Christmas 2017... the one with Friends

By the time we got to Friday 22nd December I was more Scrooge than Christmas fairy as I was still worrying about Ollie. He'd been so much better in the two weeks between my last blog post and his final day of testing that I was hopeful he would be signed off but scared because I'd thought that before and been disappointed. I arrived at the hospital with Ollie that morning walking a fine line between hope and terror, with hardly any brain space to spare for thoughts of Christmas shopping, present wrapping and biscuit making.

My spirits were lifted when we were able to leave the hospital whilst waiting for the results and I headed into town to get all the things I hadn't been able to get until payday. I spent four hours wandering around town, waiting for the call to either return to the hospital or go home and when my phone range I almost cried with relief. The tests showed that the liver was recovering. Ollie would be OK.

It has to be OK

The season of Advent is my favourite time of the year. I love the sense of anticipation, the festive activities, the giving of cards and gifts.

I can never wait to put up my tree and decorate my home, the warmth, the smells, the light and the cheer.

But the last couple of weeks have been overshadowed by worry and concern. Because Ollie has been really unwell.

It started with a rash. Red and rough and quickly spreading all over his body. Of course I did that panicked test with a glass to ensure it wasn't dreaded sepsis and having ruled that out I moved on to assumption number two and gave him some mild antihistamines, thinking it would be gone by morning. He was still happy and smiley, I didn't feel too worried.

We're going on a school run

It's hard to believe that I've already been a working mum (again) for three weeks. If truth be told, I still feel like I'm in floating in an in-between space.  Routines have changed, logistics are complicated and time consuming and the housework is piling up ahead of a big Christmas clean up this weekend.

The one bit of my day that has stayed the same is the morning school run. It is constant for most of the week (except Fridays when I get to school early for work, Lily goes to breakfast club and Matt drops Ollie off at nursery).

We leave the house at the same time every day, just as Octonauts finished on CBeebies. We don't watch much Octonauts because we're busy putting on shoes, coats and hats, finding book bags and an object to take in for the phonics sound table but it's a reminder that it's nearly time to leave - 'Sound the Octopod Alert' is our very own five minute alarm for getting out of the house. I dread to think what will happen if the BBC changes the schedule without me realising.

Loving the imperfect

I've had something I've wanted to say for a while back. And when I say a while, I mean over ten years.

It's a frustration I have and I guess its a society or culture gripe, an issue with perfection and how we perceive love to be.

It's hard to explain, to summarise, but in short, I find myself wanting to shout out:

"Someone, something, doesn't have to be perfect to be loved"

I can't stand it when people confuse loving someone as being unable to accept that person's imperfections.

For example, when I talk on my blog about how parenting is hard. How sometimes my kids do or say things that have the power to hurt. Or the repetitive conversations about poop are just annoying.

Great gifts for £5

Now my birthday is passed and Matt's birthday is out of the way I can fully turn my attention to Christmas! I like to be organised and so have already started prepping gift lists and buying presents when I can (or when they're on offer) but now we've hit November I feel like I can finally start browsing for all the little extras.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find thoughtful but inexpensive gifts. Not only are we on tight budget but we don't really believe on spending excessively on Christmas just for the sake of it. So it is nice to shop around and pick up presents, especially for the kids, that don't break the bank.

And this month, I was re-introduced to Sports Direct. is not just football boots and inexpensive trainers. It features fashion brands, leisurewear and more! Because of its buying power, is able to get products you’d expect to pay more for elsewhere. Their range of £5 gifts for Christmas means you can shop for family, friends, teachers even your book-club buddies for less!

Review - Crolla's Gelateria

It is never too cold for ice cream.

Which is why, on a bright but blustery day last weekend, we headed to town to try out the recently opened 'Crolla's Gelateria' in High Wycombe.

The first Crolla's Gelateria was opened in Glasgow over 120 years ago and proved to be so popular they have been expanding the business ever since.

The best of times, the worst of times....

I'm sat on the kitchen stool. Which has been moved from it usual place (kitchen, obviously) to the front door.

If I don't sit on it then my two year old son will climb it in an attempt to open the door, descend the steps at the front of the house and rifle through the outdoor bins to find his 'race car' that he believes I have thrown out.

He has screamed in my face and is now trying to climb over my head.

The tantrum has been going on for 30 minutes that feels like days.

I want to cry.

Normal service will resume shortly...

I know it's been quiet here on the blog lately. I've been even quieter on social media, my online life contrasting against a crazy-busy couple of weeks in the real world.

