Thursday 28 February 2019

Visiting my Great Aunt over half term.

My Aunty Jean has been a huge part of my life. She is my dad's aunt and my great aunt but we all call her Aunty Jean. As a child we would visit her every Friday night, she would take my brother and I for days out, we'd have sleepovers and she has always been there. She's the person I ring for advice and just for a chat.

Whenever my dad comes to visit he always pops into my Aunt Jean's house, picks her up and brings her to visit too. When my brother's ex, Louise comes to visit with my nephew she does the same. It's a strange situation but we are still in touch with my brothers ex girlfriend even though he is not. Family is a strange thing.

Due to us going away over Christmas we didn't see my Aunty Jean like we usually do in the run up to xmas as my dad didn't come to visit us. She hasn't been too well over the last few months. She's 86 so it's sort of expected. She's had aches, colds and many trips to the doctors. She sounded really down a few weeks ago and I came up with the idea of visiting her during the half term holidays. She was overjoyed when I asked her if she was up to visitors.

It has been years since we visited her. The last time we did was when I was pregnant with Ellie and Becky was about four years old so Ellie has never been to her house so the prospect of visiting was very exciting.

We had planned on getting the Bus and Metro to her. We live up in Northumberland, don't drive and she lives in Hartlepool. It's only about 50 miles away but that is a long way when using public transport.

I looked at the prices of the train tickets and with the friends and family railcard we have they were just over £10 from Newcastle to Hartlepool and it took about an hour off our journey time. We went for them.

We got the bus to just outside of Newcastle, the Metro to Central Station and it had to be the slowest metro ever. I could have walked quicker. lol We arrived at the train station with 10 minutes to print out the tickets and get to the platform which obviously was one at the other side of the station. There was no time for a toilet break. We ran, got to the platform and typical the train was late. 15 minutes late. Ugh!

We journey was a nice one to Hartlepool. The views were lovely. As soon as we got past Sunderland we saw the sea all the way until we got off the train!

After we got off the train it was a 10 minute walk to the bus and then finally we arrived at my Aunty Jeans after over 3 hours of traveling.

We spent a good couple of hours chatting. She was so happy to see us and the kids loved seeing where she lived. We had lunch and then my brothers ex, Louise rang. It had been her birthday earlier on in the week and she had been to Whitby for the night and wanted to pop in to see Aunty Jean. She had no idea we were there so it was lovely to catch up with her too. It was such a strange coincidence that we'd all decided to visit on the same day and my Aunty Jean loved it. She is in her element when she is playing the host. 

When we arrived I was shocked at how she had looked. She looked old and frail but by the time we had left she had a bit of her spark back! We have already decided to go to visit her again over the Easter holidays. We arrived home just after 7pm and had been out of the house for over 11 hours. It was a long day but it was totally worth it just to see my Aunty Jean so happy.


Wednesday 27 February 2019

Building time is play time with Strictly Briks - Review!

My youngest loves to build things whether it be with Lego, Meccano, K'nex, or random things from around the house. She will build everything and anything. We keep joking with her saying she is going to be an engineer or an architect when she's older.

Recently we were sent a selection of building blocks and bases from a brand called Strictly Briks.

Strictly Briks encourage kids to create and build. The opportunities for creativity are endless as your child can combine sets together and build an infinite amount of creations.

Each baseplate can be stacked vertically by using the bonus Briks as spacers and there is plenty of use for them as long as you have an imagination! 

Strictly Briks are compatible with all leading brick brands and offer a range of brick packages to suit everyone. I looked on Amazon and they come in plenty of different sizes and colours. One of the sets we were sent has 6 baseplates which are 10” by 10” and includes 50 colourful stackers are just £29.99!

Strictly Briks are not affiliated with or endorsed by Lego or Duplo but to be honest I couldn't tell. There isn't much difference in quality. They are strong and will probably get years of use!

Since we received them on Saturday Ellie has been playing with them non-stop. She has build houses, beds for her dolls, schools, stages for her dolls to dance on and goodness knows what else, I am struggling to keep track.

Ellie thinks they are fantastic and has already said she wants some more so she can build higher and higher. I think they will be added to her birthday list as they are something which are going to get a lot of use and will last for years!

We were sent these Strictly Briks free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

February half term baking!

We always like to have an afternoon of baking during the school holidays. It makes an easy tea when you put the cakes we have baked along with a few sandwiches and a packet of crisps. 

