Thursday, 31 May 2012

Do you know what it is yet?

We had promised our 3 year old a climbing frame for the garden.  Last week, once our holiday/car repair/motorcycle repair was out of the way (too much month at the end of the money - you know the feeling right?!), we finally ordered it.

Having done a little research first, we found the best deals were with  Selwood Climbing Frames. I have to say we were very surprised by the look of the frames quality wise compared to the ones we had found in Argos and a local garden centre. Far superior so our order was placed for the Andorra on Thursday of last week.  Delivery was 5-10 days which we thought was just fine.

I was surprised when later that day, I received a text asking me to call about my climbing frame delivery.  Speaking to the lady from the courier company, they could deliver on Tuesday this week.  Wow, that was impressive.  They would give me a time on the day.  Brilliant.

Tuesday arrived and we were called at 8am by the delivery driver to say he'd be with us between 2.30-4pm.  Super, that would give us time to build it....wouldn't it?  The delivery arrived just after 5pm.  Still, not bad even if it was a bit late.  One slide out of the van and then one very big box.  Yep, that was the frame for us to build (you'll see all the wood in the picture).  Off we went.

The instructions were good (yes, that is hubby actually reading instructions in the photo), although a few times it was a bit unclear whether the bolt went from front to back or vice versa but looking a few pages on or at the picture of the completed frame usually told us which.  Four hours later, we had to stop as light was fading and a few spots of rain were coming down.  We had got as far as part of the structure of the deck and all of the swing frame done.  Not bad we thought but it was clear that there was a lot more to do, despite the box of wood having gone down a long way :)

The following day, despite my cold and cough, we started again at 10am.  Yes, we had manged to put the bolts at the top where the covering tarp goes the wrong way around (easily remedied) and hubby did split a piece of wood on the decking trying to 'ease' it into place with a hammer!  That aside, by 2pm it was finished!  The completed frame is lovely, I'm sure you will agree :)  We had been given a baby seat swing by a friend so attached that with some ropes and the girls were straight on to play.  They loved it.

The slide took a little getting used to as it's much faster than our little free-standing slide and the idea is you end up in a standing position.  However, the first few times we had to put some cushions on the floor for S as she went flying off, landing with a bump on her bum!  No harm done but within another few goes, she had the hang of it and was landing on her feet and straight back up to do it again.

N had a go too. She managed to climb up to the deck no problem but couldn't quite get her foot around at the top of the slide so came down with one leg behind her.  I think it was a bit too fast for her as she got off and went back to her little slide :)  It was nice to watch the two of them using the slides together.

I think they stayed in the swings after that for a good 30 minutes, neither wanting to come out.  S particularly pleased as she was now using a 'big girl swing' :)

The chalk wall was also put to the test and worked just fine.  Afterwards they both went for a lay down under the deck in their 'camp'.

The Andorra is already proving ideal for us as our garden isn't huge (trampoline the other end!) and we still want some space to sit at a table outside.  It's a fantastic frame, solid and well made and I would recommend it to anyone.

Do you know what?  Hubby has had a go on the swing and slide and so have I.  Well, it's got to be done hasn't it ;-)

Oooo...did you know S featured in the Jubilee Special feature on their website?  She's the top photo in blue top and brown shorts (unfortunately school uniform colours!).  Here she is on the left - grown up a lot more!  Just thought, as I'd updated this page's links, that I'd put a picture up of the climbing frame now.  It's a little more tired looking but it's due it's wood treatment this summer to spruce it up a bit (along with the garden table and chairs - another project for hubby).


Five years later, it's still going strong (glider still around and fully working but now replaced by another swing as the girls get older), although been coloured in with chalks many times over.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Game of Thrones

I am an avid Game of Thrones fan.

OK, admittedly, when I first saw it advertised on Sky, I did kind of wonder if it would be for me.  I set up a series link and after a couple of weeks, hubby and I decided one night that we thought we'd give it a go.  We were hooked!  We had 3 episodes recorded so watched them back to back and couldn't wait for the next one.

If you're not familiar with GOT, then check out the official website to see what it's all about.

