Monday, 29 April 2013

How I have changed - It's me versus Special K

Kellogg's Special K turns 30 this year and to celebrate they have given it a makeover with a new more delicious and wholesome recipe. I have been lucky enough to have a try of the new Special K already and this post is my entry for the BritMums / Special K "How I have changed Linky Challenge" #SpecialK30, thats what this post is for!

I turned 30 last year too so I know how you feel Special K, in 1983 I was 1 and the last 30 years have been amazing, challenging, fun and a huge learning curve for me as I am sure they have been for you to. I couldn't quite get over it, 30? How did I get here so quick and yet pack so much into my life? In my head I still feel 17 and I constantly have to remind myself that I am not. I have two little boys of my own to think about, its funny to think that my youngest Peter is the same age I was when Special K was born.

Hello Special K breakfast!
LOOKS can be deceiving and my new Special K box felt like an old friend when it arrived, one that you haven't seen for a while. You recognise them, you love them, you see slight changes in their apperance but essentially its the same good friend just older and wiser. A friend who can now walk in their high heels with absolute confidence knowing that the years have refined and given them an integrity and zest that only comes with age. The new Special K really felt like that friend, the same brand and taste we love but tastier with three grains - rice, wheat and barley instead of the previous 2. I was also a bit surprised that this was the first change since 1983 and I know that for some people change can be taken very hard but please let me assure you, this is a good change. Its like that realisation when you finally ditch your mini skirt in favour of a more sophisticated look and you turn more heads and get more looks than you did before - and you think to yourself, why didn't I do this earlier!

This is me in 1983, I must be about 11 months old.
Which brings me to me. Am I that friend, older and wiser like Special K? I hope so, I am definitely older and although I could perhaps do with losing the baby bulge (I am sure Special K will help with that) I don't think I need any help looking younger. In fact not so long ago I had to take my son to the emergency doctors, we had been staying with my Mum and he had had what turned out to be an allergic reaction to dog salvia (off all things) on his face. My Mum came with us as it was really late at night and the Doctor asked my Mum to sign the prescription form as she "needed someone over the age of 16 to sign it"! 16! I am 30 for goodness sake! As I said looks can be deceiving, and mine have totally changed over the last 30 years - from baby to woman.

This is me now with my youngest son.
Special K is a bit like me, it might have aged but it isn't outdated and a bit of a glamourous makeover is definitely good for its image!

TASTE is really quite important, and Special K has it. I really enjoyed the new formulation and it was a welcome change from my usual breakfast cereal. I did find it quite sweet to start with, but having eaten breakfast with lots of people over the years I know that its probably just me and my weird taste buds. I confess that I also had a sneaky taste on the day it arrived too as an additional evening snack once my kids were in bed!

Then we get to me, and I was thinking if I was food what would I taste like? I started to think about how people might describe me and I started with marmite (you either love it or you hate it) but I just don't think that quite fits, so I have settled on a Parma Violet. Even as a child I it always seemed like I never quite fitted, people liked me but I never fitted the mould that other people expected - in other words I was a little odd, hence Parma Violet; sweet and sugary but not to every one's tastes and yet delicate and sensitive encased in a little purple concave circle. I am still the same Parma Violet shaped me I was 30 years ago but I know my strengths and play to them and give people a taste of me without overpowering them (most of the time)! As a young person my unique oddness was a tough part of growing up, whereas I have changed by learning to accept me as me.

THE TOUGH AND THE CHALLENGING is apart of every 30 years development and I am sure that behind the scenes (that I can't tell you about) the Special K team spent hours contemplating this 30 year change and how it would be accepted, packaged and presented to us. What I love about Special K is that many people come to it looking for advice with weight loss and health management. The Special K website www.myspecialk.co.uk is a great source for seeing that there are lots of other people in the same boat who are facing the same challenges too. It wouldn't be right if Special K didn't evaluate and change with the times, and I love that they have created an app to help us with our goals!

Here is my box of Special K - the new design!
Life for me over the last 30 years has changed hugely and at times not always been that easy. As a one year old I am sure that my focus was on eating and playing all day and as a Mum of two now that doesn't feel much different as it's all about playing and eating, but with my boys at the centre not me. One of the things I love most is getting to play all day again building with duplo amazing houses, tower blocks and castles!

If you had told me that in the last 30 years I would lose my best friend in a car accident, or be married to a man that I once didn't want to be friends with I might not have wanted to face it, but I think its these things that have made me, me. For every challenge I have faced it has made me stronger, given me more patience, passion and zest for life. As a child you take each day as it comes learning lots and soaking it all in, as an adult I apply that learning and I have become the teacher wanting my children to have the opportunities I had and equipping them to face their 30 year challenge (and more) ahead of them.