Last week we also wanted to bake before we went to see my Great Aunt. She is a baker and whenever she comes to visit she always brings us a selection of cakes and the most amazing scones. Ellie said because we were going to visit her we should take her something. I thought it was such a lovely idea.

I bought a couple of packet mixes from Tesco which we haven't tried before and the girls got on with baking. Unicorn cupcakes for Ellie and chocolate brownies for Becky!

2 boxes of cake mixes. Unicorn fairy cakes and chocolate brownies.

I was only there to bring extra things from the kitchen that they needed. lol. The age my girls are now they are quite capable of following the instructions on a box. Well mostly they are. Ellie may have forgotten to add the butter to her cake mix. Oops.

Amazingly Ellie's cupcakes turned out really well and without the butter they rose so much, way more than they usually do.

Once the cakes had baked and had cooled the girls got on with decorating them. 

Ellie had butter icing and fondant icing for her unicorn cupcakes and had a fantastic time decorating them. She loved that the icing was pink and loved making the horns. She decided they needed more so she gave them eyes too and a couple even had smiles!

5 unicorn cupcakes

Becky's brownies were the easiest to decorate. It was already mixed for her and all she had to do was squeeze it out of the packet. It smelled amazing, just like mint Aero's.

We took my great Aunt a cake and some of the brownie to try and she was very impressed. Hooray!


Monday 25 February 2019

Our weekly meal plan. 25th Feb - 3rd March! #MealPlanningMonday

Last weeks meal plan went quite well considering the kids were off school and my fella was off work. 

We had the Waffle Pizza Fries twice. We had them on the Monday as planned and on Saturday too. They were a big hit! It was a filling meal and so quick to make! I can see us having them again & again.

The Fish and Chips ended up being a Chinese takeaway. When we got off the bus after visiting my great Aunt we could not be bothered to walk more than we had to, the Chinese was on our way home and the smell walking past was too much temptation.

I didn't bother cooking the roast chicken dinner yesterday, I wanted one last lazy day before the kids went back to school so that has been moved to today.

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Roast chicken dinner.
Wednesday - Vegetable Fingers, chips and baked beans.
Friday - Pizza.
Saturday - Burgers in buns.
Sunday - Sausage casserole, mash & veg.

Sunday 24 February 2019

A meal out at the Glass House in Cramlington! #MySundaySnapshot

On Friday after my fella and my youngest had been to the cinema and Becky and I had been shopping we met back up and had a meal at the Glass House in Cramlington. We took advantage of the lunchtime special. Potato Skins, Any Pasta or Pizza and Ice cream or Cona coffee for £6.95. 

Napoli pasta for Becky, Margherita pizza for Ellie and Potato skins with dip for starters and a Stagioni pizza each for Stu and I. We left stuffed! The girls even turned down Ice-Cream which was a first. They never refuse dessert!

I was not asked to write this. Everything was paid for ourselves. I just wanted to share how good the food was and what a great price it was.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Week 8 of #Project365 - A photo every day for a year!

What a wonderful half term we have had. We made bath bombs, baked, visited my great aunt, went to the cinema and had a meal out. It has been the best week and after the week we've had I will be very sad to wave the girls off to school on Monday.

Here's a photo for every day!

47/365 - 16th February
My fella made his stew/broth/soup thing. It's a recipe passed down from his mam and it takes a whole day to make because he has to soak the broth & soup mix. It's filled full of veg and gammon. He ate it for every meal for a couple of days, some went in the freezer and the kids even loved it too.

48/365 - 17th February
An empty house on a Sunday is a rare thing. Becky is usually stuck on the sofa but her and Ellie both went out to play and to the park!

49/365 - 18th February
Ellie made some bath bombs.

50/365 - 19th February
Both of the girls did some baking! Unicorn cupcakes and chocolate mint brownies!

51/365 - 20th February
We went on an adventure to visit my Great Aunt. We came so close to missing the train because of the slow Metro getting us to Central Station but we were lucky, it was running late. Phew!

52/365 - 21st February
We had a lazy day in the house with lots of playing, computers and a film. Ellie was playing schools with her dolls. 

53/365 - 22nd February
We had a fab day out yesterday. My fella and Ellie went to watch he new How to Train your Dragon film and Becky and I went a did a bit of shopping. It was lovely spending a few hours just me and her. 

Friday 22 February 2019

This week my Word of the Week is: Best! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

I can't remember the last time where we have had such a relaxed, fun week! I think Stu having a weeks holiday from work helped.

