1. Discovering the beach...

    Sunday, July 22, 2007

    Discovering the beach...
    Originally uploaded by AmandaFaz.

    Its now our second day on holiday and what a lovely day it's been so far! This is what being on holiday is all about: the kids all playing happily on the sand; sun shining; everyone's smiling and happy. Hubby dearest has cooked all our meals so far, even a wonderful english breakfast for when i (finally) woke up! I'm really glad we decided to come here now, even though the timing wasn't so good with dad being in the hospital and all. Lets hope the rest of the week is as enjoyable,:)

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  2. A near miss...

    Friday, July 20, 2007
    Last night, my son came in screaming moments after he'd gone out to play across the road. He'd been so preoccupied with a gift he'd just received from his aunt that he walked out into the road without looking, and...

    Well, you can guess what happened.

    He was so SO lucky to have come out of it with only bruises and a sore leg! The driver of the van was so concerned and stayed until he was certain my son wasn't badly injured. I hardly remember what I did, except that I sobbed and insisted on stripping him to his underpants right in the open doorway until I knew for certain nothing was bleeding or broken.

    So so lucky. And so unlike my son to cross the road without looking both ways first! I've installed road sense into him from the moment he could walk, so I can only believe he must have been too excited about his gift and the impending holidays.

    I thank God that he is safe and well. Heaven knows what I'd have done if he'd been seriously hurt, or worse... I'm so glad that the driver had enough sense to drive through our road with caution and safe speed, since there are almost always children playing in the street. If the car had been one of the "boy racers" who speed through the road at night, I certainly wouldn't be here writing this post now.

    Thank God for small mercies, and for keeping our children safe.
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  3. Dad in hospital

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Today I took Dad to hospital, where at present he's being prepared to have major surgery on his spine. I hated leaving him there alone and nervous. These days, he seems so weak and sad, and pained. It hurts me to see him this way, so I know the operation he's having can only make him more comfortable than he is at present.

    The picture above was taken when Dad was feeling much healthier, and this is always the way I remember him: seemingly invincible and happy. I do hope he's well enough for me to visit tomorrow evening during visiting hours. Now I feel so guilty that we're going on holiday this Saturday, as I won't be able to visit him after tomorrow, and I'm really anxious about him. If it wasn't for the kids, I'd have cancelled the holiday and stayed at home instead to be there when he needs his family close by. At least I'll be in Sheffield when he comes out, to help him at home while everyone else is at work.

    Miss you Dad!. All my love and hopes for your swift recovery!
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  4. First day at "Big School"!

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007
    Today my little man spent an "induction day" at his new comprehensive school. I was so nervous for him! He still seems too young and small to be attending comprehensive!

    But he dispelled all my fears when he met me in the car park at 3pm, all smiles and gossip about how much he'd enjoyed the day. He;s already made friends with some of his classmates and feels he knows his way around the maze of corridors, which is no small feat considering the size and scale of the school!

    Only six weeks of holiday to go now before he's there full time! Still, we have to get through a summer of rain before then...

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  5. Glamumous meets the Chariband team!

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Well, at least some of the team! At the carnival yesterday I was lucky enough to meet Glenda of the charity Chariband who was working the Chariband stall, selling bags and badges and generally getting the message out about how Chariband supports local charities. The photo above is of Glenda and Little Angel (looking not-so amused because I didn't want her wading through the muddy field in her white shoes!)

    We were able to see a display of the new brightly coloured Charibags before their official launch date next week. They really are cute in the new colours (Little Angel loved the hot pink one!), and Glenda explained that each small bag can hold five large shoppers folded flat, so they're great for storing your shopping bags until they're needed.

    Next Friday the 27th of July, the Lord Mayor of Sheffield will be officially launching the new Charibag range at Crystal Peaks in Sheffield. Much as I would love to go, I'm afraid we can't be there as we'll be in (hopefully) sunny Lincolnshire on our holidays... However, I do hope Glenda will email me some pictures of the event so I can post about it here.

    Chariband hope to raise £10,000 for the South Yorkshire Flood Disaster Relief Fund from the sale of Charibags. You can purchase Charibags online from the Chariband website.

    EDIT: Some more Charibag promotions have been confirmed for the near future:
    • Sheffield United F.C. Open Day - Bramhall Lane, Sheffield on Sunday the 29th of July 10am-3pm
    • Flood Benefit Gig, Little Man Tate - The Plug, Sheffield, on Saturday the 4th of August.
    • Floodstock Charity Weekend - The Leadmill, Sheffield on Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th of August.

