REVIEW: Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale

When Santa’s elves at our local Wyevale Garden Centre invited us all to Tea with Father Christmas himself, we jumped at the chance!! My children love the garden centre at Christmas, and as Wyevale is where we buy our Christmas tree from each year, it’s the perfect place for us to visit the Big Guy.

Wyevale always go all out with the grotto, they always do a lovely theme (when we’ve visited in previous years they’ve had Frozen and the Polar Express) and this year it’s Disney / Dreamworks with Shrek; Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.

For the tea, half the Wyevale restaurant was set us all, approx. 10 tables, with red tablecloths, Christmas crackers and decorations.

Paula, the Chief Elf came to greet us and was so funny and cheery. She showed us to our seats and told the kids Father Christmas was on his way – cue Austin jumping around like crazy while Elodie was still tried to decide how she felt about meeting him in person..!

The food was yummy, for the kids you could choose between a hot or cold tea. Hot being sausages, chicken nuggets or jacket potato served with seasonal vegetables and a cold tea was 5 items from the Wyevale My Picnic range. Both options came with unlimited squash to drink and a biscuit to decorate.

We went for the cold tea and arrived to the bags waiting on the table for us. So the kids didn’t get to choose what they had but their picnic bags were yummy nonetheless. They both had a ham wrap, Walkers Pops crisps, jelly, raisins and gingerbread biscuits.fullsizeoutput_bb

For the adults you could choose either an Afternoon Tea of sandwiches, scone, sweet treats and Christmas jam. Or a Mini Tea of a festive scone with Christmas jam. Both served with tea or coffee.

Stef and I love an excuse to pig out so obviously went for the full Afternoon Tea (the scones were deeelish and full of Christmas spices!). fullsizeoutput_b8

Father Christmas popped in to visit us whilst we were all sat down to eat, walked round each table having a chat to the kids. What a thoroughly nice chap!

fullsizeoutput_b3

When we’d finished eating, Father Christmas popped back to his Grotto, to await our visits. We were the first in (we eat quickly in our family!) so we went out first to meet him. Austin was the most excited I have ever seen him before!! Sat next to Santa, legs swinging as he proudly announced he’s been a very good boy this year and would like a Robot Dog (where he’s got the idea of a Robot Dog from I’ll never know!). Elodie wasn’t convinced and sat on my lap, whispered to me that she’d like a pink Robot Dog (everything has to be pink *rolls eyes*).

After sitting with Santa for a little chat and Santa placing his Christmas Eve order (standard mince pies for him and carrots for the reindeer) and Austin promised him that Bella the cat wouldn’t lick his mince pie!? Then we wandered outside into the winter wonderland.

img_0091

Wandering around outside the Grotto was great, the kids loved it so much. There was a lovely wintery feel with the snow and winter decorations. The kids loved the theme – although Elodie wasn’t too sure about the mannequins used for the Disney princesses. They got super excited whenever they spotted a character they knew though – especially Puss in Boots!?

fullsizeoutput_c2

They also liked the little games dotted around – giant puzzles and throwing hoops onto Pinocchio’s nose (harder than you’d think!!).

img_0096

After a quick photo op on Santa’s sleigh, we went into the Elf Toy Shop and the kids were able to choose a present each. the shelves were fully stocked and there really was a gift for all children – cuddly toys, fairy wings, Mega Bloks, swords, dolls, cars, puzzles, baby bath toys – something for everyone!

This pic is half of the Elf Toy Shop!

This pic is just half of the Elf Toy Shop!

All in all, we really did have a fab time at Wyevale! The kids absolutely loved it and haven’t stopped talking about Father Christmas since. Super cute!!

You can book Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas at your local Wyevale Garden Centre here. Children’s breakfast or tea costs £9.99 which includes a present, Adults prices are from £3.99 (our Afternoon Tea would cost £7.99 per adult).

