Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Summer Activities

The summer holiday is well under way isn't it, and the weather has so far been mostly lovely despite the odd down pour we have managed to enjoy time in the garden in the paddling pool

And on the trampoline, we are also in the process of a garden make over building a summer house which will hopefully be completed before the autumn weather comes!

We have been trying to find things to do in and around our local area  busing ourselves with local days out, community projects and fetes

South Derbyshire Council have been putting on lots of fun activities across the parks to find your whats on in your local area visit the website here to find a full list of activities in parks across south derbyshire.

We also hope to have a day trip to the seaside, and to London this year, as our last trip to London wasn't very successful for sight seeing, we are kean to get to see all the sights Big Ben being high on my youngest lists.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Starting Secondary school - One year on - Moving forward

It seems totally strange now thinking back to this time last year, and Jake leaving the comfort of the primary school, starting out on the new journey into the second part of his education, but I guess like with many things prior to the event the unknown seems huge.

Being the oldest I was apprehensive about what the year would hold for him, how would it be different having a child who is older, more responsible, less needy? I promised to be organised myself, to help him with his homework and to be more attentive to his learning, it seems however that the year seemed to pass much like the last, secondary school brought about new challenges sure, but it has been a mostly positive experience.

The first term saw him grow up quite a lot, I blogged : Secondary School: Growing up

One of the main things I wanted for Jake to get out of this stage of life was new experiences, Jake has never been top of the class academically, which has never bothered me too much, I am more concerned about his manners, personality and general happiness in his school life than what he scores on test results.

For this reason when the letters came home about the school trip to France I was eager to encourage Jake to go along.

As it happens French, has not been one of Jakes favourite subjects, in fact it is his least favourite, but still I paid for the school trip and the trip away symbolised another milestone in his life story.

With money tight we have never been able to afford a holiday abroad as a family before, and yes the school trip was expensive, but manageable in monthly instalments, I personally wanted to offer him something which growing up I never got the chance to experiences.  Waying up the cost with the experiences which Jake could gain that I simply couldn't provide myself it made it seem worthwhile.

So to mark the end of his first year at senior school, a new chapter finished, Jake and his friends packed their bags and left the home comforts for new shores, new experiences and new memories.

Abit apprehensive before hand, although not letting on quite how much, we waved him off on the coach.

With no contact over the days away just the hope that he was indeed enjoying this new experiences, the text to say they were nearly back was a relief.

Jake had had a great time, he had been on the beach, to a snail farm and to a bakery making croissants! Although packed with a camera in his bag, other than the a couple of photos of the white cliffs of Dover, the camera was not used!  I hope the memories he made last him a long time and he goes on to enjoy the journey through senior school.

decade of being mum

(I wrote this post a year ago and never got round to hitting publish until now, but my thoughts and feelings are still very much the same so I thought I best hit publish!) 

I was just 18 when I found out I was pregnant, but I was not like most 18 year olds. I remember not feeling much like a teenager at all, having never been the one who was into drinking or party going, I was much more of a middle aged person already. I moved out of my parents home when I was just 17, but not due to drunken teenage madness, due to crazy teenage love.

The months directly after moving in with my partner were abit surreal, for a while neither of us had jobs and we learnt the hard facts about life, money and living, no food on the table on several occasions and no one to ask made us quickly appreciate the simple things and harbour a new love for tinned tomatoes on toast.

My family were not happy about my sudden uprooting from their home, the forgotten dreams and unhappy ending in their eyes of the daughter they had amazing hopes and aspirations for quickly burnt bridges between me and them, and as such in those first few months we had no support apart from anyone except each other. Darrens family were full of their own ideas and wanting to get on with their own lives, and mine disowned we really did have to learn to fend for ourselves, and it was tough. But ever the optimist I didn't think too much about it, and instead focused on creating a business and life for ourselves the best that I could.

Within the year everything changed we had set up a shop and were renting our house from my partners parents, trying hard to pay our own way and making our own mistakes, we were carving out a family routine. All be it a bit of a manic one.

