Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday fun at Snetterton Park!

My Easter weekend started off in a somewhat traditional fashion of being stuck in traffic on the way to Norfolk. We were not as some of you might assume on our way for a romantic weekend or a camping holiday though, we were on our way to a....model shop!

If you know me, you know that this is probably one of the last places I would have wished to be spending my Good Friday, but I was playing the part of dutiful wife and mummy.

Two and a half hours after setting off on what I was told would be a forty-five minute journey (I had only been told that we were going to 'a model shop'), we arrived at the slightly underwhelming Snetterton Park. The reason we were there was because my husband had been given a glowing review of the place by a colleague and thought it would be a nice day out.  I am so glad that H likes to sleep in the car and slept most of the journey.

We walked through the almost empty car park to the warehouse-looking building, which from the outside looked tiny compared to what we had been told, and went straight to the Coffee Shop/Restaurant because H needed to be changed and fed before we ventured any further.  The changing facilities are extremely basic and could definitely do with updating and I had to 'go' with the cubicle door open because there was no designated cubicle for mum and baby, which is a huge bugbear of mine.  I feel that a lot of changing facilities are an afterthought and this abundantly clear with the little effort that is made with them.

Having changed H, he needed to be fed, so we made our way to the Restaurant and ordered a coffee each which was extremely strong and bitter but was pretty cheap at least and proceeded to feed H in his buggy because the one highchair they have was in use.

With H fed and changed, we set off into the chilly shop and were met with a huge array of toys and models.  I have to say that I was very impressed with the variety of children's toys because I had assumed it would be stocked with more adult 'toys'.  We were greeted by a large Thomas the Tank and huge pair of dinosaurs made entirely of Lego which H gazed at in awe and provided a good photo op, and the further we strolled, the more we realised that this place is a LOT bigger than it first seems.  They have an overhead railway with a working train and lots of different models put up to display what their goods are capable of, however a lot of them have broken or missing parts and are quite dusty on closer inspection.  This is not something that children will notice though and I witnessed many of them staring at awe at said displays.

As we wandered through, I did notice that there were very few members of staff around, and did consider that this was because it was a Bank Holiday.  Hubby then pointed out that this should have been one of their busiest times-especially considering the traffic jam on the way there!  On the subject of staff though, the ones we met were extremely sweet and helpful and seemed knowledgeable about the products they were selling, and the restaurant staff provided us with a jug of hot water to warm H's bottle before we left with a cheery smile, so quality really was better than quantity in this instance.

Another good point is that I feel that there really is something for most people to be interested in there-even me!  Be it puzzles, train sets, toys, RC cars, gardening products, nail varnish and hand cream or Yankee Candles.  I even found some craft 'bits' for my nappy cakes, which cheered me right up!

We had decided that we would choose a toy for H for his Easter present as he isn't allowed Dairy products and settled on a wooden tow truck made by "Wonderworld".  It is not a brand that we have come across before and it is lovely.  Having read the accompanying leaflet, I am pleased to see that this company help to replant two trees for every one used for these toys and seem to have a great knowledge of child development and how to spark the imagination of children of any age, and at a pretty good price too.

Having made our purchases and had a little play on the Formula One car made of Lego, we decided to let H burn off some steam in the toddler play area.  This area is well stocked with toys, and a pretty good size, however the toys are quite dirty and tired-looking which would probably be understandable anywhere other than a toy/model shop!!

On the whole, we had a lovely day at Snetterton Park as we are firm believers in a day out being what you make it, and we are very happy with the purchases we made there, but unfortunately it didn't quite live up to the claims on the website or in the leaflets, despite the fab array of merchandise.  It conveys an image of a venue that used to be great, but that has been forgotten and got a bit dusty along the way.  If I had older children however, I think that it would be the perfect place to take them to spend their Christmas or birthday money and allow them to let off some steam.

And H even slept most of the way home too!  Perfect end to a fun day!!!

