Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gingerbread Rogers

My husband should know better than to try to resist the cute. Fact is, if LaLa wants something and it isn't too much of a big deal, LaLa is pretty much going to get it. In fact, if The Man hadn't given in on her first try, I bet he would have given in the next day. Well, LaLa wanted a kitten for her birthday so guess what LaLa got yesterday?


Meet the newest member of the bungalow family, Gingerbread Rogers. Ginger for short. We don't want to be pretentious. She is an orange little ball of fluff and looks remarkably similar to Sam Ninja Kitty. *matching kitties squeeeee!!!!* The difference is Sam Ninja Kitty is about 10 pounds heavier than Ginger.

Sam Ninja Kitty is NOT amused

Also, Sam Kitty is completely not happy about her infringing on his cuddles. He spent the better part of yesterday moaning at her and avoiding her at all costs. He also gave me the cold shoulder because I am the one who brought the interloper into the house. She on the other hand spent the day roaming around the house, discovering Nemo's fish bowl, avoiding the curious dog, hiding from the overly enthusiastic children and trying to be Sam Kitty's best friend. I think she is a fan of immersion therapy. I am sure it will work. Eventually.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Official

The official email has landed in The Man's inbox. We are staying in the UK until 2015. Ok- don't get all excited at once now! Please hold your applause. OK, never mind, applaud away! I am so completely excited. Firstly, I get to stay near my crew. And by crew I don't mean some sort of middle aged street gang, I mean my local girls who have become like family. Secondly, I don't have to uproot my kids. This is such a bonus. My kids have thrived in their small village school. I really can not tell you how much this school means to me. (A bit sappy?) Thirdly? Thrice? Yeah, number three, we get to stay abroad! Exploring. Learning. Experiencing. How cool is that?

Also? LaLa just sweet talked her dad into a new kitten. (I think I am almost as excited about that as I am about staying here in the UK!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thankful List

Since it is Thanksgiving in America (and I am American for all of those who have lost track of this fact) I think I should probably do the obligatory "List of Things I am Thankful For". We don't have the tradition of reciting what you are thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner at my house. I always think maybe I should instate it at my house, but I'm a bit lazy and people hate being put on the spot when it comes to these things, so I always let it slide. Anyway, here is my list.

1. I am thankful that I have a husband who despite my faults adores me.
2. I am thankful that I have two beautiful little girls who are smart, funny and challenge me daily...whether I am up for the challenge or not that day.
3. I am thankful for the amazing friends I have. I am thankful that our friendships are two way streets and not one sided. I am thankful that I can depend on them and that I know they will always be my family away from family.
4. I am thankful for my family back in the USA. I know that they are always behind me 100% even if they don't always agree with my decisions.
5. I am thankful for my mom, who is amazingly funny and has always been the first person to put herself in my corner.
6. I am thankful for my dad who has always encouraged me to challenge myself.
7. I am thankful for my granny. She and I can talk for hours about anything and even though we may not always agree, I know she won't judge me.
8. I am thankful for living abroad in England. This experience has challenged me and made me grow up and find myself.
9. I am thankful that life isn't always easy. As much as I would love to sail through life without a care or worry, I have come to realize that you don't know how good life is until you have adversity to deal with.
10. I am thankful for chocolate and wine. Do I really need to explain this?

Instead of asking my guests around the Thanksgiving table what they are thankful for, I'm gonna ask you, my readers, what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Holiday Rush

I have outdone myself this time. I am having roughly 19 people (a mix of Americans and Brits) at my house tomorrow for Thanksgiving (assuming everyone shows up) and have I got anything prepared. Nope. My house is a slight bomb site. I have the food, but none is prepped. Thankfully I am not doing the turkey or the ham (yes we are doing a ham too) so there is that small reprieve. So today is all about cleaning and prepping.

Ahhhh the holidays. This is my favorite time of the year but I have found that they aren't nearly as fun as when I was a kid. It seems like they just sneak up on me and the amount of stress they generate is astronomical. Not to mention that I am in the UK, which I love, but since Thanksgiving isn't a British holiday there are already Christmas ads on the TV. So, it is a weird mix of Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time at my house. I already have pulled out some of my Christmas decorations but the weather and my calendar are shouting Thanksgiving. I should come up with a word for this time of the year.

