3 Aug 2016

London on a budget with kids: Blog and Vlog!

So as mentioned in the previous post 'vlogging' is my new passion. Well making videos. I wouldn't go so far as to say I am a vlogger when I have two subscribers on youtube! Haha! 



So The Belgian needed a new passport and they've upped the ante and so he has to go and have an interview with the Belgian embassy in London. It happened to coincide with two inset days at school and so, despite being broke on maternity leave, we decided to make a little mini break of it. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, We were on a strict budget and I did a lot of research before we left and so I thought that I'd put it into a blog post to share it in case it helps someone else planning a trip to London over the holidays. 

So here is the vlog with our new toy the go-pro and the details of our trip are below:-



Top five things to do in London with kids (on a budget):-

1) Natural History Museum - its free and there are big dinosaurs. I have read that there are huge queues on weekends and holidays and so we were really lucky to be able visit during term time. The queue was about fifteen minutes. The building is gorgeous and the facilities - baby changing, cafe, shop - are very family friendly. We only went into the dinosaur exhibit and the insects one briefly as dinosaurs are his main passion.

2) Science Museum - this is right next door to the Natural History Museum. We skipped the proper stuff and just headed straight for kids sensory play area in the basement. We probably spent an hour at the water play and I wish we could build one in our garden as it was so fun and interactive and right up The Toddlers' street. This is a must visit - they even provide you with water proof aprons so that the kids don't get soaked,

3) Queen Elizabeth Park - it was a gorgeous day and the views of the Olympic Park were amazing. This park is amazing and has loads of climbing walls, sandpits, bridges, slides and is above and beyond your average park. The splash pad was a five minute walk away and was so fun and we stayed for ages. We had brought a change of clothes, but the weather was so nice that he literally air dried and we just changed his shorts. The nearest tube stop is Stratford and it was just two stops away from our hotel. 

4) Hamleys - now you may be wondering how this fits in with a budget? Kids in toy stores can be particularly covetous, but it was The Toddlers birthday and so we had told him he could choose any toy for £25 or under. However, this place is magical and there are so many demonstrations and hands on toy tables that most children would be very happy. After exploring every floor he decided he wanted a £1.99 Cars grab bag so that was a result! 

5) Eating out - we opted for the buffet breakfast at our hotel (Travel Lodge, London Docklands) as kids eat free and we really loaded up for the day. These are links to sites telling you where kids can eat for free in London here, here and here. The Belgian got accepted onto a teaching training course and so we wanted to go somewhere nice to celebrate so we went to Bodeans. It is a BBQ smokehouse and offers kids meals free between 12-5 with a paying adult - extra tip get their free Q card from the website and you get a further 20% off. We had drinks and mains and desserts for the kids for three adults and two children and the bill was around £35 - which is a bargain I'd say.



All in all we had an amazing two days and are so glad to have all those happy memories without breaking the bank! 

31 Jul 2016

Mia's birth video

finally got round to editing Mia's birth and I love this video. I only wish we'd had one from our little boy but we only used our phones and so the footage isn't very good. Making videos is my new obsession as it really captures the moment in a way that still images can't always convey. Enjoy...

13 Jul 2016

Num Noms Series 2 Unboxing and Giveaway

I basically only became a teacher due to my love of stationary. In fact growing up my sisters and I all collected rubbers (erasers for my American readers). There was a cute little toy shop in our town called Lornas Toys and we used to literally race the half an hour journey to get there to see if they'd had a new shipment of scented rubbers. Do you remember them? One shaped liked a chocolate milkshake that smelt like it too? Bliss!

So when we received our parcel of Num Noms I don't know who was more excited - my Toddler or me. Check out our unboxing video below - let's just say we won't be going viral on youtube anytime soon! Haha!



These cute little scented mini foods that you can stack in loads of different combinations of flavours. For more detailed check out their website here. Series 2 has just been released and the flavours are almost good enough to eat! We got the Freezie Pop Deluxe Pack which contained 6 freezie pop Nums, 2 motorized Noms, 1 freezie pop container, 1 freezie pop accessory, and 1 collector's menu. My little boy loved the motorized noms the most and enjoyed raising them around on our wooden floor.



We also got a mystery pot which The Toddler loved as its like his favourite surprise eggs. Each pot contains a soft Num and then a Nom that is a stamp or lip gloss. Luckily ours was orange flavoured and was a cute little stamp which he loves to play with. 

I have one of these mystery pots to giveaway to a lucky reader. To be entered just comment below or on my twitter or instagram or facebook telling me what you collected as a child. 

I will announce the winner next Wednesday 20th July. 

Terms and conditions: Only open to UK 

11 Jul 2016

Let's talk about date night...


