I Will Not Feel Guilty

This time last year I wrote this open letter to my children about my decision to change my hours at work to full time. I thought I’d write an update to it now I’ve lived it for a while.

Is it working for me? Well, no is the short answer. I don’t think it is. I’m torn apart with guilt all of the time like most parents for one reason or another. No more so than now when the kids are off school and being on social media see parents and kids off on jolly adventures everywhere. I can’t do that and by the time I get home from work there’s no time for anything and to be honest I’d be too knackered anyway. It’s not easy to “just have some time off” and I certainly couldn’t have six weeks anyway. It eats away at you knowing that you’re missing out on all sorts of fun and memories that you’ll never get back. Continue reading

Born Gifted Teacher Gifts

I cannot actually believe it’s that time again when the kids finish up for their summer holiday break ready to drive Mum’s and Dad’s bananas all over the place. If you want to give that special teacher a little something lovely then Born Gifted is a great place to go!

We had a snoop around when they got in touch and decided that this Personalised Classic Wooden Pen and Pencil Box Set fitted the bill perfectly. I don’t like to buy chocolates as I’m sure they must end up with them coming out of their ears!

This lovely set includes a wooden box made from beech and includes any message you choose over 3 lines. The pen and pencil are also personalised with a name making this a great gift for anyone who enjoys writing. There’s a whole host of occasions you could buy it for not just as a teacher gift.

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Game For A Laugh With Ginger Fox #3

The weather has improved, you might have spent the day in the garden or gone to the caravan for the weekend. In the evening it’s nice to relax with or without the kids and play a boardgame.

We’ve reviewed Ginger Fox  family games before here and here  and really enjoyed them and this set of games didn’t disappoint either.

Pinch ‘N’ Pass

Battle with your opponents and the buzzer in this quick-thinking, fast-paced game of categories. How many famous actors, pizza toppings, or breeds of dog can you name under pressure? ‘Pinch’ and ‘pass’ category cards by being able to list more than your opponents to win at this great, grabby game. There’s a huge variety of category cards – something for everyone! The spinner decides which round you play: PINCH! PASS! or  HEAD-TO-HEAD. The random electronic timer creates tense gameplay – you never know who will be left with the card!

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The Brill Restaurant- A Review

I was invited to partake in a bite to eat at the newly opened ‘Brill Restaurant’ set in a quiet little village called Nana’s Dining Room. Owned by young entrepreneurs ‘The Picking Up Toys Kids’ I was delighted with the warm welcome and green surroundings accompanied with the distant “BAA” of the local wildlife.

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Busy Things Online Educational Games & Activities

Busy Things is a great award winning online educational games and activities site that supports children’s learning from Early Years to Primary School aged children – making it suitable for children from ages 3-11. There are options for schools, nurseries and families. As my younger children are 5 & 8 they are the perfect ages to try out the Busy Things family subscription. The first thing you need to do is sign up and watch the 3 minute introduction video.

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OOKS Story Creation App Review & Giveaway

If you haven’t heard of OOKS yet then you’re missing out! OOKS  is a story creation app that puts your child at the heart of and in control of the story and they get to make the story into a personalised book- perfect for world book day.

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We’ve spent some time trying out the OOKS app and making our very own stories! The wizard character OOK-Laf starts by asking the child some questions about a few of their favourite things such as:

  • Their name
  • Favourite Colour
  • Favourite Animal
  • Favourite Food
  • How they feel (happy/sad/excited etc)
  • What they most enjoy doing (movies/games/singing etc)
  • Then choose their favourite OOK character

All via little choice wheels as you can see in the picture below.

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The choices then all combine together and up pops your Ook!

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The OOK can be moved around via the touchscreen on your chosen tablet/phone (we used both an Iphone 6s and a Samsung Galaxy Tab and it worked great on both) to interact with the other characters to the make the elements of a unique story and ultimately a book starring your chosen OOK!

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What the characters say can be seen on screen as well as heard and the story changes dependent on which answer they give to the questions. There are also chances along the way to take part in activities such as drawing/colouring in a chef’s hat which the OOK then goes on to wear, choosing the days specials from the menu – who wouldn’t fancy a green overcooked shoe huh?!

Once the story is completed the book is created and goes into your library for you to see and buy the books, delivered straight to your door which include the options your child chose and the drawings they did as part of the story! To order the books an adult needs to have registered.

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  • The books are priced at £16.99 each.
  • The App is available from the Apple  and Google Play stores
  • Free to download with no in app purchase and no advertising
  • Helps with literacy
  • Age 4+ (was perfect for my 5 + 8 year olds)

We really loved the OOKS app, it’s bright and colourful with brilliant graphics and keeps the children’s attention along the way with humour and anticipation in what’s going to happen next. When they realised they would also get the book to keep forever they were delighted. This would make a lovely present or just a lovely way to sit and have reading time with the kids.

