Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Wicked Wednesdays

Today's offering only presented itself at 11.30 pm last night (Yes really, I have taken to creeping round the house with a camera at night in order to continue my participation in this linky - dedication?  I think so!)

Going in to the twin's room to check they were tucked in before I went to bed myself I discovered the following scene.

What could be nicer and more peaceful than a sleeping child?

In fairness, DD2 has been complaining that her twin brother has been waking her up early in the morning.  She's not wrong, he's been waking the whole house!  There's not a lot I can do about that as they share a room.  So, I'm guessing that she decided to take the matter into her own hands and put on her earmuffs to drown out his noise come 6.30 am.

I think she nailed it - don't you?


Twin Mum Bingo

Once I'd ditched the double buggy I thought that other peoples' fascination with my twins would wane a little.  But, they've now started school.  Having a new class means lots of new people, which in turn means a whole lot of "interesting" comments and attention directed at me and mine.  As a parent of twins you can either love these type of comments or hate them.  Personally?  Well, initially I found them quite amusing but these days the amount of times I get asked the same things over and over?

Is.  Really.  Getting.  On.  My.  Nerves.

It sometimes makes me die a little bit inside.

*Grits teeth*

So, to pass the time at school pick up I often play a little game to keep myself entertained in the playground.  Rather unoriginally, let's call it


I've included below a handy infographic/bingo card with the most pertinent phrases and questions I get asked and below that the answers I would really like to give (but would obviously never do).

So, eyes down for a full house...

You've got your hands full - Yes, yes I have but rather full than empty eh?

Are you a childminder? - No, if I was a childminder I would at least be getting paid for this sh*t.

Double Trouble! - Oh hahaha!  Thank you for that highly amusing and original comment, I've never heard it before. Also, "Were they on BOGOF?" - No, but I wish you would...

Rather you than me - Yes, I'd rather it was me than you too.

Are they identical? - Ummmm, only one of them has a penis, what do you think?

Were they IVF? - None of your frigging business, shall we discuss your fertility too?  Alternatively sometimes people ask "Are they natural?" - Well, no they are made entirely from elastoplast and twigs.

Which one is the good/bad one? - At what?

How do you cope? - As far as I'm aware I don't get a choice, I have to!

Are they twins? - No they are triplets - oh wait I've lost one! Or,  No I found this one abandoned in the carpet department in John Lewis and thought I'd take them home too.

It is utterly stunning how direct some people can be without realising isn't it?

For the record, I love being a twin mum.  I am also quite used to being the butt of people's jokes as a result, but I really do wish that sometimes they could think of something more positive to say.

In fact, I have a suggestion...

If you know a twin mum or dad then next time you see them tell them that twins are amazing or just that they are doing a really good job.  They will probably love you for it - it will definitely make them smile.  Properly.  Not even through gritted teeth or politeness.

And, definitely not because they are playing twin mum bingo.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Parenting Criminal

The idea of becoming a parent always seemed so lovely to me.  Walks in the park with a pram (the sun would of course always be shining), endless days teaching my children new things and cooking them tasty and nutritious meals that they would eat without complaint.  It would be brilliant being a Mum.  That was until it actually happened.  Now I realise that the main thing that parenting has done for me is to turn me into a really good liar, a criminal even.

In fact, I am a parenting criminal.

I've committed so many parenting crimes that its a wonder my children haven't all booked themselves into therapy already.  Some crimes stem from a very heavy dose of CBA (that's Can't Be Arsed), for which I make no apologies (because I CBA), others are largely mistakes - I am only human after all.

So, for your amusement, I thought I'd list some of the crimes I've committed against my poor children:

Told them that the ingredients of a meal didn't contain their least favourite food when it did.

"What's that?  Potatoes?  No, those aren't potatoes."
"Onions?  No, not onions either."
"Those are (insert name of some other unspecified vegetable that they've never heard of). "

Yes I confess I've done this often.  There is nothing more annoying than, having created a meal from mere ingredients all by yourself, a child turning their nose up at it without even trying it.  I want them to eat it so I lie.  They'll thank me in later life when they realise what a diverse and amazing diet they really had as kids.

Told them that there are no custard creams left when really I'm saving them for myself.

All I want, just once is to be able to have a custard cream with my cuppa.  Is that too much to ask?  IS IT!!??  Apparently so because every time I go to get one from the tin I find that the locusts children have beaten me to it.  So I've started hiding them and pretending that they have already been eaten.  That'll learn them.

Dressed a child in hand-me downs (even the pants).

