Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Mummy and Me August 2016 Edition

I joined in with Mummy and Me in June 2016 and since then have been looking forward to joining in once again. 

I entered the Summer holidays with a little trepidation. My first 6 weeks school holidays with TWO children, but it's actually been easier rather than harder with two, as Lottie has had SUCH a positive effect on Aaron. When she was first born he was getting a little too grown up. Saying he'd outgrown all of his cute TV shows, calling everything "boring" and having too much screen time, but it's like Lottie has made him playful again. He's extra silly and extra fun and to be fair they've both been such great company that I can honestly say that come Monday 5th September I will miss his little self LOTS when he enters Year 2 of school (which is his 3rd year when you include Reception).

From our wonderful Summer holidays, thankfully August is a month where I have plenty of "Mummy and Me" pics to choose from, some of them are even professional. We went for a family photo shoot, with Bumpkins, something I'd booked all the way back at The Baby Show at which point Lottie was in my tummy. We'd actually planned on a family shoot for 6 years since Aaron came along. I'm so very glad we procrastinated and never got round to it as it means that Lottie is in the pics. I'd feel like ones of just the 3 of us would be out of date now, so I am thrilled we waited albeit that it wasn't on purpose.
I know only too well though, that ordinarily it is easy to go through your camera or your phone and find no pictures that you yourself are in. As Mums and bloggers we all too often view life from behind the camera lens. As recently as yesterday Lottie was in her best dress and I got a fab picture of her with Daddy. You can see it here although Daddy is cropped out. Later I was like hang on, we can't go to bed, us both dressed up, without a pic of Lottie and Mummy so I made it happen, gave Daddy the camera and went in the garden before it was too late (or dark LOL). One of the reasons being it's the first time in 2016 that I've worn heels - I love these sandals I don't know why I have neglected them all Summer. I'm a loon! We were both dressed up yesterday (although getting up at 5 and leaving at 7 means I didn't put on any makeup) as Lottie had a photo shoot. Yep she was a baby model yesterday. I'm so very very proud of her. You'll be excited too when I can show you the pics, or direct you to their location when they're online. I'm beyond thrilled about it, for so many reasons. You star Lottie. You were SUCH a good girl yesterday and your darling brother who is so good to you, was so patient, saying his Charlotte was busy being a "muddle". Oh he does make me laugh so. We'll have to forgive him that he woke you up.
The pic that for me will always represent Summer 2016 is this one below from 9th August. It's only a selfie taken on my phone camera but I just love it. The kids adore being with their cousins and it was a wonderful day out. The trip on the Thames AND the fabulous time we had in Greenwich's National Maritime Museum. I vlogged the day, although as there was hours of footage it is mainly the Thames trip and I will try and edit the Museum footage as soon as I get a spare moment. I have lots of outstanding vlogs to publish to be honest. Don't be put off by it being 36 minutes as the content is so interesting.

Me and Aaron even made a Vlog for Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons and Channel Mum over the holidays, which was a dream come true as I've wanted to work with Channel Mum for the longest time. Daddy loves watching back the footage of Aaron and I. You too can make a Memory Lane with Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons by clicking here.
There are of course lots of days out where I forget to get pics of me and my kids (Mummy and Me) :-( and one of those was the International Balloon Fiesta. We were sumptuously and comfortably hosted there in the member's enclosure by Red Letter Days. There were several other bloggers who could have got a pic for us, if I'd only thought to ask, but alas this is the only one I have, below, despite personally taking hundreds of pics and video. As you can see it is only Charlotte and I as Aaron was busy playing with Jane's son. They played so well for 8 hours straight. But huge thank you to The Owlet for taking this photo - very unusual that my smiley baby is not smiling:

I'm linking up with Life Through My Eyes; click the button below to join in too:

Nicola... Life Through My Eyes



Summer is Over and So is The Expense

So Summer 2016 is done although you wouldn't know it from the glorious weather we're still having and the blue skies that keep being posted by everyone on Instagram. It might turn out to be like 2014 where Aaron didn't wear a jacket to school until after November began. Very unlike 2015 where he was already wearing one in September. When he started reception 2014 so many kids were in Summer school uniform. The leaves already on the ground though are an indication that even though Autumn is not yet here, Fall, quite literally, begins regardless. The Americans have got it right calling it that.

