Far Too Brief

BP's once-favourite toy
For 10 years and 7 days I have been a mother. For all of that time I have been a stay-at-home mum and have watched both of my boys grow. When I was pregnant people told me to cherish them while they're young. They warned me that the time would fly by and before I knew it they'd be grown. They were right.

Last Friday we celebrated Big Prince's 10th birthday and I'm stunned by how quick that 10 years went. It seems only yesterday I was laid in a hospital bed, in agony, wishing he would hurry up and arrive. When he finally did my body was flooded with love as I looked into his gorgeous blue eyes. The following few weeks were hard, I was learning and I struggled with being a mum. I'd never done it before.

MemSaab Restaurant, Nottingham

Free Dessert MemSaab, Nottingham
BP* and his dessert
Every birthday in our house is celebrated with a meal out for the family. The birthday boy/girl gets to choose the location of the meal be it a restaurant, a fast-food outlet or at home. As it was Big Prince's birthday on Friday he chose MemSaab in Nottingham.

MemSaab is a fine dining Indian restaurant serving traditional spiced curries through to modern Indian cooking. It is located on Maid Marion Way in Nottingham and has three multi-storey car parks nearby. The Princes are a curry-loving family and this was a perfect choice because it's been a while since we had curry.

A Busy Weekend

We had fun in the pool!

I have had a busy weekend. We're nearing the end of the week but I'm just recovering from a manic few days. It was Big Prince's 10th birthday on Friday and then my family came over to stay for the weekend.

My sister's Buzz impression
My mum and dad live 90 miles away, near the east coast, which means I don't get to see them often; my brother and his family even less. This weekend they came over and stayed at our house. We had a fabulous time. I talked to my brother and dad about running; my dad used to run daily and even did a few marathons. I played with my niece and nephews (I have just one niece) and I chatted to my sister-in-law about parenting. My sisters came over too (they're the crazy ones of the family). We spent a few hours laughing as my middle sister dressed up as Buzz Lightyear (she's 31) to entertain us.

A Writer's Routine

As writers we train ourselves to write every day. Getting words on the page is the most important thing and until we've established a routine everything else should be left alone. It took me a long time to realise that any kind of writing would do, as long as I was writing something.

By pinching a few hours here and there throughout the day I'd get a little writing done but with no routine I found it difficult to get started every day and often found 'the block' came for a visit. I wanted to think of my writing as a real thing so I cleared out our spare room upstairs, got a desk in there and bought a new iMac. I now had an office.

I fell into a new routine; drop kids off at school in the morning, go for a run, shower, coffee and sit in front of the Mac. After a few weeks of this routine words just seemed to flow from me as soon as I loaded Scrivener. It was as if the new routine was a trigger for the words and it all came very easily. Writing every day made me feel great and I really thought I was making progress but there was a looming cloud in the distance. The school holidays.

Stay-At-Home vs Working - How do you do it?

The lake at Markeaton Park, Derby
The tranquility of the water, the bright and quiet sky... dreaming comes to mind!
There's only so much of this I can take. The boys are bickering constantly. Punching, pinching, fighting; I’m losing hair. I have done my best to occupy them so far, we’ve been to The Heights of Abraham, Blackpool, swimming (daily) and soft play centres. Big Prince has been to the local High School for a Nerf battle and Little Prince had friends around to play. Not one single day has gone by when we didn’t do something.

So why aren’t they satisfied? The words I have heard most often in these holidays are “I’m bored” or even “I don’t know what to do.” They have boxes of toys, computer games, Lego, craft supplies and a hundred other things but they can’t find anything to do.

The Lost City Adventure Golf, Nottingham

The Lost City Adventure Golf is mini-golf with an adventure theme in the Cornerhouse complex in Nottingham. Located on the lower ground floor it has two 18 hole adventures aimed at all ages.

Lost City Adventure Golf, Nottingham Cornerhouse

Entrance at Lost City Adventure Golf

It being in the centre of Nottingham is the perfect location for a morning of entertainment for the boys. So when the hubby said he wanted a morning off work I suggested we go there. We all got in the car and within 30 minutes were heading through the doors of the Cornerhouse. We've been to The Lost City Adventure Golf once before and as soon as the boys realised where we were going they shrieked with excitement. They ran off down the stairs and hurried towards the reception area.

The hubby and I followed and paid for an 18 hole adventure for us all. Score card and pencil in hand we all headed down the escalator to start our adventure. As it was our second time we chose the course that we hadn't already done; The Sacred Skull Pass. When you go in you can't see all the holes and the scenery surrounding them which meant the boys had to wait for each new hole before they could see what they had to do. The scenery is entertaining too. When you hit the ball into the right hole a snake's eyes light up and a spooky voice starts talking to you!

One of two choices of courses at Lost City Adventure Golf

We spent forty minutes playing and the boys enjoyed themselves, come to think of it so did the hubby and I. You can take longer but we had people behind us and we needed to keep up the pace. On the very last hole there's a chance to win an extra game - if you can get the ball in the right place! We didn't manage it this time.

