Monday, 1 September 2014

How To Take the Stress Out of Starting School with Lunchbox Ideas. Aged 4 and One Quarter.

LunchBox Ideas from #CapriSunSchool #CollectiveBias and NewMumOnline
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Capri-Sun/Tesco. All opinions are mine alone.
You know that song, "I've got the key, I've got the secret" well seemingly in my house I have found the key to unlock and release the stress* of starting school. The secret it now seems was a lunchbox. Which is why I want to share my Lunchbox Ideas with you. 

Who knew about the #CapriSunSchool lunchbox effect?!? I mean really, he is more excited than I have ever seen him on Christmas Day so much so that he even brought it to bed with him, and had breakfast out of it this morning.

So make time and schedule in, amongst buying the shoes (which we are yet to do by the way), buying the uniform, labelling it, etc... and make sure you have your lunchbox and its contents all in a row. Before you say it, I know that school meals are now free for this age group, but I am SO glad that I have done this anyway, for the pure excitement it has lead to, and he might not like school food anyway - he already hates the look of the tables and chairs LOL!

So here, dear readers, I share forthwith some (drum roll)

Luncbox Ideas

It's about them not you - what do they love? So this is all about the merchandise. For Aaron, at the moment, everything is about Dusty from Planes 2, but more on that in a moment.

Planes 2 Dusty Plane Zipped Lunch Bag from Tesco - Back to School

What do you love? After all, they take after you! So, on first arriving at the lunchbox section of Tesco, which was just one bay, as I wasn't in a particularly large Tesco, I went a bit tupperware crazy and had to touch and feel EVERYTHING. I picked up a rather stunning red satchel that's been reduced from 12 to 10 pounds. An amazing One Direction drink holder, and so it went on. It was like stationery lurve, but with plastic fantastic. I eventually focussed. But I might have played with these bad boys for a little too long (some customers may have needed to move me to one side a few times):

Back to school lunch box range at Tesco on the shelf
Getting it right. With a bit of me (an amazing plastic fantastic box) and a bit of him (a fab "Planes 2" Lunch Bag) I was able to arrive at the perfect combination and here's the fairy magic, they were the same colours!!! As if by magic!!! AND his first few hours of fascination were about opening and closing all the different sections, so getting a bit of what YOU like as well as what THEY like works. We created them after all :-) He had dinner out of it last night and breakfast this morning. He DID eventually focus on the Planes 2 aspect (in bed last night when he should have been sleeping) and we had to go online on my phone to name all of the characters on it (Dusty, Dipper, Blade Ranger, Windlifter, and Cabbie).

Where does Capri-Sun fit in? Well, the plastic fantastic box, only fills 80% of the bag, which leaves just enough room to pop in a Capri-Sun Fruit Crush. Marvellous. I did of course get a Planes 2 Drinks Bottle, but (1) I have had bad experience of drinks bottles (making Aaron extremely ill if not washed properly) in the past and (2) the amount of gadgetry inside it only exasperates that.
Capri-Sun Fruit Crush 3 reasons why it is healthy in a lunchbox
For hygiene reasons I think pre-packed Juice Drinks are the better Lunchbox solution - in particular Capri-Sun Fruit Crush as it is compliant with the School Food Standards (not heard of those yet - yep join the club - neither had I). By the way I provided a link there so you could fill your boots - they have been updated THIS Summer and some aspects fully come into effect January 2015. Well we're now going to be School Mums and that is ALL about compliance, so you may as well start early right? If you really want to swat up, have a look at the Childrens' Food Trust.
Fruit Crush Capri-Sun and sandwiches in your lunchbox
What about the contents? Well I must have scoured every aisle of Tesco yesterday and I kept coming back to the same thing: "What does Aaron like?" I bought him (but will not use all in the same day):
  • Grapes for FRUIT
  • Baby bells for DAIRY
  • Scotch eggs MEAT
  • Cocktail sausages MEAT
  • Carrots to chop into carrot sticks for VEGETABLES
  • Cherry tomatoes VEGETABLES
  • Tuna, sweetcorn and mayo as he recently loves eating a dollop of this with a spoon for FISH
  • Beautiful crumbed thick sliced ham for sandwich
  • Beautiful mature sliced cheddar for sandwich DAIRY
  • Novelty "bread" keeping with the *new* theme: Warburton Brown Sliced Sandwich Thins. He's never had them before, but I figured they're must easier to grab, when surrounded in kids than a floppy sandwich. Luckily, I made him a sandwich when I got in (he wanted to use the sandwich box immediately, in the garden!) and he loves them.
  • There are lunchbox ideas over on Capri-Sun's website.
Using a lunchbox as a picnic box with Sistema
I love the Sistema lunchbox, as just like Bento Boxes, you can store a whole RANGE of food in there, and anyhow I haven't got into the whole Bento Box thang yet anyway. Healthy lunchboxes include a balanced diet. Capri-Sun Fruit Crush and this box make a winning combination in my mind. I've REALLY enjoyed this shop can you tell. It's a great storage box, and like I have shown, coordinates with the bag beautifully AND fits in it, WITH a Capri-Sun Fruit Crush. Tesco calls it a Sistema Quaddie by the way if you look for it instore or online. Other retailers don't seem to stock it in the same lovely colours either.

