Wonder Park – a deep and meaningful surprise

I recently watched Wonder Park. A children’s film that, judging by the trailer, I was going to wish I was watching at home rather than the cinema. It certainly didn’t come across in the trailer as the sort of film that would retain my attention. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Not only did it capture my attention, I left feeling like my child had witnessed a really important life message.

The trailer depicts Wonder Park as a typical, haphazard rollercoaster of a film following an adventurous young girl who likes and imagines a stupendous theme park. The talking animals appealed to my four year old but it looked like the type of film I’d happily give a miss. Little did I know the film actually harboured a strong message that I feel is so important nowadays.

Picture this, it’s a Sunday afternoon, Mummy is hung over from a rare mums night out. Daddy is desperate for a “family day” and the four year old is slightly cranky and eager to get his own way after going to bed 4 hours late the night before.

Both George and myself are pretty familiar with getting our own way. Hubs says he finds it comical to watch the pair of us battling to decide on who is going to prevail. I was eager to do something indoors and with limited physical exertion. So I suggested a trip to the cinema. In the hope we could see the remake of my childhood favourite, Dumbo. After foolishly showing an over tired George the trailer, he declared Dumbo wasn’t to his liking.

After scrolling through the available children’s films showing at the cinema that day, George decided he would only be happy seeing Wonder Park. The trailer we watched, shows a young girl, June, creating a miniature theme park (Wonder Park) with her mum.

We see her in a makeshift roller coaster, hurtling down the roof of her house, discovering a secret roller coaster carriage in the woods. Liaising with magical talking creatures and chimpanzombies, more roller coasters, “the darkness”, a few more roller coasters and it all seems very light hearted, fun and lacking in the usual gags that you think are for the adults. Without those I felt like the film was only aimed at children.

wonder park

So long story short, I reluctantly opted for the easy life and we bought our tickets for Wonder Park.

As the film started, the story presented with a young girl, June, who has this beautiful relationship with her Mum. Together they imagine and build a whole mini theme park, Wonder Park, that grows throughout their house. They create talking animal characters, Boomer, Gus, Cooper, Greta, Steve and Peanut.

Peanut is pretty pivotal character. He is a chimpanzee who holds a magic marker whilst you whisper the latest Wonder Park idea to make it come true. June and her mum have a stuffed toy version of each character and so June’s mum whispers the latest idea they have imagined, into Peanuts ear. In Wonder Park world, Peanut is the ride creator and is thankful to the magical “voice from the sky”, giving him all the ideas….until they stop.

June’s Mum is sick. Really sick. She has to go away for treatment but you as a viewer are left with the heart wrenching uncertainty of whether she will return. You feel June’s pain, as an 8 year old child who is suddenly conscious that parents aren’t actually invincible.

We watch as June feels the overwhelming urge to become the grown up. She packs Wonder Park away, bit by bit. Despite her Mum urging her to continue it in her absence as June is really the one who puts the “wonder into Wonder Park”

June’s first attempt to whisper into Peanuts ear makes her feel the true enormity of her Mum leaving. She packs away Wonder Park, withdraws from her friends and seems to lock herself away at home, cleaning “an already clean house”. Her priority becomes making sure her Dad is being health conscious and savvy about his well being. It portrays so well how children can experience anxiety in relation to change and the well being of a loved one.

She’s encouraged to go to summer Math camp and her Dad sends her on her way with an encouraging note saying he will miss her. Opening it on the bus, she mis-interprets and thinks it’s a cry for help and that he’s really asking her to stay home.

This is when I started to realise this is more than just a happy go lucky film about roller coasters. June is displaying adult fears and emotions that I feel we don’t often see portrayed in children’s films.

In almost every Disney film, a child loses their parent one way or another. They usually withdraw a little before skipping off singing songs with often mythical and magical wonder. With Wonder Park I felt like the message was more obvious and true to life.

Back to the film, June’s anxiety gets the better of her and she finds a way to get off the math camp bus and head through the woods for home. She envisages her Dad in a colourless world, basically self destructing. She doesn’t want to another parent to fall gravely ill.

Whilst wandering through the woods, she stumbles upon the real life Wonder Park. As June discovers, Wonder Park is under threat from “The darkness”. Portrayed as a pink swirling whirlpool that consumes everything that goes near it, never to return. We as adults can recognise this as June’s anxiety and depression that has developed in correlation to her Mum becoming seriously unwell. I wonder if children of a certain age can see this too.

