Toddler Tantrums

toddler tantrumsIt’s safe to say that Burrito Baby, although only 16 and a half months old, is going through that pre-Terrible Twos phase. You know, the one where parents (half-bald from having pulled handfuls of their hair out…) can be heard muttering “I thought we had months before these tantrums started” whilst trying to restrain a caterwauling toddler smeared with what you can only HOPE is Nutella. She’s a gorgeous little girl with a huge personality and kindness in absolute buckets, but when she wants to kick-off, BOY, does she kick off.

Here’s a list of things she’s done just THIS WEEK:

  • Tried to climb inside my knickers while I was doing a wee and then slapped the bath when I gently removed her
  • Used her own foot as a club to hit herself in the face with when I told her all the strawberries had gone
  • Headbutted a wall, sofa, mattress, plate of scrambled egg and the dog in response to the word “no”
  • Poked herself in the eyes and yanked her own eyelids when I stopped her from climbing the kitchen steps by herself
  • Hit me, Husband and Sausage, all at different times, for not bending to her will

The thing is, I’m not a hitter. I’m not judging other parents who’ve used that as a method of reprimand, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I never had cause to smack Sausage, even once, and I tapped BB on the back of the hand after she hit her sister once, and then spent hours feeling sick about it.

Shouting doesn’t work – my voice is generally like white noise, unless I’m saying the word “biscuit” or “Skips” to my daughters, so raising my voice above her own tends to just leave us all with a headache. Also, poor Sausage inevitably gets drowned out in the crossfire, and I see her sitting there amongst all the shouting and feel horrendous for her.

Having said all of this, Burrito Baby is an amazing kid. As I said above, she’s kind and sweet and she’s also got a killer sense of humour. She’s already got a sense of what makes us all laugh and loves nothing more than tweaking our funny bones. Just recently, we had the following conversation:

Me: “BB, can you can ‘purple’?”

BB: “TURTLE!”

Me: “Okay, BB, can you say ‘turtle’?”

BB: *said with a super cheeky grin and an eye roll* “NO!”

She also does random acts of affection; BB is never happier then when all five of us are in the same room, and she’ll do this thing where she goes around the room giving us all kisses, over and over again, first Mummy, then Daddy, then Sausage, then Chuck, then back to Mummy. She feeds off of how happy it makes us and how we all laugh along together and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

So, while I may moan and sometimes wonder what the hell I’m going to do with my little hooligan, especially as we’ve not even reached the Terrible Twos Proper yet, I think about the way that her personality is developing and the lovely little things she does and I know we can all weather the stormy parts together.

We love you, BB.

How to Find “Me” Time During The Summer Holidays

me timeIf you’re anything like me, you’re already counting down the days until your little ones are on their school summer holidays. I’m never happier than when Sausage is at home with us and we can plan our days around fun summer activities. Having said that, I’m also aware that the need for a bit of grown-up “me” time is needed after weeks of full-on  kid action, so I thought I’d put together some ideas to keep you sane once the kids have gone to bed.

Enjoy Some Time Online

Many bloggers and non-bloggers alike go on a social media holiday during the school break, allowing them to focus wholly on their family fun time. However, setting yourself aside a couple of hours a week after bed-time, to spend online, either catching up with friends or on a visit for free casino is a great way to unwind.

Indoor Date Night

If you and your significant other feel like you barely get to see each other during the holidays, an at-home date night could be just the ticket. Get the kids to help to tidy and cook a nice meal, or even order a takeaway, and share some time together watching a film or just catching up on what’s been happening during your days.

Enjoy The Garden

If you’re still lucky enough to have little ones who naps during the day, wheel them out into the garden or outdoor space and enjoy some time with a book. Just taking an hour to lose yourself in the written word can be a fabulous way to recharge your batteries.

