Category Archives: Family

Selling houses – Weird Things to Worry About

Those of you that know me or are regular visitors to this blog will know we are going through the process of selling our home. After making the announcement here , I’ve had a lot of support from friends and family and interest in how the process is going.

I’m so excited to announce after 5 weeks, numerous viewings and four offers, we sold our house last wednesday.

We are well underway with solicitors and the buyer is hopefully scheduling a survey for the end of this week. He is selling to first time buyers and as you know, we are moving into rental. So fingers crossed it should be a short process and we can be in our new home by Christmas. Although I’m in no particular hurry.

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One month into this selling houses business I realised how it could quickly become stressful. I’ve absolutely loved the house feeling clean, fresh and tidy. Mrs Hinch totally came into my life at the right time.

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But living the showhome life with 3 cats, a bearded husband and a three year old did make me a little highly strung. As they each took it in turns daily to undo my hard work and efforts. Life must go on though, as everyone told me. I made sure that I stayed on top of everything cleaning and tidying wise., and still do. George is allowed his toys out but everything has to be considered under the motto;

“can this be tidied and showhome ready in 30 minutes”

If the answer to the above is no, then we had to stop what we are doing and have a little speed tidy. George was wholeheartedly on board. Whilst he may cheekily jump on the beds I have just smoothed out, he is happily tidying one thing before getting another out. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Ok maybe for hubs to shut his sock drawer and take his coffee mug downstairs but we can’t all be perfect! (*winks coyly).

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Whilst our house is now sold subject to contract, we aren’t in a position to look at rentals yet. The rental market moves quick. Well round here it does. We are at least another two to four weeks away. In order to secure a rental we would need to put a deposit down. We would be silly to do this until we have exchanged contracts. There is always room for things to go wrong. Should the sale fall through, we would be left with the commitment of paying two sets of bills.

There have recently been a few houses that have come and gone onto the rental market that have caught our eye. This has boosted our optimism that when the time comes, we will be able to find something local without having to relocate.

So whilst your typical human type will be worrying about… well I don’t know what you normal humans worry about??? I suspect top of the list of your average mindset would be school catchment, crime rate, access local facilities?

Meanwhile in overactive imagination land, I am worrying about the following;

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  • Ghosts and the supernatural – Literally top of my list. Luckily I live with three cats so they are walking supernatural detectors. It doesn’t stop me worrying though. Literally it’s one of my biggest fears and I would have to move out the day I saw one!
  • Spiders and creatures – I know what kind of creepy crawlies are within our current vicinity. After living in our house for 11 years there haven’t been many surprises. The odd spider but nothing like the beasts I see some people posting on social media! What if our new house is a magnet for regular tarantula sized arachnids! Someone I know locally moved house and kept finding weird lizard things in her new home! What the actual fuck will I have in store for me. I try to love and respect all living creatures but it doesn’t mean I want them in my home.
  • Temperature – Whilst everyone was complaining about the heatwave this past summer, I was pretty content at home. Our house retains the heat pretty well but it also maintains the coolness. By far, of all the non air conditioned places I visited during this Summer’s heatwave, our house was the coolest place to be as long as the windows were pulled to. What if our new house is a sweat box in the Summer and an ice box in the Winter! Annoying more than anything.
  • Noise – Where we currently live is dead quiet. The neighbours are well behaved, dogs included. We are spoilt really. What if at our new house they play loud music all day? Road noise, yapping dogs that are left out and neglected all day… the list goes on.

Maybe it’s a good thing we are renting and will only be tied into a six or twelve month contract!

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Have you had any unusual worries when moving home? I’d love to hear them.

 

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Stink Bomz – The Must Have Toy for Christmas 2018 #JoinTheFarty

*Disclosure – I was provided with a Stink Bomz goodie box courtesy of Tomy Toys in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*

You may remember me attending the Tomy Toys Christmas in July event. To bloggers this is standard behaviour. For the rest of us it’s a little bizarre talking about the C word in July. For me, hubs and George it was an informative and fun filled day. Here’s where our introduction to Stink Bomz began.