THE GOOD BIT is that its nice to know Special K is made up of three wholegrains - rice, wheat and barley. I want to be putting good things into my body (doesn't everyone) but as a busy Mum I don't always have the time to look and figure it all out. So its good to know Special K has got it covered for me in one little bowl of wholegrain with 8 vitamins and mineral goodness. So relax and try it, knowing they have got you and me sorted! Plus they do some great flavours with additional things too like chocolate or berries.

Like Special K I have matured focusing on the good things and I have had a refinement of character. I hope that I am nutritious to my friends being generous and giving, kind in spirit and full of life. I realise that I am no longer the focus of me, my family are at the centre of my attention and my two little boys need my energy and teaching to set them on their 30 year path.

Me and my two boys - I think this sums us up perfectly!
I really hope you have enjoyed reading about my #SpecialK30 and how I have changed. I hope my journey has inspired you to think about how you have changed too, and I'm sure it will set me thinking on what my next 30 years will look like!










Monday, 15 April 2013

If I had a Million Nectar Points to spend

The big question that confused.com is asking in their Nectar Wishlist #pinforpoints Competition is what would you spend a million nectar points on! So I quickly got my thinking cap on and created a Pinterest board showing you, you can see it here #pinforpoints board.

Since moving back from the USA back to England just over 18 months ago we have been gradually rebuilding up our electrical repertoire, starting first with the "must have" items like kettles, hairdryers and a vacuum and now I am dreaming of my "would love's" like the Quest Retro DAB Radio  that I would love to have in my kitchen. As a busy mum of two I spend too much of my time in the kitchen (please hold off on the kitchen sink jokes) cooking meals and it would be a luxury for me to have music to sing to whilst cooking, and a great way to entertain my two children. I am dreaming of all the fun dancing and being silly we could have with this!

Quest Retro DAB Radio - I can hear the dancing tunes coming!
I am a pretty practical person or I like to think so at least but with two rambunctious children aged 2 and  1 I can't always keep my house as tidy as I would like. The other day I found my youngest coming from the kitchen to the lounge on all fours, leaving a biscuit crumb trail behind him - lovely. So it's times like this that I picked the Dyson Animal Handheld Vacuum Cleaner for to give a quick tidy vacuum without having to go to the effort that comes with the big vacuum.

Then we get to the big electrical things which will very soon need replacing. Our current washing machine puts holes in my clothes, no joke. Yesterday my mum asked me about the holes so they must be obvious and I dread the next item of clothing its going to devour, besides the fact that its hugely embarrasing! So a new washing machine would be most welcome along with a tumble dryer.

I know my boys are only little but the other day I wondered (not that they would let us in our rented house) about how expensive it would be to keep a cow in our garden, a milk cow. We get through pints and pints of milk each week. I was thinking a milk cow would not only be great for milk, we could supply all the neighbours too, and my boys would have so much fun learning to milk as well. Or not, perhaps we should just get a bigger fridge to accomodate our milk drinking habits, plus a new fridge freezer would also come with the ice dispenser I have been missing since we moved back to the UK. Plus think of all the extra washing up we would have to do to sterilize the milking equipment we would be in more need of a dishwasher than we already are.

It wouldn't be a wishlist without a few indulgences and so it seemed only right to think of a few so I started with this Elga Three Head Street Lamp and I imagined how pretty it would look in our back garden. I loved Narnia as a child and this not only reminded me of that, but I thought how magical to transform our garden into a Narnia theme with this as the centrepiece! I might have to come up with a better reason than that to convince my husband but I can work on that.

A little bit of Narnia in my garden please!
My final thought on my wishlist is toys as both of my boys love Lego Duplo, I also love it too. I can't think of anything better than a quiet afternoon building castles, tower blocks, garages and playing games or telling stories with what we have made. I love the Duplo read & build books as they look fun and are a bit different as they come with a story book about what you have made - which is perfect for little minds and hands. Cars 2 Duplo is very popular in our house too and I couldn't help myself but add in the Duplo Big Bentley set as my son will be 3 in May and he would love it. It is nice to have the special Duplo pieces to go with the normal blocks, and I really do love it as its so versatile and inspires so much imagination.

I had great fun putting my Wishlist Pinterest board together and I hope you have enjoyed looking at it too. There are other pins on it that I haven't mentioned above which are worth looking at too like the Philips - Advent Dinner Set for my youngest who needs some dinnerware of his own, a Qualcast Lawnmower as we don't have our own and keep borrowing our friends. Some cufflinks as a treat for my husband who is obsessed with French cuff shirts, some GHD's to look sleek and smooth. A Red Magazine subscription for those quieter moments, Laithwaites wine very self explanatory (and needed at the end of a long day), a kids play market stall, a sewing machine for crafting. Our printer didn't make the move back and our Macbook has seen much better days. Finally we could do with some gaming entertainment and my husband assures me the system to have is an Xbox.

