Saturday, 31 August 2013

Happy 4th Birthday Ben

To My Special Little Man Ben,

Happy 4th Birthday Gorgeous Boy!!!

I can not believe you are 4! It really does only seem a few months ago since you were born.
1st September 2009 at 3.23pm.

I realised I was pregnant with you on Christmas day 2008. I hadn't done a test but I knew and I remember thinking that after the two miscarriages this was going to be third time lucky.
We were lucky to get an early scan at 8 weeks and you were fine.
Another scan at 12 weeks and then the next day I felt you move! Really early on, but definitely a flutter.
My 20 week scan arrived and we found out we were having a boy! Daddy was so pleased, I was really shocked as I thought I would have another girl, but with hindsight I should of known as my two pregnancies were so different. I remember asking the sonographer if she was right and she replied that there was no mistaking you were a boy!
I asked for a planned c section, after the complications with Megan and as my due date was 5th Sept my consultant wanted me to have a section on 29th Aug, but I asked if we could hang fire till the 1st September so you wouldn't be the youngest in your year, and also so our birthdays would only be two days apart.
We arrived early at the hospital on Tuesday 1st September very excited to meet you. The hospital was busy though so we didn't get to meet you until 3.23pm! All 7lb 7oz of you! Just perfect.
You were such a good baby. You didn't wake up for 8 weeks, you just slept and grew. Megan loved you so much and was a brilliant help, getting nappies and wipes and cuddling you.
We went to Kos when you were 10 months and you were an angel, you even learnt to crawl when we were there. You walked at 15 months and then you really came into your own, exploring and copying Megan and Jack.
As you have got older you have blossomed into a cheeky little boy who can be the best company and have me in stitches with your antics.
Your tantrums are hopefully becoming less and less, and your frustrations easing.
In just over a week you start nursery, and you are so ready. You can write your name, count to 20 and your eagerness to know what things say is becoming more and more apparent. I know you are going to love it and have so much fun.

So gorgeous boy, happy birthday, I love you so much.

Love from

Monday, 19 August 2013

Red Hot Buffet

We have just returned from our first visit to the Red Hot World Buffet in Manchester, as Red Hot World Buffet Tastemakers. As you will know, if you have read this post here, that I hadn't been before. 
All I can say is OMG, it is amazing!

We decided to take Megan and Ben with us and have a real family day out, and take advantage of the kids eat for half price at Red Hot Buffet so we started off at the cinema in Stockport. We took advantage of the offer they have for childrens films and went to see The Croods, which we hadn't seen before. That was great fun and we all really enjoyed it. We then drove into Manchester and had a wander around the shops, and went into the Arndale Centre, something I haven't done for ages. 

We arrived at the restaurant and we were quickly checked in and headed upstairs to the seating area. 
I couldn't believe how big it was and there was a further seating area upstairs which was open in the evenings.  The theme in the restaurant was red and black and it all looked very smart. 
Our waiter came over, introduced himself and quickly explained how the buffet works. We ordered our drinks and I decided to have a cheeky cocktail so picked sex on the beach, my all time favourite, and Mr W picked long island iced tea.

I then took Megan and Ben up to have a look at the buffet and pick some food with them. 
Megan wanted noodles so we headed to one of the live cooking stations, where noodles, chicken and beef were freshly prepared for her while we waited. The live stations are in the chinese, indian and italian parts of the buffet and you can have freshly cooked combinations of food cooked while you wait. This station was great and had a choice of meats, fish, noodles, veg and sauces, so you could pick just what you wanted. Megan also picked spring rolls, prawn crackers and rice as well as a couple of roast potatoes thrown in for good measure! 

Megan tucking into noodles, and my delicious sex on the beach cocktail!

Ben picked cheese and tomato pizza, chips and salad. 

Ben tucking into his pizza. Yummy!

Plates loaded, we headed back to the table, got them settled and I went up. I honestly didn't know where to start! There is chinese, indian, tex mex, italian, salads, traditional dishes and loads more. I started off with my favourite, indian - rice, curry, onion bhajis and naan bread. 
Mr W picked a more 'mixed' plate of a bit of everything! It was all delicious and the onion bhajis were really crispy - just how I like them!

Mr W's rather unusual mix!

After this there was no stopping us!! Megan ate far more than I imagined she would, and tried lots of different things - naan bread, curry, spare ribs, spicy pasta. She is getting really adventurous with her food now. Ben stuck with the more traditional pizza, chips, salad, burger and sausage. I tried lots of what I like in smaller portions, so I had chinese bits, beef and veg pie, lots and lots of potatoes! pizza, wedges, noodles with meat and veg and Mr W ate lots and lots in all strange combinations!

After a little breather, (and another cocktail!) we decided to check out the puddings. They were just divine! All tiny miniature portions, so you can eat lots!! Ben had ice cream, chocolate cake and sweets! Megan tried carrot cake, chocolate cake, ice cream, jelly and the chocolate fountain! Mr W and I picked a real random collection of lots of our favourites, cream brulee, chocolate brownies, trifle, mousse and I had quite a bit of cheese and bread! 

