29 July 2016

Summer holidays in the shire

My Boy is on summer holidays from school. This is GREAT news!! Have been smart this time round and planned each of the 8 weeks independently to ensure we are not too bored or too rushed off our feet at any one time and so far our plan looks a little like this:

Week 1 - Disney!

Week 2 - Doing lots of holiday laundry!, day at forest school and seeing BFF

Week 3 - Nana's birthday trip into Birmingham on the train

Week 4 - Trip to Amerton Farm

Week 5 - Sleepover in Liverpool with Auntie and Niece

Week 6 - Sleepover in Lichfield with Nana

Week 7 - Boy turns FIVE!!!

Week 8 - Trip to Bristol to see uni friends

In between these big things we are playing at home, seeing school friends, running errands, reading our Phonics books and doing some Maths, building Lego models, meeting Husband at work for lunch...just lots of small things that don't involve rushing or stressing or shouting!

So far so good, here's some recent pics...

Husband built Toddler's new bed while we were in France. His time as a baby is long gone...I cried when he sent me this photo!

Am busy preparing for Boy's 5th birthday party. Many other themes were suggested and dismissed, apparently he wants Paw Patrol? Am rolling with it...

Spending lots of time on our bikes and had a great, lazy picnic in Quarry Park before Husband flew to Barcelona for the week. 

This made me giggle!

Trip into Birmingham to celebrate Nana's birthday, man did we pick the wrong train home! Here are my beloved children sitting in a bike storage compartment ;-)

And a little holiday tradition at this home, a new (small!) Lego model. The Boy did good, no grumbles at all whilst building it, that's a first! It will be a different story once he notices that Toddler got hold of it while he was watching Ninjago though...

And that's Week 3 underway...don't slip away too fast, dear holidays, we love you so!!

28 July 2016

Disney Livin'...!

So, before I could blink, the trip I was soooo looking forward to has been and gone. Just like that. Isn't it always the way? Now have 'next-holiday syndrome' which means I am spending my evenings on the computer browsing villas and flights and at any dangerous moment could click 'purchase'. I'm not gonna lie, it could be expensive... :-S

Summer 2016 was a trip to Disneyland Paris. And it was AMAZING!!

Nana and I had our reservations. Friends of ours had been and had said 'urgh, hell on earth' and 'it's an acquired taste, not for us...' so after initially being super excited we were feeling a bit of trepidation as we boarded the flight. Would it be mental busy? Would we lose a child? Would we be hot and miserable and cranky? 

We flew from Birmingham Airport so Husband dropped us off at 7.30am on Friday morning. We cleared security ASAP and then performed the obligatory act of 'tire out the small people before they get strapped into a chair for an hour...' Yawn!

We landed, caught our shuttle bus, got dropped off at the front door of the hotel by 2pm...perfect! We were a bit early for check-in but a room was available (thank you Disney God!) so we quickly unpacked our bags while the boys squealed about the fact that there was a TV in our room (bless, little country mice!!) 

Now, here's the deal. I reckon hardcore Disney fans who are full of the joys of spring and intent on their kids experiencing every single second of Disney-joy that they possibly can, would probably have packed a backpack right about now and headed straight to the park for 9 hours of fun...not us. My children do NOT do well on little sleep...and therefore neither do I! Nana was all for the relaxed approach after a morning of travel so we grabbed a snack and a drink in the hotel bar then threw on our swim gear and had 2 hours in the hotel pool (which was almost EMPTY due to all the hardcore Disney fans being at the park!!)

After a buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant we popped the boys to bed at 8.30pm (which is already pretty late for them both) and enjoyed a sneaky drink in the bathroom. Travelling with kids. What a hoot. 

