Persephone: Parent

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A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

I’ve finished another book! My first paper book since I finished a re-read of Clash of Kings somewhere during the past three years. I’m really impressed that I seem to actually be keeping up with reading. And enjoying reading again! My last few books have been easy reading. A few Hester Browne novels and the 3 100 books (which, by the way, is now really confusing me when trying to watch season 3), but I decided that I needed to up my game, I needed to jump back in to Westeros and I needed to read my Christmas present! And it took me less than a month, I think.

Not that I know how long it used to take me to read a book, but Knight of the Seven Kingdoms looks really big what with my copy being hardback and all. I have to admit, it took a while to get in to. Possibly because I’m not used to reading something like Knight or because it wasn’t quite the Westeros that I am used to, or simply because it was a new book. Just because I’ve read and enjoyed others set in the same universe does not mean I should get suckered straight in to something new. So, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms contains 3 of the Dunk and Egg short stories. The first is the set up and it was the hardest for me to get in to. It was probably the one I liked the least. Maybe it’s just my simple brain, but I spent half of it recognising names but realising that the Baratheon mentioned is none of the Baratheons that I know. Then I wanted to Wiki/google to figure out who each was connected to ancestrally. I’m always rubbish at remembering who’s liege lord is who, who is sworn to who, etc. I reckon I only know so much as I do about the ASOIAF novels because I’ve extensively read about them online. In retrospect, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms probably was not as “complicated” as ASOIAF, but I didn’t have as much background and I don’t think that was what I really wanted to read. Not right now.

I think that’s why the middle short story was my favourite, The Sworn Sword. It was simpler. It did talk about the Blackfyre rebellion and the allegiances during the war (which obviously aren’t a huge point in ASOIAF, so new to me), but on a very small scale as the story revolved around an incredibly small village almost and it’s immediate vicinity. I also loved it when we met the Red Widow and, yeah, just fell in love with her I think. The illustrations helped with that, too. I got an Arya/Ygritte vibe from her and loved the chemistry with Dunk. On to the third and final, The Mystery Knight, and, again, there were a few too many names and cover stories for my little brain to keep up with, but I did love the Bloodraven action. I was also glad that Egg was in the 3rd one less as I just have not warmed to him at all. Maybe part of my problem is visualisation – I watched Game of Thrones season 1 before reading all of the novels so I could see all of the main characters. Despite the illustrations, Dunk and Egg requires me to use my imagination. Maybe it’s the hours I spend alone with a baby who simply wants to chew everything she can pick up, or discussing Octonauts with my toddler who is Kwazzi (I’m Peso, btw), but I seem to be lacking in imagination.

I would also say that Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is not the novel to introduce someone in to the world of Westeros, in my opinion only. Because of all of the characters that are thrown at the reader. Then again, maybe I’m remembering Game of Thrones wrong!

On to my next book, another paper book as during my book decluttering I found an easy novel that simply screamed Read me! So whilst I have boxed up a huge pile of all the random novels I think sound quirky and buy from charity shops but still have not read yet, I kept one. Just one.

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Gift Wrapping – Made Easy!

My mum is a QVC addict and most of my Christmas presents came in these super amazing bags – Gift Mate at QVC. They also do an Everyday set. I think I was more in love with the bags than the presents; it’s just so handy and clever. I hate wrapping paper and the fact that most places won’t /can’t recycle it.

These bags aren’t ideal for every type of present and, although they’d save you money if you could re-use them every year, the chances are you’d give them away to someone else to re-use! They were good for clothes which can be difficult to wrap, and teddy bears. I think I got toiletries in them, too. They drawstring close and are made of a foil type material that seems quite hardy. Obviously the ones I now have, have only been used once and they weren’t handled by children.

I probably wouldn’t use them for children (where’s the fun in that for kids?) But I might even buy my own set of Everyday bags. The small ones are a perfect size for jewellery and the biggest size easily fitted a teddy bear bought for Robin. I think they make a perfect addition to other types of gift wrap in your collection – ideally to also convince everyone else you know to use them so you get a fresh supply!

I love anything that decreases waste!

~ P

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Wacky Warehouse: Netley Grange

We have a Wacky Warehouse very local to our house and I’ve used it multiple times with foster children and on under 1 mornings but haven’t gone since Elvis became fully mobile (I was heavily pregnant) but we got invited to a birthday party at the Wacky Warehouse at Netley.

Current prices are £50 for a party of ten kids with access to the play area. This is not private access so it can still be busy with strangers. And, as with other Wackies, they have offers for daytime play, membership cards and you can collect points on the Fayre and Square pubcards inside the Wacky.

