Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Halloween & Half Term Holidays

I love the build up to Halloween, but it has been a few years since I was in the UK to see it through.

But, I have been fortunate enough to live in an area where there are lots of children and 'willing parents' and so Halloween is very special for the children who live around us with lots going on and lots of smiley facey (and scarey faces).

Having spent the last 3 years over in the US (home of Halloween Festivities) we have seen some spectacular displays invloving pumpkins the size of a bean bags and shops (all of them) dressed in spectacular displays of fruit, Autumn colours and amazing scary costumery.  Everyone seems to party when it comes to Halloween and so the fun goes on into the night with teenagers and adults joinging in the festivities.  I have to admit, it left me wanting to do 'even' more back here at home in the UK.

My local branch of NCT (Chorley & Leyland) hold a fabulous Halloween Party (which is raved about for weeks and the photos are amazing) but which I am yet to have attended, due to my trans-atlantic addiction!  If you get the chance to go to a Halloween Party that has been running for a few years, chances are they have got it off to a fine tee and you will have a great time. It's a great way for your kids to have fun, socialise and stay safe.

Dress Up:  It doesn't have to be scarey - but scarey is good if your little ones like that! Ghosts, vampires, witches, skeletons, monsters ...... they all do the trick (or treat).  But, you can also go for the less scarey options, fun characters or even a bit of mystery/fantasy - pumpkin costumes are cute, fairies with a bit of sparkle (add a touch of Halloween colour) and even white witches (no warts or green faces required) will leave your little ones with a 'magical' theme to follow and smiling all the way to your neighbours door for 'trick or treat'.

Trick or Treat:  After dressing them, dress your house (particularly the doorway).  If you are stopping in, you can make a 'Halloween Supper', play fun themed games and when the doorbell goes you can be prepared for your little ones to see the 'big kids' look fabulous costume.  Don't forget to have treats to hand - little made up paper bags of a sweeties pre-made up wil make it easier for them to select and helps you keep an eye on how much is needed. Add just a few sweets as they are likely to return home with a 'booty' that they will have a sugar high on for the rest of the week. Thank them for their efforts and especially if they have an adult in tow (encouraging safety is a must).

If you do allow small ones to go 'trick or treating' make sure they have warm underwear and/or leggings under those costumes and 'always' go with them and make yourself visible to the adults answering the door.

If you are unable to participate in door answering - leave a polite note at the door saying "Baby in Bed, please don't knock" or "Out Trick or Treating - please call later". You could leave a bowl of treats at the door if you wish!

Dressing the Doorway:  Add pumpkins, orange flowers/plants, candles (take care they are in a heat proof  container - or pumpkin), broomsticks, hanging spiders, webs, anything Autumn colour will enhance your display (including logs, pine cones, etc.). If you can have music playing low, either when continuously or before you answer the door this adds great effect too.

Halloween Supper: You can create or re-construct a number of delicious bites from food that you would normally serve - but with a Halloween theme.  Pizza can be cut into fingers and you can pretend they are real fingers or chips have the same effect.  Hot dogs definitely get the fingers vote!  Jelly made up with grapes (eyeballs) looks good, cakes with jam filling can pass for blood filled cakes (jam doughnuts are even quicker).  Make shortbread biscuits and let them decorate them with spooky designs with wrtiting icing for a great game.  Toffee apples are always a hit and if your children like gingerbread or parkin then these taste great too!

Here's a fun virtual pumpkin carving game to play:  http://www.theoworlds.com/halloween/ 

And an educational site 'All about Halloween' and some cut out games to play:

Time Out for Mums Blog: http://timeoutformums-honiebuk.blogspot.com/
HonieMummy Blog: http://honiebuk.wordpress.com/

Monday, 25 October 2010

Picking, Packing, London & Girl Guides

Friday (last) started with a 7am start loading the washing machine and packing the eldest of my children H (Kipper) Boo off on the school bus and my immediate attention on K (Bear) Boo, O' Pops already having left with Dad. After unloading, re-loading washer and transferring to tumble dryer, radiators and any reasonable surface for the 'do NOT tumble dry variety, Me and K Boo went to the gym for a swim (well bob) till I could shower, dry and clothe her and pass her off to Club V for my well earned time at 32 lengths, lunch (mostly on the go) and then she was off to nursery (....... breathe .......)

More washing, drying and gathering of things to pack (and something to pack them in).  My eldest was going off to London with the Girl Guide unit she is in for 4 days and for my (cough.... I mean her) long awaited break with 30 other Guides/Leaders, I had to first make sure that all and everything that was needed was available and to hand for an 11 year old to survive (oh hard can it be) such a trip.

So, on picking up K Boo and waiting for the bus to return for H Boo, there commenced a series of events that can only be described as hysteria and calm, alternating at varying degrees and giving me an almighty headache, that left me wanting to go lie down in a dark, quiet room - no time for that! On with the selecting and packing and debating whether hair straighteners and lip gloss were so essential in a pull along case that had to be big enough for essential gear (including uniform, casual clothing, toiletries, footwear, bread rolls, crips and snacks for 4 days), yet small enough for an 11 year old to get on and off the train, tube and pull for a mile walk to destination Guide hostel. Mission 'almost' Impossible!

The phone rang and the voice of Rob brought me back down to Earth, but not as much as when he said "take-away for dinner Dear". God, I love that man!

The packing debate continued and I resided to sewing on 11 badges that did not seem to matter so much before this moment, to be visible on her bright pink '100 Years of Girlguiding' shirt - but then it's not every day that a Girl Guide gets to make her 'promise' in the grounds of Buckingham Palace after watching therein the 'Changing of Guard' (apparantly a privilege that is earned only through writing a letter to Queeny and is reserved only for the likes of staff, Cubs, Scouts and Girl Guides).  Long after sending her to bed, later than usual and was needed, I was still sewing on badges and preparing packed lunch (for her arrival) and snacks for the 2 hour train journey (Virgin Express, no less!). Bed time 1.30 am!!!!!!!!

6.30 am!!!!!!! Rise and no sign of shining, I then received a telling of for making her 'not so favourite' sandwiches and decided to re-do them, not to please her, but to save myself the moment of being rubbished when she re-opened her 'not so favourite' pack lunch at the Lodge.  It was because I added grapes instead of lettuce to the ham wraps! What's a Mum to do at 1.00 am when she realises the lettuce has ran out - FFS!.

7.15 am and I'm forcing the hand of my Tweenie (in between - not yet teenager - 8 to 12 yr old) from shoving more toiletries and the cast-out hair straighteners in the over-packed case and trying to get her to the door. "It's time to go! Now!"

Short journey and fortunately no traffic or problems parking at Wigan North Western and all the Guides/Leaders are assembled in the foyer for last minute checks and the arrival of the train. 

Then it hits me!  I'm really going to miss her and I hope she feels confident enough to manage and is going to enjoy herself. 4 days from home and she has only just started high school (with 120 complete strangers and 2 friends) which was enough of an ordeal that she has now settled down from (Parent's Evening went well, even if my experience of homework co-operation had not being going 'quite' as well).

I'm really going to miss her and hope she spends the money I gave her and complained so much about ("kids these days don't appreciate anything and expect everything") on ridiculous things that she doesn't  really need and yet thought she wanted so much and enjoys the experience of doing it!!!  I hope she stays up late, even though she has early starts and jam-packed days and that someone makes her lunches for her before they go, so that she can do daft things and spend the time with her friends, wasting the short time she seems to spend with them these days, given the amount of homework they are getting and I hope she is excited about all of the places they are getting to see: Pax Lodge, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge (done it with us, but so much better with a group of her friends), Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds, 'Wicked' at the theatre, Crystal Palace, Planet Hollywood, St Paul's Cathedral, right up to the doors of No.10 and an invite for tea and cakes with Lyndsey Hoyle (our local MP), Harrods and picnics in the parks.

I leave the station feeling glad they had us parents go before they all headed for the platform - not sure I could have held it together watching my first born (and 25 girls) board a train for the Capitol without me, in the trusted hands of 4 adults and a couple of Senior Guides.  I pull myself together and head for home.

I waited 'all day' for her to call me and tell me that she had arrived and had a great day and that there was so much to do and lots of fun to come. I didn't want to call in case they were rushing off to somewhere or listening to instructions and she would get told off or feel flustered finding her phone or worse still 'embarrased' that her Mum had called.  I waited all day and then late at night she 'did' call.  I listened intently as she described the Lodge and the games they had played, running around discovering the place, having to pay 75p for hot chocolate and 50p to use the computers to go on Facebook. How one of the girls had turned her 'shared' room into a Salon that evening and offered to do the other girls hair and nails. I listened and I hung on every word and didn't want the conversation to end. Then she said "I love you Mum and miss you" and "You don't have to wait for me to call - call anytime!"  She missed me too and for a Tweenie to admit after only one day away from her 'ever complaining' Mum - that was priceless!

"I love you too" and I didn't mind telling her that I had been in her bedroom, as I do each night when I go up and kissed her pillow this time, as she was not there.  "I'll text first, then call you"  "Goodnight Sweetheart."

