Thursday, 27 February 2014

Win a Holiday with Cosmos!

When it comes to holidays, usually I can take or leave them. For me, it usually means endless weeks of preparation beforehand, then endless weeks of putting-away when we get back. For parents of young children, it soon becomes obvious that holidays take on a completely different approach. It's not so much lay back and enjoy the sun as stand up and run around with a moments rest for a week. Having said that, the time is very precious to me since we don't often get to spend that long together as a family these days what with work and school.

Having said that, I'm never one to look a gift horse in the mouth and if I had a chance to actually win a holiday I would certainly go for it! Cosmos are offering one lucky winner the chance to win either a skiing holiday to Austria, or a tropical paradise holiday to Sharm El Sheikh - do you embrace the cold or would you rather board a plane and head for the nearest tropical paradise? Find out whether you have a Snow or Go personality and be in with a chance of winning!

Enter here for a chance to win!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The perfect family holiday down route 66

Going away on holiday is the perfect remedy for every family who get the opportunity to spend quality time together away from the hectic rigours of daily life. From long hours and sleepless nights looking after a young child to working extensive hours in the workplace to earn a living for themselves and their family, each aspect of being a parent can take its toll. The number of holidays enjoyed every year may come down to finances and the amount of holiday period granted through an employer, but getting away can help a family to expose themselves to many areas of the world and bond as they share many happy memories. Families may choose to travel to another area of the country they live in, but opting to take in the culture and surroundings of another country can be a life-changing experience.

The Las Vegas experience

Las Vegas remains an attractive proposition for any traveller or family, as it is famous for its array of luxurious casinos that light up the night sky and generates considerable levels of tourism as gamblers from all areas of the world come to experience the pinnacle of gambling. Although progressive slots are particularly popular across online casinos, it does not replicate the actual experience of being in America's most popular city. It would be easy to believe that Las Vegas is purely for those who enjoy a flutter in the casino, but the city actually provides a plethora of activities and entertainment that are tailor-made for a wonderful family holiday. Children can enjoy a trip through Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Gamesworks which is far removed from the hectic casino environment. A considerable number of entertainment shows, such as musicals, magic and comedy, are held every day across Las Vegas, with free entry offering enjoyment and laughter for the whole family will enjoy. Families can also partake in a number of thrill-seeking outdoor activities that are ideal for parents to interact and participate with their children, with rides at the Strastosphere Tower, helicopter rides across the Grand Canyon and rafting down the Colorado River to name but a few examples of fun activities to do.

Driving down route 66

Going away on holiday with children carries an extra level of responsibility and care for parents as they remove themselves from the comfort zone of their home area and travel to another area or country. Playing fun, sing-along music can help to create fond memories for the whole family and make a holiday more special. While the majority of holiday packages for families are based upon accomodation in a resort or theme park, route 66 offers a driving alternative that carries steep historical and spiritual value. Spanning nearly 2,500 miles, Route 66 runs throughout the heart of America and is widely recognised as the country's most famous road, with its folklore featuring within popular culture to further emphasise its grandeur appeal. Travelling down Route 66 will allow families to see how America has evolved over nearly 100 years, with remnants of previous existing signposts, structures and now derelict buildings seen along the route. Families can enjoy the traditional qualities of America with a number of gas station, cafes and restaurants available across the route to offer travellers a refreshing drink, bit to eat and gas refill to carry on their way. Many of the buildings along the road have been restored thanks to government intervention, with Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-By in Arizona a particularly popular tourist shop for families to buy souvenirs to remember their experience of route 66.

This is a guest post

Staying in or out?

One of the mums at school today was asking me about my social life, i.e. did I have one. I have always enjoyed going "out", be it for a meal with my hubby or out for posh drinks. I don't go out very much, so I don't scrimp when I do. Last night Hubby and I ventured out to see the new Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds. It's a bit sad to want to go out and do that you might think, but actually to us Leodites it's pretty special. Weirdest of all were that there were all these people out in the new bars and restaurants that made me think, "where were you before? Who knew that there were so many Mumford and Sons lookalikes in one city!". I guess for a long time Leeds has been resting on its laurels a bit, I never really know where to go when we go out so we normally end up spending a bomb somewhere like the Blackhouse Grill. It was nice to see more of a mix of people and ages in places like Friends of Ham and the Alchemist. That will be of no interest at all though to anyone reading this who has never been to Leeds. Anyway, we had a nice time.