*Disclaimer: we were invited to a free Tea with Father Christmas in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and photo’s are my own. This review took place at Wyevale, Andover.*

 

My name is Mummy!

So recently, the kids learnt our real names. It’s our own fault, it started with us telling them their grandparents names. There’s not much funnier than hearing a three year old addressing their Grandad as Clive (GREAT name, Dad).

Then came Austin standing at the top of the stairs shouting “Babe” to Steve (interestingly with a slight cockney twang – doesn’t get that bit from me, we all know I’m shit at accents, other than saying “he’s a gay man now” in a Northern Irish accent a la Catherine Tate). I digress…

Now however, Daddy is only ever referred to as Steve. But not just Steve, Steeeeeeeeeeeeeevve said only in the electronic voice of the monkey from the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The funny thing is, it sounds HILARIOUS when they say it! They do it for a reaction, we laugh, they do it even more. Shits. And. Giggles.

To Austin, I am Elizabeth. Liz is waaay too informal for addressing your mother. Obvs. Whereas Elodie prefers Mom. Because whilst Austin is quintessentially British, his younger sister has taken it upon herself to develop her non-existent, American roots.

Is this a normal stage that kids go through? Like temper tantrums (step forward, Elodie) and fussy eating (OK, Austin hasn’t gone through this one yet but in Elodie’s case, refusing to eat anything other than cheese and crackers is pretty standard)?? I’m really not sure. Although I know Austin has a thing with names in general at the moment…if anyone asks what he’s called, he’ll name himself in full, complete with middle and surname. He’s not quite grasping the Stranger Danger thing just yet…

I get that kids will call their parents by their first names when they’re teenagers, I remember doing it myself and thinking I was HILARIOUS. It’s not funny. So was I just a massively backwards 12 year old, acting like a 3 year old?! Probably answered my own question there. Bit awkward.

Yours,

Elizabeth / Mom

How to be terrible, when you’re two.

I remember thinking, when Austin was going through the “Terrible Two’s”, that his tantrums were baaaaad. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and actually, he was an angel, only having about 3 tantrums in total. And those 3 together weren’t a patch on a single one of his little sister’s..!

Elodie turned two in March and she has been tantruming (not a word but using it anyway) since about March. Last Year.

She’s taking tantrums to a level I have not experienced before and, word on the street is, she’s not as bad as other two years olds I have heard about..!

Here’s how Elodie survives a typical two year old’s day…

1. Dress up as Jessie the Cowgirl (of Toy Story fame) at all times when inside your own house.

Cute. When things are going their way.

2. Accessorise Jessie outfit with old, cheesy, cuddly bunny; Jessie the Cowgirl doll (a.k.a. Little Jessie), bunny slippers and red Minnie Mouse handbag.

3. Demand Toy Story 3 is on the TV whenever you are wearing Jessie outfit.

4. If it is gently suggested you wear another outfit (Cinderella/Witch/Buzz Lightyear), respond with a constant repetition of “NO, NO, NO, NO” until the offender retracts their suggestion and dresses you as Jessie.

5. Keep everyone on their toes by changing your mind and demanding to dress as Batman. Wear Batman costume for a maximum of 1 minute, then demand to wear Jessie outfit.

6. Only allow photos to be taken of you in Selfie mode.

7. No matter what the weather, insist on wearing boots (Wellington) at all times when outside.

8. Do not let Daddy interact with you unless Mummy is not in the house. If Daddy attempts to interact with you and you suspect Mummy is in the house, call “Mommy” (in a fake American accent) at the top of your voice, until you are absolutely certain that she is not in the vicinity.

9. When you notice Mummy has returned, start crying immediately and act as though you’ve been tortured. Even if Mummy says she has sneakily been watching you play happily for the last 5 minutes. KEEP CRYING. Ignore Daddy.

10. If it all gets too much for you, decide you don’t want to talk anymore and spend the day nodding or shaking your head. Do not speak. If Mummy and Daddy do not understand what you want, scream. But definitely DO NOT speak. Head movements only.