Schedule a Play Date Together

If you have friends with kids, or another school mum with whom you get on well, why not schedule a play date? Either invite them to you or find a soft play with a decent cafe and let the kids entertain themselves for a couple of hours while you get some essential grown-up chatting done. Just being able to speak to someone who doesn’t want to give you a 24/7 run-down of what powers their favourite Pokemon has could be enough to make your brain unclench!

Schedule a Play Date Apart

If there’s another parent you’re on good terms with, why not arrange to look after their little treasure for a few hours, in exchange for a few hours to yourself the next week? The kids will get someone to play with and you’ll get a little bit of time to yourself.

Accept Help! 

If you have a kind friend or relative who is always offering to help but you never accept, grab the opportunity with both hands! If they’re offering, it’s because they WANT to help and the kids will probably also relish the change of scenery.

Keep The Kids Happy on Long Journeys

This time of year means lots of day trips for us, as a family. That also means that we have to find lots of ways to keep Sausage and Burrito Baby entertained while we’re travelling. BB isn’t so difficult to cater for – she tends to go to sleep within 10 minutes of setting off and on the rare occasion that she does stay away, she can usually be kept happy with a cardboard book or something with flashing lights!

Sausage, now that she’s almost 7, is a little harder to keep stimulated. Reading for long periods of time whilst in a car or on a train tends to give her a headache and although we love a good bit of tech, taking iPads or portable media players with us can be a pain once we reach our destination if we don’t want to carry them around all day.

That’s why, when we saw the new kids’ travel games created by TransPennine Express, we were excited to print them out and give them a whirl. Last weekend, we went to Colchester Zoo and printed them off before we went. The journey isn’t too bad, roughly an hour from where we are, and the pre-printed sheets went down a storm!

Sausage’s favourite was the Train Window Bingo, where kids gaze out of the window and tick off anything they see as they pass. In fact, the whole family ended up getting involved! Sausage also loved Brainy Dots and Boxes, which is one that none of us had ever played before, and having the pre-printed sheets with everything on made it so much easier – all we needed was a pencil and luckily I always have one of those in my bag.

To get your very own copies of all of the games, in handy .PDF form to print off at home, simply follow the link above and download them to any computer which is hooked up to a printer. They’ll save you hours of “ARE WE THERE YET?!” and will hopefully mean that the whole family is still talking to each other once you reach your day-trip destination!

Caring For an Older Dog

FullSizeRender (3)Having an older dogs brings with it added responsibilities. When Sausage was born, Chuck was a spritely boy of just 4, whereas when Burrito Baby came along, he was getting on slightly, closer to the age of ten, which meant that we made sure we gave him extra space and also a little extra love when the girls weren’t around as our attentions were so divided during the day that he sometimes missed out.

Nutrition is extra important, now that he’s older, as his joints are feeling the wear of age so we tend to opt for food which has added glucosamine, chondroitin and green-lipped mussel as it helps to bolster his joint health. He also has issues with a sensitive gut, which means that hypoallergenic food is better and gentler on his tummy. Luckily, there are some great brands out there which cater for all of these aspects.

Exercise is equally important as he needs to remain mobile whilst maintaining a healthy weight – it’s so common to see older dogs getting fat, which just adds extra pressure to their joints. Instead of taking him on long walks, which potentially cause him pain, we tend to take him on shorter walks but more often to give him the level of exercise he requires, with plenty of rest in between.

Sleep and rest is also all-important and we ensure that he has a bed which provides him with adequate padding and warmth. We also place his bed on a large memory foam pad, which we also add a heat pad to in the winter to ensure that he doesn’t get too cold as he’s short haired and his joints also seize up when he’s too cold.

In time, we’re also planning to build a set of steps for our old boy – he’s never been the sort of dog who isn’t allowed on the bed or sofa and we don’t want to stop him as he gets older, so a set of steps will enable him to get up onto high things without jumping and causing himself harm.

Keeping stress to a minimum is something we also find hugely important as he gets older. He’s never left alone for long as Husband works from home and I’m always in and out, but if we know we’re going to be away for a few hours, we’ll also ask my MIL to check in on him to make sure he has plenty of water.

