Before I became mummy I used to hate Halloween! I hated that children would knock on the door and trick or treat. I didn’t like the scary factor to it. It was not my favourite day by any means and I always used to avoid it by going out in the evenings. It used to be my first Christmas shopping night of the year. I would go to my local big shopping centre and spend the night shopping avoiding any knocks on the door. However since having children I’ve ended up staying in and waiting for the knocks on the door. For the past two years the boy has been a bit to young to understand what was going on, however I have dressed him up to try to get in the spirit.
This year however has been different. I have really enjoyed the time leading up to Halloween as well as the night itself. This year I threw myself into decorating the house. I bought a few decorations and put them up with the help of the boy.
The boy was delighted when we put a couple of things up on his bedroom door.
On Friday itself we had planned to have an inside day so I took the opportunity to do some Halloween activities together. We first spent quite a while messing about with the face paints. Since last week was the first time he had had his face painted whilst we were out I thought we could try again at home whilst he still remembered what face paints were. His costume was a skeleton so I tried to make a skeleton face for him to go with it. As you can imagine keeping a 3 year old still is hard so it didn’t come out too well, but it was good enough for him!
I had bought a pumpkin carving kit this year to avoid using a kitchen knife on our pumpkin as I knew the boy would want to get involved. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good as it only cost £1 but I highly recommend them. You get a scoop, a carving tool and a poking tool.
I wasn’t sure at first if it would be suitable for a 3 year old to use but the carving tool wasn’t particularly sharp so with some supervision the boy soon got the hang of poking the face shapes out and then using the carving tool to cut them. It did take quite a while with the scoop to get out all the seeds but that’s part of the fun and the boy really enjoyed himself.
Once evening came I changed him into his costume and we waited for any trick or treaters. He was so excited, he thought that his friends from nursery would come to our house (despite them living no where near where we live!) I guessed they must have been talking about it at nursery during the week. He was so excited that he put the bucket of sweets on the stairs by the door in readiness. This was the first year ever that I was hoping some people would come. I didn’t want to have to tell him that nobody was coming. Our house is the tucked away on the end of a small row of houses and quite well hidden by a large hedge so often people have trouble finding it. On dark evenings its even harder to find so I made sure the outside light was on and I turned on some lights in the house to try and encourage them to call!
It wasn’t too long before there was a little knock on the door, the boy rushed to answer it with me and was eager to try and put treats in the two children’s buckets, it was very sweet. Daddy came home soon after and the boy asked to go out trick or treating. I’ve never really agreed with it but he asked so nicely and his eyes were full of hope so Daddy agreed to take him out to just a few houses. I’m not sure he knew what you really did as he wanted to take out our full bucket of sweets to each house! We live on an estate of newish built houses so they went out and knocked on a few doors that were decorated and where they knew that people were participating. I think that is a fair compromise. If a house is decorated for Halloween then its fair to say they probably don’t mind small children knocking on to trick or treat. It wasn’t long before they were back and the boy was very happy and excited to tell me about it. After he got home we had a few more knocks and the boy got to give out more sweets. It was lovely to see him trying to give everyone treats. Thankfully all the children we had were lovely and polite and all said thank you before leaving.
After both boys were in bed I sat down to reflect on how much I’ve actually enjoyed Halloween this year. I’m excited to make it even more fun next year. I’ll certainly be looking out for decorations in the sale to keep for 2015!
As its half term this week all my baby groups and regular activities are off so instead of spending the week cooped up indoors which is hard work with children, today I arranged to meet a friend who has a similar age baby to Flixster at a garden centre local to me. The garden centre is called Bents and is well-known in the north-west area. I haven’t been for a few months and was surprised when I arrived to see that its undergoing a massive transformation and expansion. I’m not sure when the expected completion date is but it’s looking great so far. Bents is well-known for its fabulous must see Christmas displays and I know that the countdown to Christmas has really started once Bents put out their displays.
As I arrived at Bents I also noticed that they have put in a new large roundabout to improve access to the car park. It’s made it far easier to get in and out of the newly expanded car park. Although its half term and extremely busy I headed towards the back of the car park and easily found somewhere to park. We’d arranged to meet for lunch at the cafe as it has a fab reputation locally as great place to eat. The queue was quite large but moved at a steady pace, we skipped the sandwiches and hot food in favour of the ‘Cream Tea for Two’ which was £12.50. You got a large scone each, four strawberries, two pots of jam, two pots of clotted cream and a large pot of tea to share.
