Thursday, 28 February 2013

Milestones: Talking

Over the past couple of weeks I've noticed a real change in Eli's language abilities.  Yesterday in fact, he said a whole sentence and I understood every word of it!  Ok, so it was "I don't want to have my dinner" but it was a fully formed sentence nonetheless!  Followed by an announcement this morning of "I lost my train down there!"

I don't know why but I can't remember Meg's language development in as much detail.  It feels like we've always had to listen to her she's always been able to communicate with us but with Eli I think it's been a much slower process.   We've had a couple of months of semi-intelligible words mixed in with a lot of 'da da ba ba ah ah ah' and it's a bit hit and miss as to whether you can work out what he's really trying to say!

The best part really is his little face and the way it lights up when you've understood what he's saying and answered him correctly.  Although he does have a rather patronising habit of saying "noooooooo" really slowly if you misunderstand him.  I can't think who he might have learned that from *glances at Meg*

He's so much cuter when he's sleeping ;o)
Then there was the day a couple of weeks ago when he counted to ten out of the blue and then copied Meg all the way up to twenty.  I almost fell off my chair!  It was the kind of counting that only a mother would understand as he's still missing a lot of his 'hard' sounds but the correct intonations were all there.

Whilst I'm excited at the prospect that we might be able to talk with him properly in the next couple of months and perhaps avoid a good number of the meltdowns we have because I've misinterpreted 'I want Mater' for 'See you later' I'm not sure that I'm looking forward to having two talking children all day every day.

Meg talks non-stop whenever we go out in the car, whether that's a 10 minute trip or a 45 minute one and I don't think my brain can take anymore random observations about the moon hiding, the trees really being purple (we just can't see it!) and all the other strange little thoughts that she chooses to vocalise (to be honest, I worry about the ones that she doesn't say...) or like when we went to London last Friday and were stuck in rush hour traffic for an hour and she spent the entire time counting to 100, then going back to 1 and up again.  I swear I developed a twitch in my eye!

The phrase 'children should be seen and not heard' certainly does not apply in our household...the children are the only things you hear constantly!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Day Out: Madagascar Live!

One of the few films that Meg will deign to watch once it becomes obvious that it's a 'film' (Peppa Pig doesn't count as that's a DVD, apparently) is Madagascar.  We watched it for the first time when we were visiting some friends and Meg was immediately enraptured with the song of King Julien, yes you know the one, "I like to move it move it"
So when we were invited to watch the Madagascar Live! show in Nottingham I absolutely couldn't wait to take Meg along!  We were given 4 tickets and as there was no way on earth Eli would sit still for something like that, Meg decided to ask her best friend Ben and his mummy along too.

I have to admit I was a bit dubious about whether Meg would manage to last for the whole show and she did fidget a fair bit, mostly because she didn't understand why she couldn't get up on the stage and join in (I think we need to get her enrolled in stage school pronto!) but I thought it was amazing.  At some points I honestly thought the performers must be miming as their singing was just unbelievable.

The show  is based on the first Dreamworks film and features all the main characters; Alex the Lion, Melman the Giraffe, Marty the Zebra and Gloria the Hippo as well as the penguins! I'm not as familiar with the first film as the second but I'm pretty sure it didn't differ too  much.

There was also some audience participation which was hilarious, I don't think either of the people who were picked on had expected it and just gave the straightest answers, but then, what do you expect when you've got front row seats!?!

I was sure prior to going that I had read it wasn't suitable for children under 3 and although I did see a number of families with smaller children I'm glad we didn't bring Eli as I agree with that age limit, it was just the right length of time for Meg to concentrate without wanting to leave but not so short that it didn't seem worth it!

And of course, the best bit of all was King Julien's "Move it move it" magic, the song appeared two or three times and each time the kids went crazy.  I don't know what it is but there's just something about that song which seems to capture them.  I particularly enjoyed it at the end when everyone in the audience was asked to get up and join in one last time.  It was very good and most people seemed up for it!
Image courtesy of

The show still has a couple of tour dates left, one of those being at Wembley Arena.  If you can get tickets and get down there I would thoroughly recommend it.

