Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ruby's Little Roundup

Ruby has asked me to write a short blog today, as yesterday morning was her 1st day at school wearing her school uniform so as any parent does, I wanted to take some photos that we could look back on in the future. I did this photo quickly on my phone and immediacy after it was taken Ruby said to me "mummy can you blog that photo?" I was shocked that she had mentioned the blog and wanted me to upload the photo to show you all.

Ruby also wanted to let everyone know that she had a wonderful first day at school and really enjoyed making new friends, playing outside on the scooters and playing with dinosaurs in sand to name just a few of the things she told me she enjoyed. 

Ruby did not want to take her school uniform off when she got home and she asked if she was going back tomorrow (Saturday) I told her that it the weekend and that she did not go to school on the weekends. Ruby was really disappointed that she would have to wait two days until returning to school, I think it's safe to say that she absolutely loved her time at school and when Monday comes she will be really excited to put on her school uniform and go to school. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ruby - The School Girl

Well it's now official, I am a parent of a school age child. Ruby has started school today; I knew this day was coming, but the last four years really have flown by; anyone who reads my tweets or other blog posts will no doubt be aware that I have been feeling a wide range of emotions at the thought of her starting school.

I really can't fault Ruby's primary school, they have been absolutely amazing at making the transition to school an easy one for both Ruby and also for me as a first time parent. Their attention to detail is outstanding, and nothing has been too much hassle; I can't praise them highly enough. I can hand my heart honestly say that I feel that I have made the right choice to send Ruby to school that is not in our catchment area.

Yesterday, Ruby and I attended an one to one appointment at her school to meet her teacher; Ruby was very excited to meet her, and get another chance to look around the school. As a parent I felt that this was such a wonderful idea as it helps the teacher and children to get to know one another. Ruby's teacher asked her about what she had been doing during the summer holidays, and about her favourite toys, which she noted down so that she could ensure that Ruby has something familiar to play during the first few days and weeks. The meeting was also an opportunity for me as a parent to express any concerns I had, or ask any questions. 

Well the day is now here, Ruby is dressed bright and early and ready for school! Over the last couple of weeks, Ruby has been trying her school uniform on, on a daily basis; I think it's safe to say she is really excited and looking forward to school.

I am excited for Ruby, I know that she is going to have the most wonderful and amazing time and I can't wait for her to come home and tell me all that she has been doing. When she is a bit older, I really can't wait to read the stories that she writes; I think she will be really good at this as she has such an amazing creative and imaginative outlook.

The thing I want most for Ruby out of school is for her to have lots and lots of fun and as long as she tries then I will be happy with her however well she does. 

I think it's going to take some weeks to get used to not having Ruby at home with me all the time, as she is my little best friend and is such amazing company; but I'm also looking forward to spending some one to one time with Lottie too.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Review: New Walkers Mighty Lights

The lovely people at Walkers Crisps have approached me once again, and this time they have sent the girls and me three multi-packs of their brand new crisps to try out and review. (You can read my last review here).

The Leicester based company claim that their new range of “Mighty Lights” rigid potato crisps are perfect for Kid’s lunch boxes, and have just launched three tasty flavours in time for the start of term. 

Mighty Lights are currently available in ‘Lightly Salted’, ‘Roast Chicken’ and ‘Cheese & Onion’ flavours.

So here are a few reasons why Walkers are so proud of their new range of Mighty Lights crisps:
  • They contain 30% Less Fat on average than standard potato crisps 
  • They have no artificial Colours or Preservatives 
  • They are free of MSG (one of the most abundant non-essential amino acids) 
  • They are a source of Fibre 
  • All flavours, including Roast Chicken, are suitable for Vegetarians 
  • They are made from real Potatoes 

It is quite clear from the packaging that Mighty Lights are being marketed with kids in mind, with bright bold colours and a witty caricature of a crisp with tiny stick arms and legs, whose much larger shadow is projected on the wall behind him, making him look much bigger and much mightier. The packs brandish the tag line “Mighty in Flavour, Low in Fat”. Ruby loved the bright packaging and was impressed by the little crisp figure man.

All three varieties tasted really nice, although I didn’t think they had as much flavour as a regular packet of Walkers crisps. Ruby ate her first pack so quick, it is definitely a hit with her, and even Lottie managed to munch her way through a packet too. My husband particularly liked the Roast Chicken flavour, although he would have loved Walkers to make a Salt and Vinegar flavour.

If I am being honest, we don’t buy crisps very often in our household, however as the occasionally treat I would definitely be happy to give the girls Mighty Lights as they are much healthier than many other varieties of crisps; they contain 30% less fat than regular packet of crisps and there are no artificial colours of preservatives. 

