Looking back at 2014

31 December 2014

Well its the last day of 2014 so I thought I would look back at the past year and remember all the great times we had. There has been highs and lows, ups and downs but I'm gonna focus on all the positives and start the new year on a high.
Well firstly 2014 was the year I started my blog. I am not quite sure how I came up with the idea to start a blog but I'm glad I did. I didn't have a clue what I was doing but I have been learning as I go along, met some great friends and it has allowed us to do some amazing things. I know I have been quiet over Christmas but blogging is very time consuming so I spent much needed family time.
In March little J turned one - he has developed so much over the last year and I am so proud him. He is walking and almost talking which is so much more than what I expected at the beginning of the year. He understands everything we are saying and he is communicating with us in his own little way, just waiting for the talking now and I know he will pass his next development assessment.
Big J settled in to senior school so well and is continuing to work hard and its showing in his reports. He recently received an award for being a good citizen and a valued member of year 8 - proud mummy moment. He is so good with little J and even though there is a large age gap it doesn't show and they are such great friends.
We have had lots of fun family time this year, here are some of our highlights.
Daddy and big J had the chance to try out Treetop Junior at Go Ape in Delamere Forest. They had so much fun. It was quite high so me and little J watched from the ground.

We had such a lovely day at the East Lancashire Railway with a  day out with Thomas. 

Seeing McBusted in concert was one of my favourite moments of 2014. I have always been a fan of Mcfly and Busted so to see them both on stage as a super group was so exciting. Looking forward to the 2015 tour.

We all loved the Lollipop Festival and it was such a honour to be there as an official mummy ambassador. Really looking forward to visiting again next year.

If you haven't been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour I would highly recommend it. It is an amazing day out and I would return tomorrow if I could. There is just so much to see and its a must for any Harry Potter fan.

Last but not least is Disneyland Paris. Its our favourite place and we look forward to our annual visit all year round. We always have an amazing time together and for us it is the start of christmas. 

I really hope 2015 is as special as the last year and I can't wait to share all our family times with you all.

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Growing Up

30 December 2014

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I know growing up is a part of life that we cannot control but its something that I have dreaded for a few years now. I absolutely hate the fact that big J is getting older by the day and with that becomes a lot of stress and worry for me. First was the transition from junior school to senior school. I was so stressed out the summer before he went. Big J is very sensitive and not very street wise and you hear all sorts of stories about kids going to seniors and completely changing into little horrors. Luckily this hasn't happened in fact he has got so many lovely friends around him that I am quite confident that he will remain my sweet and innocent boy. Although I know there will be times when he may stray off the good boy path, I am ready for it. I was young once and I wasn't always an angel.

I recently came across this article about underage drinking and how important it is to talk to our children about this and also have some idea about what they are getting up to when we are not around.
It’s time to talk about underage drinking!

Understanding what teenagers are thinking is no easy task.  A recent study conducted by AB InBev UK, a popular drinks manufacturer, has shown that this is definitely the case when it comes to alcohol. 

The poll discovered that 39% of 11 – 15 year olds have tried alcohol at some point during their lives. However, on average, parents wrongly assume this figure to be 57%.  Surprisingly parents believe that 7 times more young people between the ages of 11 and 15 are drinking on one occasion or more every week. 

So why are these statistics important? 

First of all they identify that there is a shocking gap between what our children are actually up to and what many of us think they are doing. 

Secondly, they provide us with an insight that equips us for future conversations with our youngsters about the responsible drinking.

AB InBev UK is on a mission to ensure that parents are equipped with the knowledge they need to talk to their teenagers about responsible drinking.  This is why they have partnered with the Alcohol Education Trust (AET) since 2013 to assist parents in schools to communicate with their children 

AB InBev UK established the Family Talk UK Facebook page as a place where parents can do just that and learn from each other.

If you have a minute it would be great if you could visit the Facebook page especially if this is a matter that does concern you or maybe you are having to deal with at the moment 
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The Snowman and The Dog Grotto at intu The Trafford Centre

16 December 2014

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I recently saw an advert on TV that there was a Snowman and The Snowdog grotto in intu Trafford Centre. When I went online I was gutted that it was pretty much sold out, obviously very popular. We were going to the Trafford Centre last weekend but there was no times available. I double checked the night before to see if any times had become available and I was so please that one time slot was showing green instead of the sold out red. 

I quickly whizzed through the booking form and secured our placed in the grotto. There was an option to book and pay for your photographs and other souvenirs online but I decided to wait until we got there.

The Snowman and The Snowdog is situated in Barton Square amongst lots of festive stalls and a lovely Victorian Carousel.

We arrived 10 minutes earlier than are booking time and joined the queue. Only 45 people can go through at any one time so even though are timed slot had past by the time we got to the front of the queue we had to wait a further 15 minutes to go through as it had reached full capacity. 

We left our buggy by the entrance and when it was our time to go through we were taken into a room that was set out as Billys living room and we were greeted by Billy's Mum. We took a seat on the benches provided and the children were invited to sit on the floor at the front.

Billy's mum told us all about the Snowman and The Snowdog and what had happened on one Christmas Eve when Billy had made them both and at the magic hour 12:00am they both came alive. 
There was a large TV screen and we got to watch snippets of The Snowman and The Snowdog. It really put us in the Christmassy mood both the Snowman and The Snowman and the Snowdog are our favourite christmas movies.

Once we had finished in Billy's living room (approx 15 minutes) we walked past all the snowmen until we cam to a place were we could write a letter to Santa.

We were actually first in the queue to walk through the magical walkway to see Santa but little J kept running back and forth and looking at all the snowman so we were actually last in the end.

Towards the end there is a huge display with the snowman and the snowdog. 

We managed to get little J to sit down for two minutes while big J wrote him out a list so we could post it in the big red postbox.

Once we had done that it was time to see Father Christmas. He was lovely and gave both big and little J a gift. 

The overall experience was lovely and it was well worth the wait and I can see just why it is so popular. We were inside for approx 30-40 minutes in total and it was truly magical.

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Disneyland Paris Christmas 2014 - Everything Else

10 December 2014

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You may have already read my other posts about our trip to Disneyland Paris this year. I have already covered getting there, Hotel New York and the characters, this post is just about everything else.

We have been to Disneyland Paris many times and its nice to have the knowledge of the parks, the restaurants and just know what there is to see and do. In the past we have spent more time in the Disneyland Park than Studios but this year with Toy Story Land and the new Ratatouille ride I was looking forward to checking it out.

On the first day we arrived in the park early in the afternoon so we headed to Disneyland Park because that stays open a hour or two later than studios. Just as we walked through the main gates it was obvious a parade was about to start so we found an empty spot and waited.

 It started quite quickly and was really christmassy. Father Christmas was last in the parade and was being pulled along by his reindeers.

There are so many rides to go on in Disney and we went on pretty much everything more than once. Some lots of times. Little J just loved all the rides we put him on, he wasn't bothered whether it was fast, slow, in the air, on a boat he just enjoyed it. Big J has a few favourites including Autopia were you get to drive a classic car around a track.

Everywhere was Frozen crazy so because big J isn't interested in dolls or dresses he decided to just buy a Frozen hot chocolate and cake pop. They looked lovely but the price wasn't. Somehow they thought they could add a couple of euros on to the price just because it was Frozen when in fact the hot chocolate was just the same as normal hot chocolate but with blue sprinkles on the top.

Little J had a sleep at the same time every day and would sleep for a few hours so it was a good time to go on the bigger rides that he couldn't. He spent most of the time walking so it must have worn him out.

Disney at night is my favourite. I love it when all the lights come on and everything twinkles. The castle looks absolutely amazing at night.

So that's our trip to Disneyland Paris done for another year. I always say that we should visit during the year to experience it in the heat rather than cold, it will be a completely different experience.

