Monthly Archives

October 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Posted on 31st October 2010 in halloween/ pumpkin carving

I think it’s reasonably obvious that the children did these themselves……

I also think the fact that they are rotting already (gross) adds a nice touch of halloween authenticity, or something.

Check out some other pumpkins at @mediocremum‘s blog where she is running a pumpkin carving competition.

Halloween Party Games

Posted on 30th October 2010 in cake/ children/ halloween/ party games

Halloween, All Souls Eve, or All Hallows Eve as it has previously been known, seems to date back to the Druids in 700bc when it was believed that the souls of the dead returned to mingle with the living on October 31st – hallowed eve of All Souls Day which was November 1st. People originally began dressing in costumes to disguise themselves from these spirits.*

Now, although the tradition is still more popular in American than in the UK, we celebrate a much more light hearted celebration and the night is purely one of spooky fun!

There are a lot of traditional games associated with Halloween here are some of them for you to try:


Apple Bobbing

Simple and inexpensive, but messy!  All you will need is a large bowl (washing up bowl is ideal) lots of water, some green food colouring and some apples.  Float the apples in the water, add a couple of drops of green colouring to make it more swamp like and then each child has to get an apple out without using their hands…..i.e. by trying to bite the apple with their teeth.  It’s advisable to have towels on standby.


Jelly Hunt

Mix up a jelly in your largest mixing bowl and just before it sets up some ‘prizes’ into it, toy plastic spiders or well wrapped sweets would work well.  If you then place an upturned cardboard box over the mixing bowl that has a hole cut in the top just large enough for a hand, each child will have to place their hand into the cold slimy jelly to reveal their prize.


Spooky Trail

Hide a range of spooky items around your house, and then write a clue sheet to help the children complete the trail.  Be imaginative, put things like ‘take a spider from the web’ where you have some plastic toy spiders suspended from cotton, or  ‘gather some witches hair’ could be some cooked and cooled spaghetti that you’ve dyed green.  Also at this time of year there are quiet often a variety of sweets that you can buy in the shape of vampire teeth, bugs and bats that could be included on your trail.  Rather than doing party bags to hand out at the end of the party, you could give each child a bag to collect their trail items in that you then hand back to them as they leave, maybe after added a couple of extra treats.


Pin The Nose On The Witch

Find yourself a large piece of white card and an artistic friend!  Draw the outline of a traditional looking witch, this can be as simple or as complex as your talent will allow as children are fortunately very kind at recognising things!  Then draw a warty nose on a separate piece of card which the blindfolded children take turns in pining on the witch.  If possible it is a nice touch to make a nose for each child that you write their name on in advance as then everyone can see the finished result at a glance without any claims of cheating!


Make A Mummy

Think of the Andrex Puppy and you wont be far wrong.  Split the children into teams of at least 2 with 1 child being the mummy and the remaining child(ren) armed with toilet rolls ready to wrap around the 1st child – the winning team being the first to make a mummy.


Sleeping Vampires

Bit of an obvious one to have as your last game, a complete take off of sleeping lions and a chance to get your little ones to calm down a bit before they go home.  The Vampire who wakes last from their sleep is the winner.


If you are going to have a Halloween party, don’t forget a spooky cake! Here are 2 that I’ve made. The ghosts on the white cake are just circles of white icing draped over lollies (chupa chups style lollies) or you can use upside down cornets instead. The webbing and spiders I bought in a halloween pack from a supermarket. Very easy to do. The black cake was a little trickier but essentially I drew the witch onto paper first, then cut it up to use as a template to cut out the right pieces from the coloured icing. Give them a try!




*Information taken from the pressroom of Hallmark cards


Get Your Socks Out For The Lads

Posted on 30th October 2010 in christmas tree/ dartington hall/ odd socks/ onlydads/ single parent

This year, has been asked to decorate a Christmas Tree which will be placed in the Mediaeval Courtyard of the Dartington Hall Trust. It will be a wonderful setting for what we hope will be a memorable Tree.