Yeah *sharp intake of breath* I know.  The thing with children is that they grow so quickly, so sensibly I save any good clothes for their younger siblings to wear.  Also, have you seen how many pairs of pants you get through when potty training them?  So, it only seemed natural to me to save some of the pants too, after all like anything child related, they cost actual money.  If my teen is reading this then, yes, your pants were bought just for you, but your two brothers?  Less so...

Pretended that I'd forgotten to book tickets for the school barbecue/play when I just didn't want to go. 

OK so probably this is terrible.  It is.  In my defence the thing you have to understand is that sometimes school plays are really really long, like 3 hours (yes, really) and there are only so many of them that I can sit through (I feel, after having two children through Primary school already, I have served my time in this respect).  Similarly, the queues at the school barbecue (aptly named) are huge.  At the end of which all you get is a cremated burger and some "salad".  I begrudge the school for making us parents queue up like Oliver Twist for the opportunity to eat a meal with our kids.  Even if it is only once a year.  We've stopped going.  Even the kids don't really seem that bothered.

Given up Tumble Tots/Gym class because I was fed up of it (the kids loved it).

Conjunctivitis 8 weeks in a row anybody?  Self indulgent first time parents?  Bossy over-zealous staff?  All of the above.  I could have been hot-housing the next Louis Smith/Beth Tweddle but I'd rather not have any of the social anxiety or health issues that appear to go with it thank you very much.

Told a child that their arm was probably fine after they fell off their scooter and hurt it (it was broken and needed setting under general anaesthetic).

This is the biggy.  This alone could have me in parenting prison for the rest of my life.  I would like to mention here that DD1 was brushing her teeth using that same arm only hours after the accident happened.  It didn't look that bad.  I have had two broken wrists myself and they looked broken and really really hurt at the time.  She on the other hand didn't even cry but her arm did look a bit wibbly.  How were we supposed to know?  The following morning DH took her to A&E, phoning me half an hour later to tell me that she was going to be operated on to straighten her very broken arm.  They also had to wait 4 hours first because I'd fed her breakfast.  Oops.  Sorry about that DD1.  *Holds out arms ready for hand-cuffs*.

So there you have it.  Parenting crimes at their best.  Lock me up and throw away the key!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Wicked Wednesdays

Coinciding with the wettest week we've had for a while, today DS2 has left us for a few days to go on the annual school residential trip.

Despite the fact that it costs a small fortune I do quite enjoy it as it means that a) we get a small amount of respite from boy vs. teen war at home and b) DS2 gets to try lots of new outdoorsy things, increase his confidence and generally have a bit of fun with his friends.  Its a win/win situation really.

That is apart from the packing.  Which always gets left to me.  Urgh.

So, armed with my packing list I spent most of yesterday gathering stuff together, trying to remember where I'd put the torch (the one that we'd bought specifically for this trip) and working out if I could get away with not ironing anything everything.  (Remember, its wet and probably very muddy in Wales so I'll be flinging the whole lot back into the washing machine come Friday night - its hardly worth bothering with an iron in my opinion)

Sooo, picture the scene.  I've worked out where everything is, started packing it into the case and yet the list seems endless.  The more I pack, the more I remember that we haven't got this or that, can he do without it?  Will he be able to even move the case once its packed?


Endless list of "stuff"

Will it Fit?


Good job I had a "helper"

I may have* instructed her to do this.  After all, what's the point of having small children if you can't use them to weigh down a suitcase every now and then?


•  totally did

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

#sharethememories with Dettol

One of the things that I remember most clearly about bringing my newborn babies home from hospital, is wrapping them up in their very own baby blanket to keep them warm on their first journey outside.

My twins, wrapped up in their blankets

To me a freshly washed baby blanket seems like an essential item but every minute of every day, approximately 50 babies are born into poverty and will experience conditions lacking basic essentials including hygienically clean blankets.  Poor hygiene conditions can contribute to illnesses such as diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration. 

Laboratory tests commissioned by Dettol on washed blankets donated by volunteer mums show that baby ‘blankies’ carry a variety of bacteria even after a 40°C wash.  Dettol is hoping to raise awareness of this research as well as donate much needed funds to support children’s health.

That's why Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser has teamed up with UK children’s medical research charity, Sparks, to donate baby blankets to underprivileged children in the UK and abroad.

The charity campaign, dubbed ‘Dettol’s Baby Blanket Donation’, aims to promote the dangers of bacteria on blankets and highlight the shortage of baby blankets available to infants born to disadvantaged families.

Dettol are encouraging mums across the UK to “keep the memories, not the bacteria” by donating a blanket via Freepost and sharing their special recollections and photographs of their babies’ blanket on social media. Once collected, the baby blankets will be hygienically washed with Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser before being re-distributed by Dettol to families in need. 

Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser has also pledged to donate £1 to Sparks for every blanket collected to raise much needed funds for UK families with children who are affected by serious illness or disability.

Celebrity mum of two, Rachel Stevens, is already on-board with the campaign having donated the first blanket and is calling out to mums across the UK to share their memories and donate blankets to needy children. She commented: “The Dettol Baby Blanket Donation really resonated with me as a mum. I remember bringing my girls home for the first time in theirs and what a special time that was. Many babies across the world will never get the chance to experience the comfort of a warm, clean blanket. That’s the reason why I’m supporting the campaign, asking mums to donate blankets to those in need so that those babies don’t miss out.”

Celebrity Mum Rachel Stevens

Blanket donations will be collected until the end of December and can be donated via Freepost (no stamp required) to:

Dettol Baby Blanket Donation
The Hay Loft
Balcombe Place Stables
RH17 6AZ

Memories can be shared with @DettolBlanket on Twitter using #sharethememories or on Dettol’s Mission for Health Facebook page.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Mumsnet Book of Animal Stories - Review

My twins still love a bedtime story to round off their day.  Unfortunately over the last few years we seem to have exhausted our supply of story books somewhat.  I can recite Aliens Love Underpants and Moo Cow, Kung Fu Cow without even reading them these days and to be quite honest, I'm a little bored of traditional fairy tales.

When Mumsnet chose us to review their new collection of stories, The Mumsnet Book of Animal Stories,  I was thrilled - some new bedtime reading material at last!

When the book arrived however I was blown away, for instead of the usual soft backed children's story collections that we have owned previously, the package that plopped through our letter box contained a gorgeous hard backed glossy book with a beautifully inviting cover, jam packed full of brand new and original stories and illustrations.  We couldn't wait to get reading!

There are ten stories in this treasury all of which have been written by new authors and illustrated by up-and-coming artists.  Without listing every single one and spoiling any of the stories for anyone wishing to read, I will tell you that in particular my twins picked out The Hedgehog Who Wouldn't Sleep and Up In The Trees Is Not For Me! as their absolute favourites.

All of the stories are a perfect five or ten minute read.  I say five or ten because due to the excellent and detailed illustrations we often found that when we started reading we lingered on each page looking at the artwork.  My daughter in particular loved linking what was happening in the story to the images on the page and asked lots of questions about the characters and what was happening in each story.  The stories kept her engaged and fired up her imagination which I have not seen as much with our other story books.

My daughter loved this illustration of the sleeping hedgehogs from The Hedgehog Who Wouldn't Sleep

My son enjoyed Up in the Trees Is Not For Me!  The pictures are so colourful

This collection is aimed at children aged seven and under. The twins fit into this age bracket nicely at five years old, although there really is something for everyone here and I can imagine that younger children would love the stories just as much as my two did.

I missed a trick in fact, as I would have loved to have taken this into school and read some of it to the twins' class so I could tell you what they all thought too.  I am yet to volunteer as a "Mystery Reader" but when I do I will be taking this book in and reading it to them.  I might read my own favourite from the collection, The Great Meerkat Escape, which is sure to raise a few giggles because, let's face it, who doesn't love a Meerkat?

I am also rather sad that there are no younger children in our family to buy this for at Christmas time. It would make an ideal present for that, although at £12.99 it might be a little too expensive for a classmate's birthday party (unless they were a very special one), it would be a good stocking filler or present for a young relative.

We loved having the opportunity to read this book, as you can probably tell.  It has been fantastic for giving our nightly story times a refreshing twist and makes a lovely change from a traditional story compendium.  We thoroughly recommend it.

We were sent a copy of The Mumsnet Book of Animal Stories for the purpose of this review.  All words and opinions are our own.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wicked Wednesdays

A bit late with my Wicked Wednesdays picture for this week, but the truth is that nothing in particular has happened in the last week worthy of a funny shot, so I've had to delve into the family photo archives a bit to find something suitable.

I'm not sure what made me think of this particular photograph.  Maybe its the fact that with Harvest Festival out of the way we are now on the home straight to Christmas performances at school, or perhaps also because it was DS1's 14th birthday on Monday.

He wouldn't let me put an embarrassing baby photo on Facebook (he said he'd report me - harsh I thought!) so it falls to my blog to host the silly picture of him dressed up for his first school Christmas performance.  Taken in our living room because you aren't allowed to take pictures at school.

The first shot turned out OK, just a picture of DS1 dressed up as a sheep...

The second picture?  Not so good.  Unfortunately my mother-in-law, who had come round to babysit, had left her pink slippers on the floor behind DS1.  I know they are slippers but without that information you might be forgiven for thinking that his costume had split open and that was his bare bottom hanging out for all to see...

Always check the background before you start snapping...


Friday, 10 October 2014

Word of the Week

A bit of an odd one this week, but my word of the week is


I'm no fashion or lifestyle blogger, you only have to take a look around here to see that, but this week with the colder weather I've finally put away all my summer clothes and have been wearing my new winter boots.  I may have mentioned these before.

They are far too lovely to hide under a pair of jeans though, so with them I've been wearing tights and skirts.

Up until fairly recently I had lived in jeans and t-shirts.  Most of the last 11 years has been spent sitting on the floor next to a small child, making Lego models or building a train set or brushing My Little Pony's hair, you get the idea... Jeans were just more practical for all of that.

Now I don't have to do that any more.  The children are in school and I can wear clothes just because I like them.

It's not that I hate jeans, I just don't find them all that comfortable these days.  The added advantage of not wearing them when doing the school run in the rain means that I don't get that annoying thing happen, where the hems soak up every nearby puddle.  After the school run in a skirt I am comfy and dry. I feel smarter too (not that I probably am, I just feel it).

The only disadvantage is that I now need to buy more skirts.  Having spied one that I'd had my eye on for a while in an online sale I was dismayed to find it had sold out hours later.  I can't find many others that I like instead.  It's all new territory to me - not only do I have to find the right size but also the right length.  It's important because I'm definitely not built for mini skirts.

So, skirts is my word of the week, what's yours?

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Morning Losers or Morning Winners?

We aren't really morning people here.  Well, when I say we, what I really mean is that I am not a morning person.  Give me a cup of hot tea or coffee and my duvet over getting up and dressed and out onto the school run any day.

So, when I read about BritMums latest linky sponsored by belVita to tell you all about our morning wins I was a bit intimidated.  Absolutely nothing about our mornings usually says "win" at all.  Our mornings are generally surrounded by a large helping of chaos.  If anything, we are morning losers.

Or so I thought.

As I say, give me a cup of tea or coffee instead of the school run and I'm happy.  But having a cup of something hot before the school run often puts me in the right frame of mind to tackle the day.  It makes the school run bearable for me, so that's our first win right there.

Making the school run bearable with coffee and belVita

The rest of my family all have their own ideas as to what constitutes a morning win too.

My husband leaves early every day to catch the train to work.  He always leaves far earlier than he has to so that he can get a parking space because the station car park gets full so quickly.  Getting a space for his car, rather than a parking ticket, is a morning win for him.

Since school started back last month another morning win is having children who are happy to get ready in the morning.  The twins have been enjoying their new class so much that they are more than happy when I tell them they need to put their uniforms on in the morning - long may it continue!

Happy to be dressed in their uniform and on their way to school!

My eldest daughter's morning win recently was finding out that the school canteen serves hot chocolate and toast before school for free!  She now leaves extra early so that she can get there in time to have a free breakfast (after eating her other breakfast at home of course!).

The teen, well, like me he's not big on getting up and out of the house either.  His morning win also amounts to getting a second breakfast in the form of belVita Breakfast biscuits which he appropriates from the kitchen cupboard in the morning prior to leaving for school.  That's several wins in one for a teenager really.  Getting one over on his mother (who was wondering where all the belVita had gone), not having to get up as early as his sister in order to get the free school breakfast, being able to eat more breakfast on the way to school, food in general.  As you can see he's a typical teenage boy.

It is clear that the teen is the biggest morning winner here.  So, in order that he doesn't get too big for his boots I'm off to hide the belVita from him for a while, and have some myself.  My favourite are the hazelnut ones accompanied by a nice cup of coffee which is just as well as the rest of the family have argued over and eaten all of the Choc Chip and Apricot biscuits.

Hehe, outfoxing the teen - that's a morning win if ever I did see one!

This post is an entry for the #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast.  Learn more at

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Wicked Wednesdays

We've had more birthdays this week and with every birthday comes the spending of birthday money...

It's all very cute and amusing...

It's just a shame that the bloody thing went through 12 batteries in 2 hours...


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Clinique Great Skin For Him Gift Set Review

With both my husband's birthday and our wedding anniversary coming up in the next few weeks, and Christmas approaching too, I've recently been on the hunt for suitable gifts.

The trouble is what do you buy a man who has nearly everything he could ever need and everything that he already wants? 

And I don't mean socks.

Grooming products are something which DH rarely has the time to buy as well as something that he wouldn't choose for himself normally.  Working in a very warm and dry office, his skin has started to suffer a bit recently and so my attention was drawn to the gorgeous selection of men's grooming products and gift sets from House of Fraser.  There really is something to suit every style and budget.

I chose the Clinique Great Skin For Him Gift Set.  As a Clinique user myself it appealed to me as I knew that the products inside would be great quality.

The gift box itself has a beautiful silver mirrored effect and has the Clinique branding on the front.  I was expecting to find the products wrapped up inside but when I opened the box for closer inspection I discovered that the products were nestled inside a lovely small wash bag too.  The bag, while not as big as a typical men's wash bag, is made from a dark grey twill type fabric and is lined.  What I liked about it the most is that it is very light and squashable, so would be easy to slip into his work bag should he need to take some things with him to the office to freshen up if, heaven forbid, he was working through the night (which admittedly doesn't happen often these days but it is still handy to be prepared just in case).

Inside the bag wrapped in tissue paper I found a 100 ml tube of face scrub (which I was very pleased about - he can stop borrowing mine now!), a 125 ml bottle of aloe shave gel, a 35 ml bottle of post shave soother and a 30 ml tube of anti-age moisturiser.  The tubes and bottles are all the same distinctive Clinique for Men dark grey color and match the bag perfectly.

There is no discernible scent to the products as they are all 100% fragrance free as well as being allergy tested.  Because of this I was sure that they would be kinder to DH's skin than his usual hand soap and water.

At £34 for the set I feel that it is very good value as there is enough of each product to use several times (the face scrub and shave gel are in fact both full size products and worth £34 on their own) and the addition of a wash bag gives it a nice finishing touch to make the set more of a gift than just simply a bunch of products.

Being a bit of a social media blabber mouth I couldn't help myself but to show the gift set off on Instagram.  Unfortunately DH spotted it which spoiled his surprise somewhat so he has ended up with it as an early birthday gift instead.

What did he think of it?

Well, he was really pleased with it and after a quick test run with the facial scrub and the post shave soother he said that his skin felt amazingly good.  

He was also relieved that it wasn't yet another iTunes gift card because, let's face it, there are only so many Bruce Springsteen albums you can buy...

This review is in collaboration with House of Fraser

Family Fever

Thursday, 2 October 2014

10 signs that my children have become Minecraft addicts

Minecraft.  I am trapped.  In a world of little blocks.


I have tried to embrace it, I really have, but it is just all nonsense to me.

The kids though?  Well, they love it.  It is cool to them.  They talk about it all the time.  When they aren't arguing over who destroyed whose world when playing the actual game, they are watching YouTube videos of other people playing it.  I have no idea why this is so great but it is.

I suppose I should feel grateful that with a big family and a spread of ages there is something that they all like to do together but the trouble is?  It.  Is.  Taking.  Over.  My.  Life.

Everything revolves around that game.  They are addicts.  This is how I know.

1. I know who Stampy Longnose is.

2. My four year old looks at the piles of clothes in the teen's bedroom and shouts "Yay, clothes parkour!" while jumping around on them.

3. I secretly watch YouTube over my children's shoulders to check it is appropriate and soon realise that the only thing they ever watch is the latest Stampy video.

4.  I was secretly pleased when Stampy and Squid were interviewed on breakfast telly - it was the first time I'd been able to watch a grown up tv channel without children complaining in 14 years!

5. My children know the properties of and can accurately describe how to build a water retaining wall.  I was impressed by this until I realised that they learnt it all from Minecraft.

6. They have taught me how to sing "To the Nether" to the tune of "Moves like Jagger".  I actually enjoy this and frequently burst into song unprompted.

7. I have heard the background music on "creative mode" so often that I find it quite soothing.  I just lie back and close my eyes - it's cheaper than a day at a spa (and probably lasts about as long).

8.  My smallest child knows how to spell the word leather.  This is quite impressive until they admit that they only know this because they remember it from Minecraft.

9.  I bought a Raspberry Pi thinking that it was educational and was a bit dismayed when I realised that the children only want to use it for the free Minecraft software.

10.  I once correctly answered a question on The Chase - the answer was Ocelot and I only knew what one of those is because they feature in Minecraft. (I should add that everyone else got the question wrong)

There are probably a lot more that ten.  I just can't be arsed to type them all.

So what am I to do?  Will there ever be an end to this?

I can imagine several years from now Minecraft themed weddings, grandchildren called Steve.  Crikey!  When I pop my clogs what if they bury me in a Minecraft block shaped coffin?

Or, it might just simply go away, like all crazes do.  I mean, look at Gogo Crazy Bones and Zuzu Hamsters - they all ended up in the bin eventually.

Thank god.

DD1's bedroom, a world of little blocks - would you dust this?  No.  Me neither.

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