With healthy eating being a big topic in schools at the moment, I appreciate that some of you may be a little wary about including crisps and snacks in your little ones’ lunch boxes. If you are unsure about the suitability of Mighty Lights as a lunchtime snack for your children, or would like to find out more information on them, you can check out the Mighty Lights website for a full list of typical nutritional values, ingredients and allergy advice - I am impressed that Walkers are being particularly mindful of the fact that these are being marketed for children’s lunch boxes, and as such have provided full transparency on the facts and figures - well done Walkers!

For us, I think it’s safe to say that these will be making an appearance in Ruby’s school lunch box every so often.

Ruby + Lottie Rating: 8 / 10

Disclaimer: This is a paid review however all opinions and thoughts are my own and that of my daughters.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Cake in the Oven!

I'll put my hands in the air, I don't cook anywhere near as much as I should, I just don't have the confidence and worry about it all going wrong. I'm also incredibly lucky that my husband, Phil is able to cook better than most men, so he takes charge of most of the cooking, I do however bake cakes and all the nice sweet treats! 

Phil has tried on numerous occasions to help me and so has my local BBC radio station who gave me a three hour intensive cookery class live on air, it was a fantastic experience and it was really good to have an expert on hand to help me out, it's a shame we don't have the money or someone near me who could give me some tips.  

Eighteen months ago, Phil bought me what any cook would love. a lovely brand new Range Master cooker; I love it don't get me wrong, but I love it because of how it looks and not because of what I can cook with it and this really does need to change, I do really want to be able to cook. 

Last week I watched Great British Bake Off, I had never watched it before but heard people talk about and how good it was, so I was determined to make some time to watch it and see if all the hype about it lived up to my expectations.

Within about ten minutes of the programme I was hooked, but saying that who wouldn't be with all the lovely cakes on show! I could easily have eaten a slice of each and every one and not feel any guilt at putting the weight on; I am desperate to put on a stone or two as I am actually deemed as being underweight and my BMI is too low for my height.

One cake that really stood out to me during the first show was a sponge cake with a rhubarb and custard filling, I absolutely love rhubarb, my mums grows it in her garden and very rarely uses it, so I ceased the opportunity to collect some rhubarb. 

I have never made jam before, so I was quite nervous about how it would turn out; but I decided to give it a go. I'm the kind of cook who sticks to the same old boring things as I get scared of trying something new in case it does not work or I don't like it; but over the coming weeks I am going to challenge myself to do something new.

The jam was surprisingly easy to make all it took was 250g of rhubarb and 100g of sugar which were heated on a low heat and then simmered whilst stirring until the liquid evaporates and it starts to thicken up.

I then made a normal sponge cake; there seem to be so many different ways to make a sponge cake but I stick to a recipe that I use from a cookery book that my mother gave me. How do you make your sponge cake?

This is the recipe I use: Cream together 150g of caster sugar and 150g of margarine; mix in three eggs and   a couple of drops of vanilla essence, and finally add 225g of self raising flour and mix it until its all mixed together. Then bake in a preheated oven on gas mark 4 or 180c for 18-20 minutes.

I then made the butter cream thanks to a recipe from Jessie at the crazy kitchen. 100g Butter, softened, 75g pack of instant custard,125g Icing sugar, two tablespoons of milk and one tablespoon of vanilla essence. All I did was add the ingredients into a bowl and let the mixer do the hard work! It really was that easy!

I then layered the cake up with the jam and custard butter cream.

Here is the end result and I'm pleased to say it tasted delicious and I shall definitely be making it again.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Guest Post: Hubbie on "Going Back to Work for a Rest"!

For those of you that don't know me, I am Phil, Kimberley's husband. In a couple of hours, I will be going back to work after just over a week of being at home (a mix of annual leave and working from home) to help Kimberley recover from her operation, and look after the girls whilst she rests.

I work as an IT consultant, and my job involves quite a lot of travel; I often end up leaving early and getting home late; I think on average I only spend a couple of hours with the girls during a given weeknight. It is a completely new experience for me to spend a whole week being a stay at home dad.