For an 18 hole course family ticket (which should include one person under 12) costs £22.50. We managed to get our course for even less, £20, because they have an early-bird rate (before 12 noon). The Lost City Adventure Golf opens Monday - Friday at 10:30am and closes at 11pm, weekends they open at 10am and close at 11pm. They also offer parties for both children and adults (hen and stag) and I'm keeping this in mind for the future; Little Prince's friends might enjoy it!

Cornerhouse Nottingham, Golfing

I'm terrible at golf and thought I would be rubbish, but this was fun. You do not have to be a golfing expert to be any good and there's every chance that the smallest in your group could beat you all. Little Prince managed to get two holes-in-one! If you have a spare morning free I would recommend a family trip to The Lost City Adventure Golf, Nottingham.

My TV Favourites

The hubby and I spend a lot of time watching TV. When the kids are in bed and we have time for us we like nothing more than sitting in front of the TV watching our favourite show. Over the years we have had many favourites and we tend to buy the DVD box sets for those we like the most.

Ever since Netflix came along we've had a much bigger selection of things to watch. We have a large selection of box sets but now our options seem endless. For example we have just finished watching the complete Dexter series (for the third/fourth time) and have just started Breaking Bad (for the third time). They are both on Netflix. While we're both working we'll watch/listen to Frost, a detective series from back in the nineties. I love Inspector Jack Frost, he's awesome.

The Big 1-0

My boy's obsession at the mo - Pokemon

Today my eldest boy, Big Prince, turns 10. 10? I can't believe it's been 10 whole years since I held my first baby in my arms. After 17 hours of excruciating labour he finally arrived in this world and changed my life forever.

Me and the hubby had just moved into our new house (2 days before) and BP decided that was the perfect time to arrive, 1 week early. The pregnancy had been easy, the labour was not. By the time BP arrived I was worn out, I couldn't take any more. He listened, luckily, and after a good feed he went to sleep and gave me the rest I so desperately needed.

An Impromptu Blackpool Trip

Blackpool Beach - could've been a bit brighter but never mind 
On Wednesday the hubby decided to take a day off work and wanted us all to go to Blackpool for the day. I got the kids ready, iPads, DS and games in hand, and we got in the car. Leaving our house at 9 o'clock we figured we could be in Blackpool by lunchtime and have some lovely fish and chips for lunch.

After a long trip there, quiet children (some of the time), and very achy bottoms we arrived in Blackpool at 11:30am and headed straight for our favourite fish and chip place. It's not on the sea-front, it's tucked back a little behind one of the amusements. We've tried a few places but 'C Fresh' does the best fish and chips in Blackpool - in our opinion - so we stick with it.

The Heights of Abraham, Matlock

Another day in the holidays and another day trip for the Princes. We didn't want to travel quite as far as Blackpool this time but we wanted something interesting to do and after a little research we decided on The Heights of Abraham in Matlock. It is only about 25 miles away from us so it sounded perfect.

The view atop The Heights of Abraham, Matlock
The amazing view on top of Masson hill.

The Heights of Abraham consists of a hilltop park on top of Masson hill which is accessed by a gondola cable car. It has been open to the public since Victorian times and has caverns to explore. You can go on a tour of Great Masson Cavern and learn all about what life was like for miners hundreds of years ago. My boys and I learned that it was far healthier being a miner or a child rather than the wife of a miner. The wives at the time only lived into their 20's because of their exposure to the lead that was being mined. It was their job to lift the lead from the mine, clean it and get it ready for smelting. The miners would live into their 60's, each of them having 4 or 5 wives in their lifetime!

Masson Cavern, Matlock

The tour was really interesting and seeing inside the caves and imagining what it must've been like was quite scary actually. At one point the tour guide turned off all the lights and everything went very dark, he then lit up a candle (electric but still) as he tried to show us how much light they had to work with. It was so dark that BP (who's nearly 10) gripped my hand so tight he stopped the blood getting to my fingers.

After the tour the boys spent some time in the park climbing and playing in the trucks. Just as we were about to leave we heard an announcement about a Punch & Judy show about to start. Instead of leaving we bought some ice-creams and sat down to watch the show. The ice-cream was the best I've had in a long time and there was a great selection; BP had toffee, LP had cookie and cream, the hubby had mint and I had run & raisin. Mine was my favourite (I tried them all!) but they were all very yummy. The boys laughed their socks off at the Punch & Judy show and, if I'm honest, it was entertaining for me too.

A family ticket (2 Adults + 2 children) costs £42.00 and additional children cost £7.00, this gives you access to all the tours, playgrounds and shops including the 'Fossil Factory' which any dinosaur fan will love. The Punch & Judy show will be at The Heights of Abraham until 31st August; a definite must. There is also a restaurant but we didn't eat there so I don't know what the food was like.

All in all a great day out that didn't take up the whole day.

Fossil Factory, The Heights of Abraham, Matlock
A statue near the Fossil Factory

Happy As I Am

A friend of mine came over a few days ago and brought her girls with her. This kept my boys occupied and meant that we could have a good long gossip (you know us women are like). Whilst enjoying a coffee we talked about all kinds of stuff from divorce to outings with the children.