Thanksmas?

Happy Thanksmas Everyone!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Argos Childrens Clothing Range Review

My kids spend most of their time in their school uniforms. When they get home frankly they are too lazy to change or they put on fancy dresses (I figure if I am going to buy an expensive dress they may as well get some use of it). This has actually led to a fairly embarrassing problem, I went into LaLa's room and discovered that she actually only owned three pairs of trousers and only two of them fit her correctly. The only excuse I have for this oversight is that they live in their school uniforms. Hey, it sounds like a good excuse to me, so I'm sticking to it.

Thankfully a representative from Argos contacted me about their new range of children's clothes and asked if I would like to have KiKi and LaLa review some items. Brilliant timing! I let KiKi and LaLa pick out an outfit from the clothes available in their sizes. Both of the girls had a great time browsing through the Argos website and choosing what they would like to review. KiKi chose the Moxie Girlz tunic and legging set and the matching Moxie Girlz hoodie . LaLa chose the Disney Tinkerbell tunic and leggings set and the matching Tinkerbell hoodie.

KiKi princess posing in her Moxie Girlz tunic and leggings set.
I tried to get a picture of LaLa in her outfit, but she's so active that it was like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

For the price these items couldn't have been better. The tunic and legging sets are only regularly priced at £14.99 and the hoodies are £13.99. Personally, for play clothes that my kids are only going to wear in the evenings and weekends, I think this is a bargain. They hold up well in the wash. I can't comment on how easy they are to iron because it is against my principles to iron anything, but they looked great coming out of the tumble dryer.

Argos is also running at 30% off offer on selected items of their children's clothing range until the 24th of December. That will come in very handy for Christmas bargain shoppers like me.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear So and So...Insomnia is NOT My Friend

Dear Sam Ninja Kitty,

This little habit of yours of scratching at my open bedroom door at all hours of the night (knocking it against the wall) until I wake up and let you outside has GOT to stop. I was nearly asleep when you started last night and then it took me another hour after I let you out to get to sleep.

Your Extremely Tired and Cranky Human Mom, Kat
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Dear Body,

Two weeks of sleep rebellion is quite enough! I need at least 7 hours of sleep. This 5 hours of sleep a night is sooooo not cutting it. I look like I have suitcases under my eyes and the whites of my are now red. It's not a good look for me. So can we please get to bed at a semi-decent time soon?

Zzzzzzzzz, Kat
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Dear Kids (especially, La),

My bed is not your bed. Capisce? Eto Panyatno? (Oooo I still remember some of my Russian. Go me!) I really don't like feet, elbows, heads, or knees embedded in my ribs while I sleep. It is a bit uncomfortable. Just sayin'.

Love, Mom
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Dear Readers,

If you have some of your own letters please link up!!

Love, Kat
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

And Then It All Works Out

I have had a lot of crappy days lately. No, not like, "oh my dog peed on the rug" kind of crappy days; more like my kid took a pair of scissors to my sofa kind of crappy. No, really, LaLa cut my sofa with a pair of kitchen shears. Then my Jeep failed it's MOT (inspection). My husband is also out of the country on a business/pleasure venture. It's been a crappy week. Last week, I have no excuse for, other than I was writing. Not here. On my novel.

Then after I had been crying my eyes out to my best friend on the phone (you people know I am not a crier and was totally embarrassed, right?). Something happened. Something clicked. You guys know I don't like to get religious on my blog, but here goes. Things are tight here financially, like really tight and it is stressful. God doesn't give you more than you can handle (yadda, yadda) was talked about in Bible study this week. THEN my aunt calls me with a WONDERFUL business opportunity. Mind you, this is an opportunity that I tried to get my foot in when we moved to the UK, but it was not available then. SO to review- crying, freaking out...opportunity lands in lap. It's funny how these things work out.

In short, I am feeling a lot more hopeful than I have in a long time. I feel like a can see light at the end of the tunnel and I just might not drown. I feel happy- really really happy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jungle Speed Review

On Saturday nights my family usually has a family game night. Some of our favorite games are card games such as Rummy, Uno, and Go Fish. They are easy enough for KiKi, my five year old, to catch onto but challenging enough to keep my husband and I entertained as well.



