Escape to the aquarium

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Little tyke and Mummy watch the cheeky penguins

I hope all of you have had a lovely, but not too stressful Christmas so far. I have to admit that despite having a wonderful time with the family, today became the point where cabin fever had reached its peak for me!!! Christmas holidays can be quite difficult when thinking of things to do to entertain children and occupy your time, the weather is cold and it limits your options. The little tyke still has his leg in a plaster and it has been hard work trying to keep him in a cheerful mood as he gets bored ever so easily at the moment. His Christmas presents have done wonders to lift his mood but he is still limited when playing with them as he cannot move around so easily, the poor little chap.

Today we decided that we would go out for a random trip away somewhere, but it was absolutely freezing cold. This meant no walks outside. So what to do? I am not going flipping shopping, what child wants to do that? What about the zoo? Ah but its still outside, dammit! Ah but what about the aquarium….. bingo!

We set off in the morning and headed to Birmingham for the National Sea Life Centre. We had visited once before many years ago when it was just the husband and myself, so this was our first visit with the little tyke. After parking, we popped into the cafe at the Birmingham REP Theatre for a quick coffee, snack and a toilet stop before heading on to the aquarium. To our surprise we had to queue outside to get into the Sea Life Centre, obviously we were not the only ones itching to get out and about today. Now if you have older, perhaps more patient kids, you could follow the whole journey around the aquarium tank by tank and learn the story that they are trying to tell. Well we have a toddler and thats not going to happen, so we tended to just go for the big tanks and more interesting and entertaining creatures (sorry tiny seahorses!).

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Daddy and the little man looking at the piranhas

The penguins were the little mans favourite attraction by far and I have to say that I fell in love with them too! He kept making kissing noises to get them to come over to him, how cute! He especially liked sitting by the tank to see them swim up to him underwater. In fact all the kids got excited by this, who wouldn’t?

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Looking at the penguins above water…..
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….. looking at the penguins below water

Towards the end of the journey around the aquarium you get to go through the glass tunnels in the large tanks. Here you can see all manner of tropical fish, sharks and best of all…. turtles! My favourites!

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My favourite creature…. the turtle

I think the trip out was a huge success and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, hooray for the aquarium! After a quick lunch at the nearest EAT restaurant, we headed on back to the car park with the pushchair. When we got to the car, I was shocked to find that the little man had fallen asleep (he never does this). We had tired the poor chap out!

How have you all been coping during the holidays? Have any of you got an ideas for day trips out? What do you do when it is cold outside?

I am going to get some chocolate and sit on the sofa for a bit, ta ta for now folks xxx

The little tykes Christmas Eve Box

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Starting with Knagglig crate from Ikea

I think I mentioned a while back in a previous post, how I had purchased a basic flat pack crate from Ikea (Knagglig) as I had the idea to use it for a Christmas Eve Box. I had wondered, where did this trend come from? On trying to research it on the internet I didn’t find a conclusive answer but many different countries and cultures celebrate Christmas on the 24th by opening presents and it seems that we have started to pick up some of these habits here. The idea is to have a small activity box for children to open on Christmas Eve, to get them into the spirit of the festivities early. Boxes are usually filled with small items, such as chocolates, pyjamas, letters from Santa, Christmas dvds and books. I really wouldn’t want to go overboard with the box gifts, as I would not like to detract from the magic of opening gifts on Christmas day from Santa. So keep small.

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Crate painted in a chalk grey with woodcut lettering applied

The flat pack crate was really quick and easy to make up. Please be aware that the box is actually quite small, so it might not be suitable to fit any large gifts. I painted it all over in a plain grey colour with a chalk effect matt finish, but red would have been equally effective. I found the woodcut lettering on Amazon and I think it makes the box look a little bit more fancy.

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The Christmas Bear lift-the-flap book

For Christmas Eve we need a special bedtime story to read to the little tyke. Knowing how much he loves The Tickle Book, we found ‘The Christmas Bear‘ from the same author and thought it would be perfect.

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Little Christmas Elf from Waitrose

Next up, we needed a little festive cuddly and found this lovely little elf from Waitrose. As you  can see, his hands also stick together with velcro. I believe you can also purchase a bigger version.

