The Adventures of the Valley Fairies – A Children’s Book Review

**I must disclose that I was gifted this book from a friend of ours. I was always going to write about it because I’m so proud of him. However I must disclose that my views are completely my own and my recommendation wholly genuine. **

Have you ever read a book that when read aloud sounds completely different to reading it quietly in your head?

I’ve never been a huge reader, until I had George. Now we read every day and it’s obviously always aloud as George hasn’t learnt to read yet.

Now if there was ever a book that should be brought to life aloud it was this. The Adventures of the Valley Fairies, New Beginnings by Matthew C. Hasler. Set in the Welsh Valleys, this is a wondrous tale about fairies and magic and everything nature.

fairies

A little about Matthew, or Matt as I know him. We met through our love of the local footie team and always chewed each others ears off whilst watching the match.

As the book intro will tell you, Matt relocated with his wife and their cat from Essex to Maesteg in South Wales. He and his wife also own and run a fabulous craft shop in Maesteg which is well worth a visit if you are local to that area. Checkout Florries on their Facebook page and Instagram @florriesmaesteg1 .

The book follows the adventures of 4 young fairies, Holly, Bridee, Poppy, and Keirah as they enter the world and learn its ways. With the guidance of their elder Mama Rose, they soon learn that not everyone in the world is true to their word.
As they go on a quest to find the source of a noise coming from the mountains they learn how to work as a team, a family even. Solving problems and making friends along the way, it isn’t long before they meet the baddies of the tale.
I won’t spoil the story for you but it definitely reads like part of a series. Ending with a huge suggestion there will be a second instalment to get excited about.
fairies

Throughout the book, Matt describes the surroundings so beautifully. Alongside the illustrations, you really begin to imagine the story unfolding right in front of you. He makes it so easy to visualise the goings on in the story.

The story is being marketed for 6-12 year olds but George loved it at 4 years old. There are 11 short chapters over 50 pages.

If you would like to grab yourself a copy of The Adventures of the Valley Fairies, it’s on sale in Waterstones and Foyles.

You can also get all the latest info on The Valley Fairies on their Facebook page.

The Top 7 Tag with Gorgeous George’s Mama

One Frazzled Mum blog is one of my faves. Written by a fellow blogger who I’ve become online mates with, you’ll find fab competitions and family days out as well as my fave, her fictional stories. Tracey is a big inspiration and has always helped me with all the problems I encounter along the way of blogging. So I just had to get involved when she tagged me in her latest idea.

The idea is called “The Top 7 Tag“. The Top 7 Tag’s aim is to highlight the personal faves of your own year blogging and in life for 2018, whilst sharing your hopes for 2019. Any blogger can take part and this is how;

  • Your Favourite 7 Posts from 2018. They can be any posts at all that you are proud of.
  • 7 Things You Loved The Most About 2018. Whether you visited somewhere, or just had one of those moments you will never forget, if you loved it, list it!
  • 7 Things You Are Looking Forward to in 2019. Whether those plans are set in stone or you something you would like to do this year, share with us.
  • Tag 7 Bloggers to Take Part. Share the love and tag 7 others who would like to take part.
  • Say Thanks. Link back to the person who tagged you and One Frazzled Mum so people know where to find the tag to join in too.
  • You can also tag Tracey on Twitter @frazzledmumblog or Facebook and Instagram @onefrazzledmum.

So here goes. Here’s my top 7 posts of 2018. Because sometimes it’s ok to say, “I love my own work”.

  1. I kicked the year off with a pretty blasé discussion about my vagina. As you really should. My Vagina’s Not Pretty Enough For Cervical Screening
  2. January 2018 brought with it my first sponsored holiday through the blog at the fabulous Bluestone, Wales, during their annual Winter Lights event. It also saw me try my hand at my first vlog.
  3. I absolutely love The Royal Hotel in Southend-On-Sea, Essex and was ecstatic that I could take my mum along to a blogging event there. Breakfast and Champagne at The Royal Hotel, and Dr Legba’s Emporium.
  4. I got to attend my first press event at Christmas in July hosted by Tomy Toys UK.
  5. A friends fabulous forest based birthday party inspired me to write this witty little piece, The Hunger Games, Insects Vs Toddlers
  6. Of all the items I’ve reviewed through the blog, this was one of the most fun to write about. Sex in a Candle, Scents Unusual.
  7. Me and George had great fun exploring many new toys this year but this goody box of Stink Bomz went down a treat and allowed me to expand on my vlogging further.

