I know I say this every month but feel like I’ve had my head in a hole for the past 4 weeks…it took me completely by surprise that it was Me & Mine today.  I can’t believe it!  We’ve had a crazy busy month and I don’t think it is going to get any easier with so many things in the calendar over the next few weeks.

On the one hand I love when we are out and about, seeing friends and family and having a good time but sometimes when we don’t actually get to sit down until late it can get a bit exhausting.  James has been working longs hours this month as well so we have been more like passing ships in the night. I miss my husband! 

Thankfully he has booked some time off towards the end of May so we can escape for a few days of much needed R&R. I can’t wait.

But back to this month. We have loved:-

*Easter fun.
*Finding out that Eli got a place in our first choice school.
*Getting the cover for my book which is now only a few weeks away from being released!
*Celebrating James’ birthday with family.

I hadn’t actually planned on using this picture for April but as I didn’t even twig it was the end of the month we hadn’t managed to take anything else. It was from our wonderful day out at Brockholes which I just cannot recommend enough to anyone local; such a fantastic place to wear the kids out (and who doesn’t want that?!)

I also thought I would include this rather special photo. Unfortunately the children aren’t in it but we got together with James’ family to celebrate his birthday with a murder mystery party and I love how much everyone got into the spirit of it. I am definitely putting this one up on my wall (as much as I think several members of the family might want to hurt me for it!)

So that’s our month.  Just round the corner is Eli’s birthday, then Meg’s and then finally mine…and then we can breathe a sigh of relief. For a short time anyway.

I hope everyone else has had a great month.

dear beautiful

We were recently sent the Wubble Bubble Ball for review: an inflatable ball which is made from a strong, durable and super stretchy material.  It takes it’s name from the fact that it looks like a bubble but plays like a ball…

The facts:

* You can buy it with or without a pump and it is very easy to inflate.  The pump doesn’t come with batteries so we used a pump from our airbed and it took about 5 minutes to inflate.
* It is okay to use indoors or outdoors (although obviously be careful to keep it away from any sharp objects).
* It comes with a deflation tool so you can simply put it down when you’ve had enough play and store it easily until next time.
* Having seen a few reviews where the Wubble has burst I’m not sure what we did differently other than not inflating it to its fullest to give it a bit of ‘room’.  You can inflate it up to 90cm but we didn’t as we were nervous about it bursting.
* It is aimed at children aged 8 and above but Meg and Eli had no trouble playing with it under adult supervision.
* It can be purchased from all major toy retailers.

We had the Wubble inflated in the house for about a week and Meg and Eli had loads of fun playing with it but really the fun is when you get it outside.  Once we were convinced it could handle a bit of rough and tumble we decided to brave taking it outside and chose somewhere we knew there was a wide open space which meant we could give our Wubble a good road-test.

One of my favourite moments was when we were carrying it from the car (inflated) and we passed a little girl who was about 3 years old.  She just stood, open-mouthed and said ‘wow, look at that bubble!’ as we passed.  Too cute!  

We had lots of enquiries from other impressed parents as well whilst we were playing with it and plenty of people stopped to see what we were doing.  It was great as Meg even made a new friend, all from taking a giant bubble ball out with us.  Who would have thought?!

We did have a few hairy moments when we thought our Wubble was a goner as it catches the wind really well and it got swept off but we managed to catch it.  Me chasing a giant bubble ball across an open field at breakneck speed certainly amused a few onlookers anyway!

The fact that it’s lightweight meant both Meg and Eli could throw it high in the air, and the flexible material means it’s easy to grip as well.  Interestingly, it is also quite soft to the touch.

As you can see from some of the photos, there were a few picnic benches dotted around and it did collide with these a number of times.  No damage was done although I wouldn’t hold my hands up and say that means it is invincible.  It is the same as any inflatable product but maybe because we hadn’t got it up to the 90cm it had a bit more give and didn’t burst.  I don’t know.

What I loved was that it was a great way to get the whole family playing together.  Often Eli can’t keep up and loses interest but he loved chasing the Wubble down and when James set up a little relay race for them both to roll the Wubble round obstacles they couldn’t get enough of it.