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George pig Christmas pyjamas and slipper socks

I bought the Christmas pyjamas from Sainsbury’s a little while back, they look so cosy! Now I am not sure how I am going to use these, as the little tyke has one leg and foot in plaster. I think we will have to dress him in some shorts with the top and put on one sock:(

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Christmas Eve Box end
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Christmas Eve Box front

I used some stencils and white paint for the lettering and the snowflakes. What you see above is not quite the finished article, as his last name was added to the box after the photo was taken. I really enjoyed this project and am very pleased with the results! I am determined to make the little tykes Christmas magical despite his fractured leg!

So what do you think? Like or loathe this new tradition? Are any of you thinking of putting something together for your children on Christmas Eve?

I am off work now until after Christmas as I am looking after the brave little soldier. I will keep you all posted on how we get on, entertaining him is proving difficult at the moment!

Ta ta for now my lovelies, just 3 sleeps until Christmas xxx

Trip to the hospital

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So, here we are, with only 4 days until Christmas and the little tyke has had an injury! It all started on Sunday night when 10 minutes before he was set to go to bed, he slipped on the kitchen floor and he became extremely fussy and upset afterwards. At first we put it down to the fact that he was A – over tired and B – teething like crazy at the weekend. When he still hadn’t perked up in the morning and after a terrible nights sleep we took him to the doctors.

Doctors waiting rooms on Mondays are never a pleasant place to be, it was full to the rafters of sick and contagious people. Yuck! You come out more ill than when you came in! After a long, long wait we saw the doctor who suspected he had probably badly sprained his ankle and it would be best to go to the hospital to get him checked out anyway. She also said to bring plenty of supplies and be prepared for a very long wait! Oh dear!

We went home first and had a bit of lunch, during which time he perked up even more and we doubted the whole hospital trip altogether. Call it Mothers instinct or something, but it felt like the best thing to do would be to get him checked out.

The hospital wasn’t crazy busy, but the time was taken up by going to various different departments for different consultations. The children emergency department was excellent and they had lots of facilities and toys to occupy waiting children.

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Little tyke playing in the waiting room

When he finally got his x-ray he started to get quite upset understandably, but he was such a good boy throughout. It was determined that he had a toddler fracture in his lower right leg and he would have to have a full leg cast. Oh no!!!

The staff were super whilst he had his cast put on and a lady sat with him singing songs and blowing bubbles. He was fine, absolutely fine. Its these moments that make you feel so incredibly proud of your children for being so strong and brave.

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The little tyke in his full leg cast

He gets the temporary cast taken off on Thursday and a proper, more light-weight version will be put on. They say he should be able to bottom shuffle with this. Oh little tyke what are we going to do with you?

I hope this doesn’t spoil Christmas for him! How terribly unfair:(

Ta ta for now all. I am going to give my brave little soldier a well deserved cuddle xxx

Handmade Christmas Cards

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Handmade Christmas Cards

I started making handmade Christmas cards with the little tyke back in September, with the intention of just making them for close family members. I mentioned this project a while back on an earlier post – Crafty Time Handprint Cards. Its been a long slog, with breaks in between, but we have pushed ourselves to produce cards for close family, close friends, a couple of work colleagues and the staff members in the little tykes room at nursery. We have had such great fun and I am really pleased with the results. The little tyke is not quite 18 months, so it is best described as a collaborative effort.The cards that you see up above are our latest creations and I am pleased to say, our last efforts for the year.
The reindeer cards were produced with the little tykes handprint in brown paint and he added the red nose by splodging red paint on with a toddler paintbrush. I finished off the detail with glitter pens and crayons.

The green card was created with a bit of freestyling from the little man, using green handprints and marks made with the toddler paintbrush. I simply added some baubles with a glitter colour pen.

The snowflake card was created by holding the snowflake stencil whilst the little man messily painted on top. Again, I added some more detail with the use of a glitter pen in silver.

The Father Christmas cards were my favourite and used the little tykes handprints in white paint with added finger painting for a snowy effect. They look rather cute!

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An earlier effort from September
We have kept a few examples for ourselves to use as keepsakes (such as the one above). I have really enjoyed this project, but it has been a lot of hard work. Have any of you made any crafty creations for greetings cards or gifts this year? I am always keen to hear of some more ideas for next year. I really wanted to try some salt dough decorations but I completely ran out of time! Maybe a project for the Christmas holidays me thinks!