7 Things I Loved In 2018

  1. Bluestone. Aside from Snowdon, this was my first taste of Wales. It was a shock to the system. In January it is blooming cold and the weather changes like 15 times an hour. Bluestone is incredible though and their Winter Lights spectacular is phenomenal. Checkout my Youtube video to see what I mean. The full review on food, fun and accomodation is here.
  2. We had some fab family staycations in the Isle of Wight, Norfolk, Butlins. As well as a fab drop through our favourite, the New Forest with two hotel stays for two family weddings. George made his first holiday friend, I lost a bit of knuckle, the diamond from my engagement ring, and got a fat lip but we all laughed and made memories.
  3. I got me a Netflix addiction. I think I’ve watched so many series on there that it’s about time I starred in one. Honestly though it’s my new favourite thing to do once George has gone to bed. It’s my way to wind down. If it wasn’t for Netflix I probably would have blogged more to be honest.
  4. So many firsts. George may have turned 4 years old towards the end of last year but he had his first time trying popping candy which was hilarious. First time on roller skates. I’m sure there were more but the year is just a blur.
  5. We sold our house! Granted we still haven’t exchanged and we are still living in the bloody thing but after half a year’s hard slog getting it ready for sale and keeping it “showhome ready” we did it. We are ready to start an exciting new chapter in our lives.
  6. The Ava women’s bracelet came into our lives. A conception aid with a difference, this gave us hope that a sibling for George may be achievable in the not too distant future.
  7. Hubs and I celebrated 20 years together. We had some fab child free dates watching an Elvis show, seeing the incredible Bohemian Rhapsody in the cinema and just grabbing a cheeky McDonalds breakfast together. We’ve rarely spent time alone since George arrived 4 years ago and it’s made a nice change.

7 things I am looking forward to in 2019

  1. January – hopefully moving into a bigger house and getting more organised.
  2. February –  The Only Fools and Horses stage show. I saw it advertised last year. It looks fab and hubs and I are huge Only Fools fans so it’s a belated present for his January birthday.
  3. April – A family wedding reception. I love weddings so so much and I can’t wait to see this beautiful couple tie the knot.
  4. June – Spice Girls!!!! In case you missed it. I GOT SPICE GIRLS TICKETS!!!
  5. George starts school in September. Whilst I am by no means looking forward to it as such, I can recognise it’s a huge step in our lives. It may be my career advances. He may feel more settled than he has at preschool as it will be a more frequent routine. It could be we are having another baby by then? So much to ponder but I am in no hurry for the next 9 months to hurry by.
  6. Travel abroad. Hubs and I promised each other we would extend our holidaying out of the UK. George needs to experience life on an aeroplane. We don’t have any arranged plans yet but I am excited where the year may take us. We are going to need a holiday after all this selling houses business.
  7. Saying yes more. I’ve vowed to say yes more this year. I am determined to attend a Blog On event and meet some of my favourite bloggers in real life one way or another this year.

So there we go, these are my top 7’s. I would love you to take part if you fancy it but I am tagging the following people to join in with me;

  1. Naomi from Nomipalony
  2. Susie from So Happy In Town
  3. Lisa from Lisapomerantzster : Are We There Yet
  4. Abi from Something About Baby
  5. Kate from The Less-Refined Mind
  6. Penny from A Penny For Them
  7. Shân from Mam Rants and Reviews

Enjoy.

3 for the price of flu

I’m gonna let you in on a not so little secret by telling you the worst way to lose weight this time of year.

(Don’s Del Boy flat cap) And I’m giving you this for a fantastic price. I’m not telling you this god awful secret for £34.99, oh no. I’m not even telling you for £9.99.

I’m giving you all the wisdom and knowledge you need to possibly, maybe not, but it’s definitely not a guarantee, on how to lose weight for absolutely free.

Ladies and Gents, and all those who identify elsewhere, I give you to, the FLU! Influenza by its technical name. This beauty won’t set you back a penny. Only your time and possible sanity needs committing to this one.

If losing weight whilst sleeping is your thing then here’s your answer. You’ll sleep so much you won’t even realise you’ve missed three mealtimes. And you’ll just want more. No amount of sleep is enough. You can still nod off whilst on a brief trip to the lav.

