Sunday, 26 May 2013

Silent Sunday




Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Name and Shame

I've mentioned before about how much I love our fish tank. It was an unexpected love, one that has grown with time. I can quite happily sit for hours watching the fish swim about in the tank, going about their daily lives just dodging the other fish.

We even have babies. Lots and lots of them. Some of the babies have even grown so much that they're now adult fish - males and females alike.

It's not often that we've lost fish. In fact, we've only lost a handful since we set the tank up, two of those we lost to suicide. (There's a gap at the top of the glass they can jump through - it's now blocked!)

Recently however, we bought a new fish. Well, Ross's friend, Charles bought a new fish. A beautiful blue male fighter that was fan tailed and glorious. It was honestly, the prettiest fish I had seen.

Charles purchased this fish from a place called World of Water within Timmermans Garden Centre. World of Water has it's own chain of aquatic stores up and down the country. We haven't bought anything from here before, in fact I'd never heard of it. The fish however, was amazing. We all loved it!

Sadly, two days after we put him in the tank, he died. I noticed he was acting weird. He was lying on the bottom of the tank leaning against the plants. He was also losing his colour. His once electric blue scales were turning grey. I'd never seen anything like it. White marks also started appearing on his body. A few hours after that, we found him dead lying behind a plant.

We were a bit gutted, anyone would be. Not only was he a lovely looking fish, but fighter fish don't come cheap either.

The day after that, another fish died.

It was weird. We hadn't lost a fish in months.

Once again, this fish had lost a bit of it's colour and was acting strange.

After that, we began losing 2-3 fish a day. Some of these fish we'd had since we'd set the tank up from scratch so Ross was actually really gutted.

I began to Google the symptoms the fish had before they died. All sorts of diseases began to show up, but there was no concrete solution that could fix the problem. The only thing I could find to do, was to increase the temperature of the water which would hopefully kill any infection.

Since we've done that, we have lost one fish. That fish was already ill so I don't think anything would have made a difference.

Nothing had changed in our tank recently to cause this to happen. We have tens of baby fish of all different breeds, and around 15 different breeds in the tank. Nothing had changed, except for adding the fighter fish.

I called World of Water, mainly as a warning. If his fighter fish tank had an infection, they needed to know before they sold any more. I also wanted them to know that their one fish, had killed over fifteen of mine. Unfortunately, they didn't care. Instead of asking any questions at all, they told me "Well, we'll need a water sample from your tank."

I'm sorry.. from MY tank? The fish in MY tank were fine until your fish was put in.

I explained to the man on the phone that if one of his fish had bought an infection into the tank, then what was the point testing the water now the infection was clearly rife? Of course it would show up after I'd put the fish in. 

I agreed anyway and Ross and Charles took the water sample down to the garden centre. They were told to 'take a walk' whilst the water was 'tested'.

Before I continue, I must add that the water had previously been tested by Pets At Home and was deemed absolutely fine. And like I said.. we hadn't lost any fish previously.

This water test was taken by pouring our sample into different containers and then had the 'test drop's put in. I will also add, whilst 'taking a walk' as suggested by the staff at World of Water, it was pointed out that there were two dead fish in the tank where this fighter was purchased.

Apparently this was deemed as a 'coincidence'.

I bet it was.

World of Water came back and announced these fish had died because of the ammonia levels in OUR tank.

BULLSHIT.

Anyone who owns an aquarium knows that ammonia levels in a tank can only be treated by using chemicals.

Our fish stopped dying the moment we turned the heat up to kill any infections. Ross tried to explain this to the sales assistant but he was told there was just nothing more they could do. They didn't even advise of any treatments to help with the 'ammonia levels' - funny that. They left.

I didn't expect anything different. Like I'd said before, there is no point testing the water in an aquarium after you've already put in an infected fish. As for the ammonia levels being high, we know that's a lie as Brookfields Garden Centre have also tested it as perfect.

Thankfully, the fish have stopped dying. We plan on doing a water change in a few days as per the instructions I found online.

