Wednesday, 26 November 2014

We're on the move!

I may have mentioned breifly in a few blog posts recently that we are on the move!

Our house was put on the market the week before we got married...yes really-thanks for that one James! Unfortunately the first estate agents were useless so we changed and then sold relatively quickly.

It was then a bit of a race to find somewhere we liked, somewhere we could afford and somewhere we could move into quickly (as our buyer-an investor-wants to be in my Christmas so he can so any work that needs doing before renting it out).

We looked at a handful of houses about, a couple we fell in love with on first visit, but I think we weren't thinking long term or looking beyond the nicely furnished and decorated rooms!

But with a stroke of luck a house just down the road from us was dropped by £20.000 because the owner needed it sold before Christmas as he has already moved up north.

With a little financial help from my parents we put in the offer and it is ours-well as good as as soon as all the searches etc are done.

Ideally we would have liked somewhere closer to Alex's school (we have a 25 min walk to it) but ultimately nothing comes up in that area, and if it does it's either out of budget or well, not worth buying if I am honest!

We are keeping everything crossed that it all goes through ok, and that with any luck will be in by Christmas!

I have packed up non essentials, sorted the contents of our loft (I may have reminisced over tiny baby clothes of yesteryear and marvelled at how tiny our boys once were), and now our hallway and bedroom are over run by boxes of piles of things to sell of give to charity!

We are so excited, we moved into our current house as an expectant, newly engaged couple, we put in an extra, small bedroom to make it a 2 bed just over 5 years ago, as family we have grown in numbers and items and have just simply outgrown the space.

I struggled this year more than ever without a garden to let the boys play in, in the summer, they are lively lads and there is only so many times you can go the park in the day! The boys sleeping in the same room just isn't practical as their bedtime antics keep the other awake and we have had many nights where Alex has slept in our bed until we move him when we go to bed. Also our kitchen has been driving me up the wall pretty much the whole time we have lived here, it is quite possibly one of the smallest kitchens I have ever been in!

Our new house is a 4 bed! It has an 'L' shaped garden for the boys to run about in, for us to have a BBQ in the summer, for us to be able to more easily entertain in! The kitchen we can all fit in, as well as our dining table-a vast difference to ours which barely fits 2 people at once! I might also be able to get a dishwasher which I think is one of the best reasons to move there ;) I can't stand washing up! The dining room we are planning to use as a bit of a playroom at first, I seems the most logical use as I can't see us using a dining room very much! The spare room may become a study craft room too-although many have said it will soon be another little ones room instead!!!!

Now I just want to be in there, it is literally 2 streets away, and we drive past so often, seeing it empty and longing to be in making it our own. It may not be closer to the school, but it should be a great change for our family, and will mean less living on top of each other which is how it feels here-I just need to up the pace on the cleaning front as our space in doubling!!

Exciting times, I can't wait to show you once we've moved in!
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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Alex turns 5!

Wow I am sure I say it every birthday, but 5 years!? Already!?

Well Alex you have turned from a Disney Cars loving boy to a Lego obsessed 5 year old, fuelled by the Lego City Undercover Wii game we got you for Christmas last year. Due to that your love of Police and 'arresting' people in role play have played a major part this year too!

You still love your cars, and can often be found making up all sorts of stories with them on the lounge floor (of course they lurk about the other areas of the house too)! This is made even sweeter when Sam copies you in your play.

At the start of the year you weren't too fussed with superheros but how that has changed! You love Marvels and know more of their names than I'm sure I ever will! In most of your play you love to make up scenarios which include your favourite characters. Of course this love of them has greatly increased as Lego have Marvels and superhero games and Lego sets which has given you more fuel to the fire!

Considering you have always had a dislike to dressing up I was really surprised to see you happy to wear your Spiderman outfit on your birthday yesterday-even if it was a bit of a challenge to get you to wear the mask just for a photo.

It's been a whirl-wind year. You enjoyed a fantastic holiday to Florida which you loved and still mention on and off now-your memory is still amazing with the small details you remember-you walked behind me at Mummy's and Daddy's wedding, and you started school without a problem at all (apart from that one day after half term...!).

There was no doubt that this year's birthday cake had to include Lego or Superheros, I chickened out of one idea and decided to keep it simple and stress free-thankfully you were very happy with the result. This smile made it worth it!

When you are lovely, you really are a joy to be around, we just need to work on that really short temper and attitude you are developing at the moment-I don't think that the apple falls too far from the tree there though-as for the whinging I really hope that comes to an end soon!

You have done really well in your first few months at school, and have made so many new friends, it seems like you are very liked there and I am so pleased you have settled in well. You are a kind and caring brother to Sam, he looks up to you much and wants to be just like you and be playing your games and toys whether you like it or not, Sam always has some of the best giggles just for you and I love it when you play your silly games with each other.

Happy 5th Birthday Alex! *

Now to make things for the Lego themed party next Sunday!

*behind on this post it was actually last Thurs!

Monday, 24 November 2014

12 days of Christmas with The Snowman and The Snowdog: Blog tour

I have always been very fond of The Snowman, in fact I think I remember having a 5th party roughly themed around it-I certainly remember watching it on a video my Mum had borrowed for the party at home!

Now years on (it was first shown on Channel 4 Christmas 1982), it has become a bit of a tradition to watch it every Christmas!

So when I was contacted to review a new The Snowman product I was delighted, of course in recent years The Snowman has a new companion in The Snowdog and he is featured in their new products too.

We received a lovely 'The Snowman and The Snowdog finger puppet book'. I wasn't surprised to find it really good quality, it has thick board pages perfect for young hands! It simply tells the story of The Snowman and The Snowdog, the finger puppet part makes it more interactive and fun for the little ones.

"A boy built a Snowdog, and the Snowdog came to life! Wiggle your finger to play with Billy and his friends in this adorable and playful finger-puppet book. Featuring beautiful artwork from the animation, The Snowman and The Snowdog, this is a brilliantly fun book children will treasure. For children aged 3 and over."

For the RRP of £7.99 from this would make a great addition to your Christmas goodies, perfect for a stocking filler, or as part of a book Advent calendar. I know ours will join our Christmas box of stories that I put out in December.

To follow along the blog tour tomorrow and see some other wonderful new Snowman and the Snowdog products do visit the lovely blog The gingerbread house and follow on twitter using #SnowmanSnowdog over the next 12 days!

*We received one finger puppet book to review but all views and opinions are our own as always.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Superphoto photobook review

It's so great being a blogger when you get to review something you really, really love.

I am a massive hoarder of momentos, I love to look back at photos and could happily sit for hours doing so. I love how a photo can kick start a memory in your brain and you start to remember all the other stuff from that day, outing, or era!

In this day in age I think it's fair to say a LOT of photos get kept in the digital format, I know I for one have over 2 years of photos still to be printed...which is why I think it is important to try and print the photos as soon as possible and photobooks are a great way of doing so, especially as they really take up little space but can hold so many photos inside. 

Luckily this photobook review from a new company Superphoto came just at the right time for us, I knew it would be the perfect size for our mini-moon photos.

We only went away for 2 nights, so we didn't have too many photos, but it is so lovely to look back on those few special days we had after the wedding, child free, stress free and still in our own little bubble of happiness!

I couldn't have been happier receiving this product through the door, the quality is really great, the photos have come out sharp and the colour doesn't appear to be affected unlike one other company I have used before. 

There are many sizes you can choose from, as well as the outer material. Once you decide you find your way to the design part of your account. It is very similar to other photobook sites I have used in the passed, in that you can easily add pages, there are layouts and backgrounds to choose from, or if you prefer you can choose you own layouts to suit your wants.

Once you find your way around after playing about a bit, you can work out what the other features and buttons too. Like with all these sort of projects I suggest saving after every page as photobooks can be very timely to make. I always find it takes me a couple of pages to really get into how everything works!

I am so pleased with the product that I am already in the process of making our parent's photobooks for their Christmas presents this including our wedding photos. At some point I will get around to doing our own too!

We received one photobook for the purpose of this review but all views are my own and 100% honest.

Our mini moon!

After our, let's say interesting wedding night we set off to both our parent's houses to collect items (very importantly my glasses that were in James' Uncle's car) and say goodbye to family before they headed back home.

We lazily packed-we wanted to head off but we were both exhausted! After dropping the boys to my parent's we were eventually on the road to Cornwall.

Now those who are followers of this blog have probably seen some Cornish posts in the past-we try to go most years as we love it there. Padstow is also where we got engaged, it was meant to at our special place in Tintagel but James forgot the ring ;)

Now with it being August and booking late due to lack of funds there wasn't much accommodation to choose from. We ended up booking a hotel, but in some ways I wish we had booked a quaint B&B or something instead so that we could really stay in our own bubble for a bit longer.

We arrived at our hotel in the early evening, and literally dived straight into the huge bed, the exhaustion had really hit us, the adrenaline from the past couple of days had passed and our bodies were flagging!

I will admit to going on facebook, but only to change my details to 'married' and 'Spencer' and mooch at some of the wedding photos people had posted-there was still the wedding buzz in the air, I just couldn't help myself!

The relaxing bubble burst a little when we heard crying children running about in the room above-it appears we don't do time away from kids very well!

Nevertheless the time away from everyone was perfect, even if we didn't even get so much as a congratulations at the check in desk!

The next morning we enjoyed a lie in-the first in a while! Had breakfast outside and headed out for the day, pushchair and changing bag free!!! I forgot how easy it is to leave to go out when you only have yourselves to get ready! It was bliss just getting in the car without car seats to wrestle with, and getting somewhere and not have to worry about little people problems!

It was lovely to be away without the kids, I would say I missed them, but to be honest it was much needed and I knew they were being well looked after by my parent's-I think James missed them more than me!

We had a perfect couple of days, dodging the British summertime showers and visiting quaint, touristy, and beautiful spots in Cornwall.

I even managed two meals out (yes me who does not eat out!) even if I did make James freeze in the wind outside one night just so I would eat out! We had two delicious meals, I had fish both nights-something I don't do enough of at home- one of the meals was perfect as it didn't look like it was a place where it was going to be anything special but we each were pleasantly surprised and will definitely eat there again.

After a couple of days of Cornish pasties and fudge we finished off by staying on at Trevone Bay, somewhere we had visited on a whim when Sam was only 3 months old. The sun was shining (if if it was super windy and chilly), we enjoyed the meal watching the sun starting to set whilst the surfers waited for the waves where children played just hours before. There is something so relaxing about the sounds of waves crashing in isn't there, we just sat and cuddled of the cliff edge and watched the world go by until we needed to get a bit warmer so went for a short walk. I am so glad we did, we got some beautiful photos and managed to dodge the huge waves which were crashing over the top of the land's edge.

And that was it, we had to drag ourselves from Cornwall and head back home, back to reality and back to our boys (although Mum had them an extra night for us which was great)!

We hope to maybe do something a little longer and abroad next year, but with moving now, I don't really see it happening! It would have been nicer to have a week away really but James couldn't have the time off work unfortunately!

And just for comedy value, here is this embarrassing photo of me!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wooden Kitchen and Food Review

Now it is no secret that I love wooden toys-I always think they look a lot better than their plastic equivalents!

So when I was contacted to review some toys from the new Wooden Toy Range at ASDA Direct I jumped at the chance. 

I have wanted to get the boys a play kitchen for years now, but never had the space, seeing as we are moving soon I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the Deluxe Kitchen. 

For £40 I think it is a fantastic buy, it is a product that has so many play opportunities and would make a really lovely present or addition to your children's toys.  

The ups 
-Cost: It is a great product for £40
-Easy to follow instructions (I managed to make it all by myself with a pen knife as couldn't find a screwdriver in the house! So if I can make it anyone can)!
-Cute unisex design (It can be relatively difficult to find a kitchen that isn't girly for a similar price)
-Great for role play
-Not too large, but large enough (it measures approx 89x30x60cm)

The downs
-I think it would be better if the hob rings and washing bowl were secured too (I may just get the hot glue gun on my pieces to stick them down)
-The clear sections on the oven and microwave were a little marked and I think they will mark quite easily after a bit of use. 
-There were a few places around the edges where the paint had slightly chipped (not enough to notice once it's all made though)

We also received the wooden food crates to review which are very sweet and a great addition to the kitchen. I think they would also be brilliant with the wooden play shop & cafe

The food is really well made and painted brilliantly, for £10 you get 11 groceries and 2 wooden crates to keep them in (which are also brilliantly made). 

So why not treat your little ones to something wooden this year?

We received these products to review but all opinions are 100% and our own.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Our wedding: The hotel night, and the future funny story to look back on!

We had nearly fully booked the hotel out with just our guests and had done so many months before the wedding. There were only a handful of rooms that weren't our friends and family.

Unfortunately the management had changed from when we had booked it all-it seemed that some things hadn't been passed on to the new management!

We had a fair few of us that were late check-ins (for obvious reasons) yet when we arrived shortly after midnight the doors were shut and there was no one there to help us-until the night porter made an appearance-he seemed very unaware of any late check-ins. Great.

There was no bar open until 1am like we were promised-cue a bit of a flat moment. But that was just the start...

Now there were about 5 rooms that we needed keys for, he found ours-hurrah and we were told to go straight up to our lovely room by my Uncle and told us not to worry about it with it being our wedding night! We stayed for 10mins though as felt really awkward.

It was my parents, James' parents, James brother and fiancée (who had only flown over from America the day before and were flying back the next day), and my brother's waiting for rooms. For some reason the night porter couldn't work out which rooms were free and which keys corresponded with the rooms needed. It was horrible, it made the day end on a flat note, everyone was tired after after 15minutes of nothing seemingly happening or getting sorted!

We were made to go to our room, but we couldnt truly relax like we wanted too.

Eventually the right keys were found, everyone got sent to the right places...well that was until my brother's used the key to their room, only to find my Grandad in his undies getting into bed!!

My brother's waited until the manager was called in (I think) and by this time it was nearer to 2am. They still couldn't work out which room was empty! My brother's then each ended up with attic staff quarters, with no toilets, one of them had a filthy space with rubbish and dirty clothes strewn all over the floor!

My parent's didn't get the lie in they deserved as had an early toilet call from the boys!

Now we were completely unaware of all of this, we assumed it would have all been sorted out. We sat in our HUGE, comfy bed and opened all of our cards and presents like kids on Christmas day. The excitement not yet dulling from the wonderful day. I ate for the first time in over 24 hours, probably the wrong thing to do though-rich wedding fruit cake and crisps past midnight=bad stomach ache throughout the night!

We've only ever had one night away from the children, in fact it was when I was pregnant with Sam and we were at our house, so not sure that even counts. So we enjoyed the peace and quite and alone time, but forced ourselves up for breakfast at 9.30 like we had said we would.

There were a couple of sore heads, and many messy hairdo's that had been immaculate the day before! And all seemed well-until it got busy. We already knew they were short staffed as James' Dad in his 'jolly' state the night before had read on the staff clipboard and had mentioned quite a few times in the chaos of sorting out the rooms!

The service was unbelievably slow, we had to ask for everything. The help yourself fruit juices, cereals, and croissants weren't replaced, which left all the guests at the hotel wondering what on earth was going on. At one point James' best man had to ask for a wine glass so he could have an orange juice as none of the glasses had been replenished!

What was supposed to be a nice relaxing morning, catching up with family and friends before we all started heading off, turned into me and James being really embarrassed for organising this hotel (which was recommended by our reception venue).

But hey silver lining, we now have 4 rooms, meals paid for for another night in the hotel for their mix up. Doesn't make things right and I am absolutely gutted that this happened the night of our wedding, as it did promise so much and looks so quirky and beautiful. I guess in years to come it will be a funny story though!

I just hope we can blag our feature room back again it really was beautiful! (just excuse our wedding mess-it looked a lot nicer made up and without all of our belongings)!