Saturday, 20 September 2014

To The Younger Me

Dear Me of 1995

You used to be ambitious, what happened? Actually forget that. That ambition that you carried around for 12 years, when you wanted a garden as big as a football pitch and a career as an Accountant, well it's left you, and it doesn't ever come back.

Right now you are thinking your ambition will come back when you find the right career path. You are partially right. It comes back, but it's drive rather than ambition. Drive to please. Drive to succeed. Drive to achieve perfection in all tasks.

Your desire for material things has left you. It doesn't return. It's the yogi in you. It's called non attachment.

You are more spiritual than you'll ever know.

Your fleeting connection with Buddhism is something you should pursue.

You'll go to Japan in 2004 and by then you'll have qualified as a yoga instructor. Your heart and crown chakras are so open, the spiritual energy has a conduit to flow right through you. You visit temples, and a Buddhist Museum. It all touches you VERY deeply. 

You'll go back to work at a retail Head Office and the day-to-day stresses will partly make you forget that divine connection. Although, having said that, for your first two weeks back in London, your city of birth feels dirty, very very dirty. People seem bad mannered, and over-sized.

Luckily despite working long hours Monday to Friday, you'll teach yoga every Friday night, and the satsang that is your students will keep your divine connection alive. Being a forklift to others so you can elevate them to reach the divine, is your real life's work. Retail's only detail.

What would really help you is if you could make yoga a bigger part of your life. Occasionally you do; you go to the Yoga Festival every Summer for 8 days in France, and you radiate light while there. It also provides you with an annual detox that keeps your health/weight in check. Alas this all falls by the way side when you fall in love with your newborn, and put the baby first.

You stay in retail, in Head Offices, but you eventually go into HR. Your approach to HR is yogic and intuitive. Everyone is treated as a soul, with a life's purpose. The whole approach is intuitive and it guides you well. This is where you practice and hone your skill of intuition, and working with your guides and angels, for the benefit of yourself and others. Some people can see the bigger picture, and realise the soul to soul connection. Others can't. It doesn't matter.

You give work everything. Blood sweat and tears. Even working from home throughout your maternity leave, baby on one knee, laptop on the other. Two years later work goes into liquidation and you turn the lights out for the administrators as you pack up and lock the door. You don't get over this. The workaholic who worked 60 hours a week for 24 years often getting the first train in and the last train out, is all of a sudden a SAHM. Still not a homemaker, but a SAHM!

Yeah about that. If you're a SAHM, it means you have a baby right? Yeah despite your age, you do! You have the most beautiful of pregnancies, where you connect with your child all the way through, even teaching yoga until your 38 weeks pregnant. The problem is, until now, for 6 years work had been your baby. You did such incredibly long hours, you've forgotten how to be at home. Home was just a Bed and Breakfast.

Your baby will require you to be a home maker.

So will your husband.

This will be new to you. You will struggle. You will stumble. You will fall. But I promise you dear one, that you will get through it.

When your newborn is 2 weeks old, your Mum will come to stay for 9 weeks. You need to use this time wisely, and do some yoga while she's there to help. You need to use this time to have some couple time. You need to respect that your Mum is there to help, and not let her be a mirror to your issues.

All in all, your path has twists and turns, but you stay you throughout. You never really lose yourself.

What I can tell you though is, you're going to put on a lot of weight. He will propose anyway. You will get engaged. You will set a date anyway. You only lose it, after you pick the Abbey and the date.

He loved you enough to see that the weight was just baggage - you need to remember this love, it's real.

But the weight you lose, you need to keep it off.

Putting it all back on, and more will give you health problems.

The things you will intuitively learn by yourself in 2001, despite the GP not believing you, are things you will have to learn again 13 years later. SUGAR gives you IBS, PCOS, weight, candida, gout (or plantar fasciitis), and irritability. Fat, despite what the food industry says, is not the enemy.

So, if you could remember one thing, dear one, stay away from sugar.

In the future, this will be common knowledge. You were ahead of the game in making that discovery, but you wasted your knowledge. You got lazy. You worked hard on work, and not on YOURSELF. It's because you've never been selfish. You always put others first. You really must learn to stop this.

Being a bit selfish, is not selfish. Being a martyr is a pain, as it's not a nice person for others to be with. Putting them first is never something they appreciate.

The happiest person to be around is someone who is happy themself.

