Leaving the Property Ladder – What’s the Big Deal?

So finally. The second part of my big revelation. We are selling our house! If you follow my Instagram stories you’ll know that already. So if you are a regular visitor of my social pages you will remember me declaring last month that I am feeling really positive and optimistic. An exciting next chapter is beginning in our lives and I’m full of hope. Focusing on the hope and possibilities of a situation helps me remain excited and not get stressed. The first reason I told you all about here.

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The property ladder is constantly something pushed to us but what’s the big deal?! Since I can remember, society has forced the idea upon me that it’s the be all and end all to own your own property. I totally get that there is security in owning your own home.

Hearing buzz phrases like “you need to secure your future for your retirement” are heard from a young age. But times are not what they used to be. People are living differently to how they used to back in the day.

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As a society we are travelling more, some of us living on the move for quite some time. But to the older generation I think the thought of not having some bricks and mortar to come back to is a scary prospect.

It’s September 2018, with a deal still not agreed for Brexit, there is a potential for the housing market to crash and property prices to drop by up to a third…or so I’ve read. Although this is of course speculation but it seems like a good a time as any to sell up. George isn’t getting any smaller and we’d love to add to our family.

Myself and hubs are stuck on an interest only mortgage, stuck in a house that’s no longer fulfilling our needs, our life jackets are on and we are full heartedly jumping ship. When I say we are stuck, trust me, we are. We’ve consulted financial and mortgage advisors. Without blacklisting ourselves the only way out is to sell.

I don’t particularly wish to divulge the detailed ins and outs of our financial situation or how we ended up in this position. In short we purchased our house with a 105% mortgage just before the last recession back in 2007. We had no deposit, no bank of mum and dad and wanted to consolidate debts.

Some of our debt had been accrued through putting commute expenses on credit cards as hubs was working within London but not earning enough to pay the expenses. Such is life at times. Having a job doesn’t mean you are thriving. So many in this country work damn hard but still struggle to pay for the essentials of life.

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We were both raised by parents who didn’t really believe in not paying for things in full. They tried not to take out credit or “HP” as they call it. Hubs and I have always been of the mentality “you only live once, if you want it, have it”. I’m not talking silly things like Ferrari’s or Caribbean holidays. We only took staycations (aside from a med cruise we booked to celebrate my first pay packet). We bought a nice tele and simple things. If we saw some nice chocolate cakes we had them. We don’t own designer clothes or expensive handbags. We’ve lived within our means….or so we thought.

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So we have reached a point where we have outgrown our house. We have potential to extend but no funds to do so. It could be years before we could. All the while our quality of life is affected. We are living on top of one another 24/7. Hubs needs a home office. We know we have a pretty decent amount of equity in our property because the housing market has reached ridiculous prices. So why not cash in on that and move into rental?

Yeah I actually said it. We are going to LEAVE the property ladder and join the RENTAL market.

We could never even dream of buying anything bigger than our 2 bed in our county. Not without moving to the type of area most people wish they could get out of. We are also at the stage where wherever we move, the schools have to be good for George.

But the rental market is a different ballgame. Not least because we will have more cash available on a monthly basis because we will be debt free. Using the equity from the sale of our property, we can clear our debts, all outstanding loans and start a fresh. We can rent a larger property whilst stashing a potential deposit in the bank or a limited access saver.

When the time comes where we are feeling it’s the right time, we can hopefully jump back on the ladder. It may not be in our current area. But by that point we may be better suited to moving away. The further north you go, the cheaper it seems to get. It’s crazy how much prices vary!

We have even considered buying in maybe years time in our potential desired area for retirement, Norfolk. We may then rent it out until we are ready to move in ourselves. No one knows what the future holds for either of us and the security of a roof over our heads is obviously paramount.

There are so many options. We can continue to build that deposit. This is an exciting time for us. For many though the ladder is the dream. It’s so hard to get on to. All you read in the papers is how hard it is for young people to get on the ladder. And here we are, willingly leaving it. Oh the travesty. But to us it has cons but right now, the pros outweighs the cons by a mile.

Do I worry that we will be retired with little or no income coming in and having to find money for rent or mortgage payments? No. Hubs has his finger in many pies. Although I’m self employed, my input to the business will grow as George starts full-time school next year, increasing our earnings further. It will all work out. I’m willing to return to my previous career if need be as I can join that back at the top-level I left it, with a little retraining. There are ALWAYS options.

Sometimes you can’t always do what’s right for the future. Sometimes you have to do what’s right for now.

Whilst I’d love to know your thoughts on this, we are so sure this is the right decision for US. We know our situation better than anyone so don’t try to convince me otherwise. I know many may frown upon this idea which is one if there reasons I’ve been reluctant to share the news for so long.

What next? Well at the moment we have to wait for the sale of our house to be around one month away from completion before we can look for a rental. Obviously the rental market moves a lot quicker than all the legal stuff involved in the sale of a house. Estate agents just aren’t interested in showing us rentals until we are further into the process of selling our house.

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For many this is alien. People are asking me if we have “found anywhere to live yet”. Which I don’t mind because I wouldn’t expect people to understand this unusual process. But this is how it is. We wait for a potential buyer to make an offer on our house, once accepted we have to let the process evolve. When everything is looking good to go, then we can view rentals and hopefully get the keys before moving day. As long as we have exchanged contracts on the house so we don’t end up paying two lots of bills. That way we can also ease the transition of moving rather than it being all one big moving day.

Stay on the lookout for some more lighthearted posts from me on selling houses the Gorgeous George’s Mama way.

Have you ever left the housing ladder to join the rental market? I haven’t met anyone who has and would love to know your experience. Estate agents we speak to our surprised by our decision. They haven’t come across many people who do what we are. We have found a fabulous estate agents who are helping us through this process step by step.