Here’s what the lovely people behind OOKS had to say:

‘Here at OOKS HQ, we are all too aware of the importance of stories in the lives of children. With the world becoming more technologically advanced and digital devices playing a big part in the lives of children, it’s important for traditional practices to be nurtured as part of a harmonious relationship that embraces digital and the changing landscape. We created OOKS for this exact reason – to allow storytelling to continue to be at the forefront of play experiences for kids!’

A Balance of Real World and Digital Play

Encouraging learning through play, OOKS is an interactive story-creation app for children that enables them to create awesome real world books through digital play, and develops their love of books, reading, and storytelling in the process!

Interactive Storytelling Where your Child is the Author

While playing in the OOKS world, your child will create a book that is ultra personalised to them! Their drawings will decorate the landscape and their choices will direct the story. How did they defeat the dinosaur at Mount Gargoyle? A catapult? A dance-off? A tea-party? Your child’s unique OOK book will reflect the magic of their own imagination!

A Personalised Book to Read Over and Over

Watch your child’s face light up when their book arrives full of artwork they created and personalised just for them! Not only have they created their very own book but they’ll gain a love of storytelling, writing, and reading – gifts that will stay with them for the rest of their life.

I’m giving 3 of my lovely readers a chance to win an OOKS Tote Bag and a code for a free personalised book including shipping!

To enter click on the Rafflecopter below:

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1. The giveaway is open to residents of the UK only.
2. There are 3 prizes available of 1 OOKS Tote Bag and 1 free personalised book code.
3. There is no cash alternative offered.
4. To enter, please use the rafflecopter widget above.
5. The winners will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries.
6. The giveaway will run until Midnight 18/03/18.
7. Once the giveaway is over the winner will be contacted for their details to arrange postage of their prize.

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*We were gifted items in return for this review.All opinions remain honest and my own*

Game For A Laugh With Ginger Fox #2

Picture the scene, it’s chucking it down with rain, the kids have said the word ‘bored’ approximately 438 times since 7am and colouring just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Thanks to the Ginger Fox Games Club we were sent some more Family Games to try out. We have played some of their games before and loved them. This time we got to play with Corks and The Emoji Game.

Corks

Could you be the last person holding the gold cork?

A fast and furious card game of elimination, speed, thought, co-ordination, stealth and dastardly cunning – when the need to get a cork comes before all others…

It’s a corker of a game!

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Corks is a fab colourful game that the whole family can get involved in. It’s fast and fun and you could find yourself winning the brilliant golden cork!

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Fat Like I Was At Fifteen

Look how fat I was. Just look. Can you see it? Nah, me neither. It’s one of those photos that you show someone and they say “oh wow, look how tiny you were” leaving the “what happened?” unsaid, hanging in in the air.

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I spent that holiday in Gran Canaria plus several years before and after thinking I was huge. I loathed wearing those horrible netball knickers/skirts combos at school because my thighs wobbled when I ran and I thought that equalled fat. Being fat never equalled having a boyfriend. It sounds ridiculous to look back and think that was my thought process. Being accepted and liked is all that really matters at that age. I realise now that as a pear shape I carry my weight on the bottom half and I was perfectly fine just as I was.

Now that I really am overweight as an adult I see that back then there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, I would love to look like that again now. Not that there is anything wrong with me now so to speak, it’s unrealistic to think that you could come away from having 3 babies unscathed. Carrying a few extra pounds isn’t the end of the world but for me I find it really affects my self esteem. I don’t feel right, particularly since I’ve just hit the big 40. I feel podgy and nothing fits me properly like it did when I was slimmer. At only 5’2 every extra pound shows and I dislike my ‘hamster cheeks’ when I smile so I tend not to that much in photos or avoid being in photos at all. So yes, I intend to lose weight but for myself. Not because I feel I should, not because I’ve read the latest ‘beached whales in bikinis’ article in a scummy magazine and not because anybody has told me I should.

Over the years my weight has been up and down, I’ve ranged from a size 6 to a 14 and everything in between. I’ve tried Slimfast, cabbage soup, starvation and all manner of ridiculous diets. I’ve even tried so called safe diet pills before finding out they contained ephedrine when my heart started racing uncontrollably one day at work. Did any of it help? No, absolutely not because yes, I may have lost weight and felt I looked much better but I felt lousy. I’m slowly losing weight properly now and being more aware of getting up and moving, I have a desk job and since I’ve started working full time it’s surprising that although I feel like I’ve been on the go all day the very few steps I clock up over the course of the day is far, far lower than I would have done when I was doing the school runs with the kids.