Next morning, however, we were ready to GO! We had set the alarm and were down at the breakfast buffet by 7.15am. Must say at this point, the buffet was incredible. Everything you wanted, friendly staff, child-friendly...and tonnes of little bits and pieces you could throw in your backpack for snacks throughout the day! Disney can be expensive if you snack here and there throughout your time in the park but if you're smart, take snacks and fill up your water bottles at the drinks fountains and BAM, out the door. I had packed enough snacks for the 5 days in my checked holdall but we did grab some fruit and croissants from the buffet too...I felt incredibly guilty for the first 2 days until I saw a German Mama make up 12 sandwiches and pack them all up into sandwich bags without even blinking! After that I didn't feel quite so bad ;-)

A perk of staying in the Disney hotels is that you get extra hours (8-10am) in the park before the general public arrive. I had gone into the whole trip saying we wouldn't plan, we wouldn't micro-manage the itinerary...thing is, once I got there it became a competition with myself to get to as many awesome rides as we could before the queues started to form. I had to slap myself!

On the whole, the boys were young enough to just wander and hop onto whichever ride we found that didn't have a large queue...I can well imagine that older children would have a definite plan which might involve queuing or frustrations...? We weren't prepared to wait 60 mins for Peter Pan at 9.20am on the Saturday morning but on Sunday morning we got there by 8.07am and went on it THREE times without queuing at all. Boy nearly pee'd his pants. Pan is his hero!!

When we'd booked the holiday we had bought 'half-board meal vouchers' which can be used at almost all the restaurants in the park (and are a 'must' if you ever visit, set menus are at least £25 a head for adults in every place we saw so dinner bills would have soon added up to an eye-watering total!) For some bizarre reason, Toddler didn't qualify for vouchers (maybe in France two year olds don't eat??) so we did have to pay for his dinners but £20 rather than £80 was fine!

We spotted quite a few Disney characters around the park that the boys could have queued up to meet but Boy wasn't bothered either way so I was damned if I was going to insist he stand in the heat. The concierge at our hotel had suggested the Disney Cafe as an alternative so on Sunday evening we headed here.

The Disney Cafe was fun, five characters came out and walked around the tables throughout the meal. It was relaxed and noisy (which normally I hate but when you have two, small, tired people who are VERY excited to meet Minnie Mouse it helps if no-one can hear them shrieking above their own children!!) When Minnie approached our table Toddler seemed a bit confused and clingy and Boy jumped so far behind Nana he was almost inside her tshirt!! By the end of the evening he was happily trying to pull their noses off, though. From one extreme to another...

The one and only person we queued to see, Toddler's beloved Buzz! We had ridden the Buzz ride three times on Saturday afternoon so on Monday, when we saw him at the Walt Disney Park he decided he MUST stand in the queue to meet him. 40 mins in 36' heat? Sure. I'd love to. But do you know, they didn't grumble once!! It was either the promise of Buzz, impending heat stroke or simple fatigue on their third day of excitement?! Either way, worth it. Toddler got stage fright and wouldn't let go of Nana's hand but Boy was right in there saying hello. Very cute!

After Buzz we found this baby outside Chez Remy...guess how long it was before Boy dunked his hat in and poured the contents over his head?! It was HOT! I was so tempted to copy him... 

Sent this screen shot to Husband (who had flatly refused to join us on this trip due to a) crowds b) heat and c) French people! How rude!) He replied with something along the lines of 'Good job I didn't come, then, I'd have exploded!' Ha ha!

So there you have it. A quick recap of our trip. It's not full of insider info and great tips because I don't really have anything new to say that you can't find on Pinterest. There were hundreds of families with sleeping children in pushchairs after 8pm...ours were in bed almost on time every night apart from one naughty trip to see the fireworks at 11pm...but that's because they are horrible without enough sleep and I'm a control freak so...you gotta do whatever works for your family!

In conclusion, awesome trip. Quick flight, only 1 hour time difference, super friendly and helpful staff (French people but who have to pretend to be American and SUPER happy all the time, ha!), loads to keep the kids busy and relatively easy to keep costs down once you're there (I had heard horror stories about the price of things!) We will definitely go again.