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Stink Bomz my first thought was that they sounded lethal. Did I even want to welcome them into my home? Then the day arrives where a box marked “Caution! toxic” arrives at our door. I was thankful we had been pre warned about the packaging.

The fun began as we started to unbox. I think this is the most engaged and excited I’ve seen George for an unboxing. It was fab. After tearing the yellow caution tape, he lifted the lid on the black box to reveal oodles of green shredding paper.

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As George dived in he found some chocolate balls, cute Stink Bomz biscuits and a whoopee cushion, which George quickly became obsessed with. As he continued searching he found the Stink Bomz. Whilst I got a fab surprise as I opened the virtual postcard which gives a humorous VT if each of the Stink Bomz characters.

“You’ve heard them…you’ve smelled them…but have you ever met a fart? Meet the Stink Bomz! All Stink Bomz contain a collectible fart friend known as a Stink. Each Stink has their own silly smell and makes 3 unique fart noises. But best of all, every Stink has their own fun personality. Even though they’re all different, they have one important thing in common – they are ready to get the farty started!” Taken from the TOMY UK website.

If you have or have ever encountered a three year old, you will know of their obsession with poo, bums, and pop offs farts! George walks around, and even has us in the habit of, playfully cussing;

“poo-bum-poo-stink-smell-bum-smell-face”

Once I helped him open the Stink Bomz pod and open the shrink wrap, it revealed a Stink Bomz character by the name of Squirmy. As I had already used the words “Stink Bomz” several times to describe the package he was opening, it was very interesting what he said next;

“Eugh that wrapper smells!”

The wrapper didn’t smell. I think it just goes to show how suggestable their little minds are. He was quite happy when he actually realised what they smell like. We both agreed that they smelled like “biscuits”. But the piece de resistance was when he realised if you squeeze their tummies they make a fart noise.

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#JoinTheFarty

Just to talk about the elephant in the room…whilst I don’t encourage the use of the word “fart” I can see why it’s a great marketing ploy for these Stink Bomz. I’m not sure how other parents would feel?

I’ll admit I do swear around George,  and he knows which words are naughty and not to say them. That said, I allow him to experiment in the safe confines of our home. Whilst making it clear that in public and at school and around others, there may be people who don’t like to hear those words. Given the freedom to understand this, he rarely uses these words.

Occasionally he will create rhymes and mistakenly say a word that he knows sounds like a “naughty” word and then justify why he said it. I think this is really important in allowing him to make choices and understand things. Rather than just the old fashioned command of “Do as I say, not as I do”.

The name “Stink Bomz” reminds me of my days in school back in the 90’s. You would all be congregated in the corridors, minding your own business. When suddenly the smell of rotten eggs would grace your nostrils. Everyone would be quickly dispersing from a certain area groaning  “eugh, someones let off a stink bomb!”I don’t know if this was the inspiration behind these toys. Was the creator an 80’s child reliving their youth?

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The main thing to remember about Stink Bomz is they aren’t just a plush toy that smells nice and farts. Each one has a crafted personality for your child to learn and build upon. The Stink Bomz range will also have a supporting app, which at present is only available in the US but will be coming to the UK soon.

My verdict

The product itself I have to admit I was slightly disappointed to discover they actually smell pleasantly of vanilla and biscuits. I understand why. There wouldn’t be many parents rushing out to buy a toy that smells like rotten eggs. Overall I think they are great but a reduction in the plastic packaging given the current climate would be reassuring. The green pod that the Stink Bomz come in is reusable. They don’t appear to have the option to change batteries so I don’t know how long it would take before the sound runs out.

I loved seeing George get a cheeky smile on his face when he squeezes them.  Stink Bomz are a great little gift and George looks so proud to show them off. Almost like his own little gag. Would I buy these? At £9.99 I think they are reasonable and would make great stocking fillers.

George’s verdict

He likes playing with them and wants to get them involved in his game. Squirmy featured in a game he was playing the other day, as a big bad monster that farted and blew everyone away.

Let us know what you think. All positive shares and comments welcomed.

