Treating Your Mum And Giving Back To Charity At The Mother’s Day Toy Exchange

[AD] We kicked off our Mother’s Day celebrations a little earlier than usual this year with a trip to Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres in Croydon to take part in their Croydon toy exchange.

They set up a fantastic project which allowed families in and around Croydon to take a pre-loved toy along to the shopping centre and exchange it for a gift of goodies to give to your Mother as a treat on Mother’s Day. The pre-loved toys will them be distributed to the families of Rutherford School who help provides wrap-around services for people with disabilities in the Croydon area from age three onwards.

The boys loved dropping their toys into the big box that was already looking pretty full by the time we got there. They collected their cute pink bags they were full of goodies from shops inside the centre including House Of Fraser, Body Shop and Superdrug.

From here we took the opportunity to take a look around the shops to see what they had to offer in the way of treats for Mother’s Day…well once I prized the away from the children’s area that I have to say is a pretty cool way to give the little ones a treat whist you are there.

Centrale and Whitgift Centres have been my go to place for shopping in Croydon for pretty much as long as I can remember. I actually have fond memories of going along there as a child and selecting gifts for my own mother with my hard earned pocket money.

Spring forward a few years to say the least and I relished in the fact I could take my own little ones ones along to help me chose a gift for their much loved Nanny who deserves a medal for putting up with us lot!

There is such a great variety of shops that suit all budgets. There are plenty of the popular high street favourites such as marks and Spencer, House Of Fraser, Zara, Boots, H&M, Topshop and Superdry to name but a few.

It’s a tradition for us to buy a simple bunch of daffodils every year for my Mum as they are here favourites but you can equally find anything from gorgeous clothing, beauty products, homeware or even a voucher for treat herself to a beauty treatment or a new hairdo!

After all our hard work we stoped for a bite to eat which is also something that is pleasure in Centrale and Whitgift Shopping Centres and there is always plenty to chose from. We always opt for sushi that is set right in the middle of the Whitgift Centre so you can enjoy your food whist watching the hustle and the bustle of the shoppers going by.

We had a brilliant afternoon and if you are looking for a shopping destination with all you can look for under one roof then you really should take a look at Centrale and Whitgift Centres.

Our February…

Well February has been a pretty funny one weather wise hasn’t it. We spent the beginning of the month with everything crossed that the snow flurries were going to settle and give us a couple of ‘snow days’ and then the end of the month stripping back to T-shirts and eating ice cream in the park.

The beginning of the month was actually a cause for celebration in our house as we celebrated granddaughter number two’s imminent arrival with a baby shower for Alice. I haven’t quite got my head around being a nanny to Isla yet and we already have another one on the way to add to the madness of the family.

We also spend a good few hours in the garden getting it ready for the warmer weather. The boys have been really lucky to have a new playhouse, slide and sandpit and we can’t wait to find the perfect paddling pool to make us completely summer ready!

It’s not to often that I socialise in the evenings anymore and I decided this new year that I was going to stop being such a misery and get out with my friends more.

I had a lovely evening with the mums from Oscar’s class. Ate to much a drank more than I should which made for an all round great evening.

Getting back into my fitness has been a great success this month thanks to Jemma’s Heath Hub. Jemma and I had found each other though the wonderful world of Instagram and she asked me to trial her online fitness program which had seen me out of bed super early three times a week to take part in an online exercise session with a whole load of other likeminded women. Go and check her out if you are looking to get back into fitness and want something to do in your own home.

My husband is the romantic one in our relationship and my lack of romantic is something that really gets to him. So this Valentine’s Day we both took a few hours out of our day to grab some lunch and randomly walk around a local museum…not really his idea of a good day out!

One of my first real jobs was working in the food hall at Marks and Spencer. I still have fond memories of this and they were an amazing company to work for. So fast forward a good few years my new job has landed me back at Marks and Spencer…but behind the scenes at head office.

It really is moments like this that make me realise all the hours I put in are most definitely worth it and it was so amazing to be behind the scenes of a place that is so close to my heart.

The boys were gifted scooters from the wonderful Micro Scooters this month and they literally haven’t got off them since. They have always been my first choice for scooters as they are so easy to use and look amazing. They came with use on a trip to the park the other day where we all enjoyed our first ice cream of the year.