24 July 2016


It is not lost on me that my last post was all about scheduling some writing time and making sure that the blog wasn't left unattended for weeks on end... *tumble weed.

Apologies. End of term crept up on me, whizzed by in a whirlwind of tears and hugs and before I knew it we were at the airport for Disney. Then, once we got home it was endless laundry, tidying up the mess Husband had made in the 5 days I was away, stocking the fridge...you know how it goes.

Anyway, here's a Sunday morning update whilst the Boys are enjoying their one lazy morning of TV. I have a LOT of photos for you!

Life in the shire...

Newport Show was indeed an awesome day out. We went with Posh Mama and her crew and, whilst muddy in places (it rained all night the night before!), it was sunny and warm while we were there and the kids had a blast. Fun! If you've never been, I strongly recommend you get the info for next year here.

(Toddler fell asleep in my arms, now THAT's tired!)

(No chicks were squished during the taking of photos for this blog)

Disney was a blast. I shall blog more about it tomorrow, but bearing in mind Nana and I both had reservations before we went...we loved it! The weather helped, obvs, but it was a great time away. 

I finally got to M&S to pick up my purchases. The trousers were £14.50 and AMAZING (can't find a photo online now??) The jumper was £18 and...hmm...while I WANT to love it because it's so 'cool', I'm just not convinced I'll wear it? It's also kind of thick and doesn't 'hang' as I'd like? Am holding onto it for one more week...then I'll make a decision!

Cotton Rich Loose Fit Palm Print Top Clothing
(Should I stay or should I go?)

I got to escape the shire for a blissful 6 hours to meet a bestie from university who was visiting Birmingham for work. Shops, dinner out, huge glass of wine, no-one asking me to help them with their pants when I went for a wee...priceless!

Toddler has been a bit poorly with a snotty nose/fever type thing recently so has been playing quietly in the playroom a bit more than usual. This Mama went in to check on him the other day and found this...

...he obviously takes after me, not Husband (leaves things wherever his heart desires and skips off...)

We discovered 'Charlie's' store in Shrewsbury. Granted, we are decades behind every other fecker who lives here but it's still quite exciting. Think The Range meets B&M meets Countrywide, madness! Boy didn't share my glee...

Toddler brought me a hair bobble and asked to be just like his big brother...

Husband has been working late a lot (or having an affair, time will tell..!) so healthy dinners continue...

And we have been making the most of the glorious weather while it lasts. Luckily, both boys take after the maternal bloodline and tan (Husband explodes into flames if he's outside for longer than 10mins on a nice day!)

Our bedroom was finally decorated while we were in France (Husband spent 2 nights sleeping in a single bed in the Boys' space bedroom, loon!) so now I'm on an interiors mission. We need new bedside tables, new lamps, new photo frames to get some artwork up...and I have a budget of £25! Ikea, here we come! 

(Love this lamp!)

Had Nana over for a BBQ tea yesterday, such a fun, relaxed afternoon in the garden. The bathwater actually turned black when I bathed the boys at 6pm! Husband broke his favourite folding chair; Nana nearly choked on her burger laughing!!

Boy had a fun game of 'chicken' with the local fountains on Friday! I was convinced he was going to get caught but didn't intervene because a) it was pretty warm so he'd dry fast and b) he was having such a fun time I couldn't bring myself to stop him! That kid is water daft!!

And hot, summer days mean sunny purchases. Boy's first flip-flops. We went out for 'cheap' summer shoes to throw on in the garden and once he saw these, he was sold. 'Oh Mama, they're just like Daddy's!!' How could I say no?

Two problems. 1 - he looks so grown up in them I keep crying and 2 - he gets so angry at them when they fly off his feet that he's had three temper tantrums in 36 hours!! Give me strength!!

And that's us up to date. I don't need to feel so guilty now ;-)

Tomorrow I will return with Disney news (what? I will!) and let you know how I got on at Ikea. Wish me luck. Ikea will be fine. It's Husband's attitude I'm anxious about...

Have a great Sunday x

12 July 2016

News from the shire

(Possibly need to read this?)

So, at the start of July I sat down and tried to make a rough plan of all the posts I was going to write and post in the coming weeks. Regularly do I find myself in a bit of a blog-slump and I'd read an interesting article discussing whether people should blog as and when inspiration came their way or if they should follow this planned-out approach...and it occurred to me that if I went with the former I would simple never sit down and write anything, ever. I am always busy, I never think I have anything of importance to say, I struggle to focus when I DO sit down at the computer... So I made a list of posts and ideas.

We're almost half way through the month and already I've missed 2 planned posts. Bugger it!

The ideal situation would be to make the plan and then write the posts in advance, scheduling them to post at certain times. I've just figured out how to do that!! But again, it's finding the time.

Anyway, here I am, and I apologise.

We are in the final few days of school and I feel a bit stressed. It seems to have crept up on me and all of a sudden I have a looooong list of 'things to do' before Thursday at 12pm. Why is it that we never have any wrapping paper, for example? And somehow, the decision to not buy the paint for our bedroom 4 weeks in advance because it would have been daft has seamlessly turned into oh crap, I haven't bought the paint for our bedroom and we fly on Friday morning... Madness.

I also realised that there's a world of swimming costumes out there, so why do I still own a Slazenger item that I hate? (I know the answer to this, it's because I currently swim, ooh, twice a year at Centre Parcs!) About the same time that I decided I needed to buy a new swimming costume for Disney or I'd die, I realised that, while I had indeed ordered Toddler a new bed and mattress and duvet cover...I had failed to buy him a DUVET! I mean, really? I despair...

(Swim suit from Boden)

So yes, tomorrow is Boy's final full day in Kindergarten and Toddler and I need to make the very most of it by ticking off 6 different jobs. Then I've got to wrangle them both to the hairdresser's house for a trim. Figured there's no real point TAKING Boy to Disney Land if he can't bloody SEE anything when he gets there??

(We're currently at this stage but blonde!)

On Thursday he finishes school at lunchtime and once I've pulled him off his teacher's leg, stopped myself from sobbing all over her and sorted the small matter of laying up lunch for 27 people (again, my own stupid fault, I came up with the idea, now I'm left organising the bloody thing!) then we are free and clear for an entire 8.5 weeks. God, I can not wait. My baby, all mine, yes!

In other news, Auntie had a great time in Cyprus and has come home with an incredible tan. I totally forgot she was going so got rather pissy when she didn't reply to my texts last week...oops! I'm not sure exactly what they did while they were away as every photo she posted of my Niece on Facebook included an iPad...?? Who knows...

Goddaughter stood up in church today to do a reading, she is FIVE, and she nailed it. Her mum (BFF) and I just sat and wept through the entire thing, waaaahh! And Boy, MY Boy, won a prize for most progress in Kindergarten class. When the Headmaster announced his name I made a weird squeaky noise like a hamster??? Then wept again. Disaster!

(Rubbish photo from my rubbish replacement iPhone while mine is getting fixed, but that's my blonde-haired genius coming down the steps...!)

And that's all really. Got a bit waylaid last night reading Kat's blog and instead of writing out my packing list for Thursday I wound up on M&S shopping...

Denim Wide Leg Belted Trousers Clothing
Cotton Rich Loose Fit Palm Print Top Clothing

...and somehow bought these items. LOVE the trousers, they remind me of a pair I had in high school and I'm desperate for them to arrive and fit so I can wear them with bright white trainers. And, oddly, I suspect I will hate the jumper when it comes, but I was totally drawn to it so thought, what the hell, I'll try it on. We shall see, more as it develops...

Right, Husband is out late with clients and I must go and investigate the dryer. I think I used too much softener and the smell is...just not right? Who even know too much softener was even a thing? But it's def not right so I had better go and see. Also, I have a bottle of cold, white wine waiting for me in the fridge and it's rude to keep people waiting...!

