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!

The Family Pet Show

Next weekend Betsy and I will be going into Manchester for her very first ‘event’! She’s super excited – I can tell.

We are going to …

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With Safari Phil and Crocodile Joe both making appearances, a display from A World of Wings and Ferret racing, I don’t think Betsy will be the only one enjoying her day. Louis will be with us too so he can watch all of those before letting off some steam on the Kidz Bus!

In between Louis having an amazing time, Betsy will be keen to watch her furry friends wow the crowds with their excellent behaviour and fancy skills (I hope she takes notes!) during the K9 Brats Dog Agility Show. Betsy can just about manage to follow commands for ‘sit’  and ‘paw’ – maybe we’ll learn some new skills of our own!

There are lots and lots of other activities to be experienced over the two days. It’s set to be a great event for young and old alike, and I am genuinely looking forward to it. I just hope Betsy doesn’t wee in the wrong place!

If she does happen to behave herself, I might enter Betsy into the prettiest bitch category with Scruffts, who will also be there on the day. I think she’s beautiful, but I know I’m biased!

It seems to me that a great deal of thought, planning and work has gone into the organisation of this event. They’re there this weekend, practising the set up of the stands so that nothing goes wrong next week.

Events like this are really important. It’s a great way to spend time with your family (if you like animals!) and I’d like to bet that almost everyone will learn something new at the show, or see something amazing that they’ve never seen before.

Like Ferret racing, for example!

Photo courtesy of The Family Pet Show

Photo courtesy of The Family Pet Show

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Life Insurance: From Dinosaurs to Death

Regular readers of this blog will know by now of my friend Ashlee’s plight. She is dying of cancer in her early thirties.

While this video may be rather tongue-in-cheek, the subject of life insurance should be taken very seriously indeed.

I’m 32. I don’t have life insurance. I think it’s perhaps one of those things I put off because it makes me feel like I’m getting old. Perhaps I don’t really want to part with yet more of the money I work so hard to bring into the household. Maybe I’m just lazy.

If I was to (God forbid) find myself in a situation like Ashlee’s, my troubles would only just be beginning. Who would pay the mortgage when my husband had to take time off work to care for me? Nobody – if I didn’t have insurance. That’s what it’s there for; it’s a safety blanket to keep us warm on the nights when the fear of ‘what if’ sends chills down our spines.

It’s important. REALLY important. (I think perhaps I’ve just talked myself into getting some quotes!)

Another thing about me – aside from the fact that my life is currently uninsured – is that I despise talking to people about things like this. Car, pet, buildings and contents insurance – I have them all. Not one of them, though, was purchased on the phone. None were signed up by a man in a suit after he had hogged my lounge for longer than I’d have liked. Every insurance I have has been done online and that’s the way I like it. It’s not that I don’t like people, per se, it’s that I want to try different options, get several quotes, change the level of cover – all before I commit to buying. I find it really difficult to say ‘Yes, thanks for those two quotes – now would you mind spending another twenty minutes quoting for the higher level of cover please?’ to some poor soul in a call centre. Because frankly, it’s unlikely that I’ll buy from them anyway; I find that in general, online prices are cheaper when all’s said and done.

So off I go now to spend the next three hours quoting for life insurance before accepting the original one – but at least it’ll only be me being driven to distraction by it and not a man in a shiny suit, eating all my Rich Tea biscuits.

 

Disclosure: this post contains featured content. All words, opinions and thoughts are my own.

 

#SeeTheMiracle

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On the right is my great aunt. She has always been like a second grandmother to me. She has lived next door to my Gran, her sister, for over fifty years and has alway been an important part of family life. Now in her later life, it pains me so much to watch her health failing.

The biggest problem we face is her sight. After having one cateract removed several years ago, she regained some sight in that eye but not much. As a result, she’s so frightened that having the cateract removed from her other eye will rob her of her sight in the effected eye completely, that she refuses to have the operation done.

I’m hoping that telling her about #SeeTheMiracle and hopefully being able to show her today’s and tomorrow’s videos will show her that there isn’t anything to be afraid of. That this operation is so very simple, so quick and such regularly carried out surgery and that there is a good chance it will improve her sight – and ultimately her quality of life.

When compared to people like Mr. Winesi though, my aunt could be considered as lucky. Mr. Winesi hasn’t ever seen his grandson. He can’t remember what his wife looks like, and very soon his family will go hungry because he can’t work.