The Hunger Games – Insects Vs Toddlers

It was a fresh, crisp Sunday morning in October. The creatures of the woodland were going about their daily life, little knowledge of what was due to descend on them in a few hours. We had our boots on and were ready for one of George’s little buddies fourth birthday parties. But this was not going to be your typical birthday party. There would be no soft play, sugar and screaming children. As much as we love those types of parties, I was excited to see what would happen at a wild wood birthday party at the local reservoir.

We buckled up after bundling wellies, pressies and a change of clothes into the car of another mummy friend who had kindly offered us a lift.

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Things quickly escalated from standard 10 minute journey to complete comedy sketch show. My influence clearly rubbed off and despite being a frequent visitor at the reservoir, we quickly found ourselves pulling over to ask for directions.

My phone had decided to play silly buggers and was going through a reboot so I could program the SatNav before I quickly realised I didn’t actually know what I was programming in and where we were supposed to be headed.

I messaged our host for the party and fellow Mamas in the group chat to ask for the address. I quickly had to abandon their response in favour of calling the police to report seven rogue Shetland ponies trotting merrily down the centre of the road. After leaving my poor friend driving blind I finally switched my phone call from the emergency operator to a mama friend who put us on the right track.

With the party underway we were having a fabulous time. The sun was shining, the leaves were crunching and the toddlers were marching. The party guide was a lovely lady who commanded their attentions well. We soon found ourselves searching for creepy crawlies. We each had a magnifying pot and flitted from log to leaf looking for something to catch.

I think over the years I’ve watched too many a cartoon and Disney film, giving me a knack for humanising any living creature. After playing some games we continued on through the woods, pots in hands, taking our creatures on a merry tour like they’ve never had before. Or had they?

Had this snail and woodlouse been collected by many a child at many a party and toured the woods like a pair of mismatched backpackers? The pot behind me contained a fly being devoured by a spider, taken fresh from the web. As I imagined the crane fly in front of us screaming “where the hell are we going”. Our own woodlouse was wondering when he would see his mum and dad again. Having carried him the equivalent of here to Australia for a woodlouse, we came to a new home.

creatures

Let the den building commence. As 20 toddlers collected wood and sticks to build our very own big brother house. For our unsuspecting creatures, they were about to meet their new housemates. Or were they?

With the house build complete (basically a pile of twigs on the floor), it was time to set our creatures free and introduce them to their new home. Our snail had ventured out of his shell and was roaming the inside of the pot, acquainting himself with the new neighbourhood.

However as the toddlers descended upon the new twig house it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t the Big Brother house. In fact these creatures were about to enter their very own Hunger Games. An insect Fornite if you will. As varying species of insect were dropped (minus canopy) into their new environment, it was every creature for his or herself. Ladybirds scarpered, the woodlouse foolishly didn’t roll into a ball and the snail quickly realised it was time to retreat into his safe haven shell.

creatures

For those that hadn’t already eaten one another or climbed a hiding spot deep into the ground, another challenge began. Forget your purple rain storms, it’s no match compared to a toddler armed with a huge log. With a crash, the den was flattened, or rather ‘complete’ in said toddlers eyes.

And so we left our creatures to rebuild their lives in the wood of nightmares as we ventured on in our party activities.

Honestly it was a great experience. It was just so lovely to be outside in the fresh air without all the carnage that can come from a kids party. We loved it.

How did you spend your Sunday?

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.

property

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.

ladder

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.

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.

Bing
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.

Bing

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

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

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

My life, The Comedy Sketch Show -Two Weddings, A Missing Diamond, And What’s That Clicking Noise!

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.

These past couple of weeks have been hectic, crazy, fabulous, stressful madness. We have attended two wedding weekenders, got some amazing shots in the New Forest, a week in the Isle of Wight, One airshow, visited several family members,and the rest of life in between.

Our trip began to Southampton to watch one of hubs maternal cousins get married. It was a beautiful day and anyone that knows me, knows how much I love weddings. I have recently written about my own wedding here .

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We managed to sneak away in between the wedding breakfast and evening ceremony to get George to nap. Hubs took us on one of our favourite and awe-inspiring drives, The New Forest. We first discovered The New Forest last year on a staycation at Sandy Balls (yes that really is the resort name). This time around and with me looking a bit better than my standard mum life get up, we captured some beautiful shots with the horses. This is one of my faves.