Disclaimer: We were sent 4 tickets to Madagascar Live! for the purposes of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Winter Bugs and a Blog Update...

Over the past two weeks our household has been continually battling snuffles, sneezes, tummy bugs and a seemingly endless list of illnesses!

If it's not me lying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself it's my Other Half struggling to get up and get on with the day.  It's ridiculous!  I know we aren't the only ones either, everyone I speak to at the moment is just getting over something.  I'm convinced it's due to the ever changing weather; one minute it's so mild the flowers are opening and it appears spring is on its way, the next second it's snowing!

As such, something has had to give and it had to be my blog!  This is therefore my covering post to say sorry I haven't commented and read my blog list in a while, sorry if you've emailed me and I haven't responded (unread email count currently 122 *sobs*), sorry if you've asked me something and it has completely slipped my mind to get back to you!!

Yesterday I decided enough was enough as I surveyed the chaos in the house so whilst my Other Half took to bed, I went on a sorting mission and finally got our new playroom set up and ready to go.  Already today I saw the benefit of our new system, toys were easy to find and play with and at the end of the day everything got shoved back into a box and was out of sight.   Aren't the boxes just so pretty!?!

I'm slowly getting back on top of things with my blog too.  Sometimes it can feel so overwhelming but I think I'm beginning to get the handle on what is outstanding.  I've got some great competitions coming up over the next couple of weeks, my World Book Day Blog Hop starts on the 4th March and I'm currently writing some more book reviews to share with you as well as a handful of product reviews.  As long as the rest of the winter germs stay away March is going to be a good month!!

I will keep you all posted, naturally.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Project 365: Week Eight

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

We've been hit by sickness this week so I haven't been able to blog since my last Project 365 post, but luckily I have been able to keep up with taking the photos, just about!

48/365: Explorer Meg is on the case!  She did have Alfie as her explorer dog but unfortunately he wouldn't stand still long enough for me to take a picture!

49/365: You can always rely on children to be completely honest!  My favourite is the last (unprompted) promise!

50/365: Making the most of the mild weather and playing out in the garden.  It didn't last, typically, so I'm glad we spent the few days we could getting some much needed fresh air.

51/365: Alfie trying to make himself inconspicuous as he waits for me to throw the ball.

52/365: Hanging out...Meg style!

53/365: We were lucky enough to be invited to the family screening of Disney Junior's Princess Sofia the First.  Here's Meg examining herself after being primped and preened!

54/365: Having had her face painted (again!) at Ikea, where mummy spent far too much money on a great many things we probably didn't really need!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Project 365: Week Seven

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

I'm getting into the swing of taking a photo every day now.  I love that rather than forgetting and struggling to find one to use I'm finding that I'm taking so many every day it's difficult to choose just one to show!

Another positive is that the kids are becoming more used to having the camera stuck in their faces so don't tense up as much which has resulted in some really lovely natural photos.

41/365: Baking has become almost a weekly ritual in our house and Meg is getting good at doing most of the tasks herself with minimal help.  She's becoming quite the miniature Mary Berry!

42/365: A rare moment of captured affection between Meg and Eli, although he seems to be submitting to it somewhat reluctantly!

43/365: Ready for some pancakes!!

44/365: Meg rocking her Grammy's winter hat.

45/365: Despite the fact that we've already had several inches of snow, Eli was completely fascinated when he noticed it had started snowing outside.  He stood here for the best part of half an hour pointing it out to me!

46/365: A sneaky calorific treat for a Friday evening (I know how to live!)

47/365: ....and relax!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Book Love: World Book Day


It is no secret that I love to read and with World Book Day just around the corner on Thursday 7 March I thought I would try to share a bit more of the book love that I'm always harping on about!