You see, after 10 months of being a stay-at-home Mum, this afternoon I rejoin the work force!

It's all come around so quickly I've barely had time the situation to settle in.

I saw a job that sounded perfect. A school time job. At Lily's school. Part-time hours. Reasonable salary. A job description that summarised all of my skills perfectly.

I applied. I had an interview. I was offered the job that day.

What better customer service looks like - an update about Just Eat

Earlier this month a bad experience of ordering a takeaway via Just Eat turned into a scary experience when the aggressive delivery driver tried to force his way into our home after giving us a refund.

Distressed by the experience, I immediately contacted Just Eat via their online chat service. I felt that this was more serious than a complaint about cold and disgusting food - it was about the safety of customers and the complete disregard of the restaurant.

My 2017 Wishlist

"What would you like for your birthday?"

I don't know about you, but I always find it really difficult to think of something when people ask me this question.

I'm geeky, fussy, thrifty and notoriously indecisive.

So whenever I do find something nice, it's usually too expensive, hard to find or gin-related better suited to one of my best friends.

So this year, after much deliberation I have indulged my geeky inner-self alongside an accessories update to come up with the following list. Check it out and let me know what you would have added!

The teachers I took for granted

Lily started school exactly 20 years after my first day at secondary school.

It astounds me. Not just at how quickly those years seem to have passed, the path my life has taken, the things that have changed and those that stay the same, but at how fresh my memories are.

And, in particular, how much I took my teachers for granted.

Dropping Lily off at school fills me with a nostalgia for my own school days. With little effort, I can tell you the name of nearly every teacher I had from Reception to Upper Sixth. And now I find that I look back at my teachers with a newfound understanding and a greater respect than I ever gave them credit for when I was young(er).

Why I won't order from Just Eat again

I do love a good bloody takeaway.

I'm a mum of two kids, I don't get out much. Despite what I joke about here, I don't really drink a lot, I don't smoke and I rarely tuck in to a big bar of chocolate.

But I do like to spend my money on the odd takeaway. A Friday night pizza, curry or Chinese in front of the TV with my hubby. That's my idea of a good time.

Unfortunately, due to a less than good time ordering from Just Eat on Friday, I won't be using them again.



Moana Inspired Party Bags

It's already a week since Lily's birthday and Moana-inspired birthday party and I'm yet to finish sorting and packing away various bits of party paraphernalia. The grass table skirt still hasn't put in an appearance, thank you cards are ready to be written and it appears that edible sand is just as difficult to get rid of in practice as the real stuff...

Amidst the mess and memories of a pretty good day I'm doing my best to write up some useful posts to share with you, in the hope that it will inspire confidence in parents who feel easily overwhelmed by the lavishly decorated parties that you typically find on Pinterest.

Party Planning - Tropical Moana Party

Every time I host a party or event my guests tell me that they've had 'a wonderful time' or another flattering comment which makes my heart beam a little. I know they're probably just being polite but I do like the affirmation of a party well planned.

And yet any praise from myself is normally lacking.

So it surprises me to say it, but Lily's fifth birthday Moana Party was actually PRETTY GOOD.

And with an intro like that, take a look!

This year we invited more guests but limited the budget to only £50 more than last years budget. This meant that we did the whole thing for just £10 a head. It was tricky to stick within the spending limits but I managed it by planning many months ahead and buying items when they were cheap and plentiful in store, discounted in the sale or online.

De-cluttering with eBay

It's hard to remember a time before eBay - the online auction and shopping giant. In 2017 it's hard to think of something you can't buy in a click and if you know what you're doing, it's easy to bag some bargains.

It's also surprisingly easy to sell items, especially with the nifty eBay app that can be downloaded from both iTunes and Google Play. You can do everything using your smartphone - snap photos of your item, write a description, set your limits and get notifications when people bid, ask questions and pay for items - reminding you to get it posted as soon as possible!

I haven't sold on eBay in a while but do like to regularly clear out the kid's stuff. I sell off the old bits that no longer fit or are no longer played with and then use the money to pay for clothes and toys the next stage up.

Love, laughter, laundry

I guess if any quote is going to summarise my home it would be this one.

Our home is certainly filled with love, it is full of laughter and the laundry that comes with having a family of four is a never-ending cycle of dirty clothes, wet clothes, drying clothes and clothes that need to be put away but never will be.

Mexican Meat Feast

Summer may be well and truly over but I'm not yet ready to embrace an autumn dinner menu of slow-cooker meals, casseroles and potatoes. With that in mind I was happy to have the opportunity to take part in Britmum's #HealthyRedMeat Challenge this weekend and am pleased to share our family favourite recipe for steak fajitas!