The scones were lovely, although I did have to keep them out of reach of Flixster as he kept trying to grab for them. We’ve just started baby led weaning as he is now 28 weeks. I gave him some of the strawberry instead which he seemed to love, I’m not sure how well the red stains will come out of his vest but that’s part of the fun! After we’d eaten and drank our tea Flixster was getting tired so we had a little wander. My friend had an appointment so had to leave, we said our goodbyes and I gently rocked Flixster for a few minutes whilst he nodded off in the pram. This gave me a chance to have a proper look around.
I love Christmas time, its my favourite holiday season. I’ve always loved this time of year and the magical build up. Since having Children its become even more special.I love the decorations and making my home feel magical inside and out. I love getting the decorations out each year, remembering where and when we bought each one. We always buy one or two special tree decorations each year to add to our collections so I have already begun the hunt for just the right one. The Christmas displays at Bents are amazing. There are lots of room displays with enormous amount of attention to detail.
There are lots of dressed trees to look at and the floor space given over to Christmas is amazing. There is everything you could ever need to make your home feel Christmassy and fantastic. I looked around the undressed trees as we are looking to buy a new tree this year. Normally I have an artificial 6ft tree and we place it on a small table so that it touches the ceiling. As a child I always remember the Christmas tree being taller than I was, these days being 6ft myself its pretty hard to find trees taller than I am. This year we have changed our living room furniture so have even less room for a tree so I am looking to buy a slim or pencil tree. The artificial trees in Bents where plentiful and I really liked that they were all clearly labelled with height, base diameter and price. It really helped anyone who was looking to easily identify something suitable.
After looking at the trees I went to look at the miniature village display. I like to look each year at all the little models, people must spend years collecting them. I wouldn’t have room for them in my house but I do like to look each year at the fabulous displays Bents put together.
As the weather is so nice still I took the opportunity to go outside to look at the plants. I don’t have a large garden and I barely get time these days with the boys to do any gardening but I really enjoy looking at the various plants. The displays were lovely to look at and I enjoyed a walk over to have a look at the children’s play area. From the plans it looks like they are also going to be making a conservation area at the back of the centre that people will be able to walk around. I’ll look forward to that next year.
The new outdoor play area looks great for children and I can’t wait to take the boy, I hope we have some more nice days this year so we can go back during term time and have a play. The cafe has also been extended outside onto a raised area which I imagine in the summer is a beautiful place to sit and look over the lake.
Flixster had begun to wake up so I headed back inside and made my way to the parents room which is located at the back of the cafe. I have used the room before so knew which way to go. I went in and had a quick look at the food area, from the plans I noticed that this is going to be extended to incorporate local producers which is going to be great. Since I was last here the displays have altered and instead of high shelving the produce is now displayed on pallets which look great. I didn’t have a good chance to look at all the food as Flixster was starting to tell me he was hungry. Hopefully I can have a proper look next time I visit.
I found the parents room and thankfully they have provided two seats for feeding babies. I’m happy to breastfeed anywhere but as I’d already used the cafe I thought I’d feed in the parents room as Flixster gets easily distracted these days when feeding so a quiet calm environment is ideal. The room was lovely and clean with two nappy changing beds. There is a small toilet cubicle and another cubicle with a chair and lockable door, ideal if you are a mum not comfortable with feeding in public. There’s also another chair available in the main changing room. I fed Flixster and then changed him. There are two sink areas which were also very clean and had lovely toiletries provided. It is a big thumbs up from me for the services they provide to parents. Very clean, comfortable and spacious, just what mummies and daddies need!
Once Flixster was settled back into the pram I took him for a look at the Christmas lights. He’s at an age where he’s fascinated by lights, especially ones that flash or change. There are plenty to look at in Bents. I loved watching his face as he marvelled at the different colours and displays.
I love having lights up at Christmas. Last year was the first time I put some up outside and the boy loved coming home from nursery to see the lights. I found some battery-powered ones that only came on at night-time which were powered by two AA batteries that claimed to last for 30 days, in reality I did have to change the batteries after about 20 days but still I was impressed that I didn’t have to plug them into the mains. I can’t wait to get them out again this year! Once we’d finished being wowed by the light displays we headed out via the new craft shop. I love having a go at new crafts and enjoying myself just losing an hour or two in making something so I was thrilled to see the new shop had opened within the ongoing extension work. I didn’t have much time but did try to survey what they are going to be selling. I think they are still setting up as some of the shelves looked a little empty. What I did see though made me want to return soon to take a closer look, perhaps when I have someone else with me to watch the boys for a few minutes!
