Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Pretty Little Things: Water Babies

We so enjoyed having the nice weather last week, it was a brilliant opportunity to be out in the garden every afternoon.

Both my children love water play (although Meg is a bit more precious about being splashed in the face) so they didn't need too much persuasion to get into the paddling pool!

I think given that we're back to torrential rain, I'm going to be looking at these photos wistfully for the rest of the summer!

Disclaimer: Whilst it looks like both my children are drinking the water out of the paddling pool, they are in fact just playing!  Eli is using the funnel as some kind of horn and Meg was sharing water between the cups.  Honest!!

I'm linking this post up with this week's Pretty Little Things.  For more blog entries, hop over to Love From Mummy.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Monday Me #7


As always I'm taking part in 'Monday Me', a linky hosted at the Mini Mes and Me, do follow the link if you want to find out more and if you can link up!

Here's what I got up to this week:

During the week we've just ticked along really, nothing to report.  We watched a few films, had a date night one evening and managed to explode a bottle of cava in the freezer!

This weekend though, the kids went to stay with their Nana and Grandad so on Friday I drove the kids up to Liverpool and dropped them off, and then I drove back to my parents house to watch the *you know what* Opening Ceremony.  I don’t often spend time with my parents and my sister just on my own so it was really nice to be able to do that.  Plus listening to my dad’s personal commentary of the ceremony was very entertaining.

I’ve heard a mixed bag of reviews but I thought it was fantastic.  Firstly, anything with Kenneth Branagh in it is a winner in my book as I just think he's fab (yes, I quite possibly have a small crush on him!)

Secondly I was so impressed it was The-Actual-Queen in the Bond clip - I did not see that one coming!  And of course, Mr Bean was in it, and what’s better than that?!?

But seriously, I thought it was done in such a clever way and was unlike any other ceremony I've seen before.  We have a lot to be proud of in this country!!  I can only imagine how amazing it must have been for the people lucky enough to have been there.

I stayed over at my parents house as my Other Half was on a work night out and it was so nice not to be woken up by a toddlers elbow in my face or a wet dummy being poked into my eye.  I still got up at 7.30am but it was very relaxing to be able to get ready, have my breakfast and a cup of tea and watch a bit of the *you know what* before setting off for home all in relative peace and quiet, bliss!

On Saturday we were helping some friends move to a new part of the country so I drove 4hrs to help them unpack and settle in before coming home again (and stopping off at Asda for nappies and wipes...as you do!)

Sunday was a day for me and my Other Half though.  We had planned on having a lie in but I think it’s a sign of being a parent that we were both still awake at 7.30am!

So, seeing as we were up we went for an ‘all you can eat’ breakfast (yum!) before setting off to fetch the kids. 

En route we stopped off at Ikea and actually managed to look at things properly which was a novelty!  Usually we’d be chasing Meg and trying to stop her jumping on all the beds or trying to catch her before she crawled off under the dining tables or some such shenanigans (I kind of see her point, it does look like a giant playhouse) but it was nice to just wander and browse and talk about how we’re going to do the playroom and the spare room and so on.  Not to mention the 20 minute conversation we had about whether to buy towels – honestly, we do know how to lead an exciting life!

Once we’d picked the kids up and come home we had a lazy evening watching the start of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I admit, in this area I am something of a geek, and my Other Half has never watched the extended versions which I can’t quite believe.  So over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be inflicting them on him watching them with him.

So that’s my Monday Me.  Child-free and mostly spent sitting in the car driving to various parts of the country but actually quite relaxing when it comes down to it.  Although, I can’t believe it’s Monday again.  Must be a sign I need a holiday!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Trip to the Dentist

This week we took Meg to the dentist.  To be honest I was dreading it as six months ago she shrieked and cried and clung to my leg the second we stepped into the room...I have no idea why as the last time we'd been with her she would have been too young to remember.

Anyway, determined that this trip would be a success we employed various tactics which I'm going to share with you.  I am in no way claiming to be an expert but something obviously went right as Meg skipped into the room and was first to sit in the chair and let the dentist look in her mouth with no problem whatsoever!