Ta ta for now everybody and nighty night! xxx

Christmas (tag)

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The lovely Valerie from Living Lighter in Atlanta very kindly tagged me for a Christmas Q&A. Thank you Valerie, big hugs to you! Valeries blog Living Lighter in Atlanta follows her life as a Mummy and I would highly recommend that you check her blog out here.

So here goes, my answers to some Chrimbo questions –

What is your favorite Christmas film? Easy peasy lemon squeezy…… its got to be Elf for me! I know its a bit modern and Christmas is all about being nostalgic, but I just find this movie so heart warming and genuinely funny. I also love Home Alone. I wasn’t so much a fan of it when it first came out, but its grown on me.

Have you ever had a white Christmas? No I am afraid not, it must be lovely though. Where I come from the climate was too mild and we rarely saw snow.

Where do you usually spend your holiday? With my family at home and we have a nice day tucked up indoors. By Boxing Day we are eager to escape the confines of the house and go for a nice big walk in the country to blow the cobwebs away.

What is your favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Nat King Cole. It just really makes me smile! Oh and for something a bit more upbeat I like Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms and Rocking Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? No, but this is the first year we are introducing a Christmas Eve box to the little tyke. I wonder what he will think to it? I cannot wait!

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Oh blimey…. afraid not.

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year? Opening the presents on Christmas morning. This is my little boys 2nd Christmas and whilst he is not totally aware it is Christmas, he will be excited by what is going on.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake? Fake, but its a lovely one. I bought it from Next a couple of years ago and it has a snow effect on the leaves.

What is your all time favorite holiday food/sweet treat? Oooo cranberry sauce, its my absolute favourite. Pre-baby I would make a batch of my own every year! Plus parsnips, love a good parsnip.

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better? Both equally. I love to to put thought into the presents that I buy and I appreciate receiving presents from friends and family. Its a nice gesture.

What is the best Christmas present you have ever received? Promise you won’t laugh… a keytar when I was a kid. A keytar, whats one of those you ask? Well its a keyboard that is supported by a strap to wear around the neck and shoulders. Keyboards were big in the late 80s/early 90s and all kids wanted them.

What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season? Australia. Because I would love to try a Christmas that is totally different to anything I have experienced before. Its the height of their Summer at Christmas and it would be great!

Are you a pro-present wrapper or do you fail miserably?  I’m ok, but I hate wrapping presents.

Most memorable holiday moment? Too many to mention, but last year was special as it my sons first Christmas and he was dressed as a little elf. Awwww!

What made you realize the truth about Santa? Not sure.

What makes the holidays special for you? Christmas decorations (the house seems so bare when you take them down) and the big day itself. Its all about your loved ones and showing how much you care.

I’m tagging the following ladies:

The Normal Mum

The Day Dreaming Mummy

Motherhood Rambles

Diary of Nine Months

Some Kind of Beautiful Chaos

Welcome to the Nursery

Ta ta for now my lovelies, off to make a brew! xxx

 

Diaries, Planners & Calendars for 2017

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My most recent post looked at to-do lists and how much they help me with day-to-day planning. This post will cover some more tools that will help aid family, home and work organisation in the New Year – diaries, planners and calendars. I had a look on the John Lewis website, as I know from experience that they have a wonderful selection of these products in the run up to the New Year. Here are some of my favourites –

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Busy B Floral To-Do Diary 2017
I have mentioned the Busy B range in previous posts (Busy B Christmas Planner) and I have to say I am a huge fan! This diary from the brand does not disappoint. It features a weekly planner on the left and notes and lists on the right. After every 3 months there is a handy little storage pocket and there is also a grid-style overview of each month of the year, perfect for popping in events for quick reference. It’s a lovely product with lots of extra little details such as a handy pen loop and an elastic closure to keep everything together.