Back to the Capri-Sun though. I found it in the soft drinks aisle, where the water also lives. I ended up having a long long chat with the member of staff there, who has looked after soft drinks for Tesco for 14 years. Love him! His old branch was about 3 aisles of drinks, but now he's in this one, with just one aisle, but as he is now 66, it's probably a good thing. It was so lovely hearing his story, I included him in my photo. Their whole family works for Tesco!

Why Capri-Sun Fruit Crush in particular as such a good choice for a healthy lunchbox?:

Capri-Sun Fruit Crush 200ml·         ‘Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is made with 75% Fruit Juice and 25% Spring Water‘
·         ‘Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is 100% compliant with the School Food standards’
·         ‘Every pouch of Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is 1 of your 5 a day’
·         ‘Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is available in 3 delicious flavours: Apple & Blackcurrant, Apple & Pear, Tropical‘
Great long serving personnel in Tesco
He runs the soft drink aisle as if it's his own corner shop. Knowing what sells, what needs stocking up, etc... Noticing what the shifts before his did and didn't do. He doesn't stand all day talking to customers. Not at all, he's very busy and focused on replenishment. The reason we spoke was because the first 2 or 3 Capri-Sun Fruit Crushes on the shelf were in wet boxes. They only had one flavour out of the 3 available as Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is popular. I have worked myself in retail for 24 years so I know retail is detail so I said to him your computer will be wondering why they are not selling. Those first 3 need taking away. He was very grateful for the information so I shared that I was there to write about Capri-Sun and Tesco so he agreed to be in my photo :-) Top man!

* The stress I mentioned at the start of this post was that Aaron didn't want to go to big school 5 days. Somehow he worked out that nursery was 3 days and school is 5 days and he has been fixated on that all Summer, to the point where, even if he just overheard someone talking about school he'd announce in a wining voice "do I have to go to big school?" "Do I have to go five days?"... We had that all Summer so we'd have to keep changing the subject and he wouldn't even cycle passed it. Going passed on the bus he wouldn't look out the window.

NOW, thanks  to a lunchbox, he cannot wait to start school and it looks a bit like this:
Starting school in September 2014
If you love all things Capri-Sun then please take a look at Tesco's School Shop After School Capri-Sun Competition.

So thank you so much for choosing me for this shop #CollectiveBias. I have my cheerful son back. He'll start school with a spring in his step, as he should. Just like I did, all those years ago. I wonder what was on my lunchbox. Daddy reckons his was Starwars.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Eczema and Being Kind to Baby's Skin when Washing Baby Clothes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  
When my bundle of joy popped out (literally,  thanks to a C-section but after 18 hours of active labour), he was gorgeous, with lips that looked like a dark pink rose bud. Daddy got to hold him first and I lovingly gazed on. Aaron having sensitive skin was not something I had given thought to before he was born, but I guess you should always expect that a child will inherit something from one or both parents.

From the minute we started trying to conceive, my health and the knock on effect it would have on his, as his carrier for 9 months, was always my first concern. So alcohol, aspartame, caffeine, etc... they were all ditched!