Lastly, the most important thing to give them is plenty of patience and understanding. He’s not able to walk quite as fast any more so we make sure we allow plenty of time even for shorter walks and on the VERY rare occasion that he’s had an accident in the house, we remember that it’s not a behavioural issue, just that he can’t cross his paws for quite as long these days!

Hopefully if we carry on with all these things, we’ll have many years to come with our lovely fur baby and see him grow old in health and happiness.

Be Prepared: 5 Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained this summer

Kids are off school during the summer, which means there is no more homework to keep them busy (and quiet) in the afternoons – so they can become restless and noisy which ends up giving the parents a huge headache. Two options spring to mind – you could switch on the television and put a DVD on for them or you could go a step further and get the kids involved in some arts and crafts to release their creative streaks and keep them entertained for longer. Let’s go with the second and examine some ideas.

Keep a scrapbook

Kids are only young once so why not keep a scrapbook of their summer holidays? This is a great craft idea because kids can make memories of their favourite days by sticking pictures, tickets, brochures and maps of their adventures on the pages of their scrapbook. Craft Superstore have everything you need to make your kids’ scrapbook wonderful, including fun and colourful stickers to really enhance the creative appeal of the book. When they grow up, your kids can look back at the summer of a lifetime.

Egg Carton Boats

Take some old egg cartons from the fridge and paint them with your kids. Add a stick with a mini sail and test the boat’s endurance on the water. This will be perfect for the extra hot days of summer when kids are splashing about the paddling pool and need something to play with. They can take their favourite toys on board (if they fit) and pretend they have just set sail for an epic sea adventure. The plus side is that this craft will also encourage you and the kids to recycle more instead of just throwing used cartons away.

Button Bracelets

A handy summer craft for kids that they can do indoors or on rainy days is making their own button bracelets. This is also a great excuse for you to use up all those old buttons in your sowing kit. According to Martha Stewart, the steps to making a button bracelet are to thread elastic through shanks and turning every second button upside down to allow it to overlap. Once the bracelet fits around your kid’s wrist, it’s time to trim the elastic and tie it in place.

Birdhouse Decoration

Invite wildlife into your garden this summer with a decorative bird shelter, stocked with food and treats to attract all sorts of birds. Before hanging up the house, give your kids the chance to paint it how they please. They can add polka dots or draw little chickens on the wood to make it seem more homely for the birds – www.parentmap.com advises that you use peanut butter, birdseed and pine cones mixed together as the perfect bird treat.

Shell Creations

If you’re taking a trip to the beach this summer, bring an empty plastic bag and have your kids gather together their favourite sea shells. Once you get home you can glue them together to make little creatures, which can be painted and decorated. To take it a step further, create an enchanting wind chime with shells, string and a long stick. This is perfect to hang outside the door or up in the childrens’ room.

A Tinge of Bingo with Summer Punch

Have you ever wondered what is it about summer that gets you all excited and cheerful ? Is it the warm summer nights with a refreshing glass of punch or is it the laid off days we can spent on the beach or do you think it is a blend of all the sweet things one can ever experience?

I personally feel it is a blend of all the beautiful memories since childhood, along with the futuristic fascination about time to be spent ahead in life. It is all about how you can enjoy this magical time of the year by refreshing your mind and body. A refreshing glass of punch with a game play at my favorite bingo site works wonderfully in this glorious weather. Experiencing the summer colors with revived happenings makes my life enchanting!

Trust me, this works specially as a refreshing tool for all the gaming lovers.  That’s is why I feel summer and bingo works hand in hand, as both renews our mind and always works great for lifting up our mood. Initially I used to experiment with a lot of bingo sites as I was not sure which ones are good but in a similar summer night, my best friend introduced me to this  almost new and unique site called New Look Bingo.

Since then I have fallen in love with this site, as along with the impressive features and ambiance they have in hold great set of games and promotions exclusive for summer. This summer they have something like Bingo Bites at Summer Nights, Refreshing Bingo Punch and so on. Don’t you feel it serves as a great way of having a fun-filled summer evening?

