Monday, 31 December 2012

Another year over

Another year is ending and as I sit and reflect on events from the past year, Is wonder what the new year will hold for me.

Without dwelling on anything too much, 2012 had lots of ups and down; very much like most years I suppose.  It's been too easy for me to just think about the negatives from the past year, but I don't want to start a new year feeling like that.  There have been struggles and tensions which are usually money related but lots of good times with the children too.  My youngest started walking, my older boys have won trophies for kickboxing, and we've had a few swimming successes.  In fact, just before Christmas my 5 year old did his 25 metre swimming badge which is utterly amazing as in the summer he was afraid to put his face in the water!

                   

My oldest learnt to ride his bike, and my youngest took took a huge step just before Christmas when he gave all his dummies to the Christmas Fairy.

We've enjoyed a fabulous holiday at Coombe Mill in Cornwall (which I won) and we've spent an amazing weekend at Bluestone National Park Resort in Wales where we visited The Kingdom of the Elves.

On the feed run at Coombe Mill

Santa is under there somewhere.....

It has been a really good year!

But it's now time to say goodbye to this year and look forward to the next.  So what's in store for us?  I wish I knew that but all I can do now is try to make the most of it.  I never usually make resolutions but there are a few things I'd like to do for the year ahead.

This is the year that I am determined to become more organised.  It doesn't come naturally and as I spoke about it early last year, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'll never manage it.

I'm going to try with a few small things.

Firstly, I am finally going to meal plan.  I've managed to save a bit of money this year by changing my food shopping habits but I still feel that I'm wasting money by not having a meal plan.  I'm going to do some research online to try to come up with interesting ideas for meals.

Secondly, hubby and I started writing down everything we spent before Christmas to see where we can save some money.  I've already had a look at free online budget plans/spreadsheets so we can do this properly from now on.

Finally, I need a bit more organisation for my blogging and competition entering.  They are my only real hobbies but I feel that I need to allow myself set times to get things done.  It's something that I think I'll need to work on a bit as there's going to be a lot of organisation for me to fit everything in.  I think I need to get involved a lot more with everything.

I can't be too rigid in my plans as I'm easily bored so need a bit of flexibility in there.  If you have any tips or ideas that could help me then I'd love to hear them.

I'll keep you posted.

Happy New Year to you!


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Has anyone got a magic wand?

I need someone to wave it over me. I promise to be back by midnight.

I don't know how many times I've started writing this post only to delete it and start again.  I'm struggling to string a sentence together and my thought processes are all over the place.  It's kind of how I feel in general at the moment.  I feel like I'm going round in circles trying to get organised for the big day next week.  I'm just not succeeding.  I feel very stressed and have spent the last 24 hours not knowing whether to cry or scream.

I've tried making a list, but I keep adding and adding to it so that it's beginning to look like an impossible task.  I've tried actually doing things, like wrapping presents, but I look at the mountain of stuff in front of me and feel sick.  I've tried burying my head in the sand but that gets me nowhere.  So what do I do?

I do realise that I'm highly unlikely to be the only person feeling like this at the moment.  It's supposed to be a magical time of year, but for most parents the pressures of money and time weigh heavily on our shoulders.

Yesterday I felt like running away.

Christmas just doesn't feel right this year.  My parents aren't looking forward to it as my uncle is seriously ill, so we won't be spending Christmas Day with them.  It's so upsetting for everyone and I'm struggling to just carry on as normal.  Though I have to because my three lovely boys are very excited at the prospect of Santa stopping by.

I didn't want this to be a miserable post but it's starting to head that way so time to change tack and look at the positives.

My shopping is just about done, except for a few fresh food items that I need to get on the weekend.  My boys are unbelievably excited and even though they get a little wound up at times, it's lovely to watch.

And, hubby has bought me some surprise Christmas presents!  I haven't got a clue what he's got for me but he's got a lot of making up to do as he forgot our Wedding Anniversary last month.  Though even that wasn't all bad as I received my latest item of jewellery for the Tru Diamonds Trendsetter competition

This stunning ring arrived the actual day of my Anniversary (at least somebody loves me ;-)


It fits!
Isn't it gorgeous?  It's just like the famous Kate Middleton engagement ring so I decided that if I'm going to wear it then I need to pretend that I am a princess.  I just need some museums to open, and possibly speak at a few charity events..... Hmm, maybe that won't work.