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As we headed back for the evening reception hubs programmed his satnav and off we went. It felt like we had been driving forever when I knew we had only gone 20 minutes down the road getting there. Suddenly hubs stopped.

Hubs: “Oh shit, Mum asked me during breakfast how far away the ferry terminal was for tomorrow. I programmed it into the nav to show her”

Me: “What does that mean?”

Hubs “It means we are just coming into the ferry terminal! We’re half an hour away from the wedding venue now”

Well you can imagine my face. We were using my valuable vodka drinking time after all.

The first of our beautiful wedding weekenders over, we headed on with the in-laws, straight to catch the ferry for a week in the Isle of Wight. This shall be known as the holiday were many “fucks” were uttered.

After our first day at our holiday home, I called my Mum. I was speaking to her when I looked down and realised my engagement ring, which belonged to my Nan and is over 75 years old had lost the diamond! The only diamond! Gone! “Fuck” My Mum told me not to panic and whilst everything in me told me I should be distraught and crying…I wasn’t. I’m so precious of my ring. It’s not worth much monetary wise, but sentimentally it means the absolute world to me.

Cue me and hubs crawling round on our hands and knees in a 4 storey townhouse with thick beige carpets! It was a dead-end before we started. It was never found. I suspect it’s now floating through the sewers of the Isle of wight. My Mum has since paid for it to be replaced and reset. It’s such a good feeling to have it back on my finger, looking its beautiful self. I hope my Nan loves it as much as I do.

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Our lovely little holiday home may have had 4 floors but they packed in enough furniture that tripping over things was easy. On the first day, pre diamond disaster, I walked into a chair leg and spent the night sleeping with my little toe throbbing. Our room was in the loft and it was so hot and stuffy even with the windows wide open.

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That night I woke up to a weird noise. It was a loud horn. I wondered if it was some sort of thing only Islanders knew about. Did we have to evacuate. Hubs was still awake so I asked him. It was a fog horn. No need to evacuate. Where the fuck we would evacuate to I don’t know. I hadn’t thought that bit through. The fog horn continued most nights on and off for the duration of our stay and I soon realised why the houses are so cheap there!

But my beautiful town house woes did not end there. We were on a budget due to the wedding hotel blocking some of our money accidentally. Hubs was eager to try the nachos when we went out for lunch but decided it would be cheaper if I made some that evening. Mine is better anyways. I picked up a nacho kit (which I never use!) and set about making us an evening snack. I found a cheese grater and the cheese grater found me.

It turns out this was the mo-fo of cheese graters. I’m used to a flat grater and this was round…. it wasn’t long before I lost something else….one of my knuckles! Fuck!

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This pic is the day after. It really fucking hurt! My Nan in law was threatening to try and flap the skin back over whilst hubs was asking if I needed stitches. It was comedic stupidity at its finest. Vom!

Just to top it all off, hubs and I have been trying for another baby but to no avail. No violin needed. My body is in such a state at the moment. So we kind of had the choice to stop made for us as I’m under a consultant for severe hip pain. I’ve had it the last 2 years or more but the last few weeks it’s got really life limiting and it’s not improving. So adding baby weight to my body wouldn’t have been sensible.

The doctor gave me some strong anti-inflammatories to help me deal with the pain. I read the stupid leaflet, which you should never do, because someone has always reported something horrific. And there it was;

…may affect your chances of falling pregnant as ovulation can be affected. Should you fall pregnant whilst taking these tablets, please tell your doctor immediately as they can cause mutations to the unborn child…

All sounding fabulous so far! So I decided I’ll take them to get me through the next month of events and hope everything goes back to normal, I’d already ovulated that month as I was due on my period the day of the wedding (what joy!).

Cue mid holiday madness in the house of horrors as I realise my period is 7 days late! For Fudge sake! Not now! Off to the shop I go, standard pregnancy test I always get (I’ve done a lot of these things ya know). Nothing! No literally I mean nothing! It’s a bloody void test! What are the actual chances? I’ve never had a void test. Back to the shop, I pick up 2 this time just in case…negative. Thank God. Although its weird feeling when only a month ago I was using all my eyelash wishes for the opposite. Do people still wish on their eyelashes?

