Monday, September 30, 2013

What a week!

Baby Boy has been very ill.  He started exhibiting symptoms on the afternoon of our last day at Disneyland, but it didn't slow us down because we just thought he was spitting up.  He kept vomiting into the night and then the next day he started having diarrhoea as well.

I took Baby Boy to the doctor 3 times a week and the doctor monitored him for dehydration.  Thankfully he was OK, but just as he was coming out of this illness, everyone else started getting sick! 

All 5 of us have been ill.  The amount of laundry has been incredible!

At the same time, Baby Boy has been teething.  There are 4 new teeth pushing up and 3 are through his gums!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Great Service from The Body Shop

So, sometimes I complain....maybe too much.  Today I'm posting about great service.

Last week The Body Shop had a sale on here and a number of items that I have been wanting to purchase were on sale.  Also included in the sale was free delivery for most orders.  I put in an order and got a 40% discount along with free delivery.

When I placed my order, the confirmation screen informed me that my items would be delivered in 5-7 days.  I was happy with this - it fit with my schedule and none of the items I was purchasing were urgent.

Imagine my surprise when the order arrived in the post the next day - less than 24 hours after I placed the order!  That's great service!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Big Boy's Best Day Ever

This morning I told Big Boy that we would be having breakfast for supper - bacon, eggs and toast.  This is a cop out for me but he loves it.  

He said:  "What!  Bacon!  So today I get art [class] and bacon! This is the best day ever!"

Indeed....that's what it takes for a Canadian to have their best day ever....bacon.  Even the bacon they have here - bacon that is completely different from bacon in Canada.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Disneyland Paris - The Attractions

The Disneyland Paris Resort consists of 2 different theme parks.  I'm going to list which attractions we did from each park on each day of our visit.

You will notice that I have not included any character meetings (besides the Mickey Mouse attraction) on my list.  We did do some character greetings, but only when they happened "organically."  I hate the idea of waiting in line to meet a particular character for a picture so we met the characters that we happened upon.  For instance, when we were in line for the tea cups, the Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum walked up.  So the kids met them and we took pictures.  But we didn't wait in the queues surrounding many characters.  From what I can recall, the kids met:  Goofy, Pluto; Mickey Mouse, The Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Day 1

On our first day at the parks, we only visited the Disneyland Park.  These are the rides and attractions that we visited.  They are not in order and we visited some of them more than once.

Fantasyland
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle


  • The Dragon in the Cave
  • Pinocchio
  • Dumbo
  • Alice's Curious Labyrinth
  • Mad Hatter's Tea Cups
  • it's a small world - all 3 kids really loved this ride
A little taste of home across from "it's a small world"!

Discoveryland
  • Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast - this was Little Boy's favourite ride
  • Captain Nemo's Submarine
Adventureland
  • Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse
  • Pirate's Beach playground
  • Aladdin's Passage
  • Adventure Isle
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
Fronteirland
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railway - this was Big Boy's first "real" roller coaster - and he loved it!
  • Pocahontas Indian Village (playground)
Main Street USA 
  • walked down street
  • Disney's 20th Anniversary Celebration Train (a parade)

Day 2

On Day 2, we started out in Walt Disney Studios Park and after the Tower of Terror, we returned to Disneyland Park.

Toon Studio
  • Cars Rally 
  • Crush's Coaster - Big Boy said this was the best coaster he rode at Disney.
  • Flying Carpets over Agrabah
  • Art of Disney Animation - we went to this show but left after discovering it was entirely in French.
Toy Playland
  • Slinky Dog ZigZag Spin - I took the kids on this one and I didn't really like it.
Production Courtyard
  • Tower of Terror - Big Boy went on this and he hated it.   He was really good on some other grown up rides, but I think this was probably too scary for a 6 year old.
Walk to Disneyland Park

Fantasyland
  • Disneyland Railroad - this was another of Little Boy's favourite rides.
The view from the Disneyland Railroad
  • Meet Mickey Mouse
  • Mad Hatter's Tea Cups
  • Casey Jr. Train
  • Fairytale Boats
  • it's a small world
Discoveryland
  • Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
  • Star Tours
  • Autopia - my husband took Big Boy and Little Boy on this one - it was their last ride at the park.
Autopia at night.

Fronteirland
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Pocahontas Indian Village
Main Street USA
  • walked down street
  • Disney Magic on Parade
  • Disney Dreams!  Nighttime Spectacular (fireworks show)
And that's it!  

Here are some pictures from Disney Magic on Parade:







Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Disneyland Paris - the Details

This is my detailed discussion of certain aspects our trip to Disneyland Paris last weekend. I will do one further post regarding what attractions we experienced in each Disney park.

1.  Transportation to and from the airport to our aparthotel in Val d'Europe.

When we arrived in Paris we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel.  The cost of the taxi was about 65 Euros and it took about 1/2 hour.  We had lots of time to get to the airport when we were leaving and the kids love trains, so we decided to take the train to the airport.  Our hotel was a short walk from the train station and it was easy to find the right trains to take.  We had to take 2 trains, each about 1/2 hour long.  The trains were not busy so we had seats and the ride was fairly comfortable.  But the train was filthy (really really filthy) and it smelled smoky.  The kids were really excited about the 2 story (split level) trains.

There are 2 train stations conveniently located in the airport and overall the train was not much trouble. But the cost of the train was nearly 40 Euros.  I'm not sure there was enough of a price difference overall to make up for the less convenient and longer ride (in a filthy train).

2.  Disneyland is expensive!

The tickets for the park are expensive.  We got a discount by buying our tickets online before we left home.  This is an unavoidable expense, but after you enter the park there are a lot of different spending choices.

The food and souvenir items in the park are extremely expensive.  We didn't go through the souvenir shops with the boys because they are not interested in shopping.  If given the choice of shopping or going on a ride, they only wanted to go on the rides.  I wandered through the shops a few times while waiting for everyone else to finish going on rides.  There was nothing for sale that I really wanted.  We don't buy a lot of souvenirs when we are travelling - if we did, our house would be jam-packed with treasures.

Another way to save money in the park is to bring your own glow sticks or glow necklaces, etc.  While you wait for the shows and parade these items are offered for sale and are very expensive.  You can buy them ahead at Poundland or the Dollar Store or other discount shops and save loads of money.  I bought mine in ASDA.

Overall, while we were in the park, we spent a total of 4 Euros.  I bought some candies in tins for the kids.  That's it.

3.  Food

I find that eating at an amusement park is a nuisance.  If you choose to purchase food in the park to eat, you have to take a break from rides and attractions to eat.  Usually the food is not particularly exciting and it is expensive.  It also can be difficult to sort out food for kids - you need to find something that is reasonably priced that they will eat quickly and completely....this can be difficult or impossible sometimes!  I saw so many mums trying to get their kids to eat over-priced burgers from the park restaurants - saying "mange mange" and getting really frustrated.

For these reasons, we decided to take our own food into Disneyland Paris.  There are signs indicating that you are not allowed to picnic in the park, but so many people were doing it that we decided to eat our homemade food and it was not an issue.  We didn't actually "picnic" but we did snack and eat as we moved about.  One of the major advantages of having our own food was that we could eat a meal in line.  Also, none of us ever got hungry because there was always something available to eat.  I never had to beg the kids to eat, they inhaled whatever they were given and we moved on to the next thing.  There were no arguments about food and it was very easy, but for a little bit of preparation.

If you are wondering specifically what we took with us, I will list it here.  Each day we took the following:
  • 2 orange juice boxes for the kids
  • 6 sandwiches - one each for the kids for lunch and supper and one each for the adults for lunch.
  • 1 tub of tabouli (1/2 kg) with bread crackers.  We ate 1/2 the tabouli each day for supper.  The kids don't love tabouli but like it, so they ate sandwiches and some crackers and tabouli.
  • 2 packets of nuts (mostly almonds)
  • a few boxes of raisins
  • a few individual packets of dried fruit - apricots, mangos, cranberries
  • about 10 packets of Haribo minis - these are a great distraction while you are waiting in line and each packet contains a very small quantity of candy.
  • 2 packets of Cheerios and/or Oddity crackers (kind of like Goldfish crackers)
  • 6 water bottles
  • 1 family size packet of candies - one day it was candy pencils the other sour shoelaces - I used these as a distraction while waiting in line also - we could all share a treat.
  • a few granola bars
Some of these foods we bought in the grocery store at the mall near our hotel.  Some I bought at ASDA in Aberdeen.


Sandwich making at the hotel.
As you can see, this is a very large quantity of food.  We were in the park for over 12 hours each day and we finished nearly all of this food each day.  The kids could eat whenever they were hungry and we alternated between healthy snacks and treats.  They didn't seem to mind the repetitive sandwiches, but I started hating them on the second day.  It was much cheaper and more convenient to eat this way. In the morning our buggy was very full of food, but by the end of the day it was nearly empty!

We also cooked breakfast in our hotel room.  Eggs and cereal the first 2 mornings and grilled ham and cheese with cereal the 3rd morning.  We also bought juice and Yop to drink.

4.  Kids

In one way, Disneyland is a tough experience for kids.  They are overwhelmed with all of the excitement of the rides and attractions.  It is a special treat and expectations are high all around - the parents expect the kids to be well-behaved and appreciative while the kids expect non-stop excitement. In my opinion this is a recipe for disaster, particularly when you add in the stress of expensive dining and high-sugar/high-fat treats.  The marketing in the park is all very clever and mainly aimed at children.  So there are tantrums and disappointments.

We were very fortunate.  Our boys behaved really well at the Disney parks.  We had no tantrums or meltdowns.  We have good boys, but I also think that eating frequent, small portions of "good" food (instead of large injections of junk food infrequently) and keeping up with naps (even though they were in the buggy) helped keep our boys on track.  Our boys don't regularly ask for things in stores and they didn't in Disneyland either.  I did try to anticipate some things that they might want and I brought those things with us - sweets and light sticks/bracelets.  Our kids are in pretty good physical condition so the walking didn't upset them and they understood that when we had to hurry along it was always toward a fun experience.  

Little Boy could not go on all of the rides that Big Boy went on.  He was too short for some of them.  I was worried he would be jealous, but he wasn't.  When Big Boy went on a ride with one parent, the other parent either took Baby Boy and Little Boy on a different ride or to a playground (or they were napping), so there were no issues.  On a couple of occasions Little Boy did get jealous of the fact that Big Boy got to stay with Daddy while he was with me.  We balanced this out by making sure Little Boy got special time with Daddy as well.

The only other time our boys could have behaved better was waiting in line.  In the longer lines they got restless and would start fooling around.  Mostly it was just annoying because they were laughing, tickling, singing, etc. and it would get a bit too loud.  I'm not sure there is any way around this when you are waiting in long lines.  I tried to plan meals and snacks for our long waits but sometimes that wasn't enough to use up all of the waiting time!

Overall they were wonderfully behaved and I would happily take them to Disneyland again - in Paris or another location.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Disneyland Paris....or....How to go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower

We are back from Disneyland in Paris and we had a great trip!  I am going to do 3 posts about the trip - this one and then one that is more detailed regarding what we did when.  This post will address all of the questions our family and friends will have about our trip.

We flew direct to Paris from Aberdeen.  This cost a little more (not much more, though) and it was well worth the extra cost!  The flight was short and easy.  On the way to Paris, the aeroplane gave a frightening jolt when we hit an air pocket and scared the daylights out of me.  It was just one sudden drop.  Big Boy and Little Boy thought it was hilarious and fun.  I thought it was terrible.  The kids basically slept through the flight and I flipped through the airline magazine while my husband took a nap.  They served particularly delicious cookies on our Air France flight.  They looked a bit dry and boring but were lovely to eat.

Once we arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport we decided to take a taxi to our hotel in Val d'Europe.  The taxi cost 65 Euros.  The ride was about 1/2 hour and my husband had an interesting discussion with the taxi driver about the current economics of the region.  

We stayed in the Residhome Aparathotel in Val D'Europe.  Here is a link to that aparthotel:  http://www.residhome.com/hotel-residence-aparthotel-europe-139.html.  We chose this accommodation because: it cost a price we were willing to pay (unlike the Disney park hotels); it was close to transportation to Disneyland; and it was near a large shopping centre.  The aparthotel was fine.  The suite consisted of 2 main rooms - a living room/kitchen that converted into the children's bedroom and a bedroom.  The shower and toilet rooms were separate.  Sometimes I find this convenient but in this case it was not because the sink was not in the toilet room so the toilet user had to go into the shower room anyways to wash their hands.

The kitchen was basic - a 2 burner stove, dishwasher, fridge, kettle, coffeemaker and a selection of dishes and kitchenware.  It could have used a toaster, in my opinion.  I cooked hot breakfast each morning and it was easy to make eggs and grilled ham and cheese (croque monsieur).  I was disappointed - on the first day there was a small dish soap and cloth.  When the cleaning staff cleaned the apartment they took it away and did not replace it, so after that day I had no dish soap to hand wash the dishes.  I instead had to use the confusing dishwasher.  In any event, it was an adequate kitchen for our purposes and "our purposes" included making hot breakfast and packed lunch.

There was a table that comfortably seated 4 for meals - just right for us.  The apartment comfortably slept the 5 of us and would sleep 5 adults.  The halls of the apartment building were disgustingly smoky, but the inside of the unit only had a faint smell of cigarette smoke.

Our aparthotel room.
As I mentioned, our hotel was near a mall.  On the first day, right after we arrived and unpacked, we walked over to the mall and spent some time buying groceries.  I will go through what we bought in a later post, but we bought a lot so that we would have adequate food for our stay because we didn't plan to visit the mall again.  We also ate supper at the mall and then went back to the hotel for the kids' regular bedtime.  The mall had everything you could possibly need, including many stores selling Disney souvenirs.

On the second day of our stay (our first "Disneyland Day"), we got up, ate a big breakfast of eggs and cereal, packed our food bag and then headed over to the parks.  The weather was forecast to be in the 20s (degrees Celsius) so we all wore our hoodies but brought no jackets.  This was perfect - when it got hot we were comfortable in our t-shirts and when it cooled off in the evening our hoodies were warm enough.  Both days ended up with the same weather and we were always comfortable - never cold or too hot and we did not carry massive jackets around.  Plus Little Boy got to wear his super-cute Buzz Lightyear hoodie.

We took the train to Disneyland and, while it seemed daunting at first, it was easy to figure out.  We bought a booklet of tickets for all of our back-and-forth trips.

We went to the "Disneyland" park on the first day.  We entered the park at 10:30 am (1/2 hour after it opened) and we were treated to gargantuan lines to get through security and the park gates.  I was very annoyed with the fact that these were not "fair" queues.  People were always looking for a way to advance a few spaces and some people just joined the middle of the line.  People who don't know how to queue properly make me very angry....how hard is it to just stand and shuffle forward keeping the place behind the person who was at the end of the line when you arrived????

Anyways.....we entered the park and we had a great day.  I hate to be a bragging parent, but our kids were very well behaved.  They had a lot of fun and sometimes got over-excited or restless in long lines, but overall, they were wonderful.  We had no tantrums, no lost children, and we didn't have to prod them along, they enthusiastically explored the parks with us both days.  It was a pleasure to take them and I can't wait to go back when they are older.  

On both days that we went to the parks, we stayed until closing.  We arrived shortly after the parks opened both days.

The Paris Disney experience is not the same as going to Disneyland in California.  Sure, some of the rides are the same and the feel of the park is similar, but there are some huge differences.  

The Paris Disney parks smell like cigarettes.  Everywhere.  People seem to need to smoke all of the time, including when they are lining up for some of the rides.  I don't like the smell of cigarettes and I found this very unpleasant.

The bathrooms at the Paris Disney parks were simply horrible.  The female washrooms perpetually had long queues (with the queue cheating) and they were filthy.  Toilets were clogged, jammed and overflowing.  The floors were sticky and wet.  The smell was overwhelming.  The lights were out in the one of the female washrooms - so the entire row of stalls was either dark or semi-dark.  These issues were not being addressed quickly.  In one of the washrooms, the line was so long in the female washroom  that the ladies started to go into the men's washroom in large groups.  I seem to remember very clean washrooms in California and Florida Disney parks so this was very disappointing.

After our two days in the park we slept in and then took the train to the airport late the next morning....hence our trip to Paris without even a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower!

In my next post I will discuss the details of our trips to the parks.





Friday, September 20, 2013

Off to see Mickey!

Will be back soon!

Weather

It is getting colder here and every morning we wake up to either a storm or dense fog.  The other day on the way to the bus stop, Big Boy noticed a really neat shimmer on the bushes.  It turns out that the shimmer was made up of droplets of water on spider webs.  It looked like twinkling cotton wool.  At least something is beautiful in this chilly weather!




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baby Chips

As a treat yesterday when we were at the grocery store, I bought Baby Boy a snack size bag of organic carrot stick crackers.  These are treats meant for babies and are basically baby chips.  The bag has a bunch of claims regarding healthfulness, but they are basically chips.

Of course, Baby Boy loved them.  He ate about 1/3 of the bag on the way home (not a very large portion) and had a great time.

I'll bet you can guess what happened next.  I had him playing on the floor of the kitchen while I put away the groceries.  All of the sudden I saw that on the floor there were many piles of orange vomit....I had a fun morning of clean-up after that.


A Morning in ASDA

Today, I spent the morning in ASDA.  In case you don't know, ASDA is Walmart here in the UK.  I was there for about 1.5 hours and I got so much done!  Here is what I did:

1.  I got cash from the cashpoint.
2.  I had a coffee.
3.  I picked up a parcel that I ordered.
4.  I bought:  ingredients for supper; household items; snacks for our upcoming holiday; and diapers.
5.  I bought foreign currency.
6.  I bought petrol.

So, ASDA made some money off me today.  But I appreciate that they made it easy.  One stop to get everything I needed, and for the most part it was a very efficient trip.

I forgot my cloth bags in the car, so of course I had to use the free ones from ASDA.  I know that it's wasteful to throw away bags, but there is a flaw in the logic with the free bags.  These bags are thin and weak and cannot survive much more than one shopping trip.  On top of that, the stores are all trying to get their customers to put more items in each bag, so it is almost guaranteed that the bags will rip.  If the bags make it home in one piece, I reuse them.  When they rip I have to throw them away.  If they provided slightly better quality bags, then I could reuse them.  I routinely forget my cloth bags even though I intend to bring them so I'm learning absolutely nothing from the experience except that stores are cheap about bags.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Touched By Scotland

Yesterday a friend and I drove our kids out to Oyne and we went to Touched By Scotland, an art gallery and gift shop.  It was a nice drive out through the countryside even though the weather was a bit iffy.  

Touched By Scotland is a lovely store and we took our time looking through all of the different displays.  I bought a brooch and some paintings of castles that we love to visit - Dunnottar, Crathes and Drum.  The shopping was nice even though the kids got a bit restless after a while.

After shopping, we had coffee at the connected coffee shop and then we drove back to town.  What a lovely morning!

Here is the website for Touched By Scotland:  http://www.touchedbyscotland.com/

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Messy Church

Yesterday I took the kids to Messy Church at one of our local churches.  It was great fun.  All of the activities were just right for Big Boy and Little Boy had fun if only a limited understanding of what he was doing.  Baby Boy was both tolerated and welcome.

The theme of the week was harvest and the story was the Parable of the Sower.  The kids dug out potatoes that had been planted in the spring and then completed crafts and activities with seeds and different types of growing environments.  Little Boy's favourite part was the snack - sausages with boiled potatoes and beans - including the potatoes that they had dug!

After the snack the kids played a life-sized game with dice.  Big Boy thought it was great fun.  

After Messy Church we had to stop and buy sausages for supper because Little Boy decided he did not get enough for his snack!

Rock Pool Rummage

This weekend we were invited on a rock pool rummage.  It was for a birthday party for one of Big Boy's friends.  I drove the boys out to Stonehaven and we had lunch (at the party) of fish and chips in the park near the beach.  

After lunch a ranger arrived and she guided us through our rummage.  The children were each given a small cup to store the creatures that they found.  On the top of the cups were small magnifying glasses.

The kids were dressed in their wellies and Little Boy took off into the rock pools.  I had to stay with him because the rocks were covered with slippery plants.  Little Boy was mostly interested in splashing in the puddles.  Big Boy made some interesting finds.

He picked up a number of hermit crabs.  They scuttled around in his little cup.  He found some worms and other interesting creatures.  Some of the other children at the party found sea stars and anemones.  Little Boy found and picked up a couple of hermit crabs but he dropped them almost immediately.

I found a small pool where 2 hermit crabs were fighting.  The looked just like little boys, pinching and throwing punches.  The fight ended when one crab flipped the other.

After a while the kids tired of the rummage and we headed home....after changing out of our soaking wet clothes!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Big Boy Cooks

A while back I bought Big Boy a book called "You Can Cook!" by Annabel Karmel (here it is on Amazon if you are interested:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Can-Cook-Annabel-Karmel/dp/1405350709/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371411139&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=we+can+cook+annabelle+caramal).  The book is a cookery book aimed at children - where the children are the cooks!  We have another one of her books and the recipes are well-liked around here, so I thought this might be a hit.

Big Boy loved the idea of cooking by himself and we have tried a few recipes.  They've all worked out and Big Boy has had fun while being challenged.  The book teaches the necessary skills for each recipe and I have to admit that I was enlightened on a few things!  It seems to me that this is the type of book that every youth should be given when they leave their parent's home to live on their own.

Here are some of Big Boy's attempts so far:

This was Big Boy's first recipe.  It is bread with an egg fried in - in a lovely heart shape.   He was so proud that he made dinner for himself and Little Boy!

We have made this "sticky" chicken recipe over and over.  It is tasty and it works with the skin on or off.

Big Boy made the carrot cake for his dad for Father's Day.  The carrot cake is pictured on the dust jacket of our version of the book and Big Boy was feeling a lot of pressure to get it to look just right.

This is the finished carrot cake - and it does look a lot like the one in the book!  It was delicious!

I had to give Little Boy a job so that he did not feel left out during the baking session.  He put the decorations on the cake and spread the cake release in the pan - both very important tasks.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gettin' Crafty

We have just come through a bit of a rough patch with Big Boy.  We have had issues with bedtime.  He is generally a compliant boy and, as such, he had no issues with going to bed.  The issue was staying in bed and staying quiet.  After a lot of argument with Big Boy, we finally decided to try adjusting his bedtime.  He was obviously not tired when we put him to bed so maybe putting him to bed later was the answer.

We overcorrected - we changed his bedtime to be 1.5 hours later.  He was so tired!  After a bit of experimenting, we found out that about 1 hour later was appropriate.

So, what to do with the extra hour?  I decided to try to have part of it link into school by doing extra work on reading, maths or spelling with resources provided by the school (mostly computer games).  The other part of the extra hour we will spend either playing a game (board game) or working on something creative.  So far we have:  made a small video sequence on Scratch (a computer program); played a board game; and completed a multi-step craft.

The multi-step craft was a kit where Big Boy sewed together pieces of felt and then stuffed them to make a plush owl.  He did a great job - he did all of the stitching by himself.  All that I did was thread the needle and then tie off the beginning and end of each stitching progression.  Here are some photos. I included the pictures from the cover of the packet so that you can see that Big Boy made the owl exactly as pictured on the package. I think the kit was really great, so I included some pictures of the label.  I bought the kit in ASDA for £3.







At the same time, I decided that Little Boy needed some special time each morning.  After we drop Big Boy off to catch the bus, Little Boy and I have about an hour before we have to leave for playgroup.  For the first week of playgroup, I would do housework while he played until it was time to leave.  I decided I could use that time better by having a special activity with Little Boy.  Each day Little Boy picks between a game and a craft.  He usually picks a game (he is obsessed with the game "Shopping List"), but sometime he picks a craft.  

So far, Little Boy has made 2 masks, 2 suncatcher and he has made a few paintings.  I know I will enjoy watching his skills develop.

And today I'm complaining.....

OK drivers in Scotland....I understand why sometimes you want to park with a tyre up on the kerb to leave more space along the road.  But if you do that, please mind how much room you are leaving on the sidewalk.  How am I supposed to push my buggy down the sidewalk if your car or truck is blocking the way?  Today I had to push my buggy down a 40 mph road because of an ignorant driver that blocked the sidewalk.  This is the third time in the last two weeks.  What if I was in a wheelchair?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reading Aloud

Yesterday, Big Boy read a piece of his work aloud at the school assembly.  We practiced over the weekend and he did a wonderful job!  He didn't make any errors and read confidently in front of his peers, teachers, parents and the parents of his friends.

I am so proud of him!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Emma's Country Cakes

Ahhh, cupcakes.  I love to eat them, they are trendy and the children adore them.  They are convenient for birthday parties and require no tools to serve.  But I hate making them.  I don't like the multiple steps involved and I loathe icing their tiny tops.  

So, I'm always trying different store-bought cakes with the kids to see if any are as delicious as home made.  We don't live near any of the trendy "cupcake bakeries" (thank goodness!), so I have been buying different ones from the grocery stores.  Until a few weeks ago I was always disappointed.

A few weeks ago at Sainsbury's I picked up a packet of Emma's Country Cakes, the chocolate variety with the candies on top.  They are not cheap cakes (£1.80 for 6) but they are amazing!  They are moist, well iced and have a rich chocolaty taste.  They truly taste home made, and (although I know you wouldn't) they could be passed off as home made. 

Unfortunately, we seem to buy about a packet a week - and they disappear immediately!

If you want more information on these cakes, here is the website:  http://www.emmas-countrycakes.co.uk/

The cakes my kids love are called "Chocolate Cupcake" (inventive - eh?).  Next time I plan to try the Vanilla Fairy Cakes.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Aperitivo Aberdeen

Last Thursday, Big Boy's school hosted a parents-only open house.  Because children were not allowed, for the most part, only one parent attended per family while the other stayed at home with the kids.  A couple of my girlfriends and I decided to make a night of it and have dinner at a restaurant in town afterward.

The open house was nice - the teachers explained their curriculum and there was a presentation for parents that featured 2 pieces of Big Boy's artwork (only a few pieces of artwork were selected and Big Boy was the only student that had 2 pieces featured...proud mummy....).  

After the open house, the 3 of us got into one car and drove into Aberdeen.  We found parking across the street from the restaurant (!) and then had a cosy meal in Aperitivo.  The restaurant is posh and the food was lovely.  The concept is that you pick a few dishes and share them family-style.  Most of the dishes are in the style of appetizers (usually my favourite part of any meal out).  We tried a tomato salad, pork ribs, chicken skewers, deep fried risotto and calamari, among other things.  We shared a slice of Grand Marnier cheesecake for dessert - heavenly!

The cheque was reasonable at the end of the meal - about £20 each for a full meal including the dessert and non-alcoholic beverages.

After dinner we drove back to school to pick up my friend's car.  When we arrived the gates were closed and locked!  So my friend and I walked through the dark, creepy wood at the foot of the school yard to the car and triggered the gate opening from the inside.  She then drove me home.

I definitely don't need to spend any more time walking around the woods in the night!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Room Helper Mom

Today I was room helper mom for Little Boy's school.  It was quite an experience.  I have new admiration for the teachers - they have a lot going on....the kids seem to be everywhere all the time!  

I had fun helping out and Little Boy was proud as punch to be the special person.  I am worried that when everything gets back to normal last week, Little Boy will be upset that I'm not staying at school with him.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Orchard Games

A few weeks ago I read about the game "Shopping List" online.   Shopping List is made by Orchard Toys Ltd., here is a link to their website:  http://www.orchardtoys.com/ 

Shopping List is a very popular game for children about 3 years old, and lately I have wanted to spend more time playing games with Little Boy.  He needs to learn more about taking turns.  Since there was a general outpouring of enthusiasm for this game on many online forums, I decided to buy it.

When I went to buy Shopping List (online), I noticed another Orchard Toys game on sale called "Where's my Cupcake?" and I decided to buy both.  Both games are a big hit with the whole family and Little Boy in particular.  After we take Big Boy to the bus in the morning, we do either a game or a craft and he often picks one of our Orchard Games.

Back to the games.

Shopping List is basically a game of memory.  Each player has a shopping trolley and a shopping list and grocery items are on cards that are flipped over.  Each player flips a tile, if the item is on his or her shopping list, the item goes in their trolley.  If not it gets flipped back over and hopefully the player with that item in their trolley gets it on their next turn.  The game can be played with 2-4 players.  I find that Little Boy responds best when it is just the two of us playing.  There are fewer tiles to remember and he doesn't need to wait through so many turns.

Where's my Cupcake? is a matching game that encourages good manners.  It is like a cross between "Snap" and "Go Fish" where players match cupcakes or offer to give away cupcakes.  In order to receive a cupcake, the player has to say "Yes, please" and then "Thank-you" so it encourages these basic manners.

Little Boy loves both games.  I think it's partially because they are both food related and he is very interested in food.    

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Baby Clinic

I took Baby Boy to the clinic today.  He is a robust 19 pounds and 10 ounces, which is in the 50th percentile.  He is doing well overall and his skin issues have calmed down, although when he is getting a tooth they pick up.  We are still struggling to have him drink from a cup, but that will come in time.  I can guarantee he will be weaned off breastfeeding by the time he goes to college (haha).  My serious goal is to have him weaned by his first birthday.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stung Again!

Yesterday I got stung by a bee (or wasp, I'm never sure which is which)!  This weekend I was stung by a nettle...I guess I'm experiencing all kinds of stings this week.

The bee sting is on my wrist.  I was standing and holding the baby and the bee stung my wrist directly below the baby's bottom.  I'm very happy that the baby was not stung.  I believe that the bee was actually sandwiched in between my wrist and the diaper....could have been a terrible situation for Baby Boy's plump thighs.

My wrist swelled up quickly and then turned red.  The sting was very painful - kind of like a burn.  Now, a day on, the burn stings and itches and my wrist is still red.

My nettle sting has gone away.  The stinging sensation lasted a few hours and then my legs were itchy and later back to normal.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Just a Funny

I was having a chat with Little Boy.

Little Boy:  When is Daddy coming home?

Me:  After work.

Little Boy:  Will he play with me when he gets home?

Me:  Of course, he loves playing with you.

Little Boy:  I love playing with....(long pause while he thinks)...cars.

I guess that's the same thing.....

Sunday, September 1, 2013

And we're off!

We have a crawler in the house, and I had forgotten how that changes life.  We need to make sure there are no inappropriate toys on the floor, we need to reinstall baby gates and we have to make sure to watch him all the time.

Baby Boy can open the lower oven and get into some of the cupboards.  He is interested in everything!  I can tell he will be a handful.