11. When drawing with crayons, eat them.

12. When asked if you’re eating crayons, deny it.  Even if you have a crayon in your mouth and crayon smudged around your mouth. DENY IT.

13. When Mummy tries to clean your face with a baby wipe, scream.

14. When Nanny tries to clean your face with a baby wipe, smile sweetly.

15. Under no circumstances allow anybody to cut your nails. If necessary, scream until you make yourself sick and/or give yourself a nosebleed.

16. When your brother has his nails cut, say “My turn! My turn!” and then hit Mummy – ideally in the face – when she comes near you with the intention of any form of manicure.

17. If Mummy ties your hair in a ponytail, scream.

18. If Mummy ties your hair in bunches, scream until you make yourself sick.

19. When Mummy dresses you, let her know that the whatever outfit she has chosen, is not good enough. Unless the outfit is Jessie costume, then ensure you have all the relevant accessories.

Wearing a Superhero t-shirt to a Superhero birthday party is UNACCEPTABLE.

20. Just when everyone is getting used to your new identity as Jessie and your love for Toy Story 3. Decide you prefer Frozen and spend the day making everybody call you Elsa; your brother, Kristoff and Mummy, Olaf. Mummy must also hold a toy carrot up to her nose and say she likes warm hugs. Obviously.

 

REVIEW: The little boy who lost his name

front covers

When the people at Lost My Name contacted me, to see if I would like to review their book, I was ridiculously excited! I am always on the look out for new books. The kids love stories, especially before bed. It’s rare for a bedtime routine to get off the ground without a story or two. And as much as I love Stickman, there’s only so many times you can read it (off by heart) and still make it sound as interesting as the first time.

kids4

The Boy Who Lost His Name (or indeed, The Girl Who Lost Her Name) is about a child who sets off to rediscover his name, after it goes missing from his bedroom door. His adventure introduces him to many different creatures, each with their own tale to tell or problem to solve, who help him find his name. There is a dragon who can’t be scary; a misunderstood Imp and a lion who just wants to have some fun, to name but a few.

The illustrations are beautiful, the stories are lots of fun and best of all, the book rhymes!! I openly admit I find it so much easier to read aloud a story that rhymes, than a story that doesn’t. I appreciate perhaps that doesn’t show off my reading skills but I cannot be alone with this one!?

unicorn

They’ve thought of everything, not only is it personalised by child’s name but if that name is very short, the Lost My Name team will add a few little twists to the story to ensure the book is a good length. Great news for all those baby Bob’s out there (first short name I could think of! Not sure why I didn’t think of Liz..)! Incidentally if your name is ridiculously long, Elizabeth for example, you’d be in for a whopper of a book!

The only thing I would choose as tiny a niggle, and only if I really really HAD to, would be that you can’t choose what the little girl and boy look like in your book. I appreciate it’s probably going to be a lot more work and the publication cost would, I’m sure, increase but it would be nice to be able to tailor the child to look a little more like the recipient of the book. Maybe if they could give you a few different child designs to choose from. Although there are so many illustrations throughout the book, maybe this just isn’t feasible.

ostrich

Austin loves his book already, he likes the fact the starring little boy has the same name as him (cute!). I think it’s definitely a story that will keep his interest too, at the moment he likes looking at the pictures and I don’t think it will be long before he’s engrossed in the stories behind the pictures too. When he can spell his own name, it’ll be a whole new world of enjoyment!

The quality of the (self published!) book is amazing, the pages are thick (not cardboard thick but they seem toddler-ripping proof) and it just feels like a lovely publication. It would definitely make a fab christening or “welcome to the world little baby” present.

Me: "show me your book and smile" Him: *fake burp* Brilliant.

Me: “show me your book and smile”
Him: *fake burp*
Brilliant.

