Our Visit to Zippos Circus

We decided (along with some friends) to take the kids to Zippos Circus on Blackheath this Easter weekend.

If we had planned ahead we could have got some better seats/ ticket prices, but we left it until a couple of days before and managed to get side view tickets with 30% off. As it happens, side view is absolutely fine – you can see everything perfectly well.

We realised on our way there, that NONE of our kids had ever been to the circus and I think we adults were a bit more excited than the children, who actually didn’t know what to expect.

Seats are not pre-booked, only sections, you are shown to your seats when you arrive – so if you want to sit somewhere in particular get there early.

It was BOILING hot in the circus (and not a generally hot day), so advice is to definitely wear layers. We and our friends had to strip our 1 year olds, so they didn’t overheat. We also purchased some water, but you may want to take your own – these kinds of places always charge an arm and a leg for anything.

There was the usual tat being sold too, glow in the dark sticks that you can wave annoyingly until your arm hurts, popcorn, candy floss, overpriced burgers and drinks etc, and some other glow in the dark thing that went round and round and round until you are dizzy.

Not knowing how long the circus would be on for, we were surprised it would last for 2 HOURS! It does have a 20 minute interval, but I did worry about how I would keep a usually busy 1 year old interested in what was happening.

It stared out fairly slowly, with a chap who felt a bit like a ‘filler’ act to me, and I wasn’t feeling the circus vibe at this point. I was worried about the next 1 hour and 50 minutes to be honest.

But it picked up, some of the acts were VERY interesting, some vaguely interesting and some were pretty special. The horses were incredible, beautiful, talented and made the show for me), I also enjoyed the trapeze act at the end, even if their last pass at the end took 3 goes (part of the act, maybe?!), the strong man was interesting too. But all in all – it felt a bit samey. I don’t remember the last time I went to the circus, but I imagine it followed the same kind of performance schedule.

The two hours flew by in the end, and actually the kids LOVED it – sat with their mouths agape throughout the whole thing, and performed their own circus moves all the way home across the heath!

I’d recommend a visit if you can get the tickets at a discounted price, like we did! Check out their Facebook page for discounts!

Have fun!

 

Second hand stuff – #SecondhandForSeventy

I’ve been thinking more and and more about buying second hand.

I really do love it and I love the challenge that comes with saving money. So I’ve decided to to set myself a bit of a challenge to only buy second hand for the next 70 days, I’m calling it: #SecondhandforSeventy! 

(This obviously excludes food and toiletries) and ends 30th June 2014!

My dream has always been to start a children’s clothing consignment store here in London, so I think I have a keen eye for buying second hand items, and am lucky enough to be surrounded by people in the family who love it too. I love the fact that we’re helping to keep things out of landfill and generally helping the environment too.

By scrimping and buying second hand will I be losing out on quality, or durability. Do I lose anything by buying second hand? My mission is to find out and tot up how much I save!

Things I am looking out for (but that are not urgent):

- Furniture for the Wendy House (Oven/Cooker with accessories) and other bits to make it feel a bit homely, for pretend play.
- Sand table for garden big enough for Luke and Bug. They have a sand pit, so possibly just sand?
- Swing and slide set for garden or both to enjoy.
- Next size of clothes for Kids. 18+ months for Bug and 8 for Luke.
- Bicycle for Luke.

Not only am I buying secondhand, but selling unwanted and unused items second hand in a bid to free up some space in our garage and make some ££s in order to buy the next lot of things.

Jumperoo off to find a new home, hopefully!

Jumperoo off to find a new home, hopefully!

I’ll let you know how I get on and if you care to join me, please let me know how you get on too!

 

 

I am SO sick of chocolate

Never actually thought I would ever utter those words. I seriously love chocolate on a level unfathomable to anybody else.

I SO tried to be that cool Mum creating amazing traditions and memories, by letting the kids eat chocolate for breakfast (as a complete one off), but I was feeling absolutely sick myself too by about 7:20am. It didn’t help that I woke up to a scream of “YEAHHHHH IT’S EASTER!”  at 6am, and then felt nothing but panic as I hadn’t set anything up the night before. Stupid, stupid mummy! I was tired, in my tiredness last night, I thought to mysself as I dragged my sorry tired bum to bed ‘It’s OK, I’ll do it in the morning’. NO! DONT FALL INTO THAT TRAP!

(I even stayed up late looking at Pinterest ideas of Easter Egg Hunts and asked friends on Facebook about their Easter traditions… pffft!)

Please learn from my mistake, Mums and Dads. It’s never OK to do it in the morning, its always a rush and a panic and never the same.

Thankfully, I jumped in the shower and then bathed Bug, had the wife deal with Luke and washing him while I went downstairs to try and throw something together last minute that was worthy of an Easter Bunny Visit.

We totally pulled it off this time, but I reckon this might be the last year we get away with it for Luke. He’s just far too smart and asks lots of questions, none of which I can fob off any more without looking completely and guilty!

We had a lovely day though. A visit from my middle sister (their Auntie Bea-Bea – which is a rare treat, as she is just a very busy career gal!), with some chocolate and cuddles for the kids. My Mum and Nana Joan turned up and we all had lunch together and sat around watching Britain’s Got Talent and chin wagging. (Talking for those of you across the Pond *wink*)

Bug is at that incredible stage, where every single day she is learning something new and constantly amazing us. My favourite game is asking here where things are having her point at them. Her level of comprehension always blows my mind.

Today she could point at Lukey, Dog, Mom, Nana, Nana Joan, Mama and put both her hands on her head when I asked where she was. Amazing! She also pointed at Grammy AND signed for the first time today (Milk!). It’s a little close to ‘Hello’ – but I’M TOTALLY TAKING IT!

So, to date and at roughly 13.5 months old, she knows and can say the following words (though only on her terms, of course) and not in full some them – for instance Dog is Doh – DOH!:

  1. Dog
  2. Woof
  3. Hiya
  4. High Five (You don’t believe me right? Proof HERE!)
  5. Mama (obv!)
  6. Light (I don’t get why she is SO interested in them. Unless of course ghosts hide in them)
  7. Ball

Here are some gorgeous pics of our kids on their Easter Hunt. Thankfully we actually had some chocolate eggs, so I didn’t have to make them search for rolled up bits of used paper or used batteries or something ;-)

Anyway – so if anybody fancies some free chocolate, as the kids have been completely and utterly spoiled and can’t possibly eat all that chocolate (so I’ll have to)P PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!

 

Shopping in Mothercare

We spent some time with Nana Joan the other day, which is always lovely and as usual I had to pop to Mothercare for something. Since her birth I seem to have spent my life there. Mothercare for the American’s is a baby mecca.

I love Mothercare, Bug loves Mothercare especially now since she can walk and touch things and she made her way (read: tottered shoeless as mummy had forgotten them) straight to the back of the store to look at the dolls and stood at them with her arms out reached making excited ‘oooohh’ noises. Nana Joan fell for it hook line and sinker and was kind enough to buy Bug a Baby Mimi, who has great big puss-in-boot like eyes and a pouty lip. Luke got a Pirate ship which he is currently painting, photo to follow!

Out of all the dolls in the store, this was the one that Bug wanted. Despite being shown others (black, white, big little, boys and girls), she was only interested in this one:

Baby Mimi

Baby Mimi

 

Now anybody who knows me, knows that I absolutely do not push dolls, pink or anything considered ‘girly’ on Bug. I want her to like the things she likes because she likes them. Not because society tells her she should and I don’t buy into gender stereotyping. And yet somehow my darling daughter has discovered a love for – handbags, shoes, dolls and now clothes!

This was her perusing all the clothes, and pulling things from the rack. Why does she look like she has already spent a lifetime doing this?!:

Shopping like a well seasoned shopper!

Shopping like a well seasoned shopper!

No, No, I needs these pants to match this top!

shopping 2

More shopping at Mothercare

and unfortunately this was her face when I told her we had to go:

Oh the Drama!

Oh the Drama!

Oh the drama, what a cruel Mama I am!

While Bug was sleeping later, we finished our day by having a cheeky ice cream on Bleackheath. Perfect day <3

 

 

 

Family support

We’re really lucky to have a lot of family support from all over the country and in the US. I know that isn’t the case for everyone, hence knowing we are lucky.

Like take yesterday for example. My Step-Mum Debbie (Nanny Debbie to the kids) who has been in my life as long as I have had a memory, phoned the day before today, to see whether on the off chance we were in. Actually, for once – I have planned nothing this half term, and I was.

She came on a 2 hour round trip, to visit us and put the pelmet up in Bug’s bedroom. A pelmet and curtain we bought on a shopping trip recently to visit some local charity shops.

Charity shop bargain

Charity shop bargain

These are originally (I believe) from Laura Ashley. A similar pair were on ebay, with duvet for £89 used. I got two pairs of curtains and pelmets (and currently debating what to do with the other smaller pair) for £15!

I’d been after a set with a blackout blind once the clocks changed. Now admittedly, I wouldn’t have usually gone for pink, BUT at that price – who the hell cares. How fantastic do they look!?

She carried Bug around on her shoulders for a while (it’s Bug’s favourite thing!)

King of the castle!

King of the castle!

And my Dad surprised me by turning up with my Step-Mum, as I had briefly mentioned I had a bookcase I needed putting up. We had had a discussion a few days ago when I said I would call him back and run him through the fixings it needed so he could bring the right tools, and I had mentally filed this to look at it in about another 4-5 weeks – knowing I just didn’t have the time. I think he knew this, as he turned up with a tool box and and a drill. And again, look how fantastic it looks.

This is a Great Little Trading Company bookshelf, bought from a friend a few months ago:

bookshelf

 

In the space of an hour, they had sorted out 2 of the jobs on my loooongggg to-do list, without being asked.

We re very lucky! <3

 

Vaccination day!

Vaccinations, urgh!

I don’t want to get into a big debate them. It’s a difficult subject to raise with some other Mum’s as some people feel very strongly about not doing it. I feel pretty strongly about doing it for our children, BUT I also respect that it is ever other woman’s decision to make on behalf of their child.

Today, we took were took Bug for her rescheduled 12 month vaccination, the much talked about MMR.

We had rescheduled it because she was sick the last time she was supposed to have it …. and, she didn’t have it today because she is sick again! She’s had this horrendous cold for about 3 weeks now and about a week and a half ago developed  cough which only bothers her (and us!) at bedtime. She’s been OK, but has a slight raised temp and is uncharacteristically a little on the grumpy side.

So we’re booked in, the earliest they can see us – for another 4 weeks time! Here’s hoping she isn’t sick this time. I feel like we have spent all of 2014 in some kind of sickness bug, between us and the kids.

On a sunnier note, I wanted to share this beautiful picture of my beautiful kids.

Little P's enjoying a cuddle.

Please ignore all the baby stuff in the background, clearly I have a problem!

It’s rare that I can capture them in a picture together, Bug is so busy and big bro Luke is too interested in his projects for cuddles with his “sometimes annoying” little sister, so I treasure the ones I do capture!

Have a good Tuesday! It is Tuesday, right?!

 

Talking of charity shop bargains…

I thought I would show you two of mine from yesterday. Squeeeealllll!

Had such a lovely unplanned day out with my Mum and Nana Joan. Every Thursday my mum takes Nana shopping, and I tagged along for the first time. They have a very set routine of the shops they go to, in which order, who takes the trolley back, where they park , etc. Was actually quite funny to witness!

They took me to some amazing new charity shops, and here’s what I picked up!

Charity shop find - Trunki Case!

Charity shop find – Trunki Case!

A Trunki case, in full working order for £2.50!

and;

rocking

Another find – Mama’s & Papa’s rocker

A Mama’s and Papas reindeer rocker for £2! It was a bit grub, so needs a good clean.

I also picked up some clothes in bigger sizes for Bug, some t-shirts for Luke , two shirts for the wife and a beginners guide to knitting for myself. It was probably the best charity shop haul I’ve ever had! Does anybody else come back with their haul and then spend the next hour going through it and working out what the original prices were and what you would have saved – or is that just me?

The Trunki came in useful too, because poor old Luke threw up today (there’s a nasty bug doing the rounds by the sounds of it) and I had a split second before I knew he would throw up, the closest thing to hand was the case for Bug’s Megablocks.,  So he got 1/2 of it into that, 1/2 onto the sofa, some onto the carpet and a splatter on the wife’s face (LOL!) – so the Megablocks case has been binned and we now have a Trunki to store them in!

Thank goodness for the leather cover insurance we took out for our sofa – thought that would be a must when we ordered it! Will let you know how we get on with that claim….

Anyway – after a day of looking after a sick child (Luke) and a child on a tear (Bug), I am off to enjoy a VERY large glass of wine!

x

Ever wondered about Who is Addicted to Baby Stuff? Liebster Award!

I apologise for the quiet my end. Bug has been sick with an awful head cold and I’ve been stuck in that place of holding a clingy sick baby, so to make it up to you,I’m going to tell you a bit more about me/us!

The very lovely Kate at willowmakesthree.co.uk has nominated me for the Liebster Award. There are certain rules I need to follow and I also have to answer 11 questions. I love doing these type of Q&A, my readers get to know more about me and I get to know more about my fellow bloggers.

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

The rules for this are as follows:

1. You must link back to the person who awarded you.
2. You must answer the 11 questions given by the nominee before you.
3. You pick 11 nominees with under 200 followers to answer your questions.
4. You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.
5. You must tell your nominees that they have been nominated by you.

These are my questions…..

1. Who do you most admire?

My Nana Joan. I talk and write about her a LOT, because she is my happy place. I am completely overcome with a calm and a sense of clarity whenever I am around her. She is truly a ‘good person’ – and I’m not sure how many truly good people I know that I can count on my fingers. Her heart is in the right place, she cares about everything and everyone and she has an amazing amount of compassion. She’s smart, and beautiful too and EVERYONE but everyone loves her.

2. What is your favourite film?

I just can’t pick one, I have several I watch depending on the mood. I watch Beaches, when I need a good cry – and because I am a HUGEEE Bette Middle Fan. I watch Coyote Ugly, when I want to sing, I watch Duets when I want to watch some amazing singing, I watch Rent, when I want to see some amazing singing AND have a cry.  Life is Beautiful, because it’s beautifully sad and I love Italian. Sense a common theme here?! …Singing!

3. What was your favourite toy as a child?

I remember being bought this plastic case, that opened up and became a … wait for it – the excitement is building….. a post office! Ha! I can’t remember who made it, but I think it was brown plastic on the outside,  and inside had some stamps. I could shuffle paper, and stamp stuff, change the little clock and say we were closed, and generally feel important! I’m rolling my eyes at myself as I write this . What. A. Nerd!

4. Best holiday memory?

Last year by far. The wife, Bug, Luke and I went away for the whole of August, it was the best memory maker for me. Having friends and family stay with us throughout the month, and celebrating creating our family after such difficult and long, complicated struggles. The one memory that stands out for me though – will be the fact a whole entire LARGE (yummy) milkshake was spilt into the gearbox of our rental car. That was er, fun.

5. Favourite piece of jewellery?

My engagement ring. I am notoriously fussy about jewellery and I don’t wear much of it (nothing but a bracelet, pre engagement). I would be the MOST difficult person to pick out for, because even I don’t know what I like, until I see it. So my wife was extremely brave (or some would even think stupid!?) to pick out an engagement ring for me, without my input, without me knowing ANYTHING about it and without having ever asked me about my taste in rings, or measuring my finger.

And she got it SPOT on.

Engagement Ring

6. Something you wish you’d done differently?

I may need to come back to this, because I am honestly finding this difficult to answer. So many things in my life, that If I had done them differently, would have led me up a completely different path and I am just so happy and content with where I am now in my life. Well, apart form being skinnier – I’d take that!

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

I hope to be in the same house, with my darling wife and our amazing children doing the same things, but with more children thrown in for good measure. Skinnier, again! ;-)

8. What made you start your blog?

My wonderfully inspiring, talented and helpful friend Daniella. I love to write, I adoooreeeee baby things, I have a bit of spare time – it was an easy decision! But honestly, without her help and expertise, I would just not be here.

9. What is your favourite song of all time?

Arghhhh – you’re asking an ex (retired!) singer what her favourite song is! No. I can’t answer it, its too hard to decide!

I feel pressured to answer now! Well, one that I have enjoyed singing and has a particular significance in my life, is the Wind Beneath my Wings. Someone, who I consider to be my 2nd Mum (who very sadly died 10 years ago, unexpectedly), stood with me on a stage in London, while I sang that song in front of people for the first time (and not at a Karaoke) before I moved out to the US to live with her and study there. It was the first time, I felt that anybody truly recognised I had a voice and was supportive.

10. If you were a Disney character, who would you be?

Rapunzel! My hair is getting soooooo long! Following recommendations from my wonderful mobile hairdresser, I’ve been conditioning my hair with two new products – even my wife told me that my hair looked extra super shiny today *hair flick*, without ANY PROMPTING! Though she did accuse me of turning into a hair sniffer. *sniff*

11. Do you have a favourite picture?

This is my favourite picture, really needs no words. <3

Luke and Bug, Sept 13

Luke and Bug, Sept 13

So offer to figure out some nominations and questions!

E x

Buying second-hand baby things

For me, there really is nothing quite like the thrill of a second hand bargain.  I just love buying something knowing that it costs a lot more new and always keep a mental tally of how much we have saved.

I come from a long line of family charity shoppers and I’m pleased to say my in-laws like to get in on the action too (in the US), browsing thrift stores and estate sales when time and money allows. I love to go with them too, there’s something so fun about visiting foreign charity shops and supermarkets, isn’t there? Don’t get me started on consignment shops too – they are a new thrill too and we could definitely do with more of those here in the UK.

As young children we were dressed mostly from jumble sales and hand made items – of course I had no clue at the time. As a teenager it was THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING EVER to be dressed in second hand clothes, because ‘obviously’ your parents couldn’t afford new. And then as an adult, I fell in love with them and now spend a good percentage of my time in Charity shops. I am naturally drawn to those who too love the thrill of a bargain…but, back out of ‘MY’ shops! ;-)

I never really got into boot fairs though, perhaps the idea of sometimes being outside in all elements! I did hold one once just to give it a try and ended up selling everything at about 20p, just to get rid of things and I think someone pinched something ridiculous too, so love affair very quickly over. It just to me, feels like there is a little more tat at Boot Fairs, though that’s not to say you don’t get a bargain. My mum is an avid boot sale a-go-er (is there a word for them?!) and often comes home with lots of exciting bargains!

With the invention of the internet, the thrill of finding a second hand bargain went global! Suddenly local Facebook’s group were started (one of which, I myself started in my local borough), eBay mean’t you could find bargains in other countries, easily. This just served to fuel mine (and others) bargain hunting desires! I know of people who source second hand items and re-sell on ebay for a profit. I’m afraid that’s much more dedicated that anything I could manage.

Last week, I went for lunch with my Step-Mum, and we decided to hit up a couple of charity shops after. In one, I found a Sophie Giraffe teething toy for £1 (£12 ish to buy new!). I have one for Bug and nearly every baby I have ever met, has one. I tell you what though, you’ll cry real tears when your baby accidentally throws it out of the pram for you to lose it forever – goodbye £12, buy another – thats TWENTY FOUR BLOOMING POUNDS on a rubber giraffe your baby dribbles on or chooses to ignore regularly! Doesn’t hurt quite so bad at £1! So I’ve snapped it up, sterilised it and popped it away for my middle sis, for when she has a baby/babies. <3

As a first time Mum, of course there are going to be things you want to enjoy buying new and a few things that shouldn’t actually be bought second-hand for safety reasons; mattresses and car seats to name a couple of things (unless of course you know the people they have come from and the car seat has not been in an accident).

I think as your child grows and you discover just how quickly they grow out of clothes (every 3 months for the first year!) and out of interest with toys (when actually they just want to play with an empty coke bottle), you realise that it’s just so silly to spend so much money on clothes/toys they will literally wear a few times over a couple of months.

It’s become a personal challenge (almost like a full time job for me) to find good deals. So here are my tips for finding baby things cheaper:

- Try your Local paper! Old school, but still a good way to source things.
- eBay; saved searches is a good way to get updates on things that have been listed, in case you forget to search one week.
- local FB selling groups, especially as there wont be any postage costs to pay or auction fees!
- Charity shops are still my absolute favourite!
- Boot fairs, weather permitting and depending on how brave you are ;)
- Combining cashback, voucher codes and sales for online retailers can sometimes lead to a really competitive price for a new product that will cost about the same secondhand. I am a big fan of HDUK and VoucherCodes for these very reasons
- Family friends; if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Definitely worth asking.
- Swapping with friends or online swap sites
- Buy mixed lots/ bulk buy on ebay and local fb groups. There will hopefully be a few good pieces to make it a good deal and the rest can be donated.
- NCT Sales are another favourite of mine too. If you volunteer, you’ll also get to have a look at the goodies before anybody else ;)
- Checking out second hand shops/charity shops when you are away, sometimes the exchange rate can work in your favour!

There are of course things you buy second hand that you will be able to sell back for either their cost, or more – if you are lucky! Vintage Fisher Price toys for children I have seen go for a pretty penny and Cloth Nappies tend to hold their value/lose very little too in my experience.

So how much should items cost? I always research my items against local FB groups (try to remember!) and eBay items that have sold (remember there are fees associated with that, so I knock a bit off if buying elsewhere). As a general rule though if you ‘re paying half, you are paying too much! I’d like to think around a 1/3 is about the right price – but of course it depends entirely on what and where you buy things.

Happy shopping and bargain hunting, I’d LOVE to hear about your best bargain and if you have any bargain hunting tips to share?

E x

 

 

Do you have a favourite outfit/items of clothing for your child(ren)?

Do you have a favourite outfit for your child(ren)?

I totally do.

I love dungarees. I luuuurve polka dots, I adore purple –  putting them together and adding some corduroy made me feel things that you just probably shouldn’t about clothes! And what’s more, I just happened across this one day in H&M. There was only one pair on the shelves and they were in the next size up and as everyone knows, H&M clothes are very reasonably priced. It was as if the clothing fate fairy just landed in our lap. I had to have them (for my little Bug, of course!) 

Image

I snatched them up and hurried to the till and Bug has been wearing this pair (sized 12 months) for at least the last couple of months – of course now she is starting to fit them, I am panicking about her outgrowing them. I am the kind of clothes shopper, that when I find something I really REALLY like, I need lots of them in different sizes and colours!

They wash beautifully, I can tumble dry them (which is a god send for any mum) and there’s no ironing needed as they come up beautifully.

H&M don’t appear to have them online anymore or in any stores and ebay are not showing any second hand pairs (apart from one pair in her current size, in an auction I have missed).

My advise to other mums; when you find something you like – buy it and stash it, choose one in every colour, and size until they are 18 (or have their own opinion on what to wear!)

I am so SO sad that this love affair with them will be over soon, so this is a very public plea H&M:

H&M – Please help me love your fabulous clothes for just a little bit longer and help me find a bigger size pair of your very gorgeous and loved dungarees <3