One of our many topics was getting dressed up to go out. My friend had told me she'd been shopping recently and spent a bit of money on clothes. She recently met a new man and was excited about looking nice for him. On her trip out she'd tried on a really fancy looking dress, not because she had anywhere to wear it to but because she liked the dress. She told me how gorgeous it looked and how fantastic she felt in it. In the end she didn't buy it but I think she should have - a little treat never hurts.

Mommy Reality Challenge

I was introduced to the #mommyreality link last week by Lysa and decided to take part this week. The prompt for this week is "When Photo's Fail" so here are mine...

Me trying to capture a pic of the hubby karting... erm - Fail?

Another failed attempt from me - LP doing a bomb into the water. DOH!

LP showing me his Lego bus as he goes for the nose!


Jenerally Informed

My Running Essentials

I was reading Women's Health Mag online the other day and read a brilliant article where they told us 8 items they couldn't live without when attending the gym. I don't attend the gym but I do like to go for a run on the treadmill and often go out with friends for a power-walk. They inspired me for a blog post of my own so here's a list of five things I can't do without when I'm running.

Red iPod Shuffle1.  My iPod Shuffle - I only bought it a few months ago but it has become a must have item. Music is what keeps me going when I don't think my legs can move anymore. My current favourite album is Sugarland's Twice the Speed of Life.

Tips on Starting Running

purple and orange nike free size 5
My trusty Nike Free
Today I ran 2.5 miles. That's 2.5 miles with about 1 minute of walking when my legs just wouldn't move any quicker. This is probably the best I have ever done and even though it took me 33 minutes I'm still very proud of myself.

I first started to enjoy running a few months ago and absolutely love having my music thumping in my ears as my feet pound the ground. If you saw me now you'd never have guessed that this time last year I detested running. In fact I hated any type of exercise and would never have thought that I'd enjoy it.

My main reason for enjoying it so much is because I get alone time. It's the only time when I am completely alone, even if I'm on the treadmill at home, and zoning out while listening to music has done me the world of good.

The Shopping Trip From Hell

Both my boys have been in full-time school for a year and I have to say I've got used to it. Being able to do the weekly shop without having LP nagging for sweets or BP wanting to look at the newest computer games is a blessing. I don't need a list because I can usually remember everything I need and I can be done within an hour.

Well today I had the boys with me when I went to do our weekly shop. Oh my what a mistake that was. If they weren't hugging each other they were fighting with each other. LP spent a lot of time dancing around and getting in other people's way. BP stomped around when I said we weren't going to buy a new game. And every second of every minute they talked. Constantly.

Whilst in the supermarket I had to retrace my steps three times because I'd walked away from the veg section, for example, and forgotten to pick up something. I spent the whole time going over my list in my head but getting interrupted every minute meant that I lost track. By the time I'd finished (or thought I had) my stress levels had skyrocketed, I wanted to pull my hair out and the boys were both sulking. It was not a good trip.

7 Writing Prompts to Help Beat Writer's Block

Writer's block can wreak havoc with your creation abilities and whenever it hits me I struggle to get my mojo back. It completely stops me from writing a word and even conjuring up images in my head is difficult. Sometimes it can takes months to disappear.

However, the right image or words can inspire me and I'll be able to write three pages in no time. Usually I'll scour the internet looking for that image or the words that will break my writer's block and after hours and hours of searching I'll find it. There are so many websites out there that list journal writing ideas or little snippets of a story to try and inspire and they are the first place I look. I've done it so many times now that I've started to get a list of my own and thought I would share it with you.

Virtual Blog Tour

Hello and welcome to my very first Virtual Blog Tour. I was invited on this tour by the lovely Lysa Wilds from Welcome-to-my-circus-but-I-wouldn't-have-it-any-other-way who I met only recently. I happened to stumble upon her blog through the #AllAboutYou linky and read a really touching post about forgiveness. Lysa is a lovely person who tries to stay positive even at the most trying of times. Thank you for inviting me Lysa.

If you don't know what a Virtual Blog Tour is I'll try and explain. Basically it's a tour around blogs where bloggers get to answer four simple questions about blogging and invite and introduce other bloggers to the tour. It's a great way of making new friends and discovering new blogs to read.

I have to say that when I received the email from Lysa inviting me on the tour I was quite surprised. We hadn't really spoken but she told me she read my blog and liked it, I was very flattered. It's lovely to get a bit of a confidence boost every now and then!

Onto my four questions...

BP's First Lone Outing

Years ago, as a parent of toddlers/babies, I never considered the possibility that one day I would have to allow my babies out into the world on their own. I lived an ignorant life blissfully unaware of the fear and dread that would eventually enter my world. When BP turned eight I began to wonder when he would start asking about going out alone but given that we live at least 2 miles from any of his friends I didn't think it would become an issue.

Then he turned nine and began telling me about his friends and how they were allowed to walk to school alone. At the time (last summer) I said it was because they lived a lot closer to school and it was safer for them because they didn't have to cross any roads. He wasn't happy but didn't ask about walking to school on his own again. Until recently.