The Dartington Hall Trust is committed to work in the fields of Arts, Sustainability and Social Justice. Picking up on these core themes, OnlyDads is inviting Mums and Dads to get involved in this event and we have proposed to have Socks as our theme. This is where you come in!


The aim is to decorate the OnlyDads tree with hundreds of bright and wonderful socks. They are inviting parents of children to:

  • Make and/or decorate a sock that can be hung on the tree.  Artistic imagination will be required!
  • Ask the child to place a message in the sock – based on the following prompt “make a wish for your Dad?”. Being a Dad’s based lone parent organisation we know that many children will have Fathers who have died, or are absent, or in the case of some, their sole carer. For other children living with both Mum and Dad, this will still be a fun and creative exercise. The important thing for us is not to exclude any child from participating.

Then What?

The sustainability theme is important to OnlyDads.  OnlyDads will preserve all these important messages on a dedicated website to begin with. Thoughts are also being given to the publication of a book (with pictures of the decorated sock and the message accompanying it).

Given that Dartington Hall has such a vibrant interest in the Arts – thoughts are also being given to an Artist turn the Socks (and messages) into a permanent work of Art…the possibilities are endless.

What to do next?

Assuming you and your child(ren) would like to get involved (OnlyDads hope they do) then the Sock with the Message inside will need to reach OnlyDads by 30 November 2010. Please include in the envelope a note with your child’s first name and age.

Socks need to be sent to:

OnlyDads, Room D4, Foxhole, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6ED United Kingdom

There will be three prizes for the best designed socks :) OnlyDads do apologise in advance – but socks cannot be returned as they may end up as a permanent work of art!

Read more about OnlyDads here

Do You Trick or Treat?

Posted on 30th October 2010 in children/ fireworks/ halloween/ strangers/ trick or treat

According to my boys I am right now possibly the worst mummy in the world.


Actually loads of reasons but mainly because I won’t let them go trick or treating.

My reasons?

The reason I give them is that they would essentially knocking on complete strangers doors and accepting things from them. We know nothing about the people and we have no idea whether the things they would be giving them had been tampered with in any way. At no other time of the year would I allow them to approach complete strangers and accept things from them.

As a sort of pay off, I have however bought some fireworks for next weekend.

Am I a complete killjoy? Do you allow trick or treating?


ODEON #CustomerService #Fail

Posted on 24th October 2010 in complaint/ customer service/ odeon

Today the Odeon have displayed appalling customer service. I am actually quite surprised as it would have been incredibly easy for them to rectify the situation and turn it into excellent customer service – but they chose not to.

Today we took the 4 boys to the cinema to see Despicable Me. As a ‘premier’ member I booked online before we went. The tickets cost £47.70 including the extortionate booking fee.

At the Odeon each child then used their pocket money – 3 of them bought the £2.99 ‘film feast’ and one bought a large bag of sweets costing £2.90 – so in total at the Odeon we spent £59.57.

We watched the film – which incidentally was very good – and once we came out the child who hadn’t bought a ‘film feast’ bag realised that he didn’t have a ‘build your own despicable me’ toy. The other 3 boys had received one free in their bag.

So we queued up again at the counter and asked if we could buy one of the toys. We were told no. We explained to the guy what had happened and asked politely if we could buy a toy for a £1. He again said no.

We left the counter and approached another member of staff – I asked if she was a supervisor and she said she was. So we again explained to her and asked if we could buy a toy. She said no. I asked why and she said it was because they don’t have a code to ring it through the till because they are given away FREE with the ‘film feast’ bags. I said could we pay for a drink (so they could ring that through the till) in exchange for a toy? She said no.

I said I thought that was very unreasonable, that we’d spent nearly £60 in the cinema today and that the child hadn’t realised that the toys were in the bags or he’d have bought one of those. She again said no.

I asked her if I wrote to Odeon HO and explained what had happened, whether they would agree with her. She said “Well if you do the letter will just come here.”

I asked if there was a manager on duty – she said she would go and get the manager. She came back a few minutes later with the branch address written down and said the manager also said no.

I said to her that I would buy an entire ‘film feast’ bag in order to get the toy and then write and complain to the Odeon – she said again that the letter would just come back to her anyway….

