Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Children (page 1 of 2)

Breakfast with Father Christmas at Wyevale

I can remember the first time we visited Father Christmas with the children, it was Matilda’s 2nd Christmas and we thought it would be one of those perfect parenting moments. She’d be enchanted by all the pretty lights and Christmas activities and then sit with Father Christmas and chat about what she wanted for Christmas. The reality was a child who cried when they saw Father Christmas and refused to go anywhere near him or his grotto so we took our free present and left. Since then things have got a better and I think we’re reaching peak excitement about Father Christmas before she gets a little older and starts to hear rumblings about whether he’s real or not. So when Wyevale invited us to meet Father Christmas over breakfast at our local Wyevale garden centre (he was stopping by to buy some carrot seeds) I jumped at the chance.

As we all know Father Christmas gets around the country and you can meet him in many places these days from the classic school fayre to a restored steam train and who knows what else in between. But I really quite enjoyed meeting him over breakfast; it’s quite a relaxed and civilised environment that doesn’t involve queuing or crowds and with the garden centre not open for business it was lovely and quiet. Plus of course it meant I could eat a cooked breakfast and drink coffee while the children met Father Christmas, perfect!

colouring at wyevale christmas

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The definition of happiness

10 years ago today I stood up in front of family and friends and said ‘I do’ to the lady of the manor, 10 years! 10 whole years that feel like just yesterday but also a lifetime ago. In my wedding day speech I said that happiness was marrying your best friend and I feel very privileged to be able to call this incredbile woman my best friend. It’s incredible to think that what started out as teenage lust and a snog at a house party all those years ago has turned into this wonderful marriage. Where even in our normal sleep deprived state we laugh together and that lust is definitely still there, stronger than ever (hence 3 children under 4!).

tipping 114

An awful  lot has happened in the last 10 years and when I look back at our wedding photos it would appear I’ve aged at least 20 years while the lady of the manor barely looks any different. It hasn’t always been easy, we’ve been through some real low points that have pushed us to the brink, but also some amazing highs not least the arrival of these 3 crazy little things that seem to follow us around. However no matter what I know that we make the perfect team and will get through anything together.

Drinks 34 - A+B by car 5

This year as you all know has been one of the toughest and we almost didn’t celebrate this occasion because it didn’t feel right doing it without Nanna. But we decided that she would have wanted us to be happy and spend the day with the family that were so important to her. So on Sunday after weeks of preying to the weather gods we had a garden party at home in glorious sunshine with cake and fizz on the menu. You have honestly never seen so many mouth watering cakes in one place, all made by friends or family and almost all eaten before the day was out. It was such a perfect way to mark the occasion, surrounded by friends and family, drinking the same Prosecco we had on our wedding day.

 Family photo at anniversary party

We feel very blessed this week knowing that we have these amazing people around us to help us through the tough times giving us the support we need, but who are also there to celebrate the good times with us. I’m not the most social of people, I don’t have masses of friends but the ones I do have I value highly and they mean a lot to me. This week I’m reminding myself of their importance to me and in particular this amazing woman next to me who is my best friend.

With that I raise my glass to love and friendship and to Alex who I love now, forever and always.

P.S. this also means I can now tick another thing off my Bucket List!

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Spring time is planting time

Spring time is gradually creeping up on us, it’s getting a little bit warmer and last night the kids and I were able to go outside into the garden after dinner for a run around and play on the swing. I love this time of year as we gradually defrost from the winter and the expectation builds of what’s ahead. I love the newness of everything, the daffodils poking their heads out from the ground, the buds on the trees and all the birds appearing in the garden again.

It also means it’s time to venture into the greenhouse again to sort out the pots and the remnants of last years veg growing ready to start afresh with a new bundle of seeds. The clearing out this year involved removing a rather large (and very dead) rat from a pot which thankfully the children didn’t spot before I managed to dispose of it.

Filling pots ready for planting

The first job was to plant the tomato seeds that Heinz sent us along with the first cucumber, broad bean and beef tomato seeds. We’ve also put some garlic into the raised bed already which apparently likes a cold start to its growing. Matilda and Henry were fascinated with the different shapes and sizes of seeds and never turn down an opportunity to get their hands muddy. I did my very best not to shout at them if they didn’t put the seeds in the trays in evenly spaced rows even if it did push my OCD right to the edge.  After all what’s the point in having a rectangular tray if you aren’t going to plant rows perfect perpendicular to the sides?

We’ve covered them up in the propagators now and I’m crossing my fingers we don’t get a cold snap in the next few weeks. It is still chilly at times but there is enough sun around that in a week or so we should hopefully see the first shoots coming through and we can begin the game of thinning and transplanting to larger pots. I’m hoping the lady of the manor is going to do most of that given all the free time she now has with 2 children at preschool 2 days a week.

Planting seeds in greenhouse

There are of course lots more seeds to be planted over the coming weeks, my rule when deciding what to plant is quite simple; it needs to either be suitable for going on a pizza or being served with it. I’m planning on making full use of the pizza oven this year and will need a good supply of vegetables and salad to go with it, not to mention a few chillies to throw on top.

What about you, are you growing anything this year? What’s your favourite thing to grow?

Guess who got hold of my camera remote?

Guess who got hold of my camera remote?

Grow your own

One of my very favourite blogging campaigns that I’ve been involved in is the Heinz grow your own, we had great fun with it 2 years ago after we’d just moved into our new house and had a veg patch for the first time. So I’m very happy that we’re going to be taking part again this year.

This week we took delivery of this very awesome parcel containing the all important tomato seeds along with a wheelbarrow (which Henry has decided is most definitely his), a watering can and a fab colouring book. Henry has spent the past few days moving things around the garden in the wheelbarrow which is why I now have lots of little piles of stones dotted over the lawn. Matilda on the other hand would quite happily spend most of the day watering various things, mainly plants but also her trucker and my feet if I stand still for too long.

Heinz wheelbarrow and seeds

We’ll hopefully be getting the seeds planted in the next few days and then tracking their progress as they turn into seedlings and then eventually (we hope) great big tomato plants with lots of juicy tomatoes on them. So look out for more posts in the next few days and I’d love to hear what your vegetable growing plans are for the year.

If you’d like to get hold of some seeds of your own, you can head over to the Heinz Facebook page where you can use their app to win your very own seeds.

P.S. We’ve also made good use of the lovely wooden crate that the things came in, it’s now holding the firewood next to our log burner in the lounge.

Review – Braun no touch thermometer

My children are so enthusiastic about helping me do reviews now that when they heard I was getting a thermometer to test out they made sure they were sick so it could be tested properly. How thoughtful of them? Currently I am the last man standing; Matilda and Henry both have flu like bugs with streaming noses and high temperatures, Rupert has a run of the mill cold and the lady of the manor has a chesty cough and sore throat. Not a whole lot of fun as you can imagine, but the perfect testing ground for a shiny new Braun thermometer.

What you may not know is that the lady of the manor is a nurse, a paediatric nurse no less, which has been very useful since we’ve had children I can tell you. She knows how to look after and monitor a sick child which takes an awful lot of stress out of the situation. It also means we’ve actually had a Braun ear thermometer since before Matilda was born, they’re the ones that are used on her ward in the hospital. If it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us.

2 sick children, an NHS nurse and an enthusiastic dad blogger is basically the dream test team for a thermometer don’t you think. In I’ve just had to take a break from writing this post to go and check on Matilda and see if her temperature has come down. She went to bed at 5.30pm with a temperature of 38.5 degrees and looking thoroughly sorry for herself. The beauty of this thermometer is that it’s no touch, you simply hold it a couple of centimetres from the child’s forehead and it can read the temperature. Which avoids the risk of waking a sick child who is much better off not having their sleep disturbed so that hopefully they get better.

Braun no touch thermometer

Not having to insert it into your child’s ear is also very useful if, like Henry, you have an ear infection (something I was always prone to as a child, what a thing to inherit). He wouldn’t let us anywhere near his ear because it was hurting but with this thermometer that isn’t an issue. Although you do need to try and keep your child still which isn’t always the easiest thing in the world.

Finally when you get the reading of your child’s temperature the screen is handily colour coded green, amber or red so at a quick glance you can tell if you need to be worried or not. This is particularly useful in the middle of the night when you’re half asleep and trying to remember whether a temperature of 36.9 is normal or not.

Incidentally you can also use the thermometer when it is touching the head if you want to, you just aim at the same spot in the middle of the forehead but gently place on the skin rather than holding away from the head.

A big thumbs up all around for the Braun no touch thermometer, easy to use (just 2 buttons), we really like the colour coding and the no touch element has been extremely useful this week.

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

This is a Netmum’s sponsored review.To find out more click the button:

Mini Hornit – the ultimate children’s light and bike horn

Ok parents listen up, if you’re looking for a birthday (or dare I say it Christmas) present for a bike loving child then this is the post for you. In fact it doesn’t even need to be a bike as the Mini Hornit will attach to any bike, scooter or balance bike in just a few seconds. You may remember that I reviewed its big brother the Hornit dB140 almost exactly a year ago and was impressed with how well it was made, its simple construction and how loud it was. So when Hornit offered me the chance to review their new product aimed at children I said yes and then immediately asked if they could send 2, after all no one wants to be the dad who gets just one child a present do they?

Mini Hornet in box

Henry and Matilda absolutely love their Mini Hornit’s, in fact they love them so much that they ran down the batteries in 3 days whizzing around the garden on their balance bikes. Now don’t interpret that to mean that the Mini Hornit has poor battery life, I’d actually say that’s very good battery life given how much they used them and I found them with the lights left on on a number of occasions. Top tip though, when you replace the batteries you have to push the large button on the back to turn the Mini Hornit back on, definitely don’t email the company to tell them it’s broken, only an idiot would do that.

The design of the Mini Hornit is great, so easy to use and no fiddly bits which is perfect when you know a child is inevitably going to want to take it off and put it back on at least 100 times a day. On the bottom of the Mini Hornit are 2 rubber wings that simply wrap around the handle bars and then push the fixing points through the holes in the wings. It also comes with a remote trigger that attaches in the same way and can be put next to the child’s hand at the end of the handlebars. This makes using it much safer when on the move.

I’ll let Henry give you the full demo:

My grown up Hornit had just 2 sounds whereas the mini version has 25 different sounds, my favourite by far is the trumpet whereas Henry seems very contented with a simple bell noise. They have great fun working their way through them though and pretending to be either a police car or fire engine with the siren sounds. The Mini Hornit also has a light on the front which can be either green or white and either constant or flashing. My 2 may not need that from a safety perspective as they don’t cycle at night or on roads, but for older children who do this would be perfect and is very bright.

The Mini Hornit comes in 4 different colour combinations and costs £19.99, really good value for such a well made and designed product in my opinion. What’s more if you enter 646420 at the checkout on the Hornit shop you’ll get 20% off your purchase, don’t say I don’t look after you!

Mini Hornet on balance bike

You can have any colour as long as it’s pink

I think that’s what Henry Ford said right? Or at the very least it seems to be the message from all the modern day Henry Fords running clothing or toy companies. You know the drill, you go into a shop and there is a wall of blue and green for boys and a wall of pink for girls.

The lady of the manor went to buy some slippers for Matilda today, all the girl ones were pink with hello kitty on. Yuck. Matilda however was most pleased with her dinosaur ones from the boys section, you should have seen her face as she showed them off to me when I got home from work. So proud of her new ‘shoes’, she even takes them off before going up the stairs as we do “no shoes daddy”.

Oh and she also wants pyjamas with nee nars on.

Matilda in pink suit feeding chickensI love that she likes these things and isn’t obsessed with pink everything. The innocence still not to be dictated by what society expects boys and girls to do. However I do worry sometimes that my own aversion to all things pink and the desire to buy things that Henry can also wear will mean she ends up never being girlie.

Or is that just part of the downside of being the first born? Parents always wanting to create hand me downs? Am I supporting her choices or going to far and stopping her choosing pink if that’s what she really wants?

I do also feel the need to carry a sign saying “it was very cheap in the sale” when Matilda is walking around in her bright pink splash suit. But it was truly a bargain in the Muddy Puddles sale.

Henry will just have to suck it up when he’s big enough to wear it.

For some reason lots of people seem to think that Matilda is a boy when we’re out, so sometimes some pink clothing comes in useful. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that she’s happiest getting dirty and rolling around on the ground. Delicate she is not and I love it.

So how do you balance this? Buying clothes for an older child without always thinking whether their younger sibling might be able to wear it? Do you just buy second hand to cut down costs and then have more freedom not to worry about hand me downs?

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