Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hello October

Today is the 1st of October and already September feels like a long forgotten memory that passed by in a haze of madness rushing from one place to the other. All notions of being super organised have long been thrown out of the window and we are back into the old familiar morning panic were we jump out of bed at the last minute and rush around the house like blue arsed flies trying to get out of the door on time.

The weather has started to change and we got caught out in the rain yesterday leaving us feeling under prepared and slightly miserable. We were cheered up by glimpses of sun through the trees this morning and although the air is still a bit warm and humid the sea breeze is cool and gives you a chill. So on went the tights and the new coats and it won't be long before they are joined by the hats, scarves and gloves.

love this time of year, the colours, the smell in the air as people start to light their fires. We have so far managed to get away without putting the heating on but it won't be for long. The damp is creeping in, as are the big spiders, and there are only so many jumpers you can put on before you can no longer move. 

All the talk of Halloween is in the air and whispers excited whispers of Christmas.

October makes me think of long walks through the trees wearing our wellies and wooly jumpers. Coming in from the cool air after jumping in piles of leaves with rosy cheeks and cold fingers having a hot chocolate and a snuggle under a blanket to warm us up. The dark evenings mean more time for stories and movie time. Hot baths to thaw out cold toes and snuggly fleecy pajamas and fluffy socks.

What do you like about this time of year?

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Devil's Glen

It's been a while since we went on a family wander through the woods so yesterday we took the girls up to the Devil's Glen in Ashford. We went up late in the afternoon as we were enjoying a lazy Sunday. We didn't drive all the way in but parked outside and set off on foot straight away. What a sight, the trees were all huge!!

There were other families up ahead of us but we heard some noises behind us. At first we couldn't see anyone and then a little squirrel popped out from behind a tree and scampered through the leaves. We went to have a closer look but he took off up into the leafy canopy and made his way over head. Every now and then the leaves above would scatter and even though we couldn't see them we knew there were more squirrels up above.

We had never been to this wood before so we didn't know how far or how long the walk would take but we set off following the trail and hoped for the best! We lost sight of the other families as there were plenty of directions to choose from. We quickly got sidetracked by a giant wooden sculpture. There were lots of different ones dotted about the place but this was the only one we came across.

We continued up the little trail that led on from there, taking our time and enjoying the wander. We came across a bench that had writing on it. On closer inspection we saw that it was a piece of old Irish poetry translated by Seamus Heaney.

"Why I love Derry:
 It is calm it is clear
 Rustle of white robed angels
 At every corner."

We found more of these benches the further we went along. The girls liked this one that had steps leading up to it so you could sit and look out over the tops of the trees.

After a rest we took off again to look for the little yellow arrows that would show us the way. The girls took the lead and enjoyed picking up pinecones and spikey horse chestnuts.

On we went finding more benches so we knew we had to be going the right way. Which way that was though we still weren't sure.

At one point it started to rain and I began to wonder if we should just turn back. But looking back the path looked just the same.

So on we went through the deep dark woods, as it started to get a bit darker in under the cover of the trees. The story of the Gruffalo came to mind and I secretly hoped to myself that there was nothing lurking in the dark corners!

Eventually we emerged out onto a path and discovered we had just been on the Seamus Heaney walk which was what all the benches were for.

Hurray we said we must be near the car by now.. Nope we still had a long walk back! At least we were out on a road and no longer feeling our way through the woods. We saw horses through the trees on the way back and looking further out through the trees we got a great glimpse of rolling hills of green.

As we got closer to the car the trees bowed over the road like a big leafy archway, Ella said it was like a big tunnel.

Finally after an hour and a half of walking we made it back to the car. Once home the girls were showered and we had a big fry before bed. We all slept great!! It's amazing what fresh air can do to you. This morning the girls excitedly headed off to school with the things they found in the woods to show to their teachers and classmates.

They are already looking forward to our next family adventure..

Monday, 22 September 2014

Blackberry stains and homework pains

Wow this month is really flying in! I was very sure that having both of the girls in school 5 days a week would mean that I would have loads of time for writing but it just hasn't turned out that way so far. The last few weeks have been a busy blur. After the initial settling down period Ella threw a wobbler for 3 days straight and had to be peeled off me going into school, this was so not like her but I'm putting it down to the fact that she had a rotten head cold. If it was me I wouldn't want to be dragged out of my bed either! But she is back to her happy cheeky self now so it's all good.

Last week Abigail started longer days in school, it means that myself and Ella have a nice bit of a rest period before having to go and collect her but it also means that Abigail is very tired and not in the humour for much by the time she gets home. It took her a few days but she is getting used to it now. On another good note Abigail was back at the dentist last Friday and had her tooth fixed, she was brilliant and stayed very still and didn't cry while they worked on her, she even got a certificate for being patient of the week. We are so proud!!

Homework is in full swing and this year as well as reading Abigail also gets maths, spellings and has a spelling test on Fridays. She did very well in her first one but missed last weeks one as she was at the dentist. The difference with the homework this year is that she is better able for it then she was last year. Her reading has come along massively but it doesn't stop her throwing a wobbler or two but I know that it's down to tiredness. We are still trying to figure out the best time to do homework so that she doesn't get worked up.

We have had lots of trips to the playground this month, Ella went on a trip to a new playground her school and she had a great time. I thought it was a great idea for them to go somewhere new and have fun together. Abigail has had a few after school trips to the local playground with the kids from her class, it's good for them to blow off steam after a long day.

Today I thought it would be nice to bake some chocolate brownies for the girls as a nice after school treat. It's been a while since I have done any baking and they have been asking loads. Ella thought it would be nice to have some berries with the brownies so on the way home up the road we stopped to do some berry picking.

This is the first year we have done some blackberry picking and the girls loved it. Their fingers were stained black and they had a few near misses with the thorns but they've already asked if we can do it again. Of course all the big fat juicy berries were up the top of the bushes too high up for me to reach. They managed to get a good few nice ones though.

They were so pleased with themselves. I had some raspberries in the freezer so took them out to go with the blackberries and brownies. I must say it really was a delicious snack and Abigail was in great form when it was time to do homework and we flew through it which meant she had some time to watch Barbie on Netflix. Happy days!

Delicious :)

How has September been for you so far?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

My Magical Mermaid and Twizzles

The girls and I were very lucky to be sent out some new toys to test out and review. They came at a great time as the girls needed a back to school boost as the realisation that summer really is over and early mornings and early nights are back in hit them.

I'm sure you've heard of RoboFish before, I know myself when the ad comes on I sing along to it. Well Zuru have added an exciting new addition to the multi award winining RoboFish line. My Magical Mermaid is enchanting, simply drop her into water and watch her come to life, she'll spiral and dance with beauty and grace.

The girls were so excited when they saw her. There are different ones to collect and there is also a play set available that has a mermaid and LED tank, I think Abigail will be putting that on her christmas list! Myself and Ella took her out the front in the sun, I had filled a tub with water and she swam around quick enough, I think they would get more out of her in the bath as she really can swim.

She comes with weights to put on her tail if you want her to dance. We tried it out in a jug and it worked. I'm sure if we had her in something deeper it would have worked even better.

Ella had a lot of fun in the sun watching her flit about the water and even asked if we could break out the paddling pool for her!

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the mermaid, she really does swim and I would be happy to get the girls another one so they have one each.

My Magical Mermaids are suitable for ages 3+ and come with a bonus set of batteries.

The Twizzles are cute little characters that love getting their hair done and adore cupcakes. With over 100 ways to style their hair, it doesn't matter if it's straight, pigtails or curly they have so much flair! Watch as your Twizzle even spins her head to follow her favourite cupcake flavour.

Twizzles provide endless amounts of fun for girls aged 3+

"Press me down, push my tail and watch me Twizzle around!"

Ella loved the Twizzle and claimed it straight away, it was the perfect size in her hand to carry around and style hair on the go. She has not put this down since it arrived and puts her Twizzle on her bedside table every night. Definitely a big hit.

Twizzles are very bright and colourful and easy for little hands to manage, they come with a few accessories to style their hair and when you push their heads down and pull their tail they pop up and spin around showing off their hairstyle.

The Twizzles would make a perfect stocking filler this Christmas and they come in different styles, Berry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Caramel, Sprinkles and Peach (who is pictures above). They sound good enough to eat!

These lovely toys got a big thumbs up from Ella who was my main product tester as Abigail was in school but Abigail also got a lot of fun out of them particularly the mermaid.

(Disclosure: I received these toys for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own and I am not paid to give them.)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Settling into routine

We are half way through our second week of school and the girls are settling in nicely. Ella was slightly surprised on Monday when she realised she had more school to do "I have to go again?", the novelty has worn off, this is your life now! Abigail is having a great time and hasn't even complained about homework. From next week she will be in school an extra hour everyday so we'll see if she's still as enthusiastic then.

The days seem to be going by very quickly we are up and out the door first thing, drop Abigail off then Ella. Sometimes I have stuff to get done down the town other times I can head straight home. I'm only there a short while and then I have to get Ella, we are only home 40 minutes and it's time to get Abigail. With snack time, a play outside or tv time and then homework the afternoon just melts away and before I know it it's dinner time. I'm hoping once Abigail has her extra hour I will be able to get that little bit more organised and I defiantly need to get back to meal planning.

On Monday we had Abigail at a dentist to check on her broken tooth and we were relieved to get an appointment for her next week to get it sorted.

Today when we picked Abigail up she was all excited to tell us about a birds nest she made in the yard at lunchtime with her friends. I thought it was so sweet and they even included some berries for the birds to eat.

Ella was up a bit last night, she has a cold and gets herself worked up when she wakes up coughing so she took over my bed last night and got a good sleep. She was still a bit off this morning but was in fairly good form so off she went to school. She was in great form when I picked her up and happily crunched through the leaves the whole way home.

I love crunching the leaves, it's great when you get a big pile to jump in. The girls have noticed the leaves changing colour and are already talking about snow!! With the way the days are flying by it won't be long until we have Halloween and we all know what comes soon after that.

I have been very busy in the background with my blog and have some reviews coming up soon. The first one will be some fun toys to keep an eye on for the Christmas list. I also have some exciting news to share, I have just recently become a member of the Netflix Stream Team. I'm very excited about this as I love watching movies and discovering new tv shows and now I get to write about them too. Years ago I used to work in a movie shop and when we first had Abigail we lived above Xtra Vision and we didn't have any tv channels so watched movies and box sets all the time. I loved it! Tomorrow I will have a post on what's good to watch this month, the girls have been getting stuck into the kids shows.

How is everyone else settling into the school routine? Those of you with first timers how do you find it?

Monday, 8 September 2014

A bit of science

We have been very busy the last week settling into the school routine. So far it has gone a lot smoother then I was expecting and everyone is in reasonably good form just a little bit more tired. We took Abigail back to the dentist this morning to get her tooth checked again and were relieved to get a follow up appointment next week so that they can start work on it. She was very nervous but was super delighted when the nurse gave her a mask and gloves afterwards. Abigail is really into science at the moment after watching some YouTube videos where they did simple experiments. Off she went to school afterwards and myself and Owen went to the shops to pick up a few bits. We came across this science set and thought it would be a great idea to pick it up and surprise the girls for after school.

Abigail was so excited when she saw it "I can be a real scientist!!" The experiments were nice and fun and could easily be done without the set just household items (mostly baking soda and malt vinegar). Once homework was out of the way Abigail and daddy got their gloves on and set to work. They picked two experiments to try today.

The first one was of course the Exploding Erupting Volcano. They started out by measuring out the vinegar and safely pouring it into the plastic volcano that came with the set.

Next Abigail added a few drops of red food colouring.

And finally some bicarbonate of soda.

At first nothing happened so we added a bit more soda and quickly put the top on and then it started bubbling out!

Before we knew it we had a fully erupted volcano. The girls thought this was so cool but my goodness the smell of vinegar was so strong!!

For the second experiment they chose the Mega Fizz Inflating Balloon. This is one Abigail had seen before so she knew how it worked and was excited to try it. First you get an empty bottle and pour some vinegar into it.

Next Owen held open the balloon while Abigail carefully filled it with bicarbonate of soda. Because it took a second go with the volcano we decided to add a good bit of soda.

Then Owen carefully put the balloon onto the top if the bottle. He lifted it so that the soda would pour into the bottle. It reacted straight away fizzing up!

And then the balloon started to blow up..

It fizzed up so much we had to run out the back with it incase it popped!! The girls thought this was hilarious.

Maybe we put a bit too much bicarbonate of soda in lol.

This really was so much fun and so easily done. It really grabbed the girls attention and they can't wait to try more experiments. Great fun activity for all the family. What kind of fun things do you like to do as a family?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

How do you let it go?

"Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know.."

Those words aren't just the lyrics to a Disney song, they are reality. After going through a stressful period and successfully coming out the other side the last thing you want is to go back there. So when things start stressing you out again and you feel like you have no one to turn to who can understand what you're going through, what do you do? You keep it to yourself (conceal), you ignore the niggling feelings that keep you up at night, take away your appetite and make it hard to breathe (don't feel), and last you slap a smile on your face and let the world know you're fine, everything is great, when it's not (don't let them know).

Now I know that this is the wrong way to handle things but I still react this way. I bottle it all up until one day, like Elsa, it all comes out and I imagine people are horrified by what they see. The real you comes out and because it's been buried for so long it's raw and rough around the edges and you have no control over yourself. You don't want to leave the safety of your bubble because you worry what other people will make of you. When you are trying so hard to keep that armour on the outside shiny you forget how to look after yourself inside. But the reality of it all is people don't notice.. And if they do they don't want to know because everyone has their own problems.. Wouldn't it be great if we all just opened up?

I'm glad that I can recognise how I feel and what it's doing to me but it still doesn't solve the problem of how I deal with it. I'm getting there. Writing helps so maybe I should write more but I do get a bit of a block when it comes to writing how I feel just the same as when I try to speak.. It's never easy admitting you're not doing so good and so you try very hard to polish up the armour, stop the cracks showing, straighten out your smile and get on with it.. But I'm getting there.. I keep telling myself that..

How do you let it go?

I already feel a bit lighter after writing this down.. I find writing therapeutic, I really need to get more of me out and onto virtual paper..