At least I can shine in work....
Decorating the office tree in Tru Diamonds





















It is a very pretty ring that attracts attention wherever I go.  When I posted the photo of it on Facebook, everyone thought that hubby had bought it for me and I had a few comments from men saying that their partners were nagging them for a ring for their next anniversary.  I did admit eventually that he hadn't bought it for me, but it would have been the perfect gift if he had.  I've been leaving my computer page open on the Tru Diamonds website in the hope that he'll take the hint and possibly buy me some nice earrings to match.

For now, I'll have to settle for pretending that I'm a princess and planning what I could do, and wear.  And also how I wouldn't have to wrap those three thousand presents in the next few days; or do my own shopping.  A girl can dream.....  For now, I'll sip my glass of wine, and keep writing my lists.

Will you be getting any surprise gifts for Christmas, and if so, what are you hoping for?



Princess style
Princess style






Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Feel like a princess every day

Before I had children I was under the illusion that my life would change that much.  How naive I was.  At three months pregnant I went out and bought myself two pairs of stiletto heeled boots, determined that I would be a cool and trendy mum to be.  At seven months pregnant I walked into the same shoe shop and demanded a pair of flat shoes.  The sales assistant asked if I wanted to try them on.  Try them on?  I couldn't bend over that far (well, not in public for the sake of my own dignity).  I just took them.  My high heels didn't see the light of day for quite some time.

By eight and a half months pregnant all rings had also been removed due to my fingers swelling.  I was gutted as I've always loved my jewellery; but at least that was one thing I could surely keep wearing post children, right?  Wrong!  I discovered the hard way that small children love pretty, sparkly things when my son nearly throttled me with my necklace.  So that was the end of that.  I got so used to not wearing any jewellery other than my wedding and engagement rings, that any time I put some on to go out it felt really strange and would inevitably end up being taken off and put in my bag for the rest of the night.

Now my youngest son is two and has stopped being transfixed at the sight of anything shiny, and I feel that it's time to discover my fashion identity again.

I filled out a form on the Tru Diamonds Facebook page to apply to be a Tru Diamonds trend setter and was utterly shocked and amazed when I received an email to say that I was one of the finalists! So now I get to try out some lovely jewellery and tell everyone all about it.  How great is that?

I had followed Tru Diamonds on Twitter for a while before this and loved the concept.

"The world’s finest simulated diamonds, offering a range of superior quality simulated diamond jewellery, inspired by celebrity styles, at an affordable price."

I've got to admit that I love diamonds.  To me they are ooze class and charm.  I want to be Marilyn Monroe when she's holding all those sparkly jewels.


Diamonds are a girls best friend
Unfortunately, however much I may love them, my finances certainly don't.  The only real diamond I have ever owned is the one in my wedding ring.

I always wanted a diamond solitaire necklace.  I used to gaze longingly at the jewellers window displays, but ended up borrowing my sisters to wear on my wedding day.  It just wasn't meant to be.

So imagine my surprise when I opened up the lovely solid cherry wood box to find this little beauty.


It's a 3 carat, platinum clad princess cut pendant and it is absolutely stunning.

My two year old has got so used to seeing me wear it that he brings it to me to put on as soon as I get out of bed in the morning (he also gives my my iPhone; the child has got his priorities right).

It's been so nice to wear jewellery again.  Whether I've just been popping out to take the children to school, dressed in my casual clothes.......

School run

Meeting at work
.......  or dressed up for a meeting at work, my Tru Diamonds necklace has come with me.  It just seems to work with every outfit.  Even when I pop it on under my fleece top on those cold winter mornings, I know it's there and it adds a bit of sparkle and shine to my day.

Even when I get to work in my smart clothes and look down to see that my shoulder is covered in snot and dribble (my childs, not my own), at least I know that no-one will notice that.  All they'll see is the 3 carat diamond glinting in the light.

They'll have no idea that it isn't real, because it looks exactly like a real diamond.  If they wanted to test it, it would even cut glass!  If you don't believe me, just read these testimonials.