Now time is something you’ve gotta give this one. This is no quick fix. You are gonna need to commit at least 5 days so you can tell all your friends and family it’s FaceTime only for the next week. There’s no rushing the flu. It’s gotta be allowed to take you down fast but drag it out slow and long.

flu
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos C/O Pixabay

Now if it’s a detox kind of weight loss you’re after then the flu is almost certainly your bag. A friend gave me the wonderful term “The Purge”. After a few days of sleeping without much food, you start to feel a little peckish. I’d recommend some trusty dry staples. You know the ones, toast, biscuits, crackers. This may be enough to start the purge or you may need to up the ante.

It doesn’t matter if you have lived off of baby rusks for 3 days, your purge pursuit comes complete with Johnny Cash soundtrack. You won’t have even thought about a chilli but that burning ring of fire will get you regardless. And you’ll have no idea why. Hubs and I had our theories about unused stomach acid but it’s better to just accept… it’s gonna hurt.

flu
Image Credit: Geralt c/o Pixabay

Whilst the squits take full effect you will still have your old friend with you. The chest burner. The phlegm stirrer. The place where it all began. The Cough!

Sounds harmless but this is where it all began. Now, the cough has never really been your friend. You can argue you are toning your abs a little, being as it feels like you’ve been kicked in the ribs by a donkey.

But the cough really comes into its own during purge phase. Every cough is a game of pants roulette. With a washing machine ready and waiting on a boil wash, it’s anyone’s guess which pairs will enter the drum and which remain intact on your now withering frame.

Now I don’t know about you but thanks to The Flu, I’m already four pounds down and I’ve hardly lifted a finger. My seemingly sloth like energy levels allowing little else.

I forgot to mention the need to place a leak proof bowl in every room you may frequent. The cough follows you anywhere you are able to crawl and often doesn’t relent until you’ve thrown up what little food you’ve managed to eat. It really is as fun as it sounds.

So to summarise. If you don’t want to miss out on this fab weight loss product, get yourself round to my house now and I’ll give you a good face licking.

It hurts

It’s squirts

With coughs

With splurts

It’s a totally ill recommended weight loss regime.

T H E F L U

Hurry. This great deal is almost gone ( I hope). Grab yours today while you still can to ensure you see in the New Year, coughing, crapping and retching your way to a slimmer you.

Happy New Year.

Imaginary Friends

I’d like to introduce you to Quonzo
(pronounced kwon-zo)

imaginary

Can’t see him? Me either. He’s invisible apparently but George knows he’s there.

He arrived in the am of November 17th. Falling through the roof of our house, he began play sword fighting George.

I was quickly introduced to Quonzo as he made himself comfy on our settee, the fattest of our cats on his lap and a story to tell.

So from what I’ve gathered, Quonzo is about 5 inches wide, almost 6 feet tall, with brown spiky hair…oh and he’s 100 years old.

Quonzo was meant to be staying with us for 4 days as he was moving house…100 miles away but it wasn’t ready yet.

Our neighbours (George’s pals)over the road have recently moved out and according to George, Quonzo had been living with them.

So Quonzo has seemingly dipped in and out of our lives, with hubs and I being happy to talk about him if George mentions him, but otherwise we aren’t reminding him of his existence. Hubs is under strict instructions from me NOT to piss Quonzo off (ya know, just in case he is a 100-year-old spirit).

So we’ve been informed by George that Quonzo’s move has in fact been delayed and he will now be staying with us for 100 days.

You don’t have to be a genius to come to the conclusion that Quonzo’s presence is most likely a byproduct of George’s anxieties over us selling our house.

The sale is still going through and until we exchange we aren’t in a position to secure a rental. There aren’t currently any properties on the rental market that suit our needs either.

I’ve talked to George and asked if he is worried about moving house and he said he is. I’ve tried my best to reassure him that all our things will come with us and it simply means that we will have more space. It’s a good thing.

If Quonzo is his way of helping him through the process, then I’m all for it. I’m just relieved he didn’t tell me he was a deceased relative. Although that could’ve been quite nice.

Nonetheless Quonzo has raised some questions. On the morning before Quonzo appeared, George had come into our bed in the early hours. His sleep is restless at the moment, after a good five months of sleeping through the night, he’s clearly not switching his mind off.

So we’re all laying in bed about 6am and George sits up and says “I can hear someone talking downstairs”. My ears aren’t great and I have to wear hearing aids to hear certain tones, I also have tinnitus which worsens the more silence I’m surrounded by.