What would you put on your million point wishlist?

I have entered PIN FOR POINTS from confused.com

Saturday, 13 April 2013

If Only I'd known...

I have been thinking back over the last year (as my youngest boy just turned one) about what I wish that I'd known about before I embarked on the crazy rollercoaster of juggling a busy two year old and a new born baby. What people don't tell you (and I wish they had) is that it's not the new baby you have to worry about at all, in fact second time around I had mastered the art of whisking my boob out discreetly and into my sons mouth without anyone in the coffee shop even noticing. I had also got over the fact that despite me feeling like everyone is starring at me feeding publically, they really are not - in fact most have absolutely no idea at all (until your child accidentally unlatches and you give them a quick flash!) I also have totally mastered all of the gadgetry that belong to my children and I can not only build and collapse the pushchair with one hand I might add, I can also convert it into several different seating positions - check! Then we get to the two year old! I don't know if its just 2 year olds, or boys or maybe just my son but he has to be busy. From the moment he awakens he is desperate to be building, crafting, creating, running, jumping, eating, watching; the list goes on and I am exhausted just thinking about it, and somehow I have to fit the baby into all that business or the toddler into the babies newbornness. Aargh! This is us all in the picture in the first few weeks - I look exhausted!

So here we go with four things that happen whilst your dealing with two;

I am sitting in the coffeeshop nursing my little one, I had provided Jake, my two year old with suitable refreshment (or so I thought) of babychino and cookie who was sat next to me whilst I refuelled on our shopping trip. All of a sudden Jake jumps up and laughing, legs it towards the coffeeshop door with me trying to catch him with with baby still attached. If that wasn't embarrassing enough I also had my big flabby just had a baby tummy on show. RULE ONE - BRING REINS FOR TODDLER!

Two in the chair
Lots of people want to come and visit you when you have a new baby, which is nice (except for the ones who out stay their welcome like the health visitor) many of whom don't have children yet so it's really embarrassing when your eldest son decides that he wants to potty train (just for a day or two) and so banishes his trousers and his new pants to another room in the house and then answers the door to your unsuspecting friends practically naked. To add insult to embarrassment your friends who you see gulp as they enter your house slightly bewildered then can't look or speak to your child because it was not what they expected at all, and make excuses to leave shortly after. RULE TWO - ENFORCE NAPPY WEARING AT ALL TIMES. Potty training is a new form of torture unlike anything you have come across before where you spend your whole day on edge wondering if they are going to make it to the toilet or wee deliberately on your favourite rug.

It's lovely to sit down and nurse your baby when your a busy mum and I have come to see it as a treat to catch up on the news of the day, read a book and put my feet up. However in my moment of bliss with my youngest quietly suckling I look up to see Jake having pulled every book from the bookcase, thrown the box of jigsaw pieces entirely across the room and broken his biscuit into pieces across the floor. This is the story of my life time and time again. RULE THREE - HAVE PLENTY OF ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE FOR YOUR OLDER CHILD.

Brothers love to share!
RULE FOUR - BROTHERS ARE GREAT AT SHARING. Colds seem to plague our house and when you have two kids the older one seems to pass their cold lovingly along to your newborn in sloppy kisses. "Be gentle" is very overused in our house too, as I am constantly crowd controlling playtime trying to stop Jake from pushing his brother over in all the excitement of it all. I love seeing their two little mischievious faces as I come into the room and they doing something together... like the other morning when I came in and I could hear "...and this is how you brush your teeth.." - there was toothpaste everywhere and my youngest has toothpaste pretty much covering most of his face! There was also the apple incident at four months where I found my youngest sitting in his bouncy chair eating an apple he had been kindly handed. Or a few weeks ago I found the two of them sipping the dreggs of my cold tea out the cup my oldest helping the youngest - thats why that say if you don't laugh you cry!


I could go on and on, every new day brings new excitements, adventures and challenges. I wish I could have known what having a new baby and a toddler would look like, I still would have done it but I would have armed myself with reins, activities and a bigger sense of humor, much bigger.

I think this image sums up all the fun we have!
What do you wish you had known? Aptaclub have created an app to help new mums in preparing for birth which comes with lots of tips and advice for mums to be. Even second time around I was nervous about what to pack in my hospital bag as you do forget and the rules change so its good to be reminded.   My final thought for new mums is this, on looking back at my hospital pictures my husband took I noticed that he had been so excited about picturing our baby that he had not waited until my modesty had been covered, so in some picture you see more than you would want to - so be warned, vet your pictures before you facebook them!

This post is hannahshelpinghand.blogspot.co.uk entry into the Aptaclub 'If only I'd known' competition.