Once home, post-birth, every time that he wanted to be held, he was held. My Mum was with us for 9 weeks, and had an old school approach of "put him down or you'll create a rod for your own back" but I had read a book that explained the first 3 months were like a 4th Trimester, so I held him every time he wanted Mummy, hence I got very into baby wearing, carrying him in a sling, often doing so even for his afternoon nap (like on holidays in Ireland where he did not have a cot - we didn't start co-sleeping till he was 6 months).

I practiced most elements of attachment parenting, but only when they came natural to me, or intuitively something felt like the right thing to do. Like for example I could never let him "cry it out" or even do controlled crying. It didn't surprise me at all when I later read up on the research about the neurological damage that can occur when a baby's crying is ignored.

I often forget how bad baby Aaron's eczema was within those first precious few weeks of his life. So bad in fact that it was on his face! If it wasn't for photos I would rely on memory which would say he only had it on wrists, ankles and the back of his knees. 
Truth be told he was born in June 2010, and very early on and in July 2010 his face was covered. Moisturising daily helped with the soreness and dryness. It did not alleviate the redness. Daddy simply thought he had inherited his eczema.  I don't have too many photos of it as my tendency was to take flattering photos, but you can see it above - it was sometimes worse than that. The facial eczema cleared instantly however, as soon as I changed him to dairy free formula (I was combination feeding, so he had top-up bottles due to my low milk supply). The reflux and colic also cleared up pretty much immediately. It was these and not the eczema that prompted me to go dairy-free with his formula, so the side-effect that the eczema almost cleared was a bonus. I didn't get GP or Health Visitor advice regarding the milk - I just worked on gut instinct - forgive the pun! But I think as Mums we often do. 

For the first year or two he continued to suffer on his body as described above (legs and arms), but mildly. I later addressed this by ceasing using softener when washing baby clothes an actually in general doing the laundry. The difference was instantaneous. I got this tip from Twitter funnily enough.

However, I later used a different washing/laundry detergent and he got a really bad flare up, all over, so I changed to a market leading non-bio. Until recently I thought they were the only brand gentle on baby's skin.

However, I have now discovered Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure.

Yes, this product is a #CollectiveBias #Shop, but so protective of Aaron's skin am I, I bought Persil non-bio BEFORE applying for the shop, to test if it was for me! I wasn't going to be work on something that would be harmful to Aaron in any way. So the capsules you see photographed below, I bought prior to this "shop".

I've now used all of the products, and with the addition of the Comfort Pure the smell on laundry day is fabulous. For me I need incentives to do laundry. A blue sky (such as there is today) is welcome, as it means you know you can get it all dry - naturally! The feeling I get when the laundry is up-to-date, folded and put away is second to none. It really helps if it all smells great too. Products that are sensitive are of particular importance given that Daddy suffers from eczema too, so it is a family priority to get this right!
(Aaron's reaction above was when I told him his best friend and mine - Mum Husband & Son - were coming  for 3 days - they are here now).

Tommy's Charity has teamed up with Asda to do an onpack promotion on Persil Non-Bio and Comfort Pure. When I did my shop the stock was not in yet, but a very helpful team member checked with his Section Manager who said the stock is on "shipping" and they are expecting it. They know about the #Mums4Tommys campaign.

Persil non-bio and Comfort pure will donate a total of £100,000 to Tommy’s (registered charity no. 1060508, SCO39280) to support their research into the prevention of miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths.

Tommys are such a great charity. I have absolutely no personal experience of the above (touch wood) but I can only imagine how much support I would need and therefore respect their work and their cause so so much.

The member of staff who helped me, when I was trying to find the promotion/display was very understanding and let me take a pic of the aisle where you can find the product
Aaron has had diarrhoea since Friday night (a reaction to handling a hamster); he had the option to stay in the car with Daddy, but opted to stay close to Mummy, so came food shopping with me. I tucked him safely in the trolley as I knew he was too weak to be walking around or to do his normal RUNNING around. Quite early on in the shop he fell asleep. Today Thursday 28th August he finally seems like his normal self and has his full appetite back.

Comfort Pure is in the neighbouring aisle, in a rainbow of coloured products that you cannot miss. There is an adjacent computer which happened to have a helpful staff member on it
Like with food, it is often the products without colouring that are the least harmful.

