Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Holidays are Coming. Is the Coca Cola Truck Coming to a Town or City Near you?

Did you know that the Coca Cola truck is touring the UK? On the coldest night of the year Aaron and I went to see it. The queue to have a photo put us off, and Aaron was not behaving well, so we popped off for something to eat. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach and this is true of 4 year old men too! He ate about a quarter of his dinner and 50% of mine. He LOVED my lasagne and I didn't even know he liked lasagne. Asda, after school on weekdays, do kids eat free so it was fabulous (apart from the queues and the poor cafe manageress who'd been working since 06:30 a.m. without a break).
What I learned once we were fuelled with food and warmer, all of which meant we were calmer, was that you can get a photo op on the far side of the truck without queuing for over an hour. It was very busy, so I do not know HOW I got that clear looking photo you see of Aaron above.

For those that were crazy enough to queue for the official photo, they had entertainment in the form of these fab "carol" singers, who managed to get Aaron bopping:

It was SO cold I had to buy Aaron one of these on our way home, but thankfully they were being sold very near by (clever trader).
Anyway, I can't say much more than that, as today I got Aaron's flu, so I am off for an early night.

xxx

Monday, 15 December 2014

Thinking Back on 2014 Looking Forward to 2015 But Not Tomorrow

I seemed to start 2014 FULL of energy if this blog post is anything to go by: New Nurturing Energy, but I am ending it tired. Tired after a late night, tired after an early night. This weekend we did nothing, because the previous weekend we did two much. Deliberate typo there. Two. Two Santas. Two hotels. Two "cities". It might look exciting looking back at the video footage and photos, BUT it was exhausting!

Actually, this post was started so long ago, that I can now say we've had yet another exhausting weekend and yet another Santa, with another one tomorrow: Tuesday 16th December's. Tomorrow's will be the school one, and the FIFTH one Aaron will see December 2014.

So, I think 2015 is going to have to be all about restoring my energy levels, as I can't carry on being tired all of the time like this. I'm good for no one, including myself. 

The water intake will have to be increased. The alcohol consumption will have to be decreased (although it is minimal as it is, my body cannot tolerate acidity at all anymore). My plantar fasciitis is completely affected by acidity, better or worse. I'll need to start juicing and consuming greens again. Being alkaline is always when I am at my best. The yoga that I have been going on and on about for nearly as many years as I used to do it, needs to make a reappearance.

January 2014
2014: a year where Aaron's gone from being a January pre-schooler, riding a balance bike.

He started to ride a 2 wheel bike with pedals in May 2014 a month BEFORE he turned four. Good thing he did, as he started school in September - Reception - and we now cycle to and from school every day. Both bikes have been red and black, and both have been superb. A Chicco Red Bullet balance bike to start followed by an Avigo Mischief 16 inch. Both of his bikes have been put through their paces. The balance bike went everywhere we did every day.

He's great on his bike I couldn't be more proud:

Remaining on January I have just remembered (thanks to photos) that I went to White Tantra in January, my first time doing so since Aaron was born, despite doing so when pregnant. ONE WHOLE day of yoga, and my old radiance was back. It really does me so much good. Eek they've already set the date: White Tantra London Saturday 17th January 2015, I will have to put it in my diary and this time really harness the energy I bring in. White Tantra transforms you for 40 days afterwards.

As early as March 2014, Aaron had already dispensed with a jacket (well so the photo below tells me), so that gives me high hopes that maybe I only need to be cold for just 3 more months :-) I remember how HOT it was in the run up to Easter :-) Here he is with his best mate:
May, if my photos are anything to go by, seems to have been hot AND cold. On a day to Southend with Aaron and ALL of his cousins, it was freezing, yet in the same month we had a day in the park; Aaron played in the sand and it was warm!
Those long legs. I swear my boy will tower over me one day! He can look after his Dear Mum :-)

The good thing I can say, as 2014 ends, is that me and Aaron don't seem to have changed much, as the two Harrods photos, a year apart show:
Harrods do seem to have included too much "floor" in the photo this year though. One big difference is I didn't wear makeup this year, as the morning of Harrods was just too rushed, BUT when I saw Santa again the next day in Westfield Stratford, I made more of an effort.
That jumper above and Aaron's Primark Santa shirt have been like our uniform for all of our many Santa visits.