So dear one, I hope that is enough advice for now. I have tried not to give you too many spoilers. I won't tell you if you have a girl or a boy, but I will tell you, not to fret about having the baby so late in life. In 2008 a Brahmin will do an astrological reading for you. Despite your age, he'll know that you don't already have kids, so things have unfolded as they are meant to.

Bye for now,
I love you,
Me xxx

I am a Legal and General customer so I am writing this post as part of the What Would You Say To Your Younger Self campaign.

Crying as I Type This - My Today Poem Penned: Naughty Boy

Oh naughty boy naughty boy 
where are you?
Right next to you Mama, 
stuck like glue.

Oh naughty boy naughty boy
is school where you'll be?
No I'm good for my teachers, 
just naughty for thee.

But naughty boy naughty boy,
You're hurting my head
I know Dear Mama,
let's play and have fun instead.

But naughty boy naughty boy
why do I see your worst?
Because Mama I love you
Till my heart's filled to burst.

But naughty boy naughty boy
Don't you know, a good boy's better for all to see
Yes Mama I know that very well, 
but you'll love me no matter how I'll be.

But naughty boy naughty boy
I can't love you, I need rest.
Because Dear Mama
I've put it to the test,

But naughty boy naughty boy
What do you mean?
I mean beautiful Mama,
I'm heard AND I'm seen.

I'm here when you wake,
I'm here when you sleep,
I'm here to give cuddles
and smile when you weep.

I might make you tired
I might make you stressed
But we both know for sure
It's me you love best!

Copyright: Liska NewMumOnline 20th September 2014

Friday, 19 September 2014

Get Yourself Off To Aldi for the Baby and Toddler Event BARGAINS - Be a Frugal Thrifty Mum

I went to Aldi yesterday for the first day of the Baby and Toddler Special Buys event. It started 18th September and will be in store until the new CYCLING event starts on 25th. As with all Special Buys "when they're gone they're gone!"

What took me there was I was sent the Baby Changing Bag to review, which is rather scrumptious and only 14.99 GBP. Here is my extensive HONEST review of it:

I was amazed by the Baby and Toddler Event bargains I saw in the Special Buys aisle. I took a photo of the things that really struck me:
Above you'll see the colour me playhouse which I VERY nearly bought but decided to be frugal instead.

I thought the sport buggy and high chair were right bargains especially given that they are known brands!

I took a pic (bottom right above you'll see linen AND duvets there) of the bedding as we are just about to decorate Aaron's bedroom, and have received delivery of his bunkbed, just waiting to get it built! With the same thing in mind, as he'll no doubt sleep on the bottom bunk at first I was also eyeing up the Lindam Safety Toddler Bed Rail (bottom left above which comes in blue and pink).

If you are a New Mum, or pregnant, I would get yourself off to your local Aldi, to the Special Buys aisle, because as always "when they're gone they're gone". They have to be gone in time for the Cycling event on 25th September which I am also reviewing, due to Aaron and I doing the #SchoolPedal every day (6 miles a day for me and 3 for him, or on football days 7 for him and 10 for me)!

While I was there I did some food shopping and everything was extremely affordable.

Disclosure: I was given a voucher to spend instore and the Changing Bag to review, for the purposes of letting you know about this SUPER Baby and Toddler Event!

I will be uploading my You Tube video of the Changing Bag very soon!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mega Bloks First Builders Pony Palace Review - Pink is NOT just for Girls

We received the Mega Bloks Pony Palace set on 28th August, so we have had some time to put it through its paces.

When it first arrived, I was busy writing a letter so my best friend played with 4 Mega Bloks' first builders sets with her son and mine. I got a few photos but that was it.

Today I got a bit imaginative, and made a little "show" of sorts with the Pony Palace to bring it alive... would you think I was weird if I said I did it alone while Aaron was at school? I thought I was doing the video for the purposes of this review, but it turned out it had a special effect on Aaron too:

After I collected Aaron from school, I couldn't wait to show him my efforts as he watches toy reviews similar to that A LOT so I knew he would be a discerning one/two man audience. Daddy wasn't so sure about it but Aaron LOVED it. I explained to Daddy that my video is PITCHED at KIDS! Their differing reactions as they watched were hilarious. All Daddy wanted to know was what accent was that I was trying to adopt. Ha! I had no idea. It was unscripted and so off the hoof, it just flowed out of me.

I then went on to make dinner, and Daddy & Aaron remained in the sitting room as I cooked. All I could hear, tonight, the whole time I cooked, was Aaron doing role play with the set, using similar stories and styles to what I'd adopted but with his own twist. He even introduced other toys to add to the scene. Daddy was GOB SMACKED and said LOOK at what watching YOUR video has achieved. 

