Saturday 31 March 2018

Tigers, The Greatest Showman and Easter bonnets - Week 13. #Project365

I am writing this yesterday and it does not feel like a Friday....I am guessing today won't feel like a Saturday Hooray for the school holidays.

Now for a photo every day.

83/365 - 24th March
Some more of the artwork that I've noticed on our high street. I shared another on My Sunday Photo.

84/365 - 25th March
Ellie was playing with my fella's new phone. The face masks are such fun.

85/365 - 26th March
I won this fish tank from a blog giveaway over on Mummy Of 3 Diaries. Next weeks job is to buy some fish!

86/365 - 27th March
I finally got around to buying some new fake flowers for this vase which match the rest of the decor in the living room.

87/365 - 28th March
I am obsessed with The Greatest Showman soundtrack! Thanks to YouTube I can listen to it whenever I want. Becky & I are going to the cinema to see it next week.

88/365 - 29th March
Ellie made the winning Easter bonnet in her class. I am so ruddy proud of her. She was rewarded with a big Easter egg for her efforts.

89/365 - 30th March
Yesterday was a lazy day...The girls and I spent most of the day on some sort of electronic device. Ellie played The Sims lots, Becky played on the xBox and I did a whole heap of blogging!

An after school park visit. #CountryKids

For a good few months Ellie has been walking home from school with her friends. I rarely pick her up now unless we have to see her teacher or the head teacher....

On Thursday it was the last day of school before the Easter holidays and I had planned a little Easter egg hunt, hiding lots of small eggs around the living room. I knew if Ellie got in before Becky she would spy all the eggs and it just wouldn't be fair on her sister so I decided to pick her up and keep her at the park until Becky met up with us.....

Ellie does love the park and as little as this park is it is one of her favourites as there is rarely anyone else there....She has been going to this park since she was a baby as it used to be Becky's favourite park too when she was little.

Ellie will happily play on the slide and the bouncy thing by herself for as long as I will let her but when it comes to the roundabout and the sea-saw she always needs someone else....

This time her dad was there to push her on the roundabout and join her on the sea-saw....I went on the sea-saw with her and she was not impressed. I didn't put her high enough, fast

It wasn't long before Becky arrived and even she couldn't resist the fun of the park....hehehe

I'm sure over the next couple of weeks there will be more visits to the park....Whether I will be allowed to go will depend on the kids....They are getting to an age now where they don't need or want me to go to the park with them so now I cherish the park visits when I am there....

Friday 30 March 2018

A nice week with a few bits of Easter fun thrown in. #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

This week has been a long one....We have been waiting for the school holidays to arrive and they are finally here. We are all ready for Easter....It doesn't seem like we've been up to much over the past week....It's just been a week of normal family life with a few bits of Easter fun thrown in....

On Saturday we went for a mooch around the charity shops and the kids had me buying more Easter treats for them....I am so soft and easily led. That is my excuse for buying massive Reeses Peanut Butter Cup bunnies and lots of other tat we didn't need....hehehe

Ellie was off school on Monday. She had been sent home on Friday after falling asleep in class. She had been coming down with a cold for a few days and it really wiped he out. Over the weekend she was OK but not her normal self. Monday came around and I think with the clocks changing and the cold she had it knocked her again. She had a day snoozing on the sofa and it helped. By Tuesday she was raring to go again!

It was Ellie's school Easter service at the church on Wednesday and all the kids sung their little hearts out....I do love things like this. It got me thinking that it will be the last Easter service we see as they don't do them in secondary school. 

The only thing the secondary school were doing this week was a non-uniform yesterday and that was nothing to do with Easter it was to raise money for a charity.

Yesterday Ellie took all her crafty bits and an undecorated Easter bonnet into school. They decorate them at school so there is no parents helping which I think it really fair. They are judged and a boy and girl in each class are chosen as the winners and receive an Easter egg. Ellie went off with ribbon, felt carrots, chicks, rabbits, little eggs and goodness knows what else....I did talk her out of taking the superglue. That would only end in her being stuck to something. lol

She came out out of school with a smile on her face and an Easter egg....She had won the Easter bonnet making competition in her class. I couldn't have been prouder. 

As she was coming out of school her teacher wished her happy Easter and Ellie gave her a hug which was really unexpected and out of character for her....Ellie is not a hugger. Her teacher was just as shocked as I was. 

During the week we had a fantastic delivery from The Co-op. 80 little Easter eggs for us to do an Easter egg hunt with.