I'm not usually a petty person, and I'm definitely not one for naming and shaming or confrontation, but I feel like if someone is planning on purchasing fish or aquarium products from this store, to strongly rethink. I wish that we had read somewhere about their fish before purchasing them.

Even though I know that we will receive nothing in return from World of Water, despite us losing over £50 worth of fish in the space of a week, I hope they know how disappointed we are. We most definitely will not be visiting there again and neither will any of our family or friends. We'd rather our fish didn't die, thank you very much.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Cause you gotta have Faith..

I have absolutely loved reading all of your posts recently about how you decided to name your children. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and relate my story too!

Having an unusual name myself, it's a bit of a conversation starter. Every day without fail I will be asked at least one of the following:
"Is that your real name?"
"What is it short for?"
"Why did they pick that name for you?"
"Is that on your birth certificate?"
"How unusual, do you like it?"
I even had a bloke from Sky last week if he could pitch my name to his pregnant wife. When I was younger, I hated my name. I would pretend my name was Marie because I was so embarrassed. 'Misty' just wasn't a name.. it was a type of FOG. As my Primary School headmaster would quite often refer to me as 'Foggy Bird' (Cheers Mr. Ball, you legend!) But if there's one thing I've learned about peoples names, is that there's always a story behind them. 

Some of you had your child's name come to you in a dream, most of you disagreed with your Other Halves.. and others of you, like me, just could not bloody well decide!

When I found out I was having a girl, I was surprised. I'd always had this vision of me having a boy first, and then later on a girl. I imagined the brother would always look out for his little sister and they'd be as thick as thieves.
Don't get me wrong, I was chuffed to find out I was having a girl. I was excited about the pretty clothes I could buy and just how amazing it would be to raise a little girl. A tiny person who could grow up just like me.

I don't think choosing a babies name ever really hits you until it's your own child. It's so easy to suggest names to others, but when it's your own flesh and blood, it's different. The decision becomes harder. You realise.. "Holy shit. I'm going to be repeating this name for the rest of my life.."

 

At about 22 weeks, I had decided on a name for Princess. She was to be called Lilly-Grace. I had absolutely loved the name Lilly for as long as I could remember - and I also had a close personal friend called Lillian, who I don't see as often as I should. I also liked the name Grace, but preferred it as either hyphenated or as a middle name.

Unfortunately, Stacey in the popular soap Eastenders had a baby.. and she called her Lilly. Every time someone asked me what I planned on calling my baby girl and I told them Lilly, I was met with "Oh like Stacey's baby?" No. Not like an imaginary character and her imaginary baby. Eventually, I gave up on the name Lilly altogether and it was back to the drawing board. I still love the name, but it's so popular name, I know at least four who were born after my Princess.

Both Ross and I had names we liked, but neither of us could agree on just one. I can't even remember the names on my list now, because I just can't imagine anything different from the name we eventually picked, but the list was HUGE. Some of the names I wasn't even particularly keen on, but I just needed something written down.

One name that always stuck out for me however, was Amelia. To me, even the spelling is pretty. It can be shortened if you wanted to. I could just imagine my baby girl being called Amelia. Around that time I also fell in love with the name Faith. I wasn't keen on it as a first name (I think I disliked single syllable first names - no offence anyone!) and decided that Faith would be hyphenated with the first name.

In my mind, I couldn't imagine anything prettier than Amelia-Faith.

Ross however, hated it. He just couldn't agree with me. I think he had once known an Amelia and the name reminded him of that person. We've all been there, right?

As I've said before, my Gma died when I was just over 3 months pregnant and never got to meet Princess so she never got to hear her name. On the same day I had Princess, my Mum and my Aunty went to go and see a medium. On entering, the medium immediately asked my Mum "Who's Amelia? I'm hearing Amelia?"

My Mum, obviously freaked out, replied that she didn't know anyone called Amelia - she didn't want to give anything away. To which the medium replied - "Well your Mum says to tell you congratulations. She's absolutely beautiful."