Disclaimer:  I have not been asked or paid for this review-I just did it for fun!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Food for thought

My little man is refusing most of his food today and the slightly panicky feeling it gave me has made me realise that I am just a tad obsessive about him eating.

When I think about it though, I realise that I have felt this way pretty much since he was born. The whole way through my pregnancy, I planned on breastfeeding and despite the horror stories I had heard of cracked nipples and mastitis etc, I was looking forward to the close bond it would give me and my baby.

When H was born, instead of the skin to skin contact followed by breastfeeding that I had carefully written on my birth plan, he was whisked off, not breathing to the special care baby unit and eventually formula fed by nasal tube. Thankfully, when my milk finally came in a few days later, I got him latched on and off we went, happily for a few weeks until my milk supply started to wane and I was put on Domperidone to increase it.

The meds didn't work so well for me, so I decided to combination feed, bottle feeding and topping up with breastfeeds and solely breastfeeding at night. Despite my best efforts to solely breastfeed, my baby constantly screaming for more food was the deciding factor for my choice (a choice the not-so-friendly health visitor disagreed with, telling me I was feeding my baby 'evil powder'). The breastfeeding stopped when H started sleeping through at four months and left me feeling slightly bereft if I'm honest-I never realised how much I would love feeding my baby.

When H started projectile vomiting, pooing mucous and seeming to have awful tummy aches, I took him to the Dr (obviously not trusting the Health Visitor at this point having asked her what it might be and her telling me "babies throw up") and he was diagnosed as being Dairy Intolerant. This lead to me becoming way more obsessive about what I gave my son, quite rightly, and meant that I had to be extremely careful not to set off his symptoms.

So then came the weaning trials and tribulations which were much more fun than bottle feeding but not as satisfying for me as breastfeeding, and here we are! Still worrying about 'off' days with food and obsessing about what ingredients I put in his risottos, bolognese sauces,soups and the like. On the plus side, I am a way more adventurous cook, and we typically eat better as a result, not that my husband (or H today) will probably agree! That being said, H LOVED his not so adventurous jelly that he tried for the first time tonight-pic attached!!

I am looking for some more interesting dairy-free recipes that are as cheap as possible, so if you have any ideas-please let me know.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Super-Mum Sunday!!!

I'm sitting in bed writing this blog on my phone (the computer is too noisy for oh), contemplating a life that used to be.

Pre H, hubby and I used to call Sundays "Naked Sunday", for reasons best left to the imagination. We used to only get up to walk our two dogs in the afternoon and grab some sustenance before inevitably heading off to bed again.

Nowadays, I find myself up, very much dressed (to cover up the new wobbly bits I seem to have acquired), and entertaining a lively 10 month old usually before 7am.

Where I used to only just about manage a couple of miles walk, I spend my Sundays cooking, cleaning, entertaining, washing, ironing, making nappy cakes-you get the picture. Whilst carrying out all of these 'chores' today, I found myself pondering back to the 'good old days'. Then it hit me; I LOVE my "Super-Mum Sundays" (their new name, obviously)!! I love looking after my lo and hubby, I love playing with them in the park, I love cooking and baking and being creative with my nappy cakes, and I love going to bed on a Sunday night looking forward to next Sunday when we get to spend quality time together.

That is the important thing though...the quality time. We live such busy lives being "Super-Mums" that I often see the quality time go out of the window with families-including my own at times. Then I suddenly take a step back from whatever oh-so-important chore I am undertaking and remind myself that H will only be this young for a moment in time and I will look back on this time one day and not remember whether the ironing pile was huge, or the floors were dog hair-free, but that this was the day that we completely trashed his nursery by playing so much, and that this was the day he showed me that he can undress himself!!

The thing with being a "Super-Mum" is that, whilst it is very fashionable, it isn't particularly attainable. Not for me at least. I have always striven for perfection in everything I do, probably partly because i read too many magazines and that is what they promote and the only thing I can actually say I reached perfection with is making my son. (Aaaahhhh!). It is all very well secretly competing for the most unusual home-cooked lunches with the other parents in the baby group, nursery or school gates to give yourself a bit of motivation but not at the expense of quality time with your loved ones I say.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

HarryCakes Creations

HarryCakes Creations

After what seems like a really long time, I have finally got my act together and set up a web page for my little home business. It really feels like I have started now and it has given me the push to get myself "out there" and start showing off my talents!

I have posted the link on Facebook and the 'likes' are coming in, so hopefully this is the start of something fun!

This is something that I have been pondering for a while and I've recently had a kick up the behind to get organised and I am really pleased with the results so far.  I could definitely do with some help on the photography side of things, but I'm sure it will all come together in the end. 

I also recieved my business cards the other day, and although they don't have the website on them, I won't have any trouble directing anyone there-even if it is just through the Facebook page.  I am even considering selling my wares at nearly-new sales, car boots, craft fairs etc but I think I will need to get making a few more before I can do that.

I find it amazing how comparitively easy it is to set up your own "business" now!  It is just a case of a few clicks on a dedicated site really and then you are off and away! 

It would be wonderful if it all took off and I was able to quit the day job because of it but I am not holding out much hope for that yet.  I do however find myself daydreaming about one day having my own shop where I can make my creations all day and chat to my customers about what event they are buying their gifts for.

Back in the normal world, I will just continue to look after my gorgeous boy and lovely hubby and keep working hard...that's what everyone else does-right?!

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Monday, 18 March 2013

Upcycling and recycling with a baby

My husband and I bought a second-hand (at least) Quinny Buzz last week.  One of the Facebook pages I follow was having a closing-down sale and I got it for £60!!  I had done my research prior to going and testing it, making sure that I could replace parts that were faulty or worn and ensuring that I could remove the covers for washing etc, and even though it smelled slightly musty and had a rip in the rain cover, I knew that it was an absolute steal for that price!!

As soon as we got home, I put the cosy toes and seat cover in the washing machine, hand washed the shopping basket and rain cover bag and gave the whole chassis, hood and seat a thorough going-over with the antibac wipes and spray.  Hubby adjusted the stiff brakes and front wheel with some WD-40 and it was as good as new!!  I am currently "watching" some newer rain covers on eBay and have bought some new Quinny decals for the chassis, but that was not essential-just something I thought would be nice. 

It just goes to show that even though this buggy had been written off by someone else, it is still in a perfectly good, usable condition and also means that I don't have to go around with my old  tank of a Graco travel system, which although is very sturdy and utilitarian, has no style or grace!!  I will now be cleaning up and selling it on to repeat the cycle and hopefully the person who buys it will feel they have got as much of a bargain as I do!!

When my friend who is heavily pregnant called me the other day, we got talking about this and what a bargain it was and it made me think back to when I was pregnant and caught up in buying new things for my baby.  I remember feeling that I wanted everything new and the best of the best we could afford and I remember researching day and night everything I possibly could about every item we bought!  It made me smile to think how much I have changed and how, although I would still only use new bottles, breast-pumps, car seats and mattresses, pretty much everything else has been handed-down to us or bought second hand or at nearly-new sales or car boots!  I previously would never have bought something in a nearly new sale for my baby, so thank goodness for my other mummy friends showing me the way!!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Spring clean time...

Today I was left wondering when the "nesting instinct" is supposed to leave you? My little boy is 10 months old...can I still get away with calling my OCD-like tendencies "nesting"?!

I am definitely having a fairly rough time at the moment, which is something that always sends my OCD into overdrive. I have managed to go shopping (clothes and food) visit A's Nan for her birthday, and then come home and completely re-arrange H's nursery and then made a good start on my bedroom before hubby intervened and made me sit down and watch "West is West" with him over a huge pile of fish and chips! (FYI; if you haven't seen it, you are probably best off not bothering-it is nowhere near as funny as the first one!!)

I always do this though, I find myself in a stressful situation so I 'take control' by making some home improvements. I'm hoping this time will also serve to be fruitful for my purse too because I have also recently decided that I have way too much 'stuff' and I could do with getting rid of most of it. I'm going to try to design myself a capsule wardrobe and sell/donate all of the items I haven't used since H was born or before. From the looks of it-that is most of my wardrobe . I will try to keep only the things that have true sentimental value or that I use regularly.

If you know me, you will know how tough that will be for me, because I am a true hoarder at heart! Since having H though, I have realised just how many 'things' we have that we just don't need or use. We buy things for the sake of it or to Keep up with the Jones' and I'm finally bored of it!! It is high time we simplify our lives and get rid of all the clutter (well mine anyway, A is the ultimate hoarder and staunchly refuses to get rid of even his holiest socks and pants!!). I just feel that I don't want my son growing up to believe that possessions are more important than love, or experiences and adventures. I know children like that and it is so sad to see them value the newest computer game over spending time with loved ones.

I am by no means innocent of spoiling my son with possessions-this afternoon's re-arrangement certainly proved that, and I must say it is extremely difficult not to have toy/buggy/snack/outfit envy when H goes to playgroups and play dates but I am promising myself now that I will do my very best to offer H quality time before I offer him a new toy/book/outfit and hopefully that will show him the qualities I will admire in him when he is older.

I think putting the money I make into an ISA for H is also a good way to start showing him that saving rather than spending is the way to get where you want to be in life.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Go me!!!

Whilst looking after my poorly boy (again) today, I had a flash of inspiration and thought how much easier life would be if I were my own boss!!  The more I looked into it, the more the idea grew, and although I have been "tinkering" with the idea for a while, and making nappy cakes and prettily-wrapped gifts for a while, I realised after some research that this was something I could make some money doing and if it leads to me being my own boss then that would be even better!!

I confess, I have had a Facebook page advertising a few of my wares pretty half-heartedly since before Christmas, and have been meaning to be more creative with it and get some proper pictures up etc, but have found myself just about treading water since going back to work.  So I took the opportunity whilst H was napping and set up my own website!!  I have completed most of it, so now all I need are the products so I can sell them on there!!  

I am now finding myself full of hope that this will take off and start something for me to enjoy for myself away from the family and work dramas.  Once it is all up and running smoothly, I will post a link from here so you can have a peruse at your leisure!!

I will be starting out small I think, just some nappy cakes, nappy crackers and small gifts and then if they take off, branch out into making my own personalised/tailor-made gifts and then maybe onto making baby items, like bibs, blankets etc.

How exciting!!

Grotty H in bed with us because he can't sleep!!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Childminder vs Nursery

Today I have been let down again by my childminder. I really wouldn't mind if I didn't have to get to work after an already absent week, it would be a good excuse to stay home and snuggle-especially with this awful weather we are having.

I had two weeks to find this childminder, having been let down by my previous decision and I felt pretty confident at the time that it was the right choice for us but now I feel that we should have looked around a bit more before committing ourselves to this person. I really didn't want to go with a childminder in the first place, preferring the school-like qualities of a nursery and liking the structure there. This decision was taken out of my hands though when we found out just how much said nursery would cost!! With the childminder's fees I already work to pay her for most of my shift-let alone the nursery prices.

Obviously, the ideal choice for me would be to stay home and look after H myself-especially as he always seems to be poorly at the moment, but finances won't allow this, so what do I do? Stay with a childminder I'm not happy with or move him to a nursery we can't really afford?

There is a third option of course-starting up my own business and trying to earn money that way. It is something that I am seriously considering and I might just have a good enough idea to do it. That would mean that I could be home with H whilst contributing to the family finances and not miss out on any of his milestones and he would hopefully not be so poorly then. I'm sure it is just a pipe dream at the moment but I'm definitely going to look into it. Can't hurt-right?!