One trip home from the Isle of Why Me! And another beautifully glorious wedding, whereby hubs tested the theory of whether you can sing church hymns whilst impersonating Johnny Cash…you can. And we are back home.

Whilst I love a staycation, I feel I’m ready to venture further into the big wide world for our future holidays. I feel I owe it to George. I’ve found some fab tips on How To Plan The Perfect Family Holiday .

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But wait… listen closely…yep that’s me. Everytime I stop my engine there is a weird clicking noise. Now it’s not the typical engine cooling down clicking noise, and we have actually discovered the clicking noise happens even if you just turn the key to ignite the battery and not the engine so who the hell knows.

What I do know is, I took it to the garage and approached them with the query;

“At the risk of sounding like a complete woman…there is a strange clicking noise coming from my engine”

I absolutely hate it when garages treat me like a “silly” woman. Like we can be fobbed of and spoken to like an idiot because it’s a car and cars are for men or some such shit like that. Ooh I wonder if I’ve just noticed a gap in the market for all female mechanics? You can get women only gyms and taxis so why not.

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Image courtesy of www.pexels.com

So the guy is none the wiser. Guesses at the throttle flap and says they will call me with a quote. They don’t. I also inform him that I’ve recently made a discovery via the wonders of Youtube that if your electronic car window is stuck you can close it with this snazzy trick.

Slam the door hard, whilst holding your finger on the window up button. It works! Something about jolting the connection.

So one week and no phone call later, hubs and I, ok hubs gets the credit for this. He discovers that the clicking happens without actually starting the engine. He takes it back to the garage and tells me they’ve booked it in for next Tuesday and will charge me £35 to “take a look”!

“Huh! They looked at it for nothing when I took it!” I say “what the heck did you do!”

The next morning I called the garage, and explained. The receptionist repeatedly asked me if I realised where they were and if had the right place. I was getting rather exasperated because I knew exactly who and where they were. They didn’t have any record of my husband booking the car in.

It’s now we find out the REAL reason my car was looked at for free! Whilst relaying the story to hubs when he got home from work, he pipes up that he had actually taken the car to a different garage. The garage that I shouted out “…and don’t take it to xxx garage because we had a bad experience!” That explains the fee! My garage doesn’t charge! Doh! The next morning I returned to MY garage with my tail between my legs to offer an apology for my idiot husband.

My car is now fixed, thankfully, and the clicking noise has stopped. Halejuah!

It’s all fun and games eh! I’d totally love to read about some of your recent crazy life tales in the comments below.

Review – In The Night Garden Live Show

** Disclosure- In return for this review, I myself have been provided with tickets to the In The Night Garden showdome tour. All opinions are still honest and my own**

Wow, what can I say! We have just been to see the In The Night Garden Live on their magical showdome tour. Originally we were booked to see the Ninky
Nonk show at 12pm in the special Showdome.

However, the traffic was worse travelling from Essex to Richmond than we had anticipated. We arrived 25 minutes after the 45 minute show had started. Stress!

Luckily I had called the customer service number whilst en route, The automated help line advised that should we be running late, to continue our journey. The help line stated that a member of the team would transfer our tickets to a later show on arrival.

I think for parents this is such a forgiving and helpful service. We all know how unpredictable children can be. A lady in front of me was even rescheduling her tickets for another day as her little one was unwell. It was no trouble for the staff and no extra fee.

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On arrival, a member of staff greeted us at the entrance and gave us several options. We chose to attend the next available show, The Pinky Ponk show. Both shows have all your little ones favourite characters but they just tell a different story.

The show that we saw was ‘Makka Pakka Washes Faces’. This is of course until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s Megaphone (ahhh so many innuendos I’m struggling to contain myself).