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  6. A day at the carnival

    Saturday, July 14, 2007
    Despite today being so gloomy and overcast, I took the kids to Stannington Carnival for a much deserved day out. Here's some of the pictures I took with my cameraphone (apologies for the poor quality!):

    We've been going to this carnival for the past few years now, and I really love the traditional feel of this one. We found an old gypsy caravan, traditional fudge seller, a tombola and loads more. And we didn't have to spend a fortune either! Everything was reasonably priced, even the food stalls. Except for the bouncy castle, which we certainly won't be going on next year!

    It's a pity so many of these summer fayre's we like to attend have been cancelled this year because of the terrible weather we've been having. Still, we always find a way to have fun!

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  7. Kids summer reading challenge!

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Last year, my son had great fun by being involved in the national reading challenge at the library; each week he read a book borrowed from the library (six in total) for which he achieved a certificate and medallion. Stickers and pencils also provided a great incentive for him to keep on reading.

    So we were rather pleased to discover that a new reading challenge has been set for this summer's school holidays: The Big Wild Read.

    The challenge is environmentally themed, encouraging kids to play a bigger part in helping protect and conserve our planet by thinking about the things we do and how it affects planet Earth. They are given a folder to help record their progress, and each time they read a book they are given scratch and sniff stickers to decorate it, featuring useful information about conservation and wildlife. What's more, they also receive "tree tokens" which will be translated into new trees thanks to the Woodland Trust's Trees for All campaign.

    Not only is this a great incentive for youngsters to be reading over the summer, but a way to help them develop an understanding of the environment, and what can be done to protect it.

    The kids are all going to be taking part in this challenge this summer, and have even planned the books they'll be reading next week when we go on holiday! I just know they're going to be thrilled when they learn that their efforts have also helped plant new trees too!

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  8. Free books for babies

    Monday, July 9, 2007

    When my little Angel was quite young, we were given a Bookstart token for her to exchange for a pack at the library, which included some free books, a children's library card and a lovely bag to put them all in. This has been well loved, as my daughter now adores books and is developing quite a collection (she takes after her mum!). Yet I didn't think much more about the Bookstart scheme until recently.

    After having a look at the Bookstart website, I realised that the scheme doesn't end with that first free pack! Children are also presented with Bookstart+ packs as toddlers, and then a treasure chest when ages 3-4, both of which include free book tokens! Furthermore, there is a scheme run by libraries called "The Book Crawl", which encourages young children to read by offering certificates and free books when each card is filled with stamps.

    This is such a lovely idea to help encourage young children to develop a love of reading. I only wish I'd read about this sooner.
    To find out more about the Bookstart scheme, take a look at the website or ask at your local library. I'm sure your little angels will love it as much as mine does!

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  9. We're all going on a...

    Saturday, July 7, 2007

    Hubby Dearest booked our summer holiday today: we're spending a week in a luxury caravan on the Lincolnshire coast, close to the beach. It may not seem like the ideal holiday solution, but believe me this will be a welcome break for us all.

    My stepchildren will be coming too, which is great as we'll not be worried about them being bored! I only hope that the weather improves for our holiday at least: it seems to have rained non-stop for the past eight weeks. Some even say that it's rained ever since Rhianna's Umbrella has been number one in the British pop charts...

    But being British, we are optimistic, and always have a back-up plan for days when the weather is too bad to play out. In this case, Gameboys, paper and pens should do the trick. Oh yes, and wellingtons too...

    We set off a week on Saturday, so from then I'll be posting via mobile phone to keep you up to date on what we're getting up to. While I am slightly disappointed that we can't get to Tunisia this summer, I'm still looking forward to spending some quality time with Hubby and the kids. I'm sure we'll have a great time, whatever the weather.

    Post cards by email coming soon!

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  10. Scandalous airline prices in the school holidays!

    Friday, July 6, 2007

    We were hoping to be able to spend our summer holidays in Tunisia this year, staying in our "holiday home" with all the kids (as my stepchildren haven't been with us for a couple of years now). But when we saw the prices for the flights, we were absolutely shocked! For a flight only from Manchester to Monastir during the summer holidays, the price is TRIPLE that which my husband paid to go last month, and double that of going the week before (thus missing a week of school).

    Can you believe this???

    I had hoped to take a photo of the websites we'd looked at in order to demonstrate these prices to you, but unfortunately it seems there are no longer flights available to Tunisia during the summer holidays (if I can get these up in the future, I will edit this post to include them).

    Honestly, I am shocked that airlines can do this. I wouldn't want to take the children out of school to go on holiday, as they'd miss too much of their education. But the difference in cost for us is well over £1000 for the flights. Money which we would have wanted for spending money while we were there.