So, we bought an additional ‘film feast’ bag just to get the toy.

Meaning that we actually spent £62.56 at Odeon today.

Guess what Odeon – it wouldn’t have cost you anything to have just given my son a toy. But we weren’t even asking for that – we offered to pay.

Your customer service today was despicable. (Pun intended.)

UPDATE: I should add to this that I received a very lovely and genuine reply to this blog post from the new GM at my local Odeon. You can read what he said here.

The Colour Red #thegallery

Posted on 20th October 2010 in #thegallery/ give blood/ the colour red

Yet again I seem to be slightly abusing (cheating) the blog prompt – Sorry AGAIN Tara – but a conversation I had with someone today seemed to me to be worthy of a mention.

Unlike this person, I’m not usually allowed to give blood. There are a list of exclusions. The first time I tried, believe it or not, I was refused for not weighing enough. Anyone who knows me now will find that reasonably astounding I am sure, but it’s true! Now
they aren’t too keen because of my thyroid condition, although once it is stable again they might let me apparently.

However, the person I spoke to today was on their way to give blood and they casually mentioned that had done it over 30 times. Which I think is pretty cool. Wonder if there is some kind of award for that, maybe one of those ‘I gave blood bug things’ you know the ones
little fuzzy round things that stick on. Anyway. I think giving blood is a pretty amazing and selfless thing to do, giving blood more than 30 times – got to be heroic surely?

So, this is a prompt, for each and every one of you who is eligible to click here find your nearest donation site and register to give blood TODAY.

Go on, it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, honest.

Once you’ve done that, why not pop over to The Gallery at Sticky Fingers to see the other entries?

Shark Teeth

Posted on 17th October 2010 in fossils/ free days out/ shark teeth/ walton beach/ walton on the naze

In my usual quest for something FREE to do with the kids, this weekend I decided we would head over to Walton on the naze.

The boys asked me the usual “Are we doing anything today?”

Me: “Yes, we are going to fail to find something”

Smartarse son: “Cool, we’re going to Walton.”

Me: “So, what are we going to fail to find then?”

Smartarse son: “Shark teeth.”

Me: “So, how many will we fail to find?”

Smartarse son: “All of them I should think.”

Me, under breath: “Smartarse.”

Walton beach is great, it’s got a real mix of sand, clay and shingle – kind of appeals to all. It also has pill boxes actually on the beach itself which I think is really cool.

There are literally lumps of clay all over the beach, makes me want to be an art teacher just so I can bag it up and lug it to class. Probably the wrong type of clay but that’s kind of irrelevant I guess.

Apparently you have to look in a certain place to find the shark teeth – rumour has it you have to look in ‘The foreshore, within the shingle and pyrites’. I think that means in this stuff below?

No one, I repeat, no one walks along the beach with their head up. Absolutely everyone, of all ages, either walks with their head casually down or goes for a full on hunker down and grope about in the sand and debris – they are ALL looking for shark teeth!

According to my boys, you have to watch out for the quick sand though so be careful…

M is for… Marmite

Posted on 17th October 2010 in marmite

Love it or hate it – my marmite is bigger than yours! :)

I can’t stand the stuff personally but I do add it to my lasagne and my chilli con carne as it makes them extra yummy. Never tried it – go on be a devil!

Photos #thegallery

Posted on 13th October 2010 in #thegallery

I know the prompt was for one favourite photo but I can’t pick one. Sorry. I know it’s the whole point of it and I’m spoiling it for everyone and I’m sorry….

You all remember ‘the bear‘ don’t you? Well here he is when he used to look plump and fluffy! Still have that table too – it’s a bit wibbly but my mac now sits upon it.

Oldest son may actually kill me for the next picture…. so shhhhhh no one tell him ok?!

Last one – as requested by @himupnorth – I said I used to be a clubber, I didn’t lie….