I don't actually recall what we did over the past weekend. I am sure it was just house work and relaxing. It was nice not having to fit everything in to two days and then have to get ready for school.

On Monday the fun started. Ellie made bath bombs. She loves anything which involves mixing and creating. She had the best time. One didn't quite work out but the other two did and despite protesting about having a bath on Sunday evening she's had 2 this past week just to use the bath bombs she made.

We also had a trip to the dentist, the girls always look forward to the appointments. We have the best dentist. He broke the news that he is leaving in June so we won't see him again which is such a shame. When he first started he was a brand new qualified dentist and pretty rubbish with kids. He used long words and had no rapport with them. Over the years he has learned so much and has a fantastic relationship with kids now. He is funny, puts them at ease and always remembers little things like Ellie's favourite soft toy is a lion but is called Monkey. I am gutted he is leaving, I don't think we'll ever have a dentist as good.

Tuesday was a baking day. Ellie made unicorn cakes and Becky made chocolate brownies with a mint icing. I think they were the best cakes they've ever made despite Ellie forgetting to put butter in her's. lol

We went to visit my great aunt in Hartlepool on Wednesday which is about 50 or so miles from us. It was a fun but long day out. We left just before 8am and didn't get home until just after 7pm. She was so pleased to see us and we had a lovely time. The kids were spoilt rotten and despite the journey being so long it was pretty straightforward. The train from Newcastle to Hartlepool was the best journey. We got to see all the sights.

Yesterday we had a rest day. We did nothing apart from watch films, YouTube, play on electronics and I stayed in my pj's all day. I think we needed a day of unorganised fun.

Today we are off to the cinema. Ellie and Stu are going to watch the new How to Train your Dragon film and Becky and I were going to watch a different film but we've had a last change of plan. We are going to have a couple of hours of looking around the shops. Eek! Becky is a bad influence on me, she encourages me to buy things that I don't really need. hehehe

We really have had the best week.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Watching CH4's Naked Attraction with my teen...

I wrote this post a few of months ago but never got around to posting it. Oops.

Have you ever seen the CH4 show Naked Attraction? It is a very risky "dating game show" in which a clothed person selects a contestants from six naked people, whose bodies and then faces are revealed in stages from the feet up. It is the type of TV show that I would have never dared watch with my parents.

A picture of a tv with the text watching CH4's Naked Attraction with my teen

Becky had been on about it for a while, had seen it advertised and she wanted to watch it too. Up until a while ago I said there was no way is she watching that. It shows willy's and boobs. I was being a prude! She is 16 years old. Is she old enough to see just naked bodies on TV? Like she said it was Blind Date but without clothes, well sort of.

After watching it, it left me thinking that it was a fantastic thing to watch with a teenager. I admit is it so strange to watch at TV show like that with a teenager. I cringed a lot but it is a great conversation starter. 

Becky knew that all bodies are not the same but this proved to me that she knew this. People come in all shapes, colours and sizes and that's OK. Sometimes people have big or small boobs, stretch marks, perfect skin, lots of pubic hair or none, bigger of flat stomachs, amazing tattoos hidden under clothes and it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

I was quite proud that Becky watched it without giggling and being childish. I really expected her to be. There is nothing wrong or to be ashamed about the naked body. It opened up the subject that someone of her age should not be seeing naked bodies in the wrong situations. Watching on TV with your mother on a "game show" like this is OK but someone flashing their bits in the street is not. Seeing a naked person in the swimming baths changing rooms is OK but someone sending naked photos to you is not! She gets what is right and what is wrong. 

The episode we watched was where a woman who must have been bisexual had 3 men and 3 women to choose from. That was different from what I had ever seen before on the show. I have only seen men choosing women and women choosing men. Becky did not even question it! I silently cheered! She gets that same sex relationships are normal.

From what I have read Naked Attraction has been slated in the press but it is showing normal bodies on TV as opposed to air brushed super models that you see online. It promotes body confidence and positivity.

A lot of the chat that Becky and I had was serious but some of the things she was coming out with was hilarious. A naked man and all she mentioned was his hairstyle, it was a man bun. She laughed at when one of the naked people were fully clothed, in her words "they looked better naked, they need Gok Wan to give them some style tips". How does he have more hair on his face than anywhere else. That piercing is so pretty, oh, that must have hurt!

A few weeks ago I would have never have watched something like this with girl but now I am glad I did. It gave us a lot to talk about and it showed me how mature Becky can be.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Making bath bombs with the So Bomb DIY, 3 Pack Bath Bomb Kit!