    Travel-Rants.com includes a post about this, demonstrating an example of the rise in costs during the summer holidays most parents face. It's awful that holiday operators manage to get away with this,. Travel-rants suggests we band together to put pressure on MP's and airlines in the hope of changing this situation.

    Unfortunately, we'll have to forgo Tunisia this summer. I am rather disappointed, as I was looking forward to seeing my Tunisian sisters (in law) again, and spending time away from this awful weather in the sun. I guess we'll have to look a little closer to home for something much cheaper instead. Either that, or we'll go in the Autumn half term instead, though from what I've seen so far, the costs will rise slightly that week too...

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  11. Happy Birthday!

    Thursday, July 5, 2007

    To my little man, who's eleven today:

    Your Dad and I wish you a Happy Birthday!

    We have many surprises in store for you:

    Lots of cards and special presents, and a birthday cake too!

    Eleven years passed, and my you have grown!

    With your cheeky grin and a style all your own;

    You learn and develop, doing all that you can

    To prove to the world that you're now a young man.

    You're no longer my baby, but I still hold you dear;

    My love for my son can only grow with each year.

    And so I wrote this verse, especially for you:

    Happy Birthday, Little Man! May all your dreams come true!

    Love from Mummy!
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  12. Charibag helps support the Sheffield Lord Mayor's Flood Appeal Fund

    Tuesday, July 3, 2007
    Here in South Yorkshire so many families have been devastated by recent floods. Many are still homeless as their homes are uninhabitable.

    Chariband, who raise funds for a number of charities in this region, will be donating 25p of the sale of each Charibag sold to the Lord Mayor's Flood Appeal funds. This fund will be used to help local flood victims rebuild their lives and homes after this terrible event.

    A wide range of bags are available, from reusable shoppers in many colours, to student bags and even child school bags. A new range will also be released on Friday 27th of July at Crystal Peaks shopping centre in Sheffield. Charibags are available to purchase online, and cost as little as £2!

    Why not head on over to Chariband now to see the full range? Not only will you be getting a great new bag, you'll be helping a very worthy cause!

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  13. The Five Questions Meme

    Monday, July 2, 2007
    Over at Rocks in my Dryer, Shannon has posted her "5 question" meme, which I thought would be fun to answer here. So, here are my questions and answers, some of which were a little tricky to answer (especially with the kids arguing in the background!) but here goes:

    If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Um, I'd hate to have to eat only one food forever! That would be so boring, not to mention unhealthy! But if I have to choose, it would be "Lift": it's a Tunisian dish made with meat, lots of spinach, garlic, tomatoes and chickpeas. Can I still have some French bread to go with that..?

    What's the most nerve-racking "close call" you've ever had?

    This would probably have to be an incident which happened some years ago when my little man was still a toddler. We'd just moved into a new flat after some troubles, and were both exhausted. Since I didn't have a cot or proper bed for my little man to sleep in, I tucked him up in my double bed and went to watch some TV in the lounge. I was so so tired that I fell asleep right there.

    When I woke up a few hours later, I went to check on my son. But he wasn't there. I called his name over and over, and when he didn't answer I began to panic: it was a new place for both of us, and I was worried that he'd done himself a mischief. Then I noticed the front door was slightly ajar. I ran out onto the landing and started screaming for him, running around the block like a madwoman thinking someone had kidnapped my son. Eventually, I went back inside to call the police when I noticed a lump in the bed covers. Upon checking it out, I realised my little man was just huddled beneath, and he'd been there all along! I felt like such a fool!

    Name five features your ultimate dream house would have.

    The dream house we'd build when we win the lottery? Oh yes, I've already thought this one through! We'd have:
    1. A bedroom for each member of our family, plus two guest rooms, each with their own en-suite bathroom.
    2. A huge library with a domed glass roof and shelves ceiling to floor.
    3. A basement "cinema"
    4. A wonderful huge garden including a labyrinth and secret "wild" area.
    5. Staff to cook, clean and do the gardening

    Perhaps too much to hope for, but I can dream...

    Who has been the most influential non-relative in your life?

    It's hard to define just one, so I'll have to make three: my English teacher at school, who I will always remember fondly; my tutor at college, who taught me to think for myself academically, and my good friend "C", who despite being my senior has taught me much about life and loyalty. If I could pick the most influential family member, it would have to be Dad!

    What one non-physical feature would you most like to change about yourself?

    Sometimes it would nice to be more selfish! I'm often told that I'm too apologetic, and always put others before myself, no matter what my feelings may be.

    If you want to answer this meme yourself, head on over to Shannon's post and leave your link in her comments. Thanks for reading my answers!

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