Recently I was sent the game Jungle Speed to review with my family. It is a card based game that requires a keen eye and quick hands. The premise of the game is to flip over your stack of cards and if your symbol or color matches (depending on what is wild at the time) another players card, you have a duel and try to grab the totem that is sitting in the middle of the table before the player with the matching card.

The Totem that you need to be quick enough to grab during duels!




My oldest daughter, LaLa fell in love with this game the first time we played it and demands to play at least one hand during family game nights now. KiKi at first had a bit of difficulty playing the game because the rules are a bit more complex than other games we had played in the past. However with a few hands she caught on fairly well but I still had to keep a close eye on her to make sure she was grasping the rules.

LaLa grabbed the totem!!


This game is available in both the UK and the US.
Enjoy the cheese-tastic advert below.


Overall we found this game to be quite fun and will be added into our rotation of games to be played during our family game nights. I am sure with a few more family game nights that KiKi will be less frustrated with the rules and love the game just as much as LaLa does.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear So and So...Brain Mush

Dear Rain,

I really don't appreciate you on days when I actually need to get things done, but since today isn't one of those days, carry on. Maybe you will cause an unavoidable nap.

Listening to the Pitter Patter, Kat
-----------------

Dear Everyone,

I am making a bit of an announcement. I am doing NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. All this month I will be trying to knock out the novel that has been brewing in my head for the past 6 months. I have written roughly 4,000 words so far (a novel being roughly 50,000-80,000) and it keeps on flowing out of my finger tips. Of course I am going to keep blogging as well, so we'll see how crazy I become by the end of the month.

Love Still Semi-sane, Kat
----------------

Dear Jack,

Actually I am going to assume that Jack is an assumed name because nobody in their right mind would pitch this sort of review request to a Mummyblog. EVER. Anyways, let me get to the point, NO I would NOT like to review your guide for fellatio. In fact, I am pretty sure that none of my readers would gain any knowledge reading it. Considering they are mostly mum's I am pretty sure they have things covered in the boudoir. However, I must admit, I have not laughed so hard at a pitch in my life. Thanks for that.

Not Needing THAT Sort of Help, Kat
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Dear Readers,

Yes, I really did receive that pitch. Even I couldn't make that crap up.

Love, Kat
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Dear Bus Driver,

Just because my 5 year old says that the 7 year old is supposed to stay after school for her class jumble sale, doesn't mean it is true. Unless you actually physically SEE me at the school, both my children are expected to be ON THE FLIPPIN FRACKIN BUS. You're so lucky my best friend just happened to be up at the school, spotted LaLa and brought her home to me. Seriously, if this happens again your ass is grass.

You Haven't Seen Me Go Mama Bear Yet, Kat
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Dear Readers,

If you have your own letters, don't forget to link up! Have a wonderful and safe weekend.

Love, Kat
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lite Sprites Review

I recently made a rule around my house that I am no longer buying toys that just sit there and do nothing. In other words, if the toy is just going to sit around and collect dust, I'm not going to waste my money on it. The same goes when I accept toys to review. When I was contacted to review a line of toys called Lite Sprites by WowWee I was a bit skeptical. I did however let LaLa see the advert attached to the email and let her decide if she would like to review the toys. Of course the advert was magical and spellbound LaLa and she insisted that she absolutely had to review the Lite Sprites. Then she went and filled her sister in on the plan as I wrote back and said that we would like to review the toy.


When the package finally arrived (nearly busting at the seams),my girls were chomping at the bit to explore the fantastic world of the Lite Sprites. Each sprite was pulled out of the box with gasps of delight. It was a bit like Christmas morning in my living room that afternoon. We received all five Lite Sprites Brooke, Meadow, Astra, Bleak , Prisma (who comes with the Lite-Topia Wand) and the Tree of Lite in order to review these toys.


