Saturday, 31 July 2010

One For The Memory Box

Firstly, there are no film spoilers! 

Today, for the first time as a family we went to the cinema.  This should be a memorable event.  Hopefully both boys will look back on this and remember being taken to see Toy Story 3.

I'd taken the boys to the 'Kids Club' at Weston's Odeon. The first film they'd ever seen in a cinema was Alvin and The Chipmunks - The Squeakqual (I laughed a lot!) and then, another time, we saw Nanny McFee and the Big Bang (another good film!).  Kids Club operates at weekends, and during the holidays.  It's usually a morning showing of a film (not usually a new release, possibly released 2-3 months prior), and you pay only £1 per child, adults getting in free.  I'd used this as a way to see if my kids were ready to sit still and behave in a cinema.  If they didn't, then I knew I'd only paid a £1, and so had everyone else, so you could anticipate and accept some disturbances.

But for some reason, these two trips to the cinema didn't quite feel like a proper cinema event - although they were - because we hadn't been as a family.  My husband hadn't yet got to come and join us in this fun.  And I suppose because they were a cheap morning out, and you're not really seeing the latest release it didn't seem as big as today.

Toy Story 3 has been the latest movie to hit the big screen in time for the summer holidays.  It's competing with some popular movies that are on; Eclipse (rated 12A), The Karate Kid (rated PG) and The A-Team (rated 12A - that's on my list to see next week!).  Okay, so Toy Story 3 is a U... but it has adult humour.  If you're a big kid, you won't be disappointed with Toy Story 3!

In the week I'd suggested it to Dave, and so he went about getting tickets for today.  Weston Odeon were only showing the 3D version, and after some thought on it, we really couldn't see Kieran sitting through a whole film with 3D glasses on.  Also, the price was extortionate!  So, we got a family ticket, dashed up to Vue at Cribbs Causeway after I'd finished work, and got some good seats in the 2D viewing, saving us over £10.

Kieran sat the whole way through as good as gold.  Occasionally he asked for a sweetie from his dad.  But otherwise he was mesmerised.  I admit, I was worried about his staying power.  He isn't quite 3 and half.  Ben got upset mid way through when he thought it was a bit scary.  I didn't really think about it as I tried to console him, (nervous the whole cinema could hear him sobbing) telling him it will have a happy ending.  I actually hadn't realised a couple of the characters were scary to him.  He's such a sensitive soul!  I found him crying the first time with Monster Inc (when Sully has to say goodbye to Boo) that I have on DVD .

So going to the cinema today was a big success and something we hope to do more as a family together - funds provided of course (it's no longer a cheap day/night out).  And Dave and I are thinking of all the films we can go and see, which we wouldn't normally, because of course, the kids want to see it!  Cats and Dogs - The Revenge Of Kitty Galore looks so funny!

Driving home, all uplifted by the greatness of the film, Dave and I were discussing how the boys will probably remember today, Toy Story 3 being one of the first films they saw at the cinema.  I remember my first cinema experiences, I remember seeing Dumbo, the days when you walked in even if it was half way through, and sat there to watch it again (we did).  I also remember seeing Mary Poppins, and the cinema was so full, my brother was sitting right in front of me, on the end aisle, giggling away in his seat as Dick Van Dyke lowered his trousers and danced/waddled with the penguins.  I still remember that image.  And I suppose the one I remember the most - being that bit older - my dad took me and my brother to Leicester Square, and we sat in the 'circle' rather than the stalls, watching Ghostbusters.  I won't ever forget the ghost in the library at the very beginning scaring the whole cinema witless as it came towards us filling the whole screen!

With all the excitement, I said, today should be put in our diaries as a memorable moment, and Ben said, in his most serious tone, "But I haven't even got a diary."  Dave and I laughed.  I reassured him that it would go on my blog.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Book Review: From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris

 From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse, #8)From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like the rest of these books, this really is good escapism.

Sookie is trying her best to be a good Christian. And to be honest I like the internal conflicts she has.  Makes her so much more human and she gives us a good chuckle.

Another witty, fun and well paced book, that always gets me excited when Eric shows up.  I really am falling for this Vamp!