My girls and I are a big lover of bath bombs so when we were given the chance to review a kit from Canal Toys where we could make our own we jumped at the chance. We were sent the So Bomb DIY, 3 Pack Bath Bomb Kit to have a look at.

This fun kit comes with everything you need to create 3 bath bombs, each with a surprise figure to hide inside.

Inside the box there is 3 bags of baking soda, 3 bags of citric acid powder, 1 bag of decorative sprinkles, 3 surprise characters, 3 moulds, a mini pipette and instructions.

To make the bath bombs you pour the baking soda mix into a bowl, take a pipette of water and mix it in, then you add the packet of citric acid powder and add it to the bowl. When everything is mixed you can add sprinkles to the mould and then the powder you have just mixed and don't forget the surprise character. When the moulds are filled they slot together to make the bath bomb! 

Every ingredient is already coloured, fragranced and measured out so there is no messing about. You can even combine the coloured powders to create a marbled effect.

In theory it all sounds easy enough but between opening the box and getting started we lost the pipette so guessed with the amount of water. I don't remember seeing one but we made do. It was a learning process. It turns out if there is too much water the mixture fizzes. To be honest, Ellie loved it! She wasn't too fussed that it went wrong. 

We did better with the green one but the yellow one we got the amount of water just right and the bath bomb worked out perfectly.

When you add the right amount of water the bath bombs are easy to make and they look fantastic too with the sprinkles in

We did made these around lunchtime and Ellie went in the bath at about 7pm and the bath bombs were set. I wouldn't say they smelled of anything but they fizzed in the bath and everything dissolved which is what bath bombs are supposed to do.

When we started making these I wasn't too sure that I would buy Ellie them again but by the time we had finished I sure would. She had great fun, even when they didn't work out and it felt like we have got the hang of making them. Ellie has some pocket money and she is going to buy another set as she liked them so much.

The So Bomb DIY, 3 Pack has a RRP of £9.99 and is available from leading retailers nationwide. 

These would make great gifts or a pocket money toy.

We were sent the So Bomb DIY, 3 Pack Bath Bomb Kit free of charge in exchange for this blog post.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

She is being included. A birthday party!

When Ellie was at primary school she never had a best friend, she never went to birthday parties or sleepovers. She struggled to fit in. 

Up until about year 4 Ellie played with the boys, they accepted her and she had the best time at school. Then the boys got to an age where they decided girls were not cool and Ellie was left with no one. All the girls in the class had already formed their friendship groups and Ellie was the strange little girl who loved football, climbing and running about in the mud.

A couple of years ago Ellie was devastated that she wasn't invited to a party. All the girls in her class, about 13 of them were. It was implied that Ellie and another girl were left out because they were "different". Ellie was being assessed for Autism at the time and the other girl was already diagnosed. It broke her heart and mine too.

She struggled through the last years in primary school with the hope that when she started secondary school there would be new people and new friends to make. 

Thankfully we were right and there was lots of new friends to make. I won't name them. I will just use their initials. M, K, I, T, K & N! 

She had her first party invite a couple of weeks ago and it made her day, probably her year!! One of her closest friends invited her and a couple of other girls to go to one of the trampoline parks in Newcastle. She was so excited!!

I was a bit worried to start with as the girl asked if Ellie wanted to go and to ask me if she was allowed. Ellie said there was no official invite on paper and the girls mam would pick her up. I would have liked to have seen something in writing but I needn't have worried. Early last week the paper invite came and there was a phone number to text I's mam to let her know Ellie would be going. She sounded lovely. Phew!

We of course had to go shopping for a birthday present. I saw tons of things which tween girls would love but Ellie said no to everything. After looking around the shops for nearly two hours I had to say enough is enough, we either go back and buy something we have seen or find something in Wilko's. Thankfully they had some lovely stationery. Pretty but not too girly, not pink, it was practical and didn't break the bank. We also got her some sweets. Celebration's because there is bound to be something she likes in them and a little bath bomb set. It is so easy to buy for your own children but for other children which you don't know is a struggle.

Ellie got picked up last Saturday just before half past 2 and off she went. She came back just before 6pm and had the best time! She was taken out for tea and most importantly the girl loved her presents.

When she got home she was exhausted. All that bouncing really tired her out. She was in bed early and ached for a couple of days but she said it was worth it.

