Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Snowman and Snowdog Grotto at intu Trafford Centre

How do you pick which grotto you visit? 

Do join on the end of the local shopping centre grotto queue and pray that you your child(ren) play nice and smile after their looong wait in line and not freak out and refuse the obligatory shot with Santa wasting the £xxx amount of pounds you just paid the whole beautiful experience topped off with a 99p shop toy that, if they are anything like my daughter they will hate!

Oh the joys of the holidays! Or do you....................

Plan ahead scout out the best places and promptly book into one of the newest swankiest grotto experiences to be had??

Well after previous "fun" experiences in the first scenario in years gone by, the past few visits have been ones that really are visits to remember. Last year my sisters and I paid for a private story time one on one with the big man himself with the local theatre group and it was a huge success, all the kids loved it! Could we top that this year? Well the people over at intu Trafford Centre thought that maybe they could and well, who was I not try it out after all Olivia is 8 now and I think pretty soon she will be too old to be sitting on Santa's lap! (although these days it's more standing next to, not sitting actually on Santa's lap!)

Situated in Barton Square (outside Legoland Discovery Centre) intu Trafford Centre's The Snowman and the Snowdog Grotto promises a magical experience for children of all ages based on the book and film of the same name a new story with a twist on the classic and timeless The Snowman. The grotto itself is adorned with many different snowmen statues and the snowdog is sat out front waiting to greet everyone.

Unfortunately due to traffic we were actually running late, bloomin' football grrr....... and the usually short bus ride took twice as long (and over an hour on the way home!) but the staff at the grotto were very nice and understanding about it especially with the confusion of us not receiving the correct voucher, but all that was irrelevant in the end when we made it inside.

First we were greeted by Billy's mum. Billy is the little boy who decided to build himself a snowman and a snowdog. Here Billy's mum told us her story interspersed with bits of the film sitting in her front room.

After listening to her story and discovering the magic of snow we were finally on our way to see Santa. Led past a display of snowmen in a beautiful christmas setting, all children were invited to sit at lovely little old fashioned school desks with lamps on to write a letter to hand into Santa. No letters getting lost in the post for us! Olivia asked for an Orbeez soothing spa and some Monster High dolls and she kept tight hold of it.

One at a time the children were taken through to where Santa was ready and waiting for them and boy, was Santa shocked when he seen how much Olivia had grown this year! Join the club my friend, join the club!

What I really enjoyed was the tailored and personal conversation Santa had with Olivia, none of this 'have you been a good girl' stuff, they actually had a little chat. He kindly asked Olivia if she would be able to make him jelly on Christmas eve as the mince pies get stuck in his teeth! So that's our Christmas eve cooking taken care of! He then took her list and carefully folded it in front of her and popped into his magical bag sending it straight to the top of the list pile back in the North Pole! She was delighted (I was thankful I knew what was on said list!)

After having her picture taken Santa sent us on our way as he is obviously a very busy man with lots of children to see and she was one happy little girl.

The experience for me was made more special by the fact that there are showing times for the grotto meaning that you are not waiting in massive queues with cranky kids you turn up for your booked time, I do recommend you book as it is really busy then you wont be disappointed by being turned away due to it being full.

You can find out more details including opening times (10am till 10pm from 3rd November to 24th December) and prices (£4.50 per child with a gift and £2.50 per adult) I am in 2 minds about the adult charge but considering you also get the full experience with story and film and the fact that £4.50 is very reasonable for what you get for me the total of £7 was cheaper than what I paid last year so it wouldn't be too bothered paying for me really. There is an online booking fee but for the peace of mind knowing that you get to experience this magical visit with Santa without waiting in long queues or being turned away, as many where whilst I was there its a small price to pay really. Hop over to this page to find out more Britain's First The Snowman and The Snowdog Grotto

*Disclaimer: Olivia and I were supplied with free vouchers for our visit and received complimentary vouchers and a gift bag. All thoughts and opinions are our own*

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Trendy Tot Thursday 20/11

How on earth is it nearly the end of November already seriously?!?! I have been busy buying Olivia all kinds of new clothes, boots, gloves and tights to keep her warm this winter. This is no easy feat when your child grows constantly, I have 4 bin bags of clothes she has outgrown recently it's ridiculous so I have had to resort to drastic measures we are nearly the same shoe size!!!!!!!!

Anywho it's time to get to my fav outfit recently. As I am struggling to link up every week or even blog at all I will feature the outfit she wore on our recent trip out on the Mersey Ferry.

Olivia wore her Cool Cat leggings and top from Tesco age 9-10 it is getting a bit small for her now but she likes it. She wore it with her bargain £1 boots from Internationale size 4 and her funky new My Little Pony socks again £1 from Primark. Her purple coat was £4.99 from Barnado's a favourite hunting ground of mine and is a Tog24. Her hat/scarf all in one id from Tesco's and from last year which saved me forking out again for one this year especially as it was £10 she is definitely getting her wear out of it!

Trendy Tot Thursday : ClearlyBex

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Would you leave your child home alone?

There has been a lot in the lot news and various parent sites about leaving your children home alone. Would you, should you, how old exactly should they be before you even contemplate it?

Before writing this I thought I would have a little look and see if there is actually any laws or guidelines on this subject and do you know what? There isn't any actual laws at all the NSPCC has some guidelines however.