I couldn’t hear any talking. I asked George what he could hear and he said he heard someone say “Daddy” and it was probably the cats talking. He then spent that morning trying to encourage the cats that it was ok to reveal to him that they could talk. Not more than a few hours later, Quonzo appeared. Strange coincidence?

Imaginary

Even weirder, George at one point started to get quite aggravated that he couldn’t remove his new friends name. I didn’t want to remind him so I told him to go and ask him. He went over to the spot where Quonzo was apparently sitting and whispered to him. Returning to me he said “it’s Quonzo”. That threw me. Was this a game? George’s memory couldn’t remember his name but Quonzo actually told him?!

I’ve lived in my house 11 years and I’m pretty certain it isn’t haunted. Both my mum, and I believe I have a slight inclination towards being able to feel a spirits presence so I think I would know. Quonzo doesn’t scare me.

I’ve done some brief reading and spoken to friends who’s little ones also have an imaginary friend. Whilst there doesn’t  appear to be an obvious reason for theirs, I’m certain George’s is to do with us moving. Everything points to it. He’s also recently learnt to count to 100 (although he can never remember what comes after the 9, 29,59 etcetera).

My brief research suggested not to disregard the imaginary friend but also not to encourage it in the sense of pretending you can see them.

The whole concept really fascinates me and I shall certainly be doing some reading to try to understand this moment in our lives better. If nothing but to help George through the transition of moving.

The main thing I’ve taken from Quonzo is that my child has an amazing imagination. I’ve always been known for my unusual thoughts and over active imagination. It’s lovely to know that George has inherited this and we can share and create stories together.

Secondly I’ve read that it’s a perfectly normal thing for preschoolers to invent imaginary friends. The fact George has told us about Quonzo doesn’t worry me. I’m happy that he feels he can share his secrets and worries with us.

What I will do is be mindful of what we discuss around George regarding the move. He’s already suggested maybe he should ask Father Christmas for a new house. We’ve told him that’s not for him to worry about and Mummy and Daddy are using their wishes for that. The last thing I want is for his little mind worrying about something that will be a fabulous next chapter in our lives.

Imaginary

Has your little one had or do they have an imaginary friend? Do you remember having one as a child? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lucy At Home UK gentle parenting blogger

The fear of being a woman

It’s no secret that I am a woman. I was once a girl and grew up with 3 sisters and no brothers. It’s a given that my mum, would’ve been told countless times “oooh but you have to worry about girls more!”

How often have you heard the above statement when someone announces the sex of their unborn child or their desire to have a particular sex. Only for someone to chip in with “well boys are less of a worry, they can look after themselves.” “You always have to worry about girls!”

Isn’t it about time we started to question why it is exactly that we need to worry about girls more?!

I was raised to be a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman.
That aside, I’ve grown up with the constant reminder that you don’t go out alone at night.

If I’m out with a group of girls we all text one another to say we are home safe if we drive ourselves. If we are getting dropped off we wait to make sure “they are in safe”.

The majority of men DO NOT have to do this. The thought doesn’t even cross their minds. Yes there is a risk of a man getting mugged, attacked or even raped when they are out alone.But for a woman it’s almost a constant worry.

How many times have you seen in the news that a girl walking home through the park at 11pm or 1am was attacked, raped or even murdered! I will guarantee that a huge majority of us thought or said “well she was silly being out on her own that time of night”.

Social media is rife with women and men realising this and speaking out about it. Articles such as this, highlight how women everyday feel fearful of this world we live in. I can’t believe myself that in 34 years, I haven’t questioned why we live this way.

It wasn’t until Mollie Tibbetts murder earlier in the year that I began reading tweets and stories from women who no longer feel safe to jog alone. Women who change their jogging course daily to avoid becoming predictable and an easy target for assault.

woman

My social life would be a completely different story if I didn’t HAVE to worry about getting home alone on the train. I’ve got to the grand old age of 34 and thankfully never had anything horrifying happen to me. But I’ve always played it safe and careful. Isn’t it sad I’ve had to live with that thought always in my mind.

Take this Thursday for example. I was invited to an event in London, I live in mid Essex. The event is in the evening and I so wanted to go and meet the fellow blogger who organised it. But I declined. On the basis I wasn’t comfortable travelling home at night, alone on the train.
Even if this wasn’t a hesitation of my own, my husband, mum and no doubt anyone that cares about me, would think this was dangerous and foolish.
Even in the daytime I often go for walks round the river alone. Sometimes there is no one else for miles. Other times I see a man approaching in the distance or from behind and I have to make a decision.
Should I up my pace or slow down? If I let him get in front of me I can be better armed to protect myself, rather than him attack me from behind? These are not the kind of thoughts that make me feel like I’ve had a leisurely walk.