There was a nice bit of Sam in this book too.  He's another favourite of mine.  I can't help thinking he's really the one for Sookie, but he being her boss stops her from entertaining that idea. But I live in hope!

I don't want to say too much.  I hate to give away spoilers.  I can see where others have written their review, I agree this book does have about 3 mini stories going on within it, and maybe they could have been more cleverly interlaced, but then it might have got confusing.  It didn't put me off.  This book is possibly setting up things to come in other future books...  so maybe it had to be done.  I still didn't find this book dull to read.

I can't put these books down, so will have to start reading book 9 now - Dead and Gone.  I don't have the next one... will have to wait for my birthday or something.  How will I cope?

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, 22 July 2010

My Kamikaze Kieran

aka Kieran The Destroyer!
Kieran - 3 years 4 months 

Yes, it's true two children can be completely different.  Kieran is the family's joker/clown/comedian.  Far from sensible like our Ben.  I am pretty sure he will be the one as a teenager saying, "Mum, I just did a bungee jump," or "Mum, is it okay if I throw myself out of a plane?" or "Look at that mountain, can I climb it?"  (I think he has his dad's genes for adventure).

Only a few days old...

Kieran George Morgan was born on 24th March 2007.  They say no two labours are the same.  This is exactly true for me.  If labour could be considered pleasurable, then that's what Kieran's was.  After my contractions started in the morning, I arrived at the hospital at 8.30am, Kieran at 10.44am - very quickly still in the waters.  I had only gas and air, and the Tens machine for pain relief.  I felt everything this time, with only my husband and two midwives in the room, it was a much more private experience than I'd had with Ben, which felt like practically the whole hospital saw me!

Bath time!

I've always liked the name Kieran, (and luckily Dave didn't mind it, too) and George was my grandad's name, which was a name I wanted to use.  And we thought the two sounded rather good together.

It's actually difficult to shorten Kieran, so he doesn't tend to have a nickname.  He's described as 'Kamikaze' because he seems to have no fear, more than anything.  Or 'Destroyer' because he likes to pull toys apart.  There are toys that Ben has kept so nice and together, and Kieran has come along and well, destroyed them.

He gained his front teeth before Ben, but considering his lack of fear, took longer to walk.  Ben always had a good full head of hair, and his double crown.  Kieran's is thinner (like his dad's) though is lucky enough to only have a single crown.

Both of my sons are cuddly, but Kieran always tells me he 'lubs' me - unprompted.  He always wants 'cuggles'.  It's rather cute that he can't say his v's unless he concentrates.  He loves his grandads to read to him.

He's actually a little shy, too, when he realises the attention is on him.  Apparently, he's actually quiet at preschool (unlike at home).  He joins in, plays and participates but is a quiet little soul that goes happily from one toy/activity to the next.  If there is water play, he always gets wet.  He spends the majority of his three hours there outside, unless it's too wet.

Kieran at Noah's Ark July 2010

Recently he did a sponsored toddle.  The theme was pirates and the children had to walk the plank.  Kieran, was apparently the star of the toddle, wanting to walk the plank 19-20 times!  He also was the wettest!

He's always singing (usually himself to sleep) the nursery rhymes and songs he's learnt.  Kieran's other favourite songs are Mama Mia! and Dancing Queen and can be heard singing his own rendition.  (I have the Mama Mia! soundtrack in the car - it's the only one with no swearing.  I can hardly play Lily Allen).

Kieran certainly put the boy into boisterous.  Initially he used to kiss babies in pushchairs... now he tends to roar at them like a dinosaur.  But his nature is good and playful.  He's not meaning to be malicious or spiteful.  You can see mischief in his eyes though, and turning three he's become very defiant, learning to push those buttons.  He can be as stubborn as a mule sometimes.

Ben is his best friend.  He pines for Ben during the day, then they tend to bicker once Ben is home (which is frustrating!).  When Kieran turns four he'll get to play football - at the moment he kicks around a ball along the sideline with his dad.  I hate to say it, but he's much more of a natural with the ball than Ben.  If he sees a ball, he wants to kick it.  And like Ben, he's doing Stars In Training.  Soon he'll be old enough to start swimming, which I seriously think he'll take like duck to water because he has no fear.

I always intended to have two children (mother nature allowing), and although it would have been nice to have one of each, I think Ben has benefited by having a brother.  They play so well and I can see them being the best of pals as they get older.  Kieran follows his brother like a little lost lamb, gets himself into mischief, and Ben goes bailing him out and telling him off in his sensible way.

People ask if I'd try for a girl and the answer is no! However much I love my boys... I'm not sure I want three!  Boys are more physically draining, whereas girls I think wear you down mentally (from what I've seen of my friends little girls).  So I'll stick with just the two, thank you!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

My Little Man, Ben

Benjamin James Morgan is my eldest son.  He was born on the 4th December 2004 and I endured a long and exhausting labour, but somehow - two unwanted epidurals and a spinal block later - I did give birth to him naturally (I'll spare you the gory details). 

When he was born I felt he was a blessing, because before him, I'd had an ectopic pregnancy and lost my left fallopian tube.  I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to have children, as I feared for the health of my right one, too.

We chose the name Benjamin because we knew that we wouldn't mind his name being shortened to Ben.  (You have to think of these things when you choose a name.  No point choosing Elizabeth, if you don't like the name Liz or Lizzie.  Because that's what will happen at school, and life, whether you like it or not.  Their friends, and even yourself, will give them nicknames.  And sometimes no point choosing a short name that can't be shortened, because then it tends to be lengthened).

And Ben was a lovely, short, cute name (in my opinion) for a handsome baby.  He was handsome.  I remember a midwife saying so, without realising I was there.  She was cooing over him, talking to another midwife, showing him off, saying, "look at this handsome baby boy."  He wasn't more than two days old.  My heart swelled with pride.  (Where he got his good looks from though... I'm not so sure).

He has grown into a good boy.  Okay - he does have his naughty moments like every other child.  He knows how to push Kieran's and my buttons at times.  But generally he's thoughtful, inquisitive, caring, extremely loving, and actually, very sensible.

Ben's a bit of a stickler for rules and can be quite bossy saying so.  But usually he's loud (and bossy) to overcome his shyness. He hides behind it. And really he has no reason to lack confidence, because he's a bright boy. But this does tend to be his way of making friends, and he is great at making those. 

Today, he made me proud again, (Proud Mummy Moments as we call them) collecting his Class Representative for his Reception Year.  The certificate states, and I quote;

Ben is a cheerful helper, a conscientious worker, and a fantastic friend to his classmates.

He can always be relied upon to make a positive contribution in all of his learning.  Well done, Ben!

I can't believe that his first year at school is nearly over.  I hope he keeps up the good work and continues to enjoy school and life as positively has he's shown so far.  I want him to continue running to school, like he has the last year.  I do worry about the day I'll have to drag him... but maybe it won't come.

Ben's hobbies include football, swimming and Stars in Training.  One of his goals is to swim in the big pool.  I tell him he has to continue practising his swimming.  He's currently level 3.  He's made Trainer of the Week a couple of times at football now, showing that he is improving there too.

I sometimes feel like I'm too hard on him, expect too much.  I really should relax a little, he's doing fantastic.  He is only five. 

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

For Someone Who's Had Three Hours Sleep...

I think I've done remarkably well.  (My son had me up till 4am complaining of tummy ache and finally being sick).

I've tried to keep my cool with my sons... that worked some of the time - not something that was likely on only three hours sleep.  I'm pretty crap on eight!   

I'm actually sitting here thinking I don't feel too tired... so maybe I should go and read? 

I think what might have done it was that I sat on my backside for most of the day (and finished my book).  What better excuse than to cuddle a poorly boy?  I did strip the boys' beds down and give the upstairs a quick hoover, but I did cheat and put EVERYTHING in the dishwasher, even the stuff that I usually like to just wash up by hand.  It meant I could tick 'washing up' off my to-do list. 

