Building a snowman can be crossed off my list of things to do in 2015

At the beginning of the year I made a bucket list of all the things that I wanted to do this year. I can just about cross making a snowman off that list now.

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Waking up to snow

We unexpectedly woke up to snow this morning and my eldest daughter was really excited and wanted to go out straight away. We managed to have breakfast first and then went out straight away, which turned out to be a good thing as the snow was starting to melt.

Firstly we went for a walk and then when we came back we made a snowman, of sorts, in our back garden. Ideally a bigger layer of snow would have been better, but we did manage to rustle up enough to get this snowman built.

No help from daughter

I thought my daughter would have liked to get involved, but she seemed a little scared of the snow. Although she was loving going out in it and was really excited, she didn’t really want to touch it. It was therefore mummy and myself who built the snowman. My daughter was really excited to see it go up though and didn’t want to go inside once it was finished.

Just in time

We finished the snowman just in time as by 13.00 pretty much all the snow had melted. I’m glad we therefore made the most of the opportunity we had. Our daughter was loving looking at the snowman from inside the house and was even showing her big cuddly snowman the real snowman outside.

snowman looking at snowman

Grateful

I’m grateful that we just about had the chance to cross building a snowman of the list. Although I’m hoping we still get more snow this year so we can build another one. Hopefully next time my daughter will want to get more involved.

 

Stopping at two

Rainbow cake a big success, but a lot of hard work.

My wife and myself spent a good part of yesterday baking and decorating a rainbow cake to take to our local toddler group as it was our daughters second birthday on Tuesday.

The result is below. I felt it turned out pretty well although the icing wasn’t that even.

Rainbow Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is pretty straight forward to make although we struggled with the decoration.

The layers are a basic victoria sponge recipe which is split into six and food colouring is added before it is put in the oven. There’s a layer of buttercream frosting between each layer and then just a store bought icing was rolled out and put on the tops and sides. This was the most difficult part as it was very difficult to get smooth. However we used some sash to go round the cake to hide most of the imperfections.

The reaction

The cake seemed to go down a treat at the toddler group , although are daughter looked a bit bemused when it was brought out and didn’t want to blow out the candles. All in all I’d say it was a big success though.

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

Car insurance tip for new stay at home parents. I saved £300!!

When you decide to become a stay at home parent the distance you drive and the use of your car can change quite drastically. So this year when I received my renewal quote from the RAC. I called them up to let them know of my change in circumstances. Only three changes were made.

 

 

 

 

The changes

  • The mileage went down from around 25,000 a year to about 7,000 a year
  • The car is no longer used for commuting
  • My “job” title changed from clerical to stay at home parent.

The result

 

 

 

After informing my insurance company of these changes the price fell from £588 to £280 a year. I don’t know which of these changes had the most effect on the huge drop, but I do know it was well worth it.

What I could have done differently

I could have used a comparison website such as Confused.com, however as I have had a recent claim it would have been more difficult to go through that process. I could also have looked at changing earlier in the year and getting a cheaper deal then, even if it meant paying a penalty for early cancellation of the existing policy, it could still have saved me money.

Conclusion

It is definitely worth checking changes to your car insurance premium when your driving habits change. Not only could it save you money, but if you don’t there is a chance that your car insurance will be invalidated when you try and make a claim.

Frankie and Benny’s great for a 2nd birthday lunch

It was my daughters 2nd birthday on wednesday and we had long ago decided not to have a party as she would be overwhelmed. Instead it was just my wife, my four month old daughter, my parents and myself that spent her birthday with her.

We decided early on that we wanted to go somewhere for lunch, but it was a late decision to go to Frankie and Benny’s. We decided to go there due to the birthday experience they offer. We weren’t disappointed.

The Good:

  • Food: The majority of the food was really nice I especially enjoyed the chicken tenders as a starter, the New York calzone as a main and the ice cream, I chose peanut butter, cookies and cream and mint choc chip.
  • The service: The waiters and waitresses were really friendly and helpful. They never once complained about my daughter getting under there feet as she walked round and round the restaurant.
  • The birthday song: This was the highlight for us. Just as the dessert was brought out, the volume on the music went up and the song changed to happy birthday. It seemed that the entire staff then gathered round as my daughters dessert was delivered, with a candle in it, and sang happy birthday to her. They had even gone to the trouble of having someone dress up in a dog costume, which my daughter absolutely loved. She even noticed which door he went back in and tried to follow him numerous times.
  • The quiet: As it was a weekday during lunch it wasn’t too busy and there was enough space for my daughter to get up and explore.

The Bad:

  • Food: Although the majority of the food was good I didn’t enjoy the potato skins as much. They were a bit dry and could have done with more topping/filling. Also my daughter ended up eating most of our starter and then not really having her own meal. Next time I would suggest her main gets brought out at the same time as our starters as she takes a while to eat anyway.
  • The Table: When I phoned to book I asked for a table for four adults and two highchairs. We wanted the two highchairs as our four month old  likes being part of the group when awake and we didn’t want to hold her whilst eating. Their solution was an open booth seating about twelve with a highchair on each end. This would have been way to spread out. As it happens our four month old was asleep at first and my parents didn’t have a starter or dessert so could hold her then. During the main she needed feeding anyway. This highlighted another problem with the seating. The seating was too tight and cramped for my wife to breastfeed comfortably so she had to move to another table to feed the baby. I would also have expected one or two balloons on the table as it was for a birthday.

The Indifferent:

  • The price: I can’t remember what the total bill was as my parents paid, but I think it was neither really cheap or really expensive.