In brief, the Iron Throne resides in Kings Landing, Westeros and many claim a right to sit upon it.  When Ned Stark is summonded from Winterfell to serve as Hand to his friend and King, Robert Baratheon, he discovers things are not as they seem.  Robert's children have a remarkedly different look than the King himself and resemble Jamie Lanister far more closely - Queen Cercei's brother.  But digging too deep can bring many dangers. How Robert got to be King is not without it's own plots and deceit.  He also intends to try and kill Danaerys Targaryen who has a far more substantial claim to the throne, but she is in exile in the Eastern lands, forced by her brother, Viserys, to marry a Dothraki Horse Lord in order to gain an army.  When Robert is killed in a hunting accident, his son, Joffrey, ascends the throne but he is not well liked and whispers start.  Meanwhile, up at the wall, a huge structure of ice keeping the creatures beyond at bay, the Nights Watch, begin to see strange things happening as rangers disappear.  The plot twists and turns and everyone, it seems, is potentially expendable.

This is just a snippet of Season 1.  Season 2 is roaring along now with just two episodes left.  Season 3 is in the making.

The series is based upon the books by George R.R. Martin.  Having watched the first series I honestly couldn't wait until the next instalments came to our TV screens so went out and bought the second book to begin reading.  I couldn't put it down!  The same with the third, forth and fifth and now I am anxiously waiting for the next book.  Apparently there are 7 in total so I'm wondering, at this point, how on earth Martin will wrap up the miriad of plots that are going on.

Having watched the first series, I told a few friends about it and they are also now hooked.  The first box set is sitting on my DVD shelf :)

If you have not seen it, and you enjoy a great fantasy story with knights, dragons, demons, tribes, plots, twists and intrigue - this is the series for you.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Do 2nd/subsequent children miss out? No way!

I saw this smashing blog article today about whether a 2nd child misses out (article).  It made me start to think about my girls.

I have 3 girls J(13), S(3 1/2) and N(17 mths).  Clearly, having S so long after J, was like having a first baby all over again so yes, I read every book, checked every developmental stage of both the pregnancy and when she was beginning to grow up. She was weighed every week because the HV was worried that she wasn't putting on enough weight as she had terrible reflux (I was breastfeeding) and was suggesting I may *have* to give her formula to help her along.  She finally 'caught up' and then, low and behold, once I started weaning her, I was told she was putting on TOO MUCH weight.  I stopped getting her weighed and only went again when she was 2 to put it into her little red book.

I watched over S like a hawk and spent hours playing with her and, would you believe, watching her sleep!

When N was born, we had her weighed twice at the clinic. The HV said she was putting on too much weight and I should watch what I was feeding her. I was exclusively breastfeeding.  I never went back. I weigh her at home every now and then. She's fine.  Yes, we still watched her sleep, on occasion, as we were busy with S who was 2 then as well.  No, we don't check developmental milestones as I have come to the conclusion that children all learn in their own time.  They all get there in the end but some do it a different way.  For example, S loved fine motor skill activities even from a very small baby (building blocks, picking up tiny objects and studying them) whereas N just bashes and smashes everything in sight. She's only just learning to build a tower.  Does it bother me? Not a jot!

N is a full 'hand-me-down' baby.  She has a wardrobe of clothes, cot, bedding and some toys from S.  Don't get me wrong, we have bought her plenty of things but we kept so much from S that was in such good condition, it was pointless buying more.  She had all of the activity toys too - Jumparoo, swing seat, bouncing chair.  It was very sad when we finally sold those things.

No, we don't spend every minute of the day playing with N (as you can see by the fact I'm on here) but we do have time alone with her when S is at nursery.  Occasionally we get to do a few other things with N too like swimming.  Most of the time the activites are for S as she's older and they both swim with us but every now and then, N gets some pure 'me' time with us :)

She is a happy girl. She seems to be picking up language skills at a fast rate now, she adores her big sisters and S is her role model. She loves to play with S more than anything else and often cries when S goes into nursery.  S adores her too. They are best friends.

So, do 2nd or subsequent children miss out?  I don't think so for a second!

Monday, 21 May 2012

How small is that portion?

On Friday, I downloaded a points App for my Android Phone.  It seems WeightWatchers do not offer an Android App which appears to be an epic fail in their part as I won't sign up unless they have one.

I started to enter in items I was eating.  I was over by about 10 points at the end of the day but fortunately had done some good exercise so didn't have to eat into too many of my weekly allowance (yes, you get some extra points for treats and a bit of a blow out).