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The price of the show ticket also included a show guide worth £7. Inside the guide you will find lyrics to all the In The Night Garden favourites. As well as a story and puzzles for your little one to enjoy. The doors to the Showdome open half an hour prior to the show beginning so this guide is great for entertaining your little one whilst you wait for the show to begin.
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Once inside, the narrator voice from the show gives you a regular countdown of 15 minutes, 3 minutes etcetera until the show starts. This builds the excitement levels even further for little ones as he parents all simultaneously say “ooooh”.
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The show itself is a mix of life-size characters and puppets. As the show starts, it isn’t long before Makka Pakka appears on stage. He was full size and I was wondering how big Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy would be when they appeared as obviously they are much larger than Makka Pakka in the television show.

My perfectionist ponderings were soon answered when Makka Pakka left the stage and Iggle Piggle appeared. Makka Pakka then reappeared as a smaller puppet controlled by 3 people using sticks. It was all very clever.

The rest of the show proceeded to follow Makka Pakka wandering round the Night Garden, ensuring he had washed every characters face with his “dirty sponge” as I like to call it. The crew cleverly incorporated bubbles into the washing routine too which got the little ones excited.
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The Showdome itself adds to the wonderment of the show. With projections around the ceiling above the stage. These include falling flowers, stars and a moving Pinky Ponk. Sadly this is the last year the showdome will be touring. Whilst the show is fab and it will be greatly received in a traditional theatre setting, the showdome made it for me.
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The Showdome contains staggered bench style seating so that everyone has a clear view. We have visited other shows such as Paw Patrol live, where the seating was all on one level on the ground and it was very hard if not impossible to see the stage once a tall Dad came along. I love the show dome set up. It feels like you are entering a magical grotto and a doorway to the night garden itself.

It would be such a shame to miss this experience if your little ones are fans of In The Night Garden. I can 100% recommend it. I literally can’t fault it. The show offered snacks and drinks for sale and these were also a lot more reasonable than other shows we attended. A bottle of Coca Cola was £1.50.

You can also get involved in a “Meet the Character” experience for an added cost. There is merchandise and balloons available to purchase. Whilst you wait for the character experience after the show, there are tables with colouring for the children. And a television showing episodes of In The Night Garden. There’s also buggy parking and a microwave to heat up milk or baby food.

For anyone whose child is feeling overwhelmed during the show, you can step away from the seating area. Just behind the seating area,down the steps you and little one can watch the live show on a TV screen until such time they feel settled enough to return.

To be honest though the live show was as chilled as the television show and George took his shoes off and made himself comfy. We usually watch the TV show as part of our bedtime routine and he definitely felt the relaxing vibes despite it being live.
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Last little mention which is probably totally random but I’ve always been a toilet connoisseur. The toilets are unisex which felt strange but it was lovely. Lovely because every cubicle had a little portable loo seat available as well as steps for hand-washing at every sink.

It’s little touches like this that make you feel valued. It feels like the In The Night Garden Live team understand the struggles parents have each day.

There’s plenty of cubicles and no one has to queue because everyone can go in. Often you find the ladies full with a long queue whilst the men’s is not child friendly and empty. There are also adequate baby changing facilities from what I saw at a quick glance. Baby change is in a separate trailer.

George’s verdict: He won’t actually comment but I know he absolutely loved it. Previous shows we’ve attended he’s been reserved, quiet and a little dubious. The In The Night Garden Live show he was constantly smiling, excited, singing! I think in this case, actions speak louder than words.

My verdict:- I felt like the show was made with parents and children in mind. They understand that sometimes we don’t run on time with kids. It’s not a problem. They understand that sometimes there isn’t always a Mummy and a Daddy around for toilet visits. It’s not a problem.

The organisers seem to understand that younger children potentially get overwhelmed easily. This was reflected in the volume of the show not being too loud. The show was well thought out and evolved quickly to ensure the children didn’t get bored. Yes there was some fidgeting but that’s to be expected of any child that’s asked to sit still for 45 minutes. The showdome set up meant it wasn’t a problem. There was room to have a little wander. I literally cannot fault it.

Go see it. The Showdome is touring and currently in Richmond, London until July 1st 2018. It will then be moving onto Birmingham, before ending the tour in Manchester on 19th August 2018.

Book your tickets via the website In The Night Garden Live

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday