Monday, 30 April 2012

What is happiness?

What is happiness? What does it mean to you? Where do you find it? How do you use it?

Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher said that happiness is gaining power and that we are driven by "a perpetual and restless desire of power after power'. Now, whilst Hobbes is indeed an incredibly intelligent man, I cannot agree with this statement.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Silent Sunday


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

We are still waiting for the phone line and internet. I feel lost without blogging and reading everyone else's blogs. I'm keeping up to date (ish) on my phone but it's just not the same.
We are setting in well to the new house and have nearly made it through the vast pile of boxes. Who knew we had so much stuff!
I am back at university too so it's all go at the moment!
I promise that as soon as the phone line is set up the normal service will be resumed!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Photo Gallery: Action

This photo was taken in the park the other day. It was the highest my son has ever climbed and my heart was in my mouth as he got higher and higher.

He is so active. When he's not on his bike or running down the street, he is copying dance moves whilst watching The Wiggles.

The girl doesn't stop either. Nothing is safe since she learnt to climb. She pushes chairs around in order to climb higher! Since she started walking she can't be left anywhere.

So this sums up action for me. Climbing.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BiBs)

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me in the BiB awards. With your help I was shortlisted in the Fresh Voices category with 19 other blogs! Thank you so much for voting. I really do appreciate it. In order to become one of the eight finalists, I need your vote again.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Silent Sunday


Friday, 20 April 2012

We're moving!

As you're reading this, we are moving house. It's been a long time coming. Our house was on the market last year and sold within a week, until this happened. Our buyer failed to tell anyone that she had pulled out of our sale, leaving us plodding on unnecessarily with a purchase.

But last Friday we exchanged contracts on our house. Luckily the house we were previously buying was still on the market so we are moving into the house we originally wanted.

I am so, so sad to be leaving our house. We have poured blood, sweat and tears into this house. I have learnt to build walls, tile bathrooms, wallpaper and grout. We have torn walls down and rebuilt them, all sorts of stuff. This house has been our home for nearly eight years and so much has changed in that time (not least the addition of two children to our family). But we only have two bedrooms and have simply outgrown this house. So I am probably in tears as you're reading this, whilst struggling with a box or two!

The new house is the same size as ours but spread out over four floors. Yes, you read that right. FOUR floors. By the time I get to Cybher I'll be a size 10 and by BritMums I'll be an 8, with three flights of stairs to climb every day! We also have an en-suite bathroom. I think this means we are posh!

Unfortunately, our house was on the market before I started university and it was only when we accepted an offer at the beginning of March that we realised that we couldn't actually afford to move! Luckily my Mum has been an absolute lifesaver and has lent us some money so that we can get to a bigger house.

So I might not be able to write many blog posts over the next couple of weeks whilst I struggle to get broadband set up in the new place. Bear with me please!

Finally, I wanted to ask that if you like my blog, and think it deserves it, please could you vote for me in the BiB awards where I have been shortlisted in the Fresh Voices category! I made a shortlist of 20 blogs but I can't make the finals without your help! Thank you, and sorry for asking.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Whitestep baby bath review

Whitestep recently sent us a foldaway bath by Whitestep to review. The concept is simple, a baby bath which doesn't take up a large amount of space.

And it doesn't take up a lot of space. It folds up really small when you're not using it. You could easily store it in an airing cupboard or on top of a cupboard.

It can be used by children ages 0-4 and, as you can see, fits two children under the age of four in easily.

We put it in our bath to try it out. I thought it was a great idea for saving water as you didn't need to fill it very deep at all. Both children enjoyed a bath together. It was a little cramped for two but certainly manageable. 

I will be taking it camping with us this summer. I can only see it being a great thing to take with us. We can even do the washing up in it!

I think this is a brilliant idea and a great product. I'm not sure that it would tempt me away from my original baby bath but it definitely comes in handy and would be really useful to have one. If you are stuck for space then this is great. The bath comes in a vibrant range of different colours - I'm sure they have one to suit all tastes. If you want further information, have a look at Whitestep's website.

Disclaimer: I was sent this product to review and was allowed to keep it. This in no way had any effect on the review. I will always write honestly about a product.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Real Nappy Week

If you haven't heard already, this week is real nappy week.

When my son was born I tried using cloth nappies but he didn't get on with them and screamed as soon as he wet them. Instead I used biodegradable disposable nappies. When my daughter was born I tried again and using cloth nappies has been a complete success. I find that they are surprisingly easy, as I have written about before here.

My main concern was that the childminder wouldn't be comfortable using them. Initially she was very wary but has since come round to the idea. When I pick the children up she hands me a bag of dirty nappies! The bag is one which I made to keep the nappies in a waterproof bag which looked pretty and didn't smell when full of dirty nappies!

I have also got into more of a routine with the nappies, washing them every other day instead of every day. My husband is not the most practical but even he doesn't have a problem with cloth nappies.

I use pocket nappies. A nappy which has an insert which you stuff inside. They fasten with velcro or poppers and that's it. I don't use liners or anything fancy. It's basically the same as a disposable but you wash it when you're done.

Ultimately the biggest thing for me is that they are cheap. I have probably spent £60 on nappies in the first year of my daughter's life and they are all still going strong! We recently travelled around visiting friends and family and bought disposable nappies as we knew we wouldn't be anywhere long enough to wash them. Two packs of disposables cost £13 and lasted ten days. By my calculations, that equates to £475 a year. So in a year we have already saved £415. I know that we are using the washing machine once every two days but I use it on a short wash at 50 degrees and it is definitely not costing us anywhere near that figure.

If you are interested in using cloth, check out the Go Real website. There is plenty of information and advice for switching to reusable nappies.

This is not a sponsored post.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A brief visit to Oxford!

During our epic trip around the UK over Easter, we spent a day with my Dad in Oxford. Having lived in and around Oxford for most of my life, I love going back with my children to visit.

It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon when we arrived and my Dad suggested a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum which is about ten minutes from his house. He thought our son would love to see the dinosaurs in the Oxford University Museum Natural History section. Even though we had been to the Natural History Museum the day before, the boy was very excited about another trip to a museum.

I think that the dinosaurs at the Pitt Rivers Museum are actually better than the ones in the Natural History Museum.

The museum is small and features many animal skeletons. It's amazing to look at what is under an animal's skin!

The boy enjoyed looking at the human skulls! 
In one part of the museum there are real shrunken human heads (we steered him away from those)! In fact, he had a whale of a time showing his Grandad what was in every single display cabinet.

It's a small museum. We were only there for an hour but you could easily spend a whole day in there. Unfortunately we arrived just as they were packing away the children's activities but it looked as though it had been a lot of fun!

The boys (my Dad, husband and son) all got told off for running upstairs. My Dad thought it was very funny - he hadn't been told off in many years!

This is a lovely museum and I highly recommend it. It is great for children (although you could probably see more if you were alone) and you can easily waste a few hours on a rainy afternoon.

This post is not sponsored in any way. I have not been asked to write anything about the Pitt Rivers Museum or Oxford.

Monday, 16 April 2012

I'm average!

Another thing which happened whilst we were away over Easter was that I got the results from my latest economics exam.

I am beyond delighted to let you know that I passed. And I passed with a good mark. I was bang on average with my score, but I really passed. No scraping though. A proper pass.

I'm sure you understand my excitement. I haven't studied maths for 14 years and I have had to work SO hard just to be average. Everyone else has recently left school, and not had two children to sap every ounce of  knowledge from their brain. Seriously, I don't even know what a carrot is called sometimes and I find my home phone in the fridge far too often!

It makes my student finance predicament even more telling. I still don't know what to do and whether or not I have to defer for a few years until we can afford it. My MP is on the case though which is really helpful.

But for now I am concentrating on getting through the next term and my exams. I am pleased that I'm doing well in philosophy and politics and that economics is finally getting up to scratch!

Here's hoping I can manage the revision!


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday 

Also, I wanted to ask that if you like my blog, and think it deserves it, please could you vote in the BiB awards where I have been shortlisted in the Fresh Voices category! I made a shortlist of 20 blogs but I can't make the finals without your help! Thank you, and sorry for asking.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A lesson in lambing

Last Saturday we visited a children's farm in Brecon. It's a lovely place. It's a bit rough around the edges but the staff are fabulous and that pretty much makes it!

We got there as the farm opened as both children still need a long sleep at lunchtime so we had to leave by one. I had checked the timetable and saw that we could feed the lambs at 11.30.

We were told there were three reasons why the lambs might not be with their mum. The young man telling us the story asked the audience (of young children and their parents) where we thought the lamb's mum might be. Sitting in front of us was a young boy called Elijah who put his hand straight into the air. He was picked and was asked where the lamb's mum might be. "In the oven" was his response!

Clearly a good welsh farmer's son!

The first reason was that the ewe only had enough milk for two lambs but if she had three lambs then the staff would have to care for one.

Then the young man got the children guessing again for the second reason, he said the word began with an R. 

"We're talking about rejection girls and boys"! 

Pretty deep stuff for a room of children.

The final reason was that their Mum might have died! 

After our happy lesson in life, the boy got stuck in to feeding the rejected lambs!

There was still time for a bounce on the trampoline before we headed home for bed.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

A visit to London

Regular readers will know we've been on a family visiting frenzy recently. I don't know why I can't just visit them all one at a time but it appears that my ability to take too much on extends to family too!

After a stopover in Leicester to break the journey up, we headed down to Watford, our base for four days. The in-laws house has three bedrooms and just about fits us all in. Luckily there is a fantastic park nearby so that the boy could let off steam!

On the Saturday we went to see my best friend and my God-daughter whose birthday party it was. It was her fifth birthday, which would be normal for most children, but she was born at 23 weeks, so every birthday she has I marvel at her determination and ability to prove everyone wrong! She continues to astound me - her speech having improved so much since starting school. It's great seeing my best friend too. We so rarely get to see each other these days.

On the Sunday, we went to Cbeebies Live, having won the tickets from ChelseaMamma. The boy was ridiculously excited on the tube with his younger cousin (although she is much taller than him).

I can't get over the fact that my son has already been to Wembley Arena at the age of 3. I went there first at the age of 14 to see Take That! Cbeebies Live is a great show. It was quite loud and I think the boy was equally terrified and excited at the same time. Overall he loved it though and keeps asking when we are going to go again. 

The next day we went into London to the Natural History Museum. We set off early, amid disgruntled tube passengers, concerned their journey would be disrupted. I've never seen so many grumpy faces in such a small space!

It was a beautiful day and the building is simply stunning!

Even though we got there for 10am, we still had to queue to get in! 

But it was worth it - the dinosaurs are excellent and there is so much to see and do. The girl managed to sleep all throughout the dinosaurs though!

And then back to Watford, in time for a lunchtime sleep! It was great to get into London and do things with the children. One day we'll take them to the different places we used to live in London.

If anyone else is stuck for something to do in London (as if!) then I would highly recommend the Natural History Museum, even with young children. My son is only three and he absolutely loved it!


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Photo Gallery: Easter

The Photo Gallery: Week 98

This is one of the main symbols of Easter for me, lambs skipping in the fields. The lambs were running towards me, joyfully, looking for food. Until that is, they saw the three year old boy running towards them, at which point they made a hasty retreat to their mums!

We have been on an epic journey this Easter, taking in Leicester, Watford, Croydon, Oxford, Bristol and finally Brecon before heading home again yesterday. Needless to say, we are all a little shattered and very glad to be back home.

It has been lovely seeing so many different family members and friends. We have eaten extremely well.  On Easter Day I was finally allowed to eat chocolate again, having given it up for lent. Something I won't be doing again! Which leads me to the next picture. This is how I feel after all the celebrations, rather like a pig we saw at a city zoo in Bristol. Nice!

If you want to see the rest of this week's Gallery offerings, click on the link below.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Cybher Meet and Greet!

This week I found out that I will be attending Cybher, a female blogging conference. I am ridiculously excited. Also, I am slightly nervous as it will be my first ever blogging conference. If you're going too, then make sure you link up at Geek is the new chic

In trying to find a picture for this post, I now realise I have very few of just me!

So, this is me (the first actual picture of me on my blog). 

Name : Siân
Twitter ID : @HelpfulMum
Height : 5'6" 
Hair : Long and blonde (brown in winter - I need sun)

Five things you should know about me...

I am a mature student in my first year, studying philosophy, politics and economics.
2. I have two children, two cats and one long-suffering husband.
3. I am a massive Oxford United fan. Always have been, always will.
4. My husband and I have been together twelve years but I am only 30!
5. I am scared the fashion bloggers will laugh at me for my non-existent sense of 'style'.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Silent Sunday


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Photo Gallery: At Peace

The Photo Gallery: At Peace 
Week 97 

Here is my entry for this week's Gallery. This is the view from the wall at the bottom of my Grandma's Bed & Breakfast in the Yorkshire Dales. It is the place that I feel most at peace with the world. Utterly relaxed and at home. We go up there every couple of weeks to help out (and enjoy the view). 

 I absolutely love the place. This photo was taken a few weeks ago in the beautiful sunny weather. 

I love the focus in this shot and the fuzzy bits on the dry stone wall.

If you want to see the other photos from this week's gallery, click on the link below.


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Silent Sunday

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