The main thing is how shocked I have been by what I considered to be healthy foods or ones I have used to snack on thinking they were 'nothing' really in the scheme of things.  For example, a slice of Hovis White Medium bread is 3 points!  Now, that makes a sandwich with ham lunchtime about 8 points.  When you think I am only allowed 26 points in a day, that's a big chunk!  Even wholemeal bread isn't much better.   I ended up eating a banana yesterday for dessert as I was going to be over by the evening if I didn't so so. Why?  All because I had beans on toast for lunch - definitely not a healthy option for losing weight!  I have added a scan option so I can just scan the barcode of an item and find out how many points it is worth per item/half/gram, etc.  Very, very useful. As you imagine, I've scanned just about the whole kitchen :)  I do love technology so this great for me.

The other thing that it has shown me is just how big the portion sizes I am used to really are.  For example, a standard portion of mashed potato is 30g.  I think I eat about 10x that in one sitting.  What a shocker.

I've ordered some Salter 'dieters scales' from Amazon and they are now on their way.  It will be interesting to see just how big a portion of things I really can have.  

I was absolutely starving last night after dinner. That would be the point I would grab a bag of crips about 9pm or even have a bowl of cereaI. I am pleased to say I had nothing:)  I am sure I'm thinner today :)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Points, Calories or just stop eating so much!

I have decided I need to lose weight.  Being a mummy twice in my mid-forties has taken its toll on my tummy and I now have an almost permanent bulge.  Not what I want.

So, I decided first of all to start a bit more exercise.  As 1 year old is toddling I'm not really walking 'fast' anymore so my normal walking about isn't happening. To be honest, it's not happened in a very long time.

I dug the WII Fit out again and the board said "I've not seen you in 847 days" - oops....  Anyway, it seems in that time I've put on 2lb so not bad really.  I am bored of WII Fit so am re-starting Zumba and Just Dance. Well, a girl needs variety :)  I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I do have to do some kind of diet though. Not a word I like to use as I instantly feel hungry.  However, I want to lose 1-2 stone.  That's a big weight loss and needs some serious input for me to achieve it, albeit not in a mad hurry.  I'm not interested in instant weight loss, more getting to and sustaining a good weight.

I was inspired by a friend who had cut out carbs and lost nearly 7lbs in a week. However, carbs are a major part of my diet and our household food intake so although I tried (for a day!), I decided it was going to be too difficult for me.  I had also done some research on cutting out carbs and found it wasn't a very good option.  So, back to the drawing board...

I had a look at some calorie counters online but I recall something that not all calories/fats/sugars are bad and therefore just counting calories isn't a good thing either.

Talking to a friend yesterday, she is doing WeightWatchers. Not something I have ever been interested in as I don't give a fig what other people think about my weight so a 'weigh in' wouldn't mean anything to me. However, they do an online version which I'm going to sign up to so I can monitor my food intake. I also like the 'points' idea that I can eat normal meals with my family but cut down on portion sizes or change part of the meal so it is healthy but not having to cut anything out of my diet completely.  I think if anything is going to work, that might.

I know it's not going to be easy as I tend to snack when the girls have gone to bed and sometimes eat too late in the evening when hubby is home and then sleep on a full tummy. All bad things.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted with how I'm getting along.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Flying with small children

Yes, I can feel the panic rising. You have booked the holiday, you are excited about a week or two of sunshine and then you remember - you have to take two young children on the aircraft and get off safely the other end without the rest of the passengers having mutinied.

Our first venture onto a plane was when our 3 1/2 year old was just 8 months old. She was brilliant.  She sat in my lap, had her milk on take-off, fell asleep for the entire 2 hour flight and woke for her milk on landing.  A breeze.

The second trip was when she was almost 2.  She was still at the stage of sitting on my lap but a bit more fidgety.  She had a little cry when we got onto the plane and decided she wanted to sit on daddy's lap.  Unfortunately we hadn't booked extra legroom seats so it was very cramped and he couldn't even contemplate putting the tray table down!  I did and set up the portable DVD player we had purchased from Tesco for under £50 (bargain) and put on the first of her well loved films.  Headphones on her head and she settled down straight after take-off to watch her films for almost the entire 2 hour flight.  A good sticker book and some crayons sorted out the bit when she had had enough of watching the DVDs.  Another flight sorted.  On the return journey we had been given extra legroom seats and it made all the difference.  For starters, hubby could eat the meal that was provided as on the way out he simply laughed when the flight attendant offered it to him as there was nowhere to put it!

