Thursday, September 25, 2014

The List - My Blogging Goals

I had a bit of a break from blogging again last week. It wasn't planned, but sometimes life just doesn't allow the time.

At the beginning of the month, as the new school term started and I was faced with the reality of a house with no children running around, I said I would get a lot of blogging done while home alone on my days off from work. It was a great idea, but obviously didn't happen. It's funny because I thought I would post a lot this month but in fact I've posted less than any other month in my blog's short life so far.

It's no big deal though. I'm not going to bang on about losing my mojo or inspiration or any of that crap, the simple fact of the matter is I couldn't be arsed this month at all. I'm not sure if it's the worrying about Caitlin fitting in, or the stresses of Neil's transition form p1 to p2, but I've been shattered, and blogging has been the last thing on my mind.

I'm back now though, thanks to a list I jotted down in my notebook a few nights ago when I was bored, a list of 'future blog ideas'. Most of them were garbage, but it wasn't the contents of the list that inspired me, it was purely the act of making the list that gave me the kick up the bum that I needed to get writing again.

Today the tots100 chart for September was released. I fully expected to have dropped a fair bit, given that I have been very quiet during the summer months and this month especially. I'm not going to lie, I do enjoy finding out where I have placed each month. It's not something I dwell on, it's certainly not the be all and end all, but it is nice to see how I'm doing. I know people will argue it's not a good indicator and all that jazz, but I do still like to have a little look.

I was very pleased to find I had gone up almost 100 places to 752 this months. I'm pleased with that, very pleased in fact. I'm not usually one to talk about rank and all because what does it really matter, but it really got me thinking about the future and what's next for my blog.

I feel motivated to set myself some little goals for the months ahead, so here goes:

  • I've been blogging for 8 months now, only 4 months to go until I can blow out some little candles and celebrate a whole year of blogging. I'm aiming to be in the top 500 on the tots charts in time for my blog-birthday. For me, this would be a fantastic achievement, and I feel it's doable, if I put in a little extra effort.
  • I'd love to find a sponsor for Britmums Live 2015. I have my heart set on this one, although I'm not sure it's as achievable as my first goal. I realise that finding a sponsor means making myself and my blog a bit more 'sponsorable', if that's even a word, which leads me on to my next goal...
  • Be more consistent. I need to organise my time and work out some sort of schedule of when I'm going to post. I'd love to say I will start posting every day, but that's just not realistic, so I need to find something that works for me and then stick to it. This is something I think is really important, and it's something I have seen time and time again in 'blogging tips' posts.
  •  Don't sweat the small stuff. When I have a fews days of not blogging, I freak out, and then spend way to much time dwelling on it instead of enjoying my time with my family. So while this totally contradicts the above goal, I need to remember that it's ok to take a break sometimes, because sometimes a wee break is just what you need to gather perspective and sort your ideas out. 

Ok, so my list this week is a bit short, but I'd rather set a small list of goals and achieve them all than write a huge list of stuff I'm never going to stick to.

I'm linking up with  Mums' Days and You Baby Me Mummy for their fabulous linky, The List. Because I love making lists...


Mums' Days

LamaLoLi Childrens Clothing Review

When you have children it seems like there is a never ending list of things that you need to buy, particularly when it comes to clothes. When choosing clothes, Caitlin has a tendency to want all of the stuff with characters on them, either Hello Kitty, or Doc or Sophia, or whatever the latest Disney craze is. Of course, this usually means the price is considerably more than the unbranded clothes, and I often have to say no and choose something plain for her.

When we were given the opportunity to try some clothes from LamaLoLi, we counldn't say no!


  If I'm being honest, I'd never heard of them before, and didn't know what to expect. After spending a few minutes on their website, I was plesantly surprised. They sell a large range of Children's and Adult's clothing, branded with some of the most popular characters, including Skylanders, Barbie, Ninja Turtles, Disney Princess, Frozen, Spiderman, and Caitlin's absolute favourite.... My Little Pony.

We have struggled to find My Little Pony clothes for Caitlin with out paying over the odds, but LamaLoLi have a good selection of MLP, and it doesn't cost the earth.

They have a huge selection of clothes. We were absolutely spoilt for choice, and it took us a good while to decide what to pick. Unfortunately they don't sell Minecraft, so Neil was instantly disinterested. This was good news for Caitlin as it mean't she could choose two things for herself.

After much deliberation she decided on some Pinkie Pie Pyjamas at £6.95, and a Hello Kitty Outfit at £9.95. The delivery is £4.95 to the UK, which is ok if you are ordering a few bits. We opted for an age 6, because both of the things she had her heart set on where out of stock in her size, so we were expecting them to be a little big when they arrived.

Where the package arrived, she was so excited and couldn't wait to try them on.


As expected, the Hello Kitty outfit was a little big, but not so big that she can't wear it. It has plenty of room and will fit her for a while, which is a bonus.
The leggings are three quarter length which is perfect during the nice weather we have been enjoying, however the t-shirt is is a fantastic shape, and looks great with a pair of long leggings or skinny jeans.
I was worried that the low cost of the items may mean compromising on quality but I couldn't have been more wrong.


Of Course, the My Little Pony Pyjamas are what she was most excited about. She loved the design, it's perfect for any MLP fan. Caitlin has even worn the top as a t-shirt with a pair of jean, because without the shorts it's hard to tell that it's supposed to be pj's.

The Pj's were not as big as I was expecting for an age 6. They are almost a perfect fit for her, and there's certainly not as much room to grow as there is with the Hello Kitty outfit.

The quality on these is fantastic again. The print on the front of the top is well done and feels like it has staying power, which is good because I've found with some clothing brands the motifs fade and crack after a few washes. Both the pyjamas and the set have been washed numerous times and they still look new.

All in all I'm very impressed with LamaLoLi and I'm glad I was introduced to them. I'm already thinking about getting the kids Christmas Jarmies from them, and some of the little outfit sets would make great gifts for friends birthdays.

You can shop for these items plus many more at LamaLoLi. You can also find them on Facebook & Twitter.

I was sent these items of clothing free of charge for my honest review. As usual, all opinions are absolutely my own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Park Fun

We have lived in our village for four and a half years now, and could hardly complain about a thing. There has been one issue that has bothered me since we got here though, and that was the condition of the local play park.

The park in the village consisted of what appeared to be painted scaffholding   a dodgy looking climbing frame, a mound of concrete with a slide attached to it, some swings and lots of broken glass. It wasn't fit for purpose when it was built, never mind now!

Last year they built a park about a mile out of the village along a main tourist road. While it was a good park, it wasn't built with residents of the village in mind, and without a car getting to the park became quite the ordeal. I think all residential areas should have access to a good play park, because it is great for the kids.

At the end of the summer we noticed a patch of grass had been fenced off on the green near our house. After a little bit of speculation, we found out it was going to be a new play park. Caitlin loved walking round to check how the build was coming along each day, and relay back a progress report to Neil and Daddy.

The hotly anticipated new park opened at the weekend and the kids love it. We got dressed early on Saturday morning and headed over to try and beat the crowds. When we arrived n one else was there, and the kids wasted no time getting stuck in. We went again on Sunday, and then again today. I can barely keep them away!







Neil and Caitlin have had an absolute blast trying out all of the new play equipment. Neil is usually very reluctant to join us on little outings but he's dressed and waiting at the door at the first word of 'the new park', and I'm thrilled to be getting him out and about for a bit.

It really helps that we've enjoyed some glorious weather these last few days. We've really been making the most of the sunshine and enjoying a bit of time outdoors before the cold hits. Not that a bit of cold weather is going to stop these two...


Super Busy Mum


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School Struggles

Starting school for the first time is often quite a stressful time for both parents and children alike. It's a massive change, and can take some getting used to. Of course every child is different, and while some take to this whole school thing like a duck to water, some don't handle the change quite so well.



I really thought Caitlin would be part of the first group. She spent a lot of the summer telling me how excited she was, almost counting down the days until she could go to school. She was thrilled by the prospect of meeting new people and making lots of new friends.

Last year we had a tough home to school transition with Neil, but we had prepared ourselves for that. This year, with Caitlin, I expected it to be different. I expected her to skip in to school each morning without a care, and then come bounding out at 12.30 full of stories. Instead, when I pick her up, I see pure relief in her smile. As children head away with their mummies and daddies, calling 'bye' to each of their friends, Caitlin stares straight ahead, desperate to get away.

We take the car home with one of the girls in her class and her mummy. The little girl often tries to talk to Caitlin, but again she stares straight ahead, without a response. When we get out of the car she won't even say bye to them.  If anyone tries to talk to her at the bus stop in the morning she turns to face the other way. I've tried to gently encourage her to reply but she won't.

I even had her class room assistant pull me to one side on one of the days and say they were concerned that she wasn't well because she had been very quiet and wouldn't speak or join in with anything.

I've asked her what is wrong, why she won't speak to anyone and she says it's because she is shy. It breaks my heart to think of her sitting at school feeling like she can't talk to anyone or join in.

The whole thing seems to be really upsetting her, and the worst thing is, she is too afraid to tell me.
She plasters on a smile and tells me she loves it, but her actions tell a different story. She's been asking if I will sleep with her, and often climbs in to my bed at night, something she hasn't done for a while. She has also been bursting in to tears over what would seem like the silliest of things.
I found her standing in Neil's bedroom one night when I came upstairs, and jokingly told her she had been caught red handed. She ran out of the room sobbing and barricaded herself in her bedroom, which is another thing she has been doing a lot recently.

When I ask her what is wrong she tells me nothing. I've tried to ask if school is upsetting her and she says no. I don't want to push it because I don't want to make a big deal out of it, because it's probably not a big deal. It's probably just a case of Mummy being a massive worrier, as I always am.

Now I know what you are probably thinking, and it's the same as what others have said to me, "Give it time, she's only been at school for a week, she will settle in", and I know these things can take time, but I just hate the idea of her feeling sad or left out.

 I signed her up for singing lessons in school, hoping that will help boost her confidence a little bit. She had her first lesson today, and was so excited that they got to sing 'Do you wanna build a snowman' from frozen. She also has some colouring in, and a little set of instructions of how to stand for singing, which she has to practice at home.


I don't know what else I can do... It's not like I can go in to school with her. I can only encourage her and hope that it's just a confidence issue, and hope that she will come out of her shell soon.

Does anyone have any advice on this, should I be giving her time to find her feet, or should I be encouraging her a bit more? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Word of the Week - Routine

We have almost finished the first week of the new school term. The week has had it's highs and lows, but we've made it. 

It's always tough getting back in to something after 9 weeks away from it, the massive change in routine is something that takes getting some used to, and so my word of the week this week is...


Yes, gone are the lazy mornings in our pj's, we actually have to get dressed when we get up now... imagine that!

The school routine has well and truly started. For me this means 6.45 starts, which in my opinion should be made illegal. Ok, I'm well aware that some children have their parents up at this time in the morning everyday, and I feel for you, I really do, but for us, this isn't normal!

The wee man doesn't like school, and not just in your normal 'school sucks' kind of way, I mean it really stresses him out. To try and eliminate any extra stress, we have quite a set routine in the morning, so he knows what is coming and what to expect.

After getting uniforms and snack bags ready, I wake the rest of the house at 7.30 and we get breakfast. At 7.45 we get our teeth brushed, and then we all get dressed. At 7.55 we check the school bags and everything are ready, and that the kids have everything they need. This leaves 25 minutes free time so that the kids can relax before leaving for the school bus at 8.25. This allows Neil to indulge in his special interest for a bit before school, which helps relax and calm him.

This is Caitlin's first year as part of the busy school routine. She didn't go to nursery, and last year she favoured sitting watching TV in her pyjamas as I got Neil ready. This year things are a bit more hectic, trying to sort two kids uniforms, two bags, two snacks, the two kids both needing to get dressed at the same time, running frantically from room to room trying to sort them both out.

I'm not great at being organised, remembering who needs what, and when for.

God help me when I need to start co-ordinating who needs their library books on what day, and after school clubs, and all that jazz. I may need to re think our routine as the year goes on, or try and organise myself a bit better, or I'll end up frazzled by the end of the year! Also, if someone could add a few extra hours to the night so I could get a bit more sleep, that would really help...

But anyway, we have managed to navigate the mornings as best we can, and despite my moaning we have started to settle back in to some sort of routine. It's now Thursday night, almost at the end of the first week. One more crazy morning rush and then we can relax for two days, and pretend 6.45 doesn't exist before it all starts again on Monday!

How have you coped with the back to school routine. Do you have any tips for managing that morning mayhem?
The Reading Residence

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Silence

Have you ever stopped to listen to the sounds around you, and heard absolutely nothing? I haven't, at least, not for the last five years. Which is why it seems so weird to be sitting here, the only sound coming from my fingers tip tapping on the keyboard, and as I pause to think, I hear nothing.

Silence!

I don't like it.

The funny thing is, this time last week I'm sure I was hiding in the kitchen trying to drink a cup of coffee, yelling at the kids to give me peace. I've spent the whole summer telling the kids to use their inside voice, to be quite, to turn the telly down, to stop bickering.

And it's not just the summer. I've spent the last five years wishing someone would shove a sock in Peppa Pigs mouth, because if I had to listen to her annoying voice one more time I'd be sticking my foot through the TV.

But today, as I sit here in silence, I'd be happy to hear some Peppa Pig. Or the sound of Caitlin laughing, or Neil shouting "Muuuuum" at increasing volumes until I replied. I'd be happy to hear the sound of them fighting over whose turn it was to pick a movie, or their feet stomping up the stairs like little elephants.

I've tidied up this morning, and a few hours later it is still tidy. I've made myself a cup of coffee and actually drunk it while it is hot. I've gone to the toilet without someone following me. This might sound like bliss, but trust me, it doesn't feel right.

My house is empty, for the first time in five years...

The silence has made me realise, that my family home is not the same without the kids and all of their noises.

So while I sit here and try to accustom myself to this new quiet, I urge you to take in all of the sounds of your house and enjoy it while you can, because belive me, you will miss it when it's gone.


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