Drinks bought at the main bar need to be in plastic cups but can then be brought into WW, food can be ordered an eaten inside too.

My two biggest problems with any WW are:
1. Hot drinks in proper cups. So your beer has to be in a plastic cup in case of breakage but your scalding hot drink can be in a breakable cup filled to the brim. Doesn’t make sense to me.
2. Older children. There’s a height limit but I’ve never seen it be policed. Even the taller children allowed in are drastically different in age to 1 year olds.

This particular WW seems kind of in the middle of nowhere but is very separate from the pub. I consider this distance, and completely separate entrance as a very good positive. It helps to distinguish for a child if you’re only going to eat. This WW had only the one entrance/exit (which is monitored so children cannot open it) which did cause some queue issues at times. I also couldn’t figure out where pushchairs could be kept to one side despite information on the website stating there is a buggy park and an under 3s section. The photos also didn’t all look like the WW I saw earlier today!

My local WW has an in and out gate (both monitored) and a pushchair area.

In the seating area there were about 4 comfy chairs and maybe 6 tables seating maybe 4 chairs. At the party table end there was more space for tables. Both ends had in/outs for the soft play so both have children running madly everywhere. Hence my hot drink issue. It seemed a bit oddly organised. As you enter there’s seating, then the soft play. Past the soft play is the party/seating area. Children can run in and out at either end and then between them. There are three main veins of play heading up – one at one end, 2 at the other. As a parent of young ones, which end do you sit at? How do you keep an eye on your child? I fully appreciate that as Elvis ages, I might become far more lax in constantly following/watching him. But he’s not yet 2 and I have the baby to monitor.

I couldn’t watch both and my possessions very easily here.

The play area was massive, covers at least three levels, has tunnels, slides, ball pit, hangy “punch bags”, spongy cushions, mesh netted walk ways and more. It was so tall. I think I got a bit of vertigo. I also got a bit claustrophobic, but it really isn’t designed for me!

The toilets designated for WW have a boys, girls and disabled/changing room. The cubicles in the girls were tiny which is a problem with a toddler in tow. There was very little room to get us both in and close the door. Meanwhile there was room in the disabled/changing but why would I use that when it was me who needed the loo. I used the changing room twice. For Baby, it was ok but I found the table quite high. Pethaps I’m a shortie. For Elvis, it really wasn’t long enough for him. His legs were dangling off the edge as I changed his nappy. There could definitely be improvements.

Personally, I don’t think it’s designed for under 2s. Maybe even 3s. Elvis couldn’t get into anything but the ball pit as he’s too short to climb up the steps. He’s about 80cm and not short for his almost 2 years of age.

There was also an outside play area which we didn’t look at due to it being grey outside and we were there for a party.

It was generally clean and well maintained; I didn’t notice any dirt. However there was a section of exposed wood which could be a hazard if a child fell the wrong way. I really liked the height and variety of things to do, however I would prefer a separate toddler area and easier adult vantage points. It isn’t somewhere I’d go out of my way for and I possibly wouldn’t rush back in the next year or two until my children are a bit more independent at playing.

~ P

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First Date: Captain America and the Winter Soldier

To further get Elvis used to staying at Nanny’s (although I think we can safely say he naps there fine now), Daddy and I took the opportunity to go on a daytime date. The date for our anniversary was once Elvis was in bed at our house, for the cinema we opted for going during the day as Nanny gets bored at our house.

The film ran so late we missed dinner! Which I had left with Nanny just in case. Although I’ve been to the cinema since Elvis was born (Thor The Dark World) and I kept up to date on the Marvellous Marvel whilst very heavily pregnant (anything for RDJ and Iron Man 3) so with the Captain making his second solo outing, we had to pair up to see it!

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The Little Details: Check the Unorthodox

A lot of mums, first time or further down the line, probably only want to shop or look in proper shops for items for their children; I’m the same to an extent.

For certain things.

I would never buy a second hand car seat. Or a mattress.

We wanted a brand new cot, brand new changing unit, moses basket and baby bath.

But we’re happy to buy and look at second hand items, and in the cheap, discount shops.

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Table for One

Recently I’ve been getting fed up with restaurant, cafe and friend’s homes highchair facilities so I bought, what I consider, the most amazing thing ever! It is the Chicco Pocket Snack Booster Seat.

We already had a simple booster seat for Nanny’s, but that was annoying me and too bulky to carry around. At Nanny’s it just meant Elvis was always getting her tablecloth filthy because he’d rather play with than eat!