Thing is, going out ain't what it used to be. I remember being all excited about a night out, for like, days. These days according to a recent survey it's more about sore feet and queuing for ages at bars, or not being able to find the toilet, or having your purse stolen or something. Actually that describes most of my nights out when I was 18 (erm 16, alright, 15). Maybe staying in is the new going out? You can have nice drinks, be warm and comfy, save lots of money, invite who you want round, go to bed when you want and best of all, no queuing for the toilet (hopefully). I reckon this is what most of the Mumford and Sons-ites were doing before these cool new bars with grass in jam jars were opened, biding their time at home, waiting for something decent to come along. When we bought our first house, we were forever inviting people over for dinner parties and it was really cool, maybe we should again? I guess now, most of our friends have children so it's a bit tricky to go out in the evening, and if you're going to get a babysitter then I guess you would rather go out than stay in someone's house. 

Maybe we should investigate this staying in with style, especially as the summer draws on, inviting our lovely neighbours round for BBQs whilst little ones sleep on sofas, like the good old days, yes, maybe staying in IS the new going out....

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Train for the tracks! At the National Railway Museum!

Being the mother of two small boys I am no stranger to a train track. Many a Sunday has been spent looking for an elusive Thomas related engine, or watching "Misty Island Rescue". But nothing beats seeing a real life steam engine in person - which is why we love the National Railway Museum in York!

We were lucky enough to be invited along to the NRM yesterday for their half term event "Train for the Tracks" - we had a great time exploring lots of different railway jobs, but first we tried an authentic railway man's lunch...

 Black pudding pastries and sausage rolls with a twist went down a treat, as did some fun train playing in the Duchess Suite.

After a little rest, we went to have a look at the rest of the events. Firstly we had a look at the amazing engines, this mainly involved running round after our two year old. Weep.

We found the British Transport Police stand and practised dressing up which the boys loved..
We then tried doing our own finger prints - son 1 did these in different colours which looked lovely.

We dressed up as station guards and had great fun waving flags then had a play with a huge Chuggington play area where we made ramps and had races.

Aside from what we did, there was also the opportunity to climb aboard steam engines, build bridges, and lots more! Children were loving it and we enjoyed seeing our children happy and enthusiastic - well worth a visit! 
Free entry, 15 - 23 Feb 2014,
All thoughts are my own though we were given lunch and free parking.

Friday, 14 February 2014

How to renew your google blogger vanity domain!

So it's that time of year again, when I have to shell out for the pleasure of being rather than The former, for the uninitiated, is what's known as a vanity domain, the idea being that it looks a bit more professional I guess, and gives your blog a bit more of an identity perhaps. The only downside, as far as  I know, of having a vanity domain is that you have to pay for it. Mine costs me about $10 a year, so it's not too bad, whereas the domain is free, which is how most bloggers start out.

Up until this year, the process of renewing my domain and paying the $10 was super easy - google sent me a reminder to my inbox, I clicked on it and then paid through an app called "google wallet". However it seems that google wallet is now no more and instead google have replaced it with a ridiculously complex system that no-one quite understands. Until now! Yes, I am going to take you through a step by step guide of renewing your google blogger domain, and it's pretty easy actually, once you know how.

Firstly, you will not be able to pay for your domain with the gmail account that is attached to your blog, that would be just too easy. Instead you have to find out what your admin email address and password is. If you try and use your normal gmail account you will see this.

 Never heard of that before? No me neither. So here's what you do to access your google admin account.

