Being Obsessed With Manchester United

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The boys in their favourite place in the world.

Manchester United feature heavily in our house.

When I say heavily, I mean as heavily as a heavy thing that’s heavy.

I’d go as far as to say that the children are obsessed with Manchester United.

Here are ten examples to back up this statement.

1) The boys have asked me to refer to them only by the names Rojo (for Rowan) and Louis Van Gaal (For Louis, obviously)

2) Louis refuses to wear anything that is ‘City colour’ (To me and you, that’s sky blue).

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Note the books on the shelf between the boys …

3) Whenever we drive past Old Trafford they shout ‘We love you!’ at the stadium.

4) Tonight, they’re playing marbles. Only, after five minutes, the marbles had been rearranged like this …

marble pitch

Marbles: Not how I remember it …

5) Though he isn’t old enough to have ever seen Cantona, Beckham, Best or Schmeichel play for Man U, Louis can still tell you quite a bit about each of them (and others!) including which position they played in, where they moved to or if they retired, and if they had a ‘signature’ move Louis can show it to you!

6) The first word they could spell out was ‘United’ – which they learned from singing in the stadium. The words for the last line of that particular song have been … ‘adapted’, let’s say, in our house!

7) Given the choice, Rowan would wear one of his United kits every day of his life. Unfortunately for him, school prefer him to wear his uniform.

) I am forced to watch old matches, YouTube clips and DVDs on a regular basis. Who knew Cantona’s Man Utd career warranted a 4-DVD boxset?

9) Neither of them can bring themselves to support another team, even when they play on FIFA. So very often they play Utd Vs Utd. It can get confusing.

10) At 4 and 7 years old, they have a season ticket to share between them. They know which home matches we’ve got coming up, who we’re playing against, whether or not it should be an easy match, which player could play in which position and – most importantly – whose turn it is to go!

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I blame their father!

 

Does your child have an obsession with something? How do you feel about it?

 

Should you Rent or Buy?

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I have often told people that I feel lucky to have been a home owner from a young age. I was 21 when I took on my first mortgage and while my friends were renting at £500 a month, I was being all smug with my £300 mortgage. There’s a lot to be said for home ownership.

The only reason I found myself to be in such a fortunate position was because I had some financial assistance. Getting ‘on the ladder’ is really difficult, especially since the bottom fell out of the market and lenders started shying away from higher loan-to-value mortgages.

If you’re fortunate enough to have saved at least 5% of the price of your prospective property, you are in a good enough position to apply for a mortgage.

There are SO many lenders, deals, rates, terms and so much criteria that mortgages can soon become something of a minefield. You our need todo your research, though that’s difficult when you’re not sure where to start.

If I was starting again now, the first thing I’d do would be to seek advice. That can either be from an independent mortgage advisor, from your bank or building society, or from a financial advisor. The main thing to remember is that you are the one in charge! Don’t agree to anything unless you are completely certain that you’re making the right decision. There’s nothing stopping you from asking both your mortgage advisor and your bank about the best deals on offer.

If you’re going to use a mortgage advisor, the Financial Conduct Authority website will give you a list of approved advisors. Choose your advisor carefully and they will make sure they get the best deal available to them.

Another option, which is possibly far less complicated, is to use a high street lender. Santander have some brilliant mortgage deals and will look after you from application through to completion. Moving house is stressful enough without the added worry of whether or not you’re getting the best deal – you’ll have someone to hold your hand throughout the whole process. There’s a lot to be said for going with a brand you know and trust.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Santander.

Things I Said on the Way Home From School

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The car is in the garage. Shall we walk or get the bus?

Are you sure you want to walk? It’s nearly three miles.

Yes you can have some sweets.

Oh. Well if you need a wee you’re best off going behind this wall. (Of a closed down pub)

Don’t worry about it. It’s only wee and your pants will be going in the wash when we get home.

Its on your shoes? Here’s a tissue.

No. I don’t think Nana *will* come out of work to give us a lift home.

Are you sure you don’t want to get the bus?

Yes, we have walked quite a long way.

No. We’re not nearly home.

If you left it at school it’ll have to stay there. I’m not turning around now.

Oh did you? Well if you found the marbles in the playground then they probably belong to someone. You can take them back after half term.

No, I don’t think Mrs. Fairclough walks this way home.

No, I don’t think we should wait just in case Mrs. Fairclough comes this way.

I know your left leg is aching right at the top but we’re nearly home now.

Here, have a sausage to eat on the way.

I know your eyeball hurts but it’ll be fine, I’m sure.

No, we can’t get the bus now because we’re nearly home.

What do you mean you’ve lost your marbles?