The back to school bits and bobs are sorted in this house, despite Aaron not starting back till Monday 5th September. I bought all of Aaron's black trousers, white polos AND red sweaters in Aldi before he even broke up from Year 1 this July, as they have school uniform on Special Buys just for one week or as long as it lasts. So it forced me to be organised. In fact, a few of us hopped on the bus straight from the school run and had what felt like first pickings. I got all three things all in the right sizes and was chuffed. The quality seems exceptionally good too but only wear and tear will see the proof in the pudding. 

I purposefully didn't get shoes in July. Everyone says "their feet may grow in the Summer!" Blimey, they're so right. He's been a size 13 for well over a year I think (since January 2015 I can now see thanks to blogging his January school shoes age 4 when I realised one pair doesn't last a whole school year) and when we went shopping today I asked to borrow the foot measure and he's now grown to a size 1. It's a big milestone actually after 4 sizes in double figures he is now into a shoe size in single figures and only 5 sizes smaller than me! Awwww. Feels like a threshold into growing up.
I was thoroughly happy with the price. £22 and they're real leather. Skechers wanted £35 for synthetic uppers despite them having a Back To School Sale sign in their shop window. Turns out it was 30% off a second pair. No, I buy the 2nd pair circa January NOT now!

Another thing sorted today as well as buying the above shoes is that I dropped his red sweaters into a school Mum friend who sews the school badge logo on. Saves the cost of buying the official red sweater from the school office. £1 versus £8 and considering I have four that's a huge saving. Granted, some of that saving will go on reimbursing her for her time, but it's still a frugal saving to be had. Plus ironically the school ones are not great quality despite the price. They have a label of a decent brand in them, but neither wear nor wash well. I've learned that lesson two years ago not to be learned again. They're not at all colour fast.

So, with the cost of keeping kids entertained, fed and watered for the 6 week school holidays and then the cost of school uniform (reduced thanks to Aldi purchases), it's no wonder this feels like a time of belt tightening similar to January after the splurge of Christmas. We haven't had the cost of an overseas holiday to contend with, but I am a stay at home Mum so my extravagant days are well and truly behind me. Plus, 6 weeks being a children's entertainer means less "working from home" paid work gets done which worsens the problem.

Thankfully spending time in the garden is free :-)
I've blogged in the past about how I didn't have a baby until I had cleared all of my debt: When Credit is History. Loans and credit cards, not the mortgage obviously. So I am not about to endorse any kind of debt. We've seen globally since 2008, that anything other than responsible lending literally gets the whole world in trouble. So I only buy something when I can afford it, which is why I was so thrilled this year to be sponsored to go to BritMums Live otherwise it would have been the first of five that I'd not attended. Until I catch up with my work and things are back on an even keel the only thing that would be a problem is unexpected costs or an emergency. We have a new tumble dryer and a new fabulous 10kg washing machine, so I guess the only thing that would see us come unstuck would be car related OR given that I cancelled our subscription for boiler cover any breakdowns in that arena with the cold snap on the way would also be problematic with a baby in the house. I hate compound interest (long term loans) or withdrawing money against the property (equity withdrawal) so it'd have to be something like a short term loan to see us through. Vivus has the parameters that the loan is £100 to £500 and payable within 10 to 41 days, to see one through until pay day. The first loan they say is half price as they are a lender not a broker and as I'd see it as a one-off that'd be appreciated. It's not something, touch wood, we've ever had to do thus far though.

I've saved ALL of Aaron's stuff since 2010 for our "second baby" but now we're sure she's a girl ha ha, like she has been in the flesh for 7 months now, I'm tempted to sell all of his "boy" stuff. Don't get me wrong, anything and everything that could remotely be unisex or for a tomboy I am keeping but there are already things I can certainly turn into cash, not that I have ever sold a thing on EBay or Gumtree in my life, but even at my 43 years of age, surely I am not too old to start.