We get to explore many parts of London with my job but Battersea is someone I don’t I have ever been and the children certainly haven’t. We had a more than pleasant surprise when we went along to the power station during half term and got to witness what an amazing job they are doing there.

They have some great shops and restaurants and lots of bits and pieces to keep the children occupied along the waterfront. We were actually there to try out a class at the über cool Boom Cycle whist the kids were kept occupied at the lovely ladies from Kids Table. It is definitely one to put on your list.

We actually did a lot of eating in town this half term with a trip to Yo Sushi and Las Iguanas who both offer great deals during the school holidays so keep this in mind for Easter.

Half term was actually a pretty packed one for us and aside from duties of dog sitting at mum and dads we got to enjoy some great events, including a trip to Neville’s in Belgravia for the launch of the new range of hair care from Child’s Farm.

The boys thought they were super models and spent the morning requesting exactly how they wanted their hair styled whilst me and Izzy were treated to some braids and of course a bit of glitter.

The end of month saw an event just for me which is always a welcome change and I attended the launch of the Emma Willis Collection from Next.

It was an amazing evening where I got to see the whole range which was a stylish and gorgeous as Emma herself.

I spent the evening catching up with friends, drinking way to much Prosecco and fan girling Emma for most of the night!

Taking A Look At Where We Came From

Parenting comes with a long list of questions on a daily basis. From “where do babies come from” to “why is the sky blue”. It sometimes seems pretty relentless but how else are they going to learn about the world and everything else that goes on around them.

One thing that all have mine have got in a bit of a muddle with is family and who comes from where. I know that it wasn’t that long ago that my youngest was astounded that his Nanny was in fact my Mum!

As they grow so do their inquisitive natures and this is actually something I really love and try to encourage as much as I can.

Izzy came home the other day full of excitement that Ellen DeGeneres and Kate Middleton are in fact 15th cousins! I don’t know how much truth there is to that but it certainly got her thinking about the possibly there might be royal blood running through our veins and she was extremely excited by this prospect.

Over the holidays I have decided that we are going to do a little digging around and take a look at our family tree with some of the ideas I have left below:

Digging Out The Albums – We have piles an piles of photos packed away that sadly never see the light of day and going back through old albums is the perfect was to show the children faces of days gone by that they may of meet and forgotten about or never meet at all.

Stories – There is nothing better than getting stories from days gone by from other members of the family. Is lovely to let the children hear about what family and friends got up to all those years ago and also lovely for the family to relive these very special moments.

Ancestry Sites – Unlike when I was at school and the only real way to find out your family tree was by looking into records and censuses thee are now some fantastic ancestry sites that you can sign up to that collate all kinds of information and even delve as far as taking DNA samples to get a real in-depth look into your family history. Head over to get the Ancestry.co.uk discount which is on at the moment and will make your search even better!

There is so much to look into and it looks set to keep us pretty busy this summer so keep an eye out as who knows I could be revealing the secret I am in fact the distant cousin of Prince Harry!

Cake Smash Time With Layrish Photography

I actually can’t believe its been a year since we welcomed Isla into the world and I became a Grandmother. I have to say that this time has passed even quicker than it did with my own children and because of that capturing and celebrating milestones is something of great importance to me.

When I was asked by Layrish Photography if we would like to take Isla along to a cake smash photoshoot to celebrate her first birthday both Alice and myself were extremely happy to go along.

Layrish Photography offer a whole range of photography sessions from weddings to birthday parties, cake smashes to family photoshoots and so much more. They take place at locations of your choice or for from the comfort of your own home.

Cake smashes are a relatively new concept to me and certainly something I was very happy to experience with Isla as a first for us both.

We were all made to feel at ease as soon as the session began and Isla was eased into the whole process by playing with some toys and chatting before the photography started.

With pretty balloons, bunting and bubbles to distract her attention the first few photos in her pretty dress were taken effortlessly before she became a little restless.
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What better distraction could there be though than a quick change of clothes and the most beautiful cake being placed in front of you!

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A little hesitant a first she poked and prodded around for a while and then dived in…face first!

Isla (27)

I wasn’t long before she got a real taste and was well away digging in with her hands and trusty wooden spoon.

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Once she was sufficiently covered head to toe in cake it was time to wrap up the session and of course sample some of the cake ourselves…I mean it would be rude not to!

If you like the look of this session then I couldn’t recommend it enough for an experience that will stick in our mind for years to come and amazing image to look back over time and time again.

In fact the whole package is finished off beautifully as Layrish Photography send over a stunning case that comes with a handful of images all ready and printed out for you that are tied together with a pretty bow and covered with confetti along with the memory stick continuing all your photos that you can do exactly what you want with.

This was also accompanied with a slideshow that includes live footage of the cake smash that actually bought a tear to my eye when we received it, it was certainly a really lovely and unexpected addition.

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It will certainly be a day to remember for us and I couldn’t recommend it more.

*we were given this session in exchange for this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Three

Im a little bit late with this entry as life has got in the way and things have been sidelined. Last week was full of mundane tasks but I certainly have a few special moments to record.

Isla’s First Haircut: Being a grandparent is a completely new ball game to being a parent and one thing that I have found hard is bitting my tongue when Alice does things differently to I would. I have to hold myself back and remember all those times I got annoyed with my own mother for voicing her opinion so I told myself I wouldn’t be that fussing, interfering mother.
For months Isla’s hair has been growing out of control and I have wanted to take the scissors to it for so long.
Finally this week they decided it was time to be taken for her first haircut and I was so please to have been able to take her along for this experience.

Eyesight Improvement For Frankie: Last year Frankie was prescribed glasses and the vision in the right eye was a lot poorer than his left. The glasses alone hadn’t made any improvement so just over a month ago he was given a patch to wear for four hours everyday.
To be honest I thought we were going to have more trouble getting him to wear it then we have and apart from a few strops he’s been pretty good with it. This has paid off and he had improved by two lines on his sight test last week which was a big win for us.

Shopping With The Boys: Walking round the shops is somewhat of a distant memory for me since having children…well actually it’s only the last two that have put me off shopping with children for life.
All my shopping is done online and it wasn’t until we had a walk down Carnaby Street at the weekend that I realised now the boys are older they actually loved being able to walk around picking out things they like and trying the on.
They both certainly have and know their own minds when it comes to their style and Frankie was over the moon to be able to choose his first pair of ‘real’ trainers.

I’m Going To Be A Nanny!

Yes and not a Nanny of the childcare kind…a real life Grandma in my late thirties!

When someone says Nan or Grandma the immediate image that is conjured up in my mind is a grey hair lady with fluffy slippers on and a set of knitting needles in hand.

Of course I know that this is far from the truth these days and probably a small minority fit this stereotype, but I for one didn’t feel ready to become part of this category.

When my eldest came for dinner with her partner a few months ago my heart told me that the news of the pregnancy was coming.

Those glances to each other, egging one another to break the news was apparent before they had even muttered a word.

The mixture of worry of my reaction and the excitement of their impending arrival was written all over their faces and although for a good few hours before they broke the news I knew what was coming.

Although Alice is only 19, having her own family has been on her mind for a while now even if she had never admitted it to me. 

She has proved me wrong over the past few years by going it alone and creating a life with her partner that I thought would fall at the first hurdle but they have worked hard and created a home together and for them this was the obvious next step.

I was a young Mum myself and know only to well the troubles, isolation and unimaginable life change a new baby can bring.

That said youth does give you that carefree optimism and fresh outlook at everything that is sadly taken away with age.

So many things have been wirling  through my mind for the past few months and having my daughter’s baby shower at the weekend made everything that little bit more real.

All those worries are still in my head about how she will cope and what is she going to miss out on by having a baby so young; but selfishly I wondered where it left me.

With my youngest bearly out of nappies and my life still revoving around mums and toddler groups and school runs I didn’t feel ready to move onto that next phase in my life.

I am quite content with being a mum of young children and had hoped that as mine grew and that empty nest feeling began to set in I would then be able to sit back and enjoy my grandchildren, not whist I’m very much in the preschool phase of my life.

All this said I know this is the right thing for her and once my first grandchild is born I will not look back and will be there to love and support them every step of the way.

I am however still trying to find a slightly cooler name than Nan as this is still not sitting well with me!

Point And Shoot:Love

As a family we are very close and not a day goes by that I don’t talk to my parents – well actually I annoying them several times a day usually!

They are always there for us and we love spending as much quality time with them as we can.

This weekend we took a trip to visit Santa and this was one of my favourite moments.

The laughter and love on their faces is just infectious.

You Baby Me Mummy

Messing About At Earlswood Lakes

Seeing as we have been blessed with such wonderful weather this weekend we took our first trip to Earlswood Lakes in Surrey today.

I only had the youngest two with me and they always favour running around in big open spaces rather than playgrounds so this seemed like a great place to try out.

We arrived, parked up with ease and went exploring.  The boys loved running along the edge of the lake collecting sticks and feeding the ducks and swans.


There is plenty of space to set up for a picnic or play a game of football and a handy cabin to grab a drink or a bite to eat.

On the upper lake you can take out a rowing boat or a pedalo that the boys were itching to do!

I’m not great around water with the little ones and tend to freak out a bit, but all toggled up in their life jackets and calmly sitting on the boat we set out across the lake.

We glided around taking in the beautiful views, catching the sun and looking out for the ducks.


Legs aching just a little we made our way back to dry land and walked round the wooded area that surrounds the upper lake.

There was a thin concrete wall cutting off a section of the lake that I attempted to cross but wimped out on.  In true ‘Super Grandad’ fashion he showed me up by grabbing number five and walking across with ease!


I can’t believe we have not had a trip here before but will now be one of our favourites.

A Night At The Movies

 
 The biggest and most important thing in my life by far is my family.  I’m so lucky to be close to my parents and only sister who live a stones throw away.

A wrote a post a while ago now about the huge role my parents play in my family’s life and really feel that children can learn so much from the older generation.

They can recall stories from days gone by and give them an insight into things they will never be able to experience themselves.  They can bring back fond memories of family that are no longer with us and most importantly share that unconditional love that only a grandparent can give.

We spend a lot of time out and about with my parents but don’t very often have the chance to settle down and share a movie together.  Thanks to Gracewell Healthcare who kindly sent us a ‘Night At The Movie’ package we were able to get together as a family and share a movie together.  I hope that this is something my parents will remember as they get older and a story that my children will be able to relay to their own children in years to come.

 

We were sent a DVD and sweet selection for the purpose of this post. 

Back To Our Roots

  

My Dad has had some time off over Christmas and decided he wanted us all to take a trip to East London to revisit his birthplace.

I remember trips there as a young girl and have driven through over the years but have not had a proper visit for a very long time.

We started at Spitalfields Market where my Dad had worked as a young boy.  It was nothing as he remembered; in place of all the fruit and veg stalls and wholesalers there are now trendy shops and restaurants in their place.

   

  

  

 

My husband was the king of bartering and managed to get a bargain on a beautiful fur coat and some ornaments for my Mum whist we were there so they were welcome changes for me!

  

My Dad lived and spent a lot of his time on Brick Lane which is now a hive of hip and trendy shops, cafes and restaurants again a far cry from the years my Dad had spent there as a youth.  The roads are full of fabulous street art that is now one of its iconic features.

  

    
    
    
   

We went to stop at Pellici cafe where my Uncle had worked on a market stall right outside of and my Mum and Dad had many trips to when they were courting.  It was also a regular haunt for the infamous Kray twins.  Unfortunately it was shut for Christmas so we made our way down to have pie and mash.  

     

  

I love pie and mash washed down with a strong cup of tea but the kids were far less impressed with this traditional East End meal!

When I was a child we always passed the Museum Of Childhood and never visited no matter how much I begged.  As an adult I know had the upper hand and went to have a look with my own little ones.

   
    
 
 They got to look at lots of toys from over the years and got to get hands on with the activities set up around the museum.  

My Dad had mixed feelings about making a return as things had changed so much over the years but it was lovely to show the children where my Dad had lived, gone to school and spent many a happy year growing up.