There is a solution though – and his personal miracle is coming.

A Million Miracles #SeeTheMiracle

Sightsavers are launching an ambitious major appeal, Million Miracles, to raise £30million in order to deliver 1 million cataract operations in some of the poorest parts of the world.

The ‘Million Miracles’ launch event is an innovative, live digital storytelling event that will, via LIVE Google Hangouts from Malawi, Africa and traditional media & other social media channels, take the global audience on an emotional and inspiring journey.

You’ll meet Mr Winesi who, due to bilateral cataracts, has been totally blind for two years. He has never seen his grandson Luca, and misses seeing his beautiful wife Namaleta. He can no longer work and provide for his family. In a few months their food stores will run out and they will go hungry as he is unable to work.

It needn’t be this way. All it takes is a 5 minute operation that costs £30 pounds to change his life, and the lives of his family.

Join us on the 8th October at 1.30 UK time as one of the few cataract surgeons in Malawi delivers the 5 minute life-changing operation. Hosted by UK YouTuber star Doug Armstong you’ll meet the Mr Winesi, and all the health worker heros delivering this vital work.

Then join us on the 9th October at 1.30 UK time as we removed the bandages and Mr Winesi can see for the very first time. He will be able to see his wonderful wife, and hold and see his grandson Luca for the very first time.

The broadcasts will take the audience on a journey, like the TV show ‘One born every minute.’

Malawi has just 1 eye surgeon for every 4.25 million people and Dr Gerald, who is performing the surgery on Mr Winesi, is the only paediatric surgeon in the whole of Malawi.

So please follow the #SeeTheMiracle campaign, watch the live stream and really see for yourself what a difference £30 could make.

What’s more is that the UK government is MATCHING miracles until the end of the year, meaning that for every £30 raised for cateract surgery, they will donate the same again.

Follow the story here

Turtles Movie Figure Review: Mikey

Movie Mikey

They’re back with a vengeance – and meaner than ever. (Turtles, that is, and not my boys!)

Raph, Donnie, Mikey and Leo are back next week with a brand new Turtles movie. To celebrate, Flair Toys have launched a new range of figures that look just like the turtles on the big screen.

The first thing that struck me about the Mikey figure we received for review was the detail that has gone into making these figures so much more realistic. (What do you mean, Ninja Turtles aren’t real?) From the snarling teeth and the strained neck to the weird looking hands and feet – they’re as near to real life reptile superheroes as they’re ever going to get.

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Now, we have quite a few Turtles figures in this house because the boys, aged 4 and 7, are both big fans. So this Mikey figure was a great addition to our collection.

Mikey is the same height as our other figures and so rather conveniently, he fits perfectly into the Shellraiser that my youngest received for his birthday. (Good job really because apparently, Shredder called round.)

Luckily, on Shredder’s arrival into our front room, ‘Combat Warrior Michelangelo’ was having a tour of the Pop Up Pizza Playset and he soon saw off that no-good villain – or so I’m told by the boys!

Unlike our other figures, this particular Mikey has some smooth moves! By squeezing his legs, you can make Mikey nunchuck his way out of any sticky situation – but make sure you’re careful not to harm any of the good guys!

All four of the turtles in this series have fighting skills like never before – take a look at the video to see them in action.

The boys both enjoyed playing with this figure and we’ll probably buy the rest of the set at Christmas this year. I did ask the boys to show me what Mikey could do, but Icouldn’t for the life of me get them to be sensible about it! So I made this GIF – just for you…

(You are so welcome.)

Disclosure: This toy was sent to us free of charge for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.

Royal Garden Hotel, London

Last month I was fortunate enough to be invited along to the MAD Award ceremony at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

Being from The North, I was a tad concerned about how I would find the hotel once I actually got into London. Luckily, the hotel’s website shows exactly where it is in relation to the nearest tube station (High Street Kensington) and just three or four minutes’ walk from the tube will lead you to the hotel. It’s even on the same road – finding it couldn’t be easier.

The entrance to the hotel is lovely. You feel the five-star quality as you enter the huge reception area and the staff on the desk are as friendly and as helpful as they could possibly be.

You don’t need to worry about getting your luggage up to your room. It’s all taken care of by the porter. Nothing is too much trouble and you really do feel like you’re a VIP.