We had neither planned or tried to prevent getting pregnant, so it was neither a shock nor a surprise, the timing could have perhaps been better, and I felt in some ways far too young, and in others perfectly ready to become a mum.

Unfortunately Darrens mum passed away before we broke the news to anyone at all, and it wasn't until after her death that we told my family by then I was nearly 6 months pregnant, for those first months of my pregnancy it was just our secret and in those months, even with all the things that were changing in our world, the new exciting prospect of the future kept spurring me on.

Once the news was out however things became more real, I tried to rekindle relationships with my parents,and things did improve, but the damage that had been done and had taken its toll. It took many many more years to be more appreciative of each other again, on both our sides mine, and my parents.

So even tho we were on talking terms to my parents, to say they were supportive would perhaps not be quite right,  my midwife wasn't the nicest most supportive person either,  I tried to see her as little as possible too. Running our own business I couldn't afford to take things easy, and she couldn't really understand our lives, so for the most part I continued life as normal with just pregnancy books to work my way through what was to come.  I guess it is in these months when I become most happy not confiding in anyone at all, those who I should of been able to talk too were the ones I couldn't connect with in any way, luckily my pregnancy passed with no troubles, in fact most people had no idea I was having a baby at all until I held him in my arms.

Besides being the totally unknown, being pregnant felt perfectly natural, I remember it like it was yesterday, looking back I was totally unprepared for a baby, my relationships volatile with everyone close to me, with next to no support network around, but knowing I was soon to become a mum was a wonderful feeling, in that moment, everything else didn't matter.  I loved my baby more with every wiggle and movement, I loved and cared for this baby from the very start.

The day I went into labour was much like any other, we'd been at the shop all day, I went to pay cheques into the bank as I always did in the  afternoon, and we called into the chip shop on the way home and decided to take them to eat at my parents house.

We chatted about the imminent birth as it was my due date the very next day, but with no niggles yet I had no idea what to expect or when it might be.

We arrived home and I was tired so lay on the sofa, about 10pm I woke with a funny feeling and my waters broke in the bathroom. I must admit I was at that point scared. The reality dawned this was it.

The day our lives would change forever.

We jumped into the car grabbing our dog and heading back to my parents to drop him off there and head towards the hospital. As we drove I was feeling fine, no pain, but once we neared the hospital sheering pain shock through my back. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain but this was more painful than I had expected. We found the maternity unit and waited for a midwife, they came and chatted and didn't expect anything to happen quickly as it was my first baby, but I knew this baby was on its way, I managed to get them to take me and the pain seriously and before long I was pushing.

Then suddenly the room filled with people, with beeps and buzzes and commotion, doctors were called and I was terrified, talk of help needed and vontous or forceps. After just 3 hours in labour, at 1am, Jake was born with the help of the vontous suction cap.

The immediate love I felt was overwhelming, a perfect tiny baby which was now my soul responsibility to care for. 

We were discharged from hospital the next day as Jake was feeding well, I came home with this tiny newborn baby, with thoughts rushing through my mind, wondering if I really was ready to be a mum, would I know what to do when he needed me too, would I be able to care for him the way he deserved. I just hoped that I would.

The night passed, and I was feeling good, confident with my ability to do this, to make it work, breastfeeding, although painful, was working well, Jake fed brilliantly and I loved the way I could keep him safe and nurture him myself.