That story will stick with me forever. And always make me cry.

Although... we never did call her Amelia. So that story was actually a little bit pointless. And I probably have a pissed off Great-Grandma. Sorry!

In fact, Princess was three days old before we managed to name her. She was known as "Baby Bird" by all of the hospital staff. I vowed that she would have a name before we left.

 

So on the last day, as I packed up mine and my Princess's belongings, Ross and I deliberated on names. We threw around allsorts. Common names, unusual names, manly names.. nada.

Until I said Scarlett.

And that was it.

My baby girl had a name. She was registered into the world as Scarlett-Faith.


Scarlett doesn't mean anything in particular. Just red. 

I couldn't imagine my Princess with a name any different than the one she has now. 

When we chose it back in 2010, Scarlett was the 154th most popular name in the UK. It's now in the Top 10. I don't think you can ever pick a name and expect it to be original or unusual. At some point or another, the name will become popular. Although.. I don't know of many Misty's..

And yes, I do quite often get "Like Janine's baby on Eastenders?" Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure she copied us, haha!

I have often deliberated about using Scarlett's name on my blog, as I value her privacy. Even though there are pictures of her on here, not many people would ever link this back to her in the future. However, now that the name is so popular, I probably don't have any issue with that.

I will still continue to refer to her as Princess, because I do in real life. She only ever gets called Scarlett-Faith when she's in trouble.. or I'm signing a card or filling in a form. It's more often than not 'Scarlybum'.. which most people also call her too. It's not shorter.. but it's just stuck.

Is there a story behind how you picked your childs name? Is it unusual? Or did it start off as unusual and all of a sudden everyone and their Grandad had the same name?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Potty Talk

I have never, ever, ever been one of those parents to divulge in my childs toilet habits, but I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated in the complete lack of 'potty training' in this house.

Don't get me wrong. We are TRYING. We're trying so hard, we may as well be writing a book on what not to do.

Princess knows how to use a potty. Since the age of around 14 months, she has known exactly what a potty and a toilet is for. She even once took me by surprise by pulling the potty out herself, pulling her pyjama bottoms down and doing her business without any prompting what-so-ever.

However, ever since the 18 month or so mark hit, she has lost all interest in using it. She will kick it, hit it, throw it at the TV and WOM-BOM me in the face with it. It's clearly much better for use as a weapon than something to have a wee in. It also proved quite a popular cat bed..

 

I'm not overly fussed. I know she will get there eventually. I know that the more you push it on them, the less inclined they are to use it. And I damn well know that she won't be in nappies forever - but COME ON.

It's quite easy to forget that Princess is only 2 and a half. She's extremely bright and around the size of a 3-4 year old, sometimes it's hard to remember that this is normal. She's not a late learner and she's not particularly behind.

Although, she can't stay in nappies much longer.. she's on the biggest size they make. Minus putting her in kids 6-8years night time bed wetting pants.

We've tried bribery but she's far too smart to fall for it. She doesn't much like 'big girls pants' and convincing her that 'Cinderella uses the toilet like a big girl' worked about as well as telling her the toilet would in fact eat her alive. 

She'll get there, I know she will. I just wish it would be sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My Life According To...

The lovely Emily over at Family Four Fun has tagged me in this rather interesting and challenging music meme!

The aim of the game is to choose one band or artist, and use their song titles to answer as many questions as possible.

Here we go!

WESTLIFE
 
Are you male or female..?
 Uptown girl

Describe Yourself..?
Imaginary Diva

How do you feel..?
Unbreakable
Describe where you currently live..?
Home

If you could go anywhere..?