So here are a 10 things that I have learnt in the last week:
  • When you have two young children, it is virtually impossible to get anything done in the day without having your partner watch the children for you!
  • Both children seem to have the ability to make a complete mess of any room in a ridiculously small amount of time, but seemingly lack the capacity to tidy it afterwards!
  • CBeebies is repeated on a four hour loop, whereas Justin Fletcher is seemingly on a thirty minute loop!
  • Lottie, is really quick, really determined, really motivated and really persistent.... thank goodness we have a play pen, or as we call it... "Baby Prison"!!
  • Working until 1am every night and then getting up at 6:30 to see to the kids is not sustainable!
  • Patience is a virtue!
  • Spending all day talking to children can make your brain stop working properly!
  • Accepting that you are not going to get anything done, and then dedicating your whole day to playing with the kids is really rewarding!
  • My wife is amazing to be a full time stay at home parent to our girls, I don't know how she does it, I am knackered after just one week!
  • My girls are Awesome!!!!!

I think it's fair to say that this last week has been a lot tougher than I had anticipated, particularly as I was looking after the children, running around after Kimberley and trying to keep on top of the housework; not to mention that I naively agreed to squeeze in three days worth of work, which I achieved, albeit during unconventional working hours.

On reflection, I have a new found respect for Kimberley for being a stay at home parent, I definitely don't think I am cut out for it. Don't get me wrong, I have had fun and really bonded with the girls, but I am exhausted and ready to go back to work to have my brain taxed and converse with some adults for a change!

PS. whilst I have your attention, here is a shameless plug for my last post.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Princesses and Barbies

Ruby has appeared to have grown up rapidly over the summer holidays; some of her clothes are now starting to get a little bit small, so we have had to go and buy her some new ones; but what I have noticed more over the summer holidays is that she has grown in maturity, she is no longer my baby girl, she is now getting bigger, has opinions on what clothes she wants to wear and will not hesitate to tell me if she doesn't want to wear something. Is this giving me a glimpse of what living with teenage girls is going to be like?

Ruby has started to love anything that contains a Disney Princess and would love nothing more than to spend all day in the Disney store. I love taking her shopping, but we do have to look at absolutely everything in the store at least three times; I wish we had more money so I could buy her more, but we just don't and that is unlikely to change unless we win the lottery any time soon.

Recently my sister, Ruby's auntie, was having a clear out of all her old toys and kindly gave Ruby quite a few barbies; to be honest I didn't think Ruby was old enough to be playing with them and had intended to store them until she was older, however she loves them and plays with them all day every day without fail. The barbies even go outside and play with her and can often be found at night when its tidying up time, hidden in among the flower beds. Its so cute to see Ruby playing with the dolls and creating role plays, however there is that part of me that wants her to slow down so she does not grow up so quickly; I know this is purely selfish, but I worry that she will be so grown up in the blink of an eye and then moving out and getting married!

The weather really has been awful so far this bank holiday weekend with plenty of rain, so there was no way I would be venturing outside as I am only able to wear skirts or dresses as my knee is still too swollen to put on any trousers (if your wondered why my knee is swollen you can read more here), therefore we have spent the majority of the time inside, it has been a while since we last did any art and craft so I asked Ruby what she would like to do and she suggested we make princess tiaras!

As you can see Ruby had a great time and loves her tiara.

Here is the finished tiara!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Despite trying to rest as much as possible following the operation on my knee, it has been a really manic week and has absolutely flown by.

I am undertaking a lot of work with Pregnancy Sickness Support to help with their first ever national fundraising campaign. I even made my way to my local BBC radio station to take part in an interview to promote Pregnancy Sickness Support and their campaign 'nine months of...', despite only having surgery five days earlier.

If you would like to listen to the interview, please click here and whizz through to one hour and sixteen minutes, where you will find my part.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Miss Bloom's Nursery!

This week has not been a typical week, Phil has been at home all week helping to look after the girls and of course helping me to recoup following my surgery too.

I have been suffering from cabin fever and in a normal week I would see my mum a couple of times at a minimum, so to get rid of cabin fever we all headed over to my mums.

For anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis, you will know that going to my mums house, or Nana's house as it is called by Ruby, is a really magically place, the house is set in 16 acres of land and has the most amazing vegetable plot that my step father tends too. I am always amazed at the variety, quantity and quality of the fruit and veg grown in their garden; if I am honest, I am a little jealous as we do not have the space for a large vegetable plot, but we are growing some veg as Ruby blogged about last week when she gave our vegetable patch update.

Nana asked Ruby if she would like to help her in the vegetable garden; it didn't even take two minutes for Ruby to rush to the back door and pull her willies on! Ruby loves the great outdoors especially at Nana's as there is always something to do.

Ruby helped nana to collect some French and Runner beans.

She searched for raspberries, but none ended up in the basket and instead when into Ruby's mouth!

She checked on the cucumbers and tomatoes but they were not quite ready to be picked.