I have a real pet-hate for food horror stories and any fad diet or trend that recommends cutting out any particular food group. I'm certainly no dietitian but approach planning meals for my kids with a balanced approach, attempting to ensure a healthy diet where everything is OK in moderation.

A letter to Lily - Starting School

It's 10 minutes past 8 on Wednesday 6th September 2017. Tomorrow you start school.

They have a staggered start, which basically means that you won't spend a full day at school for another week.

On your first day you will arrive just after 1pm, hang up your coat and your new school bag and walk into your classroom. You'll only be there a couple of hours and then a couple of hours again on Friday.

Tonight as we read your night time book (we're reading Heidi Grows Up at the moment) and said your prayers we spoke about school. You said you were excited but nervous and I explained how perfectly natural it is to feel that way. That I feel the same.

Hearing myself parent

If you've read a few of my posts you may notice that I regularly over-analyse things and often feel the sharp pangs of Mum-guilt. I (obviously) want to be a great Mum but am well-aware of my failings and the times I fall short.

Like the times I shout at my kids to be quiet (I know it's hypocritical. I know it's counter-productive. But argh! Just be quiet!).

I know that my kids are doing well, despite my lack of confidence I think I 'usually' do OK at this Mummyhood thing. And yet, it is still disconcerting to hear myself parroted back through the pretend play and mannerisms of my children.

9 Childhood films that STILL creep me out!

I do love a scary film. Especially supernatural ones where you can't actually see the scary being - it's not scary when you actually see a man dressed up in dodgy make-up and horns (I'm looking at you Annabelle).

However, it's the films that you don't expect to be scary that leave a lasting impression on your mind.

At the moment I'm busy introducing Lily and Ollie to some of my childhood favourites. I've re-discovered my love for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and cringed whilst watching the first of the Harry Potter films (the acting definitely got better as it went along).

Obviously, most films have a slightly scary or sinister protagonist, a baddie or a bit in the dark with a serious soundtrack. For those parts I'm there with Lily, explaining any fears away if needed. I have been surprised at how she's not really bothered by bits that I would expect to bother her a little bit.

But then there are some films that I hesitate to introduce Lily to, not just because I think she will be scared but because there are definitely scenes that still scare the crap out of me!

Bekonscot Model Village

I can't believe how quickly the summer holidays have passed! I was worried at the start that we wouldn't have enough to do, but I'll admit that there have been a lot of pyjama cinema days in our home.

It has been busy, we've had some great play dates, visits and more than a few hospital appointments for Lily's broken arm. Healing took less time than expected and she had the wires removed under general anaesthetic last week! Hooray!

In the meantime, Lily had her first ever trip to Selhurst Park to watch the football with Daddy, met Pete the Eagle and had Jason Puncheon sign her cast. We decided that, at 2, Ollie is still a bit young for a stadium visit and so I stayed locally with him and visited somewhere I've wanted to go for ages - Bekonscot Model Village.

Morwellham Quay

For families, there is always plenty to do if you are living or staying in Devon. You tend to have the moors or the beach on your doorstep, fantastic cities to shop in and a wide range of attractions wherever you go.

Despite having lived in Devon for eight years there are still plenty of places I haven't yet visited - and plenty that I am desperate to visit again having enjoyed it when I was younger.

One of those that I was excited to visit again was Morwellham Quay.

Morwellham is an historic site on the Devon-side of the border with Cornwall and is packed full of fun, interactive history displays and activities.

Fixing Lily

Usually a trip to Ruislip Lido, with it's fun lakeside beach, splash pad and train rides is an instant winner in our home.

But not so this Sunday when we went for a walk, brunch and a play on the beach. Unfortunately, Lily was held back - by her healing arm, or fear of hurting her arm again, from doing all the things she'd normally want to do.

And it may sound a tad dramatic, but it broke my heart.

Dawlish Warren

It already seems like a lifetime away, but a couple of weeks ago we were in Devon for a little holiday, staying with family and friends.

No trip to Devon would be complete without a trip to the beach and we certainly made the most of the lovely weather earlier in our visit with a day trip to nearby Dawlish Warren.

My Mum lives near to St Thomas in Exeter and so we caught the train from there direct to the station at the beach. It was both quicker and cheaper than I thought it would be and the journey itself is always rather nice - it wasn't just the kids who enjoyed looking out over the water at the boats as we sped along.

