Back To Normality After Christmas

After a hectic few week’s thing’s are finally getting back to normality after Christmas. I’ve been much quieter than planned on the blog so thought I’d write a quick catch up post. We had a brilliant one this year and were on top of the girl’s presents thanks to starting early and picking up a few bargains along the way.

The lead up

 

The lead up to Christmas was very busy especially with the Mr painting characters on the walls for the girls including Olaf (don’t mention the body 😉) , Gingerbread man  and an elf! The girls absolutely loved them and I personally don’t want the gingerbread man to go!

 


There was plenty of last minute buying and panicking about the Mr’s present which luckily a very good friend (you know who you are!) helped me out with. So the Mr at least had a few beers to go along with a top I bought him instead of nothing.. good job really since he got me a Microsoft Surface 3!!!! Admittedly I still feel guilty & going to order him another box of beers for him next payday from Beer52, as I said I would for Christmas but ran out of time!

Santa visit

We visited Santa with Alex (my brother) on Christmas eve again this year. Carrying on the tradition we started last year. Although I forgot to pre-book so we had almost a 2 hour wait it wasn’t too bad. We chatted inline with a mum and her son Oscar after we watched him so she could grab McDonald’s for them to eat whilst they waited. They helped keep the girls chatting to stop the boredom. We also took pictures with the big bears that came round to entertain those queueing. The girls and Alex also ended up with a HUGE stash of candy canes as they all had to go and Izzy was being cheeky and cute haha!

Christmas Morning

 

Christmas morning we had a 30 min wait for my brother to arrive. Well once the girls were eventually awake the Mr and I were up rather early so it wasn’t too bad! The girls couldn’t wait to see their Uncle Alex and make sure he joined in. They all opened their stockings then took a quick break to eat some more chocolate before moving onto bigger presents. They were all over the moon with their gifts which was lovely to see. My jaw was on the floor though when I realised my blogging life was about to become a whole lot easier. Thanks to the Mr buying me a Microsoft surface pro 3! 

Normality after Christmas

We had a delicious Christmas Dinner cooked by the Mr with all the usual yummy stuff! We all ended up in a food coma and wanting bed quite soon after! My brother spent most of the day saying how happy he was and how the day had given him a sense of normality and family life. It was brilliant spending the day with him and spoiling him along with the girls. He joined us again to see in the New Year and again couldn’t stop saying how happy he was. It’s really hit him how well he has done over the last year. He’s turned his life around with a little bit of help and knowing he does have family who really do love & care about him.

Coming to an end

So all in all it’s been a fabulous time but as always very tiring with all the running around & cleaning. As the holidays came to an end Izzy was quite ill and had a few sofa days. Eva began to misbehave quite a bit over the last few days which has made me feel quite low. Luckily she is back to school today and normality has returned.. fingers crossed so does her good behaviour!

How was your Christmas? Are you relieved to get back to routine or wishing it was Christmas every day?

Spreading The Joy Of Reading This Christmas

I have always loved to read and reading was my favourite thing to do as a child so I love the idea of spreading the joy of reading this Christmas by giving 3 amazing Penguin Random House Children’s Books (teamed up with Britmums) I received to Izzy as Christmas presents.

Izzy is really enjoying reading books with all of us and as we did with Eva, we intend to encourage her love of reading. We sometimes go to baby rhyme time at the local library and always come back with a stack of books which we read over and over at home. The girls have an ever growing book shelf too & these books will make a lovely addition!

Max & Bird

Max & bird looks like quite a funny book about a kitty who wants to be friends with Bird. He also wants to chase and him as a tasty snack . But that’s not what friendship is all about… is it? I can’t wait to read this to Izzy, I know she will love the illustrations as she loves cats!

 

The Little Elephant Who Wants To Fall Asleep

 

The Little Elephant who want to fall asleep is a the latest book from the author of The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep which is a global best seller! It’s aimed at helping children fall asleep.  Following Ellen the elephant on a journey through a magical forest that leads to sleep! This sounds like a brilliant book and I’ll definitely be trying it out on those nights the girls just can’t sleep.

