Wednesday, 10 February 2016

How not to get ready for the school run...

The school run.  I'll be honest, most mornings I'm pretty good at it, but you know those mornings when things don't quite go to plan?  Today has been one of those days.

8.30 am and I realise that I've got a whole ten minutes to lavish upon my actual self and so I decide to attempt eye makeup (I know, right? For the school run!).

Why is it that when I try to behave like a normal person, a child always appears to ask me something/whinge/need help etc etc?

So off I go to do whatever it is I've been asked to help with (in today's case, breaking up another argument between the twins - although it wasn't that, they were playing.  It just sounded like they were trying to kill each other).

We get ready, nearly out of the door...

Then I see myself in the mirror.

Yeah, didn't quite finish off the eye make up.

This begs the following questions:

Why did none of the kids tell me I was about to leave the house like this?
Didn't they think I looked a bit odd?
Do they even look at my face any more?

Next week, how the school run is crap (quite literally). 



Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Feeding the Birds with Wilko

If you follow me over on Instagram or Twitter you might have noticed that a couple of weeks ago, one Tuesday morning I was busy building a bird table in my kitchen.

We'd been sent a parcel of bird feeding goodies as part of the Wilko Wild Bird Blogger project to help try to attract some little feathered friends into our garden.

Now, usually the offer of any garden related blogging project would have me yelling "hell no!" and politely turning it down - our garden has seen better days and I'm no Alan Titchmarsh.  But happily one of the advantages of not being the world's best gardener is that I've noticed how much wild birds enjoy our messy garden!

We've had a small bird feeder at the bottom of the garden for a few years and while it was getting regular visitors up until very recently, we had to take the feeder away because some of the feed had sprouted in the wet weather, and the birds couldn't get to the seeds behind the soggy blockage (nor would they want to - yuk!).

I was really quite excited when our wild bird pack arrived.  It contained a beautiful little nesting box, a bird table kit, a bird cage seed feeder and a bag of wild bird seed mix to get us started.  All the items come from the Wilko Wild Bird feeding range and although I've never shopped at Wilko before I was really impressed by the quality of the items.

Our Wilko Wild Bird Blogger Pack

As I mentioned before, I put the bird table together, yes, me, all by myself!  I'm not a DIY expert but the instructions were easy to follow and the table was soon up and finished in the space of about half an hour (I had time for a cup of coffee too).


In terms of placing the table, I decided that I'd put it on the edge of our decking just in front of the kitchen window, so that I could see any birds while I was doing the washing up (such a glamorous lifestyle I lead). We have a pebbled edge to the deck, so I nestled the table into that and surrounded the base with some terracotta pots for good measure.  The table is quite light but I can confirm that it hasn't fallen over once, not even in the very high winds we've been having here recently.  Another advantage to the slightly smaller table is that, as yet, none of the visiting pigeons have been tempted to land on it and take any of the food.  All in all a thumbs up from me.

Our bird table flanked by pots

The feeder we were sent is probably one of the best bird feeders I have seen.  We've been through a few in the past as they tend to break down and fall apart after a while.  This one is not only great because it has a cage around it to keep away the bigger birds or any squirrels that fancy a nibble too, but at £6 it is such good value.  I have paid way more at our local garden centre for something with far fewer features.  The catch on the top of the feed compartment is the best bit though, it's so strong - nothing is getting into that that shouldn't be.

For small birds only

I've hung our new feeder on the original feeder stand at the bottom of our garden.  It's nice and quiet down there and the birds love flitting between the tree branches and feeder.

So, did the birds come to our garden?  Well, yes they did, although after the wettest and windiest few weeks I wasn't sure I'd ever see any.  But sure enough, while standing by the kitchen sink over the weekend I noticed some sparrows on our feeder!  Unfortunately, a brown bird against a brown fence in a shady part of the garden is probably one of the more ambitious things I could think of to try to photograph, but you'll have to believe me, they were there!

I have also seen, as it gets dark (and I'm yet again doing the washing up!) a robin checking out the bird table as well as a pair of nesting blackbirds (their nest is at the bottom of the garden).  Still no sign of the blue tits that we had here last year, but as I say the weather has been terrible here recently - they are probably hiding still.

With a bit of luck we'll soon see some new occupants to our nesting box.  We had birds nesting in our roof last year and I'd quite like to see them move into the sweet little nesting box which we've hung on the back of the garden shed (a bargain at £2.50).

Nesting box

The twins have enjoyed seeing the birds too, and the mere mention of the bird table had twin girl hitting Google for ideas on what we could put out for the birds (The RSPB website has some really good suggestions).  It has definitely sparked their imaginations, although they did ask whether any owls would be visiting as they are learning about those in school, but I'm not popping any dead field mice on the bird table for anyone!.

Just some seeds and bread for our birds!

I am planning on getting some more bird feeding products from the Wilko website soon - they have a huge selection of feeds for attracting different birds to your garden and in particular I'm keen to try their suet insect blocks, which we've had from the garden centre before, the birds go mad for them in Spring and the Wilko ones are priced very competitively.

We've loved being part of the Wilko Wild Bird Blogger Project, not only to sample some of their fab new range first hand, but also so that we can learn a little more about looking after our garden wildlife too.

We were sent a Wilko Wild Bird Blogger pack containing the items mentioned above for the purpose of this review.  All words and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Language of Parenthood

I've thought about the language I use around the children a bit recently.

I don't mean that sort of language, bad language, but just the general sort of things I say.

The teen boy asked me a question the other day (I can't remember what the question was exactly, they ask me so many, but it probably started with the words "can I"), and my answer was "maybe".

"Yesss!!!" exclaimed the teen.

"What do you mean, Yes?" said I.  "I said maybe!"

"But when parents say "maybe" then that usually means they are going to let you do something anyway".

He had a point.  I use the word maybe like a kind of place holder - when I want to say yes, but I've got to speak to DH first and check to see whether what it is I'm saying yes to is a) too expensive, b) too ridiculous or c) too inappropriate.  I have to say, as far as the teens go I have no idea most of the time, and it's good to have a second opinion isn't it?

There are loads of other things I say, which sound like one thing but which mean something completely different, so for future family reference, I've complied a handy guide.

Maybe - Yes but let me check with your father first because I'm really not 100% confident in my parenting abilities.

In a minute - Go away and leave me alone

Next time - next time we come here/do this I'm hoping that you'll have forgotten that you've asked me

Soon - Never

No - No, no, no, oh OK yes. Anything to stop your moaning.

Why don't we do it after school? - No, I really don't want to do this now and after school you'll be too tired with any luck

If you don't do *insert name of task with improbable likelihood of being completed here* then I'll turn off the WiFi/the electricity supply to the plug sockets in the house/Netflix - I won't for more than about half an hour, I need those things too... #emptythreats

Pardon? - I have no idea what you just said although I'm pretty sure it's rude, and wtf is "on fleek" anyway?

Yolo - I think I'm down with the kids

I understand - I don't really understand but I'm trying to sound sympathetic so that you don't cry/storm off/get even more upset.  Perhaps I should just have said "maybe" and called for parental backup?

Parental language explained

The language of parenthood is a beautiful one (or something), but sometimes I think it would have been easier to learn Japanese...


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

In Nature...

We re-joined the National Trust last month.  We've exhausted all the usual free places to walk around here and we missed the Trust properties - after all they have proper parking and really good coffee shops.

Unfortunately we haven't been out as much as I'd have liked due to colds and illness sweeping our ranks, but on our first visit to a local National Trust haunt I snapped the following shot, which is too funny not to share.

Let me set the scene...

The teen, on hearing that we were going for a Sunday morning walk did his best to argue back, "We're not really going, are we?  But walking, it's outside... in nature!"

Eventually we threatened him with turning off the Wifi forever if he didn't come with us persuaded him it would be fun.

Here he is. My teen boy, enjoying a Sunday morning stroll.  In Nature.

"I'm thrilled to be outside"

Got to love spending time with the family, eh?


Monday, 1 February 2016

The Mummy Garmin

I'm sorry I've been quiet on the blogging front this past few weeks.  The reason is that I've been getting into running again.  I'm a bit obsessed in fact.  If I'm not running then I'm thinking about running, browsing running gear online or admiring my running stats.  Yes, I am that annoying friend on Facebook, who is always posting Map My Run updates.

So much so that for Christmas I asked for, and received, a running watch.  It's my pride and joy and a useful piece of kit to boot.  And, over the past month or so my running has started to improve.  My new running watch has shown me where I've been going wrong.

I think that's fantastic, but what about other areas of my life that could do with some improvement? Garmin should totally make a version for mums, to help us manage and improve our days.  It would be a sure fire hit. I mean, everybody knows how us mums are only happy when we're being told exactly how to better ourselves, or when we have a set of statistics to measure our own performance by...

So I give you, the Mummy Garmin.

It has the following features:

1.   Timing

How quickly can you do the school run, the vacuuming, a whole basket full of ironing?  The Mummy Garmin not only records your time but alerts you when you have a new personal best, encouraging you to aim high at all times. Reach for the stars people - or at least reach for another pair of school trousers to iron more quickly.  Download the app and then add your results to our leader boards, compete with your friends and win prizes absolutely nothing at all.

Work it, baby!  This is a bedroom vacuuming PB!

2.  Pace/Splits

While runners may be interested in which mile or kilometre was their best, or which one is always the slowest to help improve their overall performance, the Mummy Garmin will tell you which portion of you day you are best at and which needs more work. Get your split times for Breakfast, getting dressed, the school run, the housework, doing the weekly shop and, the toughest of them all, the bath time/bedtime routine (which let's face it is like running a marathon most nights).

3.  Heart Rate Monitor

Add the optional heart rate monitor so that the Mummy Garmin can keep track of your heart rate during your daily tasks.  Toddler having a meltdown?  School gate parking getting on your nerves?  Teenager refusing to do their homework (again)?  Once your heart rate exceeds the maximum acceptable level, the Mummy Garmin will alert you so that you can calm yourself down with a nice gin and tonic.  Oh yes.

I am dangerously close to my maximum heart rate, honest...

4.  Calorie Tracking

Ever wondered how many calories you burn up during the usual menial essential tasks?  Fear not!  The Mummy Garmin has this covered too.  Not only does it count how many calories burnt while carrying out such physical activity as changing a toddler's nappy or fishing out hair clips and squashed raisins from the gap down the back of the sofa, it also tells you how many squares of chocolate you can safely have to replace them.  Forget complicated calorie conversions and never put on weight again, genius!

A handful of hair clips from down the back of the sofa = all this chocolate?  Ace!

5.  Notifications

Fed up of forgetting things on the school run?  Always missing important messages?  The Mummy Garmin has a helpful email, text and call notifications feature.  About to leave for school again without the appropriate dressing up costume... Ding! The Mummy Garmin alerts you with a direct message to it's screen.  After-school clubs cancelled...Ding!  The Mummy Garmin sends the text straight to your wrist. Includes optional Parentmail screening, helping you weed out the communications that you deem irrelevant, such as Boxercise classes in the school hall, anything PTA related, and texts from teenagers complaining that they've forgotten to bring their PE Kit/Calculator to school (want me to bail you out again?  Tough luck).

Ahh, thanks Mummy Garmin, you've made me look less crap forgetful

As you can see the Mummy Garmin is a tool to help you parent faster, better and more efficiently while keeping your well-being in mind, then presenting it in a handy graph for you to obsess over for few hours until bedtime, when you think "Holy Crap!  I've got to do this all over again tomorrow!  What is the point of all these numbers?"  Kind of like a regular fitness tracker really.

Oh and sleep tracking?  Don't make me laugh.  We all know that there'd be no point in that. #whatis8hoursunbrokensleepexactly

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Dr Seuss - What Pet Should I Get?

"Can we get a dog?"  said the twin boy on the way home from school one Monday afternoon.

"Why do you want a dog?" I replied.  He didn't know, but at the minute he just wants a pet.  This is just part of many recent discussions on the subject of pets.  His sister really likes rabbits and cats and birds.  Needless to say they can't decide on one (even if I was going to let them have a pet - I'm not).

Coincidentally, that same day a new book arrived for review.  What Pet Should I Get? by Dr Seuss.

I was quite excited about this book, not only because I thought it would be quite interesting for the twins given the recent pet ownership negotiations, but because the book itself is a gorgeous hardback book full of lovely quirky illustrations as you'd expect from the Dr Seuss collection.

In the book a brother and sister go to a pet shop to choose a pet, except when they get there they can't decide which is the best pet to get!

What Pet Should I Get concentrates on how difficult it is to make up your mind.  Well, it is when you are little, isn't it?

I read this book with the twins after school one day. It was a great book to help them wind down after a day at school and fired up plenty of pet-based discussion.  We liked the rhyming storyline, so typical of Dr Seuss books.  Twin girl read it to us with relative ease, all the way to the end.

But which pet did Kay and her brother end up choosing?

The book ends on a cliffhanger - YOU have to decide!  I'm pretty sure we've narrowed it down to a cat, or maybe a dog, rabbit or a bird!  You see!  Choosing is tricky!

This has become a favourite for reading at bedtime and the illustrations add some extra humour to the story. Because its a hardback book I think it would make a lovely gift too.

What Pet Should I Get? published by HarperCollins Children's Books, is priced at £12.99 and is available from 28th January 2016.

We were sent a copy of What Pet Should I Get? for the purpose of this review.  All words and opinions are our own.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The things they don't tell you about having twins... (No. 176)

Forget how do you bottle feed two babies at once.  Forget weaning tips or getting twins into a synchronised routine.  How exactly do you handle it when one twin loses a wobbly tooth and gets a visit from the tooth fairy and the other doesn't?

The books do not tell you about that.


My sister gets £1 from the tooth fairy and I get nothing?
Being a twin sucks.

We may or may not have been a bit late for school that day, as a result of the above.