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(Stair) Gates to Heaven

With Elvis’ increasing mobility we had to invest in safety gates. Originally we wanted one at the top and one at the bottom of the stairs. We’ve had some hiccups, but we now have two:

BabyDan Auto Foldable Safety Gate
Lindam Sure Shut Gate

And I love them both!

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Review: Little Pickles … Again!

I am seriously addicted to these markets! I have no idea what I’m going to do between now and September as they take a summer break.

At today’s I spent under £20 and bought some essentials and some not so essentials. All of it clothing. Well, with the discovery mid-week that Elvis no longer fits into 0-3 month clothes, I needed to do something! So a-shopping I went. And I went around twice. I think it’s only the second Market I’ve been to since not being pregnant – bending to look in boxes is far easier now!

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Day 58 Encounting: Clothes Shopping

There may be only 50+ days left, but I had completely refrained from doing any shopping of clothes whatsoever for Elvis. I knew I needed the basics, the essentials, and I also knew that my mum had that covered! In fact she’s bought plenty of non-essential items, too, but that isn’t the point.

Apparently it’s bad luck to have the pram/pushchair in the house before baby comes. I have no idea why; I haven’t researched that Old Wives’ Tale. What I think of as a bit like Counting your chickens before they’re hatched is the clothes thing. Not only for what if the worst happens, but also what if he’s massive so all the 0-3month clothes don’t fit! Or only fit for a day or two and then he needs a bigger size. It’s the same with nappies: yes, I need however many to cover the first few days, but there’s no point in stocking up on what could be the wrong size. Or, what if the scan was wrong and Elvis is… Elvira or something!

So I had refrained from buying anything other than a few little essentials that I knew my mum hadn’t bought as the doting Grandmother. Until I decided to head to an NCT run Nearly New Sale.

The National Childbirth Trust is a charity that runs various things for New and Expectant Mothers. Things include antenatal classes, post-natal drop ins, yoga and relaxation courses and Nearly New Sales (amongst other things). I don’t think any of their courses or meet ups are free, but a portion of what’s paid will go to the charity. The Nearly New Sale (NNS) is charged on the door by £1 per family, I think I heard them say, but I was happy to pay £1 each for myself and my mother (it is for charity).

What I expected was a jumble sale. Anyone can donate their used goods to be sold on the day, and I expected to see each seller having their own table so everything would be a bit miss-matched with a mixture of clothes, toys, books etc on every table.

It is not a jumble sale!

Everything donated is labelled up with a price and seller ID and then everything sorted into one giant “shop”. So there are clothing racks laid out by gender and age making it easier to look at the range you wanted. Starting off at newborn, clothes went up to about 3 or 4 years of age. Around the outside there were more clothes piled on tables in the same age range/gender layout. These were then used to top up the main racks when it was needed, but they did get a bit muddled.

There were also specific areas for toys, books, equipment and parent books. And a separate rack for GroBags and Fancy Dress clothing.

Some people get amazing bargains there – breast pumps, cots, baby bouncers, etc. We only bought clothes, but we bought loads of clothes and a lot of them were only 50p! One dungaree set still had the shop label on them – BRAND New. And there were some decent “brands” there, too. Not that I specifically want brands for me or my child, but if I can get a John Rocha or Next t-shirt for 50p, I bloody well will!

I think I totalled up 7 full outfits, one coat, one cardigan and another 5 t-shirts and all for £20. Everything that you want to buy (from any table or rack in the room) is taken to one till area (so there are big queues) and you pay for it all in one go. It means there’s no need to have lots of change like you might need to at a car boot sale (although change for the door donation/entry fee is needed) or constantly getting your purse out or wondering about accidentally wandering off from one “stall” to another.

It was far more organised than I thought and the clothes I got were of such a decent condition, I will definately be heading back to their next one – my area have two a year. So Elvis should be about 6 months old at the next one.

They also provide you with a bag to use as a shopping basket and then a bag at the end with all of your shopping in (and some leaflets and freebie stuff!) so there’s no worry about buying too much (unless it’s more than you can carry) and there was an option to bring your car around if you bought a cot or something! Which is probably the worst element of my local NNS – parking is limited to 1hour during the day, but we did it!

Meanwhile I did have a look online for other local second hand sales and found something local called Little Pickles Markets which sounds similar to the NNS except I think people do run their own stall (not sure), but I will be heading there in a few weeks to see what it’s like and what other bargains I can find!

~ Persephone M

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