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Mums Office Big Family Diary 2017
Ok, lets put it out there. I would not walk around with a great big, pink diary! On further investigation on the Mums Office website, I was delighted to see that you can also purchase it in a large choice of colours – Sea Green, Champagne, Plum, Pink, Orange or French Navy. Similar in style to the Busy B diary, there is a week to view on the left with space for notes and lists on the right. It has a thin hardback cover with rounded corners, a gusset pocket on the inside back cover, 2 grosgrain ribbons, an elastic strap to hold it all together and a pen loop.Sections include:

    • INFORMATION pages to record personal information for all members of your family;
    • IMPORTANT pages to record Pocket Money Record, Dates To Remember and Travel Plans;
    •  NEED TO KNOW Information, Numbers, Websites, Etc
    • OUR WEEK to record the regular weekly routine – one for each term;
    • DATES calendars for three years and important Notable Dates;
    • OUR PLANS containing planners for the current and following years;
    • THE WEEK –  a double page spread with a GRID format; and finally
    • a couple of NOTES pages.
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      Organised Mum Life Diary
      Oh my goodness, where do I start? This is the holy grail of family organisers (mommyandmadness check this bad boy out!) and is down on my Christmas list for Santa! This is a very stylish A5 week-to-view planner from the Organised Mum brand of products and lasts for 16 months, use straight away until December 2017. Also features –

      • Weekly perforated shopping lists
      • Space for menu planning and to do lists
      • 288 colourful reminder stickers to highlight important events
      • Monthly pages for planning, to do lists and budgeting
      • Weekly routine pages
      • Year-at-a-glance planning pages
      • Separate address book that sits neatly inside the diary back pocket that can be moved from year to year to save rewriting
      • Section for Christmas and summer holiday organisation
      • Pocket at the back for notes and bills
      • Elastic bandeau to keep the diary closed when you’re out and about
      • Two repositionable page dividers that allow you to find the right page quickly and easily.
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        Organised Mum Family Home Planner
        This is a large family wall planner to help organise busy families and also lasts for 16 months. It features 288 colourful reminder stickers and a handy pen that clips onto the calendar.

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        We’re Going On a Bear Hunt Calendar
        Oooo whos excited to see the tv adaption of this childrens classic? Me for one! The little tyke and myself love this childrens story and I think this is a really nice family calendar. A handy reminder sticker sheet is also included as well as removable stickers and space to record targets and rewards (for older children).

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        Lily & Val 2017 Recipe Calendar
        Not a family calendar as such but a very, very pretty and quirky one! The calendar features twelve delicious and beautifully illustrated sweet and savoury recipes drawn with chalk on a blackboard. It would look lovely in any kitchen.

         

        Seen anything you like here? Have you already purchased your diaries and planners for 2017. I am hoping Santa will put some in my stocking for Christmas morning (hint hint dear Husband). Ta ta for now my lovelies and I will bid you a good evening! xxx

To-Do Lists

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I do love a good to-do list and couldn’t imagine getting anything done without them. My mind simply cannot retain all the thoughts and plans needed to function properly in home or at work. They weren’t lying about the baby brain syndrome! I guess I am working two jobs at the moment – Mummy job and office job, one being physically exhausting and the latter mentally draining.

I returned to work after 6 months of maternity leave and looking back at it now, it was far too soon for me. The little tyke was sleeping better but not quite sleeping through and he hadn’t even started on solids yet. I came back at the busiest time period for my department and quite nearly sank without a trace, it was bloody hard! My mind was foggy some of the time and I had to work on rebuilding my confidence, but after a year back I feel that I am getting there. I have so much more to think about outside of work now that my brain is almost full to the brim when in work, the best thing I can do is to write everything down. Lists, lists and more lists! Then tick things off one at a time and take it all in your stride.

The same thing applies at home and especially at this time of year. How did Christmas get so busy? I am not complaining by any means, I love my new Mummy life and enjoy making it a fun time for all the family. I purchased a noticeboard in our old house when the little tyke was a baby (great for logging down feed and nap times) and recently purchased a snazzy new whiteboard for our new house. What a flipping godsend it is too!

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VEMUND white board from Ikea

I think there are more things that need to be added to the list, in fact I know there are more things to add to the list! But hey, its a start. In fact there are additional lists for Christmas cards and Christmas presents.

I did a little blog post a while back about the Busy B Christmas planner but have hardly used it. Its perfectly lovely and is really super but I just haven’t got around to putting much in it, instead I have my own little lists and popped them into the plastic pockets inside. Theres always next year lol!

What do you do to keep yourself organised in the home or at work? How do you juggle running a family home and holding down a job? As always, I am always interested in hearing other parents tips and advice!

Mid-Season finale of The Walking Dead is on, whoop whoop! Gotta go and watch it with the husband as he’s getting all fidgety waiting!

Ta Ta and have a good evening all xxx