We had fun counting how many apples and pears there were on the trees.

Ruby's favourite in the garden had to be the rhubarb, she loves the big leaves and we played a game of peek a boo in the rhubarb!

I then helped her pick the rhubarb and Ruby loved walking around with the long stems and big leaves.

Ruby and I decided to visit the lake, as I've said in previously blog posts the lake is a special place for me as its so quiet and peaceful, Ruby also loves it too.

We fed the fish and even saw a little moorhen on the water too!

After walking back from the lake, my knee was starting to hurt so I had to go back inside and rest whilst Ruby spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside with Lottie and daddy. I can't wait to be back to full health and be able to get back to normal.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

What Am I Grateful For?

Firstly I would like to apologise for maybe being a little negative for the last few days, it really has been a challenge for me since having my operation. However with this in mind I have decided to turn the tables and focus on the things in life I am grateful for:

  • My husband, without Phil I would be finding life so much harder; he is nursing me back to health and is a fantastic father to Ruby and Lottie
  • Ruby and Lottie, my two beautiful and amazing daughters who mean the world to me and life would be very dull without them.

  • Being able to represent pregnancy sickness support - yesterday I took part in a radio interview for my local BBC radio station. I hope to blog about this in greater detail shortly.

  • It may sound very cliche but my friends and family. I have been fortunate to make many new friends since I started to blog and I also have a fantastic family who have helped me so much.
  • To have a roof over my head; this may sound odd but I really am grateful that in these financial hard times we are coping OK.
  • Despite recently having knee surgery, my health is pretty good and in particular the last few days I am particularly grateful that I can see, I have enjoyed pottering around my garden and looking at the beautiful flowers.
  • Memories, I have some really wonderful memories ranging from spending a month in Africa to my wedding day to the birth of my daughters.
  • Having the ability to drive and own my own car (well, as soon as my knee heals!!).
  • To be debt free, except for having a mortgage.
  • Modern technology, it amazes me how quickly technology has moved on, I would feel lost without my phone and computer.
  • and last but my no means least ...... painkillers! without them I would be in a lot of pain right now!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

"I just can't relax, it's not in my nature!"

The last few days have been really tough for me and I have felt a bit of a useless mother to Ruby and Lottie as I have not been able to do any of the normal things we would do; I can't even pick Lottie up because if I did, I would risk doing more damage to my knee. If you don't already know about the surgery I had you can read about it here.

I am finding life very, very frustrating and over the weekend I was feeling really unwell and decided to go back into hospital to be checked over, as it turns out I have been having side effects of the spinal anaesthetic and the painkillers I was on were having very little effect; I struggled to get any sleep on Friday and Saturday night. Fortunately by late Sunday afternoon I was seen by a really lovely and kind doctor who prescribed better pain killers and I am pleased to say that these on top of what I was on before, are helping me to sleep a bit better, however they do knock me for six a little and I end up feeling spaced out.

With the new painkillers having an affect really quickly by bedtime, I walked only a few metres from my bedroom to the bathroom, I really thought I could do it, I couldn't. I screamed in pain for hubbie and my knee had totally frozen and locked, I would have fell if Phil had not have had a hand on me. I think it's safe to say that I have learnt my lesson and I need to use my crutches; the pain I received after trying stupidly to walk was worse than when I was on the weaker painkillers. I am just so impatient to return to some form of normality; it annoys me that I see things I would normally do and I can do them; I ask Phil to do them and he agrees, but sometimes he forgets!

I would do anything to have a bath but I can't, I'm not even allowed to get my dressing wet! This led to a discussion between Phil and I as to how best to tackle me having my hair washed; initially I thought I could lean over the bath, but I can't bend my knee so that was a no go. In the end we decided that the best thing to do was to wrap a bin bag around my knee and tape it to keep the water out, it was not one of my most glamorous moments, and I struggled to stand in the bath but it was worth it.

I love driving even though I only tend to potter around in my local area, but still having the freedom taken away is hard and I have no idea when I will be given the go ahead to drive again. I hope I can drive for the end of August as this is when Ruby starts school and I need to get her to school by car, as there is no bus and walking is not an option as its five miles away.

However there are some advantages to having my knee operation is not all doom and gloom, I hope to be pain free and have my knee problems resolved. Phil is having to take a week off work to look after me and the girls and I think it is safe to say he's learning how very difficult and challenging it is to be a full time stay at home parent. As I can't stand for any great length of time, all my meals are being prepared for me and I'm having to learn how to sit down. I just can't relax, it's not in my nature! Last night for example I was etching to go out into the garden and despite Phil insisting that he would water the vegetables and flowers, I decided to give it a go and I'm pleased to say I did it and it felt so good to be able to do something so small but normal too.