Since becoming a Mum out of all the household chores that I now do more of, laundry has to be my absolute favourite. It's a task where you can really see progress. NOTHING I love more than knowing the laundry is up-to-date, smelling wonderful, all folded and neatly put away. The last few days have seen a grey sky, but so happy was I that the rain stopped, I made sure I used the breeze/dryness to get our clothes dry. Thankfully today there's a beautiful blue sky.
I am the sort of person who would normally have a laundry "day" but the weather is currently (since August's arrival) so hit and miss, so wet, that literally you do a wash whenever you can, whenever there is a day that looks like you can get it dry!

Today, Aaron's finally on the mend, and has his best friend here for 3 days, which means I have mine too, as she is his Mum. We're both delighted to see them. Although I can't forget how ill he has been this week. Often times falling asleep on the sofa like below, despite growing out of afternoon naps a long long time ago, although these have been all late evening ones. 
It's been a tough week, with lots of cuddles, but it means I have been able to snuggle in to that sensitive skin, and have quality sofa time with my boy which is particularly poignant given that he STARTS SCHOOL next week. Days spent on the sofa will be a thing of the past. So maybe this "sick" time was a blessing in disguise. Time to nurture and connect with my son before he heads off for 14 years of compulsory state education *gulps* - no we can do this! I do still need to get his polo shirts though (I have all other items of school uniform) but at least I have new products to keep them smelling beautiful. Ooops I just remembered we have not bought his SHOES yet. We bought the branded (logo) items from school on the last day of term, so I had previously felt ahead of myself. Time now this weekend to get back on track ready for 3rd September *sniffs*

Back to this shop... for us, Persil non-bio and Comfort Pure are a winning combination; more information can be found here: "We're Number 1 for Sensitive Skin".

Friday, 22 August 2014

Trying to Turn Back the Years - Investigating Microdermabrasion

I am at an age now – 41 – where I am starting to care about my appearance, or should I say fret about my appearance. Up to now makeup was not a necessity as I’ve always been blessed with good skin, but I am starting to lose the age battle.
I am currently reading up on Microdemabrasion as this is a treatment that claims to “renew a fresh young looking glow to your skin” which is exactly what I am missing and desire.
I know I don’t drink enough water and my diet is currently bad to say the least, but with age on top of that I am losing the beauty battle, and not quite ready to embrace my senior years yet *sniff*. Plus 40 is the new 30 no?
Microdermabrasion purports to be “plastic surgery without the plastic” which suits me just fine as I am completely terrified of knives/needles and really any kind of medical intervention. Yes labour was interesting to say the least, and don’t even go there with their examinations to see how dilated I was!!!
I think of the treatments listed I would go for Face and Neck from £70

I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I have never suffered from acne, at all, not even during my teen hormonal years. However if it is something that plagues you – I know adults suffer from it too then have a look at this clearskin challenge 

“The microdermabrasion technique works with microcrystals, which are hard enough to disrupt unwanted tired skin cells that cause dull looking skin. But small enough not to do any damage or even cause discomfort or pain. The technique involves propelling the microcrystals across the skin's surface, removing only the top layer of skin cells. This technology reveals new, living cells leaving a healthy glow. The epidermal layers of the skin are rejuvenated leading to collagen production and plumper skin.

Microdermabrasion is a progressive procedure. After the first session your skin will feel softer and you may see a very subtle improvement. Generally a course of sessions is required to gain visible improvement. Your skin however will improve with additional treatments as increased circulation is noted within the dermis and newer, healthier skin cells are produced”.
All interesting info sourced from sk:n clinics Microdermabrasion 

Call 0121 5678 360 

if you have any questions

What I love about the sound of it, is that there are no artificial or even natural substances injected – I for one would never go for botox for example. The treatment removes dead and tired cells (I wonder if I would have any left ha ha)! Your body then does the regeneration to replace them with younger looking vibrant skin.

It sounds like just the ticket for me actually.

The best bit is that there is no pain or discomfort apparently.

Have you ever suffered from acne? Or like me, are you just starting to notice the tracks of age on your face? I know stressful periods cause me to look older and relaxing with lots of beauty sleep often turns back the years. What's your story? Shall we fight the turning of the years together?