World of Our Own

Your best friend is..?
Amazing

Your partner is..?
My Love

What's the weather like..?
No Ones Gonna Sleep Tonight

Favourite time of day..?
Miss You Nights
 

If your life was a book what would it be called..?
Loneliness Knows Me By Name

What is life to you..?
More Than Words

Your last relationship..?
Hey Whatever

Your current relationship..?
Safe

You fear..?
Leaving


How would I like to die..?
Easy

What is the best advice you have to give..?
All Or Nothing

Thought for the day..?
What I Want is What I've Got

My Motto..?
Dreams Come True

BONUS QUESTIONS
 
Your favourite form of transport..?
Flying Without Wings


How I feel..?
Smile
Your favourite colour is..?
Clementine


If you could change your name, it would be..?
Mandy


That was actually much more difficult than I anticipated. Cheers Google!

I chose Westlife because they are by far my favourite music group. Their lyrics stick in my head and I can relate to pretty much every single song they've ever released. My Grandad would make a joke of calling them 'Pondlife' because he thought they were soppy sods.. he only went and bought their last album though, didn't he! In times of need, you just can't beat a good boy band. Westlife are definitely top of my list. 

Right, I tag:

Kip @ KipHakes


If you want to take part, don't forget to grab the badge and link up!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bank Holiday Cocktails

Since becoming a parent, the bank holiday weekend doesn't mean much to me. It used to mean making plans, getting dressed up, meeting friends and usually getting pretty drunk.

Now, it's just the same as any other weekend. If I'm lucky, it means an extra day off work. I don't remember the last time I did something on a bank holiday.

This past Saturday however, I broke the chain. My friend and I went out for drinks. In the day time. Without the children.

This is basically unheard of.

I hadn't seen Chrissy since last November when we had a Twilight marathon and I got pretty messy. (Honestly.. I'm beginning to see a pattern to our friendship..) Anyway, 6 months is obviously far too long for 2 friends to go without seeing each other. We'd had this day planned since January so there was no backing out - I could barely contain my excitement. Can  you tell I don't get out much?

As soon as I arrived, she had the cocktails in. This is why I love her.

 

Straight away we were chatting like no time had passed. Princess and her little boy are literally the same age, (minus 4 days) so being Mums, our conversation would steer towards the kids. It didn't seem forced though, not like it does with other parents.

All day the cocktails flowed, so did the chatter. Chrissy had a few fags whilst I sat staring jealously at her - took a whole lot of will power, believe me! By 3pm, we were both a little tipsy. I was making friends in the loo, as most ladies do. It was actually with a lesbian couple who had a strange interest in my hair and started recommending shampoo's to me after I complained about how dry it was.

pissed up in 'Spoons..




All throughout the day, we had old men coming up to us and asking what we were celebrating. Like two young women needed a reason to be at the pub in the middle of the day? What were they all doing there at that time? Our answer was usually that we were celebrating "Freedom" which would always be followed by the question.. "Well who's looking after the kids then!?" Which was really fucking annoying. After about the sixth bloke, it all got quite annoying and we decided to move to the next place.


Along the way we had an impromptu trip into a kids designer store where Chrissy ended up buying a few things.. as you do when you're pissed up. I fell in love with the most beautiful Ralf Lauren coat that would have looked amazing on Princess. And for £185, it bloody better have done. Sadly, I don't think I will ever have the funds to pay so much out for one coat. Especially for a child who grows at a rate of knots.

After that, we ended up in a bar called Home. It's a lovely spacious place that serves up the nicest Italian food. Unfortunately for them, we were only interested in one thing. More cocktails.

I can't even remember the name of the beauty that I demolished, but it was absolutely sublime. I could quite happily drink it for the rest of my life. Sadly, I couldn't (mainly because it cost a bomb - even in happy hour) so we moved on to wine. Only two glasses each mind you.

 

Overall, the day was lovely. The weather was beautiful, the drinks were better and as usual, Chrissy was an absolute fucking treasure. Honestly, we need to do it more often. If only for my sanity.

Our next play date is August.. not sure I can wait that long. But at least it gives me something to look forward to. Until then, I will dream of Sex on the Beach and Mojito's...

 

Spring Cleaning and Karcher

When you hear the word spring, what comes to mind?

