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

17 May 2016

Night out at Bradford Leisure Exchange

The boyfriend I had in my late teens was obsessed with Pizza Hut and that is where a lot of our dates took place. Deep pan pepperoni pizza, salad bar and free refills. He had it down to a fine art of building cucumber slice and carrot stick walls to fill the salad bowl with as much goodness as he could. He could down down his coke in thirty seconds and so the waitress' always brought us a jug. Oh yes he was a cheap date.
Then in my uni days the Pizza Hut buffet was the ultimate challenge. Just how many slices of pizza could one student consume? Too many! Your food baby hanging heavily over the low slung nineties jeans.
So imagine my surprise when I was invited to a blogging event to try the new Pizza Hut menu and its all grown up - American classics and even super thick and tasty milkshakes. Its a far cry from my previous memories. We were loving the choice of new flavours for the pizza like Philly Cheese Steak and Beef Fajita. I opted for the Heavenly Veg which was topped with goats cheese, black olives, caramelised onions, cherry tomatoes and fresh rocket. It looked like a classier high street pizza chain. We also got sides of hot crisps with melted cheese - an amazing combo that I'd never tried before. All topped off with one of their new milkshakes - that come with extra in a metal container just like true American diners. I opted for the salted caramel and loved the little pieces of honeycomb in it. You need to hit the hut to try some of those bad boys!

Next up was a round of bowling. I don't think I've been bowling in about a decade. You get cute little stickers when you score a strike and once we discovered this we tried even harder - there is a little kid in everyone of us! Sadly I didn't really earn mine - I got a spare but no strikes.

Next up was the part I was most excited about - trying the new dessert menu at Frankie and Bennies. They have gone for American style desserts too - in keeping with their menu and their decor. I loved the cinnamon waffle crunch and the raspberry trifle sundae. The Can't Decider gives you a little bit of everything and would be a great sharer for a couple.

The kid in me was loving the Ice Cream Candy Shop from the kids menu. Its an extra £2.25 on top of the kids menu and I think it would be so exciting for a child and help to retain their attention at the end of a meal when they often get squirmy. It has ice-cream, sauce, popping candy and little glass bottles of sweets. A really interactive and cute dessert.

The evening ended with a film at cineworld. I like this cinema its clean, never too busy and they have security coming into the films to make sure people aren't on their phones or chatting - because nothing worse than having screens glowing out of the corner of your eye or teens chatting during the best part of the film. I'm such an old woman now who actually goes to the cinema to watch the film rather than to fool around with my friends! Haha!

Thanks to the Bradford Leisure Exchange for a night out and to my mum date Robyn!

13 May 2016

Family day out at Geronimo

We were lucky enough to be invited along to Geronimo last bank holiday Monday. We'd never been to a 'festival' or even on a big day out to a kiddies theme park. We were excited but also slightly apprehensive about taking the Toddler out due to his tendency to wonder off.  However since it was a bit of an overcast and windy day we were able to put him in a really bold snow suit so he could always be spotted - plus he didn't really wonder off.

The highlights for us were:
* Watching his little face on the rides. Normally there is a tantrum as he wants another go - but if there wasn't a queue he could just go round again. These types of rides always cost a few pounds each so I thought this was good value as its all included in the entrance fee.

* My little boy loved the Crocodile Joe tent and has absolutely no fear in standing inches from a tarantula and even touching a snake!

* Being able to try out lots of different rides

* The cup and saucer with great views of Harewood in the background. We didn't realise that our ticket included entry into the lower parts of the house and we would have enjoyed shielding from the wind and rain in the house.

* We really enjoyed Sam Sam the Bubble Man's show in the main circus tent. He blew smoke out of bubbles and even made bubbles big enough to fit a small child in. I took some pictures and videos of his show but it was so dark in there that they didn't come out very well.

* He enjoyed seeing some of his CBeebies favourite on stage - like Andy and Mr Bloom. I would agree with some of the critics that it was hard to see the stage and it would have benefited from screens either side - we were okay as the Toddler is still okay on our shoulders but I can understand this isn't plausible with older children.

* There was a good variety of food trucks. I had a delicious stone baked pepperoni pizza and we all shared some churros from the Churro truck. The Belgian got some chicken and the Toddler was adamant that he wanted a corn on the cob and although he NEVER eats sweetcorn he does when its on the cob!

* We loved the helter skelter - this was about a twenty minute queue once it got busy - and daddy and the Toddler went down together. The Belgian did say that it was so windy at the top he thought that it would blow over!

* The Toddler loved joining is with the warm up games and played an actual football match with these guys - I can't remember their name! This was probably his favourite thing of the day. The coaches were very sweet and inclusive - even though he's too young to play a proper football game he had a few touches and was very chuffed.

* We chanced upon the meet and greet with the Clangers and so got a photo and had a story.

* The soft play tent was good to help the little man blow off some steam.

* He enjoyed the balance bike course.

Ways to improve the event would be:-

* A map or floor plan as there were so many exciting things that we missed as we didn't know when they were going on. I've read about a press tent in another review but this was never pointed out to us. As mentioned we chanced upon certain events - the Clangers and the bubble show - but only through being in the right place at the right time.

* I think that the queues were poorly managed on the Sunday and it was a lot busier. Luckily we had chosen to go on the Monday and it was a lot quieter and so we were able to do most of the things we wanted to. However the guy at the pizza truck said they'd been queuing two hours on the Sunday for a pizza - he said his pizza was good but not that good! Haha!

Overall we had a fab day out, even though the weather was a bit grim and we would go again. Although there were lots of things for toddlers to do - baby sensory, soft play etc - there seemed to be better activities for older children like rock climbing, craft activities, graffiti tshirts etc so I may go again when the Toddler is about six.

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