We had a slow stream of visitors that day, but by coincidence the midwife turned up when I was alone, even Darren had stepped out to the local shop, the unhelpful less than supportive midwife came in and spoke to me in a  tone of voice I doubt I'll ever forget, downgrading she made me feel like I was just a silly young girl who shouldn't really of had a baby at all. Yet I felt like the opposite, in my own home, with my partner, and baby and business I was no stranger to an 'adult' world. She came in and weighed Jake and assumed from the off I 'must be formula feeding' when I told her actually no, I was breastfeeding she didn't hide her surprise, 'oh young girls don't normally' she snapped, no supportive encouragement, no advice, no insight of what to expect.I remember being worried about bleeding after the birth,in no books had it mentioned that, and at no point had anyone sad that was normal, In fact even in the hospital I don't remember anyone taking much time to talk to me about the birth or caring for this new baby, breastfeeding wasn't discussed, it is only thanks to the books I had read prior to the birth and my own motherly instincts that helped make it successful. I'm not quite sure why but as soon as I knew I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed, again the lack of support from every avenue just spurred me on to do it anyway. The midwife weighed Jake and was again shocked to see he had put weight on, no encouragement no words of wisdom. Infact although I can't quite remember what upset me so much now, I remember her making some hurtful comments, leaving me wishing I had of had the courage to snap back at her, instead I let her walk out the door, me waving her off, then returning to the room and sobbing. She had made me feel that bad.
Thankfully she discharged us on her next visit and passed our care to the health visitor team, and I didn't mind them anywhere near as much.

The weeks passed, they quickly turned into months. Jake grew,and my bond grew increasingly strong, I fell into motherhood and loved every aspect of it. I was proud of myself for not stumbling, not relying on anyone else, carrying on and continuing against all odds. I was proud to still be breastfeeding at 9 months, much to my mums disgust, she had been a long standing negative force behind breastfeeding, much like the midwives,she even went as far to buy me bottles and formula, which I never opened! No, being mum was something I was going to do my way.

But obviously being a first time mum, knowing which way is your way isn't easy, the bad advise and lack of encouragement meant I made plenty of mistakes, I weened too early, with the chimes of 'hes a big boy he will need more than your giving him' and 'you can't be giving him anything good he needs some proper food' despite the fact he was gaining weight consistently when exclusively breastfed I  ended up starting him with baby rice and first foods at around 3 months old. But I did continue to breastfeed along side the baby food until he was 9months old, when again the 'you're not still doing THAT' are you?' finally made me think perhaps it was indeed wrong to still be breastfeeding at that age. and so I weened Jake off the breast, not because I wanted too but from peer pressure.

The months continued to pass and Jake grew before our eyes he was a joy and really did change our world, quickly after I stopped breastfeeding Jake, I fell pregnant with Chloe. Leaving just an 18 month age gap between them. The years passed and I loved having two toddlers around, they grew up together, I lavished attention on them and was the 'too kind for her own good' mum, the slightly hippy mum who let them run around barefoot and dance in the rain,  by the time I fell pregnant with Mikey 4 years after Chloe, I had firmly set my thoughts on parenting methods,  breastfeeding and weening and stood my ground much more confidently following a baby led weaning idea and allowing Mikey to self ween from the breast when he was around 20 months old. Letting him co sleep and being the all round attachment parent whos childrens started to run rings around her.

11 years have now passed and I look at Jake and wonder, now he is growing up, leaving primary school soon, embarking on the next stage of his life, what impact his childhood will have on him as an adult, what good bits he will take, and what not so good bits, life has been tough, its been volatile and temperamental with arguments between me and Darren on many occasions, arguments between family, and friends, money has been tight on many many occasions and is a constant nagging problem, we have had really bad times over the passed decade, times which hit hard and hurt more than anything, times which I thought would break us, but we got through, and its also been wonderful and better than I expected.

It's been a learning curve which I am still tying to straighten out, and learn about. Because thats the thing about being a mum, there isn't a cut off point when your job is done. My 'too soft' approach is almost coming back to bite me,  I often wonder if I have given my children too much of a free roam, constantly hoping that they will return the love and respect I try to shower them with, yet the hurtful worlds they now mutter when I do my best to curve their behaviour and shape them into respectful members of society make me question my parenting far more than the when to ween  debate ever did all them years ago. The thoughts of the future now are through the eyes of my children as I wonder if I am giving them enough opportunities to try new things,and if I can help them furfil their goals without having the money to do everything I'd wish for them.

Parenting young children - babies, preschoolers, was the time I enjoyed the most, the fun, creative times the thirst for learning in the childrens eyes, the ever wonder and love they showered on you, their care giver, gave something back for all the time and attention inputted into them.

