want to lay back on you, he has to be sitting or standing the whole time which is doing my bingo wings the world of good, especially as he’s developed a love of being bounced when he’s standing up or “flying” – both of which have him laughing and squealing in delight.

He spends time on his tummy, around 5 to ten minutes a day. He can hold his head up and rocks back and forth as if willing himself to move forward. We need a playmat so he can go on the floor, so at present it’s my bed on his changing mat, but he doesn’t complain! His new game is holding his head up and grinning at you before hiding it on the mat and giggling – this can go on for the entire time he’s on his tummy, little monkey!

As you can see his hair has continued to grow but he has a cute bald patch at the back now which looks rather funny coupled with his mullet and mohican – what a look!

He’s had a busy few weeks, his nanny came to meet him for the first time last week and stayed with us for a few days, which was lovely and he took a shine to her immediately. It was a really nice few days despite my worries, we explored the area, had a few gorgeous meals out and as his daddy had time off work it was lovely seeing them together for such a long time rather than him rushing back to work after his days off. Yesterday we went to the zoo, the sun was shining for the first time this Easter holiday so off we went and it was a great day out. The baby loved it because he could see and hear kids running around having fun and squealed at them in excitement and gawped at the animals, probably wondering what on earth they were. He’s usually asleep when we’re out and of course we haven’t taken him anywhere like a zoo before so it was a real experience for him and he seemed to enjoy himself. He was so tired when we got home that he was in bed before 9pm, which if you read this blog you’ll know is unheard of before 10pm at night!

He’s lying here next to me in his chair and was snoring away and cuddling his favourite toy, then he opened his eyes and beamed at me. I know I’m biased but he is utterly adorable!

Listography: April Goals

Taking the lead from Kate over at Kate Takes 5 who in this weeks listography set herself some goals for the month of April, I’ve decided to do the same. Mine are nowhere near as adventurous as some, I have a 3 month old baby, getting dressed every day and remembering to pick my daughter up from the school bus is an achievement these days! But it won’t hurt to have a few goals to try to achieve this month:

  1. Exercise 3 times a week. I have a wedding to go to which has snuck up on me after having the little one and so far I’ve only averaged two exercise sessions a week. I really need to step it up and get my rather large rear end off the sofa and get it moving – or wobbling as the case may be!
  2. Spend more time with my daughter without a baby in my arms. The baby is adorable but he demands a lot of my time, my daughter deserves a bit of time with me on her own, or without his needs overtaking hers, even if just for half an hour or so. We have a few fun things planned this half term which I’m hoping will go some way to achieve that in the short term and in the long term I’ll be roping the man in to look after the little one for a few hours a month so the daughter and I can have a bit of girly time on our own.
  3. Do extra school work with the daughter. Having moved schools and been part of an international school system, her school work is suffering, despite her teachers reassurance otherwise. I know what my daughter is capable of and she isn’t doing as well as I know she is capable of doing. I am armed with English curriculum school books for all her subjects and unfortunately for her I’m not afraid to use them.
  4. Register the little one at the health centre (this involves a massive amount of paperwork and visits to numerous municipal buildings so trust me this would be an achievement!) and book his 4 month injections.
  5. Lose 4lb this month. I have no expectations of losing a stone a month these days, a pound a week will do me nicely thank you!

So there you have it, my 5 goals for April this month, told you they weren’t particularly exciting!

12 weeks old

I love those little feet!

The baby turned 12 weeks old on Sunday and has not sat still for longer than a few minutes over the last week or so! He is constantly on the move and if he isn’t he wants to be and shouts until you help him to sit up or let him stand on your legs or you bounce him up and down etc. Because of this he can’t be left for even a trip to the loo as he has already toppled his bouncy chair over, although thankfully his dad caught him in time, and his new trick is to throw himself backwards in his play ring until it flies up and over him – again we’ve managed to catch him in time but the boy needs to be pinned down or something to stop me having a nervous breakdown or him doing himself an injury!

He is loving trying to sit up and whether he’s in his ring, on your lap, on his changing mat or in his chair he is constantly pulling himself up, sometimes successfully, into a sitting position before collapsing back down again. He loves it when I sing (no idea why it sounds like a cat being strangled!) nursery rhymes or even sing along to the radio and music tv and loves it even more if I make his hands do little actions and tickle him as I sing. (His laugh is still my favourite sound in the world) He reaches out for toys and can hold on to them for increasingly long amounts of time before ramming them into his mouth. He ‘s discovered he can poke his tongue out now too by the looks of it because he’s often doing it then bursting into laughter when you catch him.

I changed his wardrobe over from 0-3 to 3-6 months so he looks tiny again in sleepsuits with flappy feet and that are too long in the arm and his new size 3 nappies practically go round his waist twice despite being for babies 9 – 20lbs. Just packing away his gorgeous little outfits and vests makes me want another one, he’s growing way too fast for my liking!

Last night we had a breakthrough/fluke with his sleeping. Instead of 10.30/11pm he was in his cot by 9pm! It gave me my arms back for the evening which was great and I curled up on the sofa, watched a new dvd and chatted on facebook/read magazines, it was heaven! Fingers crossed it continues from now on!

We’ve been using a baby carrier this week in preparation for using it when we are at the airport on our way to my sisters wedding in a few months and it’s certainly helping me get a bit more housework done as when he’s in the carrier it means I don’t have to sit next to him the whole time incase he throws himself out of his chair again. He’s not overly keen on it but it’s a novelty for the first half an hour or so. He even fell asleep in it the other day on our first trip to the supermarket, hopefully  it will do the trick when we’re at the airport!