Anyway I plan to make this final quarter of the year one of prosperity - I have my plans. I just need to be self-focused, disciplined and set some goals. Instead of just drifting.

Collaboration post.

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Street Art Where The Wall Tour and Colour that inspired Aaron to #HartleysYourLunchbox

Hartley's Jelly via BritMums sent us two of their lunchbox portable jellies (Jelly Pots) and a gorgeous yellow lunchbox. It came in very handy yesterday when we went on a Street Art Tour and I knew my lil Aaron would get nibbly and restless along the way.

He did. His lil on-the-go pit-stop assisted by Daddy, who did this all whilst pushing a buggy (I love him having a few days off work):
The jelly is the perfect portable pudding as it has a lid, is sweet and is lovely and cool for this hot weather we've been lucky enough to get. Don't forget to pack a spoon. I did remember thankfully. Yes, as you can see in the photo it was a proper spoon, from my £40 John Lewis cutlery set, but what can I say, I left the house in a hurry and it was grabbable. We'd been up since 7:20 and on a Sunday on a bank holiday weekend I'm not normally a morning person. Scrap that! I'm never a morning person, so yes, back to school is going to be VERY interesting to say the least, but thankfully Aaron has school dinners. So, me trying to be organised to pack a lunchbox is something that only happens on days out. Actually that's not entirely true as I meet him with one every day after school as he always comes out ravenous and won't walk home till he's eaten something. Me meeting him with a full on lunchbox at 3:15 is something we did for the whole of Reception and Year 1 and I can't see it stopping now as we enter year 2, so yes, you may see this lunchbox again :-)

The lunchbox and jelly got delivered to us with 2 sheets of stickers so yesterday over breakfast Aaron personalised it before we even went out:
Truth be told, before using the box yesterday, he'd actually already had one of the jellies when he took it for a picnic with Rachel in Real Life's lil man "Cheeky Chap" the other day at the park. But at that point he hadn't got his mitts on the stickers yet so his name wasn't yet on the box :-)
Although I have a feeling that the urge to go on the bouncy castle with Cheeky Chap saw him not finish it.

But yesterday after a 2.5 hour Street Art Tour walk I think he was more than ready for his lunchbox and didn't have the temptation of another child there to run off and play with.
More information on this Street Art on Instagram.

So our Street Art Tour finished at The Canteen - the location of Banksy's famous Mild Mild West - by which point Aaron was so inspired by all of the art he'd been looking at all morning, he sat down and decorated his lunchbox with Daddy unprompted whilst he recuperated from the long walk. He was such a good boy throughout the tour I was really proud of him. While they did this, I got to listen, along with the other bloggers, to the founder of Where The Wall talk about the origins of his tours and how/why they started. I was humbled by his approach to the artists. Very inspiring, authentic and genuine. A lovely morning.

Once he'd decorated his box he tucked into his sandwiches (ACTUALLY the photo below jogs my memory he ate his jelly FIRST) and yes they were in tinfoil. No glamorous bento box lunch box here sorry. It was practical and convenient and tasty. By the time I fitted in sandwiches and crisps and jelly our lil box was full.

My tips for lunchboxes would be:

  1. Pack what they love. You want them to eat it. Aaron's favourite sandwich is ham and cheese. I make this more nutritious by ensuring it is good ham and good cheese. None of that square processed reformed ham and none of that orange burger rubbery cheese. It may be Aldi's finest but the ham and cheese are good. I then add hummus which is fabulous as it contains CALCIUM. What Google says about hummus: One of the healthier options for dips is hummus, a Middle Eastern dip made with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini (sesame seed paste). It provides you with protein and a number of essential vitamin and minerals, and while it can be high in fat, it is mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Lifehack.org even makes the point that: "Hummus is gluten-free nut free and dairy free". It's also great for bones which means it's fab for growing children especially when they have growth spurts and growing pains (I'm not a medical or nutritional expert but that's my opinion).
  2. Make sure they love their box. That's why I love that this one came with stickers that included letters which means you can personalise it. For kids who have a packed lunch at school anything that is a talking point with their friends is a big thumbs up.
  3. A healthy pudding. There are schools that will take some puddings out of a child's lunchbox. The dinner ladies will literally do this quoting the school's healthy eating policy. As these jelly pots are sugar free I can't see there being a problem. For a dairy free child they're a great alternative to yoghurt and lunchboxes aren't left in a refrigerated place between the start of school and lunch so my money would be on jelly surviving that time better than yoghurt. Warm yoghurt? Yuk!!!!
  4. Include some fruit. Yesterday we had two bananas with us and given that they come already wrapped they're so easy as long as you don't let them get bruised. Aaron didn't touch them so Daddy and I benefited but they really are a superb way to replace lost energy.
  5. Easy clean. The Hartley's box is plain and simple with no fabric or nooks and crannies meaning it is delightfully easy to wash and keep clean. Hygienically clean!
So that's me. Plain and simple. I've never learned how to do one of those amazing arty types of lunchboxes and thankfully Aaron's never seen one so doesn't ever expect one. As long as he's in the dark on that score it's convenience and speed out the door for me :-) but we do mix it up. Some days it'll be grapes he'll want. BUT the ham and cheese sandwich has been a much loved staple for a couple of years now. Kids do sometimes have something that they won't be moved from. He'll regularly change his breakfast cereals but the good old favourite sandwich seems here to stay.
If you would like to get involved there is a blogger's competition but today is the deadline/closing date for entries.

If you would like to participate as a customer:

In store from July onwards, Hartley’s will offer consumers the chance to collect 12 special edition green lids from across the No Added Sugar Jelly Pots (115g), to claim a free Hartley’s lunchbox and stickers.
Consumers can claim their exclusive lunchbox by heading to the Hartley’s website www.hartleysfruit.co.uk. Each one comes complete with a sticker sheet of Hartley’s much loved characters and a sticker alphabet for children to personalise their lunchbox.
This post is an entry for BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge, sponsored by Hartley's Jelly.

Friday, 26 August 2016

My Tree of Life for Johnson's Baby Wipes Messy Play Activity

I was sent a messy play paint kit by Johnson's Baby so that we could put their new baby wet wipes through their paces. Their new wipes dispense one wipe at a time. 
Despite being good at art myself at school I rarely get arty or crafty with my kids, so the only thing I could think to do was hand painting, so that Lottie could join in, given that she's too young to hold a paint brush. I got hung up on the fact we were sent a canvas and thought "that means it needs to be good", as in, they can't just swish the paint around as "I wouldn't frame that!" Silly thoughts I know, as with hindsight of course I would have wanted to frame whatever the two of them created what with it being Lottie's first ever painting session. But, I thought "it's canvas, it needs to be grand" so I decided that their hand-prints would form part of a family tree. Initially that meant I would paint a tree and there would be four handprints on it: Mummy Daddy Aaron and Lottie but when I Googled images for reference I stumbled on a tree of life that had a woman as the body of the tree and then I couldn't get the idea out of my head. This meant I was the tree, holding two baby hands and after creating it I was left wondering where Daddy comes in.

It gets worse. By the time I got round to painting the tree, we'd run out of our Johnson's Baby Wipes. I know! You couldn't make it up. They were used for anything and everything - God wipes come in handy when you have two kids and it's the Summer holidays. 

So, we went ahead with the painting but my Cooperative wipes didn't really cut it getting the paint off Aaron's hands and I washed Lottie's with water anyway. I made the mistake of using the poster paint neat without diluting it with water so Aaron's handprint came out as below so I decided to draw around his hand, get an outline and then fill it in myself by painting.
Aaron said "Mummy the wipes are wiping the paint in not off" so I knew the Cooperative wipes weren't cutting the mustard and couldn't wait to replace my Johnson's Baby ones knowing they would work having read Forget Me Knit's review.