I'd love to know if you've ever had to rest and how you've coped, what did you do to kill the boredom?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Ooops I forgot to mention ...

It was my wonderful husbands birthday on Friday; whilst he was with me at hospital, then nursing me better at home, he should have been celebrating his birthday, but that never really happened. However I did buy him a really good present to make up for it! I bought him a Google Nexus 7 Android tablet computer; he always moans that I am stealing the iPad, so it only seemed fair that he had his own!

I have been very fortunate this year that I have not had to bake or arrange a birthday cake for him as a week ago, I was asked by the kind people at Baker Days if I would like to review one of their "letterbox" gift cakes. I jumped at the opportunity, anything to make my life a little bit easier and making sure he had a birthday cake.

Ruby and I browsed their website and decided to opt for a personalised cake. We decided on a lovely design with two elephants, one big and one small; we also picked our own wording. Their website is very easy to use and navigate around, you can even have a photo placed onto the cake.

I was not really sure what to expect from the cake as they said it would be sent through the post; I had images of it all being squashed and completely wrecked, but it was not; it came delivered in a metal tin that protected the cake really well.

Along with the cake came a little packet of balloons, party streamers and candles; I really liked that I didn't have to buy anything else to go with the cake, it was all ready to go.

Prices start at £14.99 for a five inch (in diameter) "letterbox"sponge cake, which they claim offers three to four portions. Once you have selected from the many stock designs, or created your own custom design, you have the option to upgrade the sponge cake recipe for fruit cake, Belgian chocolate chip sponge cake or Gluten and Wheat Free cake. We went for the chocolate option!

Ruby could not wait to try the cake, and I think it is fair to say that it did not disappoint. The flavour and texture of the sponge and icing were spot on.

We were sent one of the five inch letterbox cakes and on first impressions, I thought the cake was a little expensive given that it only served 3-4 portions, but when you factor in postage, packaging and the personal touches etc, I think it is reasonable value for money. The company does offer larger cakes, but as you would imagine, there is a bigger price tag on them.

The letterbox cake is a good idea and would be great to send to someone who you would not be seeing in person, for instance a university student living away, or a relative who lives at the other end of the country.

I was very impressed with the cake and the shopping experience, however I think if I were to use the service in the future, I would have to have a real need for the cake to be delivered directly, in order to justify the price.

Disclaimer: I was sent a cake from Baker Days for free to review, however all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Knee Update!

For anyone who is unaware, I have recently had an operation on my knee; you can read my pre-op blog post here. I had been incredibly nervous about it all and started to wonder how I was going to cope with the operation and the recovery; it's too soon to talk about recovery at the moment as I just need to let the bruising and swelling subside.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to the many people that messaged me and offered such wonderful wise words and support, thank you all so very much.

On Friday morning we dropped Ruby off at my mum's whilst Phil and Lottie took me to the hospital. As soon as I arrived on the ward I was was sent to the day room to wait to be admitted; after about half an hour I was starting to get really fed up and anxious and decided to leave the ward and go for some fresh air. I think the nursing staff must have sensed how nervous I was becoming as they soon came and fetched me and placed me in a room away from everyone else and with a TV.

A nurse then went over lots of forms with me and made all the routine checks; because I could not remember when I had my last period (they are very irregular because I am breastfeeding), she had to do a pregnancy test. The nurse went away to test my urine and Phil and I waited for the results knowing 99% that it would come back negative but there was still that very small chance and the wait for the nurse to come back with the results was painful; when she did we all breathed a huge sigh of relief! My consultant shortly arrived and went over what he was planning to do and said that it would not be too much longer as the theatre was nearly ready for me.

Next to see me was the anaesthetist and her assistant; I instantly recognised her as she had put my epidural in with Ruby! It was so nice to see a familiar face. After she had done all of her safety checks, we walked down to the operating theatre together where I said goodbye to Phil and kissed Lottie.

When I walked into the theatre I was amazed at how cold it was; I was told that this is normal for an orthopaedic theatre, however in order to keep me warm, I would be lying on a heated mattress!

My anaesthetist then started to prep me for the spinal; I had make it clear as soon as I knew that I was having an operation, that I did not want a general anaesthetic, I don't really know what it is that I don't like about them, but I just don't and I would much rather be awake and see what is happening. It took three attempts to get the spinal in place and I think that was because I am so small its difficult to get between the vertebrae and into the fluid to administer the spinal.