So here you are, top tips for toddlers at the dentist:

Read about it

We used this book as Maisy is a favourite of Meg's but a quick look on amazon showed me that there are loads of stories about trips to the dentist.  Peppa Pig was a top hit but I bet there are other character books you could use. 

We read this book to Meg at least once a week in the month prior to going and then every day this week to prepare her.

Role play
For Meg it's important for her to know exactly what will happen so we spent a lot of time playing 'dentists'...although Meg usually likes to be the person who's in charge I thought it was important that I played at being the dentist so she could experience sitting still and opening her mouth.  We're now working on playing 'doctors' so that we don't get hysterics every time the GP comes near her!

Talk about it!
I think this is the most important one for Meg.  Myself and my Other Half spent a lot of time explaining every detail of what would happen..."the dentist is a man" "you'll sit in his chair" "if you're good you'll get a sticker" etc etc - it was pretty monotonous to be honest but I know from past experiences that if something doesn't go the way Meg has expected it to then we get tantrums so laying it all out beforehand really does help.

So, just three small tips that might help someone else with a toddler who is afraid of the dentist! 

And if all else fails, use bribery!  If a sticker isn't enough of a bribe use whatever works for your toddler.  We promised Meg a treat but she was happy to accept her Happy Feet sticker so my Other Half (and his wallet) could breathe a sigh of relief!

I will say that I didn't fair half as well as Meg and my Other Half who both got an A+ for the condition of their teeth.  I met with the hygienist who a) made me hold my own air/water brush thing as she attacked my mouth and b) literally covered me in my own blood.  I sat up to leave and she said "Oh, you might want to check the mirror before you go out" and I saw why, it was all over my face!  Are they paid to hack away at your gums!?!

Do you have any tips for visits to the dentist?  Feel free to share them with me!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Milestone: First Haircuts

You may find this hard to believe but yesterday was the first time in my whole three years of being a parent that I took my child to have a haircut.  Meg, bless her, was bald as an egg until a year ago and since then it just seemed fairer to let her curls grow out.

I was doing ok until I explained to the hairdresser that I wasn't sure what I needed to do as I'd never taken either of them to have their hair cut before and she looked at me quizzically and said "why not?"

I was torn between my emotional answer of "because I want to keep their gorgeous baby hair" and the more practical (and relevant) answer of "they never seemed to have enough to make it worth it"

Seeing Eli's hair afterwards though did bring it home that possibly he should have had his hair trimmed a while ago!  Although the hairdresser cut off far more than I would have liked and when it came to Meg's turn I made her promise not to cut all her beautiful curls off!  So she just had a little trim which will hopefully tame it a little bit.


And, after lecturing me about the advantages of bringing them down even when it doesn't seem worth it, the hairdresser was kind enough to save a lock of Eli's hair and a lock of Meg's for me to take home.

It seems strange to have taken so long to reach a milestone like this but we finally did it.  Maybe next time it won't take me so long to get round to it!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Monday Me #6

My Monday Me for last week was all set to contain highlights of the fantastic weekend I had - starting with getting my hair done (finally!) first thing on Saturday morning.  Except for when I turned up at my hairdressers it was closed.  No word from them, nothing.
What. A. Fail.

So that didn't kick things off very well but the rest of my weekend did pick up as we went to Pinewood Studios for the recording of a new series of a dating show (I have no idea whether I'm allowed to mention the name on here but I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry!)

My parents had the kids for the day and we got all dressed up in our gladrags under the instructions to dress "funky, sexy, trendy" only to realise when we arrived that our idea of what that means is about a generation out of date!  All the lads had polo neck shirts and caps on and the girls were wearing what I would class as 'everyday' clothes and flipflops.  I was so glad I had decided to also put some flat ballet pumps in the car!

We were meant to be sitting in the front row but having got stuck in traffic on the M25 we were the last to arrive and ended up sat at the back.  OH was in his element taking part in all the mummery...fingers crossed he'll get some air time after all his efforts!!