Time was marching on so we exited the shop to start making our way home. I’m very much looking forward to going back again soon (although perhaps during term time when its a little quieter) to have another good nosey around. The new extension is looking promising and once it’s fully open will make a great addition to an already lovely place to visit. I’ve always found the staff to be visible and as always today was no exception, if I had needed any help then I’m confident I would have found someone quickly and easily. Even on such a busy day I noticed lots of staff out and about helping other people. Bents certainly know how to treat their customers well, a key to it’s already great reputation.
If you’re ever in the north-west then it’s a highly recommended day out and I can’t wait to go back soon with both boys and hubby!
Daddy decided he wanted in on the blogging action so I asked if he’d like to do a guest post here and there. He agreed and set about writing his first post, which is below! Thanks Daddy!
The Cbeebies fun day at MediaCity, Salford Quays… Pffft, it was alright I suppose.
What? Are you still here? Do I need to pad this blog post out a bit? Well, here goes…
So, it was a Daddy day for The Boy, previous Daddy days had taken the form of Kids Club cinema visits, trips to Ikea and train journeys into Wigan and Manchester but today we decided to try something special.
We had applied for CBeebies Pantomime tickets when they were advertised, we were sadly unsuccessful but we did make a note of the fun day and events planned taking place in MediaCity for the weekend of the pantomime, and when Mummy and Flixster had made plans for Saturday, I knew that this would make a memorable Daddy day for The Boy.
After chasing The Boy around the house with his clothes for a little while until he finally agreed to get dressed, we got in the car and set off. As there were a few events on at the Quays and we were late setting off, we parked at Ladywell and took the tram to MediaCity.
After a short journey and a good press of the button to open the tram doors, we got off the tram in MediaCity and followed the stream of parents and children who were heading into the CBeebies Fun Day.
The first thing that caught our eye was the pirate ship where they were giving tours and reading stories.
We had a look in the tents which offered a variety of activities and then headed towards the stage where Dr. Ranj from ‘Get Well Soon’ was on stage.
We watched for a little while before The Boy took us into the Lowry Theatre and up the escalator where we looked at Andy Gott’s brilliant BAFTA portraits exhibition (well, I looked, The Boy ran around and looked out of the window).
The Boy then wanted to go for a walk, so we went over the bridge before ‘tiredy’ legs struck and The Boy wanted picking up, carrying and while I was at it, could I get him some lunch too.
We went into the Lowry Outlet Mall and went up to the food court for lunch, then once we’d finished we had a quick look around the Mall and spotted Great British Bake Off runner up Richard Burr having a coffee with his family.
Once we’d finished in the Mall, we had a look for the famous Blue Peter Garden (it’s smaller than I thought it would be) and explored a couple of the BBC buildings, mainly the ones with automatic or revolving doors, as he loves doors!
After a little more running around, we got back onto the tram and headed to the car, after a couple of minutes driving, The Boy’s conversation faded and when I turned around to look at him, he was fast asleep……
I know many people don’t like to think about Christmas too early in the year. I’m not one of those people! I love Christmas. I love everything about it. The excitement, the decorations, the religious meaning. I really enjoy planning for Christmas and since having children its been made so much more magical in our home. As a child I remember Christmas being the most amazing day of the year, my mum and dad must have put so much unseen effort into making it a special day for myself and my brother, something I want to pass on to my children. I want them to grow up remembering the fun family times we have had a Christmas. The magic starts early in our house with writing letters to Santa (or Father Christmas as I like to call him in our home) so when I was given the opportunity to receive letters from the big man himself I jumped at the chance. The company I have used is called Lapland Mail Room and they can be found here.The elves ship letters worldwide from the website!
The website itself has a lovely Christmassy feel and is easy to navigate around. Prices start form £6.95 for each letter, theres even an option for a babies first Christmas letter which I think is a lovely idea. Once you click through to order your letter there are lots of easy to use personalisation options with prompts given at each stage, you also get the option to add your own “P.S” at the end of the letter, and with 255 character allowance theres plenty of room to add something special about your child. My favourite option is a drop down box to choose what you call the big man in your house. I prefer Father Christmas so that is what I picked for our letters. Once you have gone through the easy personalisation you can review your letter.
The whole letter appears on screen and as you hover over various parts of the letter a magnifying glass appears so that you can review the text. Once you’re happy with the letter you can go through to pay for it. I particularly liked that paypal is accepted as a form of payment even if you don’t have an account. I added two letters to my basket and finalised the order. I can’t wait to receive them! I hope the boy is as excited as I was as a child to have his own letter drop onto our door mat! I’m hoping when the boys are older that they too pass on the magic of the festive season to their own children if they choose to have them.
