Super Single Mum's Blog

Life and all the shananigins!

My First Halloween

Ok, ok, I’m lying, I’ve obviously had Halloween before. I’ve never “celebrated” it though, until this year. Now I say “celebrated” with the old speech marks because I don’t actually believe I would ever celebrate evil, which is how some may view Halloween and indeed some of the reasons why I have never “done” Halloween before.

Let’s rewind a little, and I remember as a child I never went trick or treating. I think I did ask when I was younger, but I was told that there is no way I would be allowed to go knocking on strangers doors any other day of the year so why should Halloween be any different. It was also described to me as “begging”, give me a treat or I’ll do something mean mentality. Halloween as a child for me was trick or treating or nothing. I think one year I did go to a party with the Guides but that was it. Fancy dress costumes were home made in those days and to be honest, in our neighbourhood it wasn’t a biggy.

Fast forward to adult life and I took the standpoint of my mum, no way would I take my kids trick or treating and why celebrate the unknown world of spirits and darkness. I still stand by that. Don’t get me wrong I believe in the spirit world and believe I have had contact with it on a number of occasions and in different ways. I don’t however feel we need to ward of evil on Halloween and strongly believe whatever is out there is beyond our control Halloween or not! Thing is though, that’s not what Halloween stands for any more.

This Halloween has been the first that I have got involved in anything!

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Me and Mr D were invited to a Halloween party a few months ago. Mr D had previous experience of their parties and told me I would have to dress up. So I did. Saturday night came around and off we went to the party. Now I’m all one for getting into fancy dress when the chance arises and so I did get into the spirit! We had a fab time and the house was all decorated with ghouls and ghosts and it was a great atmosphere. In fact, it even made me fancy decorating my own house next year!

Thing is though, I’ve got into the Halloween thing for the girls this year too. H went off to nursery in her Pumpkin witch outfit this morning which she has been waiting to wear all week, and B is off to her Brownies Halloween party tonight. It got me to thinking I was being a little hypocritical that I’ve harped on for years that I don’t do Halloween yet here I am quite enjoying it. Times have changed though and now with the cheap access to fancy dress, and the culture to party at home rather than going out drinking, Halloween is just a great excuse to party. Lets face it, this is the time of year we start to feel a bit down – summer is over, the clocks have changed so it’s dark by tea time and Christmas is still too far off to get excited, so why not get together with friends, dress like idiots, have a laugh and relax!! I still stand by trick or treating being a no no, but when the girls are older I might change my mind and if I do I’ll be doing it with a twist – check out my top tip and other great ideas in the Clintons Haunt Guide! 

So what’s next to keep the winter blues away, well next weekend sees the first Bonfire Night I take the girls out to, watch this space to see how we get on!!

October 31, 2011 Posted by | Parenting | , , | 2 Comments

Get Lost with Karen Rose

As a busy mum I get little time to escape for me time so what ever it is I want to do has to be in an evening when the kids are in bed. Of course there is the usual TV programmes and watching a film, but what I really love to do is get lost in a book.

Those who know me will know that about 2 years ago I was into Twilight and any other Vampire literature I could sink my teeth into. Then I got a bit bored of the genre and needed something a bit more true to life. I’ve never been one for reading romances, but I don’t do horror. I was at a bit of a loss.

It was a visit to my Aunties’ just over a year ago that changed all that. She had two books by Karen Rose and said I would enjoy them. As she was in the process of moving house she said either I took them or they would go to the charity shop. Within a week I had read the first of the two and was hooked.

At the moment, Karen has 12 books out and whilst each one can be read independently, the characters crop up in different books, so it wasn’t long before I ordered them all and started from book one. You can check out her books on her website. I’ve only got 3 more to go and then I will be eagerly awaiting the release of her new book in January.

The thing I love about the stories is they are believable yet pure escapism at the same time. Many of the lead males are unbelievably romantic, but not in a OTT way. There is always plenty of sexual chemistry and plenty of murders to solve. I’ve not managed to read a single one yet that hasn’t made me laugh, cry and completely pull me in. I love how I feel when I’m reading these books, they are great for relaxing and switching off all the other things floating through my brain – I would go as far as saying my best nights sleep are after reading a chapter of one of her books!

So if you love books and you’re looking for something new, get reading!! I’d love to hear if any of you have read her books and what you all think!