Gestational Diabetes

Posted on 13th October 2010 in blood sugar/ diabetes/ endocrinologist/ fainting/ gestational diabetes/ pregnancy/ thyroid/ thyroiditis/ underactive thyroid

This is a post for @diabetesuk

I was 26 when I fell pregnant with my first son, although I had unfortunately had a miscarriage a few months before. I have suffered with an underactive thyroid since around the age of 17 so I was used to feeling tired and having a myriad of vague ‘not quite right but not enough to bother anyone about’ symptoms.

During the pregnancy I suffered migraines and bouts of fainting but as I have always had symptoms (as mentioned above) I’ve learnt not to mention them too much, my GP at the time said both the migraines and the fainting were common in pregnancy so, although it was difficult never being able to stand in a queue, I learned to live with it. What I didn’t realise at the time was the close connection between endocrinological disorders.

The first indication of there being anything else wrong was at my 20 week scan when it was noted that my baby was large. I had further scans at which it was noted that the head and stomach circumference were larger than expected. Due to my thyroid condition I was under the care of a consultant endocrinologist and it was during these check ups that my gestational diabetes was discovered. At a routine appointment to see my consultant the nurse did the usual urine test and then scurried off rather than chatting reassuringly, I can’t remember how far along I was but I think it was around 34 weeks.

I was quickly taken into see my consultant who order blood tests and a further scan – they determined at this point that I had gestational diabetes. I was quite shocked and scared at this diagnosis but it was comforting that the my thyroid doctor was the same man who I was then to see for the diabetes. He was very calm and reassuring and with the assistance of a nurse talked me through the whole process of monitoring my blood sugar. Unfortunately it wasn’t picked up until late into the pregnancy so although they induced me at term my son was still quite a large baby at 8lb13. I developed oedema during the latter stages of the pregnancy to my hands, legs, ankles and face to the extent that I can hardly recognise myself in the photos taken directly after the birth.

After the birth I had to take a gloucose tolerance test which involved reading an entire book in a waiting room while occasionally drinking incredibly sweet drinks and then having blood tests! The result of this was deemed to be that I would almost certainly develop stage 2 diabetes at some point in my life and that if I were to get pregnant again then I would develop gestational diabetes again during the pregnancy. I also noticed rapid weight loss after the birth and was told to stop taking my thyroid medication as I had developed postpartum thyroiditis.

Before falling pregnant with my next son, I suffered a further miscarriage.

As soon as I knew I was pregnant with my second son, I was immediately referred to see the endocrinolgist. He discovered that the diabetes had already kicked in – but he said to me the diabetes should begin and end with the pregnancy. This time the diabetes was more severe and I had to test my blood 3 times a day at home and administer injections to try and control my blood sugar levels.

The migraines and the fainting were much worse with this second pregnancy, my Obstetrics consultant said to me that the migraines were probably due to an oestrogen intolerance (but I’m a girl?!) which actually did make some sense as I am unable to take the pill due to migraines and had an unfortunate incident with the Mirena coil which we won’t go into just now.

The fainting proved to be a very difficult issue as I had an active one year old to look after and so wasn’t in a position to ‘rest and relax’ as I was often advised to do – I fainted each and every single time that I went shopping. If there was more than one person in front of me in a queue I knew I would faint – I once fainted in a shop and in the split second before I passed out I managed to fall sideways in order to avoid my bump and my baby in the pram – this resulted in a tyre mark bruise across my stomach as I caught the pram wheel. That occasion sticks in my mind because no one helped me. When I came round I got myself up and left the shop, cried all the way home with a banged head and a terrifying bruise on my tummy.

This prompted a visit to see my consultant who said they were ‘simple faints’, probably exasperated by low blood sugar but mainly due to low blood pressure. He suggested drinking more water, sleeping with my legs fractionally higher than my head, wearing support stockings and sitting with my feet up as much as possible.

For the diabetes itself I had to follow a basically good diet, concentrating on low sugar foods and low GI foods. I soon found that some unexpected foods sent my blood sugar sky high – things like white bread and orange juice for example sent my readings higher than coca cola! However I also found that by swopping types of food – white bread for english muffins or crumpets I was able to eat things I liked without upsetting my blood sugar.

For more blogs on diabetes, please see

Back to top