I sit and gaze at all the pretty things on the Tru Diamonds website but for once my hubby isn't biting his nails anxiously when he sees the prices.   These diamonds aren't just a girls best friend.

Celebrities wear simulated diamonds so they don't have to worry about security, and nobody is any the wiser.  If they can get away with it then so can I.  I've just got to remember to keep my mouth shut and nobody will ever know that they aren't the real deal......



Monday, 19 November 2012

ClaireaBella bag review

I was recently asked to review a ClaireaBella bag for Toxic Fox. I'd seen them advertised and loved the idea of having a bag that can be personalised to look like its owner. I was sent his gorgeous dinky bag, and even though I wasn't able to personalise it, I think it looks exactly like me! (in my dreams)

This is the ClaireaBella Polo jute bag and is quite small at 21cm wide by 15cm high. It is hand crafted and the detail is amazing. Every bag is made to your specification and includes a bow, a silver charm, Swarovski Elements and is very sparkly. You can choose from different hair styles, hair colour, dress colour, eye colour and skin tone.

When it arrived I wondered about the size as it would only really fit my purse, phone and lipgloss. But apparently that is the done thing as the girls from TOWIE have shown (though they don't have three snotty, chocolate covered children hanging off them either).

I would love one of the larger jute or canvas bags that ClaireaBella make. I need plenty of room for my wipes, tissues, nappies, beaker, dummies etc. The bag feels really sturdy and the jute handles are very stong so I'm sure it would be able to take all the paraphanelia that I need to carry around.

The polo bag is fantastic for a girls night out and I'm almost positive that most little girls would love one of their own. In fact, I'm sure it would make a fantastic Christmas present. Just be sure to order in plenty of time as they can take up to 15 days to produce as they are 'handmade with love'.

Disclaimer: I was sent this bag to review and keep but all opinions are honest and are my own.

 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Am I just mum?

I adore my children but sometimes feel like life becomes very monotonous and mundane. Every so often I feel like I need to do something different just to prove to myself that I do exist. It might sound a bit dramatic but days of school runs, cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing and refereeing fights that break out between the boys just all seem to roll into one. I spend most days answering constant 'why' questions, and I can go from one week to the next without having a decent conversation with my hubby.

My children are amazing and I love to listen and watch as as they learn and grow; but I would like to think that I am bringing then up to be independent. They are part of me but not an extension of me, and they will have their own lives without me one day. I am independent. I don't go running to anyone when I need something and I do not see my husband as my 'other half'. he is half of the relationship, not half of me. I am a complete person. I want my boys to feel the same.

I relish the evenings when the children are in bed and the house is all quiet (and if that makes me sound like a bad mother then I don't really care). The problem is that I'm usually so tired by this point that I end up going to bed soon after them.

My life is busy. I work in my office job two days a week, I do a bit of childminding on the other days, I've got three children of my own and the oldest two have after school activities which I take them to. I've got a blog (stating the obvious), I spend some time every day entering competitions, and believe it it not, I actually try to find time to see my friends too. There's some days where I don't actually sit down until long after the children are in bed.

I'm not someone who cleans constantly. In fact, if you came to my house most days it's a bit of a mess. It's really hard to keep on top of all those grubby fingerprints. I spend a lot more time thinking about cleaning than actually doing anything. So it's not like I could really cut back. I do have some standards. I do the washing and ironing on the weekends, but there's always more to do.

At the moment I'm supposed to be sorting things out ready for Christmas. We're trying to get rid of all the clutter so I've been sorting clothes (the baby clothes have now gone *sob*), old toys and games and now I've got loads of stuff to put on eBay. I just wish it wasn't all so time consuming. I do feel better when I am organised, but that doesn't happen very often.

The problem is that I feel like I need a break sometimes. I know that if I spent more time cleaning, and more time eBaying, then the house would look much better. But what about me? I already feel a bit frayed at the edges as I try to split myself so many different ways.

I recently read a comment where a mother was called a bitch for wanting and expecting some 'me' time. What is so wrong with that? I'd happily have a year off at the moment! My boys are the most important things in the world to me, but I'm still a person too. I'm not just mum. I like to think that my old self is still buried away in there somewhere.