October 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Justin to Hit the Charts

I’m so excited! Yesterday I was one of the lucky Blogger Mum’s who received Justin Fletcher’s new album “Hands Up!”

 

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I’m sworn to secrecy on the contents, but I just wanted to let you know you can pre order here!

The album is due for release on November 21st, with the single “Hands Up” out the week before.

For a sneak preview of “Hands Up”, check our Justin’s Facebook Page or follow him on twitter – @_JustinFletcher

Watch this space for my full review, but this one is guaranteed to be played on repeat. I’m off to hit the play button AGAIN!!!!

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Wonderful World We Live In

Think about it, life is pretty good these days, we have technology that was only dreamed of by out grandparents. We can communicate in ways that would seem magical to those only 100 years ago. Everything seems to talk to each other, phones, computers, printers, even the TV can be controlled by your mobile phone from anywhere in the world! It’s pretty amazing really.

Until it goes wrong……

This week I have been off for half term, so I had planned to get on top of my Blog, do some mindless tweeting and play rubbish games on Facebook, in-between doing all the kiddie things of course!! So imagine my annoyance when at about 1pm on Monday my router stopped working. At first I thought it just needed resetting but after trying it in 2 sockets and a phone call to my provider, it transpired that my modem was broke and I need a new one. My initial thought was, great how much is this going to cost me? So when the nice lady on the phone told me that actually it would be free I was happy again. Then came the dreaded words “Your replacement modem will be with you within 5 working day”. Great!!

Ok I thought, it’s ok, I can tweet and keep up with Facebook on my iPhone, and I’m off work so ne need to access my work email from home. Except I use my WiFi at home for my phone, and without it on my poor signal means it takes ages to load anything! Still, it’s not all bad, it’s half term and I have to spend the time with the girls without the internet………

B asked me to help with her homework so while H was at nursery on Tuesday we sat down to do it. Hmmm, I don’t know much about Anglo-Saxons. B piped up “Let’s Google it mum”. Nope, not this week, we’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, and out came the history books!

Don’t get me wrong, I can live without the internet, but when it’s my choice, like when I’m on holiday! I just don’t like having it taken away without my say so!!

As you can tell, I have received my replacement modem and all systems are now go again. Normal service is once again resumed. Phew, my security blanket is back!! It made me realise how much I rely on technology though, from simple keeping in touch to banking; homework to proving I’m right in debates, the internet is the norm these days and I actually find it quite fascinating that my girls will never know a world without the web, I wonder what will develop in their lifetime, and if I came back in 100 years would it be to a world that I can only now imagine as magic?

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What if……..?

It’s half term this week and for a change, I have taken a week off work for no other reason than to look after my girls. We haven’t gone away anywhere, we don’t have visitors staying, just a week of us all off together. So far the week has been pretty uneventful, we spent the day at Stanwick Lakes on Sunday with Mr D and his 2 children. Then on Monday the curse of the Autumn cold hit our house and me and B both felt pretty rotten, so we had a duvet day!! Tuesday and Wednesday H was in nursery, as I had taken her funded nursery place as 12 hours per week until Christmas rather than 15 hours per week of term. I had hoped to do some more grown up stuff with B, like Paint a Pot and swimming, but as we were both still a little under the weather we went shopping instead!!

I’ve sat and helped B with her homework without us falling out, I’ve set up sticker charts to try and get their behaviours a bit more on track, and I’m currently listening to Justin Fletcher’s new album “Hands Up..The Album” for about the 4th time today!! (Watch this space, the album is released on 21st November and I’ll be reviewing the week before!!) My house is a mess, small people are jumping around all over the place, I’ve read a book in 2 days and feel a little guilty for doing nothing. It’s great!!!

It’s all got me thinking though, what if…….?

I think it’s one of the hardest things about being a parent, getting the work life balance right. The choice varies for all of us, no two families are the same and so no two people’s decisions are or can be seen as the same. For me, going back to work was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. H was only 16 months old and I hadn’t looked for work nor had any thoughts of returning to work. As much as I am sure people judged me for it, I was receiving benefits that saw me through each month, I’d been thrown into a situation I had no choice over and after paying my taxes since 16 when I started my first job, I figured I was entitled to take stock of my life and be a mum until I had sorted out what path to follow.