So we are almost approaching seven whole years of marriage. People talk about the seven year itch, but I think we had a one year inch and found that first year together really tough! Getting used to each others habits and quarrelling about really stupid things like Ikea flat pack and how to squeeze the toothpaste from the tube.

Although having kids together is amazing I find it crazy when people say they're having a baby to save their marriage. Babies and the subsequent lack of sleep is so challenging to any relationship - so you need a solid base in the first place. But it can be so hard not to let raising babies completely consume you and forget to find time for each other. 

So when we got invited to our lovely friend's wedding we decided we'd have a little weekend get-a-way and stay in a hotel. I will admit that at the thin end of the wedge maternity pay wise I was scouring the internet trying to find us a really budget deal. So I was all ready to book a travel lodge and get my 20% cashback via quidco; however when the Belgian googled the location and pointed out that it was in fact next to a service station on the motorway. Romantic! So we upgraded to the Village Hotel. Not a lay by or Little Chef in sight!



We were so glad we made the decision to ditch the kids with my parents and found that what we enjoyed most was that we could actually finish a conversation - a very underrated plus of attending a social event sans kids. Like big deep and meaningfuls, putting the world to rights without tantrums, tears and teething getting in the way. 

We were put on a table with a couple who were juggling a six week old baby and a very lively toddler. We kept catching each others eye as they said things in strained voices like, "its your turn to chase her" or "can I eat my food now?" You could say we were somewhat smug - well smug in the knowledge that we would have fallen out by that point if the kids were involved.



We got to slow dance and remember the 'good old days' together. Some ceroc dancing with the Belgian to cheesy love songs was good for the soul. Plus my outfit remained intact with no snail trails or grubby little fingerprints. Plus I had time to do my make-up and attempt a hair style.  


Back at the hotel room it was a luxuary to have a bath without sitting amongst smelly, mouldy bath toys. No errant bibs, Paw Patrol toys or half drunk baby bottles littering our room. No chores to do before bedtime. I was really looking forward to my lie in in the morning, but for some reason I was awake by seven thirty - typical hey? But at least it wasn't five am and I didn't have a toddler using my head as a bouncy castle.

Last, but least, hotel buffet breakfasts. Enough said.


On our drive back to reality the Belgian said he'd like to do it every month. The grandparents looked pretty exhausted when we got back so not too sure they'd be on board but I think every three months is reasonable - or at least a date night every month. 

And the smile on the Toddler's face when I got back - priceless!



30 Jun 2016

Wild Ones // Temple Newsam


In England you have to make the most of the sunny days and as so on Saturday as the sun shone we decided to head to Temple Newsam in Leeds. I used to go there in my student days and so it was a nice trip down memory lane and great to share it with my little family too. 


We had a picnic and the baby, whose recently been weaned, was hoovering up all the leftovers. Then we explored the gardens of the house and the Toddler enjoyed running around the maze. We even managed a really rare family shot with the self timer. I also love the pictures of the kids with their daddy. We love spending weekends together as a family. 


We got ice-cream as the Toddler is obsessed and always ends up covered in it. The grounds are massive and the Toddler did really well running everywhere and exploring it all, but ended up on daddy's shoulders as it was too much walking! I'm glad to have these photos as after this day out daddy took the Toddler to the hairdresser and cut all his golden locks off. Waaah!










MyWildOnes

24 Jun 2016

You know you're married to a Belgian when...



1) You go through a tub of Nutella a week. At least!

2) They are horrified at the cardboard sold in supermarkets in the 'bread' aisle and that this so-called-bread could have a sell by date that lasts a week. (Can you believe that in Bruges they have bread vending machines as all the shops shut at six?)


 
3) A bum bag in considered an appropriate 'fashion' accessory.

4) They will only drink sparkling water.


 
5) They drive way too close to the car in front.

6) They turn their nose up at waffles (too touristy) and always order pannenkoeken met suiker.


 
7) They are obsessed with football and force your whole family to get dressed up for every game and go crazy when a goal is scored - in Flemmish of course.


15 Jun 2016

The Siblings Project // June 2016


I can't believe that one of the things I was most concerned about, when pregnant, was the bond between these two. I thought that he might be jealous or that he wouldn't be very interested in her until she was mobile.


Well in fact the best thing about having a second baby has been witnessing the bond between the two of them grow. No-one can make her laugh quite like he can. If she's being grizzly we ask him to try and cheer her up and he dances, manically, in front of him singing the Go Jetters theme song, 'go, go, go, go, go, Go Jetters!' She kills herself laughing. She always looks for him in the room and is captivated by all his crazy antics. 
He also enjoys entertaining her by launching himself off the sofa. I think they will be a frightful duo when she is older! Even now she enjoys going high on the swings and going down the slides with us.