Lottie adored getting covered in paint and doing her hand print. She was beyond thrilled:
I knew she would not stay still enough for me to draw around her hand so I used my normal Ikea paint which is more fluid which meant I got a good strong print first off. I was amazed at one, getting her whole hand covered as babies of her age often keep their hands in a fist and two, I did the print without her moving her hand and splodging all over the canvas. You can see above, that her hand has the proper texture of a print. I just smoothed out the edges a tiny bit with a brush. Anyway, the paint did go on her clothes but as it was water based I wasn't bothered. Aaron had the apron on even though it was too small for him, as I knew he'd be tickled by it and therefore more engaged. I did try it on Lottie later and actually although it was too big for her, it just meant there was a lot of fabric on the arms, but due to the elasticated cuffs it didn't at all pose a problem, so I think it'll be hers from now on.

Once the two of them had fun doing their hand prints, I then made it a job for me, to make this piece of art as good as possible, but all I kept thinking was how rusty I am. Like my last post where I said I am rusty at vlogging it seems I am also rusty at painting. The brushes were synthetic though (children's ones) and it was quite hard painting with them which I only realised after was the reason.

I did my best and although I don't LOVE it, this is what I came up with
There are many layers to this. It shows the sun, solar masculine energy and the moon, feminine lunar energy. It shows that me and Daddy share the roots that have created our children, both biologically and their foundation/home. It shows that Aaron's hand is so very large compared to Lottie's. It shows that mainly as the primary carer I do the juggling act alone, so although they are growing out of me to represent my growing them in my womb it represents so much more. The daily balancing act when Daddy is at work. Oh and the reason he is stood like that is because I drew his silhouette by copying a photo of him I had. Daddy said it looks like he is looming over us LOL, but it probably does represent that he is looking on at a distance from work, whilst we are dancing around. But we created them together. Have our "roots" together and have lots of quality family time when he's not at work.

The poster paint included gold and silver so the roots are silver and Aaron is gold, as I am trying to show show signs of alchemy to represent the miracle that is creation. I have also put silver on the moon and the sun to highlight that we are so very linked to them. I do think it needs tweaking and improving before I'd consider framing it, but it's been an interesting cathartic project nonetheless.

But over to the wipes themselves. We did finally replace both packs: the all over baby wipes and the extra sensitive baby wipes, because Johnson's were kind enough to send us some more phew. I actually covered Aaron's hands in gold paint again to try them and they work! So it proves you get what you pay for:
So the new dispensing system...? Well, it means you get one wipe out at a time which is convenient when you are trying to use them sparingly, which I know only too well having got through so many this Summer holidays. The rigid lid means (1) it's easy to open one-handed (2) they stay sealed so you don't end up with a top dry wipe which is so incredibly annoying and (3) as it is thin, they're not bulky in your bag. Normally rigid lids are a big chunk of plastic (like on my nappy bags) which makes them harder to fit in a bag. Incidentally the one on my nappy bags has fallen off anyway (they're cooperative too) and plus in our recycling conscious days that's just too much plastic. The Johnson's lid is just the normal packaging only reinforced a little. I must admit though, on one of my original packs before getting more (the Extra Sensitive packet), the point where the lid folds did crack, from being opened and closed too often, but it might have been a one-off as it didn't happen with the other pink (non sensitive skin) packet. 
I don't go anywhere without wipes and don't even consider them baby wipes as they can be used for a whole host of things like when Aaron gets muddy knees or hands and Daddy always keeps a packet in the car. Despite Aaron being six years old I had not stopped buying them before Lottie came along. Tonight though I did use wipes to clear her face up after dinner. I love that Johnson's baby do an extra sensitive wipe as Lottie does occasionally have flare ups like when her chest gets too wet from dribbling. Don't use those dribble bibs they are useless, it's plastic backed all the way now!

Both Johnson's Extra Sensitive Baby Wipes and Johnson's Gentle All Over Baby Wipes have been formulated to minimise the risk of allergies. Both have a no more tears formulation with the Johnson's lotion consisting of 97% pure water. Johnson's is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson Ltd. Both types have been gentle on Lottie's skin.