I wasn't overly surprised as Aaron often role plays with his toys, but to be fair, until he watched my video he hadn't done so with this particular set yet. I showed him the possibilities.
Boys Can Play with Pink Toys
So dear reader it's not just about BUILDING it despite it being part of the first builders Mega Bloks aged 1-5 years range. It's also about all of the many possibilities for learning through play, once it's built.

Now that Aaron is 4 I have seen him revisit some of his baby toys and play with them in a different way. So I can well believe this is 1-5, as you can get years out of toys like this.

Aaron was more interested in the car tracks (that we also received same day from Mega Bloks to review). Look out for that blog post, if you're a boy Mum, but I am glad that my video brought this "pink" toy alive for him. It's great, as normally he's open to girl's pink things, like he LOVES Sofia, Doc McStuffins, Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom etc... As much as he loves trains, tractors and cars, he is open to playing with pretty much anything and I love that.

So back to the review itself. 

This Mega Bloks First Builders - Pony Palace set retails at 19.99 GBP and is available now. In my opinion I would suggest it provides great value for money. I have paid double that when Aaron was younger, for what was effectively a big tub of Lego Duplo, that is not themed in any way. A toy such as this has more longevity when their imagination kicks in, and they're no longer simply making colourful towers. It's a beautiful set for role play, for learning through play, and I can imagine siblings or best friends on a play-date playing with it very well.

I loved that the Princess is really snug, when pushed on the Unicorn. She doesn't fall off, even if turned upside down, whereas the block pony, if he is placed on a block, it's not such a secure connection. However the pieces are all easy to play with for cute little hands. The colours are beautiful and there are quite a few GLITTERY sparkly blocks, which I know little ones will adore.

It's a set that can be built in quite a few configurations. I did the one that is on the back of the box. That's the one you see in the video above. The front of the box is a different build. So straight away there are two ideas for the structured child like *me* but for younger ones, the possibilities are endless in terms of how they can "build" the set.

The stable doors are adorable as are the two archways.

Here's a pic:
Mega Bloks First Builders Pony Palace review

This is what Mega Bloks themselves have to say:
Let your curious, little princess discover an enchanted world with the Mega Bloks First Builders Pony Palace! Create and decorate a pretty palace and stable for Lil’ Princess and her magical unicorn and pony friends. With over 50 blocks and stickers, your little one can build a beautiful palace with tall towers and a stable with real swinging doors. When Lil’ Princess is ready for a ride, she flies with her sparkly wings to meet her animal friends with her magical pop-up tiara glittering in the sun!Ideal for ages 1 to 5.

  • One Lil’ Princess with pop-up tiara, a unicorn pony and a pony Block Buddy for lots of magical adventures
  • Magical stickers to create a colorful Lil’ Princess world
  • 50 colorful and sparkling blocks to build a pretty princess pony palace
  • Fun on its own or combined with other Mega Bloks First Builders sets
Disclosure: I was sent the full range of *new* first builders sets. So you will be seeing some more reviews like this one shortly. I am reliably informed that they are all in the new Argos catalogue so start planning Christmas now :-) 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Whole New Pizza Hut - Our Saturday Night

I must admit Pizza Hut was a big part of my life in the 1970s and 80s, maybe even 1990s but I can't remember.

I'd never come out of the cinema without going there after. Whichever decade it is I am remembering, Deep Pan was the thing. Everyone who was anyone ate deep pan. I remember seeing the Rocky movies and going to Pizza Hut in Wood Green afterwards. It was always hard choosing between pizza, pasta and salad so I always remember eating all three.

I have just done a little research on their site and it would seem that they came to the UK in 1973, and their first branch was in Islington, so no wonder I have such an affinity with them, being that I hail from North London and was born that year - check out the details on their page: Pizza Hut UK About Us.

In recent years I went all thin and crispy (if only). Rather my pizzas did, and I went over to the competition.