Kind Club: Week Two

Grumpyish Mum

On Wednesday we held our first Kind Club meeting and talked about what kind things we’ve done over the last week as well as our plans to be kind over the next seven days.

Before I tell you about that though, let me share this week’s Kind Person of the Week with you.

Last week we met Kate and Eddie. This week we meet an annonymous police officer who helped a homeless couple one night…

One time at about 3 am I drove past an elderly couple sat on a bench outside the town hall. I asked if they were ok & could I drop them somewhere a bit warmer but they were waiting for it to open and insisted they were fine where they were. I went macdonalds and asked if they had any leftovers but he’d just binned it all. So I paid for a couple of hot chocs & donuts, swung by the nick for a couple of cell blankets and took it back to them. He put his hand in his pocket but I told em it was on me. She burst into tears & cried even more when I said she could keep the blankets….I’ll take the hit for them if necessary.

Thank you, PC Anon!

Now back to the meeting …

Present at the meeting was Daddy (via phone), Louis, Rowan and myself. Apologies from Auntie Hayley.

First of all we recapped on kind things we’ve done since last Saturday.

Louis and Rowan visited the Destitute Animal Shelter in Bolton on Monday afternoon. They took their old baby blankets and donated them to the homeless dogs and cats there. It took us less than an hour, it cleared the airing cupboard of some stuff we don’t need and it felt great.

Daddy helped an elderly man in the supermarket with his shopping and held a door open for an elderly couple who were about thirty seconds behind him but because he saw them coming and knew he could help, he stopped and waited.

Auntie Hayley talked to a lady in the shopping centre. That may seem like a small thing to do, but there are many older people who have literally nobody. Hayley may just have brightened that lady’s day. Read about that here.

Lastly, there’s me. I bought Hayley and her partner Naomi a spa day voucher, as well as one for my youngest sister Laura. Read what happened when they received their vouchers.

 Next week …

My plan for next week is to bake cakes with the boys and take them to the residential home around the corner from us. Hopefully they won’t turn out like rock buns (I’m not much of a baker) and it’ll all go smoothly. Alternatively, I’ll nip down to Asda ;)

We are also going to go through all the toys and donate some to a charity shop. Louis particularly wants the ‘children who live in plastic houses and have to drink dirty, dirty water‘ to have them, but we’ll just have to settle on helping to raise money for them instead.

Rowan is going to help his friend from school, who is apparently called Charlie. It isn’t clear what help Charlie needs – if any – but Rowan’s going to help him anyway.

Daddy and Auntie Hayley will report back because they were both at work at the time of the meeting.

Please consider telling us all about your acts of kindness. You can blog about it and be featured next week or you can email me your story at grumpyishmum@gmail.com and I’ll tell it for you.

Until next week …

The Great Outdoors in Autumn

The nights are drawing in now and the weather is getting colder, but that doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to spending all weekend playing board games in front of the fire!

Just to give you a few ideas, here’s what we are planning to do over the half term holidays next week …

Firstly, an activity that is unusual for us – I think we’ll give fishing a go whilst the kids are off school! We’ve done fishing once or twice before and to be honest I thought it was going to be really boring. I was pleasantly surprised though – I found it quite relaxing. The best part though is the excitement and anticipation when you catch something! I do think it’s a good idea to have decent equipment though. We’ve bought cheap stuff before and it hasn’t lasted five minutes. You don’t have to spend a lot, but you do get what you pay for. We got ours from fishinghut.net and they’re exactly what we need.

Another outdoor activity we’ll definitely be doing this half term is making a habitat for wildlife. I think we’ll be making a little hedgehog house, but there are lots things you can do.

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The third thing we’ve got planned for next week is to go and see STOMP! at The Lowry Theatre in Salford. We’ve been to quite a few shows there and have always had a wonderful time. If you’re interested in going yourself, you can get tickets here. Alternatively, I’m running a competition here on the blog until tomorrow night to win four tickets to see Emily Brown and The Thing – a heartwarming family show suitable for all ages.

What are you getting up to this half term? Let me know in the comments section.

Win Tickets to Emily Brown and The Thing at The Lowry This Half Term!

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A very quick post now just to give you the wonderful opportunity to watch the fantastic ‘Emily Brown and The Thing’ at The Lowry Theatre this half term!

A delightful tale teaching us not to judge a book by it’s cover, Emily Brown and The Thing sees the two characters form a heartwarming friendship over the course of the play.

The play is brought to The Lowry by Tall Stories who had great success previously with Snail and the Whale. This show is bound to entertain both children and adults alike.

