Friday, June 20, 2014

Love The Little Things, Week 25

Here we are again! I am definitely on the count down to 4 weeks today as we break up for Summer! As always, I am linking up with butwhymummywhy. So, here our my #littleloves this week...


I went back to the library last weekend and picked up two books, All The Single Ladies, by Jane Costello. I've read all her books and hadn't realised she had done a new one. I also picked up Another Woman's Husband by Sarah Duncan. This looks really interesting and I always love books where people have affairs! No idea why though.


One Born Every Minute is back! The step-daughter and I love this programme. She's only 9, but she thinks it's fab. I also think it's good for her to see how babies get into the world, I hope it will put her off having one until she's much older!


Current tracks on my playlist: I am loving this track right now, it's so summery and up-beat.

George Ezra, Budapest

Arctic Monkeys, Snap Out Of It

Paolo Nutini, Let Me Down Easy 


Ugh, hating this one this week unfortunately. It has been so, so hot here this week. Trying to teach teenage boys how to use adverbs in their writing is testing at the best of times, so add to that the intense heat in my classroom and we've not had a good week. Made worse, because I realised I have no summer clothes! Well, I have a pair of shorts, just one, but I can't wear those for school. I also don't really like getting my legs out, especially in school. However, on Wednesday it had to be done and I braved a dress without tights or leggings. The point in this though, is my shopping account came to the rescue (it's the week before pay day so no funds for dresses and skirts!), and I have chosen a few new items for Summer. I've managed to get a maxi dress and a maxi skirt and a little tunic that will be ok to wear with leggings. I'm sure now the weather will turn cold again and I won't need them! I will do a little feature once they arrive. 


This is the one I'm most useless at! I make loads of yummy dinners, but keep forgetting to take any pictures! However, I have, along with my step daughter, succumbed to the loom band craze and I am currently in the progress of making one! I will share on Instagram when compete, so be sure to follow me there!

And lastly.... I am so pleased it's warm at the minute. It seems to put everyone in a good mood. I'm loving coming home from work and sitting in the garden with a glass of something chilled while Charlie runs about and plays on his slide. He has just learnt to climb the steps all by himself, proud mummy alert! He gets braver and braver and I am sure he's in competition with himself to do it faster and faster and scare the life out of me! He's learning and growing so fast now. He won't let anyone feed him now, he has to do it himself. Cue eating risotto with his hands and picking up each individual grain of rice individually. This weekend, we have lazy plans - a BBQ, a day at the park, where there is a little water park for the children and of course watching lots of football.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Planning a family friendly Summer break

I mentioned earlier in the year that I wanted to book a family holiday this year. Not abroad, but a UK based one that would cater for the hubby and I and our need to chill, but also enough to do for the 9 year old and an almost 18 month old.

Despite living by the sea, I still like to go away to the seaside. Whenever we go away, we have to factor in the ferry to the UK from the Isle of Man and then how far we are willing to travel from there onwards. This year, we decided not very far, Charlie isn't a fan of the car at the best of times and I really couldn't take his intense desire to scream at the top of his voice whenever we are in the car for more than an hour or so.

There's actually something I love about UK breaks, especially in Winter. I love cosying up, next to the fire, with a glass of wine, or hopping into the hot tub when it's sub-zero. Hubby and I used to do the lodge escape breaks with Hoseasons and we always HAD to have a hot tub! Therefore, when thinking about planning our Summer break, I turned to Hoseasons, but searched for their family friendly parks. Hoseasons have a range of holiday parks, lodges and cottages to choose from, but for a change we decided to try one of their static caravan parks. When I was a child, it was seen as 'sad' to go and stay in a caravan, but my Mum and Dad bought one of their own touring caravans and it's actually a lot of fun.
So, we decided it would be a caravan park in the North West of England. The North only leaves a few coastal areas and I did NOT want to stay in Blackpool or Morecambe. They are lovely places in their own way, but I wanted something a bit more peaceful than Blackpool and a bit more modern than Morecambe. So, we chose Southport.