The more I think about it, the more I realise we have such a long way to go before women can ever feel comfortable in this world.

 

woman

Over the past 50 years, society has become a more accepting place. Women are finally gaining a sense of equality. I know there are many other groups and identities that are continually fighting for acceptance and to put an end to prejudice. I can only speak for being an able-bodied, heterosexual woman.

This post actually isn’t attacking all men. Of course it’s not. I have and have had male friends and family, I have a son! I know not all men are likely to commit these crimes. But it doesn’t mean the threat isn’t very real. Some call it toxic masculinity.

I personally can’t ever see an end to this. In many countries such as the UK, US, Denmark and France, women have gained a lot more respect. That’s not to say there aren’t still men in these countries attacking  women, there are.

But there are still many countries around the world whereby women are considered to be second-rate citizens.

In Saudi Arabia, where in only the last 10  years women have been deemed legally allowed to drive a car, play sports and compete in the olympics, and attend university.

A quick internet search reveals Iraq, Mali, Sudan, Niger and Pakistan  are in the top ten for countries in the world where women are treated the worst.

Deprived of education, abused, raped, mutilated, married off during childhood, sold into the sex industry! And here’s me worrying about the simple task of taking a walk down the street at night.

My point is that we have the ability to travel between countries and continents with ease now. Cultures and nationalities merge like they never have before, but attitudes towards women vary vastly from country to country.
So it’s not a case of educating and changing the mentality in just one country alone. This has to be a worldwide thing.
I honestly cannot imagine it for hundreds of years. And of course there always be rebels to the cause. Just another reason I despair at the world.

Will it ever feel safe to be a woman?

woman

 

Shopping for gifts made easier with Wicked Uncle

** Disclosure – I was provided with a voucher code from Wicked Uncle in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own and this is no way affects the integrity of the post. Enjoy**

Do you struggle to know what gifts to buy people? We all have that friend or family member who has everything. What about the children in your family? Then there’s the never-ending kids birthday parties where you know nothing about the child. It’s often difficult to know what they might like. This is where Wicked Uncle becomes your gift shopping guru.

gifts

About  Wicked Uncle

Wicked Uncle offer a service where-by they scour the world for toys that are that little bit different, unusual and great fun. Why spend hours looking through shops and search engines when Wicked Uncle does it for you.Not only does Wicked Uncle find and compile a list of the best gifts, they also test them. Puzzles are made, games are played and T-shirt’s are worn. Many of the toys they select are put through their paces by dedicated children.

Wicked Uncle are so named because they felt it sounded cool. “Wicked” may not be the term that’s “down with the kids” nowadays but their products certainly are. They currently offer an award-winning service, with 99% outstanding customer service reviews on Feefo.

The website is really easy to navigate. The menu gives you the option to choose the intended gift recipients age and gender. Whilst Wicked Uncle are aware that both genders can like an item, many still find it useful to search items by male or female. There is the option to select all if you don’t want to select categories by gender.

Once you’ve chosen your gift, you have the option to choose from a selection of gift wrap options, complete with handwritten card. They also offer a reminder service in case, like me, you have 15 nieces and nephews and struggle to remember all their birthdays.

Wicked Uncle isn’t just useful for buying children’s gifts. They also have a Big Kidz section for ages 12 to infinity. Me and hubs are total big kids at heart and love a novelty item. Some of the items that caught my eye, I’ve honestly never seen before.

Magnetic Football Tables – I can imagine this being a little (or big) football lovers dream.

gifts
Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

100 ways to win a tenner –  I can see this being a hit with students, pub goers or just a good laugh round the table Christmas day.

gifts
Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

Piano Playing Plant Pot, Musical Leaves! – Gifts don’t get more unique than this! Note the green strip around the pot, this changes colour. It’s a piano playing, bluetooth-speaking, light up plant pot. The plant isn’t included. You can add or grow any in the pot. Although Wicked Uncle recommend you steer clear of a cactus. I can’t say I’m not massively intrigued.

gifts
Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

My Very Own Rainbow, rainbow projector – I literally didn’t know these existed! The only reason I didn’t order one is because George already has an abundance of night lights and light projectors. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist for too long. Heck I might even get one for my own bedroom. Can you imagine having another child and telling them “yeah you was conceived under a rainbow”. I’m laughing so much right now, but I genuinely want one of these in my life.

gifts
Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

So that’s enough of what I could have ordered and here’s what I did order. So we recently celebrated George’s 4th birthday. In the run up to his birthday he would wake each morning and ask “Is it my birthday today?” I thought it must be horrible to not know when your birthday is.