Maybe I'm having an early mid life crisis. I feel like I need some fun and a break from my usual routine. The thought of doing the school run on Monday fills me with dread. Then off to work where nothing ever changes, then back home to sort out squabbling children before the nightmare that is the bedtime routine. Then replay that day for Tuesday too.

So what do I do? How do you manage to find a good balance, or is it even possible where young children are involved? Am I being totally selfish by wanting some time to be me?

Disclaimer: I wrote this post while feeling totally fed up in an early Saturday morning after a seemingly endless half term week. I may have just got up on the wrong side of the bed.



Tuesday, 30 October 2012

5 New Fantastically Gruesome Boys Halloween Costumes For 2012

Halloween is upon us again and so is the need to get the kids kitted out with new and gruesome Halloween costumes. I've taken a look through various new product lines that have been launched since last October and have compiled below, 5 of my favourite costumes for boys that will be big sellers this Halloween.

Child Lab Rat Costume
Now, if it is your goal to find a Halloween costume that is gruesome, this may well be your first port of call. The Lab Rat costume creates visions of lab experiments gone wrong in The Fly kind of way. Featuring a realistic looking mask, I would be surprised if this costume is not a big seller this October.

The Lab Rat costume is available in 3 sizes and comprises of a biohazard lab coat with green markings, sleeves with part fur and an attached furry top. The mask is very cool looking and has complete overhead coverage. It is made from vinyl and has attached fur just like the top.

Heartless Ninja Costume

This outfit is a little different, the idea is the ninja character has become embroiled in a battle so treacherous that his still beating heart has been ripped from his chest. I like this one, it is a step away from typical vampires and the like.

The heartless Ninja costume is available in 2 sizes and includes a black top, a green and gold coloured vest with section to show the heart has been ripped from the chest, a pair of black trousers, shoe covers, leg and arm cuffs and a ninja mask. You'll need to add a pair of black gloves to complete the desired look.

Zombie Doctor Costume

If you are looking for the most dramatic zombie costume for your little one, you'll struggle to find a more startling looking outfit than this. One of the most blood curdling costumes for a kid on the market today, this ensemble will be the spotlight of any party.

The Zombie Doctor costume comes in 2 different sizes and is deliciously gory for this Hallowen season. The costume comes in six parts, the surgical hat being the only standard item. Also included are the tattered blood spattered top, ripped open to expose the dramatically moulded vinyl chest piece, with exposed ribs and intestines; the trousers with another moulded piece, exposing the muscles and knee joint, a blood drenched lab coat, pair of surgical gloves and finally the terrifying overhead zombie mask of the undead.

Spina Tap Costume
The Spinal Tap costume has certainly come a long way since the days where you painted yourself green and threw on your tattiest, old clothing. The Spinal Tap costume sets itself apart from any other kids Frankenstein costumes on the market with it's gory and gruesome nature which is brought to life with glowing lights protruding from within the deep and dark cavity of the gaping chest wound. Rest assured your kids will think this is a cool costume.

The Spinal Tap costume is available in 3 different sizes and is a unique looking children’s outfit. It comes with a scary looking jacket with attached shirt front revealing a rib cage and boasts a moulded chest piece with a fully-functioning light up heart, a pair of contrasting coloured trousers and a terrifying Frankenstein face mask.

Werewolf Costume

This Werewolf costume is a great modern take on the traditional werewolf outfit. In the short time that we have stocked it at Jokers' Masquerade it has proven to be very popular. We recommend adding a little black face paint around the eyes to help the eyes blend in with the mask.

The werewolf costume comes in 3 different sizes. It features an excellent vinyl chinless mask, which makes this outfit so much better than other werewolf costumes on the market today. It offers great attention to detail from the bloodied wolf teeth and realistic fur. A shirt with realistic werewolf chest splitting through the fabric design offers a 3 dimensional effect and reveals a very believable wolf under belly. The costume also includes a pair of fingerless gloves. Whoever is wearing the costume will need to wear their own trousers as they are not included. This actually saves all the hassle and worry of wondering if the trousers will be too long or too short or will adequately fit around the waist. They can wear their own pair of favourite jeans or trousers making this a very comfortable and fangtastic looking outfit that will be admired by all their friends.