A confession: I don't like gin

I'm almost worried about admitting this out loud. But here goes.

I don't like gin.

At all.

I like the idea of gin. Gin cocktails. Pink gin. Mums-who-drink-gin. Gin bars. Gin festivals.

But the reality of actually drinking the stuff makes me gag.

Lily's Broken Arm

Last week we enjoyed a week in Devon, half of it was spent with my Mum and Sister who live in Exeter and the rest was spent with friends in nearby Teignmouth.

On the Thursday my friend and I took our children to a local attraction which included a small soft play area.

We then planned to take a train ride, maybe visit the model village and go to the play park. We could have stopped for some lunch or coffee, grabbed some ice creams and had a pleasant afternoon. But, alas, it was not meant to be and Lily landed badly on her arm going down a slide and after being checked out by the lovely and kind staff on hand at Trago, were advised to go to Newton Abbot Minor Injuries Unit for an x-ray.

neatlynamed review

Buying school uniform for your child, especially for the first time, can be a bit daunting, especially with all the other changes going on for you to deal with. You spend time considering the cost, quality, sizing and cleaning only for your child to start school where 29 other children are all wearing exactly the same thing, in the same size. It won't be long before your child comes home without their sweatshirt or with the wrong book bag.

So save yourself the stress and make sure you label everything. Literally, everything. Polo shirts, pinafores, trousers, jumpers, shoes, pencil cases and lunchboxes can easily be misplaced in a room filled with excited children and all their various bits of school paraphernalia.

Luckily, there are companies out there now who make this task as easy as possible for you.

Companies like neatlynamed, who provide a range of personalised, colourful name labels and stickers to label your child’s belongings.

What's On for Toddlers in High Wycombe - Summer Holidays

It's the Summer Holidays! A time that I approach with a combination of excitement and apprehension because all the usual toddler groups stop for the break and everywhere is extra busy and over-run with school age children enjoying their freedom.

Luckily, if you live in Wycombe there does seem to be a lot of activities still available for babies and pre-schoolers - all free or reasonably priced. And even luckier for you, as a reader of my blog - I've done my best to collate the activities into this bumper list!

It's by no means exhaustive but I'm happy to update this list if you spot a great activity for young children that I have missed off the list - just pop it into the comments below and I'll get it added in.


Of course, there is a range of children's activities and my usual 'go to' places like the many parks, libraries and soft play centres in the surrounding area. Below, I've concentrated on highlighting specific events or venues which may have escaped your notice!

All change please, all change

This is it.

Lily's last 'proper' week as a pre-schooler.

She'll attend her last pre-school session, her last Mum and Toddler's morning, her last proper 'coffee break' and her last Bounce and Rhyme at the library.

We'll have our summer break and then it's time for the next bunch of 'firsts'.

Buying School Uniform

How is it July already? This year seems to be racing by and each week takes us closer to Lily starting school in September.

I like to be organised and have everything in place early so have already started researching school uniform and buying items as I go. As part of my research I'm asking friends for advice, turning to my Mum for tips and scouring the internet for uniform comparison guides.

And I thought I'd share my findings with you, because I'm nice like that.

Here are my top 11 tips for buying school uniform.

Where to buy

You will need to buy logo items from the school-recommended store and they'll often have other items available to purchase. They'll help you with fitting and ensuring that you buy the right uniform for your school requirements. However, you can also buy generic, non-logo items from other retailers and shop around.

Primary School Places - What happened next?

Unless you're the parent of a child starting school in September, it's likely that Tuesday 18th April passed you by unnoticed. In previous years I have shown a slight interest in friends and family being offered primary school places but always assumed that the process was simple and straightforward. You picked a school in your local area, you get that school, right?

It was only last year that the reality of the situation hit me. You don't choose your child's school.

The county council computer picks your child's school.

Strawberry and Raspberry Pavlova

After our fab day picking delicious strawberries and raspberries at Peterley Manor Farm I knew I'd need to so something pretty special with our handpicked fruit!

On Sunday we had an impromptu BBQ with some good friends and it gave me the perfect excuse to make a pavlova for the first time in years.

It's been so long since I made one that I forgot how simple it is. Other than a lot of patience when it comes to whisking, it doesn't take an awful lot of time or effort to make a scrumptious summer dessert.

Peterley Manor Farm

This weekend we were able to tick another local activity off our bucket list and made the most of family visiting to take a trip to Peterley Manor Farm for some pick-your-own fun!