I would say that neither of the wipes have an overwhelming smell and like I said above Johnson's definitely performed better at getting the paint off Aaron's hands. I do like the new dispensing system and will update this post when I have finished the two recent packs so that I can confirm - hopefully - that my lid cracking was only a one-off. To be fair it did happen towards the end of the pack.

Disclosure: we were sent a pink pack and a yellow pack of Johnson's Baby Wipes (ohnson's Extra Sensitive Baby Wipes and Johnson's Gentle All Over Baby Wipes) and a messy play paint kit. This consisted of brushes, paint, an apron and a canvas. We were also sent 2 replacement packs of wipes.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Vlogging With Channel Mum and Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons #ButtonsMemoryLane

When Channel Mum first came along, a couple of years ago, I was so so very excited as I saw the potential of it. I waited a month or two and then with a great deal of trepidation submitted a written application which resulted in my being asked to submit a video. I didn't want to submit one from the existing live videos on my channel at the time and plus I wanted to submit one in line with the exciting idea I'd proposed in my application.

Every month I put off filming a video and wasn't at all ready. Whilst I was still considering it a close friend told me not to worry as they only wanted "young mums in their 20s" IHO, which turned out not to be the case. I didn't fully believe this at the time anyway, so it stayed on my mind but each and every month I did not take the plunge and whilst I procrastinated You Tube grew without me. I still kept my toe in the water vaguely, but only because I had to do this video on Vlogging with a Phone Camera for Collective Bias but it gave me hope I could still, possibly, be a Vlogger.

The world unfortunately does not stand still whilst we ponder something. Which was a great shame as twice, in the past, I was at the pinnacle of doing something with my channel (three times if you include when I actually created it in 2012). Once, when I edited my Featherdown Farm video, and was loving i-movie. But then my hubby broke dropped my Apple Macbook soon after. I often wonder where my channel would have been if I carried on with the enthusiasm I had then. I had a second chance last year, when I was uploading a lot of videos, getting in a flow with Windows Live Movie Maker and successfully edited a wonderful well received vlog of our daytrip to Weston Super Mare but then soon after my camera and laptop broke simultaneously (well not in the same month) AND I got pregnant. A pregnancy that found my morning sickness being made worse each and every time I went near the computer. Do they emit waves due to the Wifi? I don't know, but I had dreams of being a pregnancy vlogger and blogger but the morning sickness that would worsen the second I went near my computer really really put me off. Another VERY odd thing, was I could no longer even be a You Tube viewer and commenter late night in bed on my phone as theme tunes would make me feel ill, even my own, like the one on my Folly Farm video. Within 2 bars of that I would want to hurl which is so odd as I watched it again and again and again when making it and can do now too. That problem was just between weeks 6 and 14 of pregnancy whilst I had morning sickness, something I never suffered with Aaron.

When my aunt then so generously sent me my cousin's old computer it wasn't compatible with ANY movie maker, not even a bought CD that I got hubby to buy me for Xmas 2015 so I started to use You Tube editor (it's in the upload section) and oh my God it frustratingly has its limitations and is arduous and time consuming to use. So I'd got used to Windows and Apple and now had neither.

Anyway that laptop then broke too....... I will probably fix my broken laptops one day. I have a total of 3 (one apple and two windows). Well I need to as each of them has thousands of photos on and they are so so so precious and not backed up anywhere oooops.

Precious memories, yes that's what they are, which......... coincidentally is exactly what I got the chance to work on, with Channel Mum in recent weeks. Yep I am finally up to the current day with this preamble.

Even though I'm not an ACTUAL Channel Mum Vlogger, they widened their reach for their recent Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons campaign. I was honoured that I got to work on the campaign and I simultaneously PLUGGED my channel into their site which you can now do.

It has to be said I am rusty at vlogging. Turns out it's not like riding a bike where you never forget. It may or may not be obvious to you dear reader but my Mum said I seem really nervous and dearest Mum you are right I was. After wanting to be a Channel Mum for so long the nerves really DID get the better of me. but when you see the scenes of me, in the video, where I am not alone, but instead with my little Mr Charming, my Aaron, you'll see the nerves are not there and that's the real me.