Preparing to conceive with the AVA bracelet

Are you trying to conceive? Have you heard of the Ava bracelet?  Ava is focused on women’s health.

The Ava bracelet isn’t just for women trying to conceive. It can also be used to help track your cycle as well as being worn during pregnancy for regular monitoring of your body.

The Ava bracelet has got me so excited. You may have recently seen my social media update declaring I am full of positivity and optimism. Ava is one of the reasons why. Conceive

Ava cannot necessarily assist everyone. For example, for women with PCOS, irregular or non-existent cycles Ava cannot fix this. The Ava bracelet assists women with a regular cycle but highlighting their most fertile period. Whilst many products on the market pinpoint the approximate 48 hours within ovulation, Ava does more than this.

Other tests (which I have already tried unsuccessfully this time around) indicate the last 2 days of the fertile window. The Ava bracelet collects physiological data whilst you sleep. Ava then pinpoints a 5 day window, detecting the very beginning of your fertile window.

Ava claim to advise you of “more fertile days than any other method”.  Despite all those years growing up thinking I could fall pregnant easily at any time, it turns out there’s actually only a small window that this can happen.

Who are avawomen.com and what do they stand for?

Ava Women are ridiculously passionate about bringing the Ava brand to the world. The team are spread between a base in San Francisco and their Global headquarters in Switzerland.  They are a group of doctors and scientific researchers, committed to making scientific advancements to better understand the menstrual cycle. In a world where technology plays a huge role in almost every part of our lives, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been many advancements in women’s health tracking. Ava Women hope to change this.

“We don’t just make products, we conduct clinical studies and publish peer-reviewed papers.”  taken from avawomen.com

How does the Ava bracelet work?

While you’re sleeping, Ava’s sensors collect data on nine different physiological parameters. Ava’s algorithm then detects your fertile window, physiological stress level, sleep quality, and more. –  taken from avawomen.com

The data collected each night is synced to your phone and automatically entered into a chart. Gradually you will begin to build a picture of how many hours you sleep (this is useful ammo against hubs if you already have a child),It also monitors your resting pulse rate, skin temperature, breathing rate, and HRV which is short for heart rate variability (basically stress levels).

In order for an adequate amount of data to be collected, you have to wear the bracelet for at least 4 hours each night. The information that Ava measures doesn’t confirm if you are fertile but rather when. It uses the data collected to create an algorithm which recognises when your body is signalling that it is entering the fertile window, and hence at the prime time to conceive.

Set up and using the Ava bracelet.

The Ava bracelet is easy to use and stress free. On receiving the bracelet, it needed to be charged for a minimum of 2 hours. After downloading the Ava app on app store (or Google Play store) I set up my account. It helps if you already know a few details about your cycle such as dates of last period and average cycle length. This is something I already tracked on an app. I then synced the bracelet with my phone. The bracelet is found automatically once bluetooth is enabled.

Each evening before I go to sleep, I put the bracelet on my non dominant arm, just above the wrist bone. It’s a simple buckle strap, not too tight. I’m not aware of it during the night when I’m sleeping. In the morning I remove the bracelet, plug it into a power source and sync it to the app to download the data collected that night.

It’s so simple and easy. You can also join a closed Facebook group (so it’s not visible on your profile) to help you with support and analysing your charts.

Trying to conceive George.

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I’ve always been pretty good at getting my own way. So it kind of pisses me off  utterly frustrates me that when I want a baby, I can’t just have one! I’m so grateful for George and whilst my eight month conception journey to have him is miniscule compared to the struggle of others, I did let it consume me.

I don’t feel the same this time around. I would love so much to have another baby. A baby that I can enjoy minus the post natal depression (or at least with treatment this time). Another chance to use and learn from the mistakes I made the first time around. Maybe the chance to be Mama to a daughter. But mostly because I am SO sure that George will make the most kind, helpful and amazing big brother.

Those who know me know I research the back-end out of everything I do. Queen of Googling. I thought I knew all the tricks. I tried my hardest to not actually “try” to conceive. Knowing that the more you stress over it the less likely it is to happen (or so they say). We both took all the conception vitamins. I stopped drinking alcohol to try to get my body in tip-top condition. I even stopped making social plans. Firstly because I didn’t think I could enjoy myself without a drink (isn’t that sad!), secondly because I was always thinking “I can’t agree to that sponsored walk because what if I’m pregnant by then”.

Legs up the wall, optimal positions, you name it, we did it.  After 7 months, my sister lent me her ovulation monitor. You pee on a stick when it tells you to and when you get the smiley face you go hell for leather and ta da, a baby. And after the first month using this machine, I discovered that in fact I ovulate way after my period tracking app suggested I did.

At the same month we started using the monitor I found out I was 2 to 3 weeks pregnant. I’ve always attributed our success in conception to the ovulation monitor. However it is also the time I took advice from a friend and just stopped caring and started to say yes again. Yes to that holiday, yes to that night out. In the end I was so busy during my pregnancy it was unreal. George was born 9 months later and the rest is history. But this time is a WHOLE different story.

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Trying for a second.

Last year we decided it would be a good time to start trying for a sibling. Since George’s birth, we haven’t used any contraception. so you could say we have always been trying to conceive. Although as most first time parents will know, having a child to care for is contraception in itself. You are way to tired and touched out for that shizzle come the end of the day.

For the first year I was breastfeeding and didn’t have ANY periods. Although it’s not supposed to be a trusted method of contraception, I believe breastfeeding stopped me getting pregnant in the first year. When my periods returned we sometimes used the pulling out method as I was never sure it was right for us to be having another yet. Again, kids this isn’t a safe way to avoid getting pregnant.