The story books retail at £18.99 including free worldwide shipping and can be ordered here. If you’re interested in ordering a Lost My Name book for a little special someone, I have 5 voucher codes for 15% off, so let me know (tweet/facebook/instagram or good old fashioned email) if you would like one.

**I was sent Austin’s book for free, in exchange for an honest review. I liked it so much that I purchased Elodie’s book with my own hard earned cash. I think that’s enough of a review on it’s own!**

Kids TV Guide

Some of my besties have recently – or are soon to – become parents for the first time. So I thought I would guide them around the inane obscurity that is children’s TV…

Let me start with Elodie’s favourite…Fireman Sam

#hotstuff

#hotstuff

This hunky (more of a hotty than the old-school version from when I was a kid) Welsh fireman spends his days saving the lives of the clumsy Pontypandy residents and getting his illegitimate son Norman, out of trouble and away from the ASBO he so desperately deserves. Pontypandy itself is a small town with a disproportionate number of emergency service vehicles and a poor excuse for a fireman in the form of Sam’s not-so loveable colleague, Elvis.

Postman Pat: The shittest postman around but despite this, he has been promoted to Head of the SDS (Special Delivery Service). Delivering only a single parcel per day, he still manages to mess it up, resulting in him flying his gyrocopter to rescue cows from mountain sides and policemen from runaway helium balloons. I can’t help but think this postie might work a little outside his remit. Every character has massive hands and bad hair.

Noddy: don’t even get me started. Precocious brat and irksome do-gooder. He acts about 5 years old but is apparently a self-employed taxi driver. He has a pet dog “Bumpy Dog” who is the best character by far and is always being tricked by two pesky goblins.

#smug

Questionable taste in fashion.

Charlie and Lola: Lola is 4 and speaks muddled up nonsense and has an unhealthy relationship with her 7 year old brother Charlie, who does everything for her. Their parents are nowhere to be seen.

Rhyme Rocket: A rocket that uses rhymes to fuel it’s engine. Commander Rhyme A Lot; First Office Ditty and Professor Poet man the rocket. They rap rhymes such as “A ham, a jam and a great big clam”. Poetry doesn’t get better than this.

#rhymewankers

#lyricalgeniuses

Get Squiggling: Squiglet (apparently a he and not a she) draws using “Squigglesticks” and “Squigglepads” instead of the standard crayons and paper. He sings a catchy alphabet song which is great “A is for ant, B is balloon…” until you get to “X” which is apparently “for fox, at the end of his tail”. Dumb.

Abney and Teal: Porridge and a farting lake seal.

Insomniac.

#insomniac

In The Night Garden: Weird. It pisses me off that I can never guess whether the Pinky Ponk or the Ninky Nonk will appear at the beginning (a little game I like to play – #coolmum). Someone needs to instigate a better bedtime routine for Iggle Piggle, he can only sleep on a boat.

Waybuloo: weird floating characters called Piplings practise yoga, listening to relaxing music. Both my kids love it and actually, so do I. It relaxes me far more than it does them.

Abadas: THE ONLY thing that would stop a poorly baby Austin from screaming. Sky+ and the Abadas were my saviour. So, the Abadas hold a special place in my heart. Plus I like singing the theme tune. Ela is my fave because she has a soft Irish accent and reminds me of my lovely friend, Alice.

Jelly Jamm: I do not understand it but I do like it. It’s manic. Don’t watch it with a headache.

Everything’s Rosie: because of her, my blog has a theme tune. #winning

Me. In my younger days of being a little more experimental with my hair.

Me. In my younger days of being a little more experimental with my hair.