Now it's tomorrow evening they return and I have heard how she loved Buckingham Palace and how the guards were a bit scary with big guns and big horses, walking right by them and how she was 'so excited' about making her 'promise'. Excited too about watching 'Wicked' with her friends and taking a picture of Jonny Depp's hand print in Planet Hollywood. I can't wait to hear about St. Pauls when I call later and boy oh boy, I can't wait to collect her from the train station tomorrow.

It will be just 2 days later that I will leave her for 1 week while she goes to Turkey with her Dad for the second half of 'half term' and we (Rob, Me and K Boo) go to Washington D.C.  - time out for myself that I bragged about. Wish she was coming with me!

Time Out for Mums Blog: http://timeoutformums-honiebuk.blogspot.com/
HonieMummy Blog: http://honiebuk.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Study Trap (and how House of Lynne got it's name)

I've been up 3 hours, 2 kids down (at school) and 1 been up a short time very much late for nursery, breakfast and getting dressed in progress and I haven't even managed a cup of tea or a bowl of cereal yet!

But I do have to confess I have managed to send an email to the Guides Leader, thanking her for re-sending the kist list for the London trip that I lost (in the Study Trap) and to ask for details of the Centenary Party at the Town Hall tomorrow to be re-sent also.

The Study Trap - well let's just say we recently decorated and there are consequences, trade offs, whatever you want to call them and below is the exact carbon copy of the email sent and how 'House of Lynne' (not Linn) came about.  After this I'll fill it with daily blog and the chaos that makes this house 'home' ..........

Hi Sharon

Cheers for the kit lists

Does Helen need her invite to go to Centenary Party at Town Hall? I know it's tomorrow night and where - can't remember time and not sure if uniform or party gear (guessing it's the latter). Please advise :o)))))

I feel very guilty (I do) that anything that was in Rob's path ended up in piles in the study. Then he has stacked a tonne of audio equipment in front of the door.  It's like a death trap in there.  All will be put in it's place shortly - unfortunately, this mean when Rob has time or when 'he needs it', mmmh!  In the meantime, there are lots of important things counting down toward: like the party tomorrrow, London, Washington DC and if I wasn't pulling my hair out with the day to day things in our lovely children's (cough) lives, note - the important things in my own life pale into insignificance, then I might find the time to go in there (mission impossible) and sort it all myself.

Now you think I'm kidding right - see the attached pic and note: to the right is a 20kg table (for taking a plasma screen) up on its side, to the left is a ridiculously expensive audio storage rack (the likes of which I daren't move) and on the floor in front is a mish mash of wires, cable, cd's, some important audio stuff (Rob's words not mine) and there in the distance, piled on the chair, which before dumping the previously mentioned stuff was carefully balanced to the point of 'dare you to take anything out of it', is a stack of paperwork n stuff (some of which I need like tomorrow).

The Study Trap

So even if I did manage to become an expert at Twister and could make my way on tippy toe through the mess, I would be taking my life in my hands for it not to all topple and be lost in the abyss of 'the study trap'.

Why is he doing this?  It has taken 5 years for paint to be brought into the lounge, 2 years ago he made a bloody big hole 4 inches wide up my wall to accomodate a new hd telly, 1 year ago after nagging him to fill the hole for 12 months - I filled it myself, another year on I sanded the plaster down because got scik of asking for this too and.......

Just lately he has discovered (another) new concept in audio!  I must mention at this point that I have seen no less than 10 sets of speakers in the 5 years I have known Rob and about as many cd players, amplifiers, phono systems, just 4 turntables and 5 hifi racks -  all of which you could not find in Curry's, Comet or any music shop you and I would normally visit.

This new concept involves downloading all of his 1000+ cd's and accessing them on a DS (not Nintendo) system that makes iPod look like a ZX81 (if you can remember them, lol) and de-clutters the shelves of my study and 2 units in the lounge AND means that when I need to play a cd, I don't have to ring him up and ask where it is (there are that many in various places) ALL at no further cost to us as he has been selling existing stuff to cover it ........

So I bought into this concept, naturally!  But (and its a big but). So .... BUT

He had to get the lounge to a standard Mummy here was prepared to accept before letting 2 blokes from a big posh house that they demonstrate the system in, to come and ransack the place and assess and fit the said system. Which comes from and I think this bit is aptly named 'the House of Linn' lol

So Halleluiah, the lounge is done! OMG the study is in limbo, til the rest of the stuff (which I'm told is sold) is collected.

"Dear God, please make my life simple today, luv n kisses, Lynne :o)"

It'll all come right in the wash. Hope your days are a little more simple than mine.

Sound Advice from the guys at House of Linn:

Time Out for Mums Blog: http://timeoutformums-honiebuk.blogspot.com/
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