The real test of this product of course was to see how long it would keep my kids attention. For a parent I think that is testing the true value of a product. I can say the Lite Sprites definitely kept my children busy for more than five minutes. In fact, the night that they opened the Lite Sprites they played with them until it was bedtime and then before bed they each picked the Lite Sprites that they wanted to take to bed with them. The next day when they came home from school the picked right up where they left off playing with the Lite Sprites and played with them for a few more hours. Any child who comes to my house is shown the Lite Sprites excitedly. LaLa even coaxed my best friend back to the bedroom to show off the Lite Sprites. The reaction from my best friend was "Those are really good!" She is just like me and really critical about the toys she spends her money on.

Each Lite Sprite comes with it's own little pod that can be hooked to the Tree of Lite

This is Brooke one of the Lite Sprites sitting in a pod

All the Lite Sprites attached to the Tree of Lite


KiKi and LaLa playing with the Lites Sprites and Tree of Lite

I do have to say after a month of having them, I am rather impressed with the Lite Sprites. Although it took me a few tries to figure out the Lite-Topia Wand and how to capture colors from anywhere (yes, anywhere) and then send the colors to the sprites, my children caught on quickly. The Lite Sprites can also send colors to each other. Then the naughty sprite, Bleak, can steal the colors and leave all the Lite Sprites white. LaLa especially likes Bleak.

LaLa using Bleak to steal the color from the other Lite Sprites

Using the Lite-Topia wand to capture a color


The only problem I actually had with the product is that the Lite-Topia Wand and Tree of Lite didn't come with batteries included. This was a bit only a bit inconvenient because I had to make the girls get their shoes on and run up to the corner store to buy batteries before they could properly play with the Lite Sprites. Overall though I can say my children have really enjoy this line of toys. They are still playing with them a few times a week and in my book that is pretty good.

Lite Sprites have the retail price of £14.99 for each individual sprite, Prisma and the Lite-Topia Wand £29.99, and the Tree of Lite £39.99. Lite Sprites are suitable for children age 4-8.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Baking With Kids

I have admit when I usually see blogs with mum's baking with their wee toddlers I get a bill ill to my stomach. There is just something so cutesy and almost false about it. Yes, I know it isn't meant to come off that way, but sometimes it just does. So this probably might come off the same way. Here's the thing though, the thought of baking with my kids initially made me do an inner cringe. I love baking, I really do, I just don't like the idea of having anyone, especially kids who are by their very nature gross, helping me with it. Then I start to reminisce about the reasons I love baking so much. It was an activity I enjoyedas a kid with my Granny. I remember standing on a chair and helping her by stirring the batter, measuring the ingredients and of course the all important licking of the mixers beaters (after it was turned off- health and safety first.) Then I feel guilty about the way that I feel about baking with my kids, so I drag my baking equipment out.

Usually when they see me pull out my baking suppliesI am met with a chorus of "Can I break the eggs?" The answer to that question is always a no, unless you like egg shell in your cakes. We might have learned that lesson the hard way once. I drag a chair up to the counter for KiKi so that she can mix. I instruct LaLa to find the 1/4 cup dry measuring cup so that we can fill the cupcake cases just right. Then we get down to the business of baking.



I have come up with some reasons that baking with school aged kids is actually pretty awesome after you get over you "Oh my goodness can you imagine the mess" inner cringe.

1. Baking is a great way for kids to learn important math skills (and no I didn't forget the s on the end of math. I'm American, we don't say maths. Although I have been known to actually say it. Don't report me to my people.) such as measuring and counting.

2. Reading and following a recipe teaches children how to follow instructions with a yummy reward if they do it right.

3. In theory baking can teach your children patience. Waiting for cookies to come out of the oven is even a test of my patience. I'm still working on it.

4. Safety skills are aquired when learning to bake. Knowing that an oven is hot enough to burn your skin off and that knives are only safe in the hands of adults are important lessons for kids to learn.

5. Science is taught during baking. Knowing why ingredients that don't taste very nice on their own such as baking soda, salt, and baking powder are used in recipes can inhance their grasp on scientific concepts. Also knowing that you can't ice a fresh out of the oven hot cupcake unless you want a gooey mess counts as science.

So try out baking with your kids. It isn't nearly as horrible as you might think it will be.