I decided to surprise the kids and yesterday hid 40 of them around the living room....I met Ellie from school and took her to the park until Becky was on her way home from school so they could both walk into the house at the same time and begin the hunt. hehehe 

The kids are really looking forward to Sunday when they can tuck into their Easter eggs and treats....I have been buying little bits every week and the little coffee table in the living room is piled high.

Ellie is back at school on Monday....She has Easter SATs school....It's only 3 hours a day for 4 days and she is really looking forward to it. They will be doing activities and not just sitting at desks writing which is perfect for Ellie she prefers doing hands on things rather than writing....

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter.

Thursday 29 March 2018

Get to know Northumberland Mam - 20 Questions.

There has been a tag going around the blogging world and I do love a tag. I think I have done well holding off this long before doing it. hehehe

Tracey over on The Williams World invited anyone who hasn't taken part to join in. So here I am.

When was the last time you cried ?
Last week when watching Four Days That Shook Britain about the terrorist attacks....What brave, brave people. Those who were there and helped and those who relived what they went through.

If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I would like to think so....I know I am such a hard person to make friends with as I am so shy but once I get to know someone I am a good friend and I do open up....

Do you use sarcasm a lot?
No! Never! lol 

What’s the first thing you notice about people?
How they look....Their appearance.

Scary movie or happy endings?
I don't watch scary movies so happy endings every time.

Favourite smells?
 The seaside, petrol, marzipan, fence paint, babies, coffee and oranges.

What’s the furthest you have ever been away from home?
Edinburgh. I'm not very well travelled. I like to stay close to home....A good few years ago I did go to Scotland to see Bon Jovi. 

Do you have any special talents?
I can touch my nose with my tongue. That's about it. lol

Where were you born?
Near Middlesbrough.

What are your hobbies?
Blogging, playing PC games like The Sims and Hearthstone. That's about it.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I really wanted to do something with horses....Something like a riding instructor.

How many countries have you been to?
Two. lol England and Scotland.

What was your favourite/worst subject at school?
I really loved French. The teacher had a great idea sitting everyone in alphabetical order and I was sat with all the cool boys. hehehe I also wasn't good at French so the GCSE I took was all coursework and no exam which meant I came away with a C. My worst subject at school was P.E. I don't think I took part for the whole of year 10 & 11. lol I forged notes, faked injuries and blatantly lied to the P.E teacher. Oops.

What is your favourite drink?
Soft drink - Root beer
Alcoholic - Rose wine
Hot drink - Hot Chocolate.

What would you (or have you) named your children?
Becky and Ellie. If I had boys they would have been called Jack and James.

Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?
Louise Pentland, Brummy Mummy of 2, Philip De Franco, Ozzy Man Reviews, Mummy Here and There and The Michalaks.

How many boyfriends have you had?
I would say about 6 which lasted more than a couple of months...

Favourite memory from childhood?
Getting a trampoline for Christmas when I was a child and spending all day on it....

How would you describe your fashion sense?
Non-existent. lol I live in either leggings, jeggings or jeans and baggy tops.

Tell us one of your bad habits?
I have so I vape. It's a bad habit but way better than smoking...

There you go....Those are my answers. If you are a blogger and have not yet joined in, feel free to answer the above questions.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Aquafresh Advance just for Tweens!

Ellie hates brushing her teeth but it's one of those jobs which we have to do....We have tried various toothbrushes and different toothpastes over the years. It has taken 10 years but I think we are on to a winner with Aquafresh Advance!

Aquafresh Advance specially designed by dental experts for children aged 9-12 years. Did you know that when kids reach the age of nine special care is still needed for their new, vulnerable adult teeth?

More permanent teeth arrive between the ages of 9-12 years than at any other time, and the enamel is 50% more vulnerable to sugar acid attack. This is because the enamel is softer and new permanent teeth take up to three years to reach full strength.

To give parents of pre-teens one less thing to worry about, Aquafresh Advance toothpaste has been specially designed by dental experts for children aged 9-12 years.

Like I said Ellie has never been keen on brushing her teeth it has always been a nightly battle until last week.....I told Ellie that this toothpaste and the new toothbrush was just for her and she seemed so excited by it. She took great pleasure in telling her sister that the Aquafresh Advance was all hers...hehehe

For the first time ever Ellie asked to brush her teeth! She was keen to give it a try...She was also very eager to try her new toothbrush too. The dental experts have also designed a new Aquafresh Advance 9-12 years toothbrush to help provide care for permanent new teeth. The 6 key features include a small head, soft filaments, mixed bristle length, flex zone, ergonomic handle and a cool design. It is just the right size for Ellie to use. She loves the flexible part and thinks it's very cool....