 

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas

 

I can’t wait to read the dinosaur that pooped Christmas! We’ve read the dinosaur that pooped the world which the girls absolutely loved. This time Danny’s new dinosaur eats Christmas!! I wonder what happens next!?

 

 

They all sound like brilliant books, I can’t wait to read them to Izzy!

I loved books growing up and The Secret Garden was always my favourite as a young child! I have saved a copy for the girls to read. Hopefully one day it becomes a favourite for them, getting lost in the beautiful secret garden and storyline.

What was your favourite book as a child? Do you read it or plan to read it to your child/ren?

Are you giving books as gifts this year? Which ones?

*I’ve been sent these books by Britmums and Penguin Random House as part of their children’s books Christmas present challenge.

Children’s Christmas Gift Guide

Children’s Christmas Gift Guide

I am fussy when it comes to shopping for the girls at Christmas. I like to know what I’m buying is something they will genuinely use or play with. I’ve put together a small gift guide for kids that I think would make great gift ideas.

1. Itty bittys newest craze by Hallmark UK Christmas gift guide - itty bittys

These super cute little soft toys are Hallmarks latest Soft toy series ‘Itty bittys’. The girls love anything small and cute! The Wizard of Oz series make a lovely addition to any little girls soft toy collection. Itty bittys come in a range of characters and are currently available on Amazon. If your little one loves role-playing these are great for acting out scenes from their favourite films. As you can see we made our own yellow brick road out of lollipop sticks!

 

Christmas gift guide - jungle jam2. Jungle Jam Book 

My girls still can’t get enough of Jungle Jam, following Mikey the monkey on his musical adventure. It’s such a lovely & colourful story and a brilliant addition for any bookshelf.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Emoji book & Minecraft booksChristmas gift guide emoji & minecraft books

I recently reviewed these amazing books by P.T Evans. The Emoji & Minecraft book series are great for children aged 6 upwards and are easy to read and follow with your finger. If you are looking for a way to encourage your kid to read, these books would be a brilliant way to get them having fun & enjoying reading about their favourite characters.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mobicep Parenting Control’s App – Filter and manage the on-line content your children access across all devices they own or will own after Christmas such as Phones, Tablets & Computers.

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5. Santa’s Answers Letter – Order your child a magical reply from Santa, personalised just for your child. With 3 beautiful styles and several packages to choose from they make a lovely gift to get your child into the Christmas spirit!

*This post contains affiliate links

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit!

We’ve started getting into the Christmas spirit already which you may have noticed if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram!Christmas spirit

 

We’ve been counting down the days until Christmas and doing lots of planning and making! The girls have made a few Christmas cards & pictures & Eva made an rather long paper chain!

Out and about

 

On Friday we popped into town for the Christmas Light show.The girls got a ride on the little Trains, ate hot doughnuts, made elf badges & collected their hoof bell which was part of ‘Come as yourself leave as an Elf’. It was fairly busy and the girls were quite tired so we didn’t do them all but the girls really enjoyed themselves. 

 

Eva was particularly happy to have Anna & Elsa head straight for her to have a good 5 minute chat! Belle tried to join in too bit seemed a little upset as Eva pretty much ignored her.. Although in all fairness Anna was rather talkative haha!

We didn’t stay to watch the lights being turned on as it was freezing & the girls wanted to go home for dinner. But we did return the next day so the girls could get a picture with the tree!

Every day we have been adding doing something Christmassy (yes that is a word as is Christmassing 😉). The Mr has been repainting the living room for Christmas.. based on an an idea Eva had. He has gone slightly crazy and come up with a brilliant/crazy idea! I can’t wait to share with you all so look out for my next Christmassy post!

The girls bedroom is slowly getting there too with their Christmas tree up, tinsel on their chest of drawers & the ‘Santa please stop here’ sign the girls made!