So, Ben was sick again just before going to bed this evening, but he's now out spark-o.  Just hope he wakes up perky because I want him in school tomorrow.  It's the award ceremony.  Ben has been awarded Class Representative for his class, as well as his best (girl) friend, Maisie.  I think they pick a girl and boy from each class... (we'll find out more tomorrow) and these two have been working/playing together since they started.  They were good friends at preschool too... which is too cute to describe!

We had parent's evening today, and his teacher said Ben was a pleasure to teach (that was her words) and will miss him in her class (that was her words too!).  

I think, having two boys, I'm worried that I'm going to have those naughty boys that are always at the bottom of the class in achievement and always disrupting it (I remember the ones from school).  Admittedly, that comes more when they get older and get put into 'classes' but even so, I'm trying my hardest to make sure they're not naughty boys.  They're both running to school (and preschool) so that's got to be good, right?  I dread the day I have to start dragging them... that won't be so good.  

I don't think Kieran will be the same... I can see him being a tad more mischievous and not so sensible like Ben.  But he's still a clever little chap, too. 

Oh and Ben said today, "It's boring being sick.  I don't get to go to school."  Good boy!

We spoke to the head teacher and told him about Ben being sick but he said to bring him tomorrow whatever.  His teacher said she'll make sure there's a bucket to hand for him.  But he must get his award.  (I don't want him to miss it either!)  If he's a bit peaky afterwards, I can always take him home. 

Right, I've whittled on about my sons... you're probably bored as hell.  I was going to read A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand, which I picked up months ago in Tescos.... but now I'm thinking actually I want to read Sookie.  But I keep looking at my Goodreads read-2010 list and think - does it need more diversity?  Will I learn more by reading different stuff?  However, I am also concious that I want to get to 40 by the end of the year, and if I start reading longer, deeper books or my non-fictions that I have on my shelf to read, I might not make it.  It might slow me down. 

Some might say its cheating... I call it planning ahead and achieving my goal :-P  Once I'm closer to that 40 mark, I'll pick up the 'heavier' books. 

Okay well this entry fits well to the title, 'Ramblings Of A Mad Woman...' 

Book Review: Under The Boss's Mistletoe

This book was a bit Christmassy!  But I wanted to read the other story in this 2-in-1 book, and with my son being ill, and lacking in sleep myself, I thought I'd spend some of the day, cuddling my poorly son and reading my book.  Hence I got this story finished today, so I can put the book back on the shelf.  I couldn't wait to read the Liz Fielding book, which I've also published a review for.  (Liz Fielding has become a bit of a favourite of mine, I've loved all three books I've read of hers so far!).  And I kind of didn't want to leave this book half unread, which is what it felt like, even though there are two stories in it.

Actually 2-in-1 books don't work so well on Goodreads when I'm counting my book total - which is 25 by the way!

I want to reach 40 by the end of the year.  I thought that was a realistic target considering I'm doing a writing course, have fanfiction to write, a house to keep, and two kids and a husband not to neglect.

Okay - I maybe cheating in some ways slotting in a few Mills and Boons books, because they're hardly huge. But I did read some big novels, albeit the Twilight series at the beginning of the year.  I'm saving the non-fictional books that I want to read until the end of the year, purely because I know that I might not get so hooked on them, and become slow at reading and finishing them.   And then panic about reaching my 40 target.

So on with my review, as posted on Goodreads:

  Christmas Angel for the Billionaire/Under the Boss's Mistletoe (Mills & Boon Romance 2 in 1)Christmas Angel for the Billionaire/Under the Boss's Mistletoe by Liz Fielding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've left my review for book:Christmas Angel for the Billionaire|6749820] there and gave it four stars.

This review is for Under The Boss's Mistletoe by Jessica Hart

A good romance story, and entails a fake wedding, always a favourite of mine.  However I did feel at the end it would have been nice to 'see' Jake come to his conclusions, rather than 'tell' Cassie how he did so with his  dialogue.

Just at the end felt a bit more dumped on us and rushed, maybe.  I don't know.  That's the only fault I find with a Mills and Boon novel is that sometimes they only have so much wordage, that bits that could be expanded or 'shown' rather than 'told' don't happen and I feel a little cheated.