So this is your advanced warning that the week beginning Monday 4 March I will be hosting a World Book Day Blog Hop where you can come and share perhaps the book you've just finished, your favourite novel, the bedtime story your children love to read or maybe a book from your own can be anything!

If you'd like to grab the badge I've made and share that on your post that would be super.  The code is:

<a href = "" target="_blank"><img src=""border="0"alt="WORLDBOOKDAY"></a>

You could also tweet your posts using #worldbooklove and I'll retweet and share them for you.  I'm also working on a pinterest page!

I hope people want to get involved, it's always nice to find new books to read and I think this is a great way to do it :)  Or alternatively shout if you've got any other ideas!


Thursday, 14 February 2013

IF you only do one thing today...

Make sure it's something connected to this!!

Did you know that more than 2 million children die each year because they can't get enough to eat?  That's 200 children every hour.

Did you know that nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night?

Did you know that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, everywhere?

Did you know that in June this year, the G8 summit will be happening in the UK.  That is leaders of the world's richest and most powerful countries coming together.  If these world leaders can tackle the fours IF's then we could see an end to world hunger.  
We could give every child a world free from hunger....

The ‘IF’ movement challenges the Prime Minister to tackle 4 big IFs to help there be enough food for everyone:

IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from hunger and help the poorest people to feed themselves through investment in small farmers.

IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.

IF governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.

IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.

To really see an end to world hunger we need to make as much noise about this issue as we can, here are some of the ways you can get involved:

- Sign the petition, lets show the world leaders that we are serious!

- Blog about the issue to help spread the word.

- Follow the cause on Twitter @enoughfoodIF and share content using #if or #tellamillion

- Get involved with some of the big charities supporting this cause @tearfund and @savechildrenuk to name but two.

- Watch and share this video (if you really need any more convincing!)

An end to world hunger could be a reality in our lifetime.  

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Babies, Babies, Babies...

Have you ever experienced one of those times where you and your partner have vastly differing opinions on something and neither of you are willing to budge?

That's where I'm at right now.  And it's related to a certain subject, one we've both been aware of but have never really sat down and talked about before as I think really we knew that our opinions were as opposite as opposite can be.  

The conversation about *whispers* more babies...

Recently I decided that as we were nearing Eli's 2nd birthday I'd bring the subject up.  I will be honest and say I had never directly brought it up before as I was fairly certain that my Other Half would say he was done and dusted and I was not am not.

I'd quite happily have an entire brood.  A rugby team of mini me's running around creating havoc (I'd also have more dogs, definitely some chickens and a couple of small animals as well but that's probably beside the point.)  My Other Half, no chance.  He is perfectly happy with two children and doesn't want any more thank you very much.  

And so since the royal mention, in which I tried to sweeten the deal by serenading him with Natasha Bedingfield's "I want to have your babies", we have had weeks of badly veiled comments; how we have the perfect family (my Other Half), how it would be nice to hold a newborn again (me), how when we go away we all fit so comfortably into our car (my Other Half) and how we needn't throw any of the baby things away because really, you never know (me) etc etc etc - the list is pretty endless to be honest!

As I type this neither of us have given ground.  We've talked about it, we've listened reasonably well to each other's opinions but we've both walked away convinced that we are in the right.  

How do we solve this?

It's a tricky subject because it's such an emotional one and there's not much of a compromise to be had!

I look at my two beautiful children and don't understand how anybody could not want to have another.  I don't see the added expenses, the needing a bigger car, the sleepless nights.  I just see my gorgeous babies and my biological clock chimes, shouts and waves its arms around wildly.  I love the potential they have, these new small human beings and I want to do that all over again.

My Other Half, being the more rational perhaps, sees the squeeze on finances, the teary hormonal months following the birth, the sleepless zombie nights arguing over who last got up and thinks "why would anyone want to go back to that?"  He looks at our two beautiful children and gives himself a pat on the back thinking how well we've done to produce two semi-refined human beings (I mean, some days they actually leave the food on the floor and let us sweep it up, that's pretty good going!)