So I made a calendar on the whiteboard that he could count down and cross off the days until Halloween, his birthday and his birthday party. George responded really well to this and enjoyed coming down each morning and taking it upon himself to cross of the days.

With this in mind, I thought he would really enjoy this Melissa and Doug My Magnetic Daily Calendar – Wooden.  This is great for learning the days of the week, months, years, seasons and certain recognised days like Halloween, remembrance day and alike.

George loves looking out the window and choosing from the options for the day’s weather and he often changes this as the day progresses, along with his moods in the “I feel” section.

gifts

The other thing I purchased because it was unusual and I hadn’t seen one before, my Dad was in awe of the concept. Tub Time Grand Prix – 36 piece set. Complete with rubber duck style race cars, this foam race track floats on water!

It has foam cars, trophies and other accessories that stick to the bath or tiles when damp. There’s also a handy net with suckers to attach to the wall to store it all when you are done. George literally cannot get enough of this and I imagine we will use it in the paddling pool during the summer also.

gifts

My verdict

In my family the name Wicked Auntie would be more apt. The women tend to be in charge of buying the gifts. The first the men know about what has been bought is when they see the person open it. Hubs’ family still wouldn’t get any gifts if it wasn’t for me. With a tally of 15 nieces and nephews I’m most defo the Wicked Auntie, in the coolest sense of the word I hope.

I think Wicked Uncle are fab. They are UK based and they have a real fun, family vibe. They present themselves as being approachable and willing to ensure their customers are happy. Price wise I have done a few comparisons and their prices are not dissimilar to those on the high street.

The products we received were a beautiful quality and they arrived packaged in a box size suitable for the items contained. I shall definitely be using Wicked Uncle in the not too distant future.

Rather weirdly, I had a job position within Wicked Uncle pop up on my phone. Secret I-Phone spies at work again. Looking at the salary on the advert made me realise not only do Wicked Uncle value their customers, they appear to value their staff too. I often worry that our online order come at a price for some poor humans soul so this is reassuring.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Wicked Uncle

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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.

moving

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).

home

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;

moving

  • 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!

moving

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 #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.

stink

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.

stink
#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?

stink

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.

Postnatal depression or normalities of motherhood?

There have recently been some new babies born to friends and extended family of mine. It’s led us to chat about the early days and months of motherhood and I’ve offered my support and shared some of my own experiences. I can’t help but constantly be on the lookout for their mental health. I don’t want another woman to have to be trapped inside her own mind wondering is it, isn’t it and struggling more than she needs to.

It’s only when doing this that I realise that I’m not as truthful as I’d like to think I am on this blog.

My experiences may have been tainted by the now obvious and apparent fact that I had some form of postpartum depression. This lasted well into George’s second year, if not beyond. I continued to believe I could fix it myself but it always crept back in. One good day would be marred by two bad days.

I have worked in and around the mental health sector for the entirety of my Pharmacy career the 11 years prior to George’s birth and solely being employed by a mental health trust the 8 years previous to leaving my job to become a stay at home Mum.

I knew the mental health system relatively well. I had been in close contact with many types of mental health conditions when people were at their absolute lowest. Yet when I myself felt that I needed help, I was so scared of seeking it for fear that I would lose George. It was never going to be the case.

If you are considered to be a threat to yourself or others you may be sectioned under the mental health act. Despite having very desperately low thoughts, I was avidly aware of them and it upset me that I didn’t want to feel like this but I couldn’t stop it. I wanted to just run away. I told my husband countless times I wanted to leave him when all I really wanted was to vanish. He was the only person I could fully confide in despite his own issues.

Not more than a month after George’s birth, hubs own father died suddenly of a heart attack. He was in his fifties, the same age at which hubs grandad also died of a heart attack. We now look back and realise that hubs always suffered with mild anxiety. Who doesn’t. But losing his father and witnessing me have a severely traumatic birth was the trigger to make him have what in the olden days would be referred to as a nervous breakdown.

He couldn’t even bear to be in the same room as his own mother due to the intenseness of his anxiety. Running upstairs in tears during a visit, leaving me to see them out. Quickly realising he couldn’t bear to be in a room by himself without feeling desperately scared and anxious of having an heart attack. Thankfully this intense week was exacerbated by the GP starting him on Beta Blockers which had the opposite effect to what they should have. (This can happen and is known as a paradoxical side effect). After stopping the tablets he slowly improved but it was a long road.

Having had an emergency Caesarean section and needing to stay in hospital with George with us both suffering with suspected infections for 6 days I was weak and in pain at the start. By the time of hubs breakdown I was healed and able to be strong for all of us. It was hard and we had some great support from family.

Hubs wasn’t able to work and I had given up my job due to struggles with health and being able to juggle what was expected of me in my work role and as new mother. This all added to his anxiety over needing to support his family and being unable to. Although self employed, the guys he was contracted to were very supportive and understanding.

As hubs grew stronger, my own mind must’ve relaxed and with it came flooding through all the negative thoughts. My mum said with what we had both been through it was a wonder we hadn’t experienced this sooner. George was now almost one years old. I could still cry several times a week. I remember if I couldn’t console him, feeling so helpless I would just cry. Then I’d feel better and he would soon settle.

I’d tell people and no one made it seem unusual. A few suggested I go to the doctors but I was so scared of explaining it wrong to the doctor and being sectioned or George being taken away. I was absolutely no danger to George and I knew it and deep down I knew this wouldn’t happen but the depression made me irrational.

In the end anyone who made me feel even slightly unhappy I shut out and pushed away. Even now I still don’t know if I lost friends because of my behaviour or theirs. I don’t know if I took my frustration at myself out on them or if they genuinely were not compatible with me now I was a Mama. I changed. I’m still me but I have changed.

The mask became a powerful thing. Sometimes I couldn’t hold it together and I found myself quickly rushing George to the car so I could hide the tears that I couldn’t hold back. I cried over the stupidest of things. But overall when I saw people the mask came up and I smiled and it was a brief relief from the negativity I dwelled in behind closed doors.

 

mental health

I no longer enjoyed things I previously enjoyed doing. I went along but just willed it to be over. I wasn’t interested. I was flat. I didn’t care. Eventually when George was around 16 months old I visited the GP and was put on Fluoxetine. It made me feel so, so nauseous. You’d think it’s a small price to pay but food was the only thing I found enjoyment in and to lose the willing and desire to eat made me feel even worse. What’s more they didn’t make me feel any better.

Antidepressants can take 4-6 weeks to have an notable effect. My GP agreed they wasn’t doing me any good after 3. Ultimately this was because they made me feel so nauseous, I lost my passion for food and eating. Food was all I had left that I enjoyed. The thought of losing that was just too much. I know it sounds ridiculous, especially since I need to lose weight. It was how I felt though. I had to stop the fluoxetine. From there the GP follow up was non existent. Presuming I would return if I felt low again, there was no further contact to see how I was doing.

mental health
Cake is the answer to everything.

Thankfully after that period of time, something changed. I don’t know if maybe even the short amount of time I took the Fluoxetine was enough to reset the chemicals in my brain. It also coincided with my neurologist introducing some new medication for my migraines. They happened to fix my long term vertigo and I was able to drive again. I had my independence back and I think this contributed massively to my self worth and happiness.

What I do know is that I feel better than I have for a long time. Stronger, fearless, happy. Once you’ve considered your life worthless you tend to lose your fear of things. You realise nothing is as scary as the thought of escaping your life.

So what’s the point of sharing this with you? I suppose I want mums out there to distinguish between what is normal and what really isn’t when you have a baby. If something doesn’t feel right then please speak to someone. Your partner, parent, friend, health visitor or GP. Okay,  my experience with the GP wasn’t wholly positive but I wasn’t completely honest with them and I should have been more persistent.

mental health

I got so good at the mask, my GP visits saw me sitting with a smile on my face. I felt stupid. No way someone sits there trying to explain how low they feel whilst smiling. People break down and burst into tears. But I’m too polite I just smiled. If you’re the same, maybe take someone along to the appointment with you who has seen you at your worst. Don’t suffer in silence.

Can you relate to any of this? I find it so hard to know if I can say I had/have postnatal depression. Does it ever go away? My moods are certainly more changeable but is that how parenthood feels? I genuinely still have no idea.

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.

creatures

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?

Poetically analysing motherhood and life