Are you getting into the Christmas spirit yet? Have you been making or buying anything special?

Magical Letters From Santa’s Answers

 

Magical Letters From – Santa’s Answers

Magical Letters - Santa's Answers
How amazing is this personalised letter?

 I order a letter from Santa for the girls every year but wanted to find them one that really added a touch of Christmas magic. Santa’s Answers have definitely helped add a touch of magic to Christmas for Eva this year!

I order a letter from Santa for Eva every year but this has been my favourite one yet. The letter is beautifully personalized and I absolutely love the design. There are a range of packages available from a personalized Santa’s Answer letter all the way up to the Deluxe Package I received which came with a letter, 4 colouring pages, Christmas stickers, Reindeer food and a signed photo of Santa himself!

Santa Letter

Ordering your letter

You can choose from 3 different letter styles, and add your child’s name and age along with a load of other information when ordering. This helps Santa’s Answers personalise the letter perfectly for each child. The more information you put in such as presents on their wish list, accomplishments, reasons why they are on the good list and a lot more.

The Letter arrives in an envelope addressed to yourself to check the contents before sealing in an envelope with you child’s full name and town on.

 

 

I love the deluxe package, especially the signed photo and reindeer food. The letter was written so well with the information given which makes it much more believable. I chose the Santa’s Stationary letter but there are 2 other beautiful designs to choose from too. The colouring pages and stickers will keep any child happy for 5 minutes too!

Do you order personalised Santa letters too? What do you think of the letter we received?

Christmas Bargains & Lies

Ugh Christmas bargains.. I love them.. OK.. I admit it.. I’m a liar. I said NO TOYS this Christmas after getting halfway through writing a post on why I’m not buying toys this christmas.. and what did I do? That’s right I acted like a child myself when the Mr spotted this Wilko Wooden Pirate Ship reduced from £15 to £5!!!!! Well now..

Christmas Bargains - Wilko Pirate Ship

At that price and being the last one on the shelf, I couldn’t resist. I can’t wait to play with it I cant wait to see Izzy play with it.. Especially as she is a huge pirate fan just like her Mummy! 😉

On to the next Aisle and I spotted the Wilko Wooden Peg Story kits reduced to 50p each!! So of course I had to grab one of each… Realising I had officially started Christmas shopping!

I had that ‘I’ve started so I’ll continue’ moment and picked up two £1 Shopkin Activity Kit’s as we’ve bought a few. As there’s always at least 2 of the activities inside the girls love to do them together. Not exactly a bargain as all these activity packs cost £1 in most places but still well worth it. (Again I lied, as I had previously told Eva NO SHOPKINS THIS CHRISTMAS!)

I have to admit although I totally lied to myself about not buying toys this year, I am pretty pleased that for a grand total of £8.50 I am up to 6 presents already! Ah I do love Christmas bargains!

I may have talked myself into believing I technically only bought 1 toy as the rest are ‘craft kits’ but I’m hoping we don’t end up buying too many toys. In all honesty though with Wilko amongst other’s reducing things like this and me still being a bit of a child at times, I can see it being a struggle, haha!

Perhaps I’ll just stick to non character toys?.. Or maybe I’ll fail miserably, get carried away myself & end up picking up toys for the next 10 or so years lol! (When do children stop wanting toys?) Keep an eye out for future posts & fails 😉

Have you started Christmas shopping? Have you found any awesome bargains yet? I’d love to hear and see what bargains you’ve found so far!

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

 

August MS515B Bluetooth Speaker Review

You may have spotted my post offering a one day only early Christmas deal with a 40% discount on a set of August MS515B Bluetooth Speakers. Sold on Amazon for £29.95.

For sharing August Lab’s early Christmas deal I was given an awesome discount on the bluetooth speaker myself & ordered them first thing Thursday morning when the discount codes went live.

Friday morning we received our email letting us know our parcel was being delivered later that day!

This made me pretty excited as A) I LOVE opening parcels 😂😂 & B) I love listening to music! Especially when cleaning & these can easily be moved around room to room without disturbing the music!

Our parcel arrived around about 4.30pm and we quickly got the box opened up to have a look inside.

August Bluetooth Speaker

I checked the manual and got them plugged in to charge up & was really impressed by how easy they are to set up. They come with a USB lead with a split lead to charge both speakers at the same time. The speakers connect by a lead included in the box. They also have an AV in lead so you can plug them in to devices without bluetooth. So you can literally use them with anything!

I quickly got my phone connected via bluetooth to test them out and was amazed by the sound quality. They are pretty loud too! For small speakers they really do have some power. Anything with bass (when up loud) makes them jump across the side a little which really amused Eva.

We had them set up in the kitchen and the sound filled the room & we all ended up dancing in the kitchen whilst I cleaned & the Mr cooked for the girls. 

The Mr loves music too and has play-lists saved on his youtube. He eventually got bored of typing in each song on my phone. He decided to connect his phone to the speakers instead and took over with his play-lists for a good hour.

We are seriously impressed with the quality of the bluetooth speakers. Especially for only £29.95 (Unless you used my discount code 😉 ) delivered the next day even though we chose the free delivery option!

I can see these becoming one of our new favourite toys. As Eva has seen them I cant give them to her as a present. Instead I have said we can all share them.  I can see the girls using them in our room and me using them around the flat when cleaning to save having the sound system on which we currently have no remote for & have the bass up high which can be a bit much at times! 🙈🙊

I love that the girls can connect using the Tablet as well as us using our phones & pc/laptop and as they are rechargeable we can take them anywhere. I’ve yet to find a problem with them. I like that I can skip forwards and back a track using the button on the back of the main speaker.

*This is a sponsored post & I received a large discount on the speakers in return for sharing the 40% off discount post and an honest review.

Christmas On A Budget – Starting Early!

I know, I know, summer isn’t even over yet but there’s only 17 weeks until CHRISTMAS so it’s time to get planning!

Although I do love Christmas it’s quite a stressful time for me especially being on benefits with 2 children means we really have to try and spread the cost of Christmas so we have to start early and pick up deals & Bargains on the way. This year I am determined to be well prepared again and get started early so from this week onwards I’ll be looking out for & picking up bargains & stashing them for the girls. With only 8 pay day’s to help us out I’m hoping to find and share with you some of the awesome bargain’s I’ll (hopefully) be finding over the next 17 weeks.

I’ll be looking for an Android Tablet of some sort for Izzy as she loves using Eva’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 which we bought Eva 3 years ago & has lasted surprisingly well considering the girls often fight over it!

So far that is all I have managed to come up with but I want to find more educational games/toys for the girls & activities or games they can play together, so I’ll be doing a bit of research to find things appropriate for 2-6 year old’s (if you have any idea’s let me know).

I’m also going to start planning activities and days out for the girls to help get into the Christmas spirit. As always there will be a letter to & from Santa, I’m going to have a look around this year and probably use a different company from the last 2 years & find something a little more special.

When Eva was born I started a little family tradition leaving a Christmas Eve sack from Santa out for when they come through from the their bath, which usually contains New Pj’s, slippers & a dressing gown to change into. I also put in a DVD, Book, Mug & Hot Chocolate & a little treat so they can snuggle up with their drinks, watch a film and read a story before bed which helps calm them down enough to sleep too.

I’ll be on the lookout for any Christmas Film & Book List’s to help me find some really good ones for the girls this year so if you have any helpful posts please share!

Last year we visited the Santa’s Grotto in Basildon with my Brother & we decided to make it another Family tradition to go together & get our photo taken so I’ll be booking us in for a visit again this year well in advance too.

Christmas Photo

The girl’s love making their own decorations so I think I need to spend some time on Pinterest & find some bits for the girls to make and some arts & crafts activities to make the flat feel Christmas-y and really get the girls into the Christmas spirit.

Have you started or are you thinking about starting Christmas shopping yet? Do you have any special family tradition’s or are you thinking of starting a new one this year? Do you have any activities you’d recommend?

Don’t forget to share your bargains too!

Seeing in the New Year

seeing in the new year

Happy new year to all my readers, I hope you all had an amazing night seeing in the new year and I cant wait to have a nose through some posts to see what you all got up to! I did write a Christmas – New Year post thinking I wouldn’t find the time to squeeze in a proper new year post but I’ve had a bit more free time today so decided to share with you all how we saw in the new year.

Originally we were meant to have a few people over for drinks to celebrate the new year but the Mr decided against it. Surprisingly not even an hour after the decision was made to just spend New years indoors together I got a phone call from my brother in a bad mood & skint but desperate to come see us and see new years in with us. I guess it was one of those strange things where plans fail for a reason.

Its been almost 10 years since I’ve seen the new year in with my brother as he was in care most years or hospital and I was either in a refuge or unable to get to him or help him get to me so the idea of spending new years eve with him at last made me ridiculously happy.

My brother explained his situation and between the Mr and I we had a plan & thanks to c2c running late trains especially for the new years eve celebrations it all fell into place nicely.

My brother hates asking for help, I’m very aware that I am one of the few people he dares to ask for help from but still feels awkward doing so, the Mr and I try to remind him every time we see him that he is family regardless & if he needs something he only has to shout.

I was seriously proud he finally plucked up the courage to call me, we instantly transferred some money into his account so he could jump on the train & when he got here he told us what had put him in a bad mood and we all talked it over and by the end he was laughing and smiling like crazy drinking rum with us & eventually after a bit of persuading he let us buy a takeaway for us all.

As midnight got closer we put the BBC countdown on opened our curtains to watch the fireworks out the window. The advantage of living 11 floors up and looking out towards London is that we can see fireworks for miles on a clear night. My brother & I were really impressed that the fireworks display in London we were watching on the TV we could see out from the window here in Thurrock!!

We saw the new year in together again at last & it honestly made my night spending it with the two guys I love the most, my Mr & my brother.

After spending Christmas eve with my brother too I think he has now realised we mean everything we say, he is always welcome here, if he needs anything or wants to see us he only has to say and we will arrange something, we may have missed a lot of years out but he is and always will be my baby brother and no matter what I will always be there for him & I think he is gradually seeing that.

Seeing in the New Year this way has left me feeling very positive for 2016 knowing my brother will come to us when he needs to & he is slowly getting used to being part of a family again. Family life itself is going much better recently too now that I have signed off and not stressing myself out constantly trying to find a job when I’m struggling to walk to my corner shop. Now I have a pain management consultant things are looking up slightly with regards to my health, someone is listening at last and willing to try and help me instead of fobbing me off with tablets that give off awful side effects.

The blog, thanks to all you lovely readers has got off to a much better start than I had expected & I’m really looking forward to putting a lot more time & effort into the blog. With my last blog I tried to stick to only one or two topics which of course made it much harder to come up with content, this time I’m just doing what I want when I want & it seems to be going much better although admittedly I do need to plan and organize my time better to get where I want to be this time next year. I’ve been chatting to a few lovely bloggers over the last month or so too which has been lovely where I struggle to socialize in person & I’m hoping I can get the courage up to say hi to a few more bloggers too.

2015 wasn’t an overly great or an overly awful year for us but I’m hoping 2016 will be much better & hopefully we can even squeeze in a family holiday somewhere as our only family holiday was almost 5 years ago whilst Eva was still small.

I’m hoping to learn more about knitting & crocheting this year too as I find it so Calming and helpful with my Anxiety and Depression.

How did you celebrate the new year? What are your hopes/goals for 2016? Have a similar post you would like to share with me? Drop me a comment or Get in touch!

 

 

Christmas – New Year

Christmas-New year: Over the last week or so I’ve struggled to stay focused enough to write a full post with all the excitement that’s been going on but at last I have managed to find some time to sit down and write.

December is usually an extremely hectic month and I struggle massively with my anxiety and depression but this year has been a lot easier for several reasons.

One being I had my pain management appointment on december 14th and my consultant actually listened and has booked me in for steroid injections, physiotherapy again but much slower and mentioned looking into a spinal cord stimulator.

It’s honestly a HUGE relief, knowing someone is finally taking me seriously and I have a chance of getting on top of this pain. Admittedly I am struggling with slowing down more but luckily I’ve had a fairly good few weeks and been able to cope and do a bit more than usual.

The Christmas period itself has been so much calmer than normal it has been lovely, I’ve managed to spend time having fun with the girls a bit more. We even managed to destroy a gingerbread house!

 

We also attended a minnie mouse themed birthday party for my friends 1 year old which was lovely although my social anxiety apparently showed and it was rather loudly pointed out that I was sitting alone being ‘unsociable’. Still I managed to talk more than normal considering I barely knew anyone and it was just myself and the girls!

We totally kept the minnie ears!

The Mr & I planned a surprise bedroom make over on christmas eve, the Mr setting it all up with the help of a friend whilst I took the girls out for a day of shopping spending their christmas money & visiting father christmas with my brother.

Spending christmas eve with my brother was a huge highlight for me as unfortunately we havent spent as many christmas’ with each other as we should have.

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This photo is one I’m going to treasure for ever, our present to my brother was this photo in a christmas tree snow globe. The globe was Eva’s idea as his flat is too small for a christmas tree plus his cat would destroy it so she thought it could be his christmas tree which reminds him of all of us and our fun day out.

Christmas day itself was a nice quiet family day just the 6 of us.. Cat’s included.. Because the girls had new beds the cats needed one too along with some new toys!

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Boxing day we had a flat full of people where a lot of Rum & Jaeger was drunk. I rarely drink so it was quite nice having a chance to let my hair down a bit surrounded by people I’m comfortable with.

Boxing day is usually a day where depression sets in badly but thankfully with friends around and being kept busy I didn’t have too much time to dwell on the past.

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I still had the same flashbacks & memories of my miscarriage 7 years ago & going past the hospital in the car made me feel ill but I held my keepsakes tight and managed to calm myself and go back to enjoying our christmas celebrations. We picked up my brother for an evening of drinking and celebrating how far we have both come.

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Rum may have helped a little but I honestly think looking over the last few weeks that having the people around us that we have has helped make things run a bit smoother making christmas much more enjoyable.

Spending time with everyone, laughing joking having fun has been amazing. The girls were spoilt and had a magical christmas, my ears are still ringing from Eva’s squealing! It’s definately been our best christmas yet and we plan to have a few people over again for new years eve to celebrate too. I’ve had a lot of fun Taking silly selfies with the girls too, you may have seen some on twitter or instagram 🙂

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We are stocked up on crafts & things to do thanks to father christmas, so even when I’m not able to do much the girls can still come and sit on the sofa with me and do something to keep them busy which I’m hoping make’s me feel a bit better about not being able to do things like giving them piggy back rides & racing Eva to the top of the spiderman climbing frame and spending hours at the park when I am in too much pain.

Overall things have been good lately and seem to be looking up. The blog has really kicked off quite quickly and I am still over the moon I had my first PR opportunity thanks to BakerDays on the new blog so soon. I’ve already got talking to a few lovely bloggers & look forward to meeting more.

Although I’ve been busy & haven’t blogged much lately I have enjoyed getting back into blogging this year and I’m looking forward to continuing in 2016 and connecting with other bloggers too, especially as it really cheers me up getting a new comments or like or follow. I dont go out much and I’m stupidly shy for such a crazy person so it’s nice to socialise a little so feel free to pop by and say Hi on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can find my handles on this page or feel free to leave a comment here on the blog 🙂 I follow back too 😉

So here’s to the new year, I look forward to sharing it with you all!