The Southport Riverside caravan park is listed as one of their 'Family Fun' parks and what appealed to me about the site was:

  • Spa, sauna and steam room!
  • Indoor swimming pool
  • Adventure play area
  • Shop (I have to have a shop on site! Even if it's just for some munchies for the evening)
  • Close to the Victorian seaside of Southport
  • On site bar (Do I need to explain??)
My parents decided, on hearing we were going in a caravan, to join us, so we decided to club together and pay extra for the Platinum range of caravans. If you're going to do it, may as well do it properly! It's got 3 bedrooms, 1 double and 2 twin (hubby and I will commandeer the double ha!) and they make your beds up for you arrival unlike the other ranges of caravan, so at least we won't need to do that when we get there. There's also a coffee lounge and amusements on site and you can hire bikes. 

We are all really looking forward to it. Hubby and I are shattered after this academic year and need a break, to recharge, chill out and spend some quality time together.  

A full review will feature in August once we've been on our holiday!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Standing up for Dads

I don't often talk too seriously on here and I haven't shared that much about my private family life as a step-mother. Mainly because it's very raw and delicate and even thinking about my step-daughter's mother can send my blood pressure racing.

However, after hearing Penelope Leach's views on staying contact for Dads, I felt I had to respond. Or at least tell our side of the story. So bear with me, this could be a long one.....

My step daughter is 9 and I have been with her father since she was 4. My husband has always had a difficult relationship with his ex (they were never married) and the main reason for this is the fact that she denied contact of him and his daughter on the grounds that he didn't know how to administer an asthma inhaler (he did know). My husband eventually had to go to court to get a court order for contact with his daughter. He also went to court to get parental responsibility, as despite the fact his name was on the birth certificate she was refusing him any rights. This all happened before I met him. Contact with his daughter has gradually increased from a few hours twice a week to staying contact 2-3 times a week. Although, this increased contact has not come without a fight or resistance from the daughter's mother. She has fought my hubby every step of the way to try and ensure that he sees his daughter as little as possible. She of course, denies this and claims she 'facilitates contact' for them. She has openly said that he sees her 'enough' when we questioned the little time he has with her.

In the past, when she stayed with us at the weekend, she would arrive at 5pm and go home at 12pm the next day. Of course, we never got to do anything with her, besides early morning swimming and her mother would moan we never took her anywhere! My husband asked for shared contact at the weekends, so that one weekend she would be with us and the next with her mother etc. She refused, but agreed to extend the 12pm drop off time to 4pm. This is now the routine for three weekends a month and one weekend we get her from 4pm Friday to 5pm Sunday. He also asked to share her birthday (at his daughter's request I should add) as she has never been at our house on her birthday, again she refused. He is 'allowed' to pick her up at tea time on her birthday, which of course, is better than nothing, but does not take into account the daughter's wishes. Christmas is the same, he is allowed to pick her up at 4pm on Christmas Day and return her on Boxing Day. Occasionally, she will let us have his daughter for New Year, but she does this reluctantly and makes a massive deal out of it. All the while, their daughter is asking for more time with us at Christmas, birthdays and New Year and her mother refuses. We have also had issues over Mother's and Father's day; she expected her daughter to be with her on Mother's Day (quite rightly) but then wouldn't afford my husband the same privilege for Father's Day, until after some protesting by my husband and the daughter's request, she finally agreed, but there were conditions to it.

Of course, in all this, it isn't about me, my husband or the ex. It's about the daughter. When she comes to us, she is integrated in our family and our life; I treat her like my own daughter, although I don't discipline her, she is made aware of my expectations, like picking washing up etc. We take her on holidays (when her mother allows us to), we take her on days out etc. When she was 5 she met my mum and dad and despite everything, they absolutely adore her and treat her like their own Granddaughter. She is always getting parcels through the post off them and they love to have her visit. We have all gone on holiday together and my step-daughter adores them too. She is a complete member of our family. We are not babysitters, who have her for a few hours a day and then take back to her mum.

My point in all this is that, my step-daughter greatly benefits from the arrangement we have. She is a more rounded person; she has more experiences. She has a large, extended family she enjoys and benefits from. She is happy, contented and has two little brothers whom she loves to pieces. How can this be damaging to a child?