So have a watch to see what our top 3 little moments of shared joy are:

Did you like it? I hope so. We do really feel joy in those moments. My boy is my everything and somehow my heart has grown to have enough love for two children. This is lil Lottie's first words which I was so very very lucky to manage to capture on camera.

So if I could do that Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons video again what would I do differently?
  • I would straighten (and cut) my hair so that I'd feel confident with my appearance.
  • I'd pick a higher seat so that you'd see the sunny garden and our lovely wooden blinds as a backdrop instead of just looking at my worktops and the gap where a dishwasher should be.
  • I'd pick a better angle so that you can see me down to at least my waist so that it doesn't look like my neckline goes on forever.
  • I'd perhaps do the whole video with Aaron as the scenes with him in are by far my favourites.
  • I'd practice vlogging more, so that I am a pro instead of a novice. Blimey I have vlogged before I'm just rusty. My first ever vlog in 2012 was done to a stranger, a professional camera man, and yet I spoke for 8 minutes, unscripted, in ONE take! I should have ran with it and done it more often. Yep I often wonder where my channel would be now if I'd done just that.
So now is not the time for regrets. Yes I have got them off my chest above, but now is the time for moving swiftly onwards and upwards without constraint. So despite those 3 broken laptops I do now have another. It is on loan from the hubby but I CAN now edit videos and I have dived right in, whilst the iron is hot. Despite how much people tell you videos should be short I went and uploaded a 36 minute vlog. I'll tell you what happened. I wanted to do justice to our trip on a City Cruises boat down the Thames. It was gifted to me as a blogger with no pressure to review. I uploaded all of my content and it totalled 1 hour 9 minutes. I know that short videos should be 1-3 minutes and the popular slot for long videos seems to be 16 or 22 minutes. But with all of the editing in the WORLD my video came out as 36 minutes and given I was so attached to the content that was remaining it was not going to go any shorter so I hit publish.

Given that my Mum is in Ireland she watched all of our videos as a way to stay in touch. She is my biggest critic and said she loved it. I said "are you sure you watched all 36 minutes" and she laughed and said "yes, I felt like I myself went down the Thames". I was thrilled as that was what I wanted to create. It was a "I'll take you with me" type of vlog. Normally I include something long somewhere, that my Mum says I should have edited out, but no such criticism with this video. If you are a lover of London or a lover of the London Underground and history you may just love it too. I certainly got GREAT feedback from Carolin at Mummy Alarm (thank you).

So that's me. A lil insight into my history with YouTube. But from my main channel homepage you can see some playlists, like what my popular videos are etc... 

Did you work on the #ButtonsMemoryLane campaign? What did you think? I loved creating our memory lane, thinking about our joyful everyday moments and seeing the joy that Aaron and his cousins experienced whilst watching it.

You can make your own Memory Lane and my video above shows you just how easy it is to create from up to 7 of your own photos. Your kids will love watching it it's so easy to do and such great fun. Plus you can share it online with friends and family. Use the hashtag #ButtonsMemoryLane and tag @channelMum when you share it. We'd love to see it. Once you've created your memory lane, you'll be sent a link to your phone if you supplied a phone number or to your inbox if you chose to submit an email address. The link you use to then watch your memory lane is the same link you can share with others as I have done with mine above.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my Cadbury Dairy Milk #ButtonsMemoryLane video which is therefore an #ad.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Things to Consider When Moving House

There's no way around it, moving house is a very big thing.  For me, personally, I've always considered it THE most stressful thing to do and something I always do everything I can to avoid, for a long time, before going ahead. Much to my husband's chagrin. I wrongly thought moving was still up there in the top 5 most stressful things an adult could do, but a quick look on Google tells me that actually the top 10 are now:
  1. Death of a spouse: 100
  2. Divorce: 73
  3. Marital separation: 65
  4. Imprisonment: 63
  5. Death of a close family member: 63
  6. Personal injury or illness: 53
  7. Marriage: 50
  8. Dismissal from work: 47
  9. Marital reconciliation: 45
  10. Retirement: 45


What do you think? Do you agree with the 10 above? I have only encountered the scenarios 5, 7 and 8. Death would be my Father in Law, which given I have been with my husband for 28 years was a big deal and involved travelling "home" for a burial. Marriage, yes it was stressful as it was in Ireland, so alot done remotely but to be fair I found it rewarding and challenging rather than stressful. As for 8, that was dismissal by reason of redundancy and I guess I still haven't fully processed that if I am entirely honest. Good to see that death of a spouse ranks with the highest score, as I can imagine that yes, that must indeed be horrific and of course anyone would, hands down without a doubt, prefer to be moving house.