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Disneyland Paris Christmas 2014 - The Characters

8 December 2014

We just love seeing the characters out and about in Disneyland Paris, its so much fun running up to them to get an autograph. This year big and little J both bought their autograph books as soon as we arrived in the park, just in case we spotted a character. 
There are characters who have specific meet and greet spots throughout the parks, Anna and Elsa from Frozen were in the Princess Pavilion and then you can Meet Mickey in his very own dressing room. I do think its more fun though when you just spot a character out the corner of your eye then you have to join the stampede of children all running towards them. 
We managed to meet Anna and Elsa as we were lucky enough to get a 10 minute time slot as a special guest but everyone else had to queue and it was a long one. One day the queue was 300 minutes. It was insane. How can anyone wait that long to see a character? Its just crazy, but they were and I'm sure if I had a little girl who was Frozen mad then I probably would have done the same.

We met Mickey Mouse a few times and little J just loved him. He cuddled him and gave him kisses it was so cute. He was the same with Minnie too. He wasn't as bothered with anyone else but I think if he could of he would have stayed with Mickey and Minnie all day.
There were so many characters out and about my monkeys almost filled their autograph books.
Pluto and Goofy were available for a meet and greet in the early morning access exclusive to Disney hotel guests.

Over in Studios we met lots of our favourites.

Buzz Lightyear

My love Stitch - so naughty but so cute.

Remy and Emile.

He's your favourite deputy ...Woody

We were just in the right place at the right time and got to meet Pinocchio and Gepetto, Captain Hook and Smee

Meet and Greet with the stars over in Studios. 

Jack is always very friendly when we meet him. He does spend lots of time talking to the children and finding out their names and where they live.

Yee-Hah its Jessie

 More kisses and cuddles for Minnie as we waited for Father Christmas.

We just managed to sneak a quick photo with Louie before he had to go.

You can read more about what we got up to in Disneyland by clicking here

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Disneyland Paris Christmas 2014 - Hotel New York

6 December 2014

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We have stayed in Hotel New York before but I couldn't really remember much about it except there is a yellow taxi cab outside. We had last visited 5/6 years ago so it felt all new and exciting. When we arrived check in was empty so we walked straight up tot the desk. Our room was ready which was a relief as I just wanted to get all our bags into the room and freshen up.
The hotel is really pretty and I love the New York theme. The lobby was very Christmassy with a huge tree in the corner and decorations everywhere. 
Our room was on the 5th floor of the brownstone wing. It was about three quarters down the long corridor. Little J enjoyed walking down towards the room and big J and Daddy would have races. I just pushed the pram trying not to collapse on the floor in a heap after long days in the park.
Some nights it was a huge relief seeing this door, knowing once inside I could take off my boots and relax. Its such a long day in the park and my feet got so tired.

The room was spacious even with two very large beds. There was a table and chairs, large cabinet with a TV, Mini Bar and drawers and quite a big wardrobe too.
 There was a lamp on top of the cabinet. It was supposed to be a skyscraper of some sort, maybe the Empire State Building. It was so tacky but I wanted it so badly. I love all things New York and this would have looked great in my bedroom. I don't think the hotel would have been impressed though if I had of hid it in my luggage, neither would have Daddy.
There were two restaurants for breakfast each morning. Both served exactly the same and you could choose which one to eat in. We ate in the Manhattan Suite except for one morning we ate in the other. Breakfast was the usual sausage, egg, bacon, fried potatoes and a large selection of pastries, yoghurts, cereals and fruit. 

When we stayed in the Disneyland Hotel they served hot food but last year there was none on the menu at Newport Bay, it was just cold. Big J likes to try the hot food but the rest of us stuck to just pastries and yoghurts. Breakfast was actually quite nice and it filled us up for the whole morning and into the afternoon. I particularly liked the pancakes and maple syrup, Daddy enjoyed croissants and little J found Nutella and he loved it.

There is a swimming pool and video games room in the hotel. We only managed to visit the room once throughout the stay because we were staying in the parks till late so by the time we got back it was closed. It had a few games of air hockey and driving games. It was all token based so you had to use the machine to exchange your euros for tokens.

Little J found a machine that looked fun.

Outside the hotel is very pretty, all lit up and a floating Christmas tree. There is usually an ice rink open but we didn't see it open once throughout our stay which was a shame.

If you are not sure whether Hotel New York is for you pop over to The Willow Tree to read about another of our favourite hotels Disney Newport Bay.

Have you stayed in a Disney hotel before?

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