Our local park is a bit limited in that it only has a slide and swings and so we have to make up games to amuse ourselves. One of 'their' favourites is putting her at the end of the slide and then he races down and I lift her out of the way just in time. He calls it the 'crash game' and it is requested often, but I do get some looks from the other mothers in the park!


He loves to cuddle her, sometimes it verges on squashing - but I think that he has good intentions! He likes holding her hand and when I pick him up from playgroup he always has a little chat with her in her pram - as if he's missed her. 


In many ways she's a very similar baby to him - in looks and personality. She is very wriggly and always wants to be upright or standing checking everything out. She rocks back and forth on the spot or in your lap desperate to crawl. She is commando crawling now - a very similar age to her brother - and I'm sure it won't be long before she perfects the technique. They sleep in a similar way with their hands above their heads. She is very smiley too and, like her brother, her smile lights up her whole face. They were both very sociable babies too and love having lots of family and friends around.


We ask him, "is she cute?"
"No she's a girl." 
Could be a sign of things to come!
In fact now she is shuffling around she is starting to grab his toys more and chew them and he's not very keen on this, so I can see some sibling rivalry in the future but for now watching their interactions is the sweetest thing ever. In fact it makes my heart very full.



The Me and Mine Project

13 Jun 2016

The Toddler Turns Three...



I always seem to do these updates sporadically, rather than on specific but today I am in time for his third birthday . But I am always glad when I do publish them as you think you will remember all the little things, but already his first year is becoming hazy in my mind and now confused with his sister so some things I want to remember about this age...


For me it is the best age. The terrible two tantrums have calmed down and you make me laugh all the time. You've lost the baby cheeks and dimples and now you've grown into a solid little boy, you look light but are very heavy - must be all the muscles.


Your favourite things to do:

* Go really fast on your scooter down a hill

* Make 'fwends' with older boys at the park or soft play and join in their games

* Complete puzzles for 5 year olds

* Play with other peoples toys

* Make up little stories using his Batman legos or dinosaurs

* Watch tv - especially 'wetwix' and youtube which you call 'game' as you watch it on the tablet and you used to use the tablet to play cbeebies games but now you're all about Thomas and Friends stop motions, Ryan's toy review and watching other people play computer games

* Be chased and play hide and seek - your hiding skills have vastly improved from when you used to hide behind the curtains every time. You barely cover your eyes and say, "1,2,6,9,10 ready I come!" Plus if you don't find him quick enough he shouts, "I'm here!" or just pops out from his hiding place.

* You're obsessed with ghosts and monsters and every random noise is always one or the other.


Your speech has improved a lot this year and you've progressed from saying a few words and phrases to sentences. Some of my favourite things that you have said lately, "mummy I yike your tshirt." "Rara is my favourite." You call upstairs downstairs and nothing will change your mind about that. You sing along to all your favourite cartoon theme tunes and often only actually know a few words and just sing them really loudly - its very cute. 


Your favourite foods are pasta, sausages, fish fingers, chips, pineapple, toast and porridge. When I say we're going to the supermarket you say, "supermarket?Popcorns, sweets, guagagine (magazine) ..."


Friends: 

Your best friends are Nancy and Annabel as you see them the most. You also like playing with your other nursery friends Jessica, Huxley, Miriam and the 'twins'. You love 'Sasher' (Asher) too and go swimming with him and Jon and the 'gerls' every Saturday morning.


Quiz your toddlers: Ellis at 2 3/4

What's your name? Ellis

How old are you? Two

When is your birthday? Batman

How old is your mummy? Umm…

How old is your daddy? Daddy sleep

What's your favourite colour? Blue

What's your favourite food? (Big pause) Pasta

Who's your bestfriend? Mia

What's your favourite tv programme? Wescue Bots

What's your favourite film? Monsters Inc

What's your favourite song? Popcorn Popping and Twinkle Twinkle

What's your favourite animal? Wions

What are you scared of? Doggy

What makes you happy? Puzzle


You really are such a fun, lively and charming little boy. Parenting you can be exhausting as you're so full of energy and love to run off in public places. However our lives would not be the same without you in it. You are the loveliest big brother and really make your sister laugh and are always very concerned when she's crying etc. We are so blessed to have you in our family!


26 May 2016

Let's talk about maternity leave...


So I've been reading a lot of blog posts and articles lately about the division of labour in parenting. Who is the one doing all of the work in a family? The dad who goes out to work and then helps out with the kids when he gets home or the mum who is at home all day? Now I'm not an official stay at home mum as I returned back to teaching part time after having my Toddler. However I'm now on maternity leave so living the 'dream' for a while. 