Ellie has used Aquafresh in the past but not for a long time.....She forgot that the toothpaste was 3 colours and she thought it was so pretty....She compared it to something like a unicorn tail. Pretty, pretty, pretty....

To be honest Ellie still isn't keen on the minty taste. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with it but it's just one of those things Ellie doesn't like BUT every day for a week she has brushed her teeth without an argument which has never happened before so the fact that the toothpaste and brush are especially for her age group is making a difference to the health of her teeth and the effect it has on our family life.....

I will continue to buy the Aquafresh Advance. It is available in Boots and other retailer stores with a recommended retail price of £2.00...

We have also started using the Aquafresh Brush Time app. Which is basically a timer which has a fun characters and catchy songs...It has been keeping Ellie brushing for the 2 minutes which dentists recommend. It's free and I can't believe we haven't used it before.....

This month they have launched the Aquafresh Inventors Academy competition to help make brush time more fun and reinforce the importance of having healthy teeth.

Children can draw their very own invention. From maraca toothbrushes, to bathroom disco lights this is their chance to get creative, get involved and get inventing. The winning invention will actually be created by Dominic Wilcox, Chief Inventor at Little Inventors and the lucky winner will win a class sleepover at the Science Museum on 6th July 2018 and up to £1000 worth of equipment for their school!

Just visit The Aquafresh Inventors Academy and upload a picture of your child's invention or innovative idea.

We were sent these products mentioned free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Alcatel U5 HD Android smartphone - Review!

My fella's mobile phone broke a couple of years ago and he never got around to replacing it....He had his heart set on some fancy, expensive phone which we have never quite had the money for....

Recently I was sent an Alcatel U5 HD Android smartphone to review. My plan was to give it to Becky my teen but after trying it for a few days my fella has decided to keep it for himself.....

The Alcatel U5 HD comes with a 5 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 720 pixels by 1280 pixels. It is powered by quad-core processor and has 1GB Ram and 8GB of internal storage which can be expanded via a microSD card. The phone comes pre-installed with android nougat the most recent operating system. 

For photography and videography the Alcatel U5 HD has a 13MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera. The rear camera captures superb pictures and supports Full HD videos. 

The Alcatel U5 HD smartphone is affordable, easy to set up and to use....Usually I leave things like this to Stu to set up and get going but I thought I would give it a go....

It came with everything you would expect inside the box....It only took a couple of minutes to put together. I put it on charge for a little while before switching it on for the first time. 


Setting it up was so easy. It took me longer to find the code for the Wi-Fi than to get the phone set up and usable. 

From the second I switched on the phone it seemed fast an responsive and it is is light and easy to hold. 

I had a quick play around with the camera and it is fantastic. The pictures are so clear and just as good as the photos I take on my phone with a better camera. There is plenty of options when it comes to taking photos and videos. Panoramic, Photo, Video and Time Lapse...

It has so many features that older phones like mine don't have.....As well as having a flash on the front camera which is perfect for selfies it has:

Face Masks.

Show off your wild side with a wide range of awesome live filters and turn yourself into a pirate, bear, zombie and more. It even changes your voice to match! It made me think of Snapchat. I don't think it's a feature Stu will use much but the kids had great fun with it.

Face Show.

Take a series of selfies and put them together to bring them to life in incredible animations, complete with matching background music and sound effects.

Instant Collage.

Choose from a wide selection of collage layouts and Instant Collage automatically arranges your shots to combine them in fun new ways.

There is many ways to customise the phone and there is a ton of wallpapers, themes and settings to fiddle about with so you can get it just how you like it....

Stu has already put some extra storage into the phone. He said that after the phone updated the internal storage was well over half full. He removed some pre-installed apps but it was still half full. It isn't a problem as he isn't going to fill it with lots of games and apps. He had planned on putting some music on for the walk to and from work but then realised there is a FM radio which is very handy. The sound from it is great.

The battery life seems OK. Stu has been using the phone lots getting it just how he wants it so it hard to tell how it would fair with just average, day to day use....It has 300 minutes of talk time and 200 hours of time on Standby. It seems like it's going to be fine with how much Stu uses a phone.

We have tried to find faults with this phone to give it a totally honest review and it was hard. The only minor issue we have with the phone is that the home and back buttons at the bottom of the phone do not illuminate and makes it a little tricky in low lit and dark environments....It is also not waterproof which if you were thinking about buying it you need to be aware of. It isn't a problem for us we tend to keep our phones away from water....