Now the stroppy pre teen age is hard. The 'I already know everything' attitude is a tough one, no longer eager to sit and create masterpieces from cardboard tubes and sticky tape. No longer hanging on your every word, now old enough to want to see the adult world, but too young to understand the troubles that go along with it.

This is the hardest stage to parent, the one where I find myself once again wondering where to find the support network. And once again I feel left without the help and encouragement, this time even more on my own, with not as many books or information available about what to do once your children hit this age. Most parenting books are all about when to ween, potty train and teach numbers and letters. But what happens after that? you certainly don't stop parenting, infact thats when being a parent really begins.

And those thoughts I had when I held my first born for the very first time, those thoughts if I would know what to do when I needed too, are ever present as I constantly wonder if the decisions I make now are the right ones, in fact the decisions that effect the 11 year old boy are harder to make than those decisions for my tiny newborn who I could hold safe in my arms.

But as much as things have grown, changed and adapted there is one thing which never will and that's my love for all my children and my hope that my best will be enough.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Catching up.

It seem like the days are passing by so quickly at the moment, the weeks are turning into months and the year is flying by.

It is now the end of July, summer is well under way, the children are growing up so very much and life here is very very hectic.

I haven't blogged for such a long time, I don't know if it is because the children are now all at the age where they groan a little when I get my camera out, or if it is because of the added work commitments or simply because I lost a little bit of love for blogging, but posts here are few and far between.

I do miss blogging, and I often flick onto my blog to look back at my posts and smile fondly at the memories I stored here, I then think over the past 6 or so months where I have been terrible at updating and feel a pang of sadness that there is now a huge gap in the blog.

I decided back in January that time was running out and reviews would have to take a back seat, I wanted so much at that time to find the love for recording the every day again, but then real life got in the way and I have hardly taken any photos let alone uploaded them to the blog.

In some ways not blogging has been refreshing, there is a strange sense of realism to enjoying the moment, rather than making a moment for a blog post.

Things are changing around here and I'm trying to find a way to hold on and enjoy the ride.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Sunny Afternoon at the River

It's the end of the Easter Holidays, with a rainy miserable day today I've been looking back through the photos taken on sunnier days this holiday.

Although we didn't venture far from home, sticking to our local favorite places we still managed to enjoy the sun on the odd days it shined on us.

girl enjoying water splashing in river

It is getting increasingly rare to find times when everyone is happy together, yet the river seems to always be popular with everyone.

Simple pleasure in the outdoors,

 There is nothing  enjoy more than being outside, and I know it is something we don't dedicate as much time to as we used too.

boy throwing stones to springer spaniel in river

young boy and dog near river

boy running at stony beach

playing in the river girl

I'm hoping this summer is a good one with many many more lazy days at the river.

children paddeling in the river

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

National Stationery Week

A while ago we were contacted by Ryman and asked if we'd like to help promote National Stationary week, and I agreed because I do love stationery and it really is important to encourage everyone to remember the joy that writing and drawing brings.

National Stationery week is all about encouraging  writing and drawing the good old fashioned way - National Stationery week are working alongside children, teachers and schools to help children learn that handwriting and computers work hand in hand - both are needed to get on in life, and what better way to encourage this than to get hold of some new stationery!

We went along to our local Ryman store which is always our first stop for stationery supplies, there is a huge selection of pens, pencils, paper infact all your stationery requirments under one roof, me and Chloe can happily spend hours browsing the beautifully coloured supplies.

Chloe simply loves to draw and doodle and write - she is constantly with a pen and notebook in her hand. Recently she really wanted to buy herself some Sharpie markers - which are great all round marker pens.

We were really pleased to see the fantastic price of sharpie markes in Ryman just £5 for a pack of coloured  markers, along with these we also picked up yet more notebooks and classic biro pens to top up- Chloes selection.

My boys however are less eager when it comes to picking up a pen or pencil, and so its often harder to encourage them to get off the computer and write in the traditional way.

When I saw a great Monster Inc themed stationery set I knew it would help encourage Mikey, with some of his favorite characters and the brightly coloured selection of crayons he has been inspired to join in with me and Chloe and is beginning to appreciate the enjoyment you get from drawing.

I have recently rekindled my love for sketching by drawing in my one sketch a day, little sketch book and I have also started to make more  hand written notes instead of typing reminders on the computer.

 The one skecth a day project is perfect for you to do as a family, me and Chloe have been doing the project together,  in our indivual books we are building up a collection of sketches to look back on, whilst also learning new skills and becoming more confident.

With the technology ready world we now live in, it is even more important to ensure that children find the love in nice stationery and traditional writing. So I fully support National Stationery Week.

If you want to get involved in National Stationery Week - check out their website here: National Stationery Week  they have some great ideas on ways to get involved and encourage handwriting in children

You can also follow them on Twitter @natstatweek by using the hashtags #NSW14 #GetBritainWriting #lovestationery and #stationeryaddict  anytime this week to join in the chat and win prizes.

Or why not grab some pens and pencils and doodle something yourself - seeing their parents love for stationery is often the best encouragement children can get.

#NSW14 #GetBritainWriting #GetKidsWriting #lovestationery
or #stationeryaddict  - See more at:
#NSW14 #GetBritainWriting #GetKidsWriting #lovestationery
or #stationeryaddict  - See more at:

Monday, 17 March 2014

Blog You Heart Out

I wasn't tagged by anyone, but alot of bloggers I read were doing this meme so I thought I'd join in 

Question 1. Who/What encouraged you to start blogging?
I have had lots of blogs prior to this one, and I'm not sure who or what sparked me to blog on them, I didn't really know anyone else who blogged, didn't even read anyone elses blogs, I didn't know about the blogging community back then, I just liked the idea of online diaries, I encouraged my Grandad to join me in my blogging adventures which at the time (some 10 years ago) was on AOLs inbuilt platform more like a homepage or web space than a blog, but that had lots of limitations and so I stumbled across blogger and loved it, but never really set up or stuck to a real blog until I made this one, which I decided to put more effort into when I was accepted as a Toys R us Toyologist in 2011

Question 2. How did you choose what topic to blog about?
When I first started blogging I wanted to make sure my blog didn't have a dedicated theme or specific subject as in the past trying to hard to stick to one subject made me lose interest, so thats where my name of this blog came from - This is me - Sarah mum of 3 - was supposed to symbolize that this blog was about everything I like, I sort of impulsively set on the title and never really loved it!
Today I still blog about anything and everything and don't really fit into any category, I wish I was more focused sometimes and had a role to fill, but no thats not really my style.
Question 3. What is something most people don’t know about you?
I have a Gold level in Ballroom dancing and Gold in Latin American dancing - although I haven't danced since I was about 15!

Question 4. What three words describe your style?
Random, unfocused and quiet.

Question 5. What do you love to do when you are not blogging?
I love to take photos, and ride my bike, I also love to read (although I don't get as much time as I'd like) and I love to sketch.

So there we go, that's my questions answered, if anyone else would like to answer then consider yourselves tagged!

The One Sketch a Day Project

There are lots of daily projects around, 365 photo challenge and100happydays to name just a couple I see filling my time lines at the minute.

I have tried (and failed miserable) to complete the 365 photo challenge, even though I do take alot of photos the thought of having to take a 'good' photo every day just didn't inspire me very much and quickly had the opposite effect making me not want to take any photos at all, I am a bit of a impulsive snapper and only seem to capture nice photos when I'm not trying!  Because of this I was reluctant to start any other every day projects - I'm more of a free spirit and tend to find that having to do anything just makes me want to run the other way!

But then a very kind friend  sent me a lovely surprise gift - a sketch journal.

I haven't had a sketch pad thats mine in years and years... well since I was in school!

In fact I haven't really picked up a pencil to sketch anything more than squiggles on the phone book since I was in school either, I sort of have a bit of a love hate relationship with real drawings, I do love to do it, but then always wish I had done better - never really feel like the images I get down are quite the same as the images in my head, I struggle to draw from my imagination and can only really copy or adapt things I can physically 'see' and this has always stopped me from drawing - I don't really want to just 'copy' someone else, the images in my imagination are what I want to beable to draw, thats why I turned my creativity into digital scrapbooks, and computer graphic designs, its abit easier to manipulate things on screen than physically drawing them with a pen and paper.

But the more work I do in graphics design the more I think I'm still limited and I still don't have the confidence in my ability, and I so desperately want to be a better artist - not just a vector manipulator in photoshop, a photo editor, a real proper good artist who can sketch well too.

This little pocket book inspired me, and I truly love it. I am not one to buy things for myself, or really take time out for my own personal pursuits very often, always opting to help other people out first, and thats another reason I never continued drawing once school finished.

But now I am realising that it's actually good to do something you enjoy simply for yourself, not for anyone else at all.  The minutes I spend sketching each day in this little book make me smile, looking back at the images makes me smile, and the notion that every sketch is worthy of remembrance makes me smile, and has sort of changed my view on drawing, it is ok to copy what you see, to practise and sketch - in fact that's exactly what you need to do to learn, and is what makes the most amazing sketches,  stopping and wishing you can click your fingers and be an amazing artist isn't realistic,  to achieve you have to keep trying, keep practising - a little every day.

 I want to keep this book close to me at all times and let it get tatty and weathered and very very well loved, I want to find them minutes each day to stop and do something I do actually enjoy - for me, and I want to capture the year, the seasons, the moods in sketches.

For the past 20 days now I have sketched, some good, some not so good, things in my little sketch book. I think I am already starting to trust my ability and trusting your self to draw is what makes a great finished piece and gives you the confidence to draw without a image to copy - what I've always wanted to do.

So I am now publicly showing my sketch book, sharing it and promising to continue this one sketch a day project - I am excited to see what improvements I can make in a year and where my sketching will take me.

I thank Clare for sending this to me, you can go say hello to her on her blog here : Emmys Mummy, and if you have a budding artist wanting to get out then you can purchase the OneSketchADay journal here

I will be posting my sketches as I complete enough for a blog post, or if I am particularly excited by any I do, please do let me know what you think.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Pac Man Pac Panic Spinners from Bandai

Pac Man is an iconic video game character which almost everyone will remember to some degree, the little yellow blob which got chased by ghosts as he tried to find his way through the maze.

Well as years pass and technology improves PacMan has evolved too for a new generation to enjoy.

Pac Man and his friends now star in a new TV series; PacMan and the Ghostly Adventures, which shows on DisneyXD accompanied by a brand new video game with a 3D Pac man character.

This new series is popular with children and so Bandai have produced a great selection of toys to go along side the TV show and game.

Included in this range of toys there are soft plush figures, action figures and vehicles and the fantastic Pac Panic spinners.

We were sent a Clyde the ghost spinner to review.

The spinners are a robust plastic toy which come complete with a standing base, so when you are not spinning you can use them as a great show display or action figures.

The spinners stand around 3 inches tall and have great detail, realistic to their character they depict.

The spinning action is slightly hard to master but once you get the hang of it they spin really well, the secret to get the PAc Panic spinners spinning well is to rev them up on their side, meaning you have to tilt the body of the character slightly and run it forwards along the surface a few times in order to get the spinner in a fast spin, then place the character upright and he will spin really well, of course there are other ways to do it, simply sliding the character at an angle across a large surface will sometimes result in the character correcting himself and then going on to spin, however if you try to spin them straight upright you will have difficulties.

The PacPanic spinners also come complete with a free APP game code, which allows you to download a game app and bring the Pac-Man characters to life on your phone or tablet.

Overall we really like the Pac Panic spinners they are a great little toy - which look great displayed on a desk or sideboard for all PacMan fans who love to collect game memorabilia.

Priced around £6.99 these are affordable and if you collected several characters in the series you could happily set them all spinning together and create all sorts of games.

Take a look at our video reviews below,

See how to Spin your Pac Man Pac Panic Spinners in this video:

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