The jumper is kind of significant as I looked at dozens of Xmas Jumpers before I settled on that one. I've been attracted to all things stags the last few weeks and as I have animal cards I have looked up what it means.
The Stag, Damh in the Gaelic tongue, is also linked to the sacredness of the magical forest. The Damh represents independence, purification, and pride. It is known as the King of the Forest, the protector of its creatures. For time immemorial people have sought to identify with the stag by ceremonially wearing antlered headdresses and imitating the deer's leaping grace. 
Those with the deer as animal totem may be inclined to be constantly on the move, being on the look out for the next opportunity. By affinity with this spirit animal, you may also be watchful of your “predators”, which translate into a tendency to be sometimes overly cautious. It takes time for you to trust someone or feel safe in your environment. 
You can invoke the power of the deer to guide you in getting accustomed to new surroundings and people. This spirit guide might show up in your life to warn you encourage you to trust your instinct. The deer spirit animal will also show up in your life to encourage you to take some time by yourself in a quiet environment to rest or in nature. It invites you to find rest and peace in silence. 
This is the time of year where I start to think about New Year's Resolutions, as I personally believe a more appropriate time to do them, energy wise, is Winter Solstice, i.e. 21st December. Think of them, rather than resolutions, as INTENTIONS. If you set them on 21st, you can have profound things happen in your life. I have done this in years gone by, but not so much since Aaron came along, but it was the energy of Winter Solstice that saw my other blog Conscious Mum be born, not that I have done nearly enough with it.

You can watch video horoscopes to see what is instore, astrologically, 15th to 21st December. There are even additional weekly zodiac videos below specific to your individual star sign. Astrology can be really reassuring as it can explain planetary happenings that have an affect on us, along with lunar cycles/changes.

But back to Winter Solstice, it really is a good time to go within, embrace your heart's desires, and then document them, send them out there, and give your intentions wings. Where your focus goes, energy flows, so they say, and it's true. And, if you don't believe in "energy" or astrology, then be glad of December 21st simply for no other reason than that it is the shortest day of the year. It is onwards and upwards from here on in! You honestly will see the daytime lengthen, and the sunsets get later, by minutes every week from 21st December onwards.

Setting my intentions for 2015 is relatively easy, and numero uno is a pink wish.

Earlier in this post I said Aaron would meet his 5th Santa tomorrow - the school one - and that is actually in addition to his Nativity at 9 am. What I did not say is that today, Monday, I have kept him off school with a high temperature, cough and sore throat. It's not looking good tonight and I am WRACKED with guilt. In 24 years of working, you can count my absence in days on two hands, no more than that. I don't do "sickies" and I don't do late. The thought of Aaron missing his own nativity fills me with dread and worse still, the Christmas Bizarre that is happening from 3 till 5 is a baby of the PTA, of which I am on, meaning I am meant to be at school from 1300 hrs, which if I am at home with a sick child, I cannot do. So as much as I can see lots of lights at the end of lots of tunnels in 2015, I am not channeling it as I finish this post, but am rather feeling awful, like there's no point going to sleep as what exactly am I waking up for. Will he be spritely? Unlikely! Yep, so it will be a cosy day on the sofa, with lots of cuddles, which ordinarily I would LOVE, but not when he and I are both supposed to be somewhere............. yikes, I don't break commitments, it's just not how I am built.

Night night :-(

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Getting Pregnant Tips

Pregnancy is not something that can be diarised. You can decide in August I want to start trying now, so that I can have a Summer baby next year, but if you treat it like a critical path like that, yes you MIGHT be lucky (there are those who fall first time) but you equally might be on a hiding to nothing (well not nothing, but disappointment, or delay).

My story is that I went to a Yoga Festival July/August 2008 and I saw a Brahmin whilst there. He did my full astrological chart and seemed to know everything about me, despite not asking any questions. He knew that I did not have kids and that I'd have them later in life. He said if I wanted to get pregnant that year we would have to try before November else we'd have to wait a year. It wasn't the right timing (can't even remember why) so we did not start till the following April, and you know what, yes life did get in the way in some of those months, but we FELL in September of that year, by now 2009. I strongly believe that was due to his "waiting a year" prediction. And why so?!?! Because Aaron's soul had a particular date, a particular numerology, a particular star sign, for his arrival.