Then it was all a bit of a whirlwind, a friend told me about some jobs coming up working with families and children in the area, she said she thought I would be ideal for it, so I applied expecting that my minimal experience would generate a “thanks but no thanks” letter. I was pretty surprised when one November morning 2 years ago a letter turned up offering an interview. I arranged for a friend to have H and travelled the 50 mile round trip for the interview and then found out just over a week later that I had got the job! There was worry, would I actually be better off, would I be able to handle the part time job on top of bringing up two girls, lots of what if’s?

It’s now 19 months on and I love my job, I love my girls, I love my life and what I have built but there’s still that “what if?” which this week has brought out. I could have had every school holiday like this, I could have been able to make every sports day, every assembly, H could have been at home more. I’d have less stress about childcare and what to do when I have to work late. But then I wouldn’t have been able to go on holiday this year both with and without the girls, I wouldn’t have a car on the road making days out very difficult. I wouldn’t have met some really inspirational women who I now work with, and I wouldn’t have developed how I have as a mum and person in my own right.

I know I’ve missed out on some things with my girls, but I am hoping that what I gain by working is worth it and out weighs the negatives. Both the girls seem happy with the arrangement and I know H loves nursery. I guess the hardest part is working with families and trying to help them put routines in place, or helping to manage behaviours and wishing I was at home with my own children reinforcing the same boundaries! I guess this is all proof I needed this week off with my girls!

How do you make sure your work life balance is right for your family? And do you ever wonder What If…..?

October 27, 2011 Posted by | Working Mum | , , , | Leave a comment

Photobox full of gifts!

Regular readers may remember that last year I was asked to try out Photobox and let you all know what I thought. I was very impressed and have not only continued to use their service but have recommended it to family and friends too. I was contacted by them recently about the chance to review their Photo Calendar and Photo Diary range, so of course I said yes!

Uploading pictures is easy, it can take a bit of time though if you are doing a fair few, so my recommendation would be to set it up uploading while you go and do other jobs, make lunch, play with the kids or catch up on the soaps. I uploaded about 60 photos and it took approximately 40 minutes, but obviously this will all depend on your internet speed as well as the size of the files you are uploading.

The calendar range starts from £8.59 depending on what you’re after. I opted for the desk calendar. This sleek design gives the option of a picture per month on a compact format, ideal if space is limited, for the office or bedroom. This would be an ideal Christmas pressie for dad’s to have at work, or even for those older kids who have gone of to University and need gently reminding of families birthdays, the key here being that you can add Photo Days for only £1.49 per calendar. With Photo Days, you can add a picture and text to as many days of the year as you want to. And you are completely in control of how many days you fill in, with the ability to zoom in and only include parts of the photo in order to get the most out of the space available!  I would say it took me about 20 minutes to add my photos including Photo Days for 10 birthdays.

Not content with just checking out the calendars, I’ve also had a go at the large diary. This was just as simple, in fact what I did here was select the pictures I wanted, put them in order and then let the site auto fill my pictures into the slots. I did have to adjust a few as the large diary caters for a landscape picture per week so the only issue I had was that I’d picked some portrait pictures which didn’t work! All I had to do was move a couple of pictures around though and I was sorted. Diaries start from £11.99 depending on what size you want and you can add leather covers at extra cost. The standard cover is a clear plastic and gives a professional finish. You also get a thin plastic book mark for easy access to the week you are in and an elastic band to make sure the diary stays closed and neat when in the Mary Poppins handbags we have as mothers!

To be honest, whenever I have used Photobox I have been surprised at the ease of use. Like I said, the longest and most boring part is uploading the pictures but once you’ve done that the site makes it easy to be creative. I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the products and the calendar and diary are no exception. What you get from Photobox is personalised gifts of a very professional quality at reasonable prices. Whilst I’ve sampled the calendars and diaries, there are plenty of other gift ideas on their site to get you ready for Christmas……it’s only 79 sleeps till Christmas!! Delivery costs vary depending on what you are ordering, with the option of standard deliver or guaranteed faster delivery if you need it. I opted for standard delivery and both the calendar and diary have arrived within a week. Go on, take a look – I bet you won’t be disappointed!

October 7, 2011 Posted by | Product Reviews | , , | Leave a comment