- January 5th, 15:00
We have had the loveliest of festive seasons, I so hope you have too. We had loads to celebrate in our house because as well as Christmas and New Year it was Florence’s second birthday on New Year’s Eve and Jonny turned 34 on the 2nd; it’s been busy but brilliant! Florence left out mince pies, sherry and carrots for the midnight visitor on Christmas Eve and it was totally adorable to see her face when she realised they had been consumed when she woke up on Christmas morning. She opened her stocking and thoroughly enjoyed the present opening experience which by the end of her birthday she had become a pro at! We decided that she got far too many presents really and are going to try and curb it a bit next year because it was a bit overwhelming for her. Because everything comes at once it’s a bit of a shame really; in the middle of the year she’ll be at different developmental stages so she might be better off having a few presents throughout the year rather than all in one go. I always save one or two of her presents to give her on my birthday which falls in the summer but this year my Mum is going to give her a bigger present at Easter and didn’t wrap anything up for Christmas because the pile was just huge! We had a thoroughly fantastic day, ate loads, shared special times with our family and watched all the best bits on television. Just perfect! Am a bit sad it’s all over actually although I am welcoming the constant round of food coming to a halt. I think I was about to go pop!
I’m aware that we are very lucky to be in the position we are in and there are loads of people less fortunate than my family and we certainly don’t take it for granted. I don’t have pots and pots of money but I did what I could and donated some presents to our local Salvation Army church. They were having some families in difficulty join them for Christmas day and needed gifts for the children, so although it wasn’t much I gave some presents for their fund and I really hope it made a small difference to someone. I’m so utterly grateful to my family for always helping us out both emotionally and financially and it saddens me so much to realise that there are so many people who don’t have that, so many who aren’t as lucky. I just gave presents which was relatively easy but lots of other people are able to give so much more and I admire them so much because I’m not sure I have that in me? My cousin and her husband for instance have just started fostering and their first foster child came to join their family just before Christmas. I of course don’t know the details behind why their foster daughter needed a foster family but isn’t it unbelievably sad that for whatever reasons this young girl couldn’t be with her own family for the festive season. I met her at Florence’s birthday party and she seemed such a confident girl with bags of personality.
My cousin and her husband are just wonderful people and I knew instantly, as soon as they told me they wanted to foster, that they were exactly the sort of people who should be doing it. Not everyone would be, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the right person at all, but I can say with absolute confidence that any child placed in their care couldn’t hope for a better family to take care of them. I see from their family Christmas pictures and the way they are with each other that this young girl has just been welcomed into their family as if she is one of their own and I have no doubts in my mind that whoever they foster and whenever it happens in the year, that will always be the case. My cousin is so loving and envelopes all children that she knows in her warmth and kindness. I don’t have that in my personality I think, of course I love my own child unconditionally and that comes naturally and easily to me but I just don’t think I could ever feel that way about anyone else’s child, perhaps I’m wrong and if it happened I’d step up but I don’t know it without doubt. If I had to do it I would try my absolute best but I know it wouldn’t come naturally to me like it does to my cousin and her husband. I’m sure they have had hard times and found things difficult, they have their own children’s needs to look after as well, but they make this fantastically hard job look effortless. Any little one who is unfortunate enough to need foster care, who gets placed with my cousin’s family will be loved and cared for and treated no differently to their own children; isn’t that amazing? I asked her, when I found out that she was going to foster, wouldn’t she be devastated to give a child back? Especially for instance a baby who she may have had from birth? She said she would find it hard, she wouldn’t be able to not love a child she was fostering but that she would find it easier to give a baby to a new family who were desperate to adopt, even if she had looked after them for the first year of their life, than she would an older child back to a family she knew were likely to not be able to look after the child again at some point. My cousin and her husband are an inspiration and will be providing happy new years for lots of children in the future; they will pick up, nurture and immerse these children in their own family without a second thought. Thank goodness and hurrah for people like them!
As I just mentioned earlier we had a great little birthday party for Florence on her actual birthday, New Year’s Eve. I invited all my friends in Norwich who have children and we had pass the parcel, party food and lots more presents! I’d like to thank all my friends for coming and for bringing Florence such lovely gifts, it was really lovely of you! I’d especially like to thank the Forbes family who also arranged it so that Jonny could go to the Norwich v Fulham match which was on just after the party! We have lovely generous pals! Jonny didn’t want much for his birthday on the 2nd but a ticket to the sold out match was just about the only thing he did want and I thought it was entirely impossible so thank you Forbes’s! After the clearing up we got into our glad rags and went off to my in laws for a great meal and to see in the New Year. At 23.40, the exact time Florence was born I had my picture taken with my lovely girl and then we all watched the fireworks on the television with a glass of bubbly. Even me – although it gave me heart burn, how annoying! We ended up all staying the night as there wasn’t a taxi to be had in the whole of Norwich then the next day we drove off for a blowing out the cobwebs walk along the coast. Perfect end and start to the years!