Blue skies & sunshine?
April showers?
Lambs and baby ducks?

If you're anything like me, the first thing I think about, is cleaning.

I know, I know.. I'm way too old before my time. Boring as well. But there's nothing I love more than having a really good clean. Clearing out all of the old rubbish (to make room for more) dusting down all the bits that usually get forgotten about - for me, it's behind the fridge.

In our kitchen, we have a stone floor. It's set into big square tiles and is horrendous to clean. We borrowed a steam cleaner once to try and clean in between all of the tiles because they were black. After a good few hours, we assumed that was just the colour and left it at that.

That was until we received our new Karcher steam cleaner.

The difference was amazing. I came home from work to find Ross had already whipped it out of the box and was already at work on the kitchen floor. Straight away I could tell the difference.

 

Our once beige tiles, were coming up brand new. The grout in between which was once black, was coming up light grey. This was what our floor was supposed to look like!

 

You can actually see where we cleaned and where we hadn't. This amazing washer then helped to clean under both the fridge and freezer and around all of the cupboards and skirting boards.

I was in love.

And then it got better. Ross attached the smaller brush head and got to work on the oven.

 

We could actually see the dirt coming off around the rings. Our oven gets cleaned daily so I was shocked to see how much came off! It just goes to show that chemical cleaners and a scourer really aren't as effective as we need them to be.

 

Since then, we have used the cleaner to clean the laminate floor - you're not supposed to however. We put the cloth over the flat end and gave it a quick once over. The dirt that came off onto the pad was amazing. Made me feel slightly ill, but once again, proof that this steam cleaner was doing it's job well.

Finally, we used it in our bathroom. Our entire bathroom is tiled from floor to ceiling. When it comes to cleaning them it can be an all day job.

With the new steam cleaner, it takes just half an hour. We can either use the flat head with the pad to clean the face of the tiles and then the small brush head to clean in between. The results are amazing - my bathroom is actually sparkling.

We are yet to try the steam cleaner on taps and plug holes, but I have absolutely no doubt that once again I will be amazed.

We have been using the Karcher steam cleaner for a few weeks now and it has yet to let me down. It uses nothing but tap water which takes seconds to heat up, unlike others that I've known which can take up to ten minutes. The container that holds the water can be removed making it easy to fit under taps of all sizes - it can easily fit in our tiny sink.

I was surprised by how easy it was to assemble. I'm usually useless when it comes to putting together any sort of machinery, but this was a simple case of click and go. The instructions were easy to understand and were detailed enough for a simpleton like me follow.

It came with a few accessories including a flat head brush which the pad can be attached to, a small brush nozzle head and a large mop head. It can also be used without any nozzle at all for areas such as oven tops, plug holes and in between awkward places. There are also two extension poles so it can be used as either a hand piece or like a regular brush/mop.

 There is a child safety lock on the handle so children can't turn it on if they manage to get hold of it, and a safety valve to stop them getting burnt. The handle also has a steam flow regulation so you can choose how strong you want your steam to be.

 

The entire system weighs no more than 4.1kg making it easy to carry up and down stairs or into different rooms. It is also very compact so can be stored quite easily along with your other cleaning appliances.

The steam cleaner has been independently tested by Allergy UK and they have concluded that the cleaner removes:
99.9% of dust mites
99.83% of cat allergens
99.01% of dog allergens
99.37% of pollen allergens
100% of fungal spores

Using this product in a house that homes a cat, dog and a hayfever sufferer just proves how effective it is. I also feel much more comfortable using the steam cleaner rather than chemicals such as bleach and floor cleaners. It's family friendly and keeps everything hygienic.

I couldn't recommend the Karcher steam cleaner more. It is by far my favourite cleaning device and I can imagine we will be using it for many more years to come.


We were sent the Karcher Steam Cleaner free of charge for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Walkers Noughts & Crosses

Ever since Princess was younger, I've struggled to find snacks that are healthy for her. Actually, let me rephrase that.. I've struggled to find snacks that are healthy for her, that she will EAT.