So last year I knew I wanted George to be a sibling. I didn’t want a baby too badly just yet, and I wanted to try to fall before I became over the top broody to eliminate the pressure and stress. It wasn’t happening. “Simple” I thought and out came my sister’s ovulation monitor.

3 months down and no smiley face. I went to see the doctor who booked me in for an internal ultrasound to check the health of my ovaries. After suspecting I may be starting early menopause (as the women do in my family), I was relieved to find out I wasn’t. Everything was the level it should be.

Hubs was going to get checked out but then my body started to really play up. I gained three stone taking medication for my migraines. I also have a problem with my hip which is affecting my quality of life.

Long story short, we had to make the sensible choice to halt trying for a baby. I’m under a consultant and physio for my hip and slowly losing weight. We suspect my health will have improved enough by the end of 2018, start of 2019 that we can start trying to conceive again.

Conceive

Now seems the perfect time to start using the Ava bracelet and build up my data within the app. I’m hopeful that when the time comes we will be better informed about the prime time to play the baby making game conceive.

My verdict

Obviously I would love to say that we have successfully conceived using the Ava bracelet…but I haven’t put the data to good use yet. What I will say is if you are looking for an aid to help you better plan your conception journey, then I feel Ava takes the stress out of it. At a RRP of £249 it’s not cheap.

But it’s worth bearing in mind that you can continue to wear it during pregnancy. The app also gives you a pregnancy tracker, giving you weekly insights on what to expect. I’m really excited about the potential this bracelet has for us (in case you hadn’t gathered). I can’t wait to share it with you all!

There may be some of you that thinks this all seems very involved. That you should just let nature take its course. But as someone who doesn’t appear to fall pregnant easily, it’s invaluable to me, as I’m sure it will be to many couples.

If you would like to purchase an Ava bracelet for yourself, you can get £20 off by using this link and the code;

GORGEOUSGSMAMA20

**Disclosure – I received an Ava bracelet in return for this review. Opinions are my own and this does not affect the integrity of this post**

Last Day Of School Holidays – Welcoming The Return With Open Arms.

💃 It’s the last day of the school holidays and I can’t say I’m not doing a little victory dance 💃

This time last year I was preparing for George’s first ever day of preschool, and let’s just say I wasn’t in a great place. Read all about it here. He cried, I cried, I pretty much cried my way through September. But it got easier. We both made friends, fab friends who we now have the most fun with. The little shits weren’t that bad and in this past year George has more than learnt to handle himself or deal with tricky situations. For all the anxious Mama’s packing their children off to their first day, I promise you, it gets better.

I’ll always remember pre motherhood seeing mums saying “is it time for the kids to go back to school yet…hurry the fuck up”

And my innocent little mind was thinking “oh why do you mothers detest your children so much?!”

“You asked for those little buggers, why aren’t you cherishing every gorgeous hair on their head every moment of your blessed day!” (Laughs deliriously)

And then I became a Mama. I put my kid in nursery and school holidays were still life as normal for me. Then due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to take him out of nursery. He got a place at the local government preschool system last September.

I never forget the realisation that every school holiday I would have to look after my OWN child 24/7 for a week or more! Now in all honesty the first half term in October was a blesséd relief. I think we both cried our way through September and we needed to get ‘our’ time back.

Cut to today when we are on the last day of our first experience of SIX WHOLE WEEKS of the schools being closed. I’m not going to lie. It’s flown by in a funny kind of way. All these plans we had and we didn’t get around to half of them. Seeing all these posts of “you only get 18 summers with your child” aren’t helpful.

On the one hand you are thinking “Fuck” I’ve got to make this summer all singing, all dancing, cherish every minuscule moment of every day. On the other you are thinking this was totally written by someone that doesn’t have kids! What teenager spends every day of the summer with their Mum! I’m thinking we’ve got 10 summers together max!

Anyway, that’s neither here or there. Facing facts, me and George are bored of one another. My creative enthusiasm for playing and inventing new activities is at its lowest. Owing mostly to the fact I spend ages setting something up, he looks at it and just wants to watch television or do something else. I don’t think he even knows what he wants anymore.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that….

George has pretty much refused to be looked after by any family or friends this summer so it’s been full on. As a result he has tested our parenting boundaries something chronic.

He so badly needs to go back to preschool and gain some discipline and control over his behaviour. Listening to people in charge that aren’t his parents. I have huge respect to the preschool workers who take care of our little darlings each session.

We have resorted to a behaviour chart but that’s another story for another day.

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So all the mamas I silently judged pre motherhood, this is my apology to you. Looking after your own kid for 6 full weeks is bloody intensive. And don’t read this in a “she’s a cold hearted bitch” kinda way. Most mamas know I’m being facetious. Us mamas are only human and we have to have time off being in charge of mini humans.

I literally feel like tomorrow when I drop him off will be the biggest relief. Not least because I’m still not sure if he will get upset and make drop offs difficult as he did for the majority of last year. He loved it once he’s there. I’ve seen the pictures and videos as proof. Often I can see or hear he’s stopped crying before I’m out of the playground.

And what will I be doing? Well I have a few more things to prepare before my big revelation about why I’ve been so optimistic and positive of late. (Although this post really isn’t indicative of this ) .

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And when I go to pick George up I’m hoping I find a child that’s refreshed and ready to adore my company again and me him. He literally said to me, can you go out and not come back please so me and Daddy can just watch Knightrider. Thanks kid. Love you too. I’m totally ready for him to be someone else’s problem for three hours.