I would have liked to have seen Natasha turn up on Jake's doorstep and lived through that more.

This was a nice story, but I do tend to like Liz Fielding's style (hence why I gave that four stars, and this three).

View all my reviews >>

Hmmm... what to read next?  I think I might need another Sookie Stackhouse adventure!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Another Book Review...24 Books Down 16 To Go

 Christmas Angel for the Billionaire (Harlequin Romance)Christmas Angel for the Billionaire by Liz Fielding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was thrilled to see that this book is the other side of the story to Her Desert Dream where Lydia goes off under the guise of Lady Rose and falls in love with the Sheikh Kalil (forget his surname now!).

This is the story of Lady Rose, aka Annie trying to have a few days as life of an ordinary woman.  Using the few days that she has while Lydia, her double, is in a far away land keeping the press happy and off Annie's back.  And luckily for Annie she falls into the arms of George Saxon.

It was told as sensually and beautifully as Her Desert Dream.  This is tender romance.

I really like Liz Fielding's writing style.  Not truly sure how to describe it and give it justice.  Just kept me wanting to read more and more.

I loved the frustrations and conflicts between the hero and heroine.  Maybe it's just me but I love a good fight, where they get to kiss and make up eventually.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, 9 July 2010

Book Review: All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Didn't realise I could do this... so might do this more often.

  All Together Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #7)All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great book in the Sookie Stackhouse adventures if you want escapism.

I love the humour of Sookie. Nicely sarcastic for me.

This book probably wasn't as good as some of the previous ones, (although I still enjoyed it) but we get some new characters, new creatures.  Enough of Eric to keep you (and Sookie) on your toes.

I will say this again.  I prefer these books to the Twilight series (I know, I know those are written for teenagers), purely because we are reminded that vampires are monsters.

I like Sookie, because she never once begs to be made a vampire.  Far from it.  In fact at the then of this book she really has had enough of them.  Sookie seems a real enough character to me, in the world Charlaine Harris has produced.

I think I read this slower, just due to knuckling down and doing stuff I was supposed to be doing, and not reading this book (it took great restraint) and so maybe I didn't really get into it like I have the others.  So hence four stars from me, instead of five.

Favourite quote from this (had my laughing so loud):

"Where was John Wayne when you needed him? Or Bruce Willis?  Or Matt Damon?  I would be glad to see Jason Bourne right now."

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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Life Of A Cereal Mum

It's just over two weeks until the summer holidays.  Some of my friends are excited.  I'm not so sure.  What will I do with my kids for the next six weeks, freely?  It's not cheap sometimes, entertaining kids.  Especially if the sun doesn't shine (like for the last two years!).  I've got things in mind, but I won't be able to go out every day.

One thing I will not miss is the morning routine, because every morning is the same.  The same things need to happen.  Surely my kids have realised this by now?

No.  I still need to nag.

"Breakfast is ready!" No children enter the kitchen.  "Ben! Kieran! Breakfast time."


“Eat your breakfast.”  Which is usually Weetabix or Shreddies.  I really don't have time to make them porridge.  That's a weekend treat.

“But Mummy...”

“I said eat your breakfast!  Quickly!”

Once breakfast is over, at 7.45am (it can be no later) I am herding them up the stairs. I'm thinking cows could move quicker.  Into the bathroom they go, my cherubs, squabbling who's going to be 'the winner' or the toothpaste, or who's going to sit on the loo (seat down of course).  I hand each their toothbrush and leave them to scrub their teeth while I rush around, opening curtains and making their beds, repeatedly telling them to stay in the bathroom.  I lay out Ben's school uniform on his cabin bed, ready and waiting. 

Rushing back into the bathroom, I grab one child - usually Ben.  A quick scrub with the toothbrush to make sure those back teeth have been hit, then the flannel (trying to make sure the water is actually warm - mean mummy!) to wipe away those sleepy lions.

In the summer I have the added 'bonus' of applying the sun cream.  That eats into your time! And can send your stress levels soaring (well it does mine) when they want to 'help'. 