The rooms are beautiful. Simple decor gives the rooms a clean, crisp feel while the cosy looking beds and the warm colours on the wall make you feel right at home.

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The cleanliness truly is second to none and everything is perfectly placed. The complimentary toiletries are available in your room in case you happen to have forgotten yours (or just fancy a change!) and there is a mini bar in each room for convenience. We didn’t use our mini bar but it was fully stocked with everything we might have wanted, from wine, spirits and mixers to snacks in case we were peckish.

I got ready in my room and spent around an hour in there before I went downstairs to the awards. The view from my room was of the high street and was really lovely. I sat for a while just people watching, sipping prosecco and enjoying the calm before the awards.

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Five star relaxation – with a ‘safe’ wine glass!

The bathrooms are sparkly clean and I wish I could’ve spend more time in the shower because the showers in the hotel rooms are pretty awesome. For me, the bathroom is a really important feature of a good hotel and I was certainly impressed with this one. Alas, time wasn’t really on my side the following morning so I didn’t get to try out the welcoming bath!

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Typical bathroom at the Royal Garden Hotel

What I did try in the morning was the breakfast. With more options than you could dream of, the worst thing about breakfast is not being able to have everything; it all looks so delicious! The menu is wonderful for adults – and equally as appealing for children too. In fact, a great deal of thought has been put into how to make a childs’ stay at Royal Garden Hotel as enjoyable as possible. From interconnecting rooms to micro scooters, the hotel has thought of everything so you don’t have to worry!

I sat with my friend for breakfast and saw the Stoke City football team going for a walk in the park next to the hotel. One of the more surreal moments in my life, that’s for sure.

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The beautiful view from the hotel

Speaking of parks, Kensington Gardens is literally a stone’s throw from the hotel and Hyde Park just a ten minute walk away. Since there are plenty of things going on in Hyde Park all year round, the Royal Garden Hotel is perfectly placed for a luxury family break. Kensington High Street has a plethora of shops, but if that’s not enough the whole of London is just a tube ride away – whatever you need is so easily accessible. Two of our favourite places to visit are the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, which are next to one another – so less travelling time!

Hyde Park has a wonderful Winter Wonderland each year and Royal Garden Hotel would be the perfect place to stay for that. It’s definitely worth splashing out a little on a pre-Christmas treat. If I can manage to fit in a break for the four of us before Christmas I’ll certainly be booking into this hotel; I really did have a wonderful stay.

Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue Playset

Last week the boys were lucky enough to have a review toy each to play with when they got home from school. I’ve been pretty under the weather for around 10 days now and was feeling horrendous when the toys arrived – it was perfect timing.

Rowan’s review item was the Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue playset.

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My first mistake was not checking the batteries – this requires 4 x AAA but they are not included.

My second mistake was putting the batteries in while I had a headache. The siren on this playset is awesome if you’re four. Less awesome if you’re 32 with sinusitis. Still, he was happy.

The flashing lights were regarded as bring ‘cool’ and all was well in Rowan Land.

Included in the set is the Ocean Rescue Centre itself, one Fireman Sam figure and one jet ski. Fireman Sam’s equipment has certainly become more high tech since I was a kid!

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The playset is suitably sturdy as you would expect from a branded toy like this. The colours are vibrant and the figure resembles Fireman Sam beautifully.

Big enough for little hands to be able to get to all of the parts, this toy is just about the right size. Rowan is able to attach the jet ski to its launch pad and send it zooming off, down the ramp and onto the carpet and can easily manoeuvre the Fireman’s pole too.

The only sounds the play set makes is that of the siren, which did irritate me a bit but I think that was mostly because I’m poorly! It turns off with a second press of the flashing light and also turns off automatically after around 30 seconds so it definitely something I can live with.

The batteries were a bit of a mystery to me at first and took a bit of fathoming out. Just FYI – the roof slides off ever so gently to anable you to put in the batteries underneath. Don’t do what I did and sit there scratching your head in total confusion before text your friend for help.

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The RRP on this play set is £34.99 and I personally think that’s about average for a branded play set such as this. There is lots of other Fireman Sam merchandise available to complement this play set and I think when bought with the helicopter this could provide lots of small world play entertainment. The recommended age for this toy is 3+ which I think is spot on.

I’m sure that Fireman Sam fans would be thrilled to receive this at Christmas and it would make a perfect addition to any Fireman Sam collection.