The conclusion:

Overall I would definitely recommend Frankie and Benny’s for a birthday meal. The positives far outweighed any negatives. Next time I would however be more specific about the table requirements to ensure we got a table that met our needs better. I expect we will be back to celebrate other birthdays in our family. Although I am happy to listen to other recommendations of restaurants where the birthday experience is really good for young children. To find your local Frankie and Benny’s click here. 

My daughters second birthday was a big success no big party needed.

My daughter was two yesterday and the day itself went off with a bang and was a great success. It was even better than we imagined and we’re really glad we decided not to have a big birthday party. It was just my wife, my two daughters, my parents and myself.

 

Problems the night before

The night before was a totally different matter though. Our youngest daughter wasn’t happy and wasn’t really settling, my wife was feeling ill and I wasn’t feeling 100% either. To cap it all off we still had to wrap the presents, decorate the house and bake rainbow cupcakes as our daughter is currently obsessed by rainbows. We got the rainbow cupcake recipe from the Wallflower Girl Blog. The actual cupcakes came out really well however I spent ages on the marshmallow frosting, but couldn’t get it too set. this could be because I didn’t use cream of tartar, but in the end I had to give up. I finally went up to bed just before 11pm and tried to sleep in anticipation of a tiring day ahead.

The wake up call

When our daughter was stirring and waking up my wife and I went to her bed and sang her happy birthday. She looked quite bemused as she didn’t really understand what was happening. However she understands the concept of a part and when she got downstairs she was really excited just to see the bunting and started dancing. We then had breakfast which consisted of porridge, but with the addition of blueberries, which are her favourite.

 

 

Present time

After breakfast it was time to open some presents and we had a pile of those, mostly bought be friends and family as we only bought one or two ourselves. The first thing that my daughter saw was the kitchen that we had bought her as it had been to big to wrap. She started playing with it straight away and didn’t notice the other presents for a while. When she finally realised there were other presents to open she started with a gusto.

She opened things at a pace and a lot of the presents, got short shrift as she wanted to move onto the next one, sorry friends and family, our girl is very fickle and will change what she likes from one day to the next. One present that did stand out was a pink dog on a lead that our daughter named Molly, after the dog of the aunt who bought her the present. She absolutely loves the real live Molly and so far loves the toy Molly just as much. She constantly wanted to take him for a walk.

Postman brings more gifts

She was taking Molly for a walk when the doorbell rang. It was the postman delivering two more parcels. One contained a really nice party dress which couldn’t have been timed more perfectly as that’s what she wore when we went out for lunch. The other contained three books that the author Jo Lodge kindly sent. Our daughter wanted to read them straight away. After we read them a few times we had a rainbow cupcake, by some good fortune the marshmallow frosting had split slightly, which meant that the top was firm enough to put on the cupcakes. Our daughter was really impressed with the rainbow cupcake and gobbled it down.

Going out for lunch

We decided to go to Frankie and Benny’s for lunch and off course Molly the toy dog had to come to and be walked along the pavement to the restaurant. Inside we had a nice starter which seemed to fill my daughter up as after that she just wanted to take Molly for a walk round and round the restaurant. She really loved doing that and had the time of her life. We took turns having bits of our mains and turns walking round with my daughter. luckily my parents were there to take turns as well. We managed to get our daughter seated for dessert which came  out with a candle and with loud happy birthday music. The waiter all gathered round to sing her happy birthday and they had even gone to the effort of having one wear a dog costume. My daughter really loved it and was in awe of what was happening.

Afternoon playtime and late bedtime

The afternoon was spent just relaxing and playing with her new toys, however she had gotten so excited and wound u that her normal 7.30pm bedtime turned into 8.30/9.00pm. She had such a great day with just a few select people that she really enjoyed it. I’m glad we decided not to do a big party this year as the day we had was just perfect.

Binky Linky

There’s a lemur in my laundry by Jo Lodge book review

After I wrote my list of top ten books for under twos I contacted the various authors and publishers that were on the list. I got into a facebook conversation with Jo Lodge the author of the Mr Croc series of books and happened to mention that  my daughter had torn up a Mr Croc book when she was left without supervision. She kindly offered to send us another book.

Two days later, which happened to be my daughters birthday a parcel arrived and in it where three books. Happy Birthday Mr Croc, Flip Flap Mr Croc and There’s a Lemur in my laundry. This was very unexpected, but gratefully received as my daughter loves reading. I aim to write a review of all three of these books, but will start with There’s a lemur in my laundry which comes out on the 5th of April.

lemur

About the book

There’s a lemur in my laundry is a slide and seek board book. This means that the pages are thick and hidden inside each page is a large panel that slides out and reveals the animal that is hidden in that particular location. For example in addition to there being a lemur in the laundry there’s a frog in the fruit bowl and a snake in the sock drawer. In all there are six animals to find, or ten if you include the rubber duck and various creepie crawlies.

The artwork is very good with lots of bright colours that my daughter loves. There are also a lot of colours used so it’s ideal for learning colours with your child. My daughter especially likes recognizing the various fruits in the fruit bowl.

One slight negative, but it’s one that you have with all these pull out and flap books and the like is that it does not look that sturdy and a determined child might be able to break the book if left unsupervised. Having said all that the negative is easily outweighed by the positives and it’s just a case of remembering to put the book out of reach when you’ve finished reading it together.

All in all I would recommend this book. It’s currently available for pre-order as it releases on the 5th of february. You can pre-order from most online stores. Waterstones currently have it priced at £3.99 which is £1 below the £4.99 rrp and Amazon have it at the rrp of £4.99. Although delivery options and costs at Amazon might be better, especially if you’re a prime member and Amazon will also often lower the price to match competitors so when you’re reading this it might already be lower.