Wish me luck on my mission tomorrow, I just need Toddler to play ball and I'm winning...

8 July 2016

Disney Planning...

To be totally honest, the total amount of Disney planning that I've done to date is as follows:

1. Book a trip to Disney

2. Sort out passports for the boys

3. Panic about losing one or both of them so investing in some GPS tracking devices (which are now pretty useless since I smashed the phone I linked them with, durrh!)

And that's it. Am freakishly blase about it all. I wonder when my natural OCD/travel anxiety is going to kick in?!

My Pinterest board currently looks like this:

Point to note: most of these links all take you to personal blogs and websites that contain exactly the same information. I can't help it, though. Collating many pins is my modern day equivalent of checking out every single book at the big library for each essay I had to write. I'd only ever read one of them (and when I say 'read' here I mean 'skim'...!) but it made me feel infinitely smarter to walk out holding armfuls of heavy books. Safety in numbers, even if I never look at them ;-)

Husband has point blank refused to accompany us (crowds? airports with small people? people speaking a foreign language? No, thanks!) so Nana is coming with me for a second pair of hands. We both speak French, we both handle the boys in a similar manner (this can't be said for my Husband and I) and we're both pretty laid back when things don't go exactly to plan. After last summer's flight up to Inverness when Boy shrieked loudly 'I NEED A WEE, QUICK, QUICK, IT'S COMING OUT!!' the second the seatbelt sign was fastened...on both flights!!...nothing can match that level of stress. Surely?!

I'm sure it'll be an excellent trip and hopefully full of magical memories. The weather looks incredible. I've just got to pack enough emergency pants...and not lose anyone.

In other news here in the shire, tomorrow is the huge Newport Show!! Boy is very excited about all the tractors, the motorcycle displays and the hunt dogs. He has also mentioned the food court A LOT. Toddler is pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, oh to be 2! We will be in the members' tent from 10am, here's hoping they have enough prosecco for the whole day ;-)

Am off to collect Boy from school before having a quick meeting with the Headmaster. This is making me nervous because a) I hate having to broach awkward subjects with people in positions of responsibility and b) I find him oddly attractive and therefore giggle like some ridiculous teenage girl at stupid points in the conversation. Urgh! Wish me luck...

Have a wonderful weekend, friends. See you Monday

4 July 2016

Oh Calamity!

If you're just logging on today and you read this and think 'Oh, my mistake, this is clearly an OLD post, I've DEFINITELY read this before...' then stop. You're not wrong, but this is in fact a NEW post. I have indeed dropped and broken my iPhone. Again.

I was all excited on Saturday night, racing to a friend's house to get ready for yet another ball, Prosecco in hand and bam, my iPhone hit the floor. Sad times. It is still alive because I can hear it pinging when I get a message, but the screen is totally black. FFS. It'll take a fortnight to get it sent off to the insurance company, give me strength. It's only been 48 hours and already I feel like I've left one of the boys behind every time I leave the house...


It's not all bad news, though. Boy only has 9 days left until the summer holidays. Woo! Am trying not to think about the fact that this also means we only have 10 days until we go on holiday...oops!

(This will be me next Thursday evening!)

In ground-breaking, grown-up news I am now the proud owner of this...

I am determined not to shrink my fancy new J Crew jumpers that Husband brought back from Texas so have invested in mature, adult, wool detergent. God help the makers of Woolite if they are harmed in ANY WAY!!

Have Pilates class this evening and must NOT forget to go. Last Monday I remembered when class was already 40mins in...and then felt cross all week. This week I don't even have a phone to ping to remind me so shall be chanting 'pilates at 8, pilates at 8...' for the rest of the day. I'll let you know if it works!

Must dash, am going up to BFFs this afternoon to help her with some village hall admin (don't be jealous!) and Dog has just run past me with a very muddy bone...better chase him!