This post is a collaboration. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Time To Relax

Wow it's good to have some quality time with Daddy and Aaron, today, after acting like a clucky Mother Duck to Aaron and his cousins for the past fortnight.

Home seems empty but in a calm way, not a bereft way. Even Aaron seems to be "chilled" rather than lonely. As usual it is because he always taps into and feeds off my mood. I should try to remember that when I am stressed.

Ooooh here he comes... maybe I won't get to finish this blog post after all. We plan on "Aaron's bed" shopping today. We don't need to get a mattress thank goodness as I will be reviewing this one: Dormeo Memory Deluxe when it arrives.

It's amazing how you only feel tired when you stop. Up until now I was running on adrenaline, but now my body has said "hey Lady, time to slow down" and I am listening. I have to. My energy reserves are depleted.

As much as it was tough being a Mum to Four lately I did occasionally get chance to sit down
And it wasn't always in barefeet 
I have such bad plantar fasciitis that putting my feet up sometimes was a necessity, unless I want to be on Ibuprofen every hour of every day!

A bit of a sort out, when I was doing more cooking and cleaning than I ever have in my life - 33 meals in 11 days x 5 - meant I came across a box of dishes that we got 13 years ago as a wedding present. I really love them. A lot of breakages in recent years meant I didn't have a complete matching set of anything so this is great. Long may they last. Washing up is a bit of a novelty whilst I have these (all in one piece).
At Lollibop I even got chance to sit and have a coffee - thanks for a great chilled out stand Vita Co Co for Kids.
The great thing about being surrounded in little people is that there is always a photographer onhand so I am not just limited to selfies :-)
So bye for now, and wish me luck bed shopping. Sorry I have not blogged as often lately, but I've been busy busy busy.

Liska xxx

Friday, 15 August 2014

Lollibop 2014 Review

So we went to Lollibop 2014 at Hatfield House today. ALL you need to know is that it is WAY better than last year in each and every way!

We went Friday, but if you are going in the next 2 days, here's what you need to know.

If you arrive by train
We (and people we met) did a bit of a silly thing. We found out the train goes from Kings Cross to Hatfield, so just assumed we'd need to travel to Kings Cross. You don't tend to plan your journey when you're a Londoner as you know your stuff right? Wrong. Train ended up going through Finsbury Park, which we'd already been through 30 minutes beforehand on the tube (London Underground). Given that we left home 90 minutes later than planned, we could have done with this time.

Your arrival may look a little like this:
Minus Natalie Cassidy, unless of course, she is there again.
The gates to Hatfield House are right opposite the station - just cross the road. But the walk begins once in. It's a beautiful walk if you can enjoy it and are not running late.
The walk once in the grounds is longer than we'd expected, but was incredibly picturesque. A 2 year old may get tired but a 4 year old won't. It's a very buggy friendly walk.

The signage from station to event is great as are the Olympic style meeter and greeters. They seem to have thought of everything.

Getting in
As you can see in the pics above there was NO queue to get in. This was FABULOUS. Do put your wrist bands on before you get there (if you're a blogger etc)... But then again the weekend will be busier than it was today. 

There is a pic above of the orange wristbands. Do make use of these on arrival. You basically write your name and phone number on them in case your littlies get lost. I told them what was on there, so that they were armed to know themselves what to do. Aaron totally got it, which was so cute!

Planning your day Vs going with the flow
Do what you will, but we had some surprises. We started by queuing to have our photo taken with Thomas (and beforehand with the Fat Controller):