I made a return to good old Pizza Hut for the purposes of this review, and here Dear Reader I will tell you why you should too...
Acidic food currently drives my plantar fasciitis bonkers so I opted for the Heavenly Veg. It clearly was heavenly as no pain spike ensued. I LOVE me a bit of rocket and goat's cheese.
Heavenly Veg Pizza Hut Pizza with melted goat's cheese, black olives, cherry tomatoes, sweet caramelised onions and fresh rocket
You'll remember the days when the salad bar was only included at times when you couldn't go, or wasn't even open all of the time, well things are great now:
So, reasons I think you should go:
  • The soft drinks are unlimited.
  • The Ice Cream Factory fab and unlimited.
  • The salad bar is full, varied, tasty and unlimited.
  • The starters are SUPERB quality.
  • The service and atmosphere is warm, friendly and relaxed.
  • They have a layout that accommodates families as do the prices.
  • The price is great: we came in at 48 pounds for a family of 3.
  • If it's years since you've been (like me) you'll see that the pizzas themselves have come a long way. In terms of the ingredients, the taste and the range.
  • I love that you can choose your crust. The husband and I both opted for the stuffed crust and I am so glad I did, as it is finished with garlic and herb butter (on the outside) and is superb. Aaron got a piece of French Bread style garlic bread with his kid's meal, and wasn't satisfied so I had to order him another. While waiting for his second piece to arrive I ripped off the crust of my pizza and he ended up eating LOADS of that, as it's as good as garlic bread if not better!
I would go again, most certainly, without hesitating.

The starters were way above my expectations. The cheese is melted and stretches as you break it open. Mouth watering without being greasy. The husband's chicken was so tasty that Aaron and I grabbed one each, and again not at all greasy. They've surpassed themselves with those great starters. 

The starters meant we both had some pizza to take home in a takeaway pizza box, which actually made me chuckle as it said on the box: "Does my crust look big in this" *chortles*...

Aaron loved decorating his ice cream and mine, but then didn't want to eat it, so I had great fun ordering extra Pepsi (Pepsi was my THANG in the 80s, and as you know, at Pizza Hut is *unlimited*) so that I could make a Cola Float. After eating MY ice cream, as I wasn't going to let those smarties and delicious jelly babies go to waste (well after Instagramming them that is).
Clearly my followers love sweeties too, as that ice cream photo covered in sweets was quite popular on my Instagram feed on Saturday night. Clearly people out there with a sweet tooth.
Back to the Ice Cream or Cola Float. My cola float took me right back to the 80s.

I embarassed Daddy somewhat though, as did you know how much it fizzes and overflows??!?! No I hadn't remembered either - yummy though!

Overall I would say Pizza Hut offers the perfect night out for families - I was thoroughly impressed. 
Family meal out at Pizza Hut UK
I want to remain honest with my readers and no doubt you want to know if I had any criticisms. Honestly? I could not fault the layout, the staff, the restaurant or the food. We even left a large tip. 

They made a mistake with our main meal order and rectified it in a way that was above our expectations and they did not know I was reviewing at that point. 

My only criticism would be that although Aaron was VERY excited by the Ice Cream Factory and operated the whipped ice cream himself with my help and decorated the ice cream with sweets, he didn't want to eat it. When I asked him why, he said he didn't like the ice cream or the chocolate buttons. I ate BOTH and didn't find a problem with either of them. I don't know is he too used to Cadbury's and could tell this wasn't, or what? Daddy asked him if he would have preferred the ice cream in a cone, to which he said yes. But there you have it folks, my problems were no bigger than a fussy 4 year old.

If you would like to get a feel for Pizza Hut, then here's a video just for that purpose. Let me share our Saturday Family Meal Night Out with you:

I have a GIVEAWAY to add to this post, tonight, so if you are reading now, be prepared to come back again. Stay peeled.

Liska xxx

Disclosure: I was given a Pizza Hut voucher in order to facilitate this post and share my thoughts with you. We had a budget of 50 pounds and only spent 48, so I was pleasantly surprised by that, for all that we got!

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Week He Learned to Draw a Monster

Aaron started school Wednesday 3rd September. Those 3 days he only did 13:30 to 15:15, so I only had time to pop home, and then go back to collect him. Each day, there were puzzles and jigsaws already on the tables. Aaron would always make me watch him do 2-3 before he would let me leave, and even then I was only going to have a cup of tea. Day 1 he was so anxious about my leaving, the school allowed me to have that cup of tea IN the building. Aaron had no idea that I was the other end of the building, and it'd probably take me a full 5 minutes to get to him should he need me. But knowing I was near by, of course he didn't need me. During the 1.5 hours he was without me, he did comment to a staff member that "Mummy's been gone a bit long" and they brushed it off that I was having problems with the kettle.

As the days went on, and as we got into week 2 (where the early starts began as he was by now 08:45 to 11:45), my lie of being near by could not be maintained, as when we'd arrive home he'd seen washing on the line and say in an accusatory tone "have you been home?" to which I'd have to say "yes" - I never ever lie to him, which is one of many reasons he is very emotionally secure.