We tried them all. Carrot sticks, rice cakes and even switching to wholemeal bread. Unfortunately, she could always tell when we were trying to trick her into eating something that was good for her. Like most toddlers, chocolate, ice-cream and crisps were a common favourite.

Last week something extremely cute arrived in the post!


I'd seen Hoops and Crosses advertised and had tried them myself before we agreed to give these a whirl. 

This super cheeky monkey arrived with a toddler sized booklet containing some rather handy information about these new crisps!

Did you know...

They are made with 50% wholegrain?
Each bag contains only 85 calories?
They contain no artificial colours or preservtives?
They come in three beautiful flavours - roast beef, salt & vinegar and prawn cocktail?

Well.. neither did I, until now!

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to snap a picture of the Princess enjoying these crisps because they went down far too well. I just didn't get the chance. Obviously a sure sign that she enjoyed them.

The monkey is now also a permanent resident of the family. She doesn't go anywhere without it and takes it to bed every night. Thanks Walkers!

Walkers Hoops and Crosses definitely provide a much healthier alternative for lunchbox snacks compared to your regular crisps. It's like the age old fight to get kids to eat brown bread.. if it looks like a crisp and tastes like a crisp, they don't need to know that it's good for them.

That'll just put them off! 


We were sent a packet of the roast beef Walkers noughts and crosses for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Curly Sue

Anyone that knows Princess, will know just what beautiful hair she has. It's full of gorgeous, dark blonde, bouncy curls, it couldn't suit her more.

Which is why, when I take her to a hairdressers for a trim, I hate it when they get it wrong.

It took me 2 years for me to take her for her first haircut. I was so in love with her hair and her curls, I was terrified of them falling out. Everyone always said that once it was cut, her hair would become heavier and her curls would straighten out. A hairdresser friend told me that a haircut could in fact tighten the curls further, but it didn't happen often.

Fortunately the latter turned out to be true and 6 months later, Princess's hair is still beautifully bouncy and curly.

 

She didn't have hair for a very long time. Probably until she was about 10 months. At around 15 months it started to grow a bit wildly, and then finally at around 18 months, the ringlets started forming. At first they were very tight to her head, but eventually they started to grow downwards and the length came in. Now, it grows through so thick, we get through numerous No Tangle sprays a month!

Her fringe has always been an issue though. It tends to hang down in her eyes and no matter how we styled it, it would constantly annoy her. The second haircut she had, Ross took her and they put in a fringe. It suited her down to the ground and she looked adorable. It's been a bit difficult to train, and because it's curly, it can look a bit untidy.

On her most recent hairdresser visit, I asked the girl to just give her a trim as we wanted to keep the length and just to trim the end of her fringe as it was hanging down in her eyes again. I told the girl to be careful with the length as it was quite obviously curly and would shorten as soon as it was dry. I know for a hairdesser that's pretty obvious, but you have to make sure!

Luckily, Princess has always been a star at the hairdressers. She loves sitting in the chair and having the apron wrapped round her. She's very vain so is fascinated by all of the mirrors. It also helps that having her hair brushed mellows her out.

When the girl was finished, her hair was beautifully brushed, styled and new! It was still slightly damp but the weather outside was fine, so I didn't mind. We thanked the girls, left the salon and went for a walk down the high street.

After a few minutes, I started to notice something odd with her hair. It seemed to be getting shorter and shorter with each passing minute. By the time we reached the supermarket, her fringe was halfway up her head. The sides of her hair framing her face was so much shorter than I had asked for and her hair was once again in a short bob, despite me asking to keep the length.

 
I shouldn't have to tell a hairdresser that curly hair will shorten the more it dries. It's sort of common knowledge.

Now I've managed to get used to it, it doesn't look so bad, but I've still started to comb it to the side. I think we'll stick with a side fringe from now on. It suits her just as much and I can imagine, more easy to handle.

And next time, we'll use a different hairdresser!