I like to make the most of seeing our family and it's always a great excuse to explore some more of the area we are lucky to live in, or try somewhere new. It can be tricky to find an activity that will offer something for everybody, allowing us all to catch up on news and spend time chatting whilst having fun with the kids at the same time.

Peterley Manor is a family run farm in the beautiful Chilterns. I've wanted to visit for a while now as they're always popping up on Instagram with some inspiring photos of the P-Y-O, farm shop, cafe and nursery. I thought it would be the perfect activity for the whole family, we could have fun picking the fruit and then relax with some tea and even some retail therapy.

It's only a 15 minute drive from where we live in High Wycombe and was easy to get to (as long as you follow the directions on the website, not just type it into Google maps).

9 reasons why I hate a heatwave

Summer has properly arrived here in the UK and every single British person has gone from bemoaning the lack of sun to complaining about the excess of it.

Including me.

Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway

For Father's Day this year we decided to do something a bit different and we treated Matt to a lovely Steam Train ride at the local Chinnor Railway - an activity which proved to be fun for the whole family!

The railway is run by volunteers and is open for weekends and various special events throughout the year. On Father's Day all Dads go for free which meant that for us as a family it only cost us £17 for the round trip to Thame and back. Usual prices are still reasonable and tickets can be bought ahead online. However, Lily loved going with Daddy to the ticket booth to purchase our vintage-style ticket tokens for 'third class'.

To the kid who called me fat today...

Today I didn't run very far. About 1.5k from my home to the end of the road.

I was proud that it was the furthest I'd gone without stopping or slowing. Maybe I could have gone further.

Just before I reached my home, you were sat on a bike with a small group of other kids, and as I came closer you pointed at me, laughed and said "fatty".

And I kept on going. I got home and did my cool down routine.

And then I cried.

Chapter Books for Four Year Olds

Reading is my all time favourite activity. Hands down. When I'm on my own, I want to read. When it's cold outside I like to read. When it's sunny outside I like to read outside. When I'm with my kids I like to read with them...

Every night Lily and I snuggle up to read a chapter book. Ollie is still a bit too young and so we always read a couple of picture books before wishing him a goodnight and cuddling up in Lily's bed to read the latest adventure.

At first I wasn't sure if she would be too young to have the concentration and memory for this but she has proved me wrong over and over again and still talks about her favourite bit from a book we've read months ago. 

It does take a bit of experience or trial and error in finding out what books will be best enjoyed by both you and your child. Some series start out light but can get quite dark towards the end (like Harry Potter) and so I would recommend leaving them until children are a little bit older.

A Fond Farewell to our Merlin Passes

Today is the day our Merlin Annual Premium Passes expire and at the moment we don't have the money to renew. We'd like to but as our last holiday abroad was our honeymoon nearly 6 years ago, Matt is desperate to spend some time somewhere a bit more exotic than the British coast and so we're going to do our best to save up and go away next year.

Our passes over the last year have been more of a blessing than I could have imagined. We have been to so many parks and attractions that we would never have visited without the pass - multiple trips to Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland, Warwick Castle, The London Eye and Alton Towers.

Review - Alton Towers

Our amazing Merlin Annual Passes will expire on Wednesday so we wanted to make the most of our last few days by spending one at Alton Towers. Having always been put off before by the long drive there we usually make the most of the fantastic attractions closer to home but after having tried Alton Towers last weekend, I have to admit, I wish we'd gone before!

It was an early start - we planned to leave the house at 6am but didn't wake up until 5:50 (why don't the kids wake up early when you actually want them to?!) so we left a tad later at 6:30 and took the fastest route recommended by Google Maps which took us via the M6 toll road arriving at precisely 9:02.

Party Planning - Tropical Party Wish List

I started planning Lily's fifth birthday a while back. It's not unusual for me to start gathering ideas and inspiration months before a party or event and this year I've been swept up in planning a tropical-themed Moana party for my big girl.

Every time pay day rolls around I buy something off my wish list (which is pretty extensive). I do this logically and buy items that are either on special offer or will take a while to arrive. I don't want to miss out on good deals and I don't want to order items from eBay that will arrive after the party!

I'm working to a very tight budget this year so am hunting for props and scene setters all over the place. I'm scouring pound shops, Primark and ebay for bargains - my strategy is a fine balance between knowing when to splurge on a product and when to hold back.

Party Planning - In Action

You may have already spotted a few posts where I'm planning for Lily's fifth birthday in September. I'd originally thought about having a fairytale theme for the party but then we watched Moana and Lily asked for a Moana party.