Which neatly brings me back to that topic. Whether you’ve outgrown your current property or want to move to a new area, there are lots of different factors you’ll need to have in mind. Each and every time we've moved it's been for both reasons. Thankfully We Buy Any House, the nation’s trusted house buyer, have a few tips to make sure the transition is as stress-free as possible. Wish I'd known when we moved.

Space

You’d be surprised at how small a house can seem after 6 months. Are you sure you only need two bedrooms? The difference having a spare room can make is huge. Storage can become a massive problem once you’ve moved in and you find your place isn’t big enough. Make sure your house has enough space to meet all of your immediate and future requirements, or that there is the option to extend further on down the line. 

Personally I would recommend decluttering prior to moving. I managed to garner a sale on our flat despite my clutter but boy did I regret it when I met it all again, coming out of all of the boxes the other end of the removal van journey. "Declutter to sell and all will be well" - I just made that up :-) I am so glad our first purchase was a 2 bedroom flat rather than a 1 bedroom as it meant we happily continued to live there after having Aaron, only needing to move once planning for Lottie's arrival. 

Amenities

How close are the shops? Walking or driving distance? Parks, pubs and soft play centres are always good to have nearby for an easy day out with the kids. Make sure you check where the nearest GP practice is, and hospital should you need it. Do some research on the local schools in your new catchment area to see how they perform and perhaps arrange a visit. 

Personally I was over the moon with Right Move's school's section (the school checker tab on each property) which shows you the nearest schools. It even links to Primary AND Secondary schools. They're then shown to you on a map in order of proximity to your chosen property. The Ofsted result and whether the school is over or under subscribed in 2016 is information immediately visible without even leaving the site. So that's one stress removed. If you're wading through lots of potential properties deciding which ones to view, it's handy to have information at your fingertips as you won't view them all or be impressed by each and everyone you do view.

Area

Moving to the middle of a city is very different to moving to the suburbs, or moving to the countryside. A house in the City Centre may be more convenient but a place on the outskirts might have a safer, calmer atmosphere. Moving to the country may be more peaceful and the houses may be bigger, but they are out of the way, so getting around is something else to consider. Another thing to have in mind is the safety of the area you move to. You can check the crime levels of your street and surroundings by doing a quick internet search.

If you are moving because you have a new job in the area, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the route to and from work, and how long it's going to take you. It may also be worth checking out how readily available jobs are for future reference.

Safety

Check out the state of the plumbing, see what kind of heating is on offer, but most importantly check the boiler. An older, unsafe boiler that’s on the blink may end up needing maintenance and could cause serious problems, so on that note make sure you have a fire alarm fitted with a carbon monoxide detector.

A full structural survey (rather than just the bare minimum valuation) might seem like an unnecessary outlay but it will highlight any bigger safety issues and the overall condition of the property before you commit to buy. This will give you a good idea of how much you will need to spend to make sure the property is in top condition, alternatively you could ask the seller to make the necessary repairs. 

Personally I feel, It is also something that provides you with a lot of leverage if you would like to negotiate on price. It can also reveal something that either the seller would not want you to know or even something they were not aware of themselves. They're more likely to negotiate more willingly for the latter. However if you are in a seller's market, while you haggle on this, another easier swifter buyer may snap the house up from under your feet which if it is your forever home, you may not want to happen. 

I am of the belief however, that what is for you, won't pass you by, so go with your gut instinct. Buying a house is a huge commitment and is not something any of us take lightly. Go into the purchase (and sale) with your eyes wide open.

Collaboration post.