What is more damaging is a mother who denies or refuses contact for a child with their father purely for selfish reasons. I know my husband's ex would prefer we never see his daughter, but that's down to her own selfish reasons of wanting her daughter for herself, or indeed, to punish my husband for, in her opinion, not paying enough maintenance (maintenance is an entirely separate issue, but just for the record, my husband pays 1/3 more per week than the amount required according to his salary). Some mothers use their children as weapons to punish and that is more damaging than staying with their Dad at the weekend. Of course, each case should be viewed in its own circumstances; a child shouldn't stay with any parent where there is a risk to the child of course. But if each parent has a stable home, a suitable environment in which they live and are able to care adequately for the child and of course, the child feels comfortable in staying with either parent, then there is no reason why a child can not ENJOY contact and indeed, staying contact with both parents. What kind of a society are we living in where we are still claiming the mother is more important? Of course, a mother can offer different things than a father can, but to withhold either, without just cause, is, in my opinion, more damaging than staying at their Dads.

I know there are people out there, generally mums who have to deal with their ex's new wife, that will disagree with me. However, I do understand their selfishness and indeed their jealousy. It would break my heart if I had to share Charlie if me and my husband split up. But I made a commitment to my child when we decided to have one - that child needs both parents, not just me or a mother.  Charlie adores his father and I could never take that away from him, no matter how much I hated his father. I could not punish Charlie for what had gone on between me and his Dad. It just wouldn't be fair. The ones who disagree with me and agree with Penelope will be the mothers who see their children as property and believe that it is their right to decide whether the child should stay with them or go and stay with their Dad too. They forget that two people made that child and that a father has rights too. Of course, I am not advocating that a child stays with their father (and indeed the mother) if there is a risk or if they are consistently unreliable and let the child down all the time, for instance. But I have seen all too often, a mother refuse contact for the father as a method of punishment and this is not fair on the child.

Penelope says that the child's right should always outweigh those of the parents - indeed and I agree whole heartedly. But she neglects the fact, that a child's right is to have contact with both parents, by saying that children shouldn't stay at their Dads.

Linking up with Share With Me 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Love The Little Things, Week 24

Sorry, once again, I missed last week! It was half term and we were so, so busy! I actually came back to work for a bit of a rest!

Anyway, #littleloves is back and here is what I've been loving this week.


Finally managed to finish The Mystery Of Mercy Close! A lot of people have said the end was very predictable, but I don't know if it's just me, but I didn't see it coming!

I am now on to and so far, so good. It's about a couple who find a boat washed up with a dead body and a crying baby inside.


Yes, I know, these were on last week, but I recorded them, so I sat down to watch Quads: Our First Year and The Secret Life Of Babies. Both I loved! How that family coped with four babies I don't know. I am constantly exhausted from just one!


I have been loving this new jumper I got from Florence and Fred at Tesco, it was a bargain at £7 in the sale! It's got lots of lovely beading on and goes really well with black jeans and a bit of bling.


Not heard very much this week. Apart from Charlie laughing. He's got such a little giggle, especially when you tickle him.


Hmm, I've let this one down too! I made lots of yummy things, but not managed to photograph them! As the past two weeks were TT and we were constantly in and out, we ate so badly. So this week I was determined to get back on track and cook from scratch again. So we've had fish and chips (not from the chippy!), meatballs and pasta, paella and tonight I am making a chicken salad that Charlotte featured on her blog last week. It looks yummy and I can't wait to try it.

And lastly, as you know Sunday is father's day. We are going on a little mini steam train and then going out for lunch. I suppose that's kind of my treat as it means I don't have to cook! We are going to a little country pub just down the road and I already know what I am going to order - they do a yummy curry there and it is ginormous! It almost defeated me last time we went, but this time I am going to be sure to be starving when we get there!

Enjoy the weekend and don't forget to spoil Dad!

Monday, June 9, 2014

My love of stationery

Not been around much lately! Sorry about that, but hubby has been so busy with working etc, that I have been looking after Charlie on my own a lot!

Anyway, I thought I would quickly share my new pencil case with you all...

I came across an online stationery shop called Sticker Stack on Instagram recently and it wasn't long before I was lusting after pretty pens and pencils and lovely note books. The online shop is based in the UK but with their products being sourced from East Asia. I always think Japan have some lovely little stationery items, but could never seem to source them myself. Well Sticker Stack have done that for us!

