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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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……

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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!

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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.

www.laplandmailroom.com

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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The toaster and coffee

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The crumpets and muffins

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Coffee and tea

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Tea selection and decaf coffee

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thankfully the rain was still holding off and so I carried on walking whilst Flixster slept.

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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…..IMG_3799

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!

 

 

 

This week I attended a new baby class with Flixster called Happy Babies and it’s being run by a lovely lady called Angela who runs a series of sessions and classes under her umbrella company Alltogether Kids she also offers one to one sessions for parents. The Happy baby course is a follow on from her Tranquil Baby class and runs for 8 weeks and is a mix of lots of different baby activities including yoga, sensory as well as making memory books. I first met Angela at the antenatal relaxation sessions she runs locally to me when I was pregnant with Flixster. Those sessions are a mixture of antenatal education, covering many topics followed by a period of guided relaxation. I really enjoyed attending them as Angela’s voice is so calming and her relaxation sessions set to music almost always made me sleepy and I always left feeling far less stressed than when I arrived, my only regret is not being able to attend more of them throughout my pregnancy. Unfortunately the day they were on each week I was working and although I would have been allowed to attend as part of my antenatal time off I didn’t feel that I could have done this due to working in a small team, I would have been making more work for others within my team and that wouldn’t have been fair. I was however able to attend during the last few weeks of my pregnancy after my maternity leave had started. Angela’s voice is very soothing and just being around her makes me feel calm.
The first session of happy baby that I attended this week was so popular that future sessions are being held in a bigger venue so consequently there was no room for baby yoga this week, instead we did some sensory which included songs, movement and interaction with objects. Angela had laid out some mats for the babies to lie or sit on depending on what stage there were at.

 

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Flixster is not sitting unaided yet but I don’t think it’ll be long before he is. He’s 6 calendar months next week and I’d like to start some baby-led weaning but we won’t be starting any finger foods until he can sit unaided.  He really enjoys the singing and songs that contain actions and signing, he also really enjoys watching other babies. I am blessed to have such a happy smiley baby. After signing for a while Angela got out the bubbles. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but two of my favourite things are bubbles and rainbows becuase they are such magical things, they are around for such a short time and when they are gone they leave no trace behind that they ever exisisted. I’m especially fond of bubbles when there are loads and loads of them at the same time, I love nothing more than putting the boys bubble machine on in the back garden on a sunny day and watching thousands of tiny bubbles dancing in the air. It seems Flixster too is a fan of bubbles, he watched them fall to the ground with unfailing concentration.

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After bubbles we did some sensory with various types of material including a piece of voile and some silver foil blanket. Flixster loved the crunchy foil but I didn’t manage to get any pictures as he was flapping it up and down so quickly and facing away from me. I think we will have to buy our own piece to play with at home.  IMG_3601

As well as the materials to play with Angela put out some light up objects which seemed well timed as they had a halloween themes, skulls and ghosts. Flixster was once again fascinated by the new things I was showing him.

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The class finished with a little relaxed time under a large piece of shimmery material that was held above the babies, and Flixster was ready for a nap on the way home in the car. I love going to classes like this because as a busy mum of two its hard to find the time at home away from the distractions of housework to sit down and actually have sensory play with your child. I do try to take time out each day to play with Flixster one on one, and he gets a lot of time with me around the house watching everyday tasks as he spends a lot of his day in a sling on my front. I particularly like going to classes run by Angela as she is such a calming influence and I think this is also reflected by how popular her classes are. I can’t wait to see what we get up to next week and I hope that Flixster continues to enjoy it as much as he did last week.

Angela can be contacted through her website at www.alltogehterkids.co.uk

 

 

I can’t believe Monday has rolled around again already, the weeks are simply flying by at the moment! This week it was my mums turn to travel down to us. When we woke this morning the wind was howling and the rain was pouring from the sky, a total contrast to last Monday when we were bathed in glorious sunshine. There would be no trips to the local park today thats for sure, we needed something indoors to do. I had recently heard about an exhibition at the Lowry Gallery at Salford Quays called ‘Here’s One I Made Earlier – The Story of BBC Childrens Broadcasting’. I was clearly very late in finding out about it as it ends next Sunday, so I was grateful to find out about it before it finished. The boys and I waited for Grandma to arrive safely. She didn’t leave her house to early as the weather was pretty rough and most of the journey is motorway so she waited for things to clear up a bit. Once mum arrived we had coffee and a snack (as is tradition on Mummy Mondays!) then got ready to leave the house. This part for those without young children or experience of them sounds like a two minute task. With a baby and toddler though you’re talking about anything up to half an hour usually in our house. Once we’ve decided which buggy we’re taking and packed the relevant bag with nappies, wipes, drinks, snacks, my things and all the other paraphernalia I need to carry around, theres toilet time for the boy, final nappy change, putting buggy in the car, putting children in the car etc etc the list goes on! So by the time we actually arrived it was time for lunch. We wanted something quick and relatively healthy so we chose subway. I’m lucky that the boy will eat pretty much anything so he was very happy with his ham sandwich.

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After lunch we headed over to The Lowry and went up to the exhibition. The boy spent most of the time wanting to rush to the next room,  he’s a toddler full of beautiful energy for life and running around everywhere. I spent most of the time listening to him say or shout ‘Mummy lets go in here!’ while trying to gently encourage him to stay in the same room we were in so that I could at least look at the items they had on display.

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There was lots to read too but I got to read none of it and had to piece together the history of children’s television form the pictures while keeping an eye on the boy, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m hoping that we may be able to go back again at the weekend before it closes so that I can try and learn a little more.

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There was a good mix of old and new exhibits that kept the boys attention just long enough that I could look at the things form my childhood and likewise my mums era. Some of the items were legendary like Humpty from Playschool or Blue Peters home made Tracy Island!

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The boy was excited to see the Teletubbies amongst other things. He’s like an elephant for remembering things (}he never forgets) so he’ll probably be talking about them and Mr.Blooms veggies for quite a while now!

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I loved seeing Bagpuss and the legend that was Gordon the Gopher!

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I used to love the broom cupboard, and loved watching Philip Schofield in-between the programmes with Gordon. I’m sure if we hadn’t had a toddler with us we would have spent a lot more time there reading but the boy was done and so we headed out and back over to the shopping mall for coffee and cake, before heading home as it was already getting late in the day. Time really does fly when you’re having fun together.

 

The exhibition was fab and I really hope we can make it back next weekend so that Daddy can come too, hopefully having been already the boy won’t want to hurry through so much, but whatever happens I’m sure we’ll have a lovely day out again. I highly recommend it for all ages  as there is something for everyone although there aren’t many days left to enjoy it now so get there soon if you can!

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