How do you feel about the school holidays. Baring in mind we are still going through the toddler tantrum stage. My stance may change as the years progress. Are the long summer holidays  even necessary? Couldn’t we just break up the other terms?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Bing Live Show – a review

Round the corner, not far away, Bing is coming to your local theatre to play.

We are complete Bingster’s in our house. The CBeebies loveable Bunny Bing is a regular on our screens and I have even been known  to take some parenting tips from Flop. Bing actually came to Cbeebies screens the year George was born 2014 making it feel special to us in some way.

The Television show is actually based on books written by Ted Dewan. I found a fab interview with him here, which explains more about his vision for the show and what it should become.

I contacted the press team who were kind enough to not only send tickets to myself, hubs and George for the Bing Live Show but also a fab goody bag. Checkout what was in the goody bag over on our IGTV .

Bing

Details about the show.

Currently touring theatres across the UK, the show is 80 minutes long, including the 15 minute interval. The Bing Live show is touring 60 venues around the UK until April 2019. Tickets prices vary from theatre to theatre.

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Credit Johan Persson – Images Courtesy of Bright Media

Our experience of Bing Live.

The Bing Live show was engaging, exciting and really well produced. I’ve been to a few theatre shows aimed at toddlers now and they can only be described as hilarious carnage! If you have read my previous post “What will my child become?“, you will know that George is the epitome of sensible. He’s able to sit still and watch shows from beginning to end without fidgeting, fussing or complaining he wants to do something else. I’m not bragging, but I forget that this isn’t “the standard norm” (whatever that is) for toddlers.

So whenever we attend a show where the bulk of the audience are toddlers, I’m often in hysterics at how funny it is to be in a room with 100+ toddlers all trying to be kept ship-shape and quiet. Hence the description “hilarious carnage”. With Bing Live , it is anticipated, hell, expected even, that the little ones will roam around, shout, clap, scream. It’s embraced. I think this helps to take the pressure off the adults from trying to maintain the decorum expected of a visit to the theatre.

Bing

As I was saying, at previous theatre shows aimed at this age, the carnage has sometimes been a little distracting and over ridden the show itself. I didn’t find this with the Bing Live show. The volume was somehow magically loud enough to always be able to hear it despite the excitable audience. But it wasn’t excessively loud that it unnerved or upset any of the little ones. I don’t know how they did it but it was really clever.

The narrator gave us a typical countdown to the show starting so our little audience could get excited. George is pretty reserved so it was so lovely to see him anticipating the show starting. He was so excited bless him. As the curtain rose and Bing and Flop entered the stage, we got out first look at how the show was present.

We had already watched the trailer video on Facebook, so we knew the characters were all puppets. The thinking behind this was that the characters could be a relatable size for the children. Not too large they are scary, but not too small you can’t see their expressions. I loved reading more about the Magic Behind the Puppets on the Bing Live site.

Each character was cleverly manoeuvred around the stage using rods attached to the puppeteer’s feet and body. Whilst the puppeteer voiced the characters.

They all sounded more or less the same as the characters on the show, although Bing himself was a little more shrill and not as husky as he is on the show. He was voiced by a female. They all did a fabulous job. I would love to know if their voices are naturally that tone and pitch or if they were enhanced at all.

The live show is literally like watching toddler play and imagine and explore. The characters were as excited to see us as we were them. They then played out before us, their own make-believe theatre. Imagining and dressing up and exploring through singing and dancing.  There were moments the audience were encouraged to participate in the singing and dancing and this was lots of fun. It was also really helpful that the lights went up for these parts of the show.

I don’t want to give away much more except that it’s a great show that appears to be written by people who understand young children and parenthood. Little touches like announcing the interval with Bing declaring he needs a wee and everyone getting all aboard the toilet train. Cue a room full of grown ups asking their child if they need the toilet train, instead of the usual battle to get them to try for a wee. We loved it!

Bing

George’s verdict:

He absolutely loved the show and took his Bing and Sula teddies along to share it with him. When the crowd were asked to join in the singing and dancing, we did this with his teddies instead. He is quite shy to sing or dance out of the comfort of his own home with just us watching so this was the perfect way for him to still take part and enjoy it. Our seats were perfect and he had a great view. His feet were tapping and he couldn’t sit still from excitement. When I asked what his favourite part was, he replied “All of it”

Our local show was held at The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre in Southend-On-Sea, Essex.  It’s not the first time hubs and I visited the Cliffs, but it was the first time we have visited with George and fully explored the theatre grounds. It’s modern, comfortable with air conditioning inside the theatre. There’s plenty of seating inside and outside to relax and enjoy a drink or a snack before the show. Upstairs is a pretty cool and comfortable selection of seating booths. Decorated in a funky seaside print. it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the stunning sea views. After the show we took a walk down the steps to the seafront and as the tide had just gone out, we watched lots of tiny crabs making their way back to the water’s edge.

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If you do attend the show, be sure to have a piccie in front of the photo wall. Share it on social media with the hashtag #Bingstar.

Bing

**Disclosure – we were provided with tickets to the show and a goody bag in return for our own review. All opinions are our own and do not affect the integrity of this post **

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Why I became a blogger – By Gorgeous George’s Mama

You probably have never wondered why I became a blogger, but I’m going to tell you anyway. So back in August 2015 I was a first time mum to a 10 month old. The first 10 months had plenty of those famous “magic moments”. But it was literally the hardest 10 months of mine and hubs relationship.

This is despite myself undergoing major spinal surgery in and learning to walk again in the first year of our relationship in our teens! But becoming parents was even harder. So here I was feeling pretty angry at the world for not being more honest with me.