My eldest is left to get dressed on his own, with me shouting out as I dress my toddler, Kieran, “Are you dressed yet?  Remember pants.  Put your socks on!  No, not those socks, the ones I left out!”

"But I wanted my Lightning McQueen ones."

"You're not allowed Lightning McQueen!" 

Then relax (sort of).  Both are dressed.  I rush into the bathroom to get washed and dressed myself.  Slap on some make-up – I won’t set foot out of the door without my foundation and a bit of lippy these days.  Can’t be seen as some slummy mummy.  Though compared to some of the pristine mums in the playground... I probably still am.  At least I no longer need to worry about baby sick... just snot maybe?  Kieran is good at wiping his runny nose over you while he gives 'cuggles'.

Usually, while I am getting ready I have the joy of contending with some bickering or squabble.  Just to send stress levels into the red.  I swear my neighbours have probably seen me naked. 

Once I'm ready, I direct the children back down the stairs (thank the heavens I only have two – I’m likely to slap anyone who asks are we considering a third.  No!) unless they've gone down to play.

“Please put your shoes on!"

No movement or response while I tear around the kitchen, packing Ben's lunchbox.

"I said put your shoes on!”

"Have you not put your shoes on yet?" 

By this point I am sick of my own nagging voice.

Eventually, coats are on (in the winter, or if it's raining).  Lunchbox packed.  Armed with book bag and a water bottle we exit the house.

I can almost hear that bloody bell ringing as we hurry along to school.  Summer is easier in the fact that my youngest isn't trying to jump in all of the puddles, because usually I'd be saying  “Don’t jump in the puddles, you haven’t got your wellies on!”  Teeth gritted by now.

Admittedly, both boys are actually running to school (how long will that last?).  I'm straggling behind carrying the bags and water bottle, trying to stuff the door key into my pocket so I don't lose it. 

We get to school in a harangued state (well I do) but at least I’ve got my makeup on.  My new mum friends give me a similar glance of their morning stress of getting their children to school.

I’m not alone.  We’re all cereal mums.

So I'm looking forward to less stressful mornings, maybe I'll even make them porridge... but what the rest of the day will bring - who knows? 

Saturday, 3 July 2010

We're Winning, Even If England Did Come Home

I thought I'd better give a quick update, regarding my sister, Katie.  Can't leave it as grim as it was, now that we are over the shell-shock, and seeing Katie and how she is dealing with her illness, means that if she can get on with it, and be so brave, so should we.

We visited Katie in hospital last weekend and I'm so proud of her and how she is coping with this illness.  On the outside, except for the bruises, she doesn't look sick.  On the inside, I imagine there is shit loads going on.  Chemo vs. Leukaemia - Let's hope that's 4 - 0 to Chemo!

Katie had shaved her head a couple of days before we'd arrived, as she was finding it upsetting and annoying with clumps of long hair falling out.  She's wearing her Sinead look well, don't you think?

We showed pictures to the boys before we visited her on the Sunday, so that it didn't shock them.  Were the fazed?  Nah!  (Erm, boys, they are Katie's presents, not yours!)

Mum packed a picnic - enough food for the whole hospital - and we sat out in the grounds for the afternoon.  I can't remember the last time I had a proper picnic like that.  It was a wonderful afternoon.

Once all of the food was consumed - well, as much as we could all possibly eat without bursting, (does anyone else's mum feed the five thousand?)  - we headed in (out of the heat), to an equally hot restaurant.  We were allowed to sit in the staff section to watch the football.  (Thank you, staff at The Royal Marsden, Sutton).  Although I'm not sure we should have bothered but hey ho!

Anyway, today, looking at my mobile that's been tucked in my bag while I've been at work.  I've received a text from Katie.  She's home!  Katie is finally home.  I thought she had possibly another week or two to go - so this is a lovely surprise.  I think she's got a bit of time off before she has to start travelling back to the hospital daily for her treatment (more Chemo).

Mum said Katie cried a bit seeing her bedroom.... bless.

Katie, you make me so proud.  You're making it look easy.  Stay strong, focused and positive, and you'll be 'the winner'.