After a few hours we realised we had remained in this zone of the festival, having just done ACTIVITY FIELDS which consists of:
  1. Thomas & Friends area (which is more than one stand, which includes one with toys to play with - Aaron sat and played with Thomas with a member of staff for what seemed like ages)!!!
  2. Baby Ballet where we spent LOTS of times and I got tears in my eyes watching my Aaron dance whilst videoing him. Fab fun in there. Girls loved it too.
  3. Lego Duplo (which includes toys to play with AND animate and even lego to take home - ice cream or giraffe)!!!
  4. Tottenham Hotspur.
My twinkle toes - a wee dancer in the making:
We then realised we ought to move on to see more of the Festival, but we first went to the DISCOVERING ZONE where we got stuck for 90 minutes at:
  1. The Nintendo area (all of us for a while) as you get stickers at each area in there and there is a fab slide. 99% of the Nintendo staff are bubbly and passionate gamers. They even let me charge my phone - thanks Scott. Once my nieces got bored they hopped and skipped to...
  2. The River Island stand where you get to design/create your own t-shirt, which is provided free of charge. Absolutely a MUST DO. There's a shop there too.
Aaron would not leave the Nintendo area as he was comfortably sitting on bean bags playing Pokemon on a Nintendo 3 DS. I kept saying, "when the girls come back you have to" but they were gone a total of 90 minutes including queuing and design.

This member of staff is such a passionate Nintendo gamer he had two of his own consoles in his pockets:
This is the map - study it:

Once we realised it was 16:00 and we'd only seen a quarter of the festival (NOT including the main stage) we made a mad dash there, just in time to see Lazy Town who were awesome, as was the main man Sportacus himself. He got the crowd rocking, as did the girls - I do have footage which I will have to upload when not so tired.

And my video as of 24th August is finally live - hooo haaah

Actually I tell a lie, on our way to the main stage we got distracted by a "kitchen tent" (I think it is the Lolli Kitchen) where the kids hopped in and decorated gingerbread men, only so that they could eat them after - they really enjoyed covering them. I got a bite of each creation and they actually WERE really really yummy:

We planned to grab some proper food after this, but ended up meandering over to the Vita Co Co stand where we actually spent the remainder of our day.

We'd meant to just go there to kill time till Sam and Mark came on at 17:20 but ended up rooting ourselves there.

I bought a box of 4 Vita Co Co for Kids there for only 2 pounds and knew they'd be great as I have previously reviewed them.
Knocking over things in a coconut shy there was the highlight of Aaron's day as he "won" a frisbie.  There's also a fab SANDPIT there which is surrounded in BEACH BUM deckchairs which my arse was VERY grateful for indeed. So instated was I there, that I even went and got a coffee and came back. We were amazed that they ALSO had a t-shirt design area, also with the tee provided, so there we stayed. This meant Aaron also got in on the tee design action. The girls kept running over to Yo Yo Bear from there, so we were munching on their alphabet cereal (which was complimentary) - we already knew we loved it from the Planes 2 movie Gala Screening in Leicester Square where they had some on every seat in the auditorium.

So HAD I planned the day, it would have involved seeing some more of the main stage acts, and would have involved going to some of the food stands, making sure we visited each and every region of the festival.

As it was, we didn't get near a disco I heard people saying great things about. I used far too much memory and charge at Baby Ballet which was totally unexpected but so worth it.

I never knew I had a gamer in my son, so would not have planned to get stuck at Nintendo.

What I guess I am saying is, when you get inside do study the map which they give to you complimentary on arrival (unlike the expensive lanyard from last year), but don't be too rigid with it.

The vibe is SO chilled, it does not lend itself to being rigid.

My wristbands said Blogger Friday - if yours are similar, you won't get access to the Press/VIP area, be warned. Unless they relax the rules for Saturday/Sunday OR you get a different Security Guard to me LOL!

We were one of the last to leave at gone 1800 and there was hardly anyone left for that last hour. Saturday and Sunday may not be like that, but if they are don't follow the crowd. Enjoy the vibe and linger like we did. Even once outside the perimeter of the venue, we put out our rug and enjoyed the grounds of Hatfield House. My tired son and nieces were LITERALLY doing cartwheels, and sitting on the rug drinking Capri-Suns from my picnic hamper, wanting to linger in the beauty of the energy of the day - nobody in a rush to leave. We left the grounds at 1900! We even found a swing  in the trees!!!

If you don't have tickets, they are 20 online, 25 on the door, per person, regardless child/adult. It IS incredibly worth it. SO much free stuff including face painting which Aaron never does but my nieces LOVED. In a society where we are used to paying for every ride etc... it is a joy to spend a day without putting your hand in your pocket. I think my coffee and the Vita Co Co for Kids are the only things I bought ALL day, which just doesn't happen when you take 3 children out. It did help that we had chilled drinks and snacks in the picnic hamper.