Every year around this time the days get longer wanting us to do something fun and memorable to be cherished for the rest of the year. So why not play bingo here at New Look Bingo along with our amazing set of friends and summer specialties.

The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Selling Groups

Facebook selling groupsIn times of austerity, it’s no great surprise that online selling of new and second hand goods becomes more popular than ever. Everyone is looking to make a little more money and the great British public does love a bargain! These days, selling on eBay seems to be less profitable than ever – once listing fees, selling fees, PayPal fees and postage are taken out of whatever you make on an item, it’s almost impossible to make a profit on anything, so more and more sellers are turning to the next best thing – Facebook selling groups.

Enterprising folk are making selling groups, of which there are literally thousands on Facebook, so that people can advertise their goods and save themselves the fees and postage that eBay likes to extract. It can be a tricky world to navigate, so I thought I’d give you a quick beginner’s guide to how to effectively use Facebook selling groups.

1. Join as many groups as you can

To increase the likelihood of selling things, it’s good to join as many groups as you can. They’re usually listed geographically, and the easiest way to find them is to go to the search box at the top of Facebook and type in your town name, followed by ‘selling’. However, if you find your timeline overrun by selling posts, to the extent that you can barely pick out statuses from friends and family, it is possible to ‘unfollow’ the group but remain a member. Simply click on the arrow in the top right hand of any post from the group and click ‘Unfollow’. You’ll be able to visit the group at your leisure without feeling bombarded, but be warned, you may miss out on a bargain if it doesn’t pop up on your timeline!

2. Read the rules

There will often be a pinned post or a link in the sidebar, listing the rules for posting in each particular group. Some groups have no rules and often state that in the group name, but others are closely administered and like you to post in a certain way. Posting outside of these rules is often the quickest way to have your post removed, so save yourself the effort of writing out your post only to have it deleted by brushing up on the rules before you post.

3. Special Interest

It’s often also worth searching for special interest groups, relating to what you want to sell. So far, I’ve come across specific groups for selling baby items, maternity clothes, plus sized clothes, baby slings and wraps, pushchairs and many others besides. Often, these will have a more far-flung member base, so postage might be necessary, or payment via PayPal, but they can also be a great way to sell a slightly more niche item.

4. Etiquette

It’s usually the case, in these groups, that the first person to comment on a selling post gets first refusal. Even if a person asks a question, they should be at the top of the list when it comes to who gets to buy your item and passing people over without giving them a chance to commit to an item is frowned upon. Once someone has committed to buy something, you may notice people commenting after to ask if they can be ‘in line’. this basically means that they want to be in with a chance to buy from you if the first person pulls out. As long as you stay within the timeline of people who’ve expressed an interest, you should be fine.

5. Acronyms

When I first joined these groups, I spent ages wondering why people were signing off their posts with the name “Tia”, when their name was clearly something else. Obviously, I’d missed the fact that TIA means ‘thanks in advance’. You may also see OOS, which means ‘on other sites’ as an indicator that, even if you’re first to comment on the thread you’re watching, someone may have still got in before you on a different page. There are a few of these acronyms knocking about and the best advice I can give is to ask if you don’t know what they mean!

6. Bartering and Payment

Bartering is usually absolutely fine on these pages and many people will actually ask for ‘offers’, rather than explicitly asking a price for an item. Payment is usually cash on collection unless otherwise stated.

7. Safety

This is obviously common sense, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re either giving your address to a complete stranger or going somewhere unknown to collect something, so ALWAYS go with another person and never agree to meet someone unless it’s a very public place and you have someone with you. I never buy or sell without my Husband being in the house or car with me and I implore you to follow the same rule.