During his first full week of school - note: full week not full days (which was week 2 if you include the Wednesday Thursday Friday the week before), the teacher got him to draw a person, and he made her draw one first so he could copy it. The lack of confidence he showed was transformed once he had a point of reference. 

This was each of their efforts:
He then wanted to colour it in, and asked the teacher what colour he should use. She said "why do you ask?" to which he said "well Mummy's white and Daddy's black and B (a boy in his class) is black"... she left it to him to decide, but on collection asked me what I would have liked her to answer. I explained to her about conversations we've had as a family about colour and how he normally says when asked, that he is "white" which always tickles Daddy. When I go to correct him, Daddy silently goes "sshhh" shakes his head, as much as to say, let him choose his identity (for now). I can't even hold my arm next to him and show him that he's browner than me, as we've spent THAT much time outdoors, my tan is so good, that Aaron and I genuinely are the same colour, so no wonder he identifies with me #bless he wants to be like Mummy #melts.

Anyway, drawing has been a bit of a topic of the week, as not only did he draw that person at school (above) he also did one online, which you can see below:
I thought his coordination in doing that was fabulous.

You'll notice (as an aside) that there are FOOTBALL pics above. It's because even though he had the tiring thing of starting school and a week of early mornings, I took him to Football Club Friday evening and we even cycled there and back which was a 4 mile round trip. I have included it in the learning log capture above as he learned so many things there. Some he took to immediately, others he really struggled with, which is why he then did lots of football practice with Daddy over the weekend. That was very cute for me to watch.

The other thing he has done lots of at school are jigsaws, so all weekend he has been doing the ones we have at home, that the last couple of years have been neglected.

He's done his Gruffalo one about 50 times this weekend. You can see him hugging the finished article above, in his PJs. We were, a long time ago, sent the Gruffalo jigsaw to review by Yellow Moon. (Alas I can no longer find it on their site so can't link to it for you). He's also even done his ABC large jigsaw and is an absolute whizz at it. For the past few years it's only been me doing it and then it had been shelved.

Before the drawing with his teacher, he and I had attempted drawing a monster together. Actually now I am realising why he wanted something to copy with the teacher, as when he went all blank on me, I got a card from the Monster Game, to give him ideas. Funnily enough that game was also sent to us a long time ago by Yellow Moon.

This was what he came up with:
He named the monster himself. I was really impressed with the name of "Mr. All Eyes" as it is so articulately accurate.

He hasn't yet learned to stay on the page, so the head and eyes filled the page so much I let him spread out on to two.

When I asked what the monster does he said "scares mice, nice to Aaron" which I thought was incredibly cute.

He knew we were doing the drawing to enter a competition so after we did it, I let him look at the other entries in the gallery and he had a comment to make about each and every one. I videoed his comments but ran out of memory on my camera half way through. Here's what I managed to record (apologies for the mad baby voice he is putting on):

UPDATE - Aaron's drawing is now on that Gallery too #ProudMummy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Based on him saying that the monster is "nice to Aaron" I will be entering the comp in the Friendly Monster category. The competition is being hosted by Mattress Online.

I hope we come 1st 2nd or 3rd as I think he would be so so proud and it is the first competition he has ever entered in his little life.

Part of me is thinking that maybe I should have drawn with him more in recent years, but days-out have been more our thing. I am not at all worried though, as I know with Aaron his learning curve once he starts something is really really steep.

For example we have been on Nick Junior's website a lot in recent weeks, and he has mastered every game on there now, even the tricky ones. He has learned mouse control so swiftly, he's as good as an adult. This is way beyond the mouse control that a 2 year old exhibits when they are pressing play and pause on You Tube. This includes hand-eye coordination and drag/drop etc... So the fact that he didn't just draw a person straight off till she gave him an example doesn't worry me. Plus, if he could do everything already, he would find school boring and I wouldn't want him to not be stimulated enough. When children aren't engaged or stimulated they get bored which CAN lead to being naughty. 

Anyway, his vocabulary is fabulous, as is his ability with books.

If you'd like to enter the competition the terms and conditions can be found here: Mattress Drawing Competition Terms and Conditions.

Wish us luck.

P.S. school drop-off this morning was stressful (a) it was Monday, (b) the alarm didn't wake us so we woke 35 mins late (c) he spent ages trying on his bike helmet only to leave it at home and (d) it is his first day of full days, so he made me stay with him for 30 minutes IN the classroom and even then still cried when I left *sigh*