 

Disclaimer: We were sent the Fireman Sam Ocean Rescue set free of charge for the purpose of this revew. All opinions are my own and are unbiased.

We're going on an adventure

Magic Moments: The First Book

A very quick Magic Moments from me today.

On Friday, Rowan brought home his first reading book!
Having started reception just three weeks ago, we were told that the children may bring books home if they were ready in October. They most probably wouldn’t have words in, they would just be to get the children used to the characters. You remember them, don’t you!

I’m super proud of Rowan for settling in so quickly at his ‘big school’. He’s already been invited to a friend’s birthday party so I’m glad he’s making friends.

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If Only …

white loft office

If only I had more space

Somewhere to call my own

A desk to sit and work

A laptop and a phone

If only there were a place

A little one would do

I’d work in total peace

Looking out at skies so blue

If only there were a way

To encourage a new idea

In space all white and crisp

Where I could still be near

A loft would just be perfect

Little windows up above

With blinds that make me happy

In patterns that I love

With little photo frames

Containing cheeky faces

And (unlike in their bedrooms)

All things are in their places

Until we move our things

Into a bigger house

I’ll have to share the sofa

With LEGO and Mickey Mouse

I’ve been thinking lately about how I could create a little place to work. We don’t have the room for an office since the boys have their own rooms, and there really isn’t any space downstairs either. I’ve managed to create a teeny tiny space in the bedroom which used to serve as a sort of a dressing table area, but I figured it was maybe more important to be able to work!

We do have empty loft space but it isn’t big enough to convert properly, nor would it be beneficial to spend that money on this house. I’ve seen some lovely loft conversions that family have had recently, and while the VELUX windows give an excellent feeling of openness in what used to be a stuffy, dusty and unused area of the house, the blinds make it feel just as homely as the rest of the house.

The furniture, if kept minimal and light in colour, can really contribute to the feeling of open space. As I say in my little poem, I think I’d probably go for white with some lovely calming pastel colours to bring some warmth to the room. I love the white desk in the photo above. I’d have maybe a couple of plants too, just for some extra colour.

But alas, for now, I will have to store my dreams on Pinterest and save my plans for when they can be put into action.

Disclosure: This is  a collaborative post, though all views are my own.

Vita Coco Kids: Review & Giveaway

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Coconut water.

Coconut. Plus. Water.

In the same drink. I’ve never heard of it.

I couldn’t get my head around the concept when Vita Coco asked me if I’d like to review their range.

I’m always up for a challenge though so of course I said yes, I’d be happy to review Vita Coco’s kids drinks.

When they arrived, the boys were really excited. The packaging is attractive and the drinks arrived in a pretty cool box.
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Of course when I gave the boys these to drink, they were going to exclaim ‘Yuk! Mum! What have you given us?!’. I mean, this is a drink that’s not only good for their little bodies, but also tasty? Not gonna happen.

Except it did.

They REALLY liked them.

They liked them so much that we have, since the day we tried them, had them ‘in stock’ at home. We’ve taken them on holiday and we’ve taken them to picnics.

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This is what Vita Coco have to say about their Vita Coco Kids drinks range …

Vita Coco Kids is a range of naturally fruit flavoured coconut water that your little ones are sure to go coco-nuts for! These delicious drinks come in two exciting flavours, classic Apple & Blackcurrant and tropical Mango & Pineapple, and with around 20 percent less sugar and less calories than other leading UK chilled kids drinks and smoothies, they are perfect for parents seeking a healthier beverage option.

Kids-tested and parent-approved, Vita Coco Kids contains naturally occurring potassium to help keep your little monkeys energised and hydrated. Vita Coco Kids coconut water comes from young green coconuts (never from concentrate), and is blended with natural fruit flavourings and water. With no added colourings or preservatives, Vita Coco Kids means no monkey business, just healthy hydration.

I think that the boys in my house preferred the Apple & Blackcurrant over the Mango & Pineapple, though neither flavour lasts longer than give minutes! They’re totally free from Aspartame too, which we try not to give to ours kids given the bad press it’s had. Erring on the side of caution is always best, I think!

So they like it, we like it … Now would YOU like to try it?

You can win two cases of Vita Coco Kids drinks by simply filling in the widget below. Good luck!

While you’re waiting to find out if you’ve won, why not head over to their entertaining website?

a Rafflecopter giveaway