What do you think about my selection? What are you going to get your boys wearing to go trick-or-treating? Add your comments below.


This boys Halloween costumes guest post was written by Ian Tomkins from Jokers' Masquerade . The above costumes do not fit him even though, in one ear ripping instance, he did try.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Coombe Mill - part 2

One of the best bits of staying at Coombe Mill was the feed run every morning which my boys thoroughly enjoyed.  But the is more to Coombe Mill than the animals.

On our first night there we went for a wander around the grounds and the children were delighted to find this fantastic play area.  There was a pirate ship and a trampoline and lots of muddy puddles for the little one to jump in (though these are weather dependant!)  It was hard to get the children out of there but as it was getting late, and we were all starving I bribed them with chocolate appealed to their better nature to get them to come back to out fabulous Scandinavian Lodge.

Ship Ahoy!
The Scandinavian Lodges are amazing.  The one we stayed in could sleep up to seven people so there was lots of room.    The living/kitchen/dining area was open plan and the full ceiling height made it even more spacious.  It was like a home from home as the kitchen was fully equipped with every appliance including a washing machine and tumble dryer, making those wet, muddy days so much easier and I could throw it all in the wash.  

The decking outside our lodge
Popping into reception was great as there were lots of things there to borrow or buy.  From bread and milk to homemade meals and desserts to buy.  Wellies, potties, games to borrow.  There's no need to pack your car with everything your little one needs as most of it is available to borrow on a first come first served basis.

I mentioned one of the play areas earlier; well that's not the only one.  There was another outdoor play area right next to our lodge.  The children would go racing off to it at any opportunity.  My oldest just loved the zip wire and the younger two loved the swings and climbing frame.  There's a baby swing here too which my little one thoroughly enjoyed.







If the weather is really bad there is an indoor play area.  We did have a look but never used it as, even though we stayed in October, the weather wasn't too bad, and even if it was raining the kids didn't care and would be outside playing with their waterproofs on.



We had lots of fun at Coombe Mill but we did spend some time exploring the surrounding areas.  It took us a while to get used to the narrow country lanes (though I do think that some of them could have been avoided if we hadn't followed our sat nav!), but we found some absolutely beautiful areas.  From Port Isaac on a drizzly day......














To the amazing Polzeath beach.  Who would have thought that it's October!!  The children adored it here.

 We also found a lovely little model railway museum and my train obsessed 2 year old can't believe his eyes.

We ended our week with a visit to Padstow for fish and chips, followed by ice-cream.  


Rain or shine, there is so much to do whether you stay on the farm, or go exploring.  This was my first visit to  Cornwall (and Coombe Mill) but it certainly won't be my last.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The perfect weather to ride a bike

Today it was son number two's turn to learn to ride his bike.  We taught my oldest to ride his back in the summer and it took a week of hard work before it really clicked and we're hoping that it's the same this time.

The weather was beautiful today so we packed the car with two bikes, a trike and three children and we set off for our local Country Park.  It's the perfect place to learn to ride a bike as there's lots of straight bits and it's mostly flat.

Firstly, a pep talk from dad.  Let's hope it works.
 And we're off!                                                                                                                                              
He's a bit wobbly, but he'll soon get the hang of it.


Oops! Daddy let go.
The other boys are having fun though.

No help needed here.
No pictures please!


My oldest and youngest boys were my responsibility today while hubby took on the back breaking task of holding on to that bike.  He wasn't allowed to let go as Ethan would panic so, for today, he held on to it.  We did have to take a few breaks from all that hard work.  


Watching the ducks
Can't break for too long though; must get back to the task in hand.  Ethan is doing really well too.  He just needs a bit more confidence and then he'll be off.


Time for another break before heading back, and who can blame him with that view?  I sometimes forget how beautiful my local area is.


 Finally, the best bit.  


Ice-cream!!

Do you think the children look a bit cold though?






There's just enough time for some fun in the park before we go home. 




Just pretend we're on a beach in the sun....
 It's going to take a bit more time and effort to finally crack it, but half term is coming up and I'm determined that Ethan will be riding his bike like a pro by the end of it.  Let's hope the weather holds out so he can learn.

I have heard a whisper about an Indian Summer..... Hmmm, I'll believe it when I see it!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall