Celebrating The Small Things:Week Forty Six

This week on ‘celebrating the small things’ we’re talking Christmas books, Wagamama and Sunday roasts.

Christmas Books – We love bedtime stories in this house and at this time of year we dust off the Christmas books every evening to get into the Christmas spirit! I think I actually love this more than the kids!

Wagamama Trip – Frankie spends a lot of time at different hospitals for all his ailments bless him. A hospital he doesn’t seem to mind visiting though is St Thomas’s in Westminster.

We visit for his allergies a few times a year and he always get treated to a trip to Wagamama as it’s one of the best allergy friendly restaurants you can visit.

Sunday Roasts – Dinner times in our house are pretty erratic and during the week we never get to sit together and enjoy an evening meal. Now the colder weather has set in we try to make sure we sit down to a roast every Sunday and spent some quotient together…even if it is more like a chimpanzee tea party!

Getting Christmas Ready With Pines And Needles

For the past two years now I have been lucky enough to celebrate Christmas round one of Pines and Needles beautiful Nordmann Fir Christmas trees.

Pines and Needles offer a completely unique service that allows you to choose your tree from the comfort of your own home or go along to one of those many stores and select your own which they can then deliver to you or you can take home with you there and then.

If you want a little more than just a tree they also offer decoration service ranging from a fully decorated tree or simply threading of the lights which I know is a job that I always hate doing!

Something else that is always a pain is the disposal of the tree after Christmas but Pines and Needles have this covered too. They can simply pick up and dispose of your tree after you have stored away all your precious decorations or even come into your home to remove and carefully wrap your decorations as well as removing the tree and tidying up all the mess.

We have been over the moon with our tree each year and can’t wait for this year and if this sounds something that you would be interested in in then there is a summer offer that is still running until the end of this month which gives you 10% off your order. Just add the code SUMMER10 when placing your order and enjoy all that Pines and Needles have to offer.

Getting Teens Into Board Games With Staccups:Review

A while ago we decided to dedicate a Sunday evening to games night. With life being so hectic and a lot of down time spend online I think it is important to take a bit of time out and connect with the family and playing games together is the perfect way to do just that.

The younger ones are easy to please and are more than happy to join in but the older ones are harder to please and it takes a lot more to prize them away from their phones and gadgets.

There are a huge number of reasons why they are good for you and I have listed a few below:

Leaving The Digital World For A While – Our whole family spend way to much time on social media and the like, and taking time away from the screen allows you to pull yourself out of the digital world and contact with real time for a while which can’t be bad for anyone.

Reducess Stress – Life can be stressful for everyone, especially teens. To break away from everything for a few hours and immerse yourself into something fun and engaging can be a great stress reliever.

Increases Brain Function – Board games allow you to stimulate the brains areas that are responsible for thought and memory forming as well as improving decision making and cognitive skills.

Brings People Closer Together – I think playing a board game together is probably one of the rare times that we really engage with each other. It gives us the chance to chat, laugh and play and simply just enjoy each others company.

We had been getting a little board of the same board games we have at home so I was really please when we were asked to try out a new game from University Games called Staccups.

It is a two player games which is ideally suited to children over 8 years old. The aim of the game is to be the first player to stack all their cups. Cups must be stacked so that the colour of the top of the cup matches the colour of the cup below which means a pretty high amount of concentration is needed as well as speed.

We are a pretty competitive family so this was absolutly perfect for us.

It saw plenty of tense moments, lots and laughter and a few arguments over people putting the cups in the wrong order!

It was a great game for the teens and adults alike and I’m sure its going to be a favourite from now on.

* we were given this game for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

David Lloyd Clubs:The Start Of Our Family Fitness Journey

All the start of the year I wrote a post on the reasons that I wouldn’t be making any resolutions this year and was going to aim for longer term goals so there was no pressure to getting a huge long list of unobtainable goals completed by the end of the year.

Plenty of changes have sprung to mind with being more organised and procrastinating less…I can safely say this one is very much still a work in progress. One of my lifestyle changes however was to rekindle my love for fitness along with the rest of the family.

Going back three years…pre blog! I was an absolute gym bunny and nothing would get in the way of my daily training. This was all well and good but at times the Mum guilt would set in and I would feel bad for prioritising this time just for myself. This alongside trying to work hard to build my blog meant that sadly my exercise was the thing that I let go.

So with a pretty substantial weight gain and the pressure of spending quality time with the family I wanted a facility that could entertain, motivate and bring pleasure to us all through exercise and I knew this was going to be no mean feat.

The majority of gyms are solely for over eighteens and if the do have crèche facilities the hours tend to be limited and due to this very hard to book into. Then comes the teens and preteens who are often not allowed to use the gym equipment or join in with classes because of their age so get left out completely.

Thankfully David Lloyd Clubs have come to my rescue and asked me to try out their very family mined facilities for the next few months to see if it is possible to enjoy fitness as a family.

David Lloyd – Purley has recently undergone a huge makeover and no stone has been left unturned when planning this club which in one of the largest in the area.

There is something for everyone from a game of tennis on the numerous indoor and outdoor courts, the chance to take a dip in one of there two pools or just relax in the hot tub or sauna. There are workouts galore from a huge variety of group fitness classes to doing your own thing in the state of the art gym area.

If relaxation is what you are after then they have a fabulous cafe bar offering a huge variety of hot and cold meals, giving you the opportunity to grab a quick coffee or sit down with the family to have a tasty meal.

Your meals can even been served in the dedicated children’s area that has its own soft play area.

But for me the real attraction is their DL Kids facilities that allow the children to be cared for in the creche, older children have a huge variety of activies to take part in allowing them to have fun and meet new friends.

There are even specific classes put on for the family to take part in together such as family circuits and family spin they we can’t wait to try.

I really have only scratched the surface of what they have to offer here so please keep an eye on my Instastories to see what we are getting up to and I will be back on here very soon to let you know how we are getting on with this new and exciting journey.

*We were given a family menership for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Making Boredom Fun

Today I woke up to a miserable, grey day with no plans and no intentions to leave the house at all. This of course an absolute bombshell drop on my children!

With their eyes out on stalks they looked at me in sheer disbelief and repeatedly chanted, “what we’re doing nothing at all”.

I take full responsibility for this as I feel the need to continually occupy the children and fill their days as much as possible. A weekend rarely goes by where I haven’t tried to arrange something exciting and the times there is not much on I always feel the need to get out of the house and do something, no matter how small.

This has certainly had a detrimental effect on us and I feel I have taken away the children’s ability to amuse themselves and be happy in their own home with their own time and space.

I remember as a child making shops with my sister, playing fashion shows and thoroughly enjoying simple things such as colouring or dancing around my room; yes of course I remember those times where I moaned to my parents about being bored but there was never that expectation to be occupied every waking minute, it was down to me to make my own entertainment.

Being bored allows children to explore their own imaginations, to be creative and inventive and to find activities that they have a real passion for.

Society has made us feel that we should be continually stimulate our children, to make their weekends as jam packed as possible and to be enrolling them on every activity possible where their entertainment is already structured for them and limits the chance for them to use their own imaginations.

After the day from hell with the children continually craving my attention, demanding to be amused and begging to be taken out they finally found their own entertainment and settled down to word games and books that they wouldn’t ordinarily pick without being promoted, they made up their own workout routine and the youngest two baked a cake together with little intervention from me.

To them this has obviously become learnt behaviour and so I have come up with a list of things I am going to stick to the fridge to help then get started with enjoying their own free time:

Read a book
Do a puzzle
Dress up
Paint
Draw
Play with playdoh
Make a cake
Make a Lego creation
Have a puppet show
Have a teddy bear’s tea party
Play football
Skip
Bug hunt
Jump in puddles
Make an exercise circuit
Make up a dance
Make a show
Practice magic tricks
Climb a tree
Write a story
Build a cardboard car/house
Junk modeling
Make paper aeroplanes

I would love to add to this list and know how your little ones spend their free time.

Teaching My Children To Make Non-Resolutions

In the past the 1st January has never filled me with hope and longing for the fresh New Year ahead but more of a sinking feeling that so many of those resolutions I had made the year before had not been achieved and probably more accurately been broken within the first week.

It heralds a time when society tells us that we need to compile huge lists of goals and aspirations for the year ahead that whist writing I am already in my head knowing that trying to fulfil all these dreams and wishes within such a short space of time is going to be unrealistically achievable.

I know that for many of you the dawn of a New Year is the perfect start to clean the slate and achieve new goals and I applaued you for this but it is simply something that has never worked for me.

As my children grow the tradition of New Years’s resolutions are obviously something that they have become interested in so this year I have decided to introduce non-resolutions.

Instead of looking back on the past year and highlighting the things we haven’t achieved I will be earging them to highlight the positives, even if they may have seemed insignificant at the time, its all of the little things that go unnoticed I want them to reflect on and celebrate.

Instead of setting goals within an arbitrary time frame I want them to create life goals they can strive towards and achieve when they are good and ready, have hopes and dreams they can fulfil within a time that suits them and most importantly celebrate simply being who they are and be proud of whatever they achieve whenever they choose to do it.

Being Present This Christmas

How many of you spend too much gazing at a screen, running backwards and forwards trying to get a million and one things done or getting bogged down with a huge workload.

This all sounds to familiar to my everyday life and it is something that I think about continually. I tell myself I am going to change so many of these things but life gets in the way and I never do.

I know that my phone and my camera are like a third hand to me and I spend way much time using both of them more than I should. Doing the job I do makes it hard to switch off as so much of my day to day life is in fact my work and I always end up using this as an excuse when I know that this isn’t healthy for any of us.

The children also spend more time than I like using devices so this Christmas we have all taken a step back and spent our Christmas how it should be…making conversation and playing games with family and friends.

I would usually be filming and photographing every minute of the day from the minute we wake up, right through the day, but instead I took a few snaps and a few Instastories that I couldn’t resist and spent the rest of the past few days being in the moment rather than trying to capture it.

I also made a conscious effort this year to buy the children games that allow them to use their imagination and interact with each other and that is exactly what has happened.

We have all been coming together to build Lego creations and the boys have been playing relatively argument free with their Playmobil models which has been so lovely to see.

It has also come to my attention that simple things such as board games are a real novelty to my children when really I should be making time much more often to sit down and play games like this with them as they bring so much joy to us all.

Emails have been ignored and any impending work has been put to the back of my mind so that I can concentrate on the people that are most important to me.

The world hasn’t stopped spinning because I haven’t opened posted to Instagram, the children haven’t missed out because they haven’t spent endless hours playing games on their Kindles, but what we have had is a few days of enjoying each others company that happens all to rarely and is certainly the best gift I have received this year.

Thank You Camp Bestival For Finding My Little Boy!

No we didn’t lose a child at Camp Bestival as the title may suggest, in fact quiet the opposite happened and as cheesey as it may sound this wonderful festival bought our family closer together than ever, and my teenage son that has become so distant was a changed child!

For weeks number two had been making up excuses as to why he didn’t want to go away to Camp Bestival.  We had a birthday party that if he didn’t attend would ruin his life, a sleepover the entire class was going to and he would be the only one not there to a whole host of illnesses that suddenly appeared every few days!

Even as close as the night before he was complaing of crippling stomach pains.  To be honest I had to admire his staying power.

We didn’t crack and piled him into the car dreading what lay ahead as I had visions of him ruining the entire trip with his strops and temperamental attitude.

We made our way down to the entrance with him moaning about the lack of Wifi and KFC and telling us how we were ruining his entire summer holiday.

It didn’t take long for reality to set in and for him to realise this would be his home for the next few days and he may as well just get on with it.

He got stuck in with helping to put up the tent and blowing up the many air beds, helped my with the mammoth task of getting everything from the car and loved getting the little kitchen area set up so he could help prepare our food.

He happily played hide and seek with the little ones around the campsite and became a bit of a magnet to the children in the neighbouring tents who all loved playing football and Nerf gun fights with him.

He got involved in everything at the festival from excitedly jumping on all the fairground rides to helping his brothers and sister with quiet crafts.

Don’t get me wrong he was still mortified with me when I started dancing to Bananarama and was not enthralled with having to endure Mr Tumble but that care free, happy child was found once again and I absolutely loved it!

The lure of the XBox had been taken away and he found pleasure in simple childhood activities once more.  He bought a diablo that he spent hours perfecting tricks on and got such pleasure from allowing the little ones to bury him completely in the sandpit.

What I loved most though was the walk to and from the campsite where we would have chats about nothing in particular as these moments at home have been lost to the technical world and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Camp Bestival has pulled him from the shell he had become encased in and I will be forever grateful for that.

           

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Celebrating The Town Of Purley


Pegasus Life have challenged me to come up with some highlights to life in Purley, to celebrate the new Carriages development coming to the town centre.
I have lived in Purley for the majority of my life and have seen it change and grow a great deal over the years to a town that is very different to when I was a child.

There are many reasons that I have stayed around this area and chosen to bring up my own family here. Here are a few of these reasons for you to take a look at:

Transport – Location has to be one of the main reasons I love Purley. A thirty minute train ride will get you into central London, a short drive and you are in some of the most beautiful countryside you could see and less than an hours drive will take you the the quirky seaside town of Brighton.

Restaurants And Cafe – I love spending time with the family over a coffee or a good meal and Purley has some lovely independent cafes to grab a drink at or a bite to eat and a few great restaurants from pizza to my favourite Spanish tapas.

Sport And Leisure – If staying active is your thing then there is a fab little leisure centre that has a gym and swimming pool offering free swimming for under 16’s and over 60’s that live in the area.

Purley and neighbouring Coulsdon also offers many tennis courts and bowls clubs if outdoor pursuits are more your thing.

Community Activities – Purley has a good community spirit and puts on lots of events during the year such a food festivals, summer celebrations showing of local talent and promoting small businesses plus Christmas events that all really help to pull people together as a community.

For me the leafy suburbs of Purley are a great place to live with plenty to offer from the very young to the very old. 

*collaborated post. 

XBox Wars

  

Number two was absolutely desperate for an Xbox One for his birthday at the end of last year.  

With the hefty price tag my husband and I were reluctant but he agreed the whole family would chip in and this would be the only present he would receive.

His face was a picture as he opened the box and for a normally emotionless teenager this was so lovely to see.

Little did I know this moment would be completely life changing for us all!  This probably sounds pretty extreme to most but the Xbox entering our home has caused nothing but dramas. 

First came the arguments of how long he was allowed to spend on it.  We are apparently the only parents in the world that implement a time schedule and I’m totally unreasonable for not allowing him to spend hours on end stuck in front of a screen.

Next came the sneeky sessions where he thought we wouldn’t notice late at night and he was trying his luck by going back on when we were busy with the other children.

He turned into a child that’s one and only interest was gaming.  In days out it would take him ages to engage with us as all he wanted to do was be at home playing on his console.

The breaking point for us though was XBox Live.  This allows them to play games online with others.  He would get so into the game and massively aggressive when I would go into his room to get him off.  If anyone dared enter his room whilst he was engrossed in a game you would get his full wroth!

After countless bans due to unacceptable behaviour and homework not being completed the straw that broke the camels back happened and he managed to rack up a bill of over £500 by buying points online.

I felt completely sick that over a few months he had managed to do this without any thought for us.  He denied all knowledge and blamed his younger siblings for sneaking into his room and pressing buttons.

The console has been removed and thankfully Microsoft were fantastic and refunded me the full amount.

After the initial week of pleading to have it back and trying every trick in the book to get on my good side I finally have my son back.

He’s engaging happily with the family, enjoying time out together, getting on with his school work and getting up without a struggle in the morning.

The problem is where do we go from here?  Every part of me wants to get rid of it for good and there is then my soft side on my shoulder telling me it’s awful to completely remove something he loves so much.

Reading back through what I have just written would easily suggest there is only one option but I have always been to soft of the children and want them to be happy, what would you do?