It worries me that now I have a daughter that one day she may look like this, may think she is fat because media all around us tells us that slim is pretty, flesh on show should be toned and tight and if not it should be covered up. I intend to talk to her about body image because I wouldn’t want her to feel like I did. This has no reflection on my own Mum as I never spoke to her about how I was feeling, my Mum was never one of those Mums that was always on a diet or moaning she was fat. We were fed plenty of fruit and veg (and the odd Findus crispy pancake). Had I spoken to her about it though I know she would have told me there was nothing wrong with me (because there wasn’t).

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Oh how I loved my perm, my hair was so much better then. Why can’t it come back into fashion? Now that’s a 90’s throwback I could really get behind!

So to my 15 year self and to my children I say be who you are because who you are is perfect. All that time and energy spent worrying about whether you’re slim enough or attractive enough could be put into something far more worthwhile. People can either take you as you are or get stuffed. Don’t ever let anyone put you down or make you feel bad for just being you. That boyfriend that tells you that your fat arse sticks out when you walk? He can do one. (Yes this happened to me). The friends who take the mickey out of your appearance? They can either shut up or ship out too. You don’t need their negativity and certainly don’t have to put up with it.

Although you might want to work on not being photographed like this…

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Anyone Seen My Confidence?

I love my children and I love being a Mum. Like most parents I often doubt how good I am at it though. My confidence seems to have buggered off on holiday and is currently getting smashed in a bar in Ibiza, dancing to the Macarena & fending off pissed up admirers who’ve had a little too much Dutch courage.  Do I do enough? Am I bringing them up the right way? Am I ballsing it up? Do they eat enough fruit, get enough sleep?It’s easy to doubt yourself though, probably far easier than it is to convince yourself that actually you’re doing your best and that your best IS good enough. When I had children I think my confidence took a knock as also spoken about by the lovely Lianne at Anklebiters Adventures, whilst I’ve never been much of a gobby cow I’m sure I was never quite as reserved as a kid/teen and would speak up if I needed to.

Sometimes you find yourself watching ‘that parent’ the one who just seems to constantly have their shit together and wish you could be just like them. They just have that air of togetherness about them and you just can’t imagine them flapping about forgetting to rub their concealer in or leaving shaving foam all over their chin. Have they though? Are they showing a calm and collected exterior when in reality they’ve spent the morning scraping shit off the bathroom floor or wondering how the feck they’re meant to remove the Sharpie drawn poo emoji from the hallway wall.

There’s a work colleague that I’ve known for a good few years that I’d love to be more like. Absolute opposite of me, he oozes confidence and lives his life not giving two f**ks what anyone thinks of him, not in a ‘he’s a bit of an arrogant twat’ kind of way, just the take no shit kind of way. For the purpose of this post we’ll call him Dave, I would like to be like him.

But I’m not.

I’m actually an anxious and quite shy person. People who know me well would probably read this and think “huh?” forgetting that when they first met me I would have been the one sat in the corner, not saying a word. I hate being the centre of attention, having all eyes on me – one of the reasons I’d never want a big wedding. I hate being picked for role play scenarios during training at work, when my name is called I want to get up and run. Of course I can’t and don’t, mainly because my arse would wobble about way too much and draw even more attention to me but enough about that.

Some time ago I read a post by Amy Treasure about faking confidence and have kept it in mind ever since. In the post she talks about thinking of someone that you think of as really confident and do what you think they would. So I think of Dave and what he would do. I use it to stop myself from legging it away from something that makes me nervous.

I have started to force myself to be more confident even though I don’t really feel it. I find it quite easy to jump in and make myself heard when it’s anything to do with my children however if someone is upsetting me personally I tend to bite my tongue and fume inside. With age I’m finding I’m quicker to say my peace but I still go over things in my mind and wish I’d said this or that. I hope that in the years to come I’ll begin to feel more at ease with myself and find my long lost confidence.

Do you feel more or less confident after having children? Do you think you’re exactly the same as before or do you have ways of faking it til you make it too?

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Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide

If you’ve finished your Christmas shopping – well done you, I’m impressed! If you’re a bit more like me though you’ll be rushing around to get some last minute bits. Here I list some suggestions for you!

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Art of Football Coutinho T-Shirt £14.99

Art of Football create hand crafted designs try to emulate the energy, passion and euphoria that erupts from that one magical kick of a football. They only produce a limited number of each design, so your t-shirts & prints, like any good piece of art, are exclusive and completely original.

For the little (or big) football fan in your life these t-shirts are perfect. These are not your average football tops, these are something special. These are pieces of art. That artwork captures the excitement of the game, I’ve seen all the men in my family laugh, cry and maybe even a few expletives slipping out while watching and it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment with them too. Champions League 2005 is a stand out for me, watching from behind a cushion with my teen. Choose your team – in our case Liverpool- and then your  item, available are great quality t-shirts, sweats, prints/canvases and also other sports such as rugby and boxing. So if you’re looking for something a little bit special I’d definitely recommend having a look at these guys.

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