Last year I wrote a post about how I plan events. I'm not a professional 'party planner' but have many years experience in planning both personal parties and larger scale corporate events. Following on from that post, I though I'd give you a glimpse into my plans in action.

Banish the fear

The fear that never really goes away has once again raised it's head in response to the terror attack in Manchester.

22 people dead.

59 people injured.

15 people still missing.

Pain, trauma and grief that can never be counted.

I am frightened. I'd be lying if I said otherwise.

And yet it is not just the act of terrorism that scares me.

A suitable vocation

I'd like to think I'm a pretty open-minded parent. I obviously want my children to achieve their dreams but I don't mind what that dream looks like.

I know that the career-decisions of a 5 year old will change by the time they're adults. I wanted to be a Nun. Then I nurtured dreams of becoming a journalist and even went through a very short stage where I considered becoming a Biomedical Scientist.

Review - Bounce and Rhyme, Micklefield Library

I love a good library.

Who doesn't love a good library?!

I love to read, I love discovering new books, of course I love the library.

It's something I couldn't wait to introduce Lily and Ollie to and with so many other activities being offered in our local library I'd have to be an idiot to not go along regularly.

Do I need to invite the whole class?

Plans are already underway for Lily's fifth birthday party in September. I'm currently swamped with ideas and potential products to purchase. I'm hunting down bargains, designing invitations, researching entertainment and worrying over the cake.

However, there is another aspect of party planning which concerns me this year that hasn't been a problem before.

As Lily starts school in September, will I have to invite the whole class?

At first I assumed that I should and would. I hate the thought of leaving anyone out, even if they haven't formed friendships a few weeks in.

But, added to Lily's friends and family we'd be looking at a party for over 50 children.

My child-free alter ego

Since having Lily four and a half years ago I can probably count on both hands the times I have been 'child free'.
I'll be honest, it doesn't usually bother me. I had my children because that was what I wanted from life. Giving up boozy weekends never seemed like such a sacrifice, I can watch a film on DVD instead of going to the cinema and a curry still tastes amazing when it's delivered to your house and you can eat it in your PJs whilst watching Netflix.

A lot of the time, I'm quite happy to stay in, or if I do go out, I like to do it with Matt and the kids. My family, making the most of our times together. We set aside weekends for us and don't have family near by to look after the children for the night or take them off our hands for a few hours. If we're going to have fun, we have fun together.


And this is a really BIG however.

Looking after yourself

As a rule, I'm not a big fan of April as a month. It hasn't always been this way but it's over a decade since my Dad died by suicide and I spend most of April (and sometimes a lot of March as well) dreading the anniversary at the end of the month.
It's even tougher because it's Dad's birthday on the 10th and so it can feel like there is no escaping the grief that can overwhelm you on the anniversary of losing a loved one. As soon as I've dealt with one I'm hit by the other and it's pretty hard.

The temptation for me on these days is to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and not talk to anyone all day. And if you feel the same then my advice to you would be to do it! Allow yourself the time and space for grieving - even if time has passed and some well-meaning but naive friends are telling you to 'move on'.

Party Planning - Tropical Party Outfits for Boys

I've gone a little bit 'tropical party' crazy at the moment and friends are looking at me in shock (horror) when I talk about the bargains I've just picked up in Poundworld or my plans for an epic balloon arch. Afterall, it isn't Lily's birthday until the end of September!

The thing is, we're going for a Moana-inspired tropical theme and all the shops are full of amazing designs, accessories and inspiration right now. I know that if I wait too long I could miss the canoe (sorry) and end up missing out on some great products.

Party Planning - Tropical Party Outfits for Girls

It may be five months until Lily's 5th birthday party but I've already started planning. Partly because I'm a sad and desperate wannabe-party-planner but mainly because if you're planning a tropical, summery themed Moana party then then summer is by far the best time to pick up supplies.

It also comes with the added benefit of being able to spread the cost by picking things up as you go and the chance of getting some bargains when they're easily accessible or on sale at the end of the season.

As all the shops roll out their summer clothing ranges I've noticed a huge range of tropical-inspired dresses, playsuits and skirts - all of which would be perfect for a summer BBQ, party, wedding or a late-September 5th birthday party!

Junior Park Run - Lily's first time

Lily is four and half years old and yesterday she took part in her first ever Junior Park Run.

She ran (and walked) for 2km and completed the course smiling and waving in about 18 minutes.

I have no idea whether this is a 'good' time or expected of a child her age. All I know is that she could have taken twice as long and I still would have sobbed with pride as she ran down that last section.