Thursday, 25 July 2013

Can I count occasional dusting as exercise?

Which one is me?  Yep, none of them.
I'm not a couch potato - well, not too much of one - but for some reason I seem to be struggling to exercise at the moment. I'm currently blaming the heat and the fact that the girls are going to bed later which means that I'm tired before I get to sit down of an evening. I know, it's an excuse really as I could get busy then but I don't want to. I can't be bothered. There. I said it.

Last year I did very well with my exercise. I danced pretty much every night to either Zumba or Just Dance on the Wii and do you know what?  It made a difference. I lost a stone in weight (yep, I really needed too) but the little...ok, larger...tummy bump (no I'm not pregnant) has appeared again.  It's a kind of muffin-top but all at the front. I'm sure it's on my butt too but fortunately I can't turn my head all the way around to see that!

I also have those dreaded bingo wings and I don't even play the damn game!

I used to count exercise as a day out geocaching as I walked miles on a quarter of a cheese sandwich and a few grapes or a good hoover of the house (bit too infrequent in my case as I hate housework) but it's actually been too hot to do too much of that of late and, as you may recall, we've been potty training too. Oh hell, who am I kidding?  N could happy wee behind a tree if we were out.  I'm sorry, I have to admit it, I've become lazy.

So, I need to do some exercise. I'm tired though so how to I motivate myself?  With the girls rarely being asleep before 8.30pm, I find it hard at that time of night to think "great, let's get moving!" and more "phew, time to catch up on one TV show before I go to bed myself at 9.30".  Arrghhhh....

I think I'm going to have to rope J into helping me out. I know once I start, I'll immediately have more energy, feel better and, of course, lose a few inches.

I'm off to have a (low fat of course) yoghurt while I think about what exercise I need to do.  Watch this space.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Welcome to our (play) house

Invited in for a viewing of the new house
As you may know, I'm a bit of an advocate of eBay.  Oddly enough, I never used to be but over the past few years watching money slipping through my fingers buying clothes for myself that I rarely wore or those for the girls that they seemed to grow out of in seconds, I began to think of better ways of spending those pounds.

My friend is the charity shop queen. She finds the most amazing bargains but I find very little.  So, eBay is my 'shop' of choice now. Even hubby's jumped on the bandwagon - albeit from a distance as I do the bidding and buying for him.

Recently I thought it would be fun to have something new to trip over in the garden. Let's face it, it's not crowded enough yet with a trampoline, fairy castle tent, swings and slide, sand pit, ball pit and lots of smaller bits that get stuck under my instep or twist my ankle everywhere I walk, so I decided a play house would be fun.

Having a quick glance at shop/online prices, I realised we weren't about to spend upwards of £200 on the world's smallest piece of plastic.  So eBay was my best bet.

I put a bid on one that was ending soon. It was a tiny little 'circular' play house that the seller said had cost them £250.  Were they mad? I would pay £25 for that. It went for £45 to some nutter.  No worries, a bigger, nicer one had come up locally (clearly noone is mad enough to post these things to you) so I decided to bid a maximum of £50 on it.  I then went out for a few hours while it was finishing.  Yep, you guessed it. Some bastard lucky soul got it for £51.  I could have hunted them down and punched them was delighted for them.

Another came up and I bid £50 again.  I watched this one. No sniping sod was going to beat me this time. About an hour before the end a bid hit taking it to £55.  I bid £60.  Damn, still outbid.  5 minutes before the end I went for £70.  If I didn't win this I'd find another.  £68.80 was my bid - I had beaten the other person. Clearly they had been a lazy arse like me the first time and gone out/away from their PC as I won.

It then occurred to me I had to collect it and I only have a SAAB 9-5!  Umm...dimensions were important here then.  Thinking it would never go into my boot (no hatchback or estate in this house, oh no) I called up the outlaws to see if I could borrow their estate car the following day to collect it. Yep, no problem. I arranged this with the seller and asked for dimensions too.  While she was out with her tape measure, I found the same play house still advertised in Toys R US - complete with L/W/H figures.  Tape measure out to the car and I worked out it would fit - exactly - sideways with about 1-2 feet sticking out.  String - yep.  Cord - yep. Phone call to seller, girls bundled into the car and off we went.

Got to the seller's house and she looked at me. I'm sure she thought I was bonkers but I was here and not about to leave without the play house even if I balanced it on the roof all the way home!