I didn't just leave his arrival in the hands of the Gods though. Oh no, I read The Fertility Diet from cover to cover, and gave up alcohol, caffeine and numerous other things. After all, I was in my late 30s. I had to assist Mother Nature.

Most women when they finally decide it’s the right time for them to have kids, want the pregnancy to happen as fast as possible. Trying to get pregnant can be an exciting moment in your life, but it is possible that it can also be very frustrating especially if it does not happen right away.

Once you start trying, you discover all of the terminology that surrounds it. The one etched in my brain is "two weeks waiting" i.e. the longest 2 weeks OF.YOUR.LIFE!!! This is the time period (oh that word PERIOD) from when you conceive (or not) to when you are due to start your period (or not). You could have been regular as clockwork since the age of 11 but now Mother Nature will tease you and have you being 2 days late just so you can THINK you are pregnant. August 2009 was thankfully the last time I got a negative, I blogged about it here but thankfully I fell a month later. Gosh between April and September I got through so many pregnany tests and they are not cheap.

However when you do fall, wow, that is a feeling that can't be doubted. I was only 2 days passed conception and I was already wiped out tired - I knew. I got symptoms STRAIGHT AWAY but probably because I am extremely in tune with my body and always have been. I was symptom spotting like a mad thing. I went to my Chinese Herbalist when I was DAYS pregnant and he said I had a slippery pulse which can be a sign of pregnancy. I was SO early on, I didn't even have a GBP (great big positive) HPT (home pregnancy test) yet. Gosh I still remember the shorthand ha ha! Anyway he turned out to be right. I am glad he told me, as we took the Harrods team out for dinner that night and I would have otherwise been tempted to have a couple of drinks, but clearly I didn't. Back then I was working for an importer and distributor and we had a concession there.

Some women who tried for months will keep wondering if there was any physical problem that was preventing them from getting pregnant. Sometimes this can simply be stress, or trying at the wrong time of the month, or ;-) the astrology not being right yet.

If you are getting worried, you do not have to panic and what you need to do is to give yourself some time. 

Unlike many other things in a woman's life, pregnancy is a situation that is very difficult to control, and trying to get pregnant is not always an easy process. 

However, there are some things you can do to make sure you get pregnant quicker according to www.pregnancytips.org. A quote from The Fertility Diet:
There is now a huge amount of research proving vitamin B6 is great for healing all sorts of female fertility problems. In one study, women who had no periods because they had hormone imbalances were given the vitamin for three to four months and some of them started to have regular periods again. An even more amazing study showed that twelve out of fourteen women who had unexplained infertility and who were given B6 supplementation from 100 to 800 mcg daily for 6 months became pregnant - some of them had been trying for up to seven years! Progesterone levels increased in five out of the seven women whose hormone levels were measured, which may have explained why they were suddenly fertile. If you are a woman who has any kind of fertility issues, one of the first supplements you should take is vitamin B6. Birth control pills almost completely eliminate this vitamin from the body. 

One of the simplest and most important thing you can do to speed up the process is to figure out exactly when you are ovulating. 

What I can personally say about this, is it is better to make love in the days before ovulation. So for example, if you ovulate on Tuesday, making love the Sunday and Monday beforehand can get you pregnant, and personally I think it is more reliable than doing so in the days after.

I know when me and a friend did this (not with each other obviously) we both fell immediately.

You can track your ovulation by learning how to track your BBT temperature every morning, or you can take ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), which are much like a pregnancy test but tests your luteinizing hormone (LH) instead of HCG, to tell you when you are ovulating. Any or all of those methods work great, but the key is knowing when you ovulate - as if you don't time it right, you'll never fall pregnant.

Please don't take this post as medical advice. It is my opinions or those quoted.

So What Do You Put in a Christmas Stocking Anyway?

I've only ever used stockings as things to hang on or above the mantelpiece, but if you gift one, what stocking fillers do you actually put in it?