The latest trip was with her being 3 1/2 and the youngest at 16 months.  Now, the youngest is hard work at the best of times. Don't get me wrong, she is very cute but she has a raging temper and is in the terrible 2's already (someone forgot to tell her she has another 8 months to wait until she is 2!!).  We knew this would be a tough 2 hour flight (do you see a pattern in the flight times for this age group?).  We had decided to pre-book extra legroom seats for us all so she had some kicking space should she have one of her moments.  Anyway, we had bought her some headphones and got her used to using them with her sister by putting the DVD player on at the table for them a few times when they had lunch.  Yeah, I know, rubbish parenting but trust me, needs must!

She settled to watch Tangled which lasted about 20 minutes before she got bored.  A quick swap of DVD to Gnomeo & Juliet and she was hooked for another 20-30 mins.  I was counting the time down.  A further swap and another 20 minutes went by then a quick look at the inflight magazines, a few torn pages, pointing and naming everything and another 10 minutes of DVD and we were landing. I should mention that all of this was interspersed with bribary food - Organics puffs, KitKat, orange juice, more puffs, more KitKat, some Pringles and some more KitKat.  Yes, yes, a terrible diet but hey, it was for 2 hours out of her life and the rest of the flight never knew she was on there!

The flight back was about the same.  Many puffs and KitKat pieces were consumed by her, along with another set of Pringles and some Maltesers, whilst her big sister was happy to just colour and watch the DVD occasionally.  She didn't need the bribary.  However, up until the last 10 minutes of the flight little one was fine. We descended quite quickly so her ears clearly started to hurt and she had a good cry and bit of a scream about it but I decided not to worry about that as I considered the rest of the passengers had got away lightly!

So, my advice if you're flying with children - forget the normal household rules.  Take bribary foods and items, invest in a portable DVD player for younger children and get some fun DVDs that they love, buy a few sticker books and some colouring pencils you won't mind losing when they fall down and roll under the seats.  Most of all, have fun.  Even if they play up, you are doing you best and people will just have to put up with it I'm afraid.  Let's face it, how many of us have had the kiddie kicking the back of the chair or putting the tray up and down for most of a flight when we were childless, young and free - yep, my hand is up!

Monday, 14 May 2012

You don't have to put up with gastric bugs in Spain

You may recall that just before we were due to go on our holiday, the 1 year old came down with a nasty gastric bug which caused sickness and diarrhoea.  Well, hers was beginning to clear up then the day before we were due to fly, the 3 year old also came down with it.  As you can imagine, we thought our holiday was well and truly scuppered :(

I took the 3 year old to the docs on the Friday and doc said that she really shouldn't fly due to the diarrhoea, even though the bug itself was past the 'catching' stage.  It was more a case of it could get very messy - literally - on the flight. Doc said she would be happy to sign any insurance documents to say she advised us not to travel.  I didn't expect that I have to say.

I came home feeling quite concerned and low. What should we do?  Everyone, including the girls, had been really looking forward to the holiday but it seemed it was now going to be cancelled.  That in mind, hubby and I also considered that given a couple of days, the 3 year old would be well over it and back to her normal, bouncy self and we'd be stuck in this country in the rain.  What a dilema.

I headed off to pick up the teen and break the news to her that we may not be going on holiday after all. She was very upset.  I was feeling it too watching her when she came to the car with her suitcase and big smile, to have that shattered by the fact that we possibly weren't going.

Hubby and I had a good deal of thinking to do...

Early on the Saturday morning (the day of departure) we made the decision to head off for the holiday, and play it by ear as to how the 3 year old was at the airport.  If she was poorly or had a bad run of it (pardon the pun there), we would simply turn around and head home.

The household became very excited.  Cases had been packed 'just in case' the night before (basically because we had laid everything out on our bed and had no room to sleep otherwise!) so we were ready to go.

The taxi arrived and off we went to the airport.  Things went fine there so we boarded the plane.  Two hours later, we'd arrived in Spain with the 3 year old having slept the entire flight.  She was a little groggy still and we had an early night having arrived at our villa (at least we weren't stuck in a hotel or apartment complex).

The following day she had some niggly tummy ache and as we sat down in a restaurant for lunch, there was a cry from her and a mad dash for the toilet.  Her diarrhoea was still pretty bad.  I sat her back down and left hubby with all of the girls and headed to the pharmacy to see if they had something to help.  You may well know that in good old Blighty, kids are given Dioralyte and nought else for stomach upsets so despite having that, it wasn't plugging up the other end so not much use getting the salts in if they all came straight back out again!