It was a long day, two and a half hours of driving followed by three hours shut in a hot studio with no drinks allowed followed by another two hours driving home again.  For our trouble we will be receiving some tickets to one of the X-Factor final shows so that definitely makes it worth it!

Sunday we got up early and went to our local car boot sale which I loved!  The day would have gone down as one of my favourite in a long time when I spotted the nicest milk jug and teapot set but by the time I'd wrestled with the pushchair and made it to the stall they had sold.  Still, a good morning out in gorgeous weather!

I'm linking this with Emma's 'Monday Me' over at The Mini Mes and Me


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Colour Me In RK

Meg was very excited when a package arrived last week containing not only a fantastic box of colouring equipment but also her very own box of Rice Krispies (we haven't been allowed to share with her!)

After taking every single item out of the colouring case, checking them all over and then standing over Mummy as she put them all back again(!) Meg got stuck in straight away with colouring in her box.  It was a work of art which was completed over several days...this more or less transpired to mean several layers of colouring over the same places but I don't think she's done a bad job at all.

Meg's favourites were the colour changing stamps.  She decided to use the lips to decorate her bowl.  She also decided Snap, Crackle and Pop should all have glittery trousers and that the 'Rice Krispies' should be red polka dot. 

As the weather continued to be miserable I decided to check out the Rice Krispies website for some more rainy day activities.

First we came across some recipes and after much deliberation, Meg chose to make the Chocolate Snap Bars.  They were so easy to make but we made A LOT of mess.  Eli was in his element trying to catch the falling rice krispies!

As Meg was Head Baker, the finished product has the added ingredient of pink sparkles, just to give it that extra girly touch.

The following day we set about colouring in some finger puppets I printed from the website.  Whilst the life expectancy of these puppets in the hands of a 3 year old wasn't too long we had lots of fun playing with them. 

Colour Me in RK is perfect for this lovely british weather we're having!  For more arts and crafts ideas check out the Rice Krispies website.

This is our entry for the Britmums #ColourMeInRK competition, sponsored by Kellogg's.

I was sent the colouring pack and box of Rice Krispies for the purpose of this blog post.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Save Childrens Cardiac Unit at Glenfield Leicester

This is my blog's first 'guest post' but when I heard about the petition to stop the closure of Glenfield's Childrens Cardiac Heart Unit I knew I wanted to do something!

Laura is a lovely friend of mine who has close ties with Glenfield.  Please take the time to read her post and sign the petition at the end.

I wasn’t sure where to start with this blog post, being honest I’ve never written for any kind of blog but when Jess asked me to guest blog about Glenfield I couldn’t say no.

I am very emotionally attached to Glenfield - my daughter, Isabelle, came into the world in May 2009 and thanks to the amazing team at Glenfield she is still here.

As a first time parent I was incredibly na├»ve thinking that as soon as Isabelle was in our arms she would be safe and well, after all, you don’t get told about things that can go wrong with a full term baby.

Our first sign that something was wrong was Isabelle's feeding.  She just couldn’t be bothered to latch and would be exhausted pretty quickly.  She would scream for hours on end, not a normal 'I’m upset' newborn cry but a shriek like she was in pain.  So when her 8 week check rolled round I was almost expecting them to tell me something wasn’t right.  But I was still shocked when I was told it was her heart. I must add at this point it is very common for babies to be born with holes in their heart although most close up within the first year of life.

So that was how our lives began to revolve around Glenfield.  I can’t fault the care we were given, within hours of them seeing the footage of Isabelle's heart scan they phoned us telling us to come in the next morning, yes incredibly worrying, but we had waited until she was 5 months old for that initial scan at Derby Hospital so I was thankful for Glenfield and their efficiency.

We were told that Izzy had a doubly committed VSD (a hole below the 2 main arteries in the heart) and at some point she would need surgery to fit a bovine patch, because of where the hole was it was unlikely to heal itself, but they gave us time to see if it would.  Izzy battled on for 5 months but as she carried on developing, trying to crawl, trying to cruise etc she was always worn out.  Her weight gain was non existent and I was at the Health Visitors every week crying because she'd lost more weight or jumping for joy because she'd gained an ounce.  My husband and I grew fed up of seeing her fade and having to fight so hard.