  •  Enter the code and click submit.
  • It will then send an email to your back up account asking you to reset your admin password. Make sure you check the correct account - this is whatever account you have on your gmail account as your back up.  If you're not sure which account that is, go into your gmail account and in settings-accounts there is the following page - click on the circled bit you can see in the image below and check what your alternate email address is (what I call back up account) - the email has been sent there. However, sometimes the password reset email just goes to your blogger gmail account, so check them all!

  •  Click on the link in the email and it will take you to a reset password page, just so you know, your admin email address will most probably be apps-admin@domain so mine is
  • It will then ask you to sign in AGAIN with your apps-admin account, then go to billing and make the payment for your domain. Again, this isn't easy and it may be easier to just go back to the reminder email you've had and click on the link on that. If you go to "billing settings" you can add payment details there, I clicked autorenew as it seemed to prefer it.
  • When the payment for my domain has been taken in a few days I will probably delete my card details, just in case....

There you have it! PHEW! Why did they make it so difficult? If you have any problems, let me know and I will try to help if I can :P

Monday, 3 February 2014

Learn at home with Collins and Letts

Many years ago when I was studying for my GCSEs and A Levels I discovered these handy little things called study guides. Turned out you didn't actually need to concentrate in class that much when you have them, you could basically teach yourself the entire syllabus and still do pretty well. In fact, that's what I did. With the exception of RE and English, I pretty much taught myself the entire syllabus first with my GCSEs then with my A Levels. I'm not ashamed to say that I wasn't swotting away in the library, I was cramming at home, learning parrot fashion everything I needed to know. This worked for me as I have a really good memory and I learned really good memorisation techniques. I did pretty well and even managed a "B" at A Level Chemistry which was previously unheard of at Wakefield College. Happy days! However I soon found that this studying technique only got me so far, in fact, at degree level I was totally out of my depth and found that my high grades didn't actually get me anywhere, since learning by memorisation doesn't do you that much good at a higher level. Anyway, bad times, and I like to think I've developed intellectually (!) since then. Probably not. Anyway, the point is that all my study guides were either Letts or Collins - thank you for helping me pass my exams!

But anyway, enough about me, I was really pleased to receive these lovely Letts and Collins books for my son a few weeks ago...
Collins and Letts goodies!
We got to work straight away on the Lett's handwriting book and maths book - as a teacher I was really impressed with how consistent it was with the curriculum and also how much thought had gone into making them enjoyable for children.

I've actually been looking for something to do with him at home just to help with his fine motor skills a bit so this work really well.

We were also sent some Collins books which I really like - I think boys particularly love non fiction and it was great to see my boys flicking through these and asking questions. Some of them even contain stickers and as you can see, these have gone down a treat!

Space stickers, gone!

I was really impressed with the quality of these books and feel sure we will be using them for weeks to come! At a price of bnetween £3.99 and £9.99 each I think these are really good value - to get your own go to 

These were sent to me for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are my own - and my children's!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Moments that matter...

January is always a good month for reflection, for thinking about the year that has passed and planning for the year ahead too. Photos are a really good way to think about the past and remember happy times.  I know I don't take nearly enough photos these days, I really need to get myself a decent camera. Many of the happy times last year were over the summer - it gets pretty cold in winter in our part of the world and we pretty much hibernate in our house until March. We had some happy times on holiday in France - swimming every day, picnics, wine, boat rides and just spending time together. Something we probably don't do enough of. I've been invited to take part in Lloyds Bank moments that matter and I've been thinking carefully about what makes a moment matter and how to make more of them. Sometimes when you have young children, it almost becomes that it's not worth going out at all, since it often end up being either stressful or expensive, or worst of all, both.

It sounds cliche, but  quite obviously the moments that matter the most are those spent with people you love - but it's not always about people who "love" you - it's also about spending time with people who have your best interests at heart.  One of the best things about being in your thirties is knowing the difference between the two. Having children has created lots of moments that matter - they are usually stressful moments that matter, but they are important nonetheless. Hopefully as our children grow older the moments that matter will grow and the stress will desist. Hopefully.

What are your moments that matter?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...