Ben enjoying his desserts. Chocolate fudge cake was his favourite!

While we were there we took a couple of trips to the loos (inevitable with small children!) and I was very impressed with the cleanliness of them and the fact that there were automatic flushes, taps and driers in there. This always gets top marks for hygiene in my opinion.

Another thing I noticed was that even though the restaurant was probably three quarters full, tables were attended to promptly and cleared within a couple of minutes of people vacating them. The staff were all very polite and courteous and very smartly dressed. throughout the restaurant. During the time we were there, food was being replenished very frequently and the staff were keeping a running check of what needed replacing well before it ran out.

We had a fabulous meal today. It was so lovely to spend some quality time together as a family, relaxing, having fun and enjoying gorgeous food. 

A very tired Ben on the way home!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Where I Have Been

You may (or may not) have noticed I have been very quiet on my little blog the last few weeks.
My dad has been very poorly, and is still in hospital, but hopefully on the right side. The problem is, or two main problems are, he is currently an the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI). He was transferred there two weeks ago from our more local hospital as he needed specialist care, but that is a 45 minute journey both ways, add that to parking and walking to and from his ward, which is at the far end of the hospital, makes the whole thing about 1 hr 10 mins each way. Quite a journey! And every day. My mum has been spending most afternoons there and a lot of evenings too.Me and my sister have been going in the evening. As soon as Mr W walks in at 6.15pm, I rush off and generally get back about 9.45pm. Hence the act I haven't been blogging!  We are really trying to push for a move back to the local hospital but so far no luck.
The second problem is my Dads mobility. It wasn't great before, due to a couple of different issues but now it is very poor. As he has been laid up for so long, he has lost a lot of weight and muscle and therefore currently can't get out of bed himself. He is having physio on the ward and they are aiming to get him to a point where he can go into rehabilitation before coming home.

So in a nutshell that is what has been going on. I am missing my blogging, but will be grabbing bits of time as and when, until everything is more the meantime pass the wine....

365 Project Week 33

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

I am taking part in the 365 photo challenge for 2013, linking in with The Boy And Me.
You can join in here.

I will add pictures each week.

365 Project

Week 33

Day 223
Ben went to Nanas and had a lovely time, baking biscuits and picking me some beautiful flowers.
Day 224
We went to MOSI for the day. Ben enjoyed all the levers, pulling and pushing to see what happened.
We have been to MOSI before and always have a great time.

Day 225
We went to the aquatics centre for a swim and the kids had a whale of a time!

Day 226
We had dressing up fun with witches, scooby doo, red devils and lots more!
Day 227
Megan has been brilliant at entertaining Grace. She is so good with her, plays with her and looks after her so well.She sent ages blowing bubbles for her this week.

Day 228
My little computer whizz!

Day 229
We went to visit our lovely friends in Wales. The kids all played so well and sent a lot of time outside.
I snapped this pic through the window as Lynne and I were guzzling wine in the kitchen!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Knowsley Safari Park

Last Tuesday we had a brilliant day out at Knowsley Safari Park, for the Jungle Dogs launch. You can read all about that here.

I haven't been to Knowsley with the children for a couple of years (although I took a nursery and reception class a couple of months ago!) and Ben doesn't remember it as he was not quite 2 the last time we went.

I love Knowsley as the game drive is amazing and being able to see the animals in their habitats and roaming free is just amazing. 

Having been to Kenya on safari on my honeymoon, I can be quite particular about seeing 'caged' animals, but at Knowsley it isn't like that at all.

The lions are a big favourite of mine and we saw them very close up as they were wandering very close to the car!

Megan and Ben begged me to go through the monkey enclosure but I resisted and went the 'car friendly' route! I am very glad I did as we saw a few cars having their wipers pulled off!

The great thing about Knowsley is that once you have been around the driving part you can then explore the park by foot.
We saw the sea lion show which is always good fun. It is only about 15 minutes so it keeps the attention of even the littlest visitors.

We also visited the bug house and saw lots of creepy crawlies, like cockroaches, spiders and snakes!

We wandered to the elephants and giraffes, stopping for ice cream and a visit to Megans favourite animals, the Meerkats.

The camels spent ages blocking the road!
Another of my favourite animals.
The beautiful black rhino.


Jungle Dogs at Knowsley Safari Park

Last week we went to Knowsley Safari Park to experience a new product launch of a new type of hotdog, Jungle Dogs.

Both Megan and Ben were very excited as they love Knowsley and are quite big fans of hotdogs.

Ready for lunch!
Like most mums, I do feel a bit guilty for feeding them hotdogs as we all know they are not made from the best quality products.

But that is where jungle dogs are different.
The nutritional bit...
They are made from 85% meat, which is substantially more meat than their biggest rival, none of which is mechanically recovered meat.
Now doesn't that remove a lot of the guilt?!

They are very tasty and made from quality cuts of pork, which is naturally smoked.
The launch took place in a room that had a 'jungley' theme, with activities for the children, such as colouring and activity mats.

Jungle dog sandwiches.
We were able to sample the jungle dogs in different recipes.