It fitted into the boot - just.  I tied some cord around the latch and base and it snapped. Great.  String then.  That seemed to hold.  Ah, roof of the thing. No way would that fit into the boot.  Would it be a second journey tonight? Would it bugger! I got it in the car right in front of the girls car seats and they had to hold it steady all the way home. Well, it was for them so why shouldn't they do a bit of work too?

Home and my neighbour helped me get it out of the car and I put it together before hubby arrived home from work.  He was invited in for a viewing as you can see.  I'm delighted with my purchase and the girls love it to pieces.  Yep, it's got a few missing stickers and some dirt has managed to get inside the plastic bits but lets's face it, a year of a new one in our garden would look exactly the same.  The girls don't care so that's all that matters.

Right, what else can I buy to fill up the remaining 3 feet of garden I can see...?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Grow you own single pea pod

We're trying growing some veg from seed this year.

Sadly, I don't think our tomatoes are going to produce much as despite planting them when the packet suggested they are only about 12" high now (see picture).  Oh well, the girls are enjoying seeing them grow.

Our peas have one pod on them and the rest of the plants have died off.

The lettuce are a bit willowy to say the least and the beans haven't emerged.

Not one of my better years then. But hey, it's not a problem, it's good for children to learn about all kinds of plants and see which ones grow best.

The flowers, on the other hand, are going like crazy.   The blooms are amazing colours and some like our Agapanthus are now so tall they are competing with the RHS ones!

The girls are great at helping me with the plants in this hot weather. Most days they like to have their paddling pool out but it does tend to get a bit sandy at the bottom so I empty it in the evenings.  Instead of then watering the garden with a hose, we take a little bucket each and water all our plants with the pool water (minus sand of course).  A good bit of recycling (unless that's what's killing off my peas!).

So, I'm not being Mrs Green-Fingers this year.  Don't worry though, just because I am rubbish, I decided to put some links to my favourite gardening sites up on this blog piece.  Well, if you can't do it yourself, have a read of some people who can eh?!

RHS - the only place to see the best gardens around
Indy Gardener - blog all about what's growing, lots of pictures and useful information
Allotment Jo - what's growing on the allotment, among other chit-chat
The Constant Gardener - lots of lovely garden information and pics
Organic Gardening - online magazine with lots of interesting articles
Garden Organic - charity raising awareness of organic gardening. Lots of articles and tips
North Coast Gardening - Genevieve Schmidt's excellent gardening articles and tips
Garden Therapy - DIY projects, recipes and crafty things
Bren - great gardening tips, recipes and what to grow year round
Shirley Bovshow - Eden Makers blog on garden makeovers, plants and veggies
Mark Diacono - Otter Farm smallholding. Lots of fun and useful gardening information
Jo Thompson - garden designer.  Wonderful gardens designed specifically for you
Garden Rant - uprooting the gardening world!
Learn2Grow - helping gardeners of all levels to grown their own
Nigel Colborn - gardener and journalist detailing his gardening exploits

If you'd like to add your site to this list, please do so in the comments.  I'd love to find more of you to follow.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Going cold turkey with nappies (aka Potty Training in a week)

If you're eating you may not want to read this until you've finished - you have been warned!

N is starting her nursery in September. Unlike many nurseries, this one is part of a school and therefore she needs to be potty trained before she can start.

Now, S was all done and dusted at 2 1/2.  It was just a perfect time for her and despite a few of my earlier attempts, the third time I tried (about a month apart each), it simply clicked.  She was absolutely ready.  Therefore she was a doddle to do and she was dry day and night within 2 weeks.  Amazing.  So, of course, I thought that N would be the same, if not even a little faster.  How children like to remind us that we know nothing - no matter how many we have had!

N has shown absolutely no interest in losing her nappies and progressing to being a big girl.  She is now only just turned 2 1/2 but as time is counting down, we need to get it sorted.

I have told her that she can't go to school if she wears nappies (she is so keen to start) thinking this would prompt her on.  She says she wants to start school then refuses to take the nappy off.

I bought her some lovely knickers.  She liked them, carried them around and refused to take the nappy off.

I told her we had run out of nappies (well, worth a shot) and she just said "no mummy, they are under your bed".

I told her only babies wear nappies.  She replied "I'm a baby, coo-coo" and refused to take the nappy off.

Arghhhhhhh!

On Sunday, we decided that enough was enough and we were going to have to go 'cold turkey' on the nappies and just make it work.  Hubby was off for a few days so I could do the nursery runs with S without worrying about taking an entire wardrobe with me and pondering how to wash out a car seat.  Also the weather was predicted to be good and it's so much easier to do it in the sunshine in the garden.

Nappy off, sun creamed bare bottom and out in the garden we went.  She wee'd.  She poo'd.  But not in the potty.  Hubby collected the poo and washed the wee away from the grass with the hose.  Day 1 done.  She had lots of praise for not wearing a nappy and lots of gentle reminders to sit on the potty for mummy and daddy.  It's a start I suppose.

Monday, I took S to nursery.  N poo'd on the carpet before hubby had time to open the patio doors!  The rest of the day consisted of her poo'ing all over the garden but not anywhere near the potty. Every time we scooped her up to sit her on was too late, it was all over and she just got up and wandered off, promptly wee'ing in another corner for us.  We tried some knickers but she wasn't interested and after putting about 10 in the washing machine, it was back to sun creamed bottom only.  However, worst of all, she literally walked past me, having a poo and not even breaking her stride!  I was picking it up and washing the grass off as fast as I could as the flies were arriving within seconds (the downfall of doing this in the summer I guess). I sat her on the potty and when nothing happened after a minute again, I got up. Yep, you guessed it. I had missed a bit of poo which was now stuck to my thigh.  Lovely.  Day 2 done.  I honestly couldn't wait to put her in a nappy tonight for bed!

Tuesday, hubby texted me as I arrived at nursery to say N had already been for a poo - in her potty.  He was delighted and so was I.  It was all I could do not to ask for a picture for me to post on Facebook!  By the time I got home some 10 minutes later, she'd had another one - on the carpet.  Oh well, 1 out of 2 isn't bad I guess. We decided that food was the way forward. She loves Cadbury Animal Biscuits so bribery was the name of the game.  She got one every time she had a wee on the potty.  She had her little knickers on too today.  This meant that she started going to sit on it regularly and having a wee but she didn't want to take her knickers off.  As far as we were concerned, that was a minor detail. I had plenty of them so we just praised her and rewarded her.  Day 3 done and only a couple of wee's on the grass and one on the sofa (don't worry, it's leather and she was laying on a few muslins at the time) when she fell asleep waiting for her dinner.  It's getting better.

Wednesday came and it was S's last day of nursery at her school so quite emotional too.  N was doing well going on her potty but still didn't grasp taking her knickers down first.  Oh well.  At least our grass isn't being manured and watered all day.  In the afternoon we went to get an ice cream near our local leisure centre.  I had about 6 changes of clothes and the portable potty.  I had put a plastic bag, with a nappy on top covered by a muslin on her car seat (clever huh?!)  Checked did she want a wee before we went out. Checked when we arrived. Got ice cream. Checked again as we walked to ducks.  Asked as we reached the climbing wall I checked again. "No" was still the response. She turned around, ran toward the wall and wee'd all over the place. No problem, quick change of underwear and she was away again.  Back we came to the park and had a little play there. No accidents.  As we headed back to the car she turned and said "mummy I need a wee wee now" so I stopped, got the portable potty out and sat her on it. Right in the view of an elderly couple sitting on a bench enjoying their ice cream. Oh well, I'm sure they'd rather that than watching her wee across the car park.  She didn't go but the thought was there to ask.  Another good step.  A few wee's on the grass in the evening and another wee when she fell asleep on the sofa again (yep, I was prepared) but not bad for 4 days in.

Thursday arrived.  Poo in her nappy straight after breakfast which was handy as I don't take her out of it for about half an hour after we get up as she wants her brekkie first.  The rest of the day has been utterly amazing. She has gone to her potty *every* time. She has taken her knickers down almost every time (significantly more than not today).  We even took S swimming and she had a wee on the toilet before we went and then another there before we left.  Not a single accident today and she's not been asking for any biscuits either - she's just happy and excited that she can do it all on her own.  Day 5.  Absolutely gobsmacked sums it up.  Just 4 days ago I wondered if I would have to wait another term to start her at nursery but look at her now.  What will tomorrow hold?

Friday and we're going great guns still.  N has started using the proper toilet now instead on the potty.  We have one of those combined toilet sets with the little seat that you can pull down so that makes life so much easier. We went out today to our local pool with no accidents.  The big test was to come this afternoon when we went off to collect big sis which is an hours drive each way.  Making sure she had a wee before we left, we set off (clearly I have a portable potty in the car and numerous changes of clothes remember).  She fell asleep - that was usually the time she did a wee without noticing. No problem today though.  Collected big sis and back home. Success!  However, in the evening she had a poo but forgot to take her knickers off first. Oh well, no big deal. I took her into the toilet to try and ‘shake it out’ which really didn’t work. It ended up like some Abbott & Costello sketch with her nearly falling off her toilet step, me getting her knickers caught around her sandals dropping their contents onto the carpet and whilst entwined, she grabbed my hair which hurt and surprised me and I yelled, scaring her who started crying as I tried to pick her up with knickers flapping and emptying their contents everywhere meaning I somehow (don’t ask me how though) ended up with hands full of it and she even had it on her shoulders!  It took a while to calm the situation down and I was worried I’d scared her off having a poo but she seemed fine.  Future reference – remove all shoes/sandals first!

Saturday was another success.  Apart from the minor lapses in concentration that meant N went for a wee without taking her knickers off first, all was good. At least she was now using the toilet or potty every time.

Sunday - 1 week over.  I think I can safely say she's pretty much potty trained now.  OK there are the occasional minor mistakes but it's only a week since she started and she didn't have a clue then.  We all went to the cinema today to see Despicable Me 2 and she was brilliant asking for the toilet.  No accidents on a long car journey again and tonight she even had a poo on the toilet herself (no reminding or asking by me).  I was so pleased I texted hubby to tell him.  Isn't it strange the things we find so exciting when our children are little - poo for one!

So, if you're like me and reluctant to start potty training as it seems your little 'un isn't quite ready - you may be surprised.  After all, remember it is 'training'. If it was a natural thing, they'd do it from birth!

Friday, 12 July 2013

School dinners only? Not on your nelly!

Today news hit that the Government are planning another move to beat childhood obesity and trying to ban school packed lunches. Yep, you heard me right.  Apparently having a school dinner will help prevent those children heading into obesity stay the right side of it.  Rubbish!

For one, giving a child one 'healthy' meal a day does not mean that at home they didn't eat a pile of sugar-coated cereal for breakfast with a milkshake and in the evening won't be eating chips, egg, burgers and beans followed by a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce, and snacking on crisps and chocolate in between does it.  Will the Government have spies who will perhaps be popping round our houses every morning and night to ensure our children are fed right?  Surely that has to be the next step.

Naturally Labour say that free school and academies are allowing junk packed lunches. Oh do shut up.

I for one am totally against school lunches and here's a number of reasons why:

1.  I do not wish to be forced to pay £50+ per month, per child, for something I do not agree with.  In fact, I will *not* be told what to do regarding food for my children at school.
2.  My middle daughter is a fussy eater and, trust me on this, making her eat a school lunch will upset her beyond belief (I know this categorically from her nursery days) and will stop her learning process in the morning due to the distress of knowing what's coming at lunchtime.  Fact!
3. The assumption of the report seems to be that the school lunch is the only cooked meal a child gets.  In this house, we all sit down to a good, healthy dinner every day.
4.  Parents who feed their children unhealthy items will do so regardless of what they eat lunchtime at school so again this country seems to want to punish everyone for the sake of the few clueless idiots.

I am sick of this big brother attitude to life that is being forced upon us all now.  We are grown up and have choices.  Yes, you'll always get those that make the wrong ones continually but that is what human nature is all about.

Instead of forcing everyone to have a school meal, how about prosecuting those parents who allow their children to become morbidly obese as surely that's a form of child abuse?

As for my packed lunches, leave them well alone. I will not be told what to do for my children by some quango who will now no doubt spend many more millions of my taxes looking after the few at the expense of the many.

Tattooed Mummy has a great blog piece on this and you can read it right here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Colourful Wisley

This morning we decided to head to Wisley before it got too warm to have a walk around.

As you know, my girls adore the place and I have to say that we had an exceptionally fabulous wander today as the colours everywhere were amazing.

The sun was out and it was already warming up when we arrived at 10am.  We had planned to have a visit before heading home and getting the paddling pool out.

I had also promised the girls one of the delicious ice creams that are sold at the cafes and kiosks around Wisley so I hoped they would open early on a warm day.

The waterlily colours were stunning.  Reds, pinks and whites stood out on their beds of green leaves.  Lots of people were busy photographing them and the girls were telling me all the different colours that they could see.



We thought it would be fun to have a self-portrait as we walked along and shadows seemed the perfect idea


We decided to have a walk up to the glasshouse first to see what was growing at this time of year in there.  Following the girls lead, we walked a new way to it, having a little seat for a picture as we went, then passing the rockery/steps area.


One of my favourite photographs of the day

Look at the size of that Agapanthus
I had to get a picture of the large Agapanthus outside the glasshouse to send to my outlaws (like your in-laws but more fun) as they love these flowers and the ones they gave us are growing far better in our garden than in theirs!  Mind you, these were something to behold and even out-do ours.

We had a very quick walk around the glasshouse as it seemed even hotter in their today and then we headed off over to the Pagoda to sit down for a while and watch the ducks.




Off again to head to one of the little bridges that cross the stream into the pond area.



S wanted to climb up the rockery/steps too so we went over there next.  This is the point I am very glad I no longer have a pram.  An elderly gentlemen commented on how well the girls climbed up as we made our way to the top.

Up the steps

And down again

Little waterfall

Two ducks having a quiet dip
The girls liked seeing two ducks on their own near the top having a quiet dip and nibble on some weed.

In all the walks around Wisley that we have done, I have never before noticed the alpine houses so we had a look in these and at the plants growing on the walls around them.  Goes to show that we still haven't seen it all!

Inside the Alpine House
Over the fields we headed and the colours and blue sky were just stunning to see.



The roses are all out in bloom and the fragrance as you came closer was wonderful. The girls and I sniffed many different varieties.


Flowers that look like leaves

Amazing displays

Picking rose petals from the ground






My absolute favourite rose - for smell, colour and size
We walked back towards the main entrance now and noticed that the house had been completely renovated since the last time we were here.  I believe it is used as offices but boy, would I like to live there!  I wouldn't even mind the number of people passing my front door every day.


As we exited, we saw that a kiosk selling ice cream had opened. Phew, that was fortunate as I'd had to say to the girls that as we seemed a bit early for it, I would do them a cornet when we got home.  Lucky for me, cornets and flakes were available so we sat down and each enjoyed a final treat before going home to splash in the paddling pool.


Think we'll be back next week again for a picnic.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Mini Sports Day

At S's school they hold a mini sports day for the nursery, kindergarten and year 1 girls, so this was our first year of attending.

It was very sweet and well organised and went at a fair pace.

Starting with some flat races - S had no idea she should start running at "Go!" along with most of the other nursery girls but they got there in the end.  Last place I think.  Good effort.

Egg and bucket race was next for them.  This is a step down from the egg and spoon (or should I say 'egg shaped piece of plastic' and spoon) to make it a bit easier for them. They had a little bucket and had to run and collect two eggs on their way to the finish line.  I got over excited yelling as I was videoing S.  She almost stopped next to me to smile and wave until I screamed "run!" to her. I wasn't keen for her to do well at all, oh no. She came a very respectable 2nd (no thanks to me and my distraction).

Final race for them was the Teddy bears' picnic where they had to pick up some items (cup, plate, spoon) as they headed down the track and finally their teddy then run to the end and sit in a hoop.  She did well but her teddy was clearly fixed and slippery and she dropped it twice.  Not quite last but a big smile on her face.

The parents race was far better than the ones I've been to at J's school. There, the competitive mums and dads go into training weeks in advance and turn up in bloody running shoes!  At S's school, despite a few knobs parents (mums strangely enough - but none of our nice lot) doing that, most just got up for the fun and the race turned out to be a dressing up/down one which was very comical to watch and a great deal of cheating went on.  The mainly nursery ladies team won, and well deserved.  The lot with their printed t-shirts and lycra came nowhere *snigger*

Finally, it was the Little visitors' race which N happily took part in.

Interspersed in the proceedings were tea and the most delicious cream and jam scones made by the dining staff.  The P.E. teacher suggested next year the parents' race should consist of "balancing the most scones on  a plate on top of a cup of tea".  Yes, they were delicious and I think I had 5 and I didn't eat as many as the others did (they were mini ones too before you say anything you lot!).