Well House of Fraser's Home Department kindly answered this question for me, by sending me one. Not any old velvet thing with white fluff on the top! Oh no! This is embroidered and simply divine. It's also now half price, and their website says there are only 15 left: Linea Embroidered Birds Red Stocking.

Their photo doesn't at all do it justice so let me show you mine ;-)
It's beautifully lined with linen and the embroidery is luxurious. Something you can keep for a lifetime. A real treasure:
But you want to know what was inside it don't you? Well if you followed me on Instagram you would already know as I photographed it the second I shut the door on the courier:
But here they are individually:
Christmas Cupcake Mould which is currently half price
Frosty Gift Tags reduced from 3 pounds to 1.5 GBP.
Christmas set of 3 mini diffusers reduced from 24 to 12 pounds
Enchanted Forest Candle reduced from 16 to 8 pounds
I can't link to the gorgeous water bottle I got, with a festive knitted cover as I cannot find it on their site.
I also got this Mistletoe and Berries Candle which has been reduced from 20 to 10 pounds.
Finally I received with my stocking a beautiful white and red "Merry Christmas" bauble. Given that the stocking arrived the day after I put my tree up it couldn't have been better. I worked so hard that day, unpacking all of the decs, putting them up, and tidying up. That in addition to rearranging the sitting room to accommodate the tree. So when my stocking and gifts arrived the next day, I felt like Mrs Christmas, who'd received her rewards for her efforts ha ha! or should I say ho ho ho!!!

Nothing to do with this post but whilst browsing House of Fraser's site I just noticed their Water Bobbles are only 10.99 (but reduced to 8.79!!!) and I bought mine for 12.99 each in John Lewis!!! A few months ago.

So here are pics of the contents. Excuse the photography but the lighting is not great tonight.
Still lots of time to do Christmas Shopping online. Like I said in my House of Fraser Toys Review earlier today, a package from them arrives beautifully. My toys came with money off vouchers (promotions for various things) AND a complimentary Fraser magazine. Glad to be working with them so closely, as my first job after leaving University was with them :-)

Disclosure: I was a very lucky girl and was gifted my stocking and the fillers it came with. They're all beautiful. Take a look at their home department, either instore or online. Most of what I was sent is "Linea" which is House of Fraser's own in-house brand which was launched by them in 1997.

Christmas Gifts for Quality Family Time over Christmas When There's Nothing on The Telly Box

At Christmas we all spend more time indoors than normal. The whole family together, all off work and school, perhaps with extended family too. The telly box isn't always good everyday, and sometimes we return to old fashioned things like board games and toys. House of Fraser recently gave me the chance to order a couple of boardgames for Aaron for this festive family time, but here's what I opted for.

Aaron's pretty much ADDICTED to jigsaws because in the first fortnight of big school (reception) Aaron did a jigsaw or two, at school every morning and now he's hooked. Throw in Planes / Dusty and you have a focused boy until it's done. He's seen both movies and was even lucky enough to see Planes 2 Fire and Rescue at a Blog/Press Preview (Gala Screening).
When you're on Oxford Street, House of Fraser might seem like a posh store that only does perfumes and cosmetics, but don't let the ground floor confuse you. Just like lots of other department stores, they stock nearly everything, toys and games included. Given that the above jigsaw is now out of stock I just Googled it to see who else is selling it, and everywhere I found is selling it for the same five pounds as House of Fraser so their prices are certainly competitive. What I will say too is the delivery arrived extremely well packaged and came with the gorgeous magazine you can see Aaron holding above. There were also lots of money off vouchers included in the package, which I really appreciated - yes they are advertising for the brands who supplied them, but good stuff!

In our House of Fraser package we also got a HexBugs set. Aaron played with it non stop until the batteries ran out (reminds me I need to replace them). He loved it so much he even brought it up to bed:

A photo posted by Liska (@newmumonline) on

The Hexbug Bridge Battle Set is RRP 29.99 but good old House of Fraser is selling it for only 14.99 GBP. I must inform you though that there is a V2 model, and House of Fraser's is the original. We still love it though.