Blogger

I only knew the basics of pregnancy and motherhood. I knew you got fatter, you might throw up and you could get stretch marks during pregnancy. Oh my word was there a lot you ladies in my life failed to divulge. Read my thoughts on The truth about pregnancy here.

Then there was new motherhood. I knew I would have less sleep and less freedom (whatever that meant) but other than comments like “enjoy it whilst it lasts”, there was no way I was prepared for new motherhood. Could anyone have prepared me? I actually don’t know. Maybe they tried?

I know I used to live life thinking “that’s them and this is me and I’ll be different”. But overall every new Mum (maybe even new dad?) pretty much experiences the same feelings and emotions just to differing degrees.

Blogger

So I’ve ALWAYS loved writing. Poems, short stories. I had a lull after leaving school but I maintained the poetry and was even asked to write a special birthday poem for a friend’s relative. I wanted to share THE TRUTH with women everywhere. To my knowledge the truth wasn’t out there. I certainly hadn’t found it.

So I looked into starting a blog and I saw that this was something you could actually make a career out of. Little did I know it’s not as easy as it appears on face value. So after much deliberation and discussion with hubs, I decided on the name Gorgeous George’s Mama. I had my very own George as my muse and he was often referred to as the Georgeous.

It was also still in the days when Prince William and Kate had only one child, Prince George. My simple, it’s-so-easy-to-crack-this-internet-business brain decided that people would be searching for “Gorgeous George” all the time. This owing to the fact Prince George had been born before our very own Georgeous.

By the way, our George is named after my Grandad and was always going to be George or Georgie regardless or gender for years prior to the royal baby.

Blogger

Anyway, my plan for my page to be popping up in peoples supposed daily searches wasn’t what I had naively hoped and here I am, along with now millions of other parenting bloggers, all trying to be heard. The trend to speak “THE TRUTH” about motherhood and parenting has grown massively since 2015. Did I jump on a bandwagon? If I did it was completely obliviously, as I was new to this thing.

So since the original “plan” I’ve come a long way. I’ve fallen in and out of love with blogging. I’ve learnt tonnes and it’s an area where you never stop learning. It’s also exhaustive and you can literally never stop if you aren’t careful. You have to draw a line when it comes to promotion and interacting with people supporting you via social media.

So when I’ve been asked to clarify what I hope to achieve with my blog I’ve always though it was to share “THE TRUTH”. I’ve now moved onto the fact that this is only MY truth and there are so many other truths out there. Not only that but I’ve discovered some fab fellow parent and lifestyle bloggers and ladies that run hilarious and insightful Facebook pages.

To be honest there are a lot of women who do “THE TRUTH” one hundred times better than me and I love them for it. They are funnier, have a better way with words and I support them and share them with others.

So then I’m left wondering why on Earth I’m doing this thing they call blogging when I’m not and never will be “the best”, hell if I even want to be!? And then it hit me. Yes I want to always be truthful as long as it’s helpful. There’s no point telling people a truth just to be hurtful. It has to have a potential benefit to their lives. Having worked in the NHS (national health service to anyone not UK based) for 11 years prior to motherhood, I love to help people. And that’s what I want this blog to be.

I want to help them find fun places to go or fun activities to do. From big days out to sharing little games and activities me and George think up. I want to recommend baby and toddler classes, places to go out with friends when you need to feel like you again or for anyone who isn’t a parent. To share truths about life and encourage people to improve their lives by getting essential tests and check ups. My blog goals are to be encouraging, enlightening and overall enjoyable to read. I want people to laugh along with me about the crap I go brooch in life, because if you can’t laugh about it then you’re gonna cry your way through life. So if you want to read something like that, then you have come to the right place.

My tagline?

  • A woman who’s always learning, sharing her fascinations with you through a mama’s eyes

  • Poetically analysing motherhood and life.

  • Crazy cat lady turned gorgeous George’s Mama. Poetically mastering motherhood and life.

Or something along those lines. Feel free to help me out on this. Thanks for dropping by.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Christmas in July – Tomy Toys UK

I recently attended the Tomy Christmas in July Event and it was a really informative and fun day, albeit bizarre when it’s 32 degrees celsius outside. George had great fun testing out all the latest toys. These have either recently been released or shall be available to buy in time for Christmas 2018.

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I’m sure most of you have heard of TOMY Toys but how much do your really know about them?

I was lucky enough on the day to listen to a talk from Marketing Lead for Tomy, Tom Ueshima who had travelled over from Japan. He explained how Tomy originated as a Japanese toy manufacturer. After making toys for over 90 years, the company originally manufactured toy aeroplanes.

Whilst Tomy UK was established in 1982, an extension of Takara Tomy in Japan. Tomy is actually ONE of the top FIVE toy companies in the world! I honestly didn’t realise just how much of the market Tomy dominates.

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Fundamentally children and the Good Toy Guide

I was also fortunate to meet Amanda from Fundamentally children who have partnered with Tomy. Fundamentally children endorse products listed in The Good Toy Guide.

The guide can help you choose the right toy, app or product for a child based on age, type or skill they will develop. I’m a big believer in children learning through play. I’ve witnessed it with George. I wasn’t aware of this guide. I heard of it but I didn’t understand how valuable it is.

Fundamentally Children is an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play. 

Their vision is;

To help create a world where children are able to fulfil their potential and develop the skills they need to thrive throughout their lives. whilst enjoying a safe, happy and playful childhood.

Tomy is one of the first brands who have committed to submitting every item in their range to the fundamentally children independent evaluation. The good toy guide are selective about who they work with so this is a big tick for Tomy.

In order to be approved for the guide, a toy has to have 9 out of the 15 marks. The toys are tested by children, observed by play workers. By making this commitment Tomy are opening themselves up to scrutiny.

