I saw a tweet recently that made me laugh a lot:

https://twitter.com/EmmainWndrland/status/836118930506805248

With Belle, it would be the other way round:

(Apologies Emma for blatantly copying your tweet for this blog post.)

I would say that getting her to drink enough is the source of about 87% of my parental stress, alongside getting her to go to school and her refusal to eat any foods that aren’t beige. She has a smoothie for breakfast, but she’ll often come home from school, having had about three sips out of her water bottle, and nothing else for the entire day. I honestly don’t know how she does it. If I don’t drink water throughout the day I feel noticeably different – headachey, sick, and generally awful. I don’t understand how she can go through a whole day without it even occurring to her to have a drink.

Are all teenagers this terrible at drinking water?? View Post

Nixplay photo frame

I have a small family, but I like to think we’re pretty close. Emotionally at least. My sister Annabel moved to Ireland with her husband and two children a couple of years ago, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like now. We’ve been over to visit quite a few times, but it isn’t the same as being able to pop over for tea and catch up with what they’ve been doing during the day.

I know that there’s Skype and FaceTime and everything like that, so no excuse really not to keep in touch, but as I’m sure Annabel will testify to, I’m a bit rubbish at it. Work and cooking and boring stuff gets in the way. Every night in bed I think to myself ‘I must talk to Annabel properly tomorrow,’ and then another day goes by and I haven’t.

I’m lame.

I thought the Nixplay Wifi digital frame might be a nice way to add an extra dimension to our communication, and not just because it requires minimal effort from me. (Although mainly that.) It’s basically a digital photo frame, but it links up to an app, meaning you can invite anyone with the app to share photos directly to your frame. You can see where I’m going with this can’t you? Rather than it just showing my own photos, I can ask Annabel to get the app, invite her to share with me, and tada! I can see photos of her and my nephew and niece, Finn and Mia, whenever I like!

‘Cool,’ said Annabel, when I told her about it, ‘I like the idea of sending you snapshots of our life!’

Finn and Mia are only small(ish), and Annabel and I share the sense of humour of a six year old, and so I thought they’d find it quite funny to be able to take pictures of themselves with silly captions and know that they are going to appear in our living room when we least expect it. Belle has a really good relationship with her cousins, and misses them a lot, so I know she’d really enjoy getting to see them more often, even if it was via a photo frame.

Fiancé works away during the week too, and we both miss him being around, (he probably misses us too), so we thought we could add him as well. That way he could send us his latest celebrity spots, with captions of who they are. (He met Will Ferrell in a toilet last week – I do know him – but sometimes I say ‘who?’)

So, we got to work.

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I think I probably take my mum for granted sometimes. I’m not really a gushy sort of person – I prefer to show affection through mild teasing – but she’s not bad. I realise as I get older, and my children get older, how hard it actually is to ‘parent’ once your kids start to form their own opinions. (Damn them, being so sassy and confident.)

No one is perfect of course, but there are a lot of things about my mum that I am grateful for:

  • She is generous with her time and money
  • She is always supportive of me in times of crisis
  • She has a good sense of humour and is fun to hang out with

Okay, that’s enough. Let’s not get carried away. She also has way too many balls of wool in her house, and the state of her saucepans is shameful.

But still, she’s nice.

I’m very lucky with my whole family really. We are all just incredibly intelligent and witty and modest and quite honestly, anyone would be lucky to spend time with us. I mean look at us:

#Muminamillion Photobox Nectar

Basically the Kardashians. This photo is a few years old but it’s one of my favourites because there are so many of us all in one photo. (That’s me on the left, before my hair got quite so grey.) View Post

You’d think that someone who spent their working day online (me) would be a bit more savvy when it came to parental controls. You might imagine I’d be all over it, with all sorts of safety mechanisms in place to protect Belle from internet nasties.

The truth is that I’m actually pretty rubbish.

I was very strict initially about social media, and she had to beg me to let her set up an Instagram account when she was about 12 years old and was the last in her class to have one. She’s not on Facebook as far as I know, but I’m pretty sure she has a Twitter account. On the one hand, my attitude has been led by Belle. I know that she is probably far more safety conscious than me online and she just isn’t the sort of child who would want to access inappropriate material. (Yes I know, all parents say that, but it’s true.) She’s much more likely to be sharing photos of the girls from Dance Moms or watching make-up tutorials.

What I should take more account of though, is that a lot of the time it’s not just about what the child might want to be looking at, it’s what they will see accidentally. What they are searching for might be innocent enough, but it only takes a typo, or a double meaning, and the results can be far from innocent.

shutterstock_274178327

To make the point, I just googled the word ‘doggy’. Just that one word, on it’s own. It’s the kind of thing that any child might innocently search for, hoping for information about puppies. These were the top three results: View Post

This is post was created in partnership with Monopoly and Hasbro.

It’s all kicking off online at the moment.

I’m not talking Trump or Brexit, this is a properly serious issue – Monopoly pieces. Monopoly has announced that it’s updating its pieces and the world has gone into turmoil. What’s your favourite Monopoly piece? What do you want to save? How do you feel about the idea of a hashtag replacing the Scottie dog??

It’s token madness!

It’s fine though, because you can do something to save your favourite Monopoly piece. You just have to visit the Monopoly voting site and pick your favourites.

WE CAN MAKE THIS OKAY.

new Monopoly pieces vote

When I was little, we used to spend quite a bit of time with my Gran and Grandad – my mum’s parents. Whenever we were there, I had one thing in mind – I wanted to get my Grandad on his own so we could play games. My mum and my Gran normally wanted to go out somewhere for a drive or to look at the shops and I would wait, twitching, while they decided what they were going to do.

My very favourite times were when they said things like ‘we might be out for quite a long time though, are you sure that you and Grandad will be alright on your own?’

Er… yes?

We had the cupboard full of games in the spare bedroom and a kitchen well stocked with tins of beans and sausages, we’d have been okay for months.

Once everyone had gone, or sometimes before if I was excited and wanted to drop the hint that I’d like everyone out of the house as soon as possible, I’d go up to the spare bedroom cupboard to choose my games. 

My Grandad was a man of endless patience and he would pretty much play anything I wanted for as long as I wanted. The only game that gave him a little bit of a twitch was a horse racing game called Totopoly. I don’t know if you’ve ever played it, but my Grandad’s 1960s version had metal horses that each stood on a very narrow base. They were an absolute nightmare to keep upright and we’d not go a game without one of us accidentally nudging the table, knocking all of the horses onto their sides.

Our two favourite games were cards and Monopoly. My Grandad had big, smooth, dry hands, and I can hear him now, rubbing his hands together, getting ready to slowly, neatly, shuffle and deal a hand of rummy. 

Monopoly I loved because it just felt so epic. I play it now, as a grown up, and it lasts a normal length of time, but when I was little it seemed to last for hours. It was probably partly because of how carefully and deliberately my Grandad did everything – there was no rushing in our games of Monopoly.

Which is the best Monopoly token vote

Most games we played by the rules but in Monopoly we had a special rule, just for us, where we agreed to deal ourselves out extra money once we’d bought all the properties. This used to give us both a bit of a boost and probably accounts for the length of the games too.

One of the crucial elements of Monopoly of course is the pieces. My Grandad was always the car. He called it ‘the motorcar’, and would drive it carefully from street to street. I was always to boot. I liked the way you could sort of tip tap it around the board by holding onto the little tag at the back. It had a nice rhythm to it, like I could skip my way over hotels and onto tax rebate squares whenever I wanted.

Which is the best Monopoly token vote

I couldn’t bear the thought of Monopoly without the boot, so I just had to go and vote. 

Monopoly really has gone mad. As well as the option to save your existing favourites, there are all kinds of crazy new ideas, including emojis?! 

Monopoly pieces vote

Belle and I had a look at the options together. I had to save the motorcar and the boot obviously, in case my Grandad ever wants a game. I mean sure, he died nearly ten years ago, but you never know.

Then, because we’re not afraid to embrace some change, we picked a selection of new pieces that we thought were cute.

Monopoly piece vote

I picked a penguin because I thought Bee would like to be the penguin if she ever played with us, and we chose the dinosaur for my nephew Finn. The trumpet is for fiancé because he works in music, and the pocket watch I liked because it felt Monopoly-ish. (I can’t explain it better than that – it just felt right.) Our other two choices were sliced bread and a bunny slipper. Just because.

If you want to save your favourite Monopoly piece or help to choose some new ones, then go and have a look now and cast your vote.

Please, please choose to save the boot and the motorcar. I will be your best friend forever, I promise.

Which is the best Monopoly token vote

 

I am a DisneyLife Brand Ambassador and this post was created in partnership with DisneyLife who have provided me with a free 12 month DisneyLife subscription.

As much as I like a good episode of University Challenge, I’m a sucker for The Disney Channel. I pretend that I watch it just for Belle, but it’s hypnotic – everything so smiley and colourful and sassy. I can’t help myself. Sometimes I just walk past on my way to the kitchen while Belle is watching an episode of Liv and Maddie and ten minutes later I find I’m still stood there, still carrying a pile of dirty washing.

I like the classics that Bee watched as a teenager, like That’s So Raven and Wizards of Waverley Place, but I like some of the modern shows too. I’m partial to an episode of So Random, (you’ve got to admire that girl’s pluck), and I secretly quite like K.C. undercover. K.C. Cooper has got the moves.

So far with our DisneyLife subscription we’ve been able to enjoy a whole load of films, music, books and TV shows, but now DisneyLife has a brand new feature – LIVE TV! Yep that’s right, even more Disney characters and family fun.

DisneyLife is perfect for school holidays and Christmas holidays in particular. In the summer you can kick the kids out to play in the street in the evenings but in the middle of winter? Not so much. Christmas can be a bit overwhelming for children (and grown-ups) and so by the time Boxing Day comes around it’s brilliant to be able to pack them off into a quiet corner for a bit of downtime. 

(Who am I kidding? I’m totally going to hide away with the Christmas tree and watch Sweet Home Alabama at some point over Christmas.)

DisneyLife live TV streaming

You can set up up to ten devices with one DisneyLife subscription and you can watch The Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD live, so children of different ages can enjoy different activities at the same time. Live TV streaming is available on compatible devices – check yours here.  View Post