This would be a perfect first phone for a tween or a teenager. In fact we are planning on getting Ellie one for her birthday in August....It would also be ideal for someone who doesn't want to pay a lot for a phone. I was going to say a basic phone but this is far from basic. I know if my phone broke tomorrow I would happily have an Alcatel U5 HD smartphone.

The Alcatel U5 HD comes in either black or white and is on Pay as you go. It costs £79.00 from Tesco Mobile. I think is a fantastic price for a phone as good as this....

We were sent this phone free of charge in exchange for us to review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Monday 26 March 2018

Last weeks meal plan went to plan. Let's see if this weeks does? - #mealplanningmonday

Last weeks meal plan went to plan....We ate everything! The hit of the week was the Tilda Kids rice which we were sent to try....40 seconds in the microwave and it was cooked. The girls loved it.

This week is going to feel strange for me. The kids finish school for Easter on Thursday and my fella is back to work after a week off on holiday. As of writing this I have no idea what shifts my fella is on at work so things might be changed around....I'm going for an easy week with some of our favourite meals...

This week on the menu we have:

MondaySausage, mash and baked beans....
TuesdayChicken stir fry.....
WednesdaySomething out of the freezer with rice....
Thursday - Burgers in buns with corn on the cob & salad....
Friday - Fish & chips from the chippy....
Saturday - Lasagne and garlic bread.... 
Sunday - A roast dinner of some sort....

What will you be eating this week?

Sunday 25 March 2018

I have been meaning to take this photo for a while. #MySundayPhoto

 This is photo I have been wanting to take for a few months but it's always been so cold, dark or wet....It's of the artwork in town on the end of a row of shops. I live in Ashington, Northumberland and many years ago it was a big mining town.....

Saturday 24 March 2018

Sharing a photo everyday for a year - Week 12. #Project365

Another week is over....It started with snow and yesterday it seemed like a spring day....We had a couple of showers but the sun was shining for most of it....

Now for a photo every day....

76/365 - 17th March
Saturday night Easter eggs....hehehe The kids will be gutted when Easter is over with. 

77/365 - 18th March
Ellie and her dad made a space shuttle for her creative homework....It is now proudly on display in the school library. There was a school assembly where the kids were showing off their creations yesterday afternoon but Ellie missed it as she got sent home from school poorly. She's fine now. 

78/365 - 19th March
A sunny school run...

79/365 - 20th March
We tried out the Tilda Kids range of rice and the kids loved them...

80/365 - 21st March
Ellie hated brushing her teeth until we got a new toothpaste and toothbrush which is aimed at 9 to 12 year olds. I have a blog post about it next week.

81/365 - 22nd March
I have been sent a phone to review. Thursday was a day of taking photos and making a video unboxing & setting it up. Stu has already claimed it....He didn't have a mobile phone and my girls and I do so it was only fair....

82/365 - 23rd March
I have spent the past couple of weeks buying the kids treats for Easter but I forgot about my fella and I until he mentioned where were our eggs. Tesco didn't let us down and I added a couple to the grocery order. I can't wait to eat mine (the Thorntons one)

A quick meal with Tilda Kids!

I like to cook a couple of fuss free, quick meals a week for our evening meal....I was given the chance to try the Kids range from Tilda and thought why not? The kids love rice and I am always trying to get more veg into them....

Tilda’s kids range is full of goodness providing 1 of your 5 a day with a selection of the best natural ingredients to make four tasty child-friendly rice and vegetable meal accompaniments....The flavours include: Cheese & Tomato, Sunshine Vegetable, Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain and Mild & Sweet Curry.

Available in 125g pouches each meal has been specially developed to cater for a child’s taste pallet and growing appetite. They can be eaten on their own or as an accompaniment to all their favourites. Meat, fish, or more vegetables!

I decided to make the kids the rice, breaded chicken and corn on the cob's.....Making them was so easy.

Squeeze before heating and tear top corner of pouch open to 2cm. Heat upright in microwave on full power for 40 seconds. Tear open, tip out and fluff with a fork before serving or warm a small, non-stick pan over a low heat. Add rice and 2 tsps of warm water and warm through for 3 minutes on a medium heat, continuously stirring.....

Becky (who eats like a horse) had the Cheese & Tomato rice which is steamed basmati rice with tangy tomato and cheese. This has been made for all of those who really enjoy the flavour of Margarita pizza. 