Some of the things the guide look for are what happens the first 5 minutes after a child receives a toy. Following on, the next half an hour do they get bored? Do they share it with their friends? Do they develop a new skill or learn something new. Fundamentally children also organise in Store play days in toy store Smyths and they also attended this years 3ft festival in Chelmsford, Essex (my local).

Fab toys to look out for.

As we were shown around the games room, we recognised a familiar face from our visit to Kidtropolis back in October last year. George instantly remembered the ladies face and sat down to play one of the new must haves for Christmas 2018, Run-Around-hamster. This is available from Smyths for ages 5+ at the RRP £22.99.

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Who needs subbuteo when you have robotic football in the form of Soccerborg! After this years World Cup excitement, we are definitely more hyped than usual for footie games. One controller can control up to 4 robots. Each set comes with 2 robots 2 controllers 2 balls, 2 goals.  Age 6+. Available from Asda and Amazon at the RRP £59.99.

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Some of the favs that caught the boys eyes were Stinkbomz . You open the capsule to reveal one of 8 Stinkbomz. Each with their own smell and sounds. None of them were as offensively smelling to me as the name suggests, thankfully. RRP £9.99.

I was also embarrassingly excited to see the Thomas and Friends Big Loader set still being made. I remember playing with this when I was younger with my younger nephew or cousin.  This is available for RRP £34.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Toymaster.

Hubs and George (pictured below), had a blast racing remote control Tractors. Whilst I listened to some of the informative talks on throughout the event, George was really engrossed in playing with the hugely realistic Britains farming toys. The detail and quality was spectacular as the vehicles are a 1:32 scale of the originals. Ranging from £21.99-29.99 they really are a worthy investment for any agricultural enthusiasts.

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Before attending the Christmas in July event, I hadn’t realised that Tomy have many sub brands including AquaDoodle and Lamaze. We totally need to upgrade our Aquadoodle that we purchased for George’s 1st birthday.

The new Super Rainbow Deluxe reveals a scene underneath and retails at £24.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Argos. George goes crazy for the Aquadoodle Designer Dress advert when it’s on tele.

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Another sub brand of Tomy, Kii-Pix, have developed a smartphone picture printer you can use on the go. It’s the perfect pressie for the tween/teen in your life.

They come in pink, blue and black and work without any batteries, wifi or the need to install an app. I could make great use of one of these. See the Christmas tree montage they created below. Along with the fab sushi art to promote the brand.

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Moving on to the baby range. If and when our dreams of having another baby happen I am without a doubt getting some of the more modern products from the Boon range. For George we have our eye on the Frog Pod available from Amazon RRP £21.99.

The Lamaze Spin and Explore garden gym adds a new perspective to tummy time. The centre Ladybird, slowly spins round giving your baby their own little fairground in your front room. RRP £38.99 from Argos.

The Lamaze 4-in-1 play gym evolves into a fun teepee for toddlers if you have children of varying ages. It retails at £69.99 from Debenhams.

I hope you have enjoyed reading all about our day and I hope I will be bringing to you more posts in collaboration with Tomy.

Do you have any of these products? Are there any that catch your eye?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Meditating to distraction

Meditating seemed like a good idea at the end of an intense day. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately with a lot of changes life changing decisions being made at home. I’ve never meditated before, nor do I know how.

But briefly I figured that imagining myself on a desert island, toes in the sand, crystal clear water lapping around me was the perfect start. Eyes shut and lying back on my bed, I could see it. I have a pretty vivid imagination anyway but I could see how blue the water was. I could almost feel the warmth of the sand. The sun on my bare back. With my wind chime gently clinking in the back garden, the scene was set!

And then suddenly…a wood pigeon, yeah that’s right, the cooing of a wood pigeon. Then a bloody man rides past on a bicycle. Focus, focus. You are losing your way here. But I can’t get that orange fence out the corner of my eye. Just in the middle of my perfect beach scene. And then a neighbour pops their head over the fence, BBQ tongues in hand, and asks if I want a hotdog?

The to do list starts to creep back into my head and…fuck it! I’m back on the bed!

Next time I might try it with earplugs. I can see why a lot of Mamas opt for wine instead.

Please note, pinch of salt not provided with this post.

Until next time…

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

*Review – Finding Their Way Home By Nicky Copeland

**Disclosure – We were gifted a copy of “Finding Their Way Home ” A wonderful tale of two rescue cats. Written by Nicky Copeland and Illustrated by Little Wing Design. In return we are providing our honest review of the book, all opinions are our own. **

I was recently asked if I would be interested in reviewing a copy of “Finding Their Way Home” written by Nicky Copeland and illustrated by Little Wing Design. Anyone that knows me will tag me in anything cat related. We are massive cat lovers in this house.

Our copy of “Finding their way home” by Nicky Copeland arrived and before I could get it, our soppy cat Bubbles plonked his pooey arse on the envelope. He has some intestinal issues and is occasionally does this. I’m forever shampooing things or chasing him around wiping his backside with a wet wipe, bless him. It’s all fun in this house huh.

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Our cat Bubbles

Anyway back to the book It’s a story about two cats, Cleo and Baloo who were both rescued by the author Nicky and her boyfriend.

What’s unusually great about this book is not only is it a cute children’s tale it’s also informative about how to introduce new cats to one another in the home.

I will always support and encourage the adoption of rescue cats over breeding. There are so many unwanted cats and dogs out there. All three of ours have been rescued or taken in from either the cats protection or our own family after their residency didn’t work out.

The story, “Finding their way home” tells the tale of a stray cat called Cleo. She is adopted by a lovely lady and her partner. We follow Cleo’s journey as she explores her new home and starts to feel loved again. Then one day she is introduced to some new toys and a blanket.  She’s told they are to help her adjust.