Knowing how good Spain is for its hospitals and medicines, I was quietly confident. I was right to be. The pharmacist immediately gave me some powder suitable for babies and children for this very problem.  It wasn't nice and had to be mixed with water and taken 4-6 times a day.  The 3 year old was a star taking it and within 24 hours, was well on the mend and her stomach and runs had settled down.  At the end of the 2nd day, her body was back to normal. 

We had a fantastic holiday.  You can see how happy she is in the photo - cool shades huh?

My question here is, why couldn't we get something like this in the UK?  It was freely available over the counter in Spain and is pretty much ok from birth.  In the UK we are stuck with children 'riding it out' and being unwell for up to a week (as the 1 year old was).  It seems crazy to me that we could have made the decision to cancel a much longed for holiday when something so simple and easy to take could have been given to our children.  I have brought some of this magic powder back with me!

Food for thought about the drugs available to us in the UK isn't it.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

German geocache in Spain

We have just arrived back from a lovely holiday in Mallorca where we did our first ever non-UK geocache!

The view from the cache was stunning, as you can see, and my 13 year old daughter and I climbed around the rocks to retrieve it.  A nice easy find but we had to wait for a few muggles to wander past as it seems it is a good photographic spot if you're a bit of a mountain goat!

We were surprised to see that most of the geocaches around the coast of Cala d'Or, where we were staying, are set by Germans.  Oddly enough I thought that perhaps the Spanish themselves would set some caches but not in this location.

It was a nice little cache to find with room for swaps (although my daughter had forgotten to bring her travel bug with her to leave there) and we are very appreciative of the fact that the cache owners did a little English translation for the description and hint :)

We would have liked to have picked up a few more caches whilst there but unfortunately the two youngest girls were poorly and not up to walking too far and we didn't bother to hire a car.  Never mind, one is better than none and we may well go back next year and collect a few more.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The bugs are back so the bucket is out again

Unfortunately for us, our 1 year old has picked up a 'virus'.

I tend to think that doctors say 'virus' when they really don't know what it is or can't give you anything for it.  After all, when we hear the word 'virus' we immediately know we're not heading to the chemist for a prescription don't we.

It stared on Sunday overnight when she was violently sick twice. Poor little soul.  The diarrhoea started the next day and has kind of been there since.  On the Monday, I took her to the doc who said, as you can gather, that it is a virus and to just make sure she drinks plenty.  That's about all she has wanted to do if I'm honest - that and sleep.

She seemed to be perking up as the week went on but still not eating much.  Not a problem as she was drinking plenty.

Today, however, she had a few spoonfuls of breakfast and a bit of her bigger sister's banana and within minutes did a wonderful projectile sick all over herself, the armchair (thank heaven it's leather!) and the floor (damn you carpet!).  I rapidly got her changed and tidied up around her.  She was laying on the floor watching CBeebies and then just rolled over to her front, bum in the air and wailed.  What a horrible, sad sound.  I realised immediately that she'd had a poo.  Odour was pretty foul.  Stop reading now if you're eating...

I put her on the changing mat and was met with the kind of upset tummy I've never seen before.  As I opened her nappy, the yellow, smelly water just flowed out - all over her, the changing mat and onto the carpet (again). It was like someone had poured the contents of her beaker into her nappy, it was just fluid.  I couldn't even fold her nappy up as it was holding so much of liquid I had to just shove it into a nappy bag (we normally just use our nappy disposal system) and straight into the bin outside.

I sorted her out again and got on with cleaning up the mess. She rolled over and...well you can guess the rest.  I've now put her in a skirt (easier for changing), sat her on a folded up old towel and got a very smelly wash to do :(

I feel so sorry for her.  She's clearly got a really nasty bug but, so far, touch wood (well, it's MDF I'm really tapping on the desk) none of the rest of us have.  Mind you the cries of "now wash your hands" around this house have probably scared the bugs away.

I've phoned the doctor but 3 hours later, I'm still waiting for the triage call back. In the meantime, I've got some of the Dioralite into her, she's eaten a bag of puffs and a digestive biscuit and gone to bed.  I wondered about letting her eat but she stood at the kitchen door and cried for food so I guess her body knows best.

I'll let you know if I'm washing cot sheets too and steralising parts of the girls bedroom this afternoon.