8. Make sure your goods are salable

Ensure that everything you sell is clean and in good working order, unless otherwise stated. I’m currently selling an oven for spares or repair and it’s CLEARLY stated that it’s in need of a good clean and doesn’t work properly. A lot of the people buying from these sites are doing so because they don’t have a lot of money and are simply looking for things to make their lives better as cheaply as possible, so the least you can do is make sure that things are in the best condition they can be.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask

Unless stated otherwise in the rules of the group, many of them also allow ‘WANTED’ posts. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a post asking for a particular item and stating a budget. You just might find the very thing you’re for, and also prompt someone to make some money off of an item that’s just been laying around, taking up space.

10. Delivery not included?

In the vast majority of cases, items are collection only, however on some local groups people do consider delivering an item, perhaps for a couple of quid in petrol money. If you’re buying a large item, however, you will often find a “man with a van” lurking around in the group, who can collect an item and deliver it to you for a fraction of what it would cost to hire a van. Admins of the group often know of a person who does this and it’s always worth an ask.

Are you a fan of Facebook selling groups? Have you grabbed a major bargain or sold something that you never thought you’d shift? I’d love to hear your stories, along with any other tips or tricks that you’ve picked up along the way.

How to Create and Grow a Family Garden

Family_gardeningThe garden is a space that can be used by the whole family, whether it’s for relaxing after a hard day at work or school, or to grow flowers, vegetables or herbs. It is also a great place to teach your kids about nature and the cycles of life.

Where to begin

One of the first steps to take when you’re thinking of setting up a garden is planning. If you draw out a basic plan of your space then you can decide what part of it is going to be a play area for the children and where you are going to plant your flowers or vegetables, the like of which you can buy from the Bakker Spalding garden company. You don’t have to go into lots of detail, as your ideas will gradually change when you start to see your plants grow. Don’t worry if something doesn’t look right immediately you can always change it later.

Get your children to grow some seeds

Gardening can be a lot more fun than it looks and once you and the children start to see some results you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before. You can start off by sowing some seeds in small plastic yoghurt pots so that once they have grown they can be transferred to a flower bed or vegetable patch. It’s also a good idea to get everyone involved in planting and planning; the Express online has a great article on how to make gardening a family activity.

Setting up a play area

The children will love having their own section of garden to play in but this doesn’t have to be just for the summer. One simple way to save money and allow the kids to play outside all year round is to lay artificial grass; it’s easy to keep clean and doesn’t need any maintenance. The BBC gardening website has a section dedicated to children and gardening, giving them plenty of projects to get them involved in.

Planting flowers and shrubs

Once you’ve prepared the ground and have added some compost you can start planting your seedlings or bulbs. Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy plants that are ready to go straight into the earth and you will also see instant results. Planting can be done in pots or raised beds and this method can make gardening easier as it keeps slugs and snails away from plants. There are, sadly, no guarantees though that you can eradicate these pesky creatures. If you have set aside a section of the garden for vegetables and herbs you must remember that you’ll need sticks to hold up runner beans and netting to stop birds eating the new shoots.

A relaxing area for adults

After a hard day there’s nothing better than chilling in the garden so creating a space just for the adults is just as important as maintaining the plants and keeping the kids happy. Once the garden is established, set out a monthly plan of tasks that need to be carried out. This will prevent the jobs building up leaving you with the backbreaking task of clearing several month’s worth of weeds in one session.

Do You Blog?

blog-372771_1280Today, we’re hosting a post with some great tips for bloggers.

Setting up a blog can be an amazing experience, letting you share your ideas, help other people and even make a living writing about something you have a passion for. However, if you are going to do it right, there’s more to think about than just the content. Here’s my three top tips for setting up your blog.

Build your blog with the right platform

If you’re going to start blogging, one of the things you are going to need is a good quality, well designed website. A website with an attractive design, where your writing and images are clearly presented, will make visitors stay on your site longer and encourage them to return, leave comments, share your posts on social media and sign up for your newsletter.

Whilst there are platforms available that will provide you with a free website and host it for you, they often come with a big disadvantage; they won’t allow you to make money from advertising and as a result you are prevented from turning your blog into a business.