We came home ravenous to a beautiful dinner made by Grandma and 3 children went to sleep incredibly content and happy.

By the way there is a water station, with chilled gushing drinking water, so if water is your thang, bring some, and refill your bottles free of charge. See I told you you don't have to put your hand in your pocket
There is a large "food" area, but we did not buy any. You'll struggle to find it on the map - even now I can't pinpoint it having been there today, but it's easy to spot once you do get walking around the whole festival. Not far from Vita Co Co at all.

My only regret is that there is a stand selling alcohol and I never got there despite fancying a beer and enjoying one last year. It's in disguise with the word Creche above the stand, but there it is, and I heard tales of people drinking Pimms - yummy!!!

My only OTHER regret is that we never got to see Titan and we SO enjoyed him last year.

We had NO interest in meeting Justin (Mister Tumble) hence our going Friday when he is not on the programme. I do like Friday though as it is lovely and relaxed. I am interested to hear whether Saturday Sunday will be way busier in comparison.

I will pad this post out, but for now, I must leave it there, as I was up at 7 a.m. after 2 hours sleep and it is now 02:12. I will backdate this post to 15th August so that me saying "today" makes sense.

Night night xxx

That's us for another year:

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Goodbye Cousins Hello Lollibop

Today Aaron's 3 cousins will have been staying with us for 11 days. He will be devastated that they are going home, BUT all is not lost, as two of them will come to Lollibop with us and the timing could literally NOT be better. He says goodbye to the cousin holiday and then hello the very next day to Lollibop. He literally hasn't stopped talking about it since last year (my Lollibop 2013 review is here) so he is not even focusing on their holiday coming to an end, but rather on the fact that Lollibop is imminent. Like the European Yoga Festival used to be the highlight of MY year pre-Motherhood it seems that Lollibop (and his birthday and Xmas) is now the highlight of his!

A few months ago when I told him it was Summer, the FIRST thing he said to me was "does that mean we are going to Lollibop?" - so cute! I am so happy for him his long wait is over. Bless him!

He has looked at the programme with me so is now telling me, that Thomas will be there (I am not sure in what capacity). Actually scrap that, I found the information RE: Thomas and Friends on the Lollibop website so am clued up now.

He's also really looking forward to seeing Titan!

His favourite thing by far last year was Little Tikes so I am glad that they are to be there again.

I am over the moon that there is to be a Pom Bear picnic area as (1) they are our favourite crisps and (2) we ARE planning on bringing a picnic in my gorgeous wicker hamper basket. We've used it every day during the cousins' holiday and they have specifically requested already that I take it to Lollibop.

Last year he spent a lot of time in the Lego area:

The hoodie he is wearing above is because it was windy and rained the day we went last year. I am so pleased it is predicted to be sunny/dry all day this time. What was odd though, was after that Autumnal weather we got a late second (August) heatwave, and the paddling pool that I have stored away came back out. I hope it happens again. Too much rain of late!

What amazed me the MOST last year was that he saw the above "Jake lego boat" at Lollibop last year, and asked me for it. I said "for Xmas" and every day from that to December he kept saying that Santa was bringing him a Jake Lego Boat. Given the amount of TV he watches and the number of toy adverts he thus sees I thought he would change his mind in four months, but no, he stayed steadfast, and I (on behalf of Santa) did get him the whole set. Daddy added lots of other things like a Spiderman costume etc... but he was happy.

I wonder what will be the most memorable aspects of THIS Lollibop. No doubt with his cousins with him, he will have a ball. My niece is already looking forward to the dance area: Baby Ballet.

I love that it is in a better venue this year: Hatfield House (it looks BEAUTIFUL), and that the prices are more reasonable. 20 pounds a head, whereas last year it would have been 115 for just Daddy, me and Aaron to attend. It's great that our feedback on last year's venue was considered and acted upon - I love a company that listens to its customers!

It's now 2:45 a.m. so if I have any hope of being rested in time for the excitement that is Lollibop I best get myself to bed.

Disclosure: I will be reviewing Lollibop 2014 and therefore have been issued wristbands gratis.