I love that Ellie has finally found a group of friends where she is included. She is such a happier child for having friends. This is all we have wanted for her for years.

Monday 18 February 2019

Our weekly meal plan. 18th - 24th Feb! #MealPlanningMonday

We swapped a couple of days around last week but we ate everything I had planned. Stu decided on Friday that he was going to make a big pan of soup/broth. It was packed full of veggies and gammon and smelled delicious. I am not a fan of it but the kids did love it. They had it for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. The leftovers have been bagged up and put into the freezer.

This week it's half term and we have a couple of days out planned. We are going to visit my great aunt and we're planning a trip to the cinema too. We are also hoping to have an afternoon of baking. Yum!

This week on the menu we have:

Monday - Waffle pizza fries.
Tuesday - Sandwiches, crisps and the cakes we've baked.
Wednesday - Fish and chips probably from the chip shop.
 Thursday - Sausages, mash and veg.
Friday - We'll be eating out after the cinema!
Saturday - Fish finger sandwiches.
Sunday - Roast chicken dinner.

Sunday 17 February 2019

Feeding time at the zoo! #MySundaySnapshot

On Wednesday Ellie had been poorly. She hadn't been sick but felt it and for most of the day she didn't eat anything. I worry when she doesn't eat as she is the one who usually has about 8 meals a day. lol 

To tempt her to eat I offered McDonalds for tea and it worked. She had a Happy meal and a McFlurry! Hooray! In fact a mid week treat was what we needed to cheer us all up!

Saturday 16 February 2019

Week 7 of #Project365 - A photo every day for a year!

This past week was a long week. The run up to half term always is but we're here now and the school holidays have started hooray! I seemed to have taken lots of photos this past week and actually had a choice of photos for most days.

Here's a photo for every day!

40/365 - 9th February
She was off to her friends birthday party. She had a fantastic time and ached for days from bouncing so much at the trampoline park.

41/365 - 10th February
The kids finally gave me some of their strawberry creams from their boxes of Quality Street.

42/365 - 11th February
On the laptop.

43/365 - 12th February
I am cheating with this as it's off the Timehop app. From 10 years ago a simple Facebook status which was the start of a rough year for us. The start of the trouble with my girls hearts!

44/365 - 13th February
Ellie had a day off school, on the sofa, under the duvet. She wasn't well but felt better the next day.

45/365 - 14th February
My youngest saved me some of her Love Heart sweets. She is such a sweetheart sometimes. hehehe

46/365 - 15th February
Duck face. lol She does like to play with her Pringles.

Friday 15 February 2019

This week my Word of the Week is: Positives! #WotW

This week my Word of the Week is:

What a week we have had. Everyday there has been something to stress me out and test me and I am quite glad this week is over. This post has been quite a hard one to write as there is a lot of our week which I am not going to share. I am going to stick with the positives from our week!

On Saturday Ellie went off to her friends birthday party and had a fab time at the trampoline park. She was worn out by the time she got home and ached for a couple of days but it was the best day ever. It seemed so strange with her not being here on a Saturday afternoon. It was very quiet.

Instead of just playing on the laptop Becky decided to do something productive with her Saturday and got a few t-shirts of hers which she loves but they were stained and faded and dye them. She went off and bought a fabric dye and dyed them all green. She was so pleased with herself. They turned out well and it's like she has a new set of t-shirts.

The Timehop app told me on Tuesday that it was 10 years since Ellie jammed her fingers in the door which led us to find out that she had a heart defect and in turn Becky had the same which ended with open heart surgery. Thinking about it, it is really good timing with it being slap bang in the middle of CHD Awareness Week.

It left me feeling pretty lucky that the accident happened but at the same time it was like a punch in the stomach, thinking about the what if's. I wrote a few posts this past week because I like to raise awareness since Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect.

I got to spend the day with Ellie when she had an unexpected day off school on Wednesday. She wasn't well. She felt achy, sick, worn out and had a bit of a temperature. She spent the day on the sofa under the duvet watching TV. She is so into the Harry Potter films at the moment and she has decided that The Goblet of Fire is her favourite so we watched that. It makes me so happy that she is a fan!

The kids break up from school for half term today and I am so glad. We are looking forward to a break from the routine and a couple of days out. All being well we're going to visit my great aunt and we're also going for a trip to the cinema. Ellie really wants to see the new How to Train Your Dragon film so Stu will watch that with her and I think Becky and I are going to see something else. I have no idea what yet. Stu has the week off work so it's going to be nice to spend some time together.