This is what The Lowry say about their latest family show …

Something is keeping Emily Brown awake…

One evening, Emily Brown and her old grey rabbit Stanley hear a Thing crying outside their window. He just can’t get to sleep. Emily Brown and Stanley set off on incredible adventures to find the Thing’s cuddly… his bedtime milk… his medicine… But nothing seems to help him settle.

 

Would you like to see how The Thing gets on?

Are you available on Tuesday October 28th at 11.30am?

Then you could be in with a great chance of winning four tickets for the show!

All you need to do is complete the rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My October Wish List

First off, let us be clear on something. This isn’t a Christmas list. It’s a list of stuff I love and would dearly like to receive. In addition to the stuff I want for Christmas. So, if you happen to be my husband and also happen to be reading this – these are extras. Geddit? Good.

Now then, down to business.

The first thing on my wish list this month is this bea-hoot-iful owl dress from Joe Browns.

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The Sleepy Owl Dress from Joe Browns

I absolutely love this dress. The reviews on the website are mixed but I adore owls and I have vowed to wear more dresses with tights and boots this winter instead of reverting to my overly-casual (okay, scruffy) winter wardrobe. So this is definitely on my wish list for the month.

Obviously, if I’m going to be wearing dresses, tights and boots, I’m going to need new boots.

My favourite ones at the moment are these beauties from Hush Puppies at Schuh. At £125 I’m probably only ever going to dream of them but I think they’re really lovely.

Leathery Loveliness

Leathery Loveliness

Now I’ve got something to wear on my wish list, I’m going to need a few accessories. I love this pair of earrings from Aldo. Dangly earrings make me feel really pretty and since I mostly have my hair tied up, pretty earrings are a great way to add a bit of glamour.

Are you earring me?!

Are you earring me?!

The next thing I need is a scarf. Now I know I have eleventy billion scarves already, but I really like this one from Not on the High Street. I’m not sure the colours would go with the owl dress, but I am sure that it’s a good enough excuse to buy a dress with these colours in it!

Photo courtesy of notonthehighstreet.com

Photo courtesy of notonthehighstreet.com

Lastly, but by no means least … I need a new bag. I have had my Mia Tui handbag for ages now and I fancy a change. With winter fast approaching I feel a girly backpack would be perfect so I can fit all my woolies in it once I come in from the cold! I love this one from Skatehut.co.uk.

The Star of the Show

The Star of the Show

So that’s it for October. In November I’m sure I’ll be looking for cosy jumper dresses and beautiful blankets.

Got something you recommend? Drop me a line and it might make the November Wish List!

 

The Carer

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Early in the morning
While most are still in bed
She’s up and washed and dressed
A hundred thoughts swirl in her head

Her task list never ending
How does she fit it in?
She’ll collect that medication
And she must put out the bin

The cleaning needs attendance
There’s the dishwasher to fill
Domestic chores won’t wait
Just because someone is ill

The carer’s role is hectic
She takes on every task
If something needs addressing
Someone only needs to ask

She does it when she’s tired
She works and makes no fuss
She does it because she’s giving
In the carer we can trust

The carer asks for nothing
In return for her good ways
Her only goal, her aim, her wish
Is to ease those painful days

Emotions are drained from her
By the end of every day
But she’ll do the same tomorrow
Just to make sure all’s okay

But there will come a time
When she no longer needs to care
She’ll sit and drink her coffee
And out the window she will stare

She’ll think of what she did
Or what she could have changed
There’s no-one now to care for
And that feels very strange

The carer will keep going
Though she’s different from now on
She’s here in mind and body
But a piece of her has gone

She is an unsung hero
And this is what you can do
To show appreciation
To a carer near to you

Say danke, cheers or thanks a lot
Send a card or bake some cakes
It’ll mean the world to her, to know
The difference that she makes

Written for my friend Michelle, who is beautiful both inside and out.

Prose for Thought

So You Want a Pet?

Yesterday, as part of our new Kind Club, we visited an animal shelter. The full story for that will be published on Saturday as part of the new Kind Club linky, but as a separate post I thought it would be worth talking about choosing our pets and perhaps listing a few things to consider.

Bringing a pet into your home is a big decision and not one that should be made quickly. Firstly, consider why you’d like a pet. If it’s just because the kids keep pestering for one it’s probably not a good idea. The person to whom the resposibility for the pet would fall should be the one to make the final decision.

The main thing to consider when getting a pet is how much time you can realistically commit to that animal. In this post I’ve taken a look at different pets and what you should be aware of when buying them.

Dogs

I love dogs; they’re my favourite pet. Our dog Betsy is just as much a part of our family as the kids. She takes up almost as much time, too. Dogs need walking  – a lot! Betsy is a border collie so she has oodles of evergy and needs walking three times a day on average. Some days, my husband takes her rambling and she loves it. She’s always up for another walk though, even after that. Dogs aren’t for those with weak stomachs either – there’s a lot of poo to pick up!