When our next appointment at Glenfield came through we went ready to tell them it was time, Izzy was losing the battle.  Our consultant agreed as her scans showed no improvement and her heart was struggling.  We were given a date for surgery for when she was 13 months old.

We will never get the image of Izzy being put to sleep out of our minds, it is by far the hardest thing we have ever been through.  Izzy was in fantastic hands though, her anaesthetist was one of the friendliest women I have ever met, she reassured us, gave me a box of tissues and a hug telling me she would look after Izzy like she was her own.  I believed her completely, she truly cared.

Six hours of waiting and Izzy was finally settled in PICU, the surgery had been more complicated than they thought, her main arteries were too close together so they had to separate them and they also had to close a PDA (a valve that normally closes after birth), on top of that her hole was larger than anticipated - the surgeon was amazed by my little lady's strength as her heart had started to fail.

Throughout it all Glenfield were fantastic, they guided us as parents, they actually cared about Isabelle and our family, we weren’t just another number to them and they saved my daughter.  I can never repay them for this, every nurse, every doctor, every consultant they all played a massive role in my daughter being here with us today.

Izzy spent 7 days in hospital due to complications in her recovery (she had air trapped in her lung space so her lung couldn't fully inflate), had she not had the complication she would have been out on day 4!

As a parent it's an experience you try to forget, we didn't take any pictures of her in PICU, we found it difficult seeing her like that.  I will always cherish one memory though, Izzy had her final drain out and we were told we'd be going home the next day.  As we could finally take her off the ward we went to our parent room.  We sat Izzy down and she stood straight up and walked!  It was like she'd known how to all along but had never had the energy!

We are one of the 'lucky' ones and we will hopefully never have to go through that experience again.  One operation and I'm pleased to say Izzy is a very happy energetic 3 year old!

This isn't the case for a lot of heart patients though, they need Glenfield!

So now you can see why I am so desperate for Glenfield to stay operating as a Surgical Centre.  You might be thinking "this won’t affect me" well, you're probably right in a way but never say never.  I never thought my first child would be seriously ill but that was the hand we were dealt.

The new "Safe and Sustainable Review" has decided to close 4 centres to bring Heart Services together in order to create ‘Centres of Excellence’, reducing the number of Cardiac Surgical Centres from 11 down to 7.  The proposed centres to remain open are:

- Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital
- Liverpool’s Alder Hey children’s hospital
- Birmingham’s children hospital
- Great Ormond Street
- Evelina children’s hospital in London
- Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and
- Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Now if you look at it 4 of the centres are in the South of England meaning the whole of the North is to be split between 3 centres.  You will also notice that none of these centres are on the East of England, the whole of the East is left with no surgical centre close by.  I fail to see how this is safe!

Unfortunately we had to make a few 'quick shove things in the car' dashes to Glenfield when Izzy's health started deteriorating and we were lucky she wasn’t in heart failure - if had she been in heart failure with having to get to Birmingham I doubt we would ever have made it.  I am very thankful this won’t be a reality for us.

Parents will still have all their outpatients appointments at the local centres so it is just surgery that will be at the main centres, this to me shows the threat of communication errors.

I’d like to just briefly go into the benefits of Glenfield - many MP’s, consultants and experts from all over the country, not just the Glenfield district are fighting for Glenfield to stay open for the major benefit of the centre which is its ECMO unit (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).  Glenfield's ECMO unit has been established for 20 years.  It is now the largest of 4 in the UK.  It was also the first one in the UK.

Many ECMO experts have expressed their concerns over moving this service to Birmingham.  It takes a long time for these skills to become established and moving this unit will see the loss of 20 years of expertise and they are taking the risk of it also causing the loss of some lives along the way.

Glenfield's unit has a 50-75% better success rate than any other unit in the UK.  I can’t stress how important it is that it stays at Glenfield, would the experienced staff move all their families over to Birmingham?   I very much doubt it.

From a parents point of view Glenfield is fantastic, there is everything you need so you never have to leave your sick child, rooms right off the ward for you to rest your head or have a cry in private, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom.

If you got this far in I applaud you I’ve rambled a fair amount there, I by no means claim to be an expert on all things Glenfield I have done as much research possible when I have two children to run around after!

I would just like to urge you to sign the epetition that has been set up so we can get this discussed in parliament in September, we need 100,000 signatures so please spread the word!


Nature v Nurture

I've always been interested in the debate over nature v nurture.  People often comment on similarities between myself and my mum and whilst initially in my teenage 'I'm my own person' years it used to bother me, I've come to see it for myself.  I do often comment now that when people meet my mum they begin to understand why I am the way I am!

I'm even more intrigued now I have my own children and I've begun to see their personalities developing...how much of it was already written into their genetic make up and how much is learned behaviour?

I was reminded of this in a couple of ways this week. 

Firstly, at nursery Meg walked into the corner of a radiator and came home sporting this:

I was furious with nursery for not having a cover on the radiator if it's at toddler head height.  And then more annoyed with Meg when a few hours later she managed to fall down the stairs at home because she wasn't watching where she was going againWe often joke in our house that Meg is the girl who could fall over fresh air but she really is. 

And I suspect she gets it from me *sheepish look* 

Only last week I got my toe caught in my pyjamas and went flying headfirst onto the floor.  Three weeks ago I somehow got entangled with a wash basket at the top of the stairs and walked away from that experience covered in six or seven large bruises!  In fact, just now as I'm typing I've just looked down and noticed two new bruises on my legs...I don't even know how they got there!

I would never have thought clumsiness would be a genetic trait but apparently Meg is a mini replica of me...perhaps it's a lack of spacial awareness, or maybe we're just so preoccupied with our thoughts that we don't pay enough attention to what's going on around us!

And then there are our similarities from a 'personality' point of view.  We moved Meg and Eli into the same room last week as the room we had as our nursery is our box room and is just not a very nice space.  We trialled it for a week and then, on deciding it was a success, we moved the rest of E's stuff into there.  Rather than having two wardrobes it made sense for them to share.  Well, you would have thought something horrendous was happening the way Meg carried on.  She got incredibly distressed at the thought that I might be taking her clothes out of the wardrobe and putting Eli's in there instead. 

By the end of the day I was getting fed up of her constantly checking what we were doing in her room and repeating "but my bed and my clothes will be staying here won't they?"  I was bemoaning this fact to my Other Half and he just laughed and pointed out that I would be doing exactly the same thing.  And he's completely right.

We recently changed our bed and I got in such a tizz about how it would look and where all our old stuff would go...I think I must have 'popped' my head in to our bedroom four or five times whilst my Other Half was building it and moving stuff around, just in case he needed my opinion or advice!

In many ways, Meg is just a mini version of me.  I could list so many more examples but there just isn't time!  It's interesting to wonder whether she's like that because she imitates the way I am or whether she would always have been this way because that's how she's wired.  Obviously it's a lot more indepth and intricate than all that but it's interesting to think isn't it?

I guess the real tell will be time - ask me in ten years whether I think nature or nuture is to blame at work! 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Six Glasses on the Bedside Table...

In August this year I will have been married to my Other Half for 5 years.  In September we're attending a marriage course.  The two events are not directly related!

I didn't live with my Other Half before we got married.  This may be the reason why we've had a number of 'interesting' arguments and conversations over the past few years as we've discovered habits in each other that we didn't know about before and don't necessarily appreciate!

The most notable one in the history of our marriage (thus far) is "Wet Jeans-Gate".  When we got married my Other Half was in his final year at Uni and I was working in a nearby city.  On one particular day, only two or three weeks after I'd upped sticks and moved away from everyone I knew in order to wed the man of my dreams *ahem* I arrived home having walked 20 mins from the train station, completely soaked to the bone and freezing cold to find a trail of wet clothes all through our little flat.  Apparently my Other Half had just stripped off what he was wearing as he walked through.  The pinnacle of it all was coming into our bedroom and tripping over his wet jeans which were just in the middle of the floor.  Suffice to say the air was pretty tense by the time I'd finished expressing myself to my Other Half!!

It reminded me of a scene in Friends when Monica is talking to Rachel about moving in with Chandler and she starts crying and says "I have to live with a boy" That's how I felt for a number of weeks after we first got married.  We did a pre-marriage course which was all about expectations of roles i.e. who will take the bins out and the type of communicator we are etc etc but nothing prepared me for living with a boy.  And a student boy at that!

I would have liked to say things have moved on quite succesfully since then until last week when The Outrage happened.  The Outrage was about the number of glasses I have on my bedside table.  Last week, it numbered six.  

My Other Half is not the kind of person to get wound up over trivial things but apparently, six glasses is just too many for one person to have on their bedside table! 

In complete fairness, as my Other Half is responsible for dish washing he has asked me on a number of occasions to remember to bring my glass down with me so it can get washed up with everything else but mostly I just forget in the morning rush!

NB: On asking my Other Half to check this blog post over he pointed out that he didn't get 'Outraged' by the number of glasses but then went on to stress that I didn't just forget in the morning rush, I forgot in six consecutive mornings.  Erm...point made anyone!?!

Isn't it funny though how the little things can suddenly become the BIG things. 

I guess it brought home how easy it can be to stop communicating.  And by that I mean both talking and listening.  I, for one, am an incredibly good communicator if all that is required is a rant and rave about whatever is bugging me but I have to remember that my Other Half is more of the silent communicating type and I have to make time to watch and listen so I know how he's feeling about things.  Apart from, as I now know, if there are numerous glasses on my bedside table ;o)

But in the whirlwind that is small children (all children!?!), just finding 5 minutes to sit down and talk can be really quite challenging. 

I'm really looking forward to the marriage course in September as it will give us that time and space to have a conversation that hopefully doesn't revolve around our kids or what jobs need to get done in the house!  Not to mention there will be desserts served which is always a winner in my opinion!

To clarify - the marriage course is not marriage counselling!  It's a course being held at the Church we attend aimed at couples who have been married for a number of years.  Some friends attended it last year and have highly recommended it to us!

Friday, 13 July 2012

16/365: Loo Roll Animals

What you need:
 - Toilet Rolls
- Paint (whatever colours you like)
- Coloured card
- Googly eyes
- Sparkly decorations to add to the wings (if making a butterfly)

What you need to do for the butterfly:

Paint the toilet roll your chosen colour.  Meg chose pink but butterflies can of course be any colour!

Cut out wing shapes from coloured card.  I found this easiest by lying my painted toilet roll against a piece of card so I could see where the wings needed to be before attempting to draw them.  As you can see, my wings aren't perfect but Meg didn't notice!  When you cut your wings out they need to be in one piece as you will be sliding them into your toilet roll.

Decorate your wings!

When everything is dry cut two slits in opposite sides of your toilet roll and slide the wings into them, the slits need to be deep enough so that the wings sit clear of the bottom otherwise your butterfly will just fall over!

Add googly eyes and a smile face :)

What you need to do for the frog:

Cut the top off your toilet roll and paint the remaining part green.

(When dry!) Place your toilet roll onto some green coloured card and attempt to draw some frog legs, similar to the ones in my photo.  Again, these need to be cut out in one piece as they will be slid into the toilet roll.

Cut two slits into your toilet paper and slide in the legs.  Add googly eyes and a smiley face.

Stand back and admire your crafts!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Day Out: Eureka!

On Friday I took the children to visit Eureka! The National Children's Museum in Halifax.  We visited earlier in the year for Meg's birthday but I didn't get around to blogging about it then.

Aimed at children under 11, it's a fantastic 'hands on' museum where children are encouraged to learn through play.  There are six different galleries with various interactive exhibits in each gallery.

Meg absolutely loves it there - there is so much for her to see and do.  I did lose her once or twice as she saw something that caught her attention and scampered after it but luckily there isn't any way of her escaping outside! *naughty mummy*

The best part (or, as you'll see later the worst part for me) is that once you've paid for a ticket it becomes an annual pass and you can use it as many times as you like throughout the year.  So, having taken Meg for her birthday, entry was free for the three of us.
Meg dressed as a ladybird smelling
a flower in the Sound Garden.
The Sound Garden is one of two areas specifically for under 5's.  They can dress up, play with an interactive board, make music on a giant xylophone and generally just explore in a smaller confined area.

Here I'd like to note a small downside which is that whilst, in fact the Sound Garden is designated for 'non-mobile' children, it is actually more suited to mobile pre-schoolers and the Baby Oasis (small padded area for non-mobile children) is a) not large enough to accommodate more than a couple of babies and b) not that entertaining!

The first time we visited Eli was only just crawling and we were caught out putting him in the baby oasis area only for him to have nothing to do.  I think a few age appropriate sensory toys would make the area better.  But that's just my opinion!!

Whilst the museum is a good size, it can be very busy, I imagine it would be worse in school holidays!  This visit also coincided with two or three school visits and in the Desert Discovery section (again, for under 5's) I did have to ask six school children to leave as they were very definitely not under 5!!

In Desert Discovery playing with the Day-Night Clock
In Desert Discovery you can also transport 'boulders' (semi-soft balls) on a bucket lift.  Or sit in the cave next to a campfire and listen to stories.  Or if your little one is feeling brave they can walk through the dark tunnel!

There's also a Me and My Body section and a SoundSpace but I found the activities in the Me and My Body section are a little bit over Meg's head and even the interactive games are too advanced for her at the moment.  The SoundSpace section was being used by one of the school groups and so we didn't have the opportunity to play there this time.

But I think Meg's favourite bit of all is the Living and Working Together gallery.  There's a child sized Marks and Spencer shop, a bank, a garage and a house with several floors (plus much much more, but it would be boring to list it all here!) and she really enjoys the imaginative play.
All important food shopping in M&S
There is an outside area, but with the weather the way it is we preferred to stay inside and stay dry!

There is also a cafe.  We didn't eat there this time as we brought a packed lunch (and stayed out of the torrential rain by eating at the indoor picnic area) but we ate there last time we visited and I found the portion sizes to be good and the price to be fair.

All in all, a brilliant day out for kids and I would definitely recommend it!

Unfortunately, things can't always go well and on the way home I filled up my car only to discover that I'd forgotten to bring my bank card (on account of not having to pay to get into Eureka I didn't think about bringing it) so had no way of paying for my petrol and then we got stuck in horrendous traffic.  What should have taken us 1hr 45mins actually took 4 hours and resulted in me learning a few things:

1. Eli can scream for a really long time
2. Meg doesn't stop talking, ever.
3. I am absolutely useless in a confined space.  I shouted, laughed hysterically, cried and thought about stopping the car at the next service station and refusing to drive any further in a constant circle for most of the time we were stuck.  Not fun!

Not at all a reflection on the rest of the day though!

Please note I have not been asked to write this post, it is simply my own opinions of our day out.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Meal Planning Monday (9 July 2012)

The past few weeks I have majorly fallen off the meal planning wagon and oh does my food budget demonstrate that!  I can usually save money on the weekly amount I set and put it towards something nice or holiday savings etc but without a plan we have just wasted so much more money!

So I'm back on board and ready to go!!

Here's what our week looks like:

Monday: Italian meatloaf with jacket potatoes
Tuesday: Chicken in black bean sauce
Wednesday: Bacon tagliatelle
Thursday: Cottage pie
Friday: Homemade pizza and garlic bread
Saturday: Chicken & lemon pie with homemade wedges
Sunday: Pork alla creme (this is my mum's recipe and I'm actually not sure if that's the correct spelling!)

I'm linking this post in with Mrs M's 'Meal Planning Monday' linky. 

Monday Me #4

I have enjoyed joining in with Monday Me's so much over the past four weeks.  I actually have hard evidence that despite what it may feel like sometimes, I do actually get time when I can do the things that I enjoy!!

This was my week:

On Monday last week I had a migraine so my Other Half took Meg to the shop to choose me some flowers.  I think she's got pretty good taste!

On Tuesday we went out for a meal with some close friends.  We went to an italian restaurant and it was our first meal out in quite a long time.  Lucky for me our friend decided to tell the waiter it was my birthday and I was almost subjected to a candle in my dessert!

I also treated myself to a new book.  It was a new author which is always a bit of a gamble but it was on offer (possibly due to it being a Christmas book!)  It paid off though and I found it so well written that I finished it within three days!

On top of all of that I got to spend a decent amount of time watching Prison Break now I've finally had the first season from Blockbuster.  I am most definitely hooked!!

So a busy week, anyone would think I had too much time on my hands!!

This is my post for Emma @ The Mini Mes and Me's 'Monday Me' linky. Do follow the link and check it out.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Silent Sunday 8 July 2012

Silent Sunday

15/365: Drawing

This is one of the simplest 'crafts' going, but the kids got hours of fun out of it!

What you need:
- Roll of paper
- Colouring materials

What you need to do:

Unroll your paper, the longer the length the more excitement generated.  Give your toddler crayons and allow them to go wild!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Let's Play: Olympic Crafts

Olympic Rings

What you need:
- White card
- A bowl
- A slightly smaller bowl
- Olympic coloured paints

What you need to do:
- Draw round the larger bowl on the white card to make the outside of the circle.  Then draw round the smaller bowl to make the inside part of the circle.

- Let your toddler paint the rings before cutting out - this means they can go out of the lines as much as they need to and it doesn't matter!

- Cut out the rings.  

- In order to link the rings you will need to cut some of them and then stick them back together.  I started with the blue ring which I left intact.  I snipped the yellow, fed it through the blue ring and then glued it back together.  I then repeated this for the remaining rings.

Olympic Torch

What you need:
- White card
- Tinfoil
- Orange, red and yellow tissue paper
- Plastic or paper cup

What you need to do:
- Roll the white card up and stick to form a cone shape.

- Wrap the cone in tin foil.

- Tear the tissue paper into strips and stick in your plastic/paper cup.

- Place the cup in the top of the cone and let your little winner pose!

Olympic Hurdles

What you need:
Toilet paper rolls

What you need to do:
- Paint your toilet paper rolls.

- When dry stick together to form hurdle shapes.

- Jump away!

We hope you have lots of fun with these Olympic Craft ideas.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Our Olympic Week

In honour of the Olympic Torch coming to our little town I decided we would have a week full of Games related crafts.  Unfortunately Meg and Eli didn't get to see the torch as it was during working hours but as the route went straight passed my office I was able to pop down and get a front row seat :)

 So first, to introduce Meg to the concept we made our own rings.  I think the best part for Meg was getting to use so many different coloured paints all at once! 

All cutting was done by me (the *ahem* responsible adult!) but Meg did all the painting herself.  I think she did a good job!

I'm not going to lie, it was a bit tricky for me to work out how all the rings connected together but I got there in the end!!

Next we decided to make a torch.  I ended up doing most of the work on the torch whilst Meg prepared her 'running strip' of cushions.  

Meg was particularly good at her winner's pose!

We ended our week by using up some of the fifty or so toilet roll tubes we now have and making hurdles.  

 So there you have it, our week of Olympic fun.  If you have any other suggestions of Games related crafts we could do let me know! 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

See it, Snap it, Love it: Candid

This week's theme for See it, Snap it, Love it is 'Candid'.  One of the things I've enjoyed most about blogging has been finding a new love of taking photos and capturing those special moments.

However, I don't often get the chance to take photos of the children without one of them noticing and, in the case of Eli, trying to take the camera from me or, in the case of Meg, pulling silly faces and asking to see each photo.

So when I came out of the kitchen today after tidying up from lunch this was too good an opportunity to miss.  They were both just lying on the beanbag together and didn't even acknowledge me when I came into the room.

Meg looks so serious (bless her!) I don't know what's going through her mind.

They stayed in this position for a good ten minutes, neither of them making a sound, just having a rest together.

For more on See it, Snap it, Love it, please go over to Dear Beautiful Boy.