Soon it’s clear what she’s adjusting to when her new brother Baloo arrives. They are introduced over the course of several days. Sometimes they chase, sometimes they hug, sometimes they sit and watch the world go by. And the rest I will leave you to find out.

At the end of the book, the author Nicky has written a brief guide. The page long guide explains how to introduce your cats to one another. It’s really useful and is accurate to the guides and books I read when introducing my cats when they each arrived. If you rush their introduction is can have stressful consequences for both you and your cat. Myself and hubs were so eager to see our cats together that we once tried to skip parts of the gradual introduction. It backfired and we ended up separating them and going back to stage one.

If you are ever thinking of getting a cat as a pet I would totally recommend this book. It may be helpful for making a child understand how things will be when the cat arrives. Especially if you already have a cat at home.

Here’s my verdict:-

I’m called a crazy cat lady by my friends and pretty much love all things cat. This book is right up my street. I love that it’s not just a typical cat story. It’s true to life and it’s factual and informative. 

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George reading the book to Sockies.

George’s verdict:-

George is three years old and used to reading books about cats.

What did you think of the story? I liked all of it.

What was your favourite part? All of it.

Did you like the cats? Yes I just loved that one and that one. Points to both pictures of Cleo and Baloo in the illustrations.  And I just liked that one and all of that and that one (goes through the book pointing out all the pictures.)

I’m getting a sense he loved the illustrations

And was the story good? It was just a bit short. (He loves stories to be longer so he can enjoy them for longer).

He got excited about about the business thank you card inside the book too, bless him. The introduction also explains that Nicky and her cats live in Essex which is where we live so that was exciting for George. The introduction explains how Cleo and Baloo came to be rescued and adopted. I intertwined reading this with explaining to George this is how we came to adopt one of our cats Amber.

“>
3″ src=”http://www.gorgeousgeorgesmama.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/IMG_10241-1024×768.jpg” alt=”cats” width=”474″ height=”356″ /> Our own rescue cat Amber[/caption]Checkout

Checkout www.cleoandbaloo.com to purchase your digital or paperback copy and learn more about Cleo and Baloo’s journey. You can also follow them on Instagram for gorgeous real life piccies of the adorable kitties themselves. https://www.instagram.com/nickycauthor

Have you read this book? Do you have any recommendations for cat themed children’s books? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. If your little one likes discovering new books, take at look at this fab post by Pickle and Poppet .

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

My Life, The Comedy Sketch Show – No Use Crying Over Spiders And Spilt Paint

My life often feels like a comedy sketch show.

“Who wants to read about your life!” I hear you cry.

Well, you for starters otherwise how did you find yourself here eh (winks slyly whilst dodging a virtual slap). So I’ve always had a knack for making my seemingly normal and pretty average life seem a little more entertaining. I don’t know if it’s my ability to see the positive in everything that allows me to give my everyday situation a lighthearted edge. But nonetheless I often feel like if I was starring in my own episode of “Friends”, in that I may get a few titters if anyone was watching in.

So it’s been a few crazy weeks. Ain’t it always!

The other day something which at first seemed initially terrifying, soon became absolutely hilarious. I was in hysterics. After the shock subsided and my heart rate went down of course.

I literally try my damnedest to make sure George doesn’t develop arachnophobia., or any phobia for that matter! I had it myself up until a few years ago when we accidentally cured it with hypnotherapy. It was bad.

Every Time I was in an enclosed space with one I would scream or cry or both. Enclosed being a room in my own house! I love gardening but hubs would often find me doing some weird strip dance in the garden where I convinced myself one had crawled in my clothes. I used to even get colleagues to catch them in the corridor at work. Just in case it made its way into our department.

So arachnophobia majorly tamed, I’m pretty brave and even catch the buggers now! So this is how a pretty ordinary Friday went down.

I was washing up in the kitchen, seriously I feel like I live at the kitchen sink! We were due to go out and I knew my mum would be turning up whilst we was out. She always walks straight in and does the washing up if I haven’t. So in an effort to show her at 34 I’m a responsible adult and I have actually washed up the breakfast stuff by mid afternoon here I was.

George was merrily eating a kinder egg and watching Zootropolis of all things in the lounge next door. Suddenly he started screaming. The I’m-being-kidnapped-by -a-maniac-that’s-climbed-In-The-Window kind of scream. I ran in and as my eyes scanned the area, I saw a daddy long legs climbing up his bare thigh!

I’m usually all like “oh hi mr skinny legs, how can we help you today” when we see a spider. But the poor kid was just sitting there clutching his kinder egg and screaming, tears rolling down his cheeks. I smacked the spider with a nearby cushion then grabbed George and whisked him off the settee to the floor. As I gave him a hug to calm him, I showed him the defeated spider laying stunned on the settee.

He had a kinder egg so to be fair the situation calmed pretty quick. I told him I wasn’t scared I was just shocked by his screaming. As I wiped his tears and removed the spider I began laughing hysterically (although I also do this when I’m nervous). George smirked as I explained why it was actually quite funny. So fingers crossed that’s turned that into a happy memory and not a future phobia.

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I don’t know about you but I’m a huge advocate for women being self sufficient. Despite having been in a long term relationship for 20 years, I don’t believe in man jobs and woman’s jobs. You may often see me use the hashtag jokingly embracing my inner pussycat doll with #Idontneedamantomakeithappen. I grew up watching my mum take her hand to everything and was encouraged to do the same. Not always successfully. Read all about the time I used an aerosol to hammer in a nail here.