So there we have it, a little run down of some of the delights that children’s TV has in store for you! I did leave one out, one that I nothing I could say would do justice for. Balamory. Discuss…

Goodbye ‘Two Under Two’

I remember during my second pregnancy, thinking that by the time we were out of the “two under two” stage, Elodie would be 6 months old. At the time, 6 months old seemed an eternity away! In a flash, Austin is two (and has been for a good few months now..!) while Elodie is 10 months old. Crazy. Ridiculous, in fact. Time flies even quicker the second time around!

kids2

Austin and Elodie equally impressed at the passing cars

I did consider writing a post with some tips on how to survive the first few months of ‘two under two” but really, I have no advice! I/we have completely and utterly fluked it! My mum helps us hugely and I, one million percent, could not have done it without her.

But what I can tell you is that having two children so close together is AMAZING! The first few months are super bloody hard, there’s no sugar coating that. When you’re doing the night feeds for the new baby and then getting up with your eldest at stupid o’clock in the morning (5am in our case!) you feel like you cannot continue on such little sleep. But you power on through because, well, you that’s what Mums do.

We were/are lucky in that Elodie was/is a dream of a baby. So well behaved, so happy and SUCH a good sleeper! Although she is developing one hell of a temper, which she breaks out when she doesn’t get her own way. If that stays, we’re in for some FUN teenage years..!

Cue temper tantrum over a half eaten apple

Cue temper tantrum over a half eaten apple

Austin, bless him, was hard work as a baby, he cried ALL the time (we later found out this was because he had a very sore head, after his forceps delivery so we will let him off) and he barely slept during the day – I’m talking just 2 twenty minute naps each day. He went through the night from early on (probably because he was exhausted from being awake all day..!) but I had to cuddle him to sleep each night. He’s an amazing toddler now and the happiest, most well behaved little boy you could meet. Unless you try to remove a toy car from his hand, then you will have initiated Meltdown Mode. I definitely had my kids the right way round. If I’d had Elodie first and then Austin (so probably a very terrible two with big tantrums and a baby that was very hard work) I’d have been in for a hideous shocker of a “Two under two” situation. I dread to think.

So in short, if you can have the difficult baby first who turns into the easy peasy toddler first, you’re laughing!

Balancing two children, no matter what the age gap, will make you realise one thing if nothing else…how easy it was when you only had one!! Those days when I struggled to get Austin and I ready for Baby Sensory at 11am? PAH!! What the hell was I doing?! I remember looking at my friends with two kids and thinking “How do you do it?!”, now I look at my friends with three kids and think the same thing!

If all else fails, stick them in buckets and pop Peppa on the TV

If all else fails, stick them in buckets and pop Peppa on the TV

The best thing ever is when they laugh together. Austin will go out of his way to make Elodie laugh, it’s adorable. The other day we were having breakfast and I popped out of the room, when I was walking back in I stood at the door, just listening to them giggling at each other. Austin had got down from his chair, up onto mine, in front of his sister and was pulling faces to make Elodie laugh. They were in hysterics together. It was the best sound I have ever heard.

Just yesterday morning, we were all sat in bed, Elodie was bopping to the Fireman Sam theme tune and Austin quietly watched her, then started giggling happily to himself. Their love for each other is so beautiful.

Obviously it isn’t always quite so serene, they fight over the iPad; Austing pushes Elodie and she pulls his hair. One day, I’m sure, there will be far less loving than fighting but I hope that one day not too long after that they will, once again, be as close as they are now.

So with a happy heart, we say goodbye to the “two under two” tag. Will we be joining the “three under three”?? Ummmm no! Two blessings are perfect for us. We have very fond memories of the “two under two” stage of our lives and we’ll make many many more through the next stages too. But one thing I will miss…the looks of horror; surprise; sympathy and “OMG what the hell were you thinking!” when I tell people I have two children under two!

x

I promise…

photo

I promise to listen,

I promise not to judge,

I promise to nurture,

I promise to kiss and hug.

I promise to be here always,

I promise to hear your cries,

I promise to support you,

I promise not to tell you lies. *

I promise to love unconditionally,

I promise to protect,

I promise to watch over you,

I promise to always do my best.

Love you more than anything (including chocolate and handbags!)

* most of the time! Santa IS real!