Another thing you need to consider with dogs is how you will take care of their emotional well-being. Dogs are really sensitive animals and you need to have endless patience when introducing a dog into your home. From house training accidents to sleepless nights, you need to be in it for the long haul. It takes longer than a couple of weeks for a dog to feel ‘at home’.

We also pay for Betsy to be groomed on a regular basis. This helps to reduce dropped hair around the house and also to keep her smelling fresh. The smell of ‘dog’ when you walk into someone’s house is not pleasant! (Incidentally, we use Oh My Dog in Radcliffe, North Manchester. Lucy and Rob are absolutely brilliant with Betsy and although their appointments get booked up quickly, it’s well worth the wait. They will even collect and return your dog within reasonable distances. Betsy LOVES going there!)

Cats

Now, we have a cat, but he’s pretty much an outdoor cat. He comes home for food and a small amount of fuss but then is gone again for hours on end. Indoor cats require a lot more attention and can be quite fussy about their litter trays, which should be cleaned very regularly. I prefer the type of cat litter box that has a lid because they’re maginally less messy!

Fish

Fish are an excellent first pet, in my opinion. You feed them and clean them out and that’s pretty much it. They don’t want constant petting, they don’t try to trip you up by doing figure of eights around your feet and they don’t beg for food. They’re pretty to look at and relaxing to watch. Fish tanks of all sizes and designs are on offer these days so even their habitat will fit perfectly into your home. All Pond Solutions do some really lovely ones. Unlike most other pets, you can even go on holiday and leave your fish at home. You just need to add  a food block in most cases.

Reptiles

We are reptile fans in our house and have kept snakes and a chameleon in the past. Sadly, we lost our veiled chameleon Heidi (Peep) earlier this year, but she was the star of the house for everyone who visited. Aside from dogs, reptiles probably need the most care. Live food needs to be fed to them regularly, fresh water sprayed into their habitat, a constant drip of drinking water needs to be replenshed each day and their lamps and heat mats switched on and off at the correct times each day. You can’t go away for the weekend and leave a chameleon to fend for itself, that’s for sure!

Small Furries

Rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs have always been popular pets. Kept in cages for the most part, they need cleaning out on a regular basis and feeding daily. Fresh water also needs to be provided daily too. Small pets like these can be another good way to introduce children to the idea of responsibility. We’ve had mice and a hamster, but really we prefer the bigger pets!

I’d love for you to tell me what pets you have? Why is your pet the best?

 

Kind Club: Week One

Grumpyish Mum

Last week my boys and I formed Kind Club. You can read about how we got around to that here, if you like.

Kind Club’s first act of kindness was for the boys to send spa day vouchers to their aunties.

There was some confusion at first, when my youngest sister didn’t understand why I’d sent her a voucher! Eventually though, everyone was pleased to accept their little gift. My other sister text her thanks and included the words ‘I don’t know what we’ve done to deserve this’. The point, for me anyway, is that doing things for people for no other reason than wanting to make them happy is an excellent way to put a spring in both your own step and that of whoever you’re being kind to. There doesn’t need to be a reason.

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I will tell you something for nothing: it feels AWESOME to give an unexpected gift. Even better than the recipients feel, I reckon!

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The vouchers we sent weren’t expensive. They don’t include an array of treatments or a stay in a hotel. They will just provide a few hours of much needed relaxation for everyone. It really is the thought that counts.

But that’s enough! Acts of kindness don’t have to be extravagant and luxurious. They just need to bring a little ray of light into someone’s life.

Kate Sutton, from Wit Wit Woo, is a regular customer at her local Costa Coffee. So, too, is Eddie. Eddie is an elderly man for whom Kate anonymously bought a coffee one morning. It was such a sweet thing to do and I was following her updates on twitter, eager to know what was said when Eddie received his gifted coffee! As it happens, Kate wasn’t there when Eddie was served his coffee but that doesn’t detract from the warm fuzzy feeling Kate must have felt when doing something great for a stranger. Read all about Kate’s act of kindness here.

Our next act of kindness with Kind Club is to take all of our old baby blankets up to the local animal shelter. Please pop by and see how we got on – or even better, fill in your email address in the box on the right to receive updates via email!

The boys and I would really like to spread the Kind Club love. If you are a blogger and have written about an act of kindness, I’d love to feature you! Just leave a comment below or email your story to me at grumpyishmum@gmail.com. Or maybe you could make a point of being extra kind and link back to our club – you can even use our badge if you like!

If you aren’t a blogger, but you would like to share your story of either giving or receiving an act of kindness, please do email me too!