Instead, you should consider building a website using a platform like WordPress, which offers free software that allows you to create your blog with relative ease. Besides letting you make money from your blog, platforms like WordPress come with hundreds of free themes to suit any style of blog and have thousands of free plugins; these are software add-ons that let you add a massive range of features to your blog. There are over 74 million WordPress sites online and millions of others built using similar platforms like Joomla and Magento.

Use secure antivirus software to prevent hacking

One essential thing you must do when you set up a blog is keep your site safe. Over the years, you may put in thousands of hours of effort to build up a substantial body of work and, hopefully, a significant online audience. Your blog may be financially very lucrative. This is why it’s important to install a great quality antivirus; so your content is always safe and you cannot be hacked. A hacker can destroy in minutes what you have spent years creating. Installing anti-virus software on your blog, right at the beginning of your journey, is an absolute must.

Set up real-time email verification for your newsletter sign-ups

An important way of growing your blog’s audience is to allow visitors to sign up for your newsletter. Doing this means that you can regularly remind visitors who haven’t checked in for a while about new articles or let them know about competitions or giveaways. Newsletters are considered as the key feature to developing a blog into a business, as it’s these returning visitors who are statistically more likely to trust your site and buy something you promote.

Once you’ve put in place a ‘sign up to our newsletter’ feature, you will, unfortunately, get two kinds of subscriber; genuine ones and fake ones. The fake subscribers are often people (or automated computer programs) that sign up in order to obtain a user name and password. They will try to use these to hack the admin section of your site. To protect yourself, make sure the newsletter subscription service you use comes with real time email verification. This will allow you to tell immediately if the email address is real of not. Doing this prevents hackers from accessing the site and stops you having a database full of fake emails. Trying to send newsletters to hundreds of fake email addresses can lead to you being penalised by internet service providers, and even having your website’s email address blacklisted. Try a service such as BriteVerify’s email verification.

My Dream Duvet Day

When Husband and I were young and childless, we loved a duvet day (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter!). We’d spend all day lying around, watching movies, eating junk food and listening to music. It was pure bliss to only have ourselves to think of, and although I wouldn’t be without our girls for all the world, I do look back to those idyllic days with great fondness.

These days, my ideal duvet day would look very different and the people at Eve Mattress have asked me to tell you all about it, so that I can be in with the chance of winning one of their mattresses.

First of all, I’d need some help in the form of serious transportation. You see, my ideal duvet day wouldn’t happen in sunny, sunny Southend on Sea. Oh no. It would happen here:

VakarufalhiMaldives680

That’s Vakarufalhi, the tiny little Maldivian island where Husband and I got married. Husband, the girls and I, as well as our dog Chuck, would need to get a plane, seaplane and boat all the way to the South Ari Atoll before we could enjoy our duvet day. Obviously, we wouldn’t need a 15 tog duvet, but a bed like this, on the beach with the waves lapping at the shore just meters away, would be an absolute must:

beach bed

Husband and I could lounge on the bed, having someone bring us cocktails (in moderation, of course!) and freshly caught seafood while the girls paddled in the clear sea and Chuck dug in the white sand for hermit crabs.

For dinner, someone would bring us a platter of lobster, which had been caught off of the pier just an hour before and we’d enjoy it with lashings of melted butter, followed by fresh coconut ice cream.

Eventually, the sun would set and all five of us could snuggle up while the girls fell asleep and Husband and I could gaze at the billions of stars that it’s possible to see when there’s minimal light pollution. If we were really lucky, we may even get to sit on our beach bed and see a show of the bio-luminescent life that lives in the Indian Ocean and we could finish off our perfect duvet day watching it shine for us.

bioluminescence

Failing all of this, I’d be happy with a day of watching Netflix in bed with Husband and the girls, with a steady stream of tea, bacon sandwiches and custard creams, while Chuck snoozes in his bed at our feet!

What would your perfect duvet day be?