I am being sent our letters from Father Christmas for the purpose of this review.
This week we are lucky enough to have Daddy off work for three days, two of the days the boy is going to be carrying on at nursery and on Friday we will all spend a family day together. Keeping the boy in nursery means that Daddy gets to spend some quality time with Flixster and we can go look at and buy some Christmas presents for the boy. This morning we decided to go and have breakfast out somewhere which is not something we often do. I love breakfast, I think it is my favourite meal of the day. As a breastfeeding mummy I get so hungry in the night and have a rumbly tumbly each morning. I’ve always loved breakfast especially cereal and we often have a vast array of cereals in the house. I could eat it morning noon and night (and have been known to!) So as we were discussing it last night I was googling places to go and Harvester popped up. We have 3 different harvester restaurants local to us so we picked the one that was on the way to the place we were going today. Daddy dropped the boy off at nursery and came back to pick us up. I was very happy to see this sign in the door taking proud of place, as we arrived.
I’m happy to feed anywhere but I hope that this sign makes other mummies who may feel uncomfortable feeding in public a little more comfortable. No matter if you’re bottle or breastfeeding, babies should be able to eat when they are hungry and mummies should be free to feed anyway they choose without being worried about anyone else.
We arrived not long after 9am and we were the first people in today. It had been open since 8am but it is midweek so I wouldn’t have expected it to be busy. Not long after we arrived other people started to arrive too. We were seated at a table of our choosing and offered a highchair which we politely declined as Flixster isn’t sitting up yet or eating any solids. Our waitress explained the new menu. I don’t know what they offered before but it is apparently now unlimited which is new with a choice of continental (£2.99) or continental and cooked items (£4.99). Unlimited drinks of tea, filter coffee and juice was an additional £2.25. After both choosing the cooked option and unlimited drinks we went off to see what was on offer. The usual salad bar had cold breakfast items which you help yourself to rather than salad as it does for lunch and dinner. The menu listed all these items too but I noticed somethings were on the menu but not out on the bar. There was however still lots of choice including fresh fruit, yoghurt and pancakes.
Over on the other side of the room there was a table set up with a large toaster where you could put a choice of bread, crumpets or muffins through. This was also where the drinks were on offer. There was two large jugs of filter coffee and a good selection of tea bags.
The toaster and coffee
The crumpets and muffins
Coffee and tea
Tea selection and decaf coffee
Juice and milk
Everything was lovely and clean and looked and felt fresh.
I started with a small bowl of muesli (I tried to start a little bit healthy!) from the cold bar and I took a couple of pancakes over to the toaster to warm them up and pour a little syrup on top. There were all sorts of toppings for toast including Nutella and Marmite. Whilst we enjoyed the cold items we ordered our hot breakfast items from the waitress, you can have whatever you want from the list which included lots of different potato and egg choices.
We both made our choices and finished up our cold items. The pancakes and syrup were lovely and hubby said the crumpets were nice too. The hot breakfast didn’t take long and was exactly what we had ordered. I’m not keen on meat so I ordered the cheese and leek sausage instead of the meat sausage. I did have the bacon and was hoping it wouldn’t be greasy. It was in fact just perfect, nicely cooked and not greasy at all.
The scrambled eggs were lovely and creamy and the mushrooms had a lovely flavour. I loved the veggie sausage although would only have one next time as I was truly stuffed! We rarely have breakfast out so really enjoyed treating ourselves. It was past 10 by the time we were ready to leave so we had been there well over an hour. The total came to £14.48 which I think was really good value for money considering what we had enjoyed and the time we had been there. I would definitely return again some time, I think the boy would love it too. I imagine weekends do get busier and having to wait a while to use the toaster (as you do in hotels) may not make it quite as fun but I guess I’ll have to go back sometime and see.
Overall we really enjoyed ourselves, the food was lovely and a really good choice to suit all tastes, the place was clean and the service was good. The price was just right and I would certainly be recommending the harvester breakfast to friends, I hope that we can go back again soon with the boy to see what he thinks!