So in our house I’m Jackie of all trades. Cooking, cleaning, DIY, decorating, gardening, changing a car battery, you name it, I can do it, or I’ll give it a go. So here I was painting our bedroom. We stupidly painted 3 of the walls brown when we moved in ten years ago. A vision of chocolate and duck egg blue was achieved but it was time to neutralise it as we are looking to sell up.

So here’s me on day two of white washing the walls with a magnolia emulsion. Day one went great. I painted the whole room in the last hour before preschool pick up. Then gave it a second coat after picking George up. Don’t ever let it be said that you can’t get shit done with a toddler around. All you need is an iPad and a pack of Haribos.

So day two and it needs a final coat. I’ve just about enough of my lush satin paint to finish the three walls. Let me set you a scene. The furniture is all pushed to the middle of the room. The tele is covered with a dust sheet in case there’s any splash back. I pick up the tub of paint, place it on the windowsill (yeah you see where this is going) proceed to prise the lid off. It’s a little stuff after using it the day before.

It pops off quite forcefully, the tub flips….the end of the divan, the bed sheets, the laminate flooring covered! Thick oozing paint. Thankfully hubs was due to go out in ten minutes but was still around because at that moment I really did need a man to make it happen! I needed him to lift the bed whilst I got the paint off the leg and stopped it being smeared across the floor. Lots of kitchen roll and wet wipes later (yet another use for wet wipes) and everything was clean. We lost the bed sheets but they were looking tired anyways.

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Image Courtesy of Pexels.com

The bastard paint was now over half gone, Luckily I managed to mix some other paint in to make it go further and the bedroom is now looking lush, it virtually glows in the dark! Moral of the story? Open paint on the bloody floor with the dust sheet down already you twat!

I literally couldn’t wait to tell my mum and sisters as it took us all right back to our childhood. My step dad John was up a ladder, paint on the top of her ladder, carpet down…you guessed it. The poor watering can got kicked all the way down the garden as me and step sis were sent to McDonalds to get a large milkshake to cheer him up.

I’d like to point out that no watering cans were harmed in the writing of this post, none made after the year 1995 anyway 😜

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Predicting The Future – What Will My Child Become?

We all want our child to become something amazing…don’t we? An astronaut, the next intellectual mastermind, a doctor, olympic gold medalist. We enrol them in piano lessons, footie trials, phonics classes, making them count every step so they can be ahead of their peers.

When he was still in my womb, I was adamant George was going to be a genius. He wasn’t going to get it from me, even his Dad isn’t of genius status. But was Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking’s parents of a high IQ level? I honestly don’t know, but I really thought it was something I could nurture George to be. It’s becoming evident that he wasn’t born a genius. Some of his peers are already ahead of him and amaze me so much with their knowledge and abilities. I’m pretty sure if you have a genius on your hands you would know by the time they are 2 years old.

So genius status out of the window I’m thinking rock legend, footie player, olympic snowboarder or maybe an architect? I’m totally not one of these pushy parents. Whilst we try to include learning in our everyday play, I’m all for enjoying the world around us. I totally believe in the notion that children learn best through play. With George I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Right now, in his three long years, I can’t pinpoint any one particular skill that he has. Anything that seems extraordinary for a child of his age. Except one thing.

Health and safety.

Since he was a dot he has been meticulous about health and safety. Constantly risk assessing everything. Whilst he learnt to walk at 11 months, it wasn’t without some blatant risk assessing going on. He was too scared to sit himself back down again when he learned to stand by himself. He would stand himself up then cry until someone helped him sit back on the ground again. Bumping on to his bottom was not an option. And so it’s continued.

He once spent 20 full minutes at the top of a baby slide at the soft play, assessing whether it was safe to go down. I was directing the other children to go round him until eventually he decided to climb back down the steps and abandon all notion of it. You can’t force him to do things he deems risky either or he will cry for a lot longer than just the task in hand.

As time as gone on though I have noticed that this behaviour isn’t fear. He isn’t scared of climbing or jumping or running. He’s more than content to lean over the edge when we are at the top of a really high castle wall. He loves going fast on his bike and scooter and whizzing them up ramps.

It appears he is actually scared of anything which makes him feel out of control. Swings, slides,roundabouts, fair rides…if he can’t be in complete control of what happens he won’t enter into it.

So that’s his niche. His forté. He likes to be in charge, in control, getting his own way. I often liken him to a mini communist dictator. What three-year old doesn’t like getting their own way though! Only we have noticed a pattern lately when hubs pointed out this is very much Mummy’s forté.

I am master of getting my own way and not in a diva dance but just skilfully and tactfully willing people round to my idea. Failing that I’m so laid back sometimes I often go with the flow, I do like a surprise.

So what of my control freak child. What future will this trait lead him to? I’m so excited to find out. Of course there’s absolutely no pressure on him to be anything fabulous. Someone at George’s school recently shared a quote on the group page which really struck with me;

‘Don’t become preoccupied with your child’s academic ability. Instead, teach them to sit with those sitting alone. Teach them to be kind. Teach them to offer their help. Teach them to be a friend of the lonely. Teach them to encourage others. This is how they’ll change the world.'”

Author unknown. 

I think this says it all.

George is amazing. You can literally see him analysing and processing tasks during play. He is master of building and creating things. His imagination is much like my own and he loves nothing more than to watch the world go by.

He has a passion for living creatures and making sure they are safe. We once spent 10 minutes in the street, waiting to ensure a snail had safely crossed the pavement. I offered to assist, I wasn’t allowed. Maybe he will become the future David Attenborough?

In all honesty as long as he is happy and enjoys what he does and it sustains his way of life then I’m happy for my future son, whatever he may become.

What hopes and dreams do you have for your child(ren)?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Poetically analysing motherhood and life