You would think there there would be something in place wouldn't you? If we as parent could be so easily prosecuted for neglect or abandonment then surely there should be a law in place to help us as parents judge this grey area because lets face it not all of us parents are going to agree are we!

I think I can actually see why as well. I mean each child is unique, some mature quicker than others. Each parent raises their child(ren) differently so who can realistically say what would be right for one would be right for another?

When I was 11 I used to babysit a family friends children. We both lived on the same road and my mum was always home when I was there. To me I felt like I was responsible enough for this as the children weren't babies, the baby was with my mum, and usually they would all be in bed. However this came to an abrupt end when one night the police knocked on the door and asked for my mum. This is when I found out that I was too young to babysit but in 3 months time when I was 12 then that would be perfectly fine. This situation happened again when I was indeed 12 the same neighbour 'concerned' that the children were at risk but they left quite happy that there was no danger and I was mature enough to handle any situation with various phone numbers available to me as contacts and my mum a few doors down.

It's enough to make you wonder, I do now, was I actually  responsible enough at that age and would I ever do that to Olivia? At 8 years old she is far to young to be left in that situation or to be left home alone isn't she! I feel that she is still too young to be able to look after herself should she be on her own and I don't trust her to be able to feed herself past snacks and sandwiches. Saying this, I have on occasion nipped to the shop with her staying in the house. Usually at her request I should add. You can see the shop from my front door it takes me less than a minute to get there and back. I take my keys so she doesn't have to open the door to anyone, I turn the fire off if it is on and the cooker too and Olivia is usually either sitting on the sofa or in her room. She is a sensible girl and I know she won't try anything she shouldn't in the whole 3-4 minutes I am gone except turn the sky over to the disney channel!

This is the extent of my trust though, she is absolutely not old enough to left alone any longer than that and especially not overnight but some more definitive guidelines or laws would be handy to help us out don't you think?

What do you think? I would some other parents views on this subject!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Name Dilemmas

Last week I was whiling away the hours on the sofa entering competitions, as you do, and I came across one to win a personalised Christmas plaque for your home. Entry was easy a facebook like and share and answer the question. Simples! Until I actually read the question......
"What name would you like on the plaque?"
Coming with various slogans on along the lines of 'Merry Christmas from the ........... family' and herein lies the issue.

So I'm going to take a deep breath and say it really quick....... *sharp inhale of breath* and Olivia and I have different surnames!

Ours is a household of 2, me and little miss. With 2 different surnames. Totally unsuitable for a plaque of this kind and it got me thinking....... if I can't even celebrate our family with something like this would this cause issue for other things too? And I have to admit it made me feel kinda sad.

Olivia has her dads name. It was always going to be that way. From the moment we found out I was pregnant. I had no real reason not to even though all my nieces have our family name I had no qualms about what surname Olivia was going to have, I mean it's not like I was planning on splitting up with her dad that came years down the line. But still I have never really regretted as such.

I suppose you could call it the curse of single parent families, unmarried parents, children taking their fathers name. For a long time the hospital where she was born refused to accept she didn't have my name as all babies are given mums surname if parents are unmarried but on the whole it didn't really cause any issues for me. And Olivia sounds so much better with her surname than with mine anyway it rolls of the tongue easier!

While I don't regret it I do get a pang of annoyance when people presume we have the same name like teachers at school, doctors, dentists etc but I suppose that's all down to the fact that Olivia and I will never have the same name and it feels so strange. She is my daughter yet we will never share something as simple as that no matter how close we are the only part of our name we share is the same initial Tracey B and Olivia B.  My sisters and I all still have the same surname something which Olivia will never experience should I ever *shudder* choose to reproduce again!

I suppose it could be worse, she could have the name of a father who wasn't around so she is pretty lucky in that respect as I am sure the are children out the with parents who don't deserve the honour of their children carrying on their family name, but it does make me feel proper guilty sometimes, like the time we went on a family holiday to Egypt and when booking, giving in everyone's names it was the same surname all the way down (none of us are married) until we got to Olivia's at the end eliciting an " awww bless" from the travel agent.

Seriously though I don't it bothers her half as much as it bothers me, I think she quite likes being different, she says she prefers her surname to mine but if I knew then what I know now I can't honestly say she wouldn't be Miss Olivia Bowden today but I suppose that's the thing with hindsight........  you only get after the fact!

Do your children have your surname? Or would you never contemplate giving them their dads name if you were unmarried?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Trendy Tot Thursday 6/11

As last week was half term it gave me plenty of opportunities to grab a snap for this weeks Trendy Thursday post so I thought I would a before and after Halloween pic.

We didn't go out a lot so I let Olivia wear what she wanted and it was mostly dresses and onesies to be honest. So she threw on some summer dresses to sit around the house in, typical Olivia any excuse to throw a dress on.
Dress is from Primark age 10-11 and I think it was £6

Dress is Sainsburys RRP: £9 bought from a local independant discount clothing stall for £3. It is age 9-10. Olivia loves dressing up so Halloween is one of her favourite holidays this year transforming into a Bat Queen! It isalso the first year she let me near her with make up and probably the last as she still had traces of eyeliner on 2 days later! Mummy fail ha!

Trendy Tot Thursday : ClearlyBex