It must have taken a good twenty minutes for the spinal to kick in and I could still feel my feet and wriggle my toes; I could feel the spinal taking effect as it began spreading I could feel my body starting to go warm. To be honest it was quite a nice experience compared to feeling so cold!

I was then wheeled into the operating theatre itself and this was where I started to wonder if I had made the right decision to have a spinal! I was amazed that it was not actually as scary as I thought it would be. The lights were really bright and the multicoloured ceiling lights reminded me of fair ground dodgems as they were bright blue and green!

My consultant then arrived in the theatre with his assistants and I was shocked there were only six people and myself in the theatre, and two of those were anaesthetists. I decided I really really wanted to see what was happening and according to all the staff, I was the only person who not just wanted to see what was happening on a screen, but actually wanted to sit bolt up right and watch whilst my consultant made several cuts in my knee!

It was a very strange experience watching my knee be sliced open, but fascinating at the same time. I had to have some patches attached to me to act as an earth so that when my consultant started to use certain electrical equipment I was not electrocuted!

He placed a camera through the incisions in my knee, and then used various other tools to look around the inside of my knee; I was able to watch all of this on the big screen! My consultant was brilliant and described everything to me as he was doing it; I feel like I have had a guided tour of my knee! As a souvenir, my consultant even gave me a copy of the photos of the inside of my knee!

After he had finished cleaning my knee and removing certain bits of bone and tissue etc, the decision was made that my knee had to be opened up; to be honest I was not really prepared for this part and I was a little worried, but I knew that my consultant would do whatever he could to fix my knee and I have 100% confidence in his ability. He made a long incision and decided to do some work with the ligaments, with the aim of improving the tracking of my knee; he commented that one of the ligaments was the tightest he had seen, so he had to loosen it.

After about thirty minutes it was then time to sew everything back together; I joked with the consultant about how good his sewing was and maybe he could teach me how to sew! The atmosphere in theatre was really chilled out and we did have a lot of jokes and fun; I felt totally at ease. The anaesthetist even commented that my blood pressure and pulse where at their best at the height of the operation!

After twenty minutes in recovery I was taken back to the ward and was surprised to find I had been allocated my own room, I was starting to feel like royalty; lots of people came to talk to me as I was quickly known as the person who had watched her own operation! Phil and Lottie came to see me and at this point I was still feeling the effects of the spinal; it was lovely to be able to cuddle Lottie.

Fast forward an hour and half later and the pain was starting to get worse, I requested pain relief and was brought some meds; I was told that they would take twenty minutes or so to kick and I waited, but the pain was getting worse; Phil told two separate members of staff, but I have no idea what happened as two hours later I still had no pain relief and I was really upset. It was only when one of the senior nurses saw how distressed I was, that I was given some pain meds that actually made a slight difference!

After a couple more hours, I was getting really impatient and wanting to go home, so the physio was called and helped me to walk with the crutches; I found it really hard to do and lost my balance a couple of times, thankfully I had people ready to catch me if needed.

I am not sure how long the recovery is going to take as a lot more was done than originally planned. I am having my stitches removed in two weeks and shall be attending lots of physio. Would I chose to have a spinal and watch my op knowing what I know now? Yes, I certainly would; it was an incredible experience to witness how amazing and talented my consultant and medical staff were. Could you watch your own operation?

Friday, 16 August 2013

2 Weeks Until School Starts!

Where has the summer holiday gone? It only seemed like yesterday that Ruby was finishing her time at playschool, but in two short weeks she will be going to school! I am not sure if I am going to cry on her first day or not. I feel a little bit sad that I won't be having my little best friend with me to keep me company; don't get me wrong I am sure she is going to have so much fun and she certainly is ready for school, but I am not 100% convinced I am.

I have been putting off thinking about her being at school for some time to be honest; I did consider home schooling but it was only for a few moments, I do not feel I am equipped with the right skills and everything that it involves to teach a child. Don't get me wrong I have taught her lots already but she needs the next step up. I would be forever worrying that I was not teaching her correctly if she was home schooled, I think I would ultimately feel a failure if she did not succeed and I had held her back from reaching her full potential. Looking further ahead there would be no way I would be able to teach her up to GCSE level so I think we have made the right decision for her to attend main stream school, as it would be an ultimately big shock to be taught at home for primary education only to attend secondary school; for me it was a choice of all or nothing.

I haven't really been too organised for Ruby starting school; I don't really know why as anyone who knows me will tell you that I like to be organised and know what needs doing and also by starting to buy the school uniform early, it helps to spread the cost out; the uniforms don't come cheap do they?