Just before Christmas I was running a couple of competitions and I can now announce my winners who were all drawn at random on the dates specified. They have all been contacted and are thrilled but just so that everyone knows, the winners of the ‘Uki’ competition, which is three prizes of the ‘Uki’ DVD and a ‘Uki’ plush toy are:
Glen Ramsey of Cheshire
Katie Rose of London
Sarah Lovett of Sussex
Well done you three for stating that the times ‘Uki’ is shown on CBeebies are 9am and 1pm daily during the week. If you haven’t seen ‘Uki’ with your little one yet then do tune in weekdays to ‘Show Me, Show Me’ which is the programme that incorporates this charming and gentle character aimed at children between 18 months and 4 years. To find out more about ‘Uki’ and his friends please visit www.ukiland.com or check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/uki/. You can also follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ukiland.
The second competition was very excitingly to win two tickets to see the English National Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ at the London Coliseum between Boxing Day and New Year. The lucky winner, who correctly answered the question ‘What is the name of the famous fairy in The Nutcracker’? as ‘The Sugar Plum Fairy’ was Dave Clarke who gave his tickets to his wife and her friend and they had a fantastic time. She wrote to tell me that they had fantastic seats and the second half was her favourite as all the dancers really got to shine!
So for us, over the Christmas period we haven’t done much of anything but just before we made the journey up to Norfolk to be with our families Florence and I met my best friend and her two children and we took a trip on the London Eye and went to the London Aquarium. Florence and I are a bit expert when it comes to Aquariums now as this was our third trip to one but I have to say the London one was totally different to the two in Norfolk we had previously visited; a completely different experience and well worth a visit even though we had been to other centres before. Being in Central London and based just by the London Eye (They are both run by Merlin Entertainment) it makes it the perfect place to visit when on a trip to the capital. It was great to combine the two attractions and was just about the perfect amount of time for little ones to enjoy themselves but not get bored. We all spent about 2 hours at the London Aquarium where staff were really helpful with the storing of our buggies and we especially enjoyed the penguin display. There’s lots more hands on exhibits in this particular centre compared to the two in Norfolk. There are tunnels to crawl through, fish tanks to walk under and ice walls to explore to name but three. We had a thoroughly nice time and even though it was incredibly busy we didn’t feel rushed or hustled. Florence particularly enjoyed the tank where, with supervision, you can touch and stroke star fish and crabs and we came away with great big smiles on our faces.
Next Stop was for my best friend and me and we boarded the London Eye where for half an hour we were able to sit down and chat while the children couldn’t escape! It was lovely and we enjoyed seeing London on a crisp winter’s afternoon with everything the views have to offer which was lots. I am always impressed by London’s sky line, architecture mixing both old and new iconic buildings but to see it from this vantage point was a real treat. Our girls played happily with their packed lunches, enchanted the other passengers in our pod with their little girl chatter and my friend Eve’s baby slept while we chatted and pointed things out to each other. It was a relaxing and delightful trip not to be missed but something I think could easily be put off if you are, like us, Londonites. I think we see this attraction as something for tourists and although it’s true, it’s a fantastic thing for the visitor to London to experience, I think if you live in London you absolutely should explore your City in this way. It is a truly unique experience which is gentle enough for children, interesting for adults and entertaining for all. We had a great day out at both the London Aquarium and the London Eye and would thoroughly recommend both as a treat for the whole family.
London Aquarium Tickets are from just £14.95 and can be booked either in person at the box office or on line at www.visitsealife.com/london
London Eye Tickets are from £17.01 for adults and £8.91 for children and can be booked either in person at the box office or on line at www.londoneye.com
For all Merlin entertainment attractions and for annual passes please see their website www.merlinentertainments.biz.
FEBRUARY FUN WITH LOLLIBOP!
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do with your children and something to look forward to then do read on for there’s something really special coming up this February half term. You might remember that last summer Florence, some friends and I went off to what I like to think of as THE festival of the summer, Lollibop! This annual festival held in London’s Regent’s Park is entirely dedicated to our little ones and it was without a second thought the absolute best day out for children that we had last summer (and we did lots as I’m sure you know)! We were really upset to have to come home and knew that it’d be another year before we got to go again, but… I’m delighted to announce that the team behind ‘The Lollibop Festival’ have come up with a special event which means we don’t have to wait all the way until August, when the next festival is due to be held, because on February 12th during half term they are also holding a one off special event at London’s Ministry of Sound!
Taking place at the Ministry of Sound on Sunday February 12th between 12noon and 5pm, LolliBop’s Mini Disco is guaranteed to keep kids aged 3 -10yrs entertained. Special guest appearances from Scooby Doo and award winning children’s entertainer, Allin Kempthorne will delight little ones, whilst Beat Boxing workshops will give older children new skills to show off when they get back to school.