Ellie went for the Sweet Vegetable & Wholegrain rice which is steamed basmati rice with sweetcorn, sweet potato and carrots...

They both loved their rice....Becky ate two pouches because she is always so hungry after school. The portion is aimed at younger children so that is not a complaint at all....Becky actually said the flavours reminded her of pizza which is one of her favourite foods.

The portion size was perfect for my youngest. Ellie is not usually a fan of sweet potato but she ate it without realising....hahaha I think I will have to try her with the Sunshine Vegetable one too as she usually is not a big veg eater if they are just on her plate. Hidden veg win's again. hehehe

Both the girls cleared their plates and have asked me to buy more which is a good sign and I think I will....It is perfect for a quick healthy meal!

All recipes are gluten-free and three of four variants are dairy free. They are also all vegetarian and free from artificial colours and preservatives....

The Tilda Kids range is available in most retailers with an RRP of £1.15 for a 125g pack.

We were sent a selection of rices free of charge to try in exchange for this blog post.

Friday 23 March 2018

This week my Word of the Week is: Accepted #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

We have had a really good week.....I think it all boils down to the fact that my fella has been off work. He had holidays to use up before April and just managed to slot them in....

On Monday we had phone calls to make and I hate making phone calls. We had to ring the CYPS woman who was dealing with Ellie maybe having Autism. (I did write a whole blog post about what has been happening) but the long and short of it is that the CYPS woman said Ellie didn't have Autism and the case was closed. The school disagreed and I did too but the CYPS woman was having none of it and said no one was observing Ellie at school. Stu rang up and she had suddenly changed her mind. Ellie is going to be observed at school by her and someone else. It feels like she had finally accepted that she needs to see Ellie at school. It only took the head teacher, SENCO, the hearing lady and us telling her so.

Ellie was bullied last year....One of the bullies was a sneaky one. We knew she was bullying Ellie but we could never prove it. It was Ellie's word against her's....The girl has went and dropped herself right in it though by sending vile messages to a couple of other girls in the class. She has well and truly being outed as a bully and I couldn't be happier! There has been a shift in the friendship groups in the class and it finally seems like Ellie has been accepted by her peers....

On Tuesday Stu and I got to see Ellie in her musical showcase at school.....She played the recorder and later on in the show sung with the choir. All the kids did so well but of course my girl was the star of the show. hehehe Ellie was sat with 3 other girls and it was lovely to see her being one of the group and not an outsider.....

I saw the acceptance again when I took Ellie to school on Wednesday morning....Ellie and 3 girls were as thick as thieves. Ellie kept looking over at me grinning from ear to ear. At the moment Ellie is really loving school. I hope it continues.

We got a letter last week about some important dates for Becky. In a couple of months she will sit her first GCSE's. Eek! They are doing the English Literature one's this year so they can focus on the English language for the next year....She has been learning all about the books since the beginning of year 9 so it's no worry for her. It still won't stop me worrying though....

Something has finally clicked with Becky and she has now accepted that she needs to revise without me having to nag as much.....I think the shock that the exams are starting have made her realise how soon they actually are. This time next year she will be preparing for the rest of her GCSE's. Eek!

Thursday 22 March 2018

The Lottie Doll with a cochlear implant....

I received an email from the lovely Lottie Dolls last week with information about their newest doll. I haven't been asked to write this but I did want to share....

Ellie is deaf in one ear....She was born with some hearing loss in it which gradually got worse over the years...I have blogged about it in the past....A few years ago a cochlear implant was mentioned but as she still has hearing in her good ear it wasn't an option.

Lottie Dolls Mia the Wildlife Photographer has been created to reflect the brand's mission: that childhood should be an inclusive place, where every child belongs regardless of gender, ethnicity or ability.

Although Mia wears a cochlear implant this is part of her story rather than a focal point. A keen photographer, the Mia character also has a mission to encourage children to take an interest in nature and wildlife.

Mia was created following consultation with Toy Like Me, a UK non-profit who campaign for diversity in the toy-box and for better representation of disabilities so that differently-abled children can see themselves reflected in the toys they play with.

I think this doll is such a wonderful idea....Better than wonderful. 

It would be great for a child without any disability to learn about others with disabilities....Seeing someone with a cochlear implant wouldn't be strange and they would think of it as normal....It is a fantastic way to educate youngsters and change their attitudes towards disabilities....

For a child with hearing loss it would be fantastic to show that there is other people with cochlear implants and they are quite normal....It would be a great gift for a child before they actually get a cochlear implant....

Do you think dolls like this are a good idea? Would you buy your child something like this?