Jungle dog kebabs...Bens favourite!
We tried jungle dogs and vegetable kebabs, wraps with jungle dogs and salad, salami wrapped jungle dogs and pasta jungle dogs.
Jungle dog wraps...yummy.
Salami wrapped jungle dogs.

Megan's favourite were the wraps, and I really liked the pasta! And in true Ben style, he ate all the veg first!

Tina O Brian was there, with her daughter and she seemed to be having fun trying out the products too.
Fab goody bags!
The children all got given their own goody bags, containing fab bits from Grafix as well as jungle dogs merchandise and to Megan and Bens delight, a kangaroo onesie each which apparently is "the best thing ever!"
(And they wore them all around Knowsley!)
Our goody bags and jungle dogs cool bags.
Yummy looking jungle dog pizza!
When we got home, I had a good look through the goody bags and loved the recipe cards that were in there. Megan can't wait to make the jungle dogs pizza!
Recipe cards.

Jungle dogs are on sale now and are sold in conveniently sized packets of 6 hotdogs, which are just right for small tummies!

365 Project Week 32

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

I am taking part in the 365 photo challenge for 2013, linking in with The Boy And Me.
You can join in here.

I will add pictures each week.

365 Project

Week 32

Day 216
Manchester Sky Ride
Mr W, Megan and Jack went on the sky ride and had a brilliant time.
Hopefully Ben and I can do it next year when he is a bit bigger.

Day 217
Spiderman in Asda!

Day 218
We went to Knowsley Safari Park for the Jungle Dogs launch and Megan and Ben gt these fab kangaroo onesies!

Day 219
Ben and Jack playing on 'Just Dance!'

Day 220
We had a game of the Nutty Squirrel game that is still one of favourite games!

Day 221
A bit blurry.
A pic of us going to visit Grandad, who is still in hospital. He is on the mend now, but it is going to a long haul to get him back on his feet (literally).
The children hadn't seen him for two weeks and were really missing him so I think they enjoyed this visit.
Hopefully he will be moved to a more local hospital soon so we don't have to keep driving 45 mins each way every day to see him.

Day 222
My helper hanging out the washing.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Red Hot World Buffet

    Tastemaker Programme 2013 - 2014

I was so pleased this week to find out I have been picked as a Tastemaker for the Red Hot World Buffet!
I am so excited as it is a restaurant that I haven't been to, but have always been meaning to try and now i have got a brilliant opportunity to do so!
Although  I haven't been, Mr W has been a few times and I have dribbled with the descriptions of the food that he has had!
I love the fact that you can eat food from all over the world in one sitting, and this really suits me as I can be a bit of a 'picker' and love to pick lots of little bits of lots of different things.
I am really looking forward to going with Megan and Ben too as they will love being able have a variety of different foods in one meal, although I know Megan will make a beeline for the noodles as they are her favourite!
I can't wait to receive my first newsletter with details of special events, previews of new menus, like the Christmas menu and lots more!
To celebrate the launch of their new tastemaker programme, Red Hot Buffet are offering half price eating for kids, age 16 and under this summer from £3.99!!! This special offer can only be found here!
So why not take advantage of this special offer and treat the kids (and yourself) to a great night out!

Toaster Review from Shoplet

The very lovely people at Shoplet sent us a new toaster to try out and review. This was great timing as our old toaster had started to be very temperamental in the last couple of weeks and was alternating between toasting and cremating one side of the bread!

When the toaster arrived we unwrapped it and set it to use straight away. 

Our new toaster!

The instructions said to put it on once, without any bread to let it complete a cycle first.

Add caption

Megan was very keen to try it and if anyone would be a good judge of how toast is toasted it is Megan! She would eat toast and cereal for every meal given half a chance (That and my roast chicken dinner!!!) As it is, she eats toast about twice a day, for breakfast and supper!

I set the toaster to number 3 as I could then decide whether it needed longer or shorter. As it was, this setting suited us, as it was toasted to our liking (nicely brown, but not overdone.)

Toast anyone???

The toaster is really easy to use, no complicated controls or fiddly knobs to work out.
As well as the dial for the number of minutes to toast, there are only 3 buttons, STOP, which is simply to pop the toast up before it finishes. DEFROST, which is to use if your bread has come straight from the freezer. This is a great idea as many people, including me, keep their bread in the freezer and get it out when they fancy a piece of toast. The third and final button is REHEAT which easily allows you to reheat your toast if you, like me, get side tracked with something else, just as the toast pops up!
The toaster also has a crumb tray that slips out easily to empty out the crumbs to keep the taoster in tip top condition.

The toaster has been going strong for just over a week now, and has already toasted countless pieces of bread! In comparison to my old toast it is great as I haven't burnt any yet! Joking aside,  I think the REHEAT and DEFROST buttons are a fab idea, and certainly make my life easier, especially on those mornings when there are a million things to do!

Fits nicely on my work surface!

Whilst having a look around the Shoplet site I was impressed with the variety of different products that you can purchase. On of these products was this multipurpose paper, which is a great price for the amount for paper there is. As we use loads of paper here, for printing and drawing, this may be what we need as this may just last us a few months! 

Have a look at Shoplet for a wide selection of things around your home!