I love pencil cases. I have about five of them, each for different types of pens. I know, I am that sad. But I am a teacher after all. I wanted a new one, for my basic set of stationery and I used Sticker Stack to get my latest one. I went for a design called the Ghost Pencil Pouch. It looked really unique and individual and I know that there won't be five students in each of my classes with the same one!

When it arrived I was more than impressed with the quality and how cute it is. There are four separate compartments and from the picture you can see I have packed quite a few things in it and it still fastens! I even carry my little projector dongle in it. It was £17.50 and I certainly think it was worth the money. Moreover, inside my order was a little mobile device screen cleaner as a little freebie.

I now have my eye on these pencil toppers. All my pencil cases eventually get ruined with pencil marks - but with these pencil 'lids' I am pretty sure that won't happen anymore. These stickers look funky too and would be great for using in my planner.  I also quite fancy these two way pens . These three items are in my virtual basket just waiting for payday!

I should say, that Sticker Stack have not asked me to write about their lovely products, nor indeed did I receive anything for free! I just wanted to share my lovely new stationery.

Monday, June 2, 2014

To Become Mum: Meet A Mum Monday - Amy Parish, Mummy Starting Out...

To Become Mum: Meet A Mum Monday - Amy Parish, Mummy Starting Out...: Thank you to all the fabulous mamas who have taken part in my Meet A Mum series so far - it seems lots of people are enjoying getting to kno...

Love The Little Things, Week 22

Ooops, managed to miss posting last week, for one thing or another, but I am back and as usual, linking up with Butwhymummywhy. I also should have done this Friday!

Anyway, here is week #22 of Love The Little Things.


Ok, this week I am cheating! I have been reading Spot  to Charlie. He gets bored of trying to decide where Spot is after a few pages though, as though he's thinking "Who gives a toss where Spot is, I'm off to play!" And off he goes... We have not actually got to the end of the book yet, but his reaction makes me laugh.


Hubby went out one night last weekend so I sat down to watch The Butler, a film about a 'black' butler working in The White House. I was bored after 10 minutes and contemplated turning it off. But I persevered and I am so glad I did. Of course I knew that black people were treated horrifically and even up to quite recently, but this film really put it into perspective. I'm teaching Of Mice and Men to one of my classes at the moment, and I thought how useful this film would be for contextual reference.


This one was difficult this week. Nothing has really stuck out to me whilst listening to the Radio etc. However, I have heard the sound of bikes whizzing up the mountain just behind our house at about 4am in the morning. That means the TT* is about to start.


Ah, a tenuous link here this week! I 'made' Charlie's room, or rather, I put the finishing touches to it. When we moved in, it had a really old fashioned fitted cupboard in it. So we took it all out, but behind the cupboard hadn't been painted for god knows how long. So I set about painting it the other weekend and finally finished it. I am really pleased with the colour. Originally I wanted something much lighter, but I think it's lovely. I love this picture that my Aunty bought for Charlie for his christening. I am just waiting for a mount to put in the frame.

Charlie also got this frame for his birthday. I need to get round to printing the pictures for it. 


Now this one I am super excited to share! I have never been a trainer type of girl. Much preferring pretty ballerinas etc. However, for months now (in fact about two years), I have lusted over a pair of converse, but could never justify to myself the £48 price tag for the ones I liked. Anyway, I saw these in the Next catalogue and just decided to take the plunge. I adore them, hubby wrinkled his nose when he saw the colour, but I don't care, I'm wearing them, not him! What do you all think?

And lastly...

It's half term, yippeee!! Most of you are at the end of your half term and ours starts today. I cannot wait. To chill out. To drink wine. To play with Charlie. It's also TT, so I am looking forward to some bike action. Also,  I finally got round to putting the frozen vodka mix on the Tesco order that Emma from Life At The Little Wood mentioned the other week. It is yummy!

*The TT, otherwise known as The Tourist Trophy, is a national motorcycling race on the Isle of Man. It's held on public (closed) roads and is a track of approximately 37 miles. Whatever I say about it, will never do it justice, so for some race footage, see the video below.