I have absolutely no idea how many jumpers, cardi's, trousers etc she will need, but I have bought the followingL
  • 1 jumper
  • 1 cardi
  • 1 dress
  • 2 summer cardis
  • 1 pair of trousers
  • 2 white polo shirts

I think I need to go and get a couple more polo shirts, actually thinking about it I have not even got round to getting her any school shoes, opps! well I think I am going to have to send hubbie as I may quickly running out of time, especially as I am having my knee op today and won't be able to drive for two weeks as I will also be on crutches. Oh how I am looking forward to this.... Not!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Veggie Round Up by Ruby

It's been a while since I updated you as to what has been happening with the vegetables we that sewed earlier in the year, well things are really coming along and I am going to hand you over to Ruby to show you around her little allotment. Here is what Ruby said when my Hubbie asked her about the veggies:

"There are lots of things that mummy and I have grown in the garden and I have really enjoyed looking after and watering everything, mummy says I am doing a really good job."

"The best thing that was planted in the garden is the rhubarb; I love rhubarb and I can't wait to make rhubarb crumble cake with mummy."

"There is also a cucumber plant that is taking ages to grow but you can just see little cucumbers starting to grow."

"In the garden there are two different types if beans French beans and runner beans. I love them both. They have grown really tall and I can't reach them but mummy can!"

"They are just starting to show little beans and I cant wait to pick them and help cook them for our dinner."

"These are my potatoes, Mummy said these were ready to come out of the ground, so I dug them up"

"I had lots and lots and lots of fun digging around and hunting for the potatoes; I pretended that it was a treasure hunt, but I got covered in mud!"

"I then washed the potatoes under the tap all by myself and then took them inside for mummy to cook them for my dinner."

"They were really tasty and yummy!"

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: Ellie Bear Babi Bibs

I was recently asked by a twitter follower of mine, @EllieBearBabi, if I would like to review one of her new handmade baby bibs; after looking at her on-line shop I  jumped at the chance as I know how lovely handmade items are to receive, they are unique and in my opinion better than what you can pick up in the shop.

The bibs arrived nicely presented and gift wrapped

I loved these bibs as soon as I saw them; the fabric used is absolutely gorgeous and I particularly loved the tiny multi coloured heart one and its very girlie and suits Lottie so well. The bibs are very stylish and have an original shape so them. They are handmade out of cotton and lined with terry cloth so are fantastic when it comes to a teething baby. The bibs fasten very easily with a simple press stud and the stitching on them is perfectly neat, you would have never have known they were handmade. Only a handful of bibs are made from each fabric, so they are effectively limited edition.

Lottie making use of her new bib

Vicki started sewing whilst she was pregnant and has since turned it into a small business, selling exclusively on-line. I love stories like this, where stay at home mums turn their hobbies and passions into a little entrepreneurial start-up. I think it is great to support businesses like this.

We loved Ellie Bear Babi bibs and at just £3 each they are definately worth the money; Check out her on-line shop or more details.

Disclaimer: Ellie Bear Baby kindly sent me two bibs to review. All opinions and thoughts are on my own.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Operation Knee!

You may or may not be aware but this Friday is my husbands birthday, but also the day that I finally have an operation on my knee in the hope that I may get some answers as to what has been causing me so much pain. I have been struggling with my knees for a good few years and during the winter the pain often prevents me from getting any sleep. I was due to have an operation two years again, but I fell pregnant with Lottie so it was postponed.

I don't really know why I am writing this or telling you any of this, but I just felt I needed to write down how I am feeling. To be honest I don't know how I feel, in one sense, I keep pushing the operation to the back of my mind and trying not to think about it; however Friday is starting to come round very quickly and I do need to start thinking about it now. Every time I think about it I get really scared, I am worried about how I am going to cope with looking after the girls and how long the recovery might be. The answer to that is that I will not know until my knee is opened up and we discover what the problem is, not to mention the fact that everyone recovers at different rates. 

The plan is for me to have an open lateral release and arthoscopy and then anything else that needs to be done. I have had surgery done on my knee previosly and I remember the recovery taking quite a while; hubbie has been able to get a week off work, I really hope this is enough so that I can get back to being OK to look after the girls. 

I am very fortunate that I have a very lovely consultant who I have known for over 10 years and I trust him a great deal. At my pre-op a few weeks ago I discussed that I was very reluctant to have a general anaesthetic, I really do not like the idea of being knocked out and not knowing what is going on; there is also a part of me that wants to see what is being done to me. My consultant could have easily said no but he is happy for me to have a spinal! Now I am starting to wonder if I am mad to be having a spinal and watching the operation. Hubbie is also quite worried about my knee and the recovery that is involved, he is concerned I will panic during the operation and have to be knocked out, I really hope this does not happen. My consultant is really going out of his way to make sure everything is in place for me to be as comfortable as possible, he has put me on the end of the operating list so that I can arrive at the hospital for 10am rather than the standard 7am! He has also said because I am last on the list then I can wear my own pj's as I pose no MRSA risk to anyone else.   

My operation is due to take place on Friday, so please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. With having a spinal op, I am hoping I will be allowed to take the iPad in with me, so I may end up keeping you all up to date during the op! How strange would that be? I will try not to post too many gorey pics! 

My recovery is going to take time until I am back on my feet so I may not be updating the blog everyday, but I will try my best.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Fineshade - If you go down to the woods!

I was awake bright and early last Friday, getting out all the waterproofs and wellies; the girls and I had kindly been invited to Fineshade Wood over in Northamptonshire, curtsey of the Forestry Commission to see what they have to offer families.

If I am totally honest I had never heard of the forestry commission until we received the invitation. Basically, the forestry commission is an organisation that that reports directly to parliament and is, amongst many other things, responsible for managing, restoring, protecting and conserving our nation's forests and woodlands.

I was feeling a mixture of emotions as I was taking both of the girls out on my own to a place that I had never been before and I was also a little nervous as I would be getting the opportunity to meet some fellow bloggers, all of whom have been blogging a lot longer than me. When we started off our drive towards Fineshade Wood, the weather was not being particularly pleasant, I did start to wonder if it was a good idea to be going on an outdoor adventure in the rain, however as we arrived, the rain disappeared and the sun starting to come out. 

Fineshade Wood was really easy to find and was only about a forty minute drive from our house. You can find out more details on their location on their website. We had been given complimentary parking for the day, however it is usually only £3 for the entire day to park, which I think is really reasonable and a price that I would have been happy to pay. 

We were the first to arrive so Ruby and I did a spot of bird watching while waiting for our fellow blog friends to arrive. We saw a wide range of birds; if I am being honest, I had no idea what type most of them were! 

We also spent some time at the outdoor play area located in the courtyard. Ruby absolutely loved all the different things there were to do, ranging from slides, climbing frames and dens.

Once everyone else had arrived, we were greeted by one of the rangers who is in charge of overseeing the forest. She explained a bit about Fineshade and took us on a short walk into the woods where we were took part in some den building. Ruby had been really looking forward to this for days and was very quick to get involved. 

As you can see from the photos she helped to make a fantastic den. 

It was then time to test the den to see how water proof it was; thanks to a very kind dad who took up the challenge of sitting in the den whilst the ranger poured some water over it. I was shocked that the den that Ruby helped to make was a lot more waterproof than I thought it would be! 

After a fun morning we walked back to the courtyard where there is a lovely restaurant. They serve a wide variety of snacks, cakes and hot drinks. We sampled a toasted sandwich and baguette with some home-made cakes. They were really deliciously and very reasonably priced, although as we were there to review the day, we received our lunch free of charge. The staff were very helpful and nothing was too much trouble for them, they were even happy to make up a sandwich to our own specification if they did not have something we wanted. I thought this was great as I know how fussy Ruby can be at times! 

After a lovely lunch we decided to go for a walk around the woods, it was so lovely and peaceful. It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just admire the beauty of the forest. Situated in the courtyard is a place that hires out bicycles; unfortunately they do not offer bikes with stabilisers so Ruby was unable to get one that she could ride, but fortunately I had bought her balance bike with us. Ruby loved riding her bike through the forest and occasionally stopping to catch her breath and sit on a tree stump.

Lottie also enjoyed going through the forest and looking up at all the leaves on the trees.

There are three different bike trails to follow ranging in length;.we opted for the shortest one and came across a really lovely outdoor play area, unfortunately I think it was too big for Ruby, however in a few years I can see us coming back and Ruby having lots of fun on it. 

After our walk we headed back for one final play in the play area. Ruby really didn't want to leave; I think I must said we were going about ten times before we eventually left. Ruby said in the car on the way home, can we go back again? I think it is safe to say that Ruby had a fantastic time, as did I and we shall definately be going back again as it was such a lovely day out. 

If you want to know any more about Fineshade Woods details can be found here

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary parking and lunch for our honest review of Fineshade Wood. All thoughts and opinion are my own.