Now I think The Belgian (my husband if you're not a regular round here) thinks that all I do is sit around and eat cake with my mummy friends. We've been having a few 'discussions' lately about whose turn it is for a lie in (if there is such a thing for a parent) or whose turn is it to do the dishes and he very kindly remarked that I shouldn't be tired as all I do is 'go on jollies all day long.' 


So this is dedicated to the one I love. 
I want to tell him all about the jollies I go on in seven easy steps:-

1) These jollies usually start some time around four or five am when the Baby needs a feed. You're usually asleep for this - or at least you do a very good job of seeming asleep as I dig you in the ribs and hiss, 'your turn!' I usually don't fall asleep for around an hour or sometimes the Toddler wakes and joins the party too and I have to settle him back down to sleep too.

2) After vegging out in front of CBeebies whilst simultaneously making three different breakfasts as the usual 'powidge' didn't cut it and he didn't touch the toast so dry cheerios it is. I start the mammouth task of packing the mum bag. It seems like a Mary Poppins bag but creating it is not so effortless. We can't leave the house until it packed full with tools to ease any emergency situation - nappy blow outs, toddler tantrums, hungry children, snow in May...

3) Then comes the easy bit getting there. Travelling half an hour or more is usually necessary where we live to get to the decent places for days out with the kiddos. The Baby doesn't like the car to stop so every set of traffic lights, roundabout, zebra crossing etc and she's seriously crying so I am driving at a snails pace as we approach a red light willing it to turn green. 
Then The Toddler (don't let the photo below deceive you) drops his book, drink, toy and expects you to somehow be able to turn around and retrieve it. Or he sees the DDD' player and starts demanding Thomas when its not charged and, of course, you are still driving and trying to meet your mummy friends on time. So a tantrum ensues and you have the cacophony of a small baby's wail and a toddler's full blown hysterics. Bliss. Or should I say how 'jolly.'



4) You arrive at the destination. I will use the example of going to a big park - for example Kirkstall Abbey or St.Ives - these are the types of places I go on my 'jollies.' Not a leisurely stroll around the White Rose Centre or trying some street food at Trinity Kitchen - where I'd like to be going on my jollies. 
So we enter the park and The Toddler immediately disappears. Pretty standard behaviour from him. There is always a part of the park designated to under fives (similarly in soft play) but this is far too tame for him and he would rather attempt the monkey bars and give mummy a heart attack. Or he says, 'mummy help' as I have to rescue him from the leap of death.



5) Squabbles. An inevitable part of any jolly. When you mix toddlers and toys you will often hear the phrase, 'my toy, 'my turn' and 'stop it!' So you try the softly softly approach, 'please share with your friends' they point blank ignore you and you end up chasing them, pinning them down and trying to prise the offending object from their clutches and offer it back to the other pouting toddler - who has wondered off and isn't interested any more as they were just in it for the hustle. Very jolly. 


6) Food. Now if we've opted for a 'picwic' half of it has already been consumed in the car for bribes. The Toddler doesn't usually stay in one place long enough to actually eat and so you have to chase after him with a soggy sandwich before letting him mostly eat crisps. In fact when we got to Bolton Abbey and have picnics on the sand the food is usually 50% sand and they seem to enjoy the extra crunch. As you wrestle to get any goodness into The Toddler the Baby is screaming for her lunch. And so you're feeding her with one hand and feeding yourself sandy crisps with the other hand, whilst the Toddler disappears into the distance. Really must get him signed up for the Olympics 2036 long distance - unless they introduce a hide and seek category. 

Or you could brave lunch in a cafe. Eating in cafes with The Toddler and The Baby should really be saved for another blog post. But suffice to say it is a case of finishing your food as quickly as you can so that you can leave with minimal damage done to the establishment and to your sanity. And if you happened to go Jakes in Harrogate after we had been there last month I have no idea how all of the salt and pepper and sugar sachets ended up all over the floor. Ahem...



7) When it's time to leave your children always very willingly leave the park and get in the car and are perfect angels all the way home. In fact this face never makes an appearance...




Then you arrive home and have to unpack the Mary Poppins bag, Laundry must be done, dinner must be made and grubby children must be bathed. But wouldn't it be more jolly to sit on the sofa and go through your news feed or watch silly videos on youtube? Or taking half an hour to go upstairs and get changed after work - perhaps getting distracted by a nap along the way? Of course! But then this "important task" can only be earned by somebody who has spent the day earning real money instead of going on a 'jolly.'

We love you daddy.... 


.         

Mr and Mrs T Plus Three
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