Meg will be starting school in September, I have settled into my job, we've got a good routine going.  To have another baby would throw that all up in the air.  Which is kind of the way I like it.  I know we are so lucky to have Meg and Eli  and I never thought I'd reach the stage where I would be broody and begging for another child but as time ticks along and Meg and Eli evolve from being toddlers to actual real little people, I can't help but start to wonder what it would be like to add a third into the mix.

Some people will probably think this is way waaay too personal a subject to share but actually, I don't feel precious about it.  Whatever we decide in the end, right now we're in no mans land and I'm interested to know how other people have faced these conversations.

Who wins?  

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Wot so Funee: Nursery Rhymes

Wot So Funee?

We all know that once you become a mummy things like going to the bathroom on your own, in peace, become distant elusive memories until your children are much much older than mine.

Sometimes though, I can catch them out and actually make it to the bathroom and back before they notice I'm gone (usually with the distraction of Peppa Pig or some other pretentious television character)

Yesterday I tried to make one such escape when Meg suddenly came running up the stairs shouting "Mum, Mum, Muuuuuuum!"

Thinking there was some kind of emergency I burst out of the bathroom and collided with Meg in the hallway.

Me: "What's the matter, what's happened?"

Meg: "Mum, I know the Little Miss Muffet song *clears throat* 

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her buffet
Eating her curds and bana...erm her banana porridge...erm *giggles* her curds and porridge!
She saw a small spider who sat down beside her and *long pause*....oh I don't know the rest."

I'm so glad I made the effort for that little performance!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Project 365: Weeks Five and Six

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Last week our laptop decided to randomly stop working so I wasn't able to post my week of 365 photos so this week you're getting two for one!

27/365: Sometimes I'd love to be inside Meg's head.  Today, apparently was a good day to wear mummy's wellies!

28/365: Posing with her new pink dog, sometimes she is just so cute!

29/365: Eli perfecting the art of climbing into things he shouldn't.  Today, a dolls pushchair!

30/365: The start of my new craft project.  I chose this purely because of the name!  Luckily, it also turned out to be a nice colour :)

31/365: Nothing better than a cup of warm milk and bedtime stories in mummy and daddy's bed!

32/365: Watching Cars 2, pretty serious stuff!

33/365: We spent the afternoon at Madagascar Live!

34/365: Sleeping Meg clutching onto her gorgeous new car seat blanket.  We sat in the car for half an hour whilst I let her rest, probably not the most fun I've ever had!

35/365: Eli's latest craze, watching Cars wearing his Cars pyjamas (this was about 1 in the afternoon!)  

36/365: Enjoying a hot chocolate as part of Daddy and Meg day.

37/365: Don't get between this boy and his tractor!

38/365: Little Miss Meg posing in her beautiful dress.

39/365: Nipped in to check on Eli during his nap and found him smiling in his sleep, hope he was having a good dream!

40/365: Eli's next adventure: climbing into Annabell's cot!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Win a personalised cwtchie and bib set from Stepford Stitchers

I have always admired people who are gifted with fabric and sewing machines and making pretty things.  Always.  I'd love to count myself as one of their number but I don't think I would have the patience, time or skill - I'd be great at picking the beautiful fabric but I think after that I'd come quite unstuck!

So I was really pleased when I started seeing photos posted on my twitter timeline of bibs and dresses and dungarees.  If you aren't following @optforoptimism and you want to while away hours looking at nice things then you really should be!

With the advance of social media and the like there seems to have been a rise in the number of pages advertising for bespoke items.  We've had some good experiences and some bad, unfortunately, but I can honestly say that the things we've had from Stepford Stitchers have all been top quality.  I also think that Sophie is great, when I haven't really known what I was after ("just something pretty" being one fine example!) she was happy to make suggestions as to the fabric choices.

Sophie makes quilts, cwtchies and bibs (amongst other things) under 'Stepford Stitchers' and in March will be launching a Bespoke Baby Boutique called 'Puddles & Petticoats'

*If you are my Other Half I would look away now for your own sanity*

So far(!) she has made me two minky backed patchwork car seat blankets which the kids have carried everywhere since they arrived.  I have had so many people stop and ask where we got them from it's unbelievable.  Here is Meg modelling hers:

Then she made two of the most gorgeous dresses for Meg.  The design is brilliant and really suits Meg's body shape but Sophie also makes a number of other styles.  As I said, she isn't officially launching her clothing range until March but I know several people have already ordered and received dresses from her.  I will certainly be getting more before our holiday this summer.

We also won a cwtchie and bib set on her Facebook page competition which Sophie made in a fabric of my choosing.  The cwtchie is minky backed which has to be the softest material ever.  Ever.  I wish I'd known about these when the kids were smaller.  Although actually our house would most likely be full of them and my Other Half would probably be rocking in a corner so maybe it's for the best!

If you have a baby, I would 100% recommend one.  Eli usually carries a muslin cloth around with him but this has been cast aside unceremoniously for his new 'dacta' cwtchie!  It's gorgeous and I love that she has stitched his name on the back.  When a child at soft play took it this afternoon to show his mummy there was no way she could not hand it back to us! 

I also really like the taggies that are attached all around, I think for a younger baby the colours and textures would attract their attention.  Meg has also been fascinated by it, especially the tag which has the letter 'E' on it, she keeps proudly informing Eli that it's 'his' letter.  She has also asked for one to match her new blanket but I think she may be a bit old!

This post may come across as gushy (no, I'm not getting a discount for every nice thing I say!) but sometimes you happen to find something that you really like.  I really like the stuff that Sophie makes.  I like that Meg will be one of only a handful of girls wearing a dress like the ones above.  I like that Sophie is friendly and approachable and doesn't make me feel like a stalker every time I admire something she has made.  I like that when I asked her if she could make the dresses she sent for Meg a bit longer so they would last the summer she said "yes, send them back" without any issues.  I just like it!

Anyway, I digress.  

Whilst I'm busy drawing up orders of beautiful dresses and playsuits and thinking of fabrics for Eli's dungarees, Sophie has very kindly offered a cwtchie and bib set for someone to win!

If you would like your child to be the proud owner of a lovely personalised cwtchie and bib set (can you tell I'm a fan yet?!?) just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the meantime, why not check out some of the other things Sophie makes, just be prepared to spend a couple of hours daydreaming afterwards!

Disclaimer: I have received no payment for running this competition.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Love: I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk


"It's back" I hear you cry!  Well yes, kind of.  I managed to finish my book for the Duck Egg Book Club, squeeze in a bit of my Dickens book 'The Pickwick Papers' and finish another book, not bad going for January I don't think!

I don't think I'm going to manage to post a book review every Friday like I was at the end of last year but I did miss Book Love (and I am rather proud of my home-made badge *ahem*) so I'll just post as and when and if anyone wants to join in then please do!

I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk
Angela's back on home turf - and in her biggest romantic scrape yet

I requested this book from Tripfiction not realising it was part of an existing series.  I Heart London is about Angela Clark, british expat living in New York engaged to hunky American musician, friends with glam models and returning to England for the first time in 2 years since she ran away from her ex-boyfriend.

It all sounds very stereotypical doesn't it?

The thing is, I really liked the premise of the book and I chose it because it sounded like the kind of chick lit I would enjoy reading but it's a bit like when you find a really great sitcom and you have friends over and you're telling them all about this hilarious program you've found and you decide to sit down and watch an episode with them.  You are most likely laughing away and your friends haven't even cracked a smile.  I'm not the only person this has happened to right?  And I realised a while ago (possibly after the fourth or fifth time!) that it's because I've built up an understanding of the characters, all their amusing quirks and interesting traits.  I've gone on a journey with them and understand them.  We have inside jokes.  We're old friends.  That was this book, in a nutshell.

Frankly, I found Angela incredibly annoying.  I wrote in my notebook when I couldn't sleep one night for thinking about the story "Oh no!  My life is so perfect and no one in England understands that I came to New York and landed on my feet.  I better throw in a few common phrases and drink like a horse to make myself more accessible."  That's pretty much it.  She has an odd mix of English and American phrases, which I suppose makes sense although it got on my nerves.  But we are expected to accept that this woman who refers to herself often as a 'mare' also works for an up and coming fashion magazine and has models for friends.  I didn't get it, and I didn't believe it.

But if I'm going to be fair and honest, I didn't have any of her back history and I can see how reading the series from the beginning would help.

I enjoyed the way Lindsey Kelk wrote and I thought the story flowed and didn't get stuck in places or turn into a drudge although there were some parts where Angela seemed to do a complete turnaround, such as her relationship with her parents, without any real explanation which left me feeling a bit confused.  At one point I skipped back a few pages to see if I'd inadvertently missed out a chapter or two.

I am certainly going to buy the first book in the 'I Heart' series to see if it helps at all because I really want to like Angela.  I just couldn't.

All that said, Lindsey Kelk appears to have a fantastic knowledge of London and I loved her notes at the end for places to visit and hotels to stay.

I think if you enjoy chick lit and would be willing to start from the beginning then this is probably a very enjoyable series of books.  Perhaps.  I'll let you know when I've read the first one!

Currently Reading:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

If you've read any great books recently or written any reviews, please leave me the link below.  I'm always on the lookout for new books to try!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Wot So Funee - Sunshine

Wot So Funee?

It's that time of the week where I think back to the funny things Meg has said to us and share it with you!  There were quite a few humorous moments last week and I actually struggled to pick, but I think I settled on a good one!

We were driving to my parents house to collect something one afternoon last week and it meant driving down a country lane.  As we came round a corner Meg exclaimed "Mummy, look the sun is shining on the hills!"

My absent-minded, I hate driving down pot-hole filled country lanes especially when there is a BMW driving right up my behind, response was "Oh cool"

"Cool, Mummy?" said Meg, "the sunshine isn't cool, the sunshine is hot!"

"Oh, sorry Meg, yes the sunshine is hot"

"But why did you say it was cool, cool is when it isn't cold and when it isn't hot."

"Yes, it's just something Mummy said, sorry."

"Oh Mummy, don't worry about it, we all get it wrong sometimes.  Even me."

Well, thanks for the vote of confidence Meg!

Monday, 4 February 2013

The MAD Blog Awards 2013

MAD Blog Awards

When the nominations for the 2013 MAD Blog Awards first opened my twitter timeline was awash with bloggers talking about it; who they were going to nominate, asking for nominations; suggesting potential nominees to others.  I had thought I wouldn't bother asking for nominations, there are so many great blogs around that it's going to be incredibly tough competition.

My Other Half is always commenting that I never consider my blog to be 'good enough' and I should have more confidence in my ability and then today the first list of nominations has appeared for Best Writer and my name is on it!

I don't know who decided I was a good candidate for Best Writer but MWAH MWAH MWAH!  I was looking over the list to see if any of my favourite bloggers had appeared already and there was my name!

So then I thought, why not give it a go?  Unfortunately I'm not witty enough to write a humorous post about why you should consider nominating me (Meg didn't get her hilarity from me!) so I'm going to have to go for the cards on the table, heart on my sleeve approach.

If you're not from the world of blogging and haven't a clue what the MAD Blog Awards are or why you should bother nominating then basically, they are an opportunity for blog readers to nominate their favourite Mum & Dad blogs in 15 different categories.  The top 4 bloggers with the most nominations in each category (plus one additional blog chosen by the judges) will make the finals, and will attend a gala awards ceremony in London in September 2013.

Nominations are open until February 18 2013.

So, if you enjoy reading my blog and think my blog would be deserving of an award, I would love a nomination for 'best new blog' or 'best family life blog'.  If you can think of another category you'd like to nominate me for then I would also be honoured to receive that nomination.

Thank you all in advance :)