In terms of durability, I don’t know how long it will last.  We have had the Wubble for 4 weeks now and although it has deflated and needed to be blown up again it is still going strong.  Our next mission is to try it out at the beach although I think we will have to be extra careful as there are obviously plenty of ways in which it could get spiked.  I’ll let you know how that turns out!

You can see a snippet of it in action here as well, watch the whole thing or skip forward to 1:21 to see me running.  It’s attractive.

Family Fever


I won’t lie, I am loving that the weather has finally turned for the better.  I was beginning to get a little jealous of seeing everyone’s photos of playing outdoors and catching the sun whilst staring at the grey skies of Southport.

So this weekend was the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy the UV rays and get all those lovely benefits.  I have wanted to visit Brockholes Nature Reserve since last year but we just never seemed to get the time.  When James looked it up and realised there was a vintage craft fair taking place this weekend, there was no stopping us.  I am totally in love with that kind of home decor and couldn’t wait to see what was on offer.

First stop was the fair; we had a good look around the stalls and I picked up a couple of little trinkets to bring home.  Meg got some wonderful wire hair bands too which look really cute on her.  The company is Okaycokey if you wanted to have a look for yourself.  The hair bands are brilliantly made and perfect for little girls as they stay put!

After we had exhausted the delights of the vintage fair we headed up to the playground which was absolutely rammed.  Clearly everybody had the same idea as us and had decided to visit for the day.

You couldn’t move for small people entangling themselves under your feet so I was glad when Meg and Eli’s interest waned and we decided to go for a walk instead and explore a bit further.

We found a little valley and decided to stop for a rest.  Well, some of us.  Meg determined to build herself a den, which she did with very little help from anyone else.

Eli decided he would get some sunbathing in and let Meg get on with all the hard work.

He was quick enough to reap the benefits though when Meg declared her den was done.  I love how well they are playing together at the moment.  The current favourite game is Peter Pan.  It’s hilarious to hear their interpretation of the film as well as watching them reenact the scenes.  Unfortunately I am often drafted in as the Tick Tock Croc which is less flattering.

After our little break we followed one of the many paths down into Red Scar Wood.  The kids wanted to find one of the natural pools and it seemed like a fairly good bet that we would find one through the woods.  There were quite a lot of people dotted around and most seemed to be heading in that direction so we thought it wiser to follow their lead.

After much tree climbing, bluebell admiring and worm digging we finally reached a gorgeous spot of water.  Eli was very disappointed that he couldn’t actually swim in the water but still enjoyed sitting with James and spotting the different types of wildlife.

The motorway is literally in front of where they were sitting but was totally masked and it couldn’t have been more tranquil if it had tried.

We spent some time appreciating the view before heading back for a much needed milkshake.  On the way, Meg and Eli clambered over a large upturned tree that we found, swinging from the branches, scooping out the holes looking for bugs and climbing way higher than we were comfortable with.  I love that they have such adventurous spirits, especially Meg although you do have to watch carefully as she is completely fearless.  Eli isn’t so much and he needed James’ help to be confident enough to climb to the top.  He was very pleased with himself once he had though.

I think I’d quite like to go back to Brockholes when there isn’t an event on, as much as I loved the Vintage Craft fair as I think that was the reason it was so busy.  It would be nice to take a picnic, find a secluded spot and while the day away.

And here’s a little video of our trip and some of the fun we enjoyed:-

I am linking this up with Let’s Talk Mommy’s Share With Me.


Last night I, like so many other parents, felt anxious about what the morning would bring…the result of our primary school application for Eli.

On the one hand I was feeling pretty confident.  Meg was already in our first choice school and siblings often come high up on the list when allocating school places.  But on the other, as the date got closer and closer, little niggles started in my mind.  What would I do if he didn’t get a place?  Would we have to move them both?  And so on.

I woke at midnight when my phone went crazy with tweets and checked the results, relieved to see that he had been given a place at our first choice school.  I know that for a number of parents this wasn’t the case and I know how hard that would have been.  It was the very thing I was so concerned about for us.

Mixed in with all the relief was a huge dose of sadness that Eli really is almost going off to big school.  With Meg she just seemed so ready.  I don’t know whether that’s because our home situation was different; I was working and she was in private nursery more than she was at home with me or simply a personality thing: she took to school like a duck to water and has never looked back.

In my head, I get that it is still a good 4 and bit months away and a lot can change in a short time but I just can’t picture Eli at school.  There are so many things I worry about for him: that he prefers his own company and will struggle to make friends, that he will try and play with Meg and she won’t let him, that I won’t be able to wrestle him into a shirt and tie, that he’s such an active little boy they won’t meet his needs at school properly, that they won’t see all the wonderful things which make Eli tick.  I don’t remember having these worries for Meg.

Is it because he is my baby or because he is less sure of himself than Meg?  Even now I know that she can walk into a room of total strangers and make a friend.  This morning Eli put himself in the cupboard at playgroup just to get away from the smaller children.  

You think having done this once before I’d be an old hand.  One of the reasons I love this blog is because I was able to look back and see that actually, Meg did have some wobbles initially but that she soon overcame them.  This gives me hope that actually it will all be okay, in the end.

This is a stage that he has to take and as a parent all I can do is prepare him in the best way I can and then hope and pray that it will be alright.  Maybe he will flourish, maybe he will struggle but as with all the other challenges and stages we have faced, I know that all we can do is support him as he takes his next step into the world.

I think to myself, ‘what would I tell another parent going through this for the first time?’ and I know I would offer reassurances, that it isn’t as scary as we imagine and that although you feel sad that first day as you watch your little person skip or run off into reception it soon gets so much easier.  I know all of this and yet…and yet.

There are so many dreams I have, for both Meg and Eli, and I want nothing but the best for them both.  To see them achieve the things I never did, to have the freedom to be themselves, to soar.  This is just the start of the journey for Eli and whilst I believe in my heart that whatever happens he will be fine, I can’t quite dampen the squeeze of panic which shoots across my chest every now and then as I think about him taking this first foray into school life.

Big school…for my not so big boy.  

As the weather finally began to warm up this week I spotted a number of posts on Twitter and Facebook about dogs in cars.  How several cars had needed to be broken into in order to ensure that the dogs left inside didn’t overheat or dehydrate.

It always surprises me that people would forget something like this but it got me thinking and so when Argos Pet Insurance got in touch to ask whether I would share my thoughts and tips on keeping pets safe this summer, I was only too happy to oblige.

We have a rescue dog, Pepper, who is an absolute sun-fiend.  If the weather is even slightly nice she will stand at the back door and bark until she is let out.  Once outside she will take up her resident spot on the decking, collapse and not move until forced to.  

Of course what this means is that we have to make sure that she doesn’t overheat as the daft thing wouldn’t move out of the sun of her own accord.  It’s a lot cooler in the house and as the weather gets increasingly warmer I will need to make sure that she isn’t spending all day out there basking.

There are other considerations too, so here are just some of my top tips:-

*Don’t walk your dog at the hottest point of the day: this might seem like a great idea, especially if you yourself want to get out and enjoy the weather but it will cause them to heat up a lot faster.

*Never leave your pet in the car on a hot day.  Even with the windows open the interior of a car can heat up incredibly quickly and your pet will have nowhere to go and cool off.

*If you are planning on doing some gardening, make sure you don’t leave the products out and check the labels before you apply.  You might need to keep your pets away from certain sections of the garden for a period of time.  Anything which contains insecticides or potential nasties can be harmful to animals if ingested.

*If you take your dog down to the beach, watch out for riptides or strong currents.  Our last dog, Alfie, was a brilliant swimmer and would love nothing more than spending hours in the sea but it is easy to forget that they can be caught unawares by a sudden surge in the current just as we would.

*Provide access to fresh water.  Fresh water is a must and it is a good idea to place a bowl outside if your pet is hanging about in the sun as well as inside.  I often call Pepper to the water and stand over her as she drinks so I know that she is drinking regularly.

If we are going out then we take an extra bottle of water along with us although I have noticed more and more that dog-friendly places often have a drinking point.  The photo below was taken at a pub we stopped at last summer.  They didn’t have a drinking station but the manager offered us this for Pepper as it was so warm.

*Just as we get bitten and stung more in the summer, the same goes for pets.  Be sure to check fur and skin regularly and make sure that you have some insect repellent and treatment just in case.

Pepper is a member of our family and comes almost everywhere with us so it makes sense that just as we make plans to protect Meg and Eli and ourselves from the hotter weather, that we would do the same for her.

And of course, these are just some of the steps you could take this summer.  Have you any others to add?