During the week I try to get out at least once with Flixster in the pram whilst the boy is in nursery for a nice long walk. It’s find it hard when I have the boy as he’s at the age where he just wants to walk everywhere but doesn’t get very far without getting tired legs but also refusing to sit in the buggy without a bribe! So whilst he’s at nursery I charge the iPod get all our essentials bundled onto the pram and get off on our way. I usually time it so that Flixster is due his morning nap so that he can gently drift off to sleep while we are out and I can get some exercise. We’ve not been for a few weeks due to being busy so it was nice to be out and about again today together. I’m lucky enough to have a few choices of prams as I’m a bit of a pram lover, today I decided to take the phil & teds navigator out. It’s a version 2 so with the sibling seat I can position Flixster so that he’s facing me. I loved having the children facing me so I can interact with them and keep a close eye on them, especially while he’s so little. The weather this morning was looking a lot colder and greyer than it has been recently so I made sure we had the rain cover. I popped the cosytoes from the baby jogger on the pram as I don’t own any phil and teds ones. It was a little big but just about fit ok. I didn’t want to let Flixster get cold which I thought he might have with just a blanket. I also put a hat on him which I should have done for me, lesson learned! My ears were freezing in the wind! No more going out without hats from now on!
I pulled my boots on set up my walking app on the phone and off we set. I’ve recently started using the ‘Map my Walk’ app on my iPhone to keep a track of how far we are walking. I’m a sucker for fitness gadgets and apps, I enjoy using nike+ when I go out running (ha ha yes when, what I mean is when I used to! Those days will come again I hope!) and love looking at my fitbit status regularly on my phone so when I looked for a walking tracker the ‘Map my Walk’ app seemed to fit the bill perfectly. When I head out for walks with Flixster without a mission or any jobs to do I never really set a route we just go out and see where we end up. Since having the boys I have definitely got very friendly with pounding the pavements.
Flixster stayed awake for a little while happily looking at me but soon drifted off to the land of nod. This is the point I usually pop my headphones in and start listening to some music. I don’t do it when he’s awake so that we can have a baby babble chat, but once he’s asleep I like to have something to walk along and sing too. Today’s tunes were inspired by something I’d watched on television the day before with Wayne Sleep in, his appearance reminded me of the musical he has stated in, Cats. I love most musicals and own a lot of the sound tracks so I searched for it on my iPod and sure enough there the album was ready and waiting. I’ve not listened to it in ages so it made a refreshing change. The area I live in has a varied landscape, within a few minutes walk form my house I can be walking past fields full of horses and cows which is lovely to see. The clouds looked moody this morning so I was glad I’d popped the rain cover under the pram just in case of a downpour. The views across the fields though were stunning for such a beautiful autumn day.
I then walked past a farm building that I walk past all the time and noticed the date on the side of one of the buildings.
1863 – that building is 151 years old and still standing strong. Imagine all the people that have passed by this point in their lives, imagine all the stories it could tell. Its lived through the two world wars, its seen all sorts of changes in its life. I wonder how many mums have pushed prams past there over the years, trying to get their babies to sleep. I’d love to see the styles of prams that have gone past over the years. I bet there have been some beautiful old coach style prams walking past there in their time. If only buildings could talk. As I carried on walking I walk through a small street that I keep meaning to look up the history of, it is lined with terrace cottages set back form the road up high. The railings have some beautiful flower boxes on and I took time to have a look at them today, considering its early October they still look absolutely stunning! Quite a few of them contain fuchsias which I love, they are such an ornate flower and they come in such varied colours. thought they looked fab in the flower boxes.
Thankfully the rain was still holding off and so I carried on walking whilst Flixster slept.
He’s been getting up for the day at around 5am most mornings and rather than getting annoyed and upset about it I just go with it he’s then been having a small nap around 7am and then by 10 to 10:30am he’s tired again which is why he had a good rest in his buggy whilst I walked. I headed towards home but he was still asleep and I didn’t really want him to wake up too soon (and he always wakes when I stop walking) as we had a baby class to go to in the afternoon and I wanted him to be well rested for it. So instead of going home I walked once again past the end of our road and decided to do another loop locally to keep him asleep. Not long afterwards he started to stir so we headed home so that I could feed him and myself! Good timing on his part as the Cats album had just finished and I didn’t fancy perching on a wall to feed him in the cold. As we got back to the house I checked the walking app we’d done 10.4km in 2hrs 2 minutes with an average pace of 11 minutes 47 seconds per km. I have no idea if this is good or not but it said I had burnt 867 calories so by the time we got to Starbucks after the baby class I treated myself to this little beauty…..
I am in love with the chocolate chunk shortbread from Starbucks, always have done and pretty sure I always will do but they are an occasional treat!
Not sure I’ll be able to better this weeks walk next week but at least I’ll be able to keep an eye on the changing seasons. I love autumn and all it brings with it. Its a truly beautiful season and makes for a lovely walk, but next week I will remember a hat or at least something to protect my ears!