In true Ministry of Sound fashion, they’ll be plenty of dancing too when TV favourites Dick and Dom take to the decks.
Other activities include hula hoop workshops, storytelling. bubble shows and dance games.
Tickets cost £10.00 per person. Call 0208 365 9695 or go to www.lollibopfestival.co.uk for more details.
Drinks and light refreshments are available to purchase at the venue.
LolliBop’s Big Bash for Little People returns in full this summer to Regents Park (August 17th, 18 and 19th, 2012)) Full line-up to be announced soon. www.lollibopfestival.co.uk
We can’t wait, can you?!
MY PREGNANCY DIARY WEEKS 22 & 23
Well, because I didn’t write over Christmas I will have to fill you in on both weeks in one go. Have just been relaxing and eating and I think, although I’ve not got on the scales, (thank fully my Mum’s are broken) that I have been putting on a bit of weight… My bump in now HUGE! Something happened over Christmas (aside from the food) and the baby just had a massive growth spurt. I can’t believe it, I’m only 23 weeks pregnant but my tummy button is protruding almost all the way out. A friend of mine said it might be down to the way my placenta is lying so I will have to add that to my list of questions for the mid wife. I’ve also to ask her about the pointy protruding bit I have at the top of my tummy. It wasn’t worrying me at all until my scan just before Christmas where the sonograopher said she’d never seen anyone else with a bump at the top of her tummy before. I had it with Florence also so I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about and probably something completely normal but it’s still something I must speak to her about. I’m supposed to have a visit with her this week actually for my 22 week check as that fell over Christmas but I’m actually still at my Mum’s. Jonny had quite a lot of uni work to get through so we thought we’d stay another few days to give him some time but it does mean my appointment will be rather late. I can feel the baby moving all the time, he or she is a complete wriggler and doesn’t stop! I’ve no idea when it sleeps because it seems to never stop being on the go which doesn’t bode well… Mind you, Florence hardly ever moved and she is the biggest wriggler and non sleeper going! I was always up at the hospital when I was pregnant with her, at least four times towards the end, because I hadn’t felt her move for a day or so and she was perfectly fine just being quite. I thought then that she would probably be a quite amiable baby and boy was I wrong so perhaps this time the baby’ll be a sleeper despite its activity in the womb at the moment! Florence has been very sweet these past couple of weeks and has started kissing my tummy and whispering ‘hello baby’ into my tummy button and although she’s still not showing any signs of stopping breast feeding she has started to get her baby doll and asks me to feed her too so I’m hopeful she won’t mind too much when the baby arrives and will be feeding!
I’ve been a very lucky girl over the festive period in general and had lots of help from my Mum and in laws with giving me a break and it’s been bliss. I started off the holiday season with a trip to Champney’s Day Spa in Enfield and had one of their ‘Beautiful Bump’ treatments which set me up just nicely and meant I was thoroughly relaxed even before I had all the Grandparents on hand to baby sit for a while! I’m having to make the treatment my ‘Pregnancy Product (or must have) of the Week’ so nice was it! I arrived at the Champney’s Day Spa on what must have been one of their busiest Saturdays of the year and was instantly greeted in a warm and friendly way, given a glass of water and made to feel relaxed while I waited for my therapist. When she came to take me to one of the treatment rooms she was efficient and polite and explained in thorough detail what the treatment would involve. 55 minutes starting with a foot soak then a back and shoulder massage while I sat up on the bed, moving onto lying on my back for a foot and leg massage followed by a head massage at the end. She left the room while I changed and wrapped the material round me as she advised and then created a lovely environment upon her return by dimming the lights. I found the treatment so relaxing that I actually (embarrassingly) fell asleep on two different occasions during it and I left feeling bouncy and light and full of life despite a horrific cold. I think as a mum to a toddler and half way through a pregnancy I can feel quite tense and tired but this treatment totally threw all my tensions away and made me feel fabulous. I’ve never been the sort of person to go for a massage but I came away thinking I’d like to bring the therapist home with me and to massage me to sleep every night! I thought it would be a little odd to be honest but within seconds I was at ease and able to enjoy the experience. I would highly recommend this as not only a gift for any pregnant woman but as a treat just for yourself and while you’re there you could have a manicure or pedicure too! This treatment is especially designed for pregnant women and couldn’t be gentler or more thoughtful to that cause, the perfect things to do before having a baby and going for a massage becomes something only dreams are made of! Loved Champney’s and loved the beautiful bump treatment.
There are many Champney’s Spas throughout the UK including Day Spas like the one I visited in Enfield. They offer a wide variety of treatments and the one I had, especially for pregnant women, ‘The Beautiful Bump Treatment’ costs £55.00 and for more information do visit their website www.champneys.com
(All opinions and words, apart from those in green, are my own. I have not been paid for this article although I did receive some products to keep after I had reviewed them.)