We also got a Doc McStuffins jigsaw set, which is incredibly great value as there are FIVE jigsaws in one packet. The packaging says 3D but don't worry this does NOT mean you will be building a volumous jigsaw, that is like a globe. No, each jigsaw piece is shiny so that the IMAGE appears 3D. This is currently reduced from 20 to 10 pounds.

We also got Guess Who, which is fabulous value from House of Fraser at ten pounds considering Argos is selling it for 14.99 GBP. Don't believe the packaging that it can be built in a few minutes as it took me ages. You literally have to snap off bits, which the instructions don't make clear and did hurt my fingers a little. I kept telling Aaron we couldn't play it till I built it. By the time I did it was bedtime and we haven't got it out since. BUT NOW that it IS built it WILL be great fun to play with over Christmas. I think I will get him to play it with his cousins over the festive period. I'll update y'all when I do:
Our total haul was 41 pounds worth, which is excellent. We also have a pack of cards (which are only 99 pence but currently out of stock, which you'll see below. We haven't touched them yet, but Aaron adores playing cards, so that will be another thing to provide quality family "playing" time over Christmas.
All items featured were sent to us for review, so that we could give you ideas for toys to play with over the festive season.

Having checked the prices of each item I can honestly say, when you are toy shopping online, try HouseOfFraser.co.uk before clicking "buy".

I was lucky enough to be sent a Christmas Stocking by House of Fraser's home department which I will be reviewing soon. If you are looking for a "vintage" looking Christmas Stocking then I don't think you can beat this one. It is LINED and beautifully embroidered:

Bye for now, Liska
xxx

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Westfield Stratford City Santa Review

As regular readers will know over a week ago we went to see Santa at Westfield Stratford City. It was definitely by far the BEST Santa experience I have had. You don't have to take my word for it. Look at the kids - my son and my two nieces:


What made it special. Well:
  • The cars that you can pay to hire, to push your tot around in. Aaron has loved these for years, but there were many tears when he grew out of the red one, but they've now introduced a higher height limit and black cars. HE WAS THRILLED. Very easy to whizz short legs around a large shopping centre when you can push them in here. He's been out of a buggy for two years, but LOVES THIS.
  • The shopping centre is so festive and the team on the concierge desk are FABULOUS. Finally they have a team equal to the word "concierge". 
  • As you will see if you've watched my video above, the experience is immersive, as Chloe commented on You Tube.
  • The personalised 4D movie you watch in a theatre is INCREDIBLY touching. The Elf shines a light on her face and narrates it. My nieces were 6 and 10, my son 4, and all three equally LOVED it.
  • The elves on duty all remain in character and totally add value to the experience which literally couldn't be better.
  • Santa is warm and genuine.
  • The room you meet him in is so traditional and realistic.
  • My heart wrenched at seeing the train circling above our heads - it just caught me as incredibly moving and judging by the video, my boy has the same taste as me.
  • The gifts are split into ages AND all individually wrapped (neither of which was the case at Harrods where we'd been only the day before) and this was fabulous as it means all three children got something different. The unwrapping is all part of it isn't it.
  • The photo packages are GREAT - we got a bauble with our photo in.
Plenty of photo opportunities there. LOVE the sleigh. Aaron's wearing his Primark Christmas shirt which I adore, and I've got me Chrimbo jumper on :-) Aaron's shirt has done three Santas now and was only a fiver! Please note, you won't be able to take pics with Santa, as you buy those. I was only allowed for the purposes of this review.
Here's some info for you:

Book tickets now to meet Santa, enjoy a new 4D film experience and all kids will receive a gift from Santa too! 
The Grotto will be open between 20th November and the 24th December 2014. Santa gets really busy, so we recommend booking in advance.
When booking we will ask for the age of the children. Please note we cannot provide gifts for children over 12 years old.
You can find Santa's Grotto located outside next to Waitrose and Stratford International Station on the Lower Ground Floor. The best car park is car park A.
You can book your tickets here until 24th December 2014: Santas Grotto Westfield Stratford.

You will note on that same link just given, you can book: Santa's Grotto AND The Hidden House AND Santa's breakfast.

Disclosure: I was provided with a 16 pounds family ticket to Santa's Grotto gratis, for an honest review. We truly loved it and all words/opinions are my own.

For Christmas