Whilst trying to desperately rebuild the world as it crumbles around them, no thanks to the chimpanzombies feeding everything in sight to “the darkness”, the characters aren’t really tackling the reason behind the emergence of the darkness.

At the same time “the darkness” appeared, Greta and co tell June that the parks creator peanut disappeared. June finds Peanut in hiding. He’s busying himself organising the candy in a similar neurotic fashion to June’s coping mechanism of excessively cleaning.

It’s at this point it dawns on June that she is responsible for creating the darkness. Once June realises she needs to go inside the darkness to tackle it, then the film starts to get some resolve. She apologises to the rest of the Wonder Park gang for inadvertently causing such destruction in their world too.

I won’t spoil the ending but a pivotal moment in the film is towards the end. One of the Wonder Park creatives, Greta, points out to June that, despite them defeating the darkness and restoring Wonder Park to its former glory, the darkness can still be seen lurking in the sky. June takes a moment to reflect and says indeed it’s likely the darkness will always be there. The important thing is to see brightness surrounding it.

And just like that, Paramount Pictures together with Nickelodeon Movies tell kids the truth. Sometimes life sucks and we get depressed. Maybe we don’t ever fully recover from that depression but you take the light with the dark and just keep doing you.

In 2019, our kids have so many things that back in the day didn’t exist. We are finally recognising that children’s mental health matters. It exists and we need to take care of it. As we left the cinema, I bent down and thanked George for suggesting we see Wonder Park, and I acknowledged it was a great choice.

When I returned home and googled the film, I soon found very few positive reviews. And barely any that actually spoke of the important message I feel the film portrays. I really wanted to share this review and encourage you to watch it with your child.

Wonder Park is a PG rated film and this review was my own choice. I paid to attend the film myself and this is by no means an ad.

Watch the trailer.

 

Have you seen the film? I’d love to know how you interpreted it in the comments below.

If you are worried about a child’s mental health, checkout Young Minds. They are an organisation fighting for young people’s mental health. They were brought to my attention by a virtual friend and fellow blogger Susie from So Happy In Town, who is running an ongoing campaign to raise money for Young Minds through sales of her “It’s OK to feel S.H.I.T” tees. I can totally recommend you check them out.

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Not another conception story

Without being disrespectful to anyone, this is just another conception story. But is also isn’t. For the pure fact that we haven’t yet conceived. So it may actually turn out to be a story about giving up on conception. Nonetheless, this is my own story and point of view. It’s just a frank and attempted humorous look at how we are trying to make George a brother or sister as he so often asks us to.

I know for many couples this is such a heartbreaking and stressful experience. But personally, at this stage, I have a very blasé outlook on the whole process. Hubs and I are very much at the what will be will be.

Of course we already have George, and I know a lot of couples hate it when they are trying to conceive (ttc) and people express that they should be content that they already have a child. I’m not saying they should. But for us, being parents already makes all the difference and totally softens the blow.

When we were trying for George, it completely consumed me, despite me knowing that stressing wouldn’t help. The not knowing if mine or hubs bodies were capable of producing a baby was the thing that got to us (me). It took 8 months to conceive George, but they were the longest 8 months of my life. If you’d like to read more of how George came about, click here. (note the link does take you to a sponsored post whereby I was provided with an item in return for my honest review.) I’m so sorry to women that have been trying for years and still haven’t conceived but we all have our own battles and I know there will be people scoffing at 8 months. For me, I’m surrounded by people who look at one another and fall pregnant so for me, 8 months made me feel like I my body was behaving badly.

So I’ve visited the GP and discussed the fact that we have been trying to conceive a sibling for George. Since George was born 4 and a half years ago, we haven’t used any contraception. So I suppose you could say we have been trying for 4 years. The first year I didn’t have any periods due to breastfeeding though. I know they said it’s still possible to fall pregnant whilst breastfeeding but in my case it really wasn’t.

So, without flitting about too much, menopause is a big factor in me wanting to seek help in trying to conceive. The women in my family go through menopause early (late thirties) and I’m already 35! When my periods restarted after having George, they were strange in that I will bleed for a few days, completely stop for 24 hours, and then bleed again for a day or two. After a year of this, I told my Mum just in conversation one day and she said this is how her menopause first presented itself.

I asked my GP about it and they referred me to have an internal ultrasound. Thankfully everything was pretty average. However this was two years ago. At the time, they told me my results were normal. So in my head I thought the next step was for hubs to visit the GP to get himself checked out.

Due to ongoing health conditions with my body we decided to just continue as per. We were slightly unsure if pregnancy was the right choice for my body or not at that point. Some months I felt great and we were all for it. Others I was certain I would end up on 9 months bedrest if I fell at that precise moment.

So the time has come where I think physically I’m the best I’m gonna be, and I’m continually trying to improve my physical fitness and diet but the clocking is well and truly ticking. Not only that, but George is desperate for a sibling and always asking when we are going to have a baby. Timing wise, he starts full time school in September. This will allow me to dedicate daytimes to doing the activities with the baby that I did with George, in the form of classes etc. So off to the docs hubs trots and explains that we want a baby but it’s not happening.

Now this is where it all gets a little confusing. Hubs explained to the doc that I had already had some tests and he now wanted to be tested. Ultimately to check his swimmers are all geared up for the race to end all races. So he was told that in order for him to referred for fertility issues, I myself, as his wife and partner, have to visit the doctor. He then has to be referred through me as it were. It all seems rather bizarre.

So I paid my second home (the doctors) a visit and explained the situation. He said the first step is for me to have a blood test on day 21 of my cycle, which ironically was that day. I should have realised the nurses reputation when the doctor asked me if I was feeling brave.

The nurse admitted to me she has a needle phobia and won’t let anyone near her with one. So she has trained as a phlebotomist to help her phobia! And here I was, her therapy  patient for that day. She told me she would try to be gentle, as I gritted my teeth, threw my head back towards the ceiling and hoped she just had a lack of confidence in herself. She didn’t. It hurt and my arm felt bruised all the way through.

Here I am realising that already it starts doesn’t it. I’ve already had an internal ultrasound (which you can’t even feel by the way) and now I’m playing pin cushion to someone who really should have listened to the careers advisor. It’s all very invasive and might I say a bit fucking painful from the woman’s perspective.

In my head the outcome of my attending said doctors appointment would be that hubs would be recommended to whack on a bit of pornhub, jizz in a cup,hand it in and everyone is happy. Happy days!

A fellow blogger who I chat to said her hubs was asked to do just that (ok minus the pornhub bit). She lives in the same county as me, just a different borough. Either times have changed since they had tests, or the powers that be just like marginally torturing women in my borough. (please insert laugh here)

So apparently the next step is for the doctor to call me in a weeks time. He’ll tell me if my hormone levels appear “normal” before we progress to the next stage…whatever that may be.

In the meantime I’ve been tracking my cycles and doing all the usual shizzle. Honestly, what more can you do? The problem with making babies is it’s completely out of our control. I hate not getting my own way. So it’s quite frustrating to not be able to say “I want a baby”, and just have one.

It’s like back when I used to play football in school…or rather didn’t. I love the game, I know the rules and what position I should be in, but at the end of the day I just wasn’t picked for the team. The difference being this time, that I’m playing tennis doubles and we are both potentially missing the shots.

So watch this space I guess. One way or another, George will have a sibling. It’s just a question of by which means.

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Telltale signs you live with a parent blogger

Parent bloggers are spreading faster than that bout of conjunctivitis at preschool. Have you been wondering if the blogging bug has entered your household?

Has your partner been acting strangely? Does the delivery company have a designated parking spot at your house? Do people around you seem to know more about your life than you? Chances are you are living with a parent blogger. If you are uncertain, here are some telltale signs to help you decide.

  • They are always randomly scribbling notes on a pad or tapping notes into their phone at any hour of the day or time. If an idea comes to mind we gotta get that shizzle documented before someone asks for another snack and the idea is gone forever.

 

  • Every day out or event , he/she are no longer standing with the rest of the crowd trying to get a big standard picture with all and sundry in the shot. They are laying on the floor trying to get the right angle or standing precariously behind their non identified child trying hard to make the pic look like they were involved but without exposing their identity or any other child’s for that matter.

 

  • You can no longer go anywhere with them without them just having to update their insta stories and tag and check themselves in.

 

  • They’ve deleted any friends or family who own a social media account but don’t use it. Let’s face it they can’t have a list of people they are following bigger than their number of followers. Cutbacks have to come somewhere.

 

  • They are always on the lookout for an “insta-worthy” wall/doorway/backdrop.

 

  • They say “cheese” a lot. “Let’s do a cheese in front of this”, “Come have a cheese with me” “Can you take my cheese” I actually laughed out loud at that one. Just me? Or do most people actually use the word “picture” or “photo”?

 

  • They are never finished with what they are doing. A Bloggers works is NEVER done. There is always more you can do so it’s very hard to draw a line and say no, I’m clocking off for the day. Don’t hold this against them.

 

  • You’ll find all manner of things you never knew you wanted or needed cropping up in your home which you MUST try because suddenly we are all reviewing it. A light in your toilet bowl, microwaveable crisps, bedsheets, recipes the list is endlessly fabulous. Parent bloggers are your jack of all trades.

 

  • You are constantly being told to get out of shot. They want a gorgeous image of your toddler in front of a lake. Minus your arse or you staring at your phone. We are trying to paint a picture of blissful, parent blogger, family perfection here! (Not!)

 

  • You choose your words carefully, fearful that you may end up a feature in their next post.

 

  • They suddenly ask you for weird things as gifts. Lightboxes, tripods, light screens, backdrops, notepads.

 

  • They suddenly have a huge collection of friends. Most of which you, (or they for that matter) have never met (in real life anyway).
  • They have their own language that only other bloggers (and I.T pros) understand. Alien phrases referring to SEO, algorithms, flesch readings and meta tags are now commonly echoing around the walls of your home.

Have I missed any? If you suspect your partner may be a parent blogger and think I’ve missed any symptoms off the list, feel free to add them in the comments below.

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Working from home – how I miss the comfort of a team.

Working from home is something I always hoped and dreamed for. I feel so fortunate to be a work at home parent. But it doesn’t stop me pining for the team spirit I once had when I was employed for the NHS.

What’s a woman to do. We’ve just had World Book Day and it really struck a chord with me. And probably not for the reasons you are already presuming before your finger heads towards that “X”. World book day made me realise I really kind of want a job in the outside world. Or do I?

So for 11 years pre motherhood, I worked in the NHS in pharmacy sector. It was hard work but that’s not the point. The social aspect was fab. I always felt like part of a huge family and there was always something going on. Jeans for jeans, Red Nose Day, national what can you make for lunch out of brussel sprouts day (ok I made that one up). The point is, there was always something to get involved in and feel part of a team.

Cut to now. I have a 4 year old due to start school in September. I’m a blogger (just about) and a work at home mum doing admin management and bookkeeping for hubs accountancy business. It’s the perfect role. I can earn my own money. I boost hubs income by freeing his time up to take on more work. Plus the work can be fit in around George so I get to spend more time with him.

It’s a no brainer. We are doing the best we have done in years financially, having just sold our house, we actually have a plan for the future.

But here’s me with my, “somethings always missing attitude”, feeling like I’m not part of a team. Seeing not just the children but grown ups too, heading off to work in their costumes for world book day, made me ponder. I really miss it. I miss taking part in baking competitions and collections for so and so’s birthday. So what is the answer?

It would be financial suicide to give up what we have going right now and get a full time job. Plus I couldn’t get a job that pays anything near what I earn at home, or used to in the NHS without forking out for childcare. This would leave me worse off financially and as a parent it would sting.

So maybe the answer is to get some work out of usual office hours. Once George is in bed. Realistically though that’s only going to leave me exhausted and without any time to spend with hubs. Plus I’m trying to invest more time in strengthening my body and we are looking into having another baby so…another reason really to not start a role within a company.

I’m really not looking for an answer because there isn’t one. I have an obstacle for most solutions to my problem. I guess I’m just wondering if other mums and dads are out there missing the same things as me. How do you feels with it? It’s ok to miss something without it meaning it was a bad decision.

It’s so trivial but it in a roundabout way it it’s essentially loneliness. People visit me and George regularly, but it’s always “until the next time” and we never know when that might be. I don’t have a set routine of what’s coming next.

I love being in control of my own time (although I’m pretty poor at managing it of late) but I really miss having a team to share the days with.

One of the blogging forums I am a part of had a thread recently that asked if we thought of each other as colleagues. I suppose in a round about way we are the closest we have.

I spend a fair amount of time chatting online with these ladies and gents about subjects that aren’t all parenthood and blogging. Alls we are lacking is a dress up and bring cake in day.

Do you work from home? Can you relate?

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Plastic Guilt – How are you dealing with it?

Plastic guilt is crippling my conscience right now. It’s obviously something that’s been very prominent in the news and media of late.  But how are you dealing with it?

Before we go any further, this post is an introduction to a new series I shall be embarking on. I’m learning slowly, how to live with less plastic and how to be more conscientious in the purchases I make. I’m not a “hippy” or an eco warrior and I’m not about to embark on a vegan diet. What I am trying to do is share with people how to make cheap and effective changes to our lives. Changes that make a positive impact on the environment and how to teach your child the same.

plastic

For me , hearing the crippling effects plastic is having on the planet, (notice I said THE and not OUR) and the creatures we share it with is too much of a daily weight to bear. I feel helpless. Whilst it’s important to realise we can all play a part in battling the war against plastic, it’s so hard when you are bombarded with the stuff on a minute by minute basis. Even this was typed on plastic keys on my keyboard.

plastic
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Now I am by no means an eco warrior but that’s the whole point, you don’t need to be. We are all capable of reducing how much plastic we use and how we dispose of it. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort and often it can be more cost effective to buy plastic alternatives.

If you have made it this far then great. This isn’t an article to preach, this is a genuine cry for help. This is so deeply on my conscience I am living with the pointless feeling of guilt and despair every day. Shuddering daily at the amount of plastic that gets sent our way. Even if I myself choose a plastic free option, we are still bombarded with plastic from other sources.

plastic

Take Christmas just gone for example. I ordered George a book advent. He eats enough sugary foods as it is and last year I got bored with explaining it was only one chocolate a day. So this year I opted for  a book advent and none of us had a chocolate advent calendar. That was until one of the mums at preschool very kindly decided to purchase all 70+ an advent calendar.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought this was an incredibly kind gesture and we accepted it gratefully. Then we took George’s Nana out for dinner to a chinese restaurant in honour of her birthday.  Whilst we were waiting for our food, the manager came over and gave George a chocolate advent calendar. Again very kind, but despite my best efforts, he now had 2. I wasn’t asked in advance, she just presented him with it. I could never have taken it away and I wouldn’t. It was a gift. But to me it was now a responsibility. A responsibility to dispose of the plastic conscientiously.

The third chocolate advent was given to hubs by one of his accounts clients. And there it was, the unavoidable truth that no matter how hard we try to ignore it, plastic will find a way into your life.

plastic

This is merely a drop in our plastic filled ocean. We all know we are now consuming plastic particles that have been eaten by members of the food chain. “Become a vegetarian or a vegan I hear you cry.” But I don’t want to. I enjoy eating meat and fish.

Of course there’s also the subject of company advertising. Myself and George sit and watch children’s television and then the adverts start.

“Look at this plastic thing in a plastic shell that you can open and it’s filled with plastic accessories wrapped in plastic with a plastic box to sit on.”

“Collect them all” I hear George repeat. My soul shudders. His poor little heart doesn’t realise that by the time he’s 50, the planet will be struggling to be livable yet him and all his peers will have consumed and discarded more plastic than any generation before him to contribute to its demise.

So I found and joined a Facebook group on Ecobriking and got started on my first few bricks. I have also looked into Terracycle. Check them out. Terracycle in particular, is something I’m really excited to delve into more once we have completed this poxy house move and settled in.

To be fair my local council is pretty exceptional with the varying degrees of plastic they recycle. But the media would lead us to believe the councils can’t process the amount of plastic we produce quick enough so quite often sell it to other countries who dump it. It’s exasperating. And I often don’t know who to trust. My plan is to contact the local council, again after our move and ask for a tour of the recycling plant, that I can hopefully share with you all. We shall see.

So that is where I am at. Struggling daily with literally everything. Even seeing a character on Eastenders throw a perfectly good toy in the general waste because “they didn’t like it”! There are so many alternatives. Charity shops, school tombolas. Very little actually needs to go into your general waste